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Did an Exploding Comet Doom Early Americans? 89

New Scientist outlines a new theory on the demise of the Clovis people in the southwest US over 10,000 years ago. A group of 25 researchers speculates that a comet exploded over ice-covered Canada 12,900 years ago and triggered a firestorm across North America that not only wiped out the Clovis people but also forced a number of large land mammals into extinciton and kicked off the Younger Dryas climate change. However, geologists are pretty conservative folks, according to the article, and some of them are not buying it.
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Did an Exploding Comet Doom Early Americans?

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  • by Ramble ( 940291 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:08PM (#19227693) Homepage
    Now I don't pretent to understand this stuff but if there was a comet large enough to wipe out a people then surely we'd see a reduction in population across the globe due to dust blocking out the sun and such. We'd also be able to see it in the ground, whether it's less plant material or rocks/fossils.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:14PM (#19227787) Homepage Journal
    Just finished reading "The Map That Changed The World", the story of the discovery of plate tectonics. The reaction from the community was apparently not healthy skepticism but hostility bordering on fanaticism.
  • by Temkin ( 112574 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:49PM (#19228427)

    While I was wrapping up my Geology degree in the early 90's, I actually came across a old geezer with tenure at a symposium that kept rambling about granitizing fluids. Thankfully, he wasn't a prof at my school.

    It's been said that any major change in the fundamental theories of a field will not be accepted until the old guard dies off. Plate tectonics was one such shift. I figure if we're wrong about global warming, we won't be able to admit it until 2045 or so...

  • The Giant Impact theory for the formation of the Moon was accepted by much of the community over the course of a single meeting, I've been told by a participant.

    A quick search reveals that is the case []:

    Some work was done by Thompson and Stevenson in 1983 about the formation of moonlets in the disk of debris that formed around Earth after the impact. However, in general the theory languished until 1984 when an international meeting was organized in Kona, Hawaii, about the origin of the moon. At that meeting, the giant impact hypothesis emerged as the leading hypothesis and has remained in that role ever since. Dr. Michael Drake, director of the University of Arizona's Planetary Science Department, recently described that meeting as perhaps the most successful in the history of planetary science.

    That's very cool.

    My economics professor told us essentially the same thing about the Coase theorem. Allegedly, Coase presented it to a group of economists all of whom rejected the theory right off, but by the time they'd left, he'd convinced every last one of them. (I, however, think it needs a few qualifications.)

  • Atlantis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 12357bd ( 686909 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @05:34AM (#19233607)
    So Plato [] was right about a great disaster 9000 years before his epoch.
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @12:49PM (#19239699) Journal
    The Navajo (Dine) people of the southwest US are directly related to the Dene of Canada. It's already been shown that it took the former over 20,000 years to migrate physically and linguistically. It's trivial to show the latter (in Canada, ground zero for the object in question) still exist.

    The Hopi (Anasazi or "Ancient Ones" in Dine) can confirm that the Dine/Dene were here over 20,000 years ago. They met these descendents of the Tungusk coming across the Bering Land Bridge. Since this means the Hopi were here before the Bridge, it doesn't get taken seriously. Likewise, the Dine's name for the Hopi is that of another group that supposedly went extinct, indicating they didn't, is another fact that gets actively ignored.

    Conducting archeology without conducting anthropology on people that still exist is like studying the history of New York by studying the subway maps and ignoring the people on the platforms and the streets above.

I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan