[Contrary Books]
Catastrophism and Alternative Cosmologies

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Astrophysics as an Inextractable Cul-de-sac.

Let me introduce this. This stands currently as an incomplete review of the book The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes (2006), by Richard Firestone, Allen West, and Simon Warwick-Smith. I was busy tracking the genesis of various carbon products, when I checked their claim to a calendar date in the year 10,500 BC.

I checked with an ephemeris program, for there was the curious coincidence that I myself had selected March of the year for the event, or at least the spring equinox, on the basis of purely mechanical data. And so did Firestone et alii. My selection was based on the fact that I needed to have the Earth spin toward the east slightly after an impact so that the first of the electrical arcs contacting the Great Lakes could start in Lake Ontario.

This would work if the Earth's axis pointed back along its orbital path -- thus the spring equinox. At this latitude (about 45 degrees north) the rotational axis would at first lean away from an applied exterior force before a gyroscopic reaction torque responded by twisting the rotational axis counterclockwise as seen from above. I started to write an endnote..

In 2006, in a book, Firestone and co-authors select March 15 as the day this happened. They quote 10 sources, nine Indian tribes plus "the Greeks," and state that each of these has claims of, "it was winter" or "the sun was up," which would match this timing of the event if it happened on March 15, 10,500 BC. The authors offer no details of their sources. "It was winter" and "the sun was up" could probably be made to fit just about anything.

But the authors then offer a diagram of the constellations Gemini, Taurus, and Orion, supposedly as seen just above the horizon in the northeast, looking from Hudson Bay, at a latitude of 50 or 60 degrees north. They report that only on about March 15 could this be seen. I checked with an ephemeris for 10,500 BC, corrected for precession, as the authors would have done. These constellations do not show above the northeast horizon on this date, only above the southeast horizon, which is the wrong direction from directly east. Furthermore, the Julian calendar date of March 15th is December 25th on a Gregorian calendar -- which would be in proper sync with the seasons. The Sun and the constellations Gemini and Taurus just barely appear; Orion never appears above the horizon. It was midwinter.

I should have been thinking faster, because this is before the start of spring (the equinox) and the Sun is never north of directly east anywhere in the northern hemisphere. Just as the Sun could not appear in the northeast on this date, neither could these constellations. The Sun rises, indeed, in Gemini, but at an azimuth of 142 degrees -- 52 degrees south of east.

At that point it sank in: These people don't know where the Sun rises. I stopped work on the book. With that endnote I would have crossed the line between review and critique. I did not want to do a critique, for their data was good, even if they did not profess common sense.

You will therefore find an incomplete dot-list near the bottom of this text.

A second reason for abandoning the review of this book, is that three years later, Firestone with 24 other authors publish "Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling," (2007). With this paper, the supernova idea, endlessly promoted in their book, disappeared.

The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes

Richard Firestone, Allen West, and Simon Warwick-Smith, in a book The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes, published in 2006, and thus a year before the major paper by Firestone and 24 other authors, attempt to confirm the earlier claim of an impact at the start of the Younger Dryas, which had been hinted at with the 2001 paper by Firestone and William Topping.

The book requires some comments. It specifically attempts to make the case for a supernova as the cause of what the authors call "the event." But a supernova obviously was not enough, and the authors suggest that the incoming protons ("cosmic rays") and debris (alpha, beta particles, and magnetic spherules) nudged comets and meteors out of their orbits between Mars and Jupiter (or the Oort Cloud) to come crashing into Earth. Alpha particles are Helium ions. Beta particles are electrons. Magnetic spherules are iron compounds, millions of times larger than alpha particles, which in turn are 10,000 times larger than beta particles.

I think at this junction the authors are lost in space with no direction and no sense of scale. It is just ludicrous to suggest that the molecular remnants of a supernova expulsion which happened 500 light years away, and which would have thinned out to a few particles per million square meters, would sweep up comets of gigantic sizes out of the Oort cloud to be aimed for Earth. Or that all these components would somehow travel at the same speed for 3,040,706,500,000,000 miles. The Oort Cloud of comets and its "cloud" of meteors has been postulated but has never been detected. The authors are treating galactic space like a baseball playing field. A supernova in the Magellanic cloud, spotted in 1987, and named Sn1987a, is used as an example..

"Bright balls are produced as a high speed shockwave .. plows into a [surrounding equatorial] gas ring at 1,000,000 miles per hour. The collision heats the gas ring, causing some regions to thicken and glow."-- (p 167)

Three thickened regions are indicated with arrows superimposed on a photograph. In fact there are 28 bright spots. It is the number predicted (and determined experimentally) by plasma physics. Wal Thornhill has illucidated this supernova, in "Supernova 1987a Decoded" (at http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?article=re6qxnz1), writing..

[Image: Supernova 1987a, after
Thornhill, credit NASA]

"The accepted explanation is that it occurs at the end of a star's lifetime, or red giant stage, when the star's nuclear fuel is exhausted. There is no more release of nuclear energy in the core so the huge star collapses in on itself. If sufficiently massive, the imploding layers of the star are thought to 'rebound' when they hit the core, resulting in an explosion, and the blast wave ejects the star's envelope into interstellar space."

"The bright equatorial ring is caused by the collision of exploded matter from the star with the remnants of an earlier stellar 'wind.' The two faint rings are a problem [to astronomers]."
-- Thornhill

Two illustrations of sn1987a used in the book are cropped to remove the other two rings.

"The best that theorists have been able to manage is to postulate some kind of rotating beam from an assumed supernova remnant, sweeping and lighting up a shell of gas expelled at an earlier epoch. The ad hoc nature of these explanations is obvious."
-- Thornhill

Thornhill points out that the beaded ring is expanding only slowly. It is not enlarging much, not in the first seven years, nor since. The star was not a red giant, despite theory; it was a blue giant. None of the rings (especially the two offset from the center) were predicted by theory, despite contrary claims. The bright beads were totally unexpected. A pulsing neutron star has not shown up. Whatever was it that astrophysicists thought they knew about supernovas?

But let's look at the strange objects which are offered as interlopers. The authors suggest a "very fluffy high carbon dust ball comet" (quoted from diverse pages). Even Wikipedia, always on top of things, calls these meteors "a rare swarm of carbonaceous chondrites," which was probably not the intended appelation. Chondrites are rocks and thus meteors, not the comets as popularly and still scientifically understood. What Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith have in mind (and which they define later) is a very large (miles across) fluffy snow-ball comet coated in carbon, sort of like a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone -- and never before seen in the Universe.

The book is ghost-written. This becomes obvious from the occasionally generalizations put forth which would have no basis in scientific discourse, but exist as popular science notions. The graphics and graphs likewise have been reduced to a uniform format in muddy gray, which often obscures the subject matter, or features inexplicable units on the ordinates for the purpose of clear presentation.

The first half of the book is an archaeological road trip, presented in the first person, although the intent is to speak ex cathedra as "we," where "we" are Richard Firestone and co-authors Allen West and Simon Warwick-Smith. Bill Topping and his shotgun are featured initially. It's narrative purpose seems to be to humanize the scientists. Which it does. I really felt at ease with these guys.

The center of the book then states the conclusion of the road trip research, but the fine details are not laid out until the last part of the book. Here the "evidence" is presented catechistically, opening each topic with a highlighted question, and closing each chapter with highlighted summaries of "What the Evidence Shows."

The "evidence" of the second part of the book is overwhelming, but only infrequently does it consist in actual data which goes to prove an hypothesis, or anything. The authors are hampered in having to remain within the scientific dialog that has gone before. You will actually run across the "icy dustball" and "dusty iceball" description of comets in the book, plus a full-fledged description of the existence and operation of comets, as differing from meteors or asteroids.

It is actually amazing how much the main author, Firestone, who is an atomic physicist, relies on handed-down textbook theories which are clearly 30 years out of date when he steps out of his field. Of course I should probably not fault them for this, for much of astrophysics is caught up in a similar mesh of confusion. This can certainly be said for the authors' notions of what is entailed with a super-nova. The "cosmic rays" (protons) spat out in a nova, plus the high energy "gamma rays" (photons), can clearly be produced much easier and logically if consideration is given to the fact, accepted among plasma scientists, that stars are electrical anodes in an expanding universe of streaming plasma. [note 1]

Additionally, I know I will not convince anyone that Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith are working off on a tangent from the facts of their data, for I also do not have status in any of these fields. My only qualification as a faux-expert is that I will only accept what is logically coherent and makes sense. I can thus only offer my opinion: Their data is acceptable, but their round-about implications of causes is hopelessly inept. The supposed astrophysics is an inextractable cul-de-sac. It is not logical, it is not proof, and it is not even convincing evidence -- it only seems to become so by the repeated listing at the end of each chapter where the hints of simultaneity are presented again under the banner of "What the Evidence Shows" -- to thereby suggest causal connections.

The authors write in one paragraph..

"Maybe a wall of expanding supernova material, in which dense bodies had begun to form, passed through the solar system."

"Or the larger bodies [the impactor(s)] may simply have been dustball comets expelled with the supernova remnant. We know supernova can eject neutron stars and pulsars, and we find small supernova-formed grains stuck in meteorites."

"Nevertheless, little is actually known about supernovae, so this scenario might be the right one."

Or not. This is a strange logic, to suggest that whatever the authors might imagine may, in fact, have happened, because the lack of any clear knowledge about supernovas allows for such wild speculation. This is also a unique admission, since throughout the rest of the book the authors make definitive statements about what supernovas do and what radiochemistry is expected. The supernova has been redefined frequently in the last few decades, but always still in terms of a gravitational collapse. As an electrical entity, however, a supernova (as with pulsars) is only a sudden change of mode of a plasma expulsion. From the standpoint of an electrical universe, there are no neutron stars or tiny rotating pulsars. The neutron star is an imaginary compaction of matter to allow it to rotate at high speeds, and thus explain pulsating radio signals from some stars. But a relaxation oscillator, a star-wide electrical system, will produce the same results, especially since plasma streams exhibit a negative coefficient of resistance at values near mode transition points.

Another striking example of fantasy astronomy is the description of the impactor or impactors. Taken from various pages of the book, a sampling reveals the following..

This last is based on a description later in the book, detailing how comets are so different from asteroids (and thus meteorites). The need for an impactor which never impacts or touches ground is obvious, for there is, as they say, no evidence for anything resembling a bolide impact of any sort. So the establishment definition of "comet" is used, augmented with some imaginary attributes, but otherwise a stock textbook definition dating from 1950 and easily discredited today.

Meteors detonate far above the atmosphere. So they do not "heat up," they explode electrically.

The Shoemaker-Levy characterization of "fluffy" and "loose" is from the NASA website, which reads, "Although comet-like outgassing of the fragments has not been observed, the fragile nature of the object suggests that it is indeed a comet rather than a more compact asteroid." 'Fragile' stems from the fact that Shoemaker-Levy had already broken up into a dozen pieces when it was first detected.

Nothing of the sort was reported by the Deep Impact space craft, nor could anything like this be measured, tested, or gaged. But it could be fantasized. BTW, Comet Tempel-Tuttle was not the Deep Impact mission destination. This error is made on page 168 also; comet Temple-1 was meant. [note 2]

The frequent American Indian mythological interludes are interesting, but few ring a bell. The authors suggest that mythology of American Indians is "symbolic" and "dreamlike," and the "stories" contain "symbolic or allegorical references." My experience, instead, and that of almost all other catastrophists who have accessed myths, is that the "stories" are very specific. They are difficult to understand, and when penetrated they are as specific as history. They are not entertaining moral tales of misdirected allegorical purpose.

The selection of 'myths' by the authors suffers from their unfamiliarity with the long run of mythology in relating other events. References to Coyote, the Polar Twins, or the second sun are misplaced by well over 8,000 years. There is a clear description of the Younger Dryas in the Quiche Maya Popol Vuh, written from documents dating to when these tribes still occupied South America. The description occupies 3/4 of the book. But this was not used, because the Popol Vuh has a reputation of being a concocted narrative. The North American tribes which are quoted were completely and totally obliterated, like the megafauna, and have no history before the darkness at the beginning. The repopulation of North America took 600 years in the south and 1000 years in the north. These are the people telling the tales.

