Wednesday, September 05, 2007

History Channel: Mega Disasters on comets, asteroids


This particular blog, smaller than many others, is set up to remind visitors of some of the life-changing external threats out there, those bolts from the blue, especially when these apocalyptic potentialities are documented in films (usually documentaries) and television shows (often on cable). On the blog, I try to present the appearance of new films as “news items” that may alert the public to some particular possible disaster. The discussion is more about the newsworthiness of the content than a review of the object merit of the show as a “film”.

The History Channel seems to be adding to its “Mega-Disaster” series (they go alone pretty well with Weather Channel’s “It Could Happen Tomorrow”). During the first week of September, 2007, The History Channel presented “Asteroid Apocalypse” and “Comet Catastrophe,” each one-hour shows. These supplement shows already reviewed about earthquakes.

A comet is a soft ball of ice, sometimes a few miles across, that usually revolves in a highly eccentric orbit around the sun, sometimes reaching as far from the Sun as the Oort cloud. An asteroid is a planetoid, a piece of rock that somehow didn’t get consolidated into a planet. Most asteroids circulate between Mars and Jupiter (Ceres is the largest, over 400 miles across) but a small percentage may cross the Earth’s orbit. The orbits of Asteroids are usually less eccentric than those of comets.

The last major asteroid strike may have occurred 65 million years ago near the Yucatan, resulting in the extinction of the dinosaurs, the appearance of modern birds and mammals, which had a competitive advantage in a world so suddenly changed. The last major comet impact might have occurred around 2807 BC a few hundred miles east of Africa in the Indian Ocean and caused the great Flood in Genesis. Historical migrations and “Babel” language development may support that hypothesis. Comet impacts may be more common than asteroid impacts, and the presence of Jupiter in our Solar System as a “vacuum cleaner” (Jupiter took a major hit in 1994) may well protect us and account for the fact that we can be here. The Tunguska explosion in Siberia in June 1908 was probably a "moderate sized" comet.

Both kinds of catastrophes would have similar consequences. Both can result in a huge fireball, earthquakes, and tsunamis hundreds of feet high, followed by a “nuclear winter” and possibly the end of technological civilization as we know it. An asteroid the size of a football field (100 yards) could wipe out a city. Either a comet or asteroid of several kilometers in diameter could punch through the atmosphere and result in an extinction event. The films “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” in 1998 explored these possibilities.

The asteroid film presented Space Guard, with seven tracking telescopes (in the US, Hawaii, and Australia) to detect NEO ‘s (Near Earth Objects). An asteroid that has a narrow miss might return on the next orbit if it passes through a "keyhole". It seems as though there may a better chance of preventing an asteroid hit than a comet hit, and that unavoidable comet hits might be more likely, "eventually" as topologists say.

(See also July 25, 2006 on this blog.)

Update: Sept. 15, 2007

A review of an important 2005 History Channel film on bird flu (The Next Epidemic: Avian Influenza) was posted Sept. 15 on the TV blog, here.

Update: On Oct. 7, 2007
The History Channel presented "Siberian Apocalypse" about the 1908 Tunguska explosion over Siberia, 600 miles north of Lake Baikal. The most likely theory is a stony asteroid or carbonaceous chondrite. But other theories, including plasma ball lightning, were discussed. A similar fictitious explosion of New York City was simulated. There is a review of a short film "Russian Roswell" here on my TV blog.

1 comment:

Marshall Beeber said...

Scientific Scenario Of A Comet's Impact With Earth And The "Wormwood" Prophecy

An Introduction

In the First Century AD, the Apostle John wrote an apocalyptic book called "Revelation" in which he described among many "end-time" events the collision of a star called Wormwood with Earth. Revelation states:

Rev. 8:10-11: The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

Wormwood is a botanical herb commonly known for its bitterness. See Botanical.com. It was used a pesticide, medicinal tonic and liqueur ingredient. The term "wormwood" was often used to describe "extreme bitterness".

Let us consider the possibility of a "star" turning the waters bitter on Earth. The term "star" in classical terminology lacks the modern astronomical sense. It could have been referring to a comet. asteroid, "sun-like" star or planet. Since the possibility of a planet or sun colliding with earth is infinitesimal, we will eliminate this possibility.

