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Earth Science

More Evidence For a Clovis-Killer Comet 210

Posted by kdawson
from the speak-nanodiamonds dept.
fortapocalypse sends word that a new paper was published today in the journal Science on the hypothesis that a comet impact wiped out the Clovis people 12,900 years ago. (We discussed this hypothesis last year when it was put forth.) The new evidence is a layer of nanodiamonds at locations all across North America, at a depth corresponding to 12,900 years ago, none earlier or later. The researchers hypothesize that the comet that initiated the Younger Dryas, reversing the warming from the previous ice age, fragmented and exploded in a continent-wide conflagration that produced a layer of diamond from carbon on the surface. While disputing the current hypothesis, NASA's David Morrison allows, "They may have discovered something absolutely marvelous and unexplained."
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More Evidence For a Clovis-Killer Comet

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 02, 2009 @10:53AM (#26299677) Homepage Journal

    12,900 years ago? That's over twice the age of the Earth, you heathens!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      I would laugh, but I live around too many people who would say exactly that.

    • by earlymon (1116185)

      Great post, funny indeed! I'm not sure which subthread this comment goes in (it fits many), so.... my 2 cents.

      The sad thing that I see about young-earth creationists in my age group (let's just call it +50) is that they all (speaking of the ones I've known and spoken to about this - and that's a lot) exhibit the following attributes:
      1. They all once believed in evolution.
      2. They got poor grades in science and math as kids.
      3. They now believe in creation.
      4. They no longer whine about not being as smart as t

      • by earlymon (1116185)

        PS - He did not predate the Scopes Monkey Trial with his Model T antics - he had several, and drove them until he passed away a decade or so ago. And where he was from, they called them T Models. (Thanks for the bandwidth for this clarification.)

  • Lonsdaleite (Score:5, Informative)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:12AM (#26299861) Homepage Journal
    The NYT article mentioned some of the diamond is hexagonal: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/science/02impact.html [nytimes.com]

    This is a type of diamond that seems to form when meteors enter the atmosphere and it a called Lonsdaleite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonsdaleite [wikipedia.org]

    This material is of interest as a replacement for structural steel since it can be formed in a simple manner using chemistry. http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2008/01/anaximenes-way.html [blogspot.com]
    • by AviLazar (741826)
      Yea thats all well and good but does it come in 2 carret, D color, SI1 clarity? My g/f is demanding.
      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        No, it is yellowish. It is just easier to make than regular diamond and also much stronger than steel.
  • by Jason Quinn (1281884) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:15AM (#26299887)
    It's worth pointing out that the Tunguska event left no crater. Lack of a crater is not a major problem with this hypothesis.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:22AM (#26299953) Homepage
      They're actually investigating Lake Cheko as a possible impact site for a fragment of the Tunguska body. 8 km away, conical, pointed straight away from the blast center, seems (magnetically) to have a metal rock about a meter wide at the bottom (which the University of Bologna intends to dig up some time this year).
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:15AM (#26299893)
    Whats the oldest verifiable event or person preserve in human oral or written history? I think we get barely half-way to this meteor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by u38cg (607297)
      Sumerian cuneiform (sp?!) dates to something like 3500BC, IIRC a few centuried before the Egyptians really got going. So yep, roughly halfway.
    • 7000 years? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mdsolar (1045926)
      There is speculation that a supernova from about 5700 BC may have been recorded in a drawing: http://www.tifr.res.in/~vahia/oldest-sn.pdf [tifr.res.in]

      That is not writing or oral but interesting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by E++99 (880734)

      Evidence for the earliest temple mounds in Tallahassee points to 10,000 years ago.