Additionally, the use of mythology here follows the thinking for astrophysics. It suggests that the event at the start of the Younger Dryas is unique, and will account for all mythological recountings. In the first sentence of the book, in an appeal to popular notions, the authors have reference to Plato's fictional Atlantis; in the second line they mention Noah's flood. Neither have anything to do with the start of the Younger Dryas.

I also found the reference to a paper by Clube and Napier (after their book, The Cosmic Serpent, 1982) just absurd. Obviously Firestone had not read any of this (or some ghost writer had uncritically gathered the references). Clube and Napier's thesis as presented in thier book is as hokey as can be. It is pure pop mythology, not science -- a compendium of nonsense of breathtaking ingenuity, as Wal Thornhill might say.

I have no disagreement with the data; my objection is to force-fitting this to a theory which simply does not stand up -- neither the supernova theory nor the exploding dustball comet. All too frequently you run into phrasing like, "The evidence shows that so-and-so might have happened." The use of the word "might" belies the thruth: it's not evidence; it's guesswork.

Interestingly, the authors also develop a theory for the Carolina Bays which is very close to the model proposed by Davias and Gilbride -- the flying mud balls. Unlike many other who have considered the catastophic genesis of these, Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith have an appreciation for the astounding scope of the allied catastrophe, so that they are quite capable of imagining the hurdling of "mountain sized" chunks of ice or snow, or melted pieces of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, over distances of hundereds and thousands of miles.

But at that junction I am abandoned of any further support for my model. Nothing suggest to the authors the possible transport of sand through the air (unlike Davias and Gilbride). Firestone has the bolide explode before touching ground (their comet comes in from the northeast), and the authors instead have splashes of boiling water from the Laurentide Ice Sheet land on carefully placed sand dunes far inland from the shores of North and South Carolina, and, I suppose, also New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida, often at the most unlikely locations for abandoned strands. It has been made clear by others that the sand patches of the Carolina Bays are neither old beaches nor sand dunes. They are not even beaver dams made of sand.

It was the boiling temperature of the flying water, they suggest, which sterilized the sand and bleached out the usual iron stains of beach sand. And then a strong wind from the northwest arose, and formed all the elliptical shapes in the sand. The authors suggest this, but think it unlikely. But they do suggest that the flying ice pieces were (perhaps) shaped like (or were) snow balls. I would settle for water baloons.

The Carbon Connection

Despite all my grousing, the real test would be to list alternative sources for the various carbon forms which constitute the data for Firestone and the other researchers. What we are dealing with are a dozen forms..

Actually, almost all of these forms can be produced by lightning strikes (not the algae). But let me first set up the initial conditions.

The Compressive Impact

The exterior compressive impact mostly produced mechanical phenomena, although it incinerated the continent in a hypersonic flash. This would have set the stage for what followed shortly afterward. The air would have been ionized and the atmosphere completely filled -- overloaded -- with dust and soot. The products of the instantaneous conflagration would have initially been swept away from the center and then sucked back in again by the reversal of the compressive force and the near vacuum which remained after the outward passage of the initial shockwave.

What today are the Great Plains were forests. These trees burned; the ashes were gassified and sucked into the air. There would have been enough carbon in the atmosphere that Firestone would not need to invent an ice ball comet with an exterior layer of carbon or a solid carbon comet (which was also suggested). A solid carbon meteorite has never been seen among any of the hundreds of thousands of meteorites. The inexplicable explosion of a solid carbon 'comet' might possibly have propelled the various carbon products to the far ends of the North American continent, but it would have left a huge hole in the ground in Canada or at the Great Lakes region. (The authors mention a "solid carbon" meteor as a possibility, but do not carry this concept forward. I have addressed this in the endnote.) [note 3]

... shock wave

The shock wave of air, which Firestone imagines as being produced by the rapid atmospheric heating and subsequent explosion of a giant ball of ice or snow (or carbon), would also be produced by the impact of the sudden repulsive electrical force, but at a magnitude which much more easily accounts for its spread to the far reaches of the North American continent, and at a greater destructive value. The hurricane-force winds, the flash of superheated air, the vacuum produced in its wake, and than the nearly equal distribution of soot when the winds reversed and material was lofted -- all of these are much more easily attributed to a large circular impact force of gigantic magnitude from above, than to a point source over the Laurentide Ice Sheet.

Back to the original ice ball or snow ball proposal: An exploding ice ball over Hudson Bay runs into some difficulties in its effects. The concept might be that the ice or snow flashed into steam like water dropped on a hot stove. But even at a supersonic entry speed, the frontal shockwave could not heat a two mile diameter ice ball. A temperature gradient exists at a shock wave, but the shock wave does not engulf an object moving at supersomic speed, it arches across its leading edge instead. The heat which the compression generates bypasses the comet. Heat would transfer to the wake, but it would not be of the expanding thermal reaction associated with an explosion. The heat simply would not be instantaneously transfered to the ball of ice. The rounded surface which we could suggest as a shape for an iceball is the very shape which is used in space craft to minimize heat transfer between the leading shockwave and a space capsule entering the atmosphere.

Neglecting these shortcomings, however, I think the next step in this improbable scenario is the flashing of the two mile diameter sphere of ice into an enormous baloon of steam (although not mentioned per se by Firestone). This then would be the explosion of the ice ball. At normal atmospheric pressure and temperature, the steam would be 1600 times the volume of the original ice (less for snow). In its exploded form the bolide would represent a sphere about 60 miles in diameter. Against the surface area of North America, this still would not cast a very large shadow. [note 4]

The only other suggestion offered by Firestone, et al, is the fragmentation of the ice ball. I frankly do not see how effective this would be in causing a shock wave which knocked down mammoths in New Mexico and Alberta and created the Carolina Bays as splashes of molten chunks of a fragmented comet or of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, as suggested in the book. [note 5]

To do justice to the effects of an aerial explosion, Firestone would need an absolutely gigantic snow ball, or a very large 'swarm' of invading comets. But such would obviously produce impact marks at the location below the explosion. By Firestone's admission, there are no such marks. It is interesting for the researchers to suggest that the Laurentide Ice Sheet buffered the explosion, but this is yet another parameter (along with comet size and composition, incoming speed, and approach angle) to be adjusted to complete the concept of an exploding comet.

