PLEASE NOTE:


*

CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE DEBATE, 25 March 1998
------------------------------------------

"What is normal in nature and society rarely excites
the myth-making imagination, which is more likely to be
kindled by the abnormal, some startling catastrophe,
some terrible violation of the social code"
(Lewis Farnell 1919)


(1) RISKS OF HAILING HISTORY TOO LITERALLY
    Bob Kobres <bkobres@uga.edu>

(2) STONES FROM THE SKY: METEORITES OR HAIL
    Simon Mansfield <simon@spacer.com> wrote:

(3) FIRST STONES, THEN HAILSTONES
    Ed Grondine" <epgrondine@hotmail.com>

====================
(1) RISKS OF HAILING HISTORY TOO LITERALLY

From: Bob Kobres <bkobres@uga.edu>

Rob McNaught makes a good point with regard to attempting to extract
information from ancient text. From our ancestors perspective phenomena
of the sky was just that and not until very recently did it become
common for a certain phenomenon to have a discrete classification. In
other words a few hundred years ago description of a meteor display might
be a meteoroid shower but it could also be an aurora type phenomenon.
That’s why it ultimately comes down to probing the dirt if we are to
really know what happened when and where.

In my view, handed down history should be valued more than it generally
has been for clues about when and where significant impact type
phenomena have occurred but such memories cannot be counted upon as
an accurate description of what, if anything, came down.

A few pages pertinent to this topic are:

http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/discd.html
http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/iceoxy.html
http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/phaeth.html

Also, by querying my NEW search engine for ‘hail*’ you’ll turn up
several interesting tidbits including this particularly relevant page
that I had forgotten about:

http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/hotwater.html

Later.
bobk

==================
(2) STONES FROM THE SKY: METEORITES OR HAIL

From: Simon Mansfield <simon@spacer.com> wrote:

> Rob McNaught <RMN@AAOCBN3.AAO.GOV.AU> wrote:

> "And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were going
> down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven
> upon them unto Azekah, and they died. More died with hailstones than
> they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword." 

> I have no idea what the conventional explanation for this is, but there
> is presumably the explanation that the cause WAS hailstones.  Death by
> hail is common worldwide and every few decades some hundreds die in
> large hailstorms.  There are many more stock deaths, often thousands at
> a time. Hail up to grapefruit size is not uncommon.
>

I would recommend John Lewis' book "Rain of Iron and Ice" pp. 176-182
for an excellant list of "Property Damage, Injuries and Deaths caused
by meteorite falls."

It is a detailed list that would make a good discussion point for this
conference. I would be interested in any confirmation or further input
on Lewis' list.

Regards, Simon

=======================
(3) FIRST STONES, THEN HAILSTONES

From: Ed Grondine" <epgrondine@hotmail.com>

Rob -

I am certainly aware of the dangers of hail.  Once when I was
driving across the northen plains I was caught in a hailstorm; by a
stroke of incredibly good luck one the only overpass for miles around
appeared ahead; I pulled under it, and thus my car escaped major damage.

So after I first read others' suggestions that the Joshua event
was an impact event, I briefly considered both that the stones mentioned
were indeed hailstones; and I also considered whether the hailstones
were an addition by a later scribe trying to explain the  first sentence
in the passage.

In the end it seems more likely that what happened is that the
disintegration of a large meteoroid of the Sikhote Alin class released a
large amount of kinetic energy into the atmosphere ("stones") ; this
heated air came into contact with particles at the super cold
temperature of space, producing hail ("hailstones").

Also, while Joshua does not contain "fire from the sky" it does
contain atmospheric dust from an event of the Sikhote Alin / Tunguska
class. Joshua 10:13: "And the sun stood still (the dust obscured
sunlight), and the moon stayed (the dust reflected sunlight), until the
people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.

Besides the explicit detail in Joshua, you must remember that the
Achaeans, the source for the Tantalus myth, were contemporaneous with
the events. If it had been hail, most likely Tantalus's hell would have
involved hail instead of a stone.

