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Space Science

Study Provides Compelling Evidence of Single Impact Extinction Theory 382

ectotherm writes to tell us that a new study at the University of Missouri-Columbia claims to provide compelling evidence that a single meteor impact was the cause of animal extinction 65 million years ago. From the article: "MacLeod and his co-investigators studied sediment recovered from the Demerara Rise in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of South America, about 4,500 km (approximately 2,800 miles) from the impact site on the Yucatan Peninsula. Sites closer to and farther from the impact site have been studied, but few intermediary sites such as this have been explored."
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Study Provides Compelling Evidence of Single Impact Extinction Theory

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  • Okay... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:46PM (#17040354) Homepage Journal
    Since this helps to support a widely-held theory of the mass extinction 65 million years ago, why is this really news?

    Help me out here.

    Didn't they just fill in another data point?
  • Fl00d (Score:3, Insightful)

    by picob ( 1025968 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:55PM (#17040538)
    If you want to laugh read through the comments. Laugh or be concerned, that is.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:16PM (#17040866) Homepage Journal
    65 million years is crazy-talk, that's 64,994,000 years before God made the Earth!

    Read through the comments at the bottom. Seriously. These people really believe this stuff, and I've personally met people who, if you try to talk to them about almost anything scientific (like, oh say, 80,000-year-old human remains) will absolutely tell you "No, way! The Earth is only 6,000 years ago. It says so in the Bible!"

    I'm not at all suggesting that people give up their religious convictions, but I am saying that some people need to stop confusing religion with science. They are separate disciplines and need to be separate. If you absolutely must believe that the choice is eaither A) God loves me and the Earth is only 6,000 years or B) there was a mass extinction event on the Earth 65 million years ago, so there can't be a God, then you are either seriously depraved or downright stupid.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:23PM (#17040986) Journal
    Personally, I don't believe that the Universe was made just thousands of years ago, but first consider the following:

    It seems possible that if a creator was able to make a Universe, then He would also be able to create that Universe with a false history. To be more precise,

    I mean the Creator could have created a Universe at state B, with Physical Law set Y, in such a way as to make it appear that state A had existed, by reconstructing state A by applying Y on states B..C...D...k...etc, where A In other words, if something is to come out of nothing, and can take on any form, it may well APPEAR that there was a prior history before that creation, but it isn't actually true. Light may take a million/billion years to reach us from that star, but those intermediating states may be reconstructed by an all knowing all powerful entity. By placing a photon with the appropriate properties and vectors in between the star and our planet, say 10,000 Light years out, may make it appear that the photon originated from that star millions/billions of years ago.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flynt ( 248848 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:44PM (#17041246)
    So you have no problem granting me equal logical standing when I say the following: that I have, as of this moment, created your entire reality. Isn't it possible that if I was the creator, and created the universe, then I could also have created that universe with a false history? You believe me don't you? I have a post that says it's true! All other posts were planted here by me to tempt the faithless.

    The problem with the statement is that there is no way to challenge it. You can't prove it, I can't disprove it, at best it's uninteresting, and at worst it's meaningless.

  • Metaphysics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CustomDesigned ( 250089 ) <> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @06:51PM (#17041364) Homepage Journal
    A false history is a metaphysical concept. Any scientific investigation would see the "false" history. Indeed, the "false" history is the true physical history seen by honest scientists - except when viewed from outside the system. There is no sense even bringing it up in a scientific discussion.

    An analogy would be a computer simulation. You have a gigantic computer simulating a universe. You don't want to run the simulation from the big bang, so you load a precomputed state which includes 14 billion years already simulated. Now, this is important to know for discussions of the reality in which the giant computer exists. But it is meaningless for any discussion or investigation of the simulation rules for the universe being simulated.

    BTW, your simulation has a "cheat" function called "miracle" used for, ah, errr, "debugging". The AI units in your simulation can't reliably tell which events are miracles, and which are normal operation of the simulation. This is because they cannot know the full state of the simulation, and likely won't even know the full rule set - due to being part of the simulation themselves.

  • Re:65 million? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:03PM (#17041502)
    Uh huh... but even the entire USA is hardly a representative sample. That said, the American media is hardly a representative sample of Americans.

    Creationists == Atheists

    Why? Because they both have the least confidence in their faith (yes, grub, Atheism is a faith, whether that makes it a religion...??) and are therefore the most vocal about it. That's why it is perceived that so many Americans are atheists, while the rest are seen as creationists.

    HELLO, there are over 1,000,000,000 Catholics in the world alone. That's enough to populate 3 USA's; and the vast majority of Catholics aren't creationists. Then we'll talk about the other some billions of Christians, the Jews, etc. who aren't creationists either.

    The thing that drives me nuts about the average Slashdotting atheist is, they like to paint the picture that anyone who believes in God accepts The Bible literally. That's not only stereotyping, it's wildly inaccurate.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:04PM (#17041524)
    >> equal amount of evidence for other possibilities regarding the origin of life
    The theory of evolution is not a theory regarding the origin of life.

    >> The Monkeyists might like to know
    I presume you're trying to imply that people are thought to be descended from monkeys. This is not what evolution states.