      Although there's not much in the way of writing from earlier than 5,000 years or so ago, there is overwhelming cumulative evidence, IMO, that the culture of that time originated from many thousands, probably many tens of thousands of years earlier. One large part of the evidence is the knowledge of astronomy at that time, and astronomical cycles on the scale of thousands of years. (Most of that knowledge was lost, before bei

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        Although there's not much in the way of writing from earlier than 5,000 years or so ago, there is overwhelming cumulative evidence, IMO, that the culture of that time originated from many thousands, probably many tens of thousands of years earlier. One large part of the evidence is the knowledge of astronomy at that time, and astronomical cycles on the scale of thousands of years.

        Which is utter horseshit. You don't have to have records through the entire cycle to measure the length of a cycle - all you nee

  • Very true (Score:2, Interesting)

    by emasson (581924)
    I saw something on Discovery or National Geographic about a few days back.... The scary part is that they speculate on the size of that killer rock. Scientists believe now that its size was much smaller than expected. Meaning smaller asteroid/comet that was previously though trivial are now possible humanity killer!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by foniksonik (573572)

      An event that could create a lethal environment for early civilization won't necessarily have the same 'impact' on modern civilization. The scenario described here is that the impact caused weather patterns to change dramatically which lead to widespread famine. These people relied upon natural weather for their survival (rainfall for irrigation, etc.) and while this would cause huge issues for any society today it's not likely that it would be nearly as widespread or as long lasting.

      • An event that could create a lethal environment for early civilization won't necessarily have the same 'impact' on modern civilization.

        True, because they had to hunt and gather whereas we get our food from supermarkets.

        • by Cassini2 (956052)

          True, because they had to hunt and gather whereas we get our food from supermarkets.

          I think most North Americans would be quite surprised at how fast civilization would fall apart if our supermarkets stopped magically "replentishing" themselves with food. The supply chain from the farm to the supermarket isn't very long, often only a few days, and usually less than one month.

          The end of modern civilization is only a major global crisis away. We are already experiencing a global recession caused by a banki

      • by rve (4436)

        ... (rainfall for irrigation, etc.) ...

        My apologies for being pedantic, but there is no evidence that agriculture had been invented 12,900 years ago, nor is it likely that the climate was very suitable for it.

  • by kaizendojo (956951) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:32AM (#26300045)
    "Those aren't diamond chips, Baby...they're NANODIAMONDS!" Makes me sound less cheap.
  • Everybody blames the comets. And the Republicans.
  • More CO2 would have enveloped them in a cloud of heat-trapping gas that would have prevented them from freezing to death in the younger dryas ice age. Time to throw another log on the fire and look at all of that DAMN SNOW!

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:42AM (#26300137) Journal

    Just to point this interesting, if far fetched, hypothesis [wikipedia.org] about the origin of Clovis people, based on the striking resemblance of their stone tools and that of those found from the Solutrean [wikipedia.org].
    A friend who's studying archaeology told me about this. He's learned to make stone tools, and that made the connection quite appealing. The particularities that both techniques are not found in any other stone using culture.
    Again, it's far fetched, probably not true but makes for a captivating story to get started in studying the paleolithic.

    • by IvyKing (732111)
      Maybe no too far fetched. ISTR that the Kennewick man had more causacoid features than modern day native Americans. Wouldn't surprise me that the current hypothesis for human migration to the Americas is missing a few pieces.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Goddamnit, not that hypothesis again. The paper in question that proposes the connection was authored by Bradley & Stanford, published in World Archaeology 36(4), and is titled "The north Atlantic ice edge corridor: a possible Palaeolithic route to the new World.". They propose a north Atlantic warm water current that would push solutrean tech users from the spanish peninsula to the new world. They base this on a hypothetical similarity between the clovis and solutrean points. There is no such thing. Th

    • by chill (34294) on Friday January 02, 2009 @01:03PM (#26301003) Journal

      You know, I first read that as based on the striking resemblance of their stone tools and that of those found from the Soul Train [wikipedia.org]. and went WTF is he talking about? Picks and platform shoes?

  • by sycodon (149926) on Friday January 02, 2009 @12:21PM (#26300501)

    ...then hell, why not?

