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Galactic Origin For 62M-Year Extinction Cycle?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the turn-us-over-we're-done-on-this-side dept.

Space 221

Hugh Pickens writes "Cosmologist Adrian Mellott has an article in Seed Magazine discussing his search for the mechanism behind the mass extinctions in earth's history that seem to occur with a period of about 62 million years. Scientists have identified nearly 20 mass extinctions throughout the fossil record, including the end-Permian event about 250 million years ago that killed off about 95 percent of life on Earth. Mellott notes that as our solar system orbits the Milky Way's center, it oscillates through the galactic plane with a period of around 65 million years. 'The space between galaxies is not empty. It's actually full of rarefied hot gas,' says Mellott. 'As our galaxy falls into the Local Supercluster, it should disturb this gas and create a shock wave, like the bow shock of a jet plane,' generating cascades of high-energy subatomic particles and radiation called 'cosmic rays.' These effects could cause enhanced cloud formation and depletion of the ozone layer, killing off many small organisms at the base of the food chain and potentially leading to a population crash. So where is the earth now in the 62-million year extinction cycle? '[W]e are on the downside of biodiversity, a few million years from hitting bottom,' writes Mellott."

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Deflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525745)

yesterday there was the same story, except it was 150 million years.

Re:Deflation (0)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525925)

They were incandescent-lightyears, these are the much brighter sunlight-years.

Re:Deflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526073)

How fast does moonlight travel?

Re:Deflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526219)

About 62 mph, right up to your closest pub.

Re:Deflation (1)

sigxcpu (456479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527347)

Your mixing moonshine, which is only about 40% pure with moonlight, which is the real thing.

Heard a similar (5, Interesting)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526057)

theory about 20 years ago. However that one suggested the reason for the mass extinctions was because the stars in the galactic plane are much closer together so the likely hood of being in close proximity to a supernova and all the incumbent radiation that entails is much higher. This also explains why occasionally mass extinction skips a beat. Of course the 2 scientists who postulated this theory were promptly laughed at and ridiculed by the scientific community in that very grown up way that scientists do.

Cold fusion anyone?

Re:Heard a similar (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526509)

Why is the above post flamebait? Granted the wording in the last bit could have been a bit more..erm..politically correct and on-topic, but I found it actually interesting. I wasn't aware that someone else had proposed a similar theory, although I wish the above poster had included a link for handy reference.

Re:Heard a similar (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526657)

<i>I wasn't aware that someone else had proposed a similar theory, although I wish the above poster had included a link for handy reference.</i>

You really need to read some more books. An admission of that sort of ignorance is pretty amazing.

Re:Heard a similar (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526523)

theory about 20 years ago. However that one suggested the reason for the mass extinctions was because the stars in the galactic plane are much closer together so the likely hood of being in close proximity to a supernova and all the incumbent radiation that entails is much higher.

Nerds are likely to recognize a similar scenario from Larry Niven's 1966 short story "At the Core" (now in his collection Crashlander [amazon.com] ), where the stars packed together near the galactic core set off a chain reaction of supernovas that would send a deadly wave of radiation towards the outskirts of the galaxy, killing off all life. Depressing reading.

Re:Heard a similar (1)

kjllmn (1337665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527307)

I read "SPACE" by Stephen Baxter (from 2000) a couple of days ago, and was also built on the idea of periodical mass extinctions allover the galaxy (with a happy ending though). He proposed it as an explanation of Fermi's Paradox. Shortly put: "If they existed, they would be here."

Us living in a galaxy with periodic mass extinctions might explain why we have not been encountered by the alien species yet, even though they should, theoretically, be allover the place. No mention of Atlantis though.

Re:Heard a similar (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526705)

I disagree with the moderator of this post's parent comment. While he may have been poking fun at some scientists, he's correct that they're human and often overreact to ideas with which they disagree (much like the mod who marked the parent as flamebait). I too first heard an idea like this 20 or 30 years ago, but what I recall of it was the idea that, as the Solar system passes through the galactic plane, we're inundated with far more dust than while outside it. Additionally, gravitational tugs from nearby stars (of which there are a lot more when passing through the plane) have a better chance of knocking objects out of the Oort cloud and toward us. Also, there's always the chance that our sun could gravitationally tug objects from a neighboring star's Oort cloud toward us-- in other words, it's not just one mass of comets we're dealing with in such an event, it's two, plus all the itinerant dust in between.

Cthulu? (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527213)

Maybe it wasn't radiation that killed off all those critters. Maybe the stars were just right.

First Post (-1, Troll)

portalcake625 (1488239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525747)

The real question is; and so what if we're gone?
Not as if there'll be an alien civilization to take over or give a frickin' damn.