    >> there hase to be NO CHANGE in the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12
    This is true. In fact, the ratio has not been constant. A quick look at shows that scientists are aware of this. (who would have thunk it?)
    So, is the ratio constant historically? No. Does that make carbon dating useless? No.

    >> I do expect at least 5 posts arguing against what I say
    That'd be because what you say is factually incorrect and misleading.
  • Re:back in college (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:13PM (#17041650) Homepage Journal
    I have heard it said that when God cast out Satan from heaven that his impact on the earth is the same meteoric impact that scientists believe wiped out the dinosaurs.

    So, what you're saying is that the dinos are the first ever "friendly fire" casualties?

    Should explain why such a christian nation as the US is so good at it, then.

  • Re:65 million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FST777 ( 913657 ) <> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:41PM (#17041998) Homepage
    Old argument. Could He create a stone He couldn't lift?

    I heard answers like: sure He could, after that He could improve His might so He could lift it (or eat the burrito).

    Funny as hell.

    Thruth is: if there is a God, He is definitely not omnipotent. Most people talk about a Almighty God, which, in strict sense, means "One with all might". That doesn't mean He "can do everything", it means He can do anything every other being can, and perhaps a lot more (like creating a universe with an embedded existance, which I personally believe to be bogus).

    Back to the "creation" thing: I'm christian. I believe God created the Universe, the earth and all living and non-living beings. That doesn't mean he created the world in six literal days, nor does it mean that "it just happened" as he wished. He could have initiated everything and guided it since then.

    Bottomline is: when you mix up science and religion, you degrade the value of both. The question of the scientific origin of "us" shouldn't be hampered with religious prejudice, nor should the question of religious origin be hampered with scientific prejudice. In the end, it's up to the individual to combine both beliefs into one.

    What both ends always should realize: everything you say which you can't prove beyond reasonable doubt is a theory. At this point in time, macro-evolution seems the more likely theory. For others, Intelligent Design could seem the most likely. But these questions should always be regarded as a theory, not as facts, and should be considered from a scientific point of view, instead of a religious one. It's apparent that most creationists forget that rule, but to me it's also apparent that a bunch of evolutionists forget it: it almost is a sport to degrade monotheists with scientific theories.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @07:47PM (#17042088) Homepage

    Do I believe that natural selection should be taught in school? YES I DO!!! It is a proven fact.

    No, it's not. It's a theory that happens to fit the facts better than any other. If the Flying Spaghetti Monster lands tomorrow and starts handing out samples of the Primordial Pasta, current theories will be modified or discarded.

  • Re:65 million? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheCabal ( 215908 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @08:05PM (#17042262) Journal
    Do I believe that natural selection should be taught in school? YES I DO!!! It is a proven fact

    Bzzzt. Wrong. Evolution is a theory, just like Einstein's theories of relativity, Pythagoras' Theorem, and Maxwell's Theory of Electromagnetism. There are no "scientific facts", just theories. A Theory attempts to explain a natural phenomenon. A theory becomes more accepted through repeated experimentation and observation. But if an experiment yields a result other than what the theory predicts (and the experiment was done properly), then the theory must be discarded in favor of the new evidence.

    A Theory can never really be proven because the next experiment may yield a result other than what the theory predicts. A lot of people, especially Creationists, get hung up on "theory" and "fact". Creationists will assert that Evolution is just a theory- it is, and thank you for reiterating that. They also insist that their belief is Fact, which is where science and religion begin to diverge.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @08:13PM (#17042336) Homepage
    Finally, as a Christian myself, I humbly ask that slashdotters stop seeing every article that deals with dinosaurs, evolution/Darwin, stem cells or genetics as an excuse to slap me in the face with it. The only thing worse that pushing your religion on others is trying to take other's religion away.

    Maybe if you read TFA, you'd recognize that the reason there's such a hubbub on Slashdot regarding this article is that a large percentage of the comments on the article were left by ultra-conservative fundamentalist Christians who all pretty much say the same thing (e.g., it was the biblical flood that extinguished the dinosaurs, and much more recently than the scientifically-agreed-upon period of the asteroid impact that TFA refers to).

    Maybe if evangelicals stopped trying to cram their religion down our throats, we wouldn't react so vehemently. Though I must say, if I had to pick between being shouted down by partisans of a scientific theory and being murdered by an angry mob of religious extremists, I'll take the shouting match any day. The thing is, few people have been murdered in the pursuit of Science (the Tuskeegee experiments and various Nazi experiments being the prime counter-examples), while many have been murdered in the name of religion.

    Do I need to invoke the murder of Hypatia, the last great Libarian of Alexandria, at the hands of a mob incited by a man who later became a Christian saint, to make my point any clearer? (Carl Sagan goes on at length about this atrocity in the book and television series Cosmos.)

    I guess my point is, practice what you preach, and encourage your evangelical fundamentalist comrades to follow your example. If you want non-believers to cut you some slack, then kindly get the believers to stop behaving badly by vandalizing the comment sections on science-oriented web sites, for a start. And while you're at it, stop being so self-centered: this isn't a reaction against you, but against the fundie loonies who effectively vandalized the web page of TFA.

    Oh, and incidentally, since you toss off a list of supposed "evidence" against evolution and modern cosmology and in favor of creationism, I should point out that each one of those points has been debunked endlessly. Repeating these time-worn non-arguments doesn't make them any more true or correct. As someone trained in the physical sciences, I get tired of trying to explain to people why evolution doesn't violate thermodynamics, or why extreme energy densities (e.g., those found in the Universe of the Big Bang, as well as those found in the singularities of black holes) cause most physical laws as we commonly understand them to break down. For that matter, it gets tiresome trying to explain why scientific "laws" are descriptive, not proscriptive like the laws that men write. So when you complain about believers having their intelligence assailed or mocked, perhaps you should step back and realize that part of the reason for the mockery is the repetition of the same old retread non-arguments that we scientists have to endure from the extremist believers out there.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @08:15PM (#17042352)
    it's up to the individual to combine both beliefs into one.
    You can't combine 1+1=2 and 1+1=3 into one belief. You can either reject science despite enjoying its effect each time you listen to an iPod, or accept science and consider religion to be a bunch of fairy tales.
  • by Penguinoflight ( 517245 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:10PM (#17043020) Homepage Journal
    He'd hardly be God if He let everyone else make the rules.
  • Re:65 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:20AM (#17044760)
    Religion exists because people need to believe in something greather than themselves.

    "That word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means."

    Art can fulfil the purpose of giving something greater than themselves to believe in. So can science. There's so much to simply WONDER at in the universe, from the smallest bug to the farthest star. Religion, as it is commonly understood rather than according to your personal definition of it, has nothing to offer anyone who is aware of the world around them.
  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @03:26AM (#17046084)
    I do see many posts literally calling Christians retards (some of which are modded down appropriately). As a Christian, I get offended by that

    It's unfortunate that some people in the world are rude. Try being an atheist and having tens of millions of people assume that you have no morals or values. I have to be careful who I "admit" my lack of faith to, lest I be insulted openly by their assumption that I must live my life as if there is no morality. Yeah, like I rape, pillage, and plunder daily. Want to join me?

    Unfortunately for you, the fundamentalists have tried to co-opt the word "Christian" for themselves. If you aren't a biblical literalist, they don't consider you a Christian. The problem is, most biblical literalists repudiate rational thought and pretty much all of science. When you guys get that sorted out amongst yourselves as to who is an isn't a Christian, let us know.

    but anyone who believes in a higher being), I get offended,

    Well, how much respect would you have for an adult who believed in Santa Claus or magic elves? Really? You might not pelt them with rocks, but you aren't really going to respect them, and you are fully aware of that. God is basically an invisible magic friend who loves you and who will punish people you don't like by sending them to hell forever. We can disagree on the fine points, but though I agree that you have faith and I would never openly mock you (sorry about those who do--I don't like rude people) but at a basic level what is there that I'm supposed to respect? Can I have more respect for you than you would have for someone who prayed to Dionysus or thought that a magic leprechaun orbits Neptune and sends him messages? How you can expect more respect than you would have yourself? I agree that you wouldn't be rude to them (kudos to you) but the best we can hope for here is the old saw, "if you don't have anything nice to say..."

    I have yet to hear anyone debunk the first law of thermodynamics. If energy (and matter) is never created nor destroyed, nothing can exist without that law at any scale being broken at some point.

    The laws of physics would only exist in a universe that existed. Meaning, that this first law only holds true once the universe exists. And if science is correct and space and time are linked, there was no before to existence--it isn't as if the universe existed for a while but was empty, and then later stuff came into being. The laws only came into being with the existence of stuff, because the stuff has properties that, once recognized, are stated as scientific laws.

    Evolution is the basis of modern biology. It isn't a hack "theory" in the laymen sense of the word. It is a mental model that happens to not only explain the facts, but to have a predictive value, and so on. has good articles on what "theory" means in a scientific sense. A large part of the problem we face in the evolution-creationism "debate" is the (often deliberate) misuse of the word "theory." Just because the biblical literalists have an explanation doesn't make it a theory in the scientific sense, so their explanation isn't a competing theory. It's a competing explanation (just as magic elves, Odin, and so on are explanations) but not a competing theory. A theory is more than a conjectural explanation.

  • Re:65 million? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FST777 ( 913657 ) <> on Thursday November 30, 2006 @06:10AM (#17046772) Homepage
    I strongly disagree. For me both science and religion contains the Truth. In my personal opinion, one doesn't rule out the other. Science cannot rule out the existence of a God, simply because that is out of the scope of natural laws as we know it. Religion cannot rule out the existence of natural laws (like gravity, or quantummechanics, or genetics), simply that is beyond the scope of spirituality.

    The fact that I believe God created everything does not mean that I oppose the findings like we discuss in this very topic. It simply means that I believe that there is more meaning in life than mere chemics. But the bottomline remains: science and religion simply don't mix up, so they shouldn't be mixed up.

    Your allegory doesn't make sense. Science might say 1+1=2, but religion doesn't contradict that by saying 1+1=3. I really can combine [1+1=2] and [$God=true]. That is the allegory that is made when combining science with religion.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.