Friday, June 02, 2006

The Great Dying: As If We Don't Have Enough To Worry About...

I never grew out of my fascination with dinosaurs, and my liberal arts education reignited this love after taking a couple of related electives thus bestowing upon me the esteemed degree of Doctorate of arm chair physics, astronomy, & cosmology, Which means that I studied all the observations, but avoided learning any of the math associated with it, and I mean NONE of the math. I have infected my daughter with this bug as well, and she has a couple of books about our solar system and Earth’s development she absolutely loves. She regularly asks me to tell her the story of our planet’s creation. It sounds something like this: “Daddy, first dust and rocks circled the sun, right...? And then the volcanos came, right...? And then the asteroid slammed into the earth and tore off the moon, right…? And then another comet killed all the dinosaurs right...? And then monkeys turned into people right...?” She’s so smart!

In the last two decades or so, the conventional wisdom surrounding the demise of the dinosaurs has undergone a serious paradigm shift which has asteroid/comet impact leaded the race as cause for the mass extinction 65 million yers ago. Given the evidence, and on Akum’s principle alone, this seems to be a pretty good bet to me.

But the dino kill off was not the first by any stretch. The largest kill off happened 250 million years ago and is commonly referred to as the "Great Dying" (how this didn’t become the title of a Heavy Metal song I’ll never know). Something happened 250 million years ago, that started the demise of 90% of all life on our big blue marble here, 90%!!! Al Gore has his thoughts on this, and many theories have been proffered, but it looks like that pesky asteroid/comet thing is responsible for it too.

The universe and our solar system were different places back then than they are now. Things have settled down in the astronomical sense, but I’ll bet back then Fred and Barney saw a lot of strange shit flying across the sky on a regular basis. I’m glad I wasn’t born then.

11 Comments:

At 1:42 PM, June 02, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

"The Great Dying
Asteroids and Comets Flying
The Great Dying
Ain't No Sense In Crying, Crying
CRyyyyyyyyiiiiing yeah ow ow ooo"

 
At 2:12 PM, June 02, 2006, Blogger Yoda Jacket said...

"I never grew out of my fascination with dinosaurs,"

All right Ross Geller, what have you done with my neighbor.

I can't believe that your daughter doesn't think the moon is made of cheese.

 
At 3:02 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Clarkie said...

Read A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It's science for dumbasses. My favorite bits are the section on Isaac Newton - what a fruitcake (he shoved a knitting needle into his own pupil to see what would happen)- and the chapter about the race to determine the distance from the Earth to the Sun by calculating it from the transit of Venus. Overall, the book is pretty funny and makes all these challenging concepts accessible to people like me who never even dared to try and comprehend them. A Walk In The Woods, about attempting the Appalachian Trail with an overweight, Little-Debby-loving, quirky, old buddy is a fun read too.

 
At 4:01 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Tony Alva said...

I'll DEFINATELY check out your recommendations Clarkie. My little one is so tough. She asks all these questions about earth's violent history and mass extinctions and barely blinks at the answers. Me, I'm in consatant worry that I'll be driving home one day and see a bright light in the sky that keeps getting bigger and bigger.

 
At 11:25 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Clarkie said...

Let's don't forget about the supervolcano under Yellowstone, the Ebola virus, and necritizing fascitis, seemingly unreasonable fears that could really make one lose sleep... if you were a "worst-case-scenario" type like myself.

 
At 3:02 PM, June 06, 2006, Blogger Jackson said...

And bad mp3's......

 
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