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ASTEROID.TXT – “The End Of A Chapter?” FSR
(Vol.34, No.3, Sept., 1989)
– by FSR Editor Gordon Creighton
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THE END OF A CHAPTER?
As all our information media continue to bombard us with
reports about the Ozone Layer; the “Greenhouse Effect”; the
Ice-Caps and the rising seas; the rapid loss of the Earth’s
tropical rain-forests; the massive pollution of land and sea
atmosphere; the terrifying overpopulation of the Earth by Man,
Great Predator; and the accelerating destruction of numerous
species of life, it is evident that many – even among the
unthinking masses of humanity – are beginning to preceive
“SOMETHING IS HAPPENING”.
And, here and there among them, the more perceptive ones are
starting to see that the close of one of the “Great Chapters in
Book of Life on Earth” may be at hand. Should this indeed be
then it is nothing new! For these things have occurred
For what we are discussing is “Catastrophism”, and we know that
old-fashioned Victorian idea of “Gradualism”, once so dear to the
hearts of such folk as the geologist Lyall, has now been
discarded. Today we already know from the scientific evidence,
at least 77 reversals of the Earth’s Poles.
Firstly, there is the problem of the actual wandering of
physical Poles, and this is no doubt connected with the
processes of Continental Drift and the movements of the Plates.
Secondly, as stated already, there is the question of the
reversals. It seems that there have been twenty of these in
last 4,500,000 years, which gives us a rate of about one
every 200,000 years, on an average.
There have been found to be several sorts of time-interval
them. One of the intervals is of about 700,000 years, while
is of about only 10,000 years. The longest interval yet
by our scientists happens to be in fact OUR CURRENT interval, as
seems that the last big reversal was about 690,000 years ago,
the scientists Folgheraiter and Mercanton have also found a
period of reversal about 3,000 years ago.
Findings of scientists in the Geological Department of
University of Minnesota (published in the London Sunday Times
July 15, 1984) indicate that a new “flip” is indeed pending.
found that the Earth’s magnetic field has halved in strength
the past 4,000 years. The actual reversal may, the scientists
“take a few years, or a couple of thousand if History is any
Clearly, when it does happen, magnetic compasses will be useless
navigation during the change, and the protection which the
magnetic field at present gives us against solar radiation could be
altered, no doubt bringing major changes in climate (such as we are
Clearly, also, all creatures that utilize the Earth’s magnetism
their navigation – birds, fish, and honey bees for example – will
thrown into utter confusion and their survival will be in doubt.
And what about ours? (Incidentally, we have heard of all sorts
theories about the cause of extinction of the dinosaurs – such
the explosion of a Supernova. But this magnetic field
might also have been the cause.)
All Life Is Lived On A Razor’s Edge
All life is miraculous and perilous, anyway, and we live on
razor’s edge. In an earlier article, “Will The Earth Be
Again Soon?” (in FSR 30/5, 1985), I gave an outline of the view
Dr. Allen Hynek and fellow astro-physicists regarding a
danger with which our planet is faced – and has always been faced
namely the possibility of another major strike soon by an
or a comet, from which it seemed pretty evident that a good
astronomers think we might ‘cop’ something quite nasty again
Such a view has recently received much confirmation. In
article, The Dynamics of Armageddon, published in the
ASTRONOMY NOW, the Oxford University astrophysicist Dr. Victor
has pointed out that, since about 1970, the previous scientific
thinking about the likelihood of great geophysical disasters on
planet have been revised most drastically. He says that it is
perceived that, even within the tiny span of recorded history,
impact or near passage of comets have had quite startling
upon the Earth.
Comet Encke, And Another Near-Miss By An Asteroid
Subsequently, on October 24, 1988, in an article in the London
Daily Telegraph, Dr. Clube showed that, in particular, COMET ENCKE,
which, with its million-mile swathe of debris intercepts
orbit once every 3.3 years (!), represents a terrible danger to
planet, and he adduces cogent evidence to show that in both the
century A.D., there were what he calls veritable “waves of
against the Earth by Encke. He also thinks, incidentally, that
famous “Tunguska Phenomenon” of 1908 was almost certainly a
chunk of ice about 40 yards wide and weighing some 30,000
which had got detached from Encke’s Comet.
But now (Daily Telegraph, April 21, 1989) we learn that our
has just narrowly escaped being struck by a fresh, totally
asteroid weighing some 400,000,000 tons, which passed within
million miles of us in March of this year!
Dr. Henry Holt, the Northern Arizona University astronomer
discovered this “beastie”, using the Mount Palomar
Telescope, says that the thing had come in from the direction of
Sun, so that the Sun’s glare had prevented anyone from detecting
approach sooner, and that, “If it had appeared only a few
earlier, it would have nailed us”.
“Half-a-million miles from Earth” mean that, as it passed us, the
size of the gap separating the asteroid from us was only twice
distance from the Earth to the Moon.
In 1937 the asteroid HERMES (400 million tons) also came within
a million miles of us. If we are to go on having many such
shaves”, then assuredly it can only due to some Very High Guidance
in other words DIVINE PROVIDENCE. But – can we always count on it?
IF WE ARE WORTH PRESERVING, MAYBE SOMEBODY WILL CONTINUE TO SEE
IT THAT WE ARE PRESERVED.
As we contemplate these Immensities, we realize more acutely
ever that ALL OF LIFE IS LIVED UPON A RAZOR’S EDGE. What
purpose of our existence here is, not one of us knows, but we can
certain that we are here because we are useful to Somebody or
Something. Let us ever be thoughtful and mindful, then, for
we cease to be useful, might not our time be running out?
What do all the signs indicate? Are we not all living on
Jerry W. Decker………Ron Barker………..Chuck Henderson
If we can be of service, you may contact
Jerry at (214) 324-8741 or Ron at (214) 242-9346