PLEASE NOTE:


*

Date sent: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 08:59:44 -0500 (EST)
From: HUMBPEIS <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk>
Subject: Fw: "When the Comet Flew," March 24 <fwd>
To: cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority: NORMAL

The following letter to the editor of NEWSWEEK was kindly
forwarded by Leroy Ellenberger.
--------------------------------------

From: Leroy Ellenberger <cle@imr-stl.com>
To: letters@newsweek.com
Subject: "When the Comet Flew," March 24
Date: Wednesday, March 19, 1997 8:43 AM

REGARDING MANKIND'S ARCHETYPAL FEAR OF COMETS

("When the Comet Flew," SOCIETY, March 24), the British
astronomers Victor Clube and Bill Napier, in their book
_The Cosmic Winter_, make a good presumptive case it was
inspired by a particular comet, the progenitor of the
Taurid meteor stream, proto-Encke. When the stream was
young, a dense portion accompanying the comet contained
Tunguska-class bolides and larger. Every 3.35 years or
so when the comet came round the Sun our ancestors
noticed that 40 days or so later an armageddon _might_
happen if Earth intercepted some heavy debris causing
monsterous fireball storms and worse. So much debris
would have been injected into the stratosphere on
occasion that the Sun, Moon and stars would be darkened.
Proto-Encke, then, was an _intermittent reinforcer_
which, as any behaviorist will tell you, is as good as
God. Such events may be the inspiration for the "day of
the Lord" described in Isaiah 13:10, "For the stars of
heaven...shall not give their light, the sun shall be
darkened...and the moon shall not cause her light to
shine." Eventually, the comet faded and the Taurids
declined in activity. The fear inspired by a particular
comet was transferred to comets in general. Clube has
also shown that all epochs of millenarian, eschatological
concerns in the past 2,000 years, prior to the 19th
century, coincide with periods of enhanced Taurid
fireball activity, according to Chinese astronomical
records. Interestingly, early descriptions of Satan and
angels are patently of comets as indicated in Neil
Forsyth's _The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth_
(Princeton, 1987), although he does not make the
connection.

C. LEROY ELLENBERGER
ST. LOUIS, MO
cle@imr-stl.com
3929A Utah Street
St. Louis, MO 63116
(314) 454-9700



CCCMENU CCC for 1997

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.