A Scientific Explanation For The Wormwood Star

The Wormwood prophecy cites a "great star, blazing like a torch". Comets are well known for their blazing tails, due to ionization of their gases by the Sun. Either an asteroid or comet could manifest a blazing tail on their entry into Earth's atmosphere. With respect to a comet's impact with a planet, astronomers have recently tracked the collision of the "Shoemaker-Levy 9" comet with the planet Jupiter and were able to confirm many of their theories.

Various scientific scenarios have been theorized on the effects of an asteroid or comet's collision with Earth. An applicable scenario theorizes a chemical change in the atmosphere due to "heat shock" during entry and/or impact of a large asteroid or comet, reacting Oxygen and Nitrogen in the atmosphere to produce Nitric Acid rain. The bitterness produced by the Wormwood Star upon a third of the Earth's potable waters could be the Biblical prediction of "acid rain" from the "heat shock" of a large comet or asteroid's impact with Earth.

The Hooper Natural Science Museum in Ottawa, Canada cites a scientific theory that postulates "atmospheric chemical changes" from the impact of an asteroid or comet with the Earth. See the statement below:

When an asteroid enters earth's atmosphere there are two occurrences of extreme shock. The first occurs as the asteroid enters the atmosphere. The second, more important one, occurs when the ejecta plume (the ejected debris caused by an impact) enters the atmosphere (Zahnle, 1990). This shock causes the breakdown of the oxygen (O2) and the nitrogen (N2) molecules found in our atmosphere. Through a series of chemical reactions the dissociation of the nitrogen and oxygen forms NO which is then converted into NO2. These two molecules can produce acid rain (HNO3) (Prinn and Fegley, 1987). In 1987 Prinn and Fegley determined the atmospheric consequences of a "large" comet impact versus a "small" comet impact. They assumed the "large" impact comet had a mass of 1.25 x 1016 Kg traveling at a velocity of 65 Km/s. As for the "small" impact asteroid, they assumed it had a mass of 5 x 1014 Kg traveling at a velocity of 20 Km/s. It is important to note that these two objects are possible bolides that hit the earth 65 million years ago.

Conclusions of the Large Impact Scenario

If the comet scenario occurred, 7 x 1040 molecules of NO would have been produced and subsequently converted into acid rain. (See chemical reactions) This would have caused a global dispersal of acid rain with a pH of 0-1.5. On the continents the acid rain would have weathered the soil removing many of the insoluble elements ( for e.g. Be+2, Al+3, Hg+2, Cu+, Fe+2, Fe+3, Ti+3, Pb+2, Cd+2, Mn+2, Sr+2). These elements would end up in soil water, streams, rivers, lakes, etc., causing a problem as some of these elements are known for their toxicity towards plants and animals (e.g. Al, Be, Ti, Hg). As for the oceans, the global acid rain would lower the pH of the mixed layer (the top 75 M of the ocean) to a pH of 7.8, breaking down the calcareous shells of organisms that thrive in the mixing zone.

Conclusions of the Small Impact Scenario

If the "small" asteroid scenario were to occur, the amount of acid rain produced would be similar to the "large" comet scenario but only near the impact site. The global pH change would be rather insignificant.

Above statement is referred to Reference Link #4 (Hooper Museum Website)

Conclusion

In conclusion, the scientific scenario theorizing "acid rain" following a large comet or asteroid impact with Earth is the best explanation for the "Wormwood Star" prophecy existing today. Such information enhances the credibility of the "Wormwood Star" prophecy and New Testament writings with scientific theory.

Referring Links

Below are various links discussing asteroids and comets. I have focused particularly on the scientific scenarios of a comet or asteroid colliding with Earth, causing chemical changes in the atmosphere.

"Academy of Sciences" website article describes comets.

"Purdue Univ. Physics Dept." article on physical attributes of comets.

Hayden Planetarium website analysis of 1994 comet collision with the planet Jupiter.

Hooper Museum website article predicting "atmospheric chemical changes" with the impact of a comet.

Smithsonian/NASA article on possible "acid rain" effect of comet's collision with Earth.

"Univ. of Bristol, Bristol, UK" website article on impact geology, physics and chemistry of comets.