  • by DiegoBravo (324012) on Friday January 02, 2009 @01:16PM (#26301175) Journal

    From the slashdot heading:

    >> While disputing the current hypothesis, NASA's David Morrison allows, "They may have discovered something absolutely marvelous and unexplained."

    From the article:

    >> he said: "They may have discovered something absolutely marvelous and unexplained. But the impact hypothesis just doesn't make sense."

    (bolds mine)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CopaceticOpus (965603)

      While disputing the current hypothesis, NASA's David Morrison allows, "They may have discovered something absolutely marvelous and unexplained."

      1. David Morrison disagrees with the comet impact hypothesis.
      2. However, he thinks the recent discovery of nanodiamonds could have some other interesting meaning.

      he said: "They may have discovered something absolutely marvelous and unexplained. But the impact hypothesis just doesn't make sense."

      1. David Morrison thinks that the recent discovery of nanodiamonds could have s
      • Yes, after you read the full article, you realize the opinions of Mr. Morrison.

        But when you read a heading citing somebody's positive comment (out of more context), everybody thinks that it is related to the main idea of the article (you can't say later that the citation was related to another idea or just to some aspect of it.)

        The main idea of the article was a supportive evidence to a killer comet hypothesis (remember the title is "More evidence for a Clovis-Killer Comet")

        So the way the heading was writte

        • I didn't even read the article. I just read the entire sentence which quoted him. The sentence which states that he is "disputing the current hypothesis."

          Why would a heading which states that David Morrison disputes the hypothesis mislead someone to think that he supports the hypothesis?

          • >> Why would a heading which states that David Morrison disputes the hypothesis mislead someone to think that he supports the hypothesis?

            I think because "disputing" is not necessarily being against:

            from Webster (abbreviated by me):

            1.To make a subject of disputation; to argue pro and con; to discuss.
            2.To oppose by argument or assertion; to attempt to overthrow; to controvert; to express dissent or opposition to...

            So from the heading some/(most?) people may understand that he accepts the discovery as an

  • ..some kind of temporal outsourcing ;-)
  • So what shall we name the comet that killed the Clovis? I vote for "Lelouch".

  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @02:21PM (#26302183) Homepage Journal

    Ok, I'm not from New Mexico myself, but what is it about the southeastern part of the state that attracts these crazy theories? Roswell, Area 51, aliens, and now you say a killer comet is going to take out Clovis [wikipedia.org]. Geez, can't the state get a break? Sure, it's rugged and arid, but can't people just drive through there without making up some sort of crazy story? Or is there something about those hundred-mile drives with nothing on either side of the road but yucca and cactus that messes with peoples' heads?

    Killer comet in Clovis. Next, you'll be telling me you've got a bottle of White Sand [nps.gov] from Alamogordo on your shelf, and it's grown by an eighth of an inch just since you came back.

    • by earlymon (1116185)

      Well, we have the continental divide here, Microsoft was started here, the atomic bomb was invented here (and all of the country's nukes were managed from here) and the ancestral petroglyphs date from near-Sumerian times.

      Suppose you're an alien from outer space. Whether you're interested in the planet's geology, multiple cultures, sociology or advanced technology - you'd come to New Mexico. Hell - we've even got cattle! (Although a study that I participated in at a prestigious national laboratory did fin

  • According to the BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7808171.stm [bbc.co.uk] the jury is still out on this one.
  • The Dine' (Navajo) and Dene' (northern Canada branch of Navajo) had been here 10,000 years before this occurred. Linguistic and archeological evidence supports a 20 to 22K year period of divergence in language post separation. The Hopi were also here and still are. They have written of the meeting between the Dine'/Dene' and themselves near the Bering land bridge (the Dine'/Dene' crossed it; the Hopi were already here). From the time of that meeting, the Najavo name for the Hopi is "Ancient Ones" or Anasazi

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