The researchers rather arbitrarily (I think) set the thickness of the Laurentide Ice Sheet at two miles to allow for the cushioning of an impact. But it is obvious from other independent analysis of the condition of the Laurentide Ice Sheet at about this time that Hudson Bay area was one of the first locations to be cleared of ice. If this were the center of the explosion it would be even more unusual that there is no impact mark.

[Image: Thorium in
North America.]
[Image: After Firestone, et al, The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes, figure 24.6, Thorium in North America. (The tip of the arrow is at James Bay.)]

... detonation center

What made Hudson Bay a suspect for the center of a 'detonation' to the researchers was that a number of geological indicators, such as the surface distribution of Thorium, Potassium, and Uranium, were seen to be spread in a roughly circular swath with a clear portion centered on the very lowest tip of Hudson Bay, James Bay. The location of the Canadian Shield occupies an analogous congruent position, with Hudson Bay more clearly as the center, but perhaps has nothing to do with the 'event.'

It could as well be said that the Thorium is deposited in two doughnut shapes located southwest of the Great Lakes, one in the central states, and one in the Rockies with Utah as the center. These locations look like an indication of the continued rotation of the Earth toward the east, along with a simultaneous continued correction of the axis of rotation toward an upright position, thus bringing the region further west and southwest in line with Saturn.

About the Laurentine Ice Sheet, which is expected to buffer the 'impact' of the bolide, it should be noted that much of the melting of the ice sheet may have happened already by the time of the event at the beginning of the Younger Dryas. The H0 Heinrich event sediment layer in the Atlantic (the last one in the series) is dated to 13,000 years ago, 500 years before the start of the Younger Dryas. There are none since. 'Heinrich events' are the dates for debris layers in the Atlantic attributed to glaciers sliding into the ocean. These suggest major dates for large scale glacial melting conditions.

The Laurentide Ice Sheet had been melting for 2000 years. Considering the rapidity with which all the previous glacial periods ended, it should perhaps be suggested that there was very little ice left. By the time of the start of the Younger Dryas, the Clovis people had already penetrated into western Canada to hunt big game.

... a detonation again

We need to have another look, perhaps, at the claims for a detonation, and what this would result in.

About detonation shockwaves, Wikipedia writes..

"A detonation wave is essentially a shock supported by a trailing exothermic reaction. It involves a wave traveling through a highly combustible or chemically unstable medium, such as an oxygen-methane mixture or a high explosive. The chemical reaction of the medium occurs following the shock wave, and the chemical energy of the reaction drives the wave forward."

There is no combusting media involved in an expanding or fracturing iceball, although Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith, without blinking, propose a Tunguska redux by writing of "a remarkable sight: a string of giant incandescent fireballs flashing across the noontime sky to smash with awesome power into the ice sheet." Burning ice balls? Here the usual look of meteors, as fireballs or brilliant lights, is misapplied to these cometary objects. The incandescence of meteors is due to electrical discharge, not to heating by air friction. Meteors light up far above the atmosphere, in the ionosphere.

The shockwave of a fast moving object does not leave its proximity. Only a detonation shockwave would emanate from a point source (or a small volume), although it would decline rapidly in its force.

"..the energy of a shock wave dissipates relatively quickly with distance. Also, the accompanying expansion wave approaches and eventually merges with the shock wave, partially cancelling it out."
-- Wikipedia

The hurricane winds from a detonation shock wave would drop off exponentially (as the cube of the distance from the epicenter). The temperature of the air would also drop rapidly away from the center (the lowered pressure of the air expanding away from a point source will lower its temperature in equal measure), and the soot and burned plants would pile up at an intermediate distance from the epicenter and tail off at further distances. This is not what has been seen in the collected data.

What was seen in the data, and implicitly admitted by Firestone, et al, was an expression of energy which was almost beyond comprehension. Nothing was left alive in North America except small animals and grasses. Estimates of the available energy are only understood in terms of the kinetic energy of the incoming bolide, without consideration of electrical energy which would concentrate at the incoming object.

We again have the discrepancy between the energy requirement estimated from what was observed, and what would have been available. Using only kinetic energy, they match, sort of, after the bolide has been scaled up, its composition altered, its speed increased, and its angle adjusted. The whole idea would work, also, if somehow the kinetic energy of the bolide could have been converted into destruction of the landscape. [note 6]

The Lightning Bolt

If a long-distance impact force by another planet seems improbable, consider the next event in sequence: a lightning strike, or a series of strikes, of such magnitude as to be beyond all belief. We are talking of a thunderbolt probably some 30 or 60 miles in diameter. It consisted of electrons headed for Earth, so that the contact point was an anode to the impinging stream of plasma. Once started, the column would also support the transfer of positively charged ions away from Earth in the other direction.

Juergens quotes J.M. Somerville, from "The Electric Arc" (1960), on the movement and discontinuity of the arc at an anode location, as follows..

"There is usually a considerable contraction [of the arc column] at the anode and the anode spot sometimes moves over the anode surface. ...the motion may be discontinuous, a series of spots being left on the anode instead of a continuous trace."

This accounts for the existence of six or seven discrete arc locations in the Great Lakes region, assuming, of course, that the electrical and physical behaviour of plasma can be scaled up without changes. Plasma theorists (and even Wikipedia) assure that this can be done, and blandly scale up plasma streams to galactic dimensions.

The above notes set the stage for the creation and dispersal of the various particles which Firestone, et al, have catalogued. The locations span most of North America. The initial locations of interest were two Clovis sites in Lower Michigan (2001). That was followed by Clovis locations further afield: New Mexico, Arizona, Alberta Canada, South Carolina, and North Carolina (2009). [note 7]

[Image: Clovis sites.]
[Image: Clovis sites investigated by Firestone, et al.]

soot from fires

The soot from fires is recorded everywhere. Firestone, et al, in their 2009 paper started with the line (abbreviations expanded)..

"A carbon-rich black layer, dating to [about] 12.9 [thousand years ago], has been previously identified at [about] 50 Clovis-age sites across North America and appears contemporaneous with the abrupt onset of Younger Dryas cooling."