But this is only interpretation, and as you rightly point out because
of language difficulties even the location of more records might not be
able to resolve the problem. In the end, the only thing hope for a
definite solution is a search for meteorites in the Beth Horon area.
                                           E.P. Grondine 



*

CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE DIGEST, 25 March 1998
------------------------------------------

(1) METEORITE CRASHES IN MONAHANS
    Bernd Pauli <bernd.pauli@lehrer1.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de>

(2) CRATER CHAIN ON TWO CONTINENTS POINTS TO IMPACT FROM FRAGMENTED
    COMET
    Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

(3) HOW LIFE RECOVERED AFTER THE END-CRETACEOUS MASS EXTINCTION
    D. Jablonski, University of Chicago

(4) HOW LIFE RECOVERED AFTER THE PERMIAN MASS EXTINCTION
    J.C. Gall et al., University of Strassbourg

(5) DOES GLOBAL BIOTA PRODUCE THREE NEW SPECIES PER YEAR?
    J.J. Sepkoski, University of Chicago

=====================
(1) METEORITE CRASHES IN MONAHANS

From: Bernd Pauli <bernd.pauli@lehrer1.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de>

For all those who haven't had time to download those press releases:

01) http://www.mrt.com/news/archives/9803/meteor23.html

Meteorite crashes in Monahans (By Gary Shanks - Staff Writer)

The Monahans Police Department has temporary custody of a meteorite
fragment that struck the ground in a small housing development in the
northern part of that city, Sunday. The meteorite shown brightly as it
arced across the Permian Basin, between 6:45 and 7 p.m. Sunday,
sparking numbers of calls to the Midland and Ector County sheriff's
offices as well as the Monahans Police Department.

From Midland, the meteorite could be seen burning brilliantly high in
the sky, even though there was still sunlight and blue sky. The
meteorite left a smoke trail pointing west, according to reported
sightings.

An astronomer at the McDonald Observatory theorized that the meteorite
could have contained copper among its metallic ores, explaining the
greenish tint to its glow as it passed over Midland. The meteorite
continued on this path for a few seconds before exploding into several
small, white-hot fragments which quickly vanished, according to a local
eye witness to the event.

In Monahans, a group of youths were playing basketball when a chunk of
this meteorite landed with a thud, causing the youths to investigate,
according to Allen Martin, news director for the KLBO Radio station,
which is located near to the site of the meteorite fragment.

Monahans residents who witnessed the meteorite's passage through the sky
reported a "boom" as well as the bright light, Martin said. The
fragment was burned black and had a texture like chipped concrete,
although it was reportedly "very dense," Martin said. "It was charred
black as night," he added. The oddly-shaped meteorite was eight to nine
inches in length, about four inches wide and about two inches thick and
weighed about five pounds, Martin said.

It struck the ground within 50 feet of five homes, Martin said. "It
landed right in the middle of them," he said. While still warm when it
was found, several people hefted the fragment before Monahans police
suggested that testing it for radioactivity might be wise, Martin said.

The fragment is being kept at the police department today. People were
still milling about the site late into the evening, he said. "It has
stirred up quite a bit of excitement for around here," Martin said.

--

http://www.abqjournal.com/scitech/1sci3-23.htm

March 23, 1998 - Pieces of Possible Meteoroid  - Fall in West Texas

The Associated Press  MONAHANS, Texas - Authorities are investigating
whether an unusual black rock discovered by a group of teen-agers caused
a flash of light that many believed to be a falling meteoroid.

Monahans police suspect the rock could be the cause of Sunday's
sighting, but officials still weren't sure on Monday. "Right at the
moment they don't know what it is," said a woman who answered the phone
at the police station. "No experts or anything have looked at it yet."
The woman, who declined to give her name, said the rock was about 3
inches wide.

Monahans radio station KLBO reported the charred rock was about 9 inches
long and landed about 50 feet from five homes. Law officers were keeping
the fragment for examination by scientists. Several witnesses told local
newspapers and television stations that they had seen something
streaking across the sky as dusk fell. 

