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 Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history   Fri 28 Apr 2017, 22:01

Major volcanic eruptions are known to have had significant effects on human history. For example the 1815 eruption of Tambora caused disruption to the weather world-wide which may have contributed to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and certainly caused widespread harvest failures in 1816 the so-called ‘year without a summer’. The 1783 eruption of Laki in Iceland is thought to have directly resulted in about 5 million deaths in Europe and North Africa mostly from famine caused by crop failure and drought, and so may have contributed to the 1789 French revolution. The effect on global weather of the 1600 eruption of Huaynaputina in Peru triggered the Russian famine of 1601-1603 in which about one sixth of the Russian population died and led directly to the downfall of Tsar Boris Godunov.

But are there any collisions with extraterrestrial bodies that have ever had similar widespread affects on the course of history? The 1908 Tunguska impact would certainly have had a very dramatic and long-term effect if it had struck London, Paris, Berlin or St Petersburg rather than a largely inhabited area of Siberia, as would the lesser known 1930 Curuçá River (Amazonas) event, a massive meteoric airbust that again largely went unnoticed as it also occurred over what was essentially uninhabited jungle.

But just to put these two 20th century impact events into context: asteroids with a diameter of 4m enter Earth's atmosphere approximately once per year, while asteroids with a diameter of 7m enter the atmosphere about every 5 years  All these objects usually explode in the upper atmosphere and most or all of the solids are vaporized. Asteroids with a diameter of 20m, and which strike Earth approximately twice every century, produce much more powerful airbursts. The 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor was estimated to be about this size and exploded with an airburst of around 500 kilotons which caused injuries to about 1,500 people and $30 million of damage. The Tunguska impact, if indeed it was a meteorite rather than a comet, was probably somewhere around 25-30m in diameter. Something with a diameter of 50m is estimated to strike on average every 750 years and would be expected to explode at an altitude of a 8-10km with an equivalent to about 10,000 Hiroshima bombs. Moreover any asteroid larger than about 30m diameter is liable to strike the ground and produce a significant impact crater and/or tsunami. By contrast to these boulder-sized asteroids, large asteroids with a 1 km diameter strike Earth every 500,000 years on average while collisions with 5 km objects happen approximately once every twenty million years. The last known impact of an object of 10 km or more in diameter was at the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago.

So are there any instances of asteroid or comet impacts that have had significant effects on the course of human history in a manner similar to major volcanic eruptions?
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history   Sat 29 Apr 2017, 11:24

If fully confirmed, one hugely influential effect would be that an extra-terrestrial body impacting or bursting caused the younger dryas when the gradual warming of the last glaciation was suddenly reversed, here it is called the Loch Lomond advance, at around 10000 BCE. This rapid cooling has been implicated in a range of effects including the disappearance of the megafauna and climate change in the Middle East prompting the  the Natuffian.

This has been suggested for years and around 2015 there were papers published citing the presence of particular forms of nano diamonds in the sediments however these were challenged and largely disproved. nano diamong theory refuted

More recently however another study has revived the theory with reference to anomalous platinum deposits again in sediments. platinum anomaly

Additionally it has been proposed that one of the Gobekli Tepe stones depicts this comet and that astronomical reconstructions of the relationship between the site and the sky at that time correlate.
Comet stones
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PostSubject: Re: Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history   Sun 30 Apr 2017, 11:09

It's not quite what I originally had in mind but if the Sirente crater in Italy was caused by a meteorite impact (other origins have been proposed) and as has been suggested this was what Constantine saw as God's sign of "a cross of fire in the sky" on the eve of the battle of the Milvian bridge (28 October 312), then one could certainly say it had a big influence on Christianity becoming the official religion of Rome and hence on the subsequent course of world history. But as I say the exact dating and cause of the crater are not certain. Of course if it was caused by a meteorite impact (which has been estimated to have exploded with something the size of the Hiroshima bomb) and it had hit 4th century Rome (just 150km away) rather than a fairly deserted region of the central Apennines, then history would certainly have been very greatly changed.

I suppose the problem with pinpointing the effects of meteorite impacts is that they are usually over in a fairly brief flash and a bang ... unlike with a volcano there's no rumbling build-up and a "smoking gun" left after the event to mark the exact cause and location.
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PostSubject: Re: Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history   Tue 02 May 2017, 12:36

Meles meles wrote:
I suppose the problem with pinpointing the effects of meteorite impacts is that they are usually over in a fairly brief flash and a bang

Also they were almost never recorded (or even understood) to be meteorites by many who witnessed them until relatively recently historically. Several religions however have not only gladly offered highly non-scientific explanations for the phenomenon over the centuries but have also hinged vital prophecies and divine events on their occurring.

Christians, for example, are still divided over whether John the Divine's "revelation" of one of the key events heralding the end of the world has actually occurred yet or not. His account that "the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind" was a perfect match for US based fundamentalists in 1833 who witnessed what - if accurately recorded - was the largest and longest sustained meteor shower in recent history, visible from almost anywhere on the globe but particularly from the American East Coast area. According to John, with this event ticked off we only now have to wait for the heavens to be "rolled up like a scroll" and the mountains all to suddenly disappear.

In fact John's "revelation" is itself a re-hash of quite a standard prediction of a specific astral phenomenon used in prophecies going back to Sumerian roots, and turning up in many others too quite unrelated to that tradition. Unlike other strange and fantastic predicted astral events which owe more to imagination than observation when finding their way into "holy scripture" those like the one referenced in John's fig analogy are actually quite uniform, reasonably representative (allowing for poetic licence) of the actual phenomenon, and pretty good evidence of people having witnessed rather impressive meteor showers throughout history. Not only that but they also frequently add an inferred impact with the earth into the account, so even if they hadn't really a clue where these missiles came from they certainly had a reasonably accurate understanding of their behaviour and attributes from the point of contact with the atmosphere onwards.
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PostSubject: Re: Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history   Tue 02 May 2017, 18:02

ferval wrote:

Additionally it has been proposed that one of the Gobekli Tepe stones depicts this comet and that astronomical reconstructions of the relationship between the site and the sky at that time correlate.
Comet stones

I see that the carvings at Gobekli Tepe are a key part of Graham Hancock's theory that the impact which caused the younger dryas period also destroyed an unknown advanced global human civillisation as most recently expounded most recently in his book 'Magicians of the Gods' (2015). I can accept the evidence for a major impact triggering a mini ice age and extinction event but I'm rather less convinced by the evidence for this lost civillisation, though I admit I haven't read his book.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Meteorite/comet impacts influencing history   Tue 02 May 2017, 21:19

If you start Meles meles with Graham Hancock...ahumm...then you "are far from house"...you can as well read von Däniken...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_von_D%C3%A4niken

Kind regards, Paul.
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