The soot is important in the formation of other carbon products, as will be described further below. It cannot be said that there should be any problem with this data, except for attributing it to an expanding, exploding, or fracturing carbon covered ice ball above the Laurentide Ice Sheet (or the Great Lakes), for I doubt that there was enough kinetic energy available to achieve the wide distribution of soot and charcoal. Kinetic energy is the square of the speed times the mass of the incoming bolide, and represents the energy which might be released in an impact collision. It has nothing to do with an aerial explosion. The assumed composition by the researchers of an object "fluffier than snow" significantly detracts from any measure of kinetic energy. And, of course, there has not been any evidence of an impact. If there had been an impact by a bolide, the damage would have been very localized.

In the book The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes the authors Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith are reaching for connections, stating..

"The soot of the Event layer is nearly identical to the K/T soot [the Chicxulub 'impact' event of 65,000,000 years ago, which led to the demise of the dinosaurs], validating our theory that massive firestorms occurred at the same time the mammoths disappeared. [12,900 years ago]"
-- p 241

How lame is that? This does not prove anything except that the soot may have been the same. They are talking, in this case, about "grape-bunch" clusters of molten carbon, which were found at the Clovis sites (and at Carolina Bay sands) and also at some locations in the K/T boundary layer of 65,000,000 years ago.

The reasoning attempts to tie the soot, like the Iridium and Helium-3 (discussed below), to meteor impacts. Many have questioned if the Chicxulub crater really is an impact. Some of the plasma theorists claim that it is simply a plasma strike. This leads to considering a whole other line of cosmological causality for the source of Iridium, Helium-3, and a number of other chemicals.

high speed particles

The following note from Juergens, on the effects of an arc at an anode surface, comments on the immense destruction at the Great Lakes -- the depth of the bored holes, the disappearance of soil and the underlying rock, the dispersal of this as sand and silicate dust over a large area of North America.

"Typical anode effects of a destructive kind, leaving detectable markings after discharges are extinguished, include intense heating by streams of high-energy electrons [1], and erosion due to the leaching away of surface matter in the form of positive ions [2], as well as to the bulk extraction and removal of materials [3]."

The references above are to: [1]: J. D. Cobine, Gaseous Conductors- Theory and Engineering Applications (1958); [2]: J. J. and G. P. Thomson Conduction of Electricity through Gases Vol. 11 (1969); and [3]: E. J. Hellund The Plasma State (1961).

The contact point, as an anode, would be more positive (less negative). The incoming electrons would have expelled silicates and other material, removing them from the ground. The ionized material being scoured out of the ground would be in the form of positive ions or positively charged dust, along with protons, and would be repulsively propelled away from the contact point.

We have already seen how this spray of dust and water would account for the Carolina Bays. (see http://saturniancosmology.org/dryas.php#dryas-e19) The beach sands surrounding the Great Lakes most likely have the same source. This includes the famous Indiana Dunes. The subsoil of Chicago, miles away from the lake, is clean clear sand to a depth of 20 feet or more. The sand is not from millions of years of wave action cleaning out and filtering soil particles to form sands, especially if it is admitted that the Great Lakes did not exist before the end of the Ice Age. This is all sharp sand of recent age.

The ground surrounding the contact point of the electrical arc would have become highly negative by induction. Juergens suggested this also for arc contact points on the Moon. The result of this would have been the attraction of portions of the positively ionized materials being cast up into the atmosphere. Near the arc column these positive materials, after being repelled straight up but being reversed by their traversal of the surrounding magnetic field, would have ended up expanding away from each other and would likely have traveled up in a spiral.

Closer to the ground and closer to the the central plasma column the ions would have been spun out at high speeds, directed down toward the ground. The rest of the surface of the Earth would also be negative (but less so), and provide attraction to materials lofted into the atmosphere at an angle.

In the 2006 book by Firestone, et al, it is noted that the entry angles for particles which embedded themselves in Clovis spearpoints (chert) in Michigan suggested a straight down trajectory, whereas locations further away from Michigan showed progressively shallower entry angles as well as less penetration. But in both cases the penetration had to be caused by travel of these particles (whatever they were) at an estimated 10,000 kilometers per second. It certainly was not gravity which sped up these particles. This suggested to the researchers that the cause of these penetrations was a point source in Michigan, which, of course, was thought to be an exploding bolide. [note 8]

We can be more specific. First, what is obvious is that because of the enormous arc at the Great Lakes region, large amounts of small sized grains would have been created, all positively charged. These would have been repulsed straight up and away from the ground, traveling both inside the column of electrons as well as at the edges and beyond, but mostly beyond. As Juergens has pointed out (from other sources), the upward directed positive ions within the electron column would have been forced out of the the plasma column by the differential voltage between the center of the column and the outer edges of the plasma. In plasma columns contained in glass tubing, as in a lab, the positive ions end up being dispersed to the walls of the tubing. For the situation of a plasma contact at the Moon, Juergens suggests that the surface of the Moon is the equivalent of the tubing walls, so that positive ions would be dispersed to a wide area.

Similarly for the arcs at the Great Lakes, positive ions would have accelerated upward within the electrical column of the downward directed electrons, and at some point escaped, and then changed direction due to the circular magnetic field just outside of the column, to eventually be directed both away and upward at increasing speed.

The change in direction would be effected by the magnetic field surrounding the plasma stream. The billion ampere arc would be encircled by an intense magnetic field, as all electrical conductors are. Both the electrons headed for Earth and the positively charged particles moving away constitute a current in the same direction (up, as defined in electrical theory). This defines a circular magnetic field in a counterclockwise direction as seen from above. The direction does not matter, what matters is what this field would do to any charged particles lofted into the air from the edges of the arc contact point or which escaped from the plasma column.

[Image:  Positively charged
particles enter the magnetic field of a plasma column]

[Image: Positively charged particles enter the magnetic field of a plasma column. Further magnetic field lines not shown. Not to scale; sizes and distances altered for presentation.]

The ionized particles individually would constitute a current entering a magnetic field. The particles would change direction of travel. The direction of the force experienced by the particles would be at right angles both to the initial direction of travel (the current, since these are positively ionized) and to the direction of the magnetic field vector.