People from as far as 70 miles away also heard a loud boom. The
Goldsmith and West Odessa fire departments were sent out to look for a
possible plane crash. The possible celestial visitor appeared as a
bright green streak that exploded into white-hot fragments, according
to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. They could have been meteorites
composed of copper, explaining the greenish tint, an astronomer at
McDonald Observatory said. Monahans is about 60 miles southwest of
Odessa. Copyright 1997, 1998 Albuquerque Journal

=======================
(2) CRATER CHAIN ON TWO CONTINENTS POINTS TO IMPACT FROM FRAGMENTED
    COMET

From: Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
Tel: (773) 702-8360   Fax: (773) 702-8324
http://www-news.uchicago.edu/

Contact: Diana Steele, (773) 702-8366
d-steele@uchicago.edu

Crater chain on two continents points to impact from fragmented comet

214 million year-old event corresponds with mass extinction

A team of scientists working on two continents has discovered that a
series of five craters on Europe and North America form a chain,
indicating the breakup and subsequent impact of a comet or asteroid
that collided with Earth approximately 214 million years ago.

The impacts may have contributed to a mass extinction that occurred at
the end of the Triassic period -- one of the five greatest mass extinctions
in history.

The work, by scientists at the University of Chicago, the University of New
Brunswick (Canada) and The Open University (Milton Keynes, U.K.) is
published in a paper in the Thursday, March 12, issue of the journal
Nature.

"When scientists observed the impacts of the pieces of Comet
Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in July 1994, they said that the impact of a
fragmented comet could never happen here on Earth because the Earth's
gravitational field is too weak to break a comet into pieces," said David
Rowley, University of Chicago Associate Professor in Geophysical
Sciences. "But our studies of these five craters provide compelling
evidence that this happened at least once, and there's no reason it
couldn't have happened more than that."

Rowley's colleagues, John Spray, a structural geologist from the
University of New Brunswick, and Simon Kelley from The Open University,
were interested in the relationship between impact craters of similar ages.
Kelley had developed a technique to date such craters more precisely --
using laser argon/argon dating of the glass formed by localized heating of
the rock. They asked Rowley to help figure out how the craters were
aligned when the impacts occurred -- because of plate tectonics, the
continents have moved extensively in the last 214 million years.

Rowley, a principal investigator for the University of Chicago's
Paleogeographic Atlas Project, which is compiling an atlas of the
paleogeography and paleoclimate of the world as it changed over the
past 500 million years, had that kind of information at his fingertips.

"I get these kinds of requests all the time," said Rowley, "so at first I didn't
think about it too much. But when they asked to me take a closer look at
the data and I saw the alignment, I just said, 'wow!'"

Three of the five craters, Rochechouart in France, and Manicouagan and
Saint Martin in Canada, were at the same latitude -- 22.8 degrees --
forming a nearly 5000-kilometer chain. The other two, Obolon' in Ukraine
and Red Wing in Minnesota, lay on identical declination paths with
Rochechouart and Saint Martin, respectively. All of the craters are
previously known and well-studied, but the paleoalignment has never
before been shown.

One possible explanation for the alignments of the five craters is a
fragmented comet that crashed to Earth in three major groups over a
period of time as short as four hours, in two groups of two and one solitary
chunk. It is possible that the comet or asteroid actually broke into more
than five pieces, but most of the Earth at that latitude was ocean 214
million years ago, and evidence of any ocean-bottom craters has long
been obliterated. The impacts may have occurred over a period of several
days, depending on how widely the fragments were dispersed.

Rowley said that the chance that these craters are randomly aligned is
near zero.

Manicouagan, the largest of the five craters, is more than 100 kilometers
in diameter, comparable to the 170-kilometer Chixulub crater in the
Yucatan -- the impact that is believed to have caused the mass extinction
at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, killing the
dinosaurs.

The Triassic extinction was equivalent in magnitude to the Cretacious/
Tertiary (K/T) extinction: about 80% of the species then living on the planet
became extinct.

There are 150 known impact craters worldwide; the group is now studying
others to see if there are other coincident crater chains.