Particles directed upward outside the plasma column, would be diverted away from the plasma column to travel upward in a spiral. Only at the base of the plasma column would ions be sent to travel toward the Earth, and also the same force would move it away from the plasma column. The rotation of ions in the magnetic field does not change the speed of the particles, but it does radically changes the direction of travel.

Thus, seen from a direction facing the on-coming "B" vector of the magnetic field, the positively charged particles would be seen to move in a clockwise direction, in large loops and spirals. The suggestion by others is that the positive ions would spiral upward similar to what happens with a tornado. Closer to the bottom of such a tornado-like funnel the ions would be cast away from the column at high speeds.

Particles exiting the plasma column at an angle (or lofted up at an angle) would experience the same forces, but, because the circular magnetic field drops off with distance from the plasma column, would negotiate a much larger loop.

Considering the volume of bedrock which was converted to silicate dust, the flying particles must have constituted a virtual rain of materials, all accelerated initially to travel in circular loops and upward spirals. If the arc stopped, the ions would speed away from their circular paths, and approach the ground at steep angles close to the previous column, and at much lower angles for destinations further away from the original arc column.

[Image: Positively charged
particles escape at the collapse of the plasma arc]

[Image: Positively charged particles escape at the collapse of the plasma arc.
Not to scale; sizes and distances altered for presentation.

Once lofted outside the plasma column, the positively ionized particles would be subjected to an enormous polar-shaped electrical field, which would accelerate them away from the plasma column.

In traveling away from the plasma column the attraction of the Earth's negative electrical charge would take over. The particles would speed up, accelerated electrically, and then head toward the Earth's surface.

Particles headed for Earth's surface close to the original plasma arc would be accelerated straight down by the region of high negative charge just outside the plasma stream, and attain phenominal speeds. This would account for particles deeply bored into chert at the Great Lakes region.

This spread of the kinetic energy for the particles at the launch location would account for particles cast much further away from the arc, and at lower angles.

The situation here is not unlike protons traveling in circles in a cyclotron (also at right angles to a magnetic field), which only gain velocity as an electric field is periodically imposed between the two halves of the cyclotron. This might have been accomplished with fluttering or minor interruptions of the plasma arc column.

We are dealing here with particles which are smaller than the size of sand grains, and thus might constitute clumps of thousands of molecules, but do not carry single electrical charges like protons, but multiple positive charges. Protons will not penetrate chert, or much of anything else, even at energy levels of solar protons ("cosmic rays"). Protons also leave almost no record. The charged grains, on the other hand, already accelerated by the electrical field outside the plasma column, could be traveling at enormous speeds once they are released to travel toward Earth.

Another source for the deflection of charged particles might be the single electric field impulse generated whenever the arc stopped. This would be caused by the sudden drop of current in the column of the arc. It would cause an electric field to be generated, in a standing formation reaching from the Earth's surface to the ionosphere or beyond, plus a transverse magnetic field in the same direction as the circular magnetic field associated with the original plasma column. Together these would move out from the center (where the arc had collapsed) at the speed of light, as a single pulse -- a radio wave, a traveling electric field with a magnetic field at right angles. Such a planet-sized radio pulse is not to be neglected, for it could carry an enormous amount of energy.

neutron flux

In addition to the positively charged sand-grain sizes of pulverized bedrock, the plasma column would have drawn vast quantities of positively charged protons from the Earth. This bears on the position expressed by Firestone and Topping in their 2001 paper, which reads..

"Our research indicates that the entire Great Lakes region (and beyond) was subjected to particle bombardment and a catastrophic nuclear irradiation that produced secondary thermal neutrons from cosmic ray interactions."

"The neutrons produced unusually large quantities of Plutonium-239 and substantially altered the natural uranium abundance ratios (Uranium-235 to Uranium-238) in artifacts and in other exposed materials including cherts, sediments, and the entire landscape. These neutrons necessarily transmuted residual nitrogen (Nitrogen-14) in the dated charcoals to radiocarbon [Carbon-14], thus explaining anomalous dates."

The culprit here is the neutrons, and their genesis in turn is "cosmic ray interactions." "Cosmic rays" are protons. Their change to neutrons is by inverse beta capture -- that is, the equivalent of the addition of an electron to the proton. This can happen to protons in the nucleus of an atom, but does not generally happen to free protons unless additional energy is supplied. (Protons are Hydrogen atoms stripped of an electron.) Firestone and Topping here limit the neutrons as "secondary" and "thermal," that is, after interactions of protons with other elements, and the atmosphere. "Thermal" means that the neutrons are randomly directed with a range of low speeds.

For the situation of the immense electrical arcs, we have the protons, we have the electrons, and we have the surplus energy. In addition to the energy represented by the flow of plasma there would have been very large pulsed electrical fields generated whenever the arcs ceased. These last are radio waves (E/M waves) traveling radially away from the point of contact of the arc, with the original column of the arc acting as an antenna.

Topping again pointed up the "neutron event" in a reply to comments by John Southon and R.E. Taylor, published in Mammoth Trumpet in issue 17 (2002), William Topping wrote..

"'Depleted' Uranium-235 is caused by neutrons, and the excessive Plutonium-239 found in various Paleo-Indian artifacts also is attributable to 'neutrons in prehistory' considering all available evidence. The genesis of Carbon-14 is neutrons (Nitrogen-14 + n = Carbon-14), and the fact that we have hard evidence for prehistoric neutrons necessarily means Carbon-14 had to have been produced both in situ, and in the atmosphere."

"Again, it effectively is statistically impossible for all of these results to be 'coincidence,' and the bulk of the evidence in the form of McMaster methodology, gamma analyses, and associated radiochemistry are consistent and coherent in detecting a prehistoric neutron event."

What I find more interesting is Topping's suggestion of a cause, already quoted earlier, as:

"Since the inception of the investigation, the Principal Investigator [Topping] has regarded a 'solar flare' as direct cause for the clear pattern at [circa] 12,500 yrs before the present..."

This is not only an astute observation, but identical to the process I have suggested for this event, except, perhaps, in the cause and the scope of the effects. To receive such a large 'solar flare' from the Sun has to be seen as absolutely frightful, for it suggests that this could happen again at any time. It could wipe out all life of a continent, and set back the whole rest of the world for 1500 years -- as much time as all of our history since the end of the Roman Empire. To suggest, as I do, a completely different agent, at least returns the Sun to the status of a harmless and beneficent player in the Solar System. Saturn, now comfortably far away from the inner planets, would have produced the "flare."

Topping's suggestion of the Sun as a limited and local source for an impulse (shockwave) of protons, and their generation of neutrons in an interaction with the Earth's atmosphere, make much more sense than Firestone's insistance on a supernova event at a far distance from Earth. But the supernova idea cannot be neglected, for although I do not think that a supernova was at cause, the supernova concept is in some measures completely indistinguishable from contact of the Earth with the plasmasphere of Saturn.

I realized the validity of this in looking over the instances of double peaks in the various data presented in the book by Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith. Most of these represent data at the two peaks of 16,000 BP (before the present) and 13,000 BP, with 16,000 BP remaining unexplained. In a number of instances a much later peak of about 9,000 BP shows up -- also offered without comments. This may represent the date of 8,347 BC, a date which I had identified as the end of the three showings of the ball plasmoids in the south.

fullerenes (Bucky Balls) of various sorts

Fullerenes are composites of Carbon atoms which are structurely formed into 60 atoms locked into a sphere. They are small and round.

Because fullerenes are also found in association with meteorites, the researchers are eager to point this out. But fullerenes are found in soot from fires (originally found in candle soot), and thus could be readily expected as part of the continental fires. More importantly, fullerenes are created in the atmosphere by lightning (Wikipedia). Since 1990 the method of producing large amounts of fullerenes has been reduced to the process of passing an electrical arc between two carbon rods (in the manner of an carbon-arc lamp). Some descriptions properly call this process a carbon-arc plasma.

Fullerenes come in other sizes also, composed of groups of 70, 76, and 84 connected Carbon atoms, and apparently into the hundreds (960 Carbon atoms). The characteristics of the little balls can be altered to become electrically conductive or magnetic by substituting a different element for one of the carbon atoms. [source?]


[Image: Bucky Ball with He3, after

Fullerenes (Bucky Balls) can contain separate molecules within the tiny cage-like structure. This was tested for at one point in the investigation, and in addition to other noble gases, Helium-3 was found. This is a stable Helium isotope not commonly found on Earth. The researchers thus immediately suggest that this must come from a distant galactic source, "surfing along the shockwave of an exploding star" (p 351), or is due to the impact that never happened, "most likely arrived with some huge impacting body" (p 350).

The quotes above are from a section of the book dealing with fullerenes. Specific to Helium-3 .... [incomplete text]

magnetic particles

Charged magnetic particles would also follow (or attempt to follow) the magnetic field lines, turning around the plasma column, aligning to a north-seeking direction, while being redirected by the force induced by travel through a magnetic field.

My first thought was to associate the magnetic grains discovered in the black soot layer by Firestone, et al, to the magnetic field surrounding the electrical arcs at the Great Lakes, but this is not needed, and might not have much effect in 'magnetizing' iron particles.

Perhaps they were already magnetized. The northwest region of Minnesota just west of Lake Superior represents the world's largest source of iron ore -- the Mesabi Range, et al. Additionally, Upper Michigan, comprising the adjacent south shore of Lake Superior, was the largest US source of iron ore until the Mesabi Range was developed, and still accounts for 20 percent of US iron ore use today. Northern Wisconsin is another contributor. There is currently only one location of a productive iron ore mine in lower Ontario province, but there have been earlier examples.

The common iron ore here is Magnetite (Fe-3,O-4), which is magnetic. The holes bored in upper Lake Michigan and in Lake Superior must have excavated billions of tons of ferric iron particles and repelled them away from the point of contact. Magnetite can be identified with a hand-held magnet, the same way that Firestone, et al, found magnetic grains everywhere that the black mat. Additionally, coincidental as this may seem, it should be noted that the Iron Range of Minnesota is riddled with thousands of lakes, very reminiscent of the new holes and depressions created at the Tunguska location, as if secondary arcs impinged on the region.

I should point out, however, that Firestone, et al, specifically disclain Magnetite (iron ore) as a source for the magnetic particles..

"At Gainey, large quantities of micrometeorite-like particles appear to be concentrated near the boundary between the B and C sediment horizons. They can be separated with a magnet and are identified by the presence of chondrules and by visual evidence of sintering and partial melting. These particles, dissimilar to common magnetites, are found in association with a high frequency of 'spherules.'"
-- Firestone and Topping, 2001

However, fullerenes doped with certain chemicals also become magnetic, as the following points out..

"Pure buckyball solids form crystal structures, like graphite or diamond, that are insulators or semiconductors. However, when doped with an alkali metal, such as potassium or rubidium, these solids can become electricity-conducting metals. Buckyballs doped with an organic reducing agent exhibit ferromagnetic properties. In the absence of metals, this is a phenomenon without precedence."
-- http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/fullerenes.html

I'm not sure what is meant by "the presence of chondrules," since chondrules are normally only found in meteorites. Chondrules are small round grains of the silicate minerals olivine and proxene, under 1 millimeter in diameter. I suspect it is a reference to droplets of molten silica compounds. This would, of course, be almost expected in the vicinity of a billion ampere arc.

Carbon-Oxygen glass

Juergens wrote..

"It is instructive, too, to take notice of the thermal effects produced on Earth by mere lightning bolts. One such effect is the formation of fulgurites -- glassy objects, usually tubular and often branching, formed in dry ground (such as dune sands) as concentrated streams of electrons funnel into the Earth from the lower ends of lightning channels."

Fulgurites are well known. They can be found in desert sand, as well as any sandy place where lightning has struck. But fulgurites are formed from molten silica. Firestone, et al, found tiny glass-like Carbon shards at various locations within the black mat material, as well as within the sands of some Carolina Bays. This was identified as a rapid melt of Carbon, or mostly Carbon with some percentage of Oxygen. The conclusion was that this material had been subjected to extreme temperatures (6400 degrees Fahrenheit), and rapidly cooled.

A temperature of 6400 degrees Fahrenheit can certainly be imagined for an electrical arc that is miles wide. And, in fact, the rods of carbon-arc lamps heat up to 6500 degrees Fahrenheit, which places Carbon near its melt temperature, although it goes directly to a vapor state.