The Paleogeographic Atlas Project at the University of Chicago is
compiling an atlas of the world's changing geography and climate. The
data are used for testing climate change models, finding probable sites
for oil and minerals, and for providing a comprehensive look at the
evolution of Earth's geographic features. The work is funded by a
constortium of companies that has included Amoco, Exxon, Mobile, Total,
Elf-Aquitaine and Shell, British Petroleum, Conoco and Marathon. More
information can be found at <http://plates.uchicago.edu/>.

================
(3) HOW LIFE RECOVERED AFTER THE END-CRETACEOUS MASS EXTINCTION

D. Jablonski: Geographic variation in the molluscan recovery from the
end-Cretaceous extinction, SCIENCE, 1998, Vol.279, No.5355, pp.1327-1330

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, DEPARTMENT OF GEOPHYSICAL SCIENCE, 5734 S ELLIS
AVE, CHICAGO, IL, 60637

Biotic recovery patterns after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction
differ among the molluscan faunas of the North American Gulf Coast,
northern Europe, northern Africa, and Pakistan and northern India. In
contrast to the Gulf Coast, the other three regions lack a rapid
expansion and decline of 'bloom taxa' and have lower proportions of
invaders early in the recovery phase. The anomalous Gulf Coast
patterns, distinct from extratropical Europe and the tropical regions,
provide evidence for the biogeographic and macroevolutionary complexity
of biotic recoveries and may have implications for present-day biotas.
Copyright 1998, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.

==========================
(4) HOW LIFE RECOVERED AFTER THE PERMIAN MASS EXTINCTION

J.C. Gall, L. Grauvogel-Stamm, A. Nel and F. Papier: The Permian mass
extinction and the Triassic recovery, COMPTES RENDUS DE L ACADEMIE DES
SCIENCES SERIE II FASCICULE A-SCIENCES DE LA TERRE ET DES PLANETES,
1998, Vol.326, No.1, pp.1-12

*) UNIVERSITY OF STRASBOURG 1, EOST, 1 RUE BLESSIG, F-67084 STRASBOURG,
   FRANCE

The most severe mass extinction of the Phanerozoic occurred by stages
in the Permian and spanned several millions of years. The marine
environment suffered the most since their ecosystems greatly collapsed
under the joint effects of a great drop in sea level and general anoxic
conditions in the ocean. On the land, arid conditions and several brief
episodes of climatic cooling led to a great loss in biodiversity of the
vertrebrate fauna and flora and therefore in the ground cover by the
plants. in contrast, the insects did not seem to be very much affected
by the crisis. The recovery of the disturbed ecosystems at the
beginning of the Triassic proceeded from refuges, such as the
transitional environments between sea and emerged lands. Copyright
1998, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.

================
(5) DOES GLOBAL BIOTA PRODUCE THREE NEW SPECIES PER YEAR?

J.J. Sepkoski: Rates of speciation in the fossil record, PHILOSOPHICAL
TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON SERIES B-BIOLOGICAL
SCIENCES, 1998, Vol.353, No.1366, pp.315-326

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, DEPARTMENT OF GEOPHYSICAL SCIENCE, 5734 S ELLIS
AVE, CHICAGO, IL, 60637

Data from palaeontology and biodiversity suggest that the global biota
should produce an average of three new species per year. However, the
fossil record shows large variation around this mean. Rates of
origination have declined through the Phanerozoic. This appears to have
been largely a function of sorting among higher taxa (especially
classes), which exhibit characteristic rates of speciation (and
extinction) that differ among them by nearly an order of magnitude.
Secular decline of origination rates is hardly constant, however; many
positive deviations reflect accelerated speciation during rebounds from
mass extinctions. There has also been general decline in rates of
speciation within major taxa through their histories, although rates
have tended to remain higher among members in tropical regions.
Finally, pulses of speciation appear sometimes to be associated with
climate change, although moderate oscillations of climate do not
necessarily promote speciation despite forcing changes in species'
geographical. Copyright 1998, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.

--------------------------------
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