Carbon-glass was found at a few sites furthest away from Lower Michigan (sites in New Mexico, Alberta, Manitoba). This, together with the fact that Carbon-glass was found in the sands of the ridges surrounding Carolina Bays suggested to the researchers that a far-off explosion would have been responsible for the deposition of this material everywhere.

For the Carolina Bays the possibility was entertained that these chards of glass were hurled accross North America in the explosion of a Carbon comet over Hudson Bay. Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith point out that more Carbon-glass was found near the top of the sand ridges than lower down, as if to suggest that the sand was there before the Carbon-glass was added.

Dating of the sand, verified independently, or at least augmented with signal verification by others, since past dating of the Carolina Bays has been wildly divergent, was via OSL, Optically Stimulated Luminescence, which technically would have determined when the lower sands had last seen sunlight, or, alternately, when it had last been steam-cleaned. With this data in hand, the researchers escaped the cutting edge of Occam's razor.

I should, lastly, point out that Carbon-Oxygen compounds have been under investigation ever since Bucky Balls were first discovered, and hundreds of compounds have so far appeared, with many more in the wings. Some are gasses, some are fugitive, but many are stable at standard temperature and pressure. Carbon-Oxygen glass seems to be a stable variety. Glassy Carbon ("Vitreous Carbon") is manufactured for use as crucibles, other high temperature applications, and chemical impermeability needs.

... nanodiamonds

... hollow spherules

... iridium traces

[never completed]


Note 1 --

There are a number of strange quirks associated with the text of this book. It almost seems like a purposeful obfuscation, for example, to never define "cosmic rays" or "gamma rays."
[return to text]

Note 2 --

To understand how far the "powder snow" is from reality, see any number of daily postings at http://www.thunderbolts.info for the dates on or after July 3, 2005, such as the following..
.. and any number of other shorts.

See also essays by Wal Thornhill at http://www.holoscience.com/, as, for example..

Or see the early predictions by the astronomer Tom Van Flandern, who understands comets to be composed of rock, at http://www.metaresearch.org, and my file on Deep Impact at http://saturniancosmology.org/deep.php. See also an analysis by NASA geologist Nicholas M. Short, at http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sect19/Sect19_23a.html.

The snow-ball or ice-ball is carried forward to account for the Chippewa Basin in Lake Michigan..

Research shows nothing of the kind. Nor has any kind of research been shown.
[return to text]

Note 3 --

Since the layer of black soot extended over all of the continental USA plus the area of Canada east of the Canadian Rockies (where the Laurentide Ice Sheet had already melted long ago), it covered an area of about 3.5 x 10exp6 square miles. This is the area of the US, subtracting the area covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet and adding back in as an equal area the region of Canada west of the ice sheet.

The average thickness of the black mat is noted by the researchers to be only two inches (50 mm). Thus the volume of soot covering the US would add up to the following:

(3.5*10^6) * 2/(12*5280) = 110 cu mi [ mi^2*in/in*ft*mi/ft ]

This volume would be accounted for by a solid carbon sphere about 3 miles in radius: (4/3)*pi*(3^3) = 113 cu mi. This is certainly close to the two mile radius suggested by Firestone, et al.
[return to text]

Note 4 --

Volume of a 2 mile diameter (1 mile radius) sphere = 4/3*pi = 4.2 cu mi

Diameter of a sphere 1600 times larger = sqrt((1600*4.2)/(6/pi)) = 59 mi
[return to text]

Note 5 --

In the 2009 paper the tendency is to suggest a "stony, nickel-iron, or chondritic meteorite" rather than a comet as the bolide.
[return to text]

Note 6 --

The maximum entry speed for a bolide would be about 73 km/sec (73*10^3 m/sec); compacted snow is about 30 percent the density of water, .3 * 1000 kg/m^3. The snow ball would weigh in at 300 * (4/3)*pi*r^3, where r is 1000 meters, thus 1.25 * 10^12 kg. Thus the Kinetic Energy of the incoming bolide would be, as (1/2)*m*v^2..

(1/2)*(1.25*10^12)*((73*10^3)^2) = 3.3*10^27 [kg*m/sec^2 = joules]

The explosive energy of a ton of TNT represents 4.18 giga-joules, thus 4.18*10^9 joules. Thus the incoming bolide represented a kinetic energy of..

(3.3*10^27)/(4.18*10^9) = 789*10^15 tons of TNT.

Firestone quoted Toon as, "..an impact capable of continent-wide damage requires energy of 10 exp 7 megatons [10^13 ton]." This requirement is met with the 2 km wide ball of snow, which is actually 100 times sufficient. "Optimum height" or optimum damage, Toon is quoted, requires a value 10 exp 9 megaton [10^15 ton] of TNT, about equal to the value of the kinetic energy of the snow ball.
[return to text]

Note 7 --

Science magazine in 2007 listed 26 US Clovis sites, about half of which are problematic in dating and artifacts. All dates are listed as close to 11,000 Carbon-14 years before the present (12,900 ybp), as is required by the establishment notion that there was no native population in North America before 12,900 ybp. The problem with these Carbon-14 dates is noted in the text of Firestone and Topping and discussed by them.
[return to text]

Note 8 --

The 2006 book by Firestone, West, and Warwick-Smith reads, "..on the flakes found further away from the Great Lakes, the tracks were at an angle." (pg 14).

The difference in angle convinced the authors that this could not be caused by a supernova, for the admission angle in New Mexico should have been only 10 degress away from nearly vertical. The latitudinal difference between Lower Michigan and New Mexico is 10 degrees (43 degrees less 33 degrees). If Lower Michigan was the epicenter of a supernova blast, then a 10 degrees difference in the angle at which the particles penetrated chert could be attributed to the curvature of the Earth. But apparently the angle was considerably lower than that (closer to the ground). The authors ignore this moment of truth and end up suggesting a supernova anyway.
[return to text]

Calculations are in Unix bc notation, where ^ denotes exponentiation; the functions (a)rctangent, (s)ine, and (c)osine use radians; angle conversions to radians or degrees by the divisors rad=.017+ and deg=57.2+; other functions are shown as f( ); tan()=s()/c()
units: million == 1,000,000; billion == 1,000,000,000;
one AU == 93,000,000 miles.

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