Not the First Post (1)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525773)

Imagine the earth floating on a sine wave. The sine wave passes though the zero point. The zero point is a plane which contains the hot gasses. Are going to be other civilisations outside this cycle? Are there other civilisations who thrive inside the plane? Do some humans need to grow a brain?

Re:First Post (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525785)

Every 62 million years, a giant goatse [goatse.fr] monster appears and sucks 95% of life on this planet into it's anus.

Better find something strong to hold on to!

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526569)

yes, here everyone worries about black holes taking everything, but actually it's those red holes that are dangerous.

Re:First Post (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526731)

Actually the true danger is in white holes. You never know what will come out of them.

Re:First Post (1, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526467)

The real question is; and so what if we're gone?

After reading some of the contributions on /. I completely agree.

Re:First Post (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527469)

Well there will be the damn dirty apes!
But they won't give a damn either about us.

Not a new idea (1, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525751)

I read about it in books which must have been published 30 years ago, though I think the theory than was than the gravitational field of passing stars was changing the orbit of comets in the Oort cloud and causing comet impacts.

Re:Not a new idea (4, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525967)

It's unlikely. Another star (the size of our Sun) needs to pass about 2 light-years near the Sun to significantly disturb the Oort cloud. And Sun-like starts are not that common.

However, Sun's gravitational field is so weak in the Oort cloud that even _Galactic tides_ can eject objects from it. Few years ago I helped my friend to write a computer simulation of this for his thesis.

Re:Not a new idea (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526865)

Unlikely? With, *currently*,
- Alpha Centauri [wikipedia.org] A+B massing 1.100 + 0.907 solar masses 4.365 ly away, and
- Sirius [wikipedia.org] A+B massing 2.02 + 0.978 solar masses 8.6 ly away,
I don't see what's so unlikely about having stars the size of our Sun passing within 2 light-years of the Sun once every 62 My.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

Ozmodium (1395791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527295)

I am surprised that no one mentioned the theory of Nemesis? Oh wait, there was a Slashdot story (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/21/0338234) on it, or at least on the possibility.

According to this site (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_nemesis07.htm) :

"Nemesis' existence was proposed in 1984 by American physicists Daniel Whitmire and Albert Jackson (The University of Southern Louisiana) and also by Richard Muller, Piet Hut & Davis M. in 1984 in order to explain an apparent 26-million year cycle in the occurrence of mass extinctions on Earth, like the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, as noted by Raup and Sepkoski."

So, simplified, the other sun rotates in and drags a whole bunch of crap out of the Oort cloud and wipes out (almost) everything. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Re:Not a new idea (3, Interesting)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526425)

Niven & Pournelle's "Lucifer's Hammer" started out with a nice description of this happening.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526533)

It also ended with one.

Re:Not a new idea (2, Interesting)

ErkDemon (1202789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526845)

see also:

And also: (2, Informative)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527615)

Nightfall [wikipedia.org] (Isaac Asimov, 1941, and Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg, 1990)

Not news (2, Informative)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525761)

BBC documentary series Horizon, c.late 1980s

We need to talk about this! Re:Not news (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527025)

Remember how many people on the planet think that just *believing* something is ok ("I believe in a god", "I blieve there is no global warming" etc etc) - it will take 5 million years to get everybody to accept this and start working on a solution!

Clouds? (4, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525765)

Mabye cosmic rays effect the ozone layer, I don't really know. However claiming that CR's increase cloud cover is stretching the science well beyond what is known [slashdot.org] .

Re:Clouds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526051)

*affect

Re:Clouds? (5, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526157)

Re:Clouds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28527077)

Actually, in this case affect is the right word; being as the cosmic rays don't cause the ozone layer.

Re:Clouds? (4, Interesting)

e2ka (708498) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526507)

This [web.cern.ch] should help our understanding.

Re:Clouds? (5, Informative)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526621)

Mabye cosmic rays effect the ozone layer, I don't really know.

A recent paper shows that this may indeed by the case [uwaterloo.ca]

However claiming that CR's increase cloud cover is stretching the science well beyond what is known.

Given that Svensmark's team has been granted an experiment slot at CERN [web.cern.ch] , at least many of those in the Physics community believe it's a plausible hypothesis. There is research out there demonstrating some causal link between cloud cover and Cosmic Rays. [harvard.edu] Science is all about reaching beyond what is known. It would be pretty a pointless exercise otherwise.

Re:Clouds? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526885)

Thanks for the informative update. I was unaware anyone had found evidence of an 11yr cycle, that has been a major crticisim of the idea. Not sure why you didn't post this when we last "debated" the idea. ;)

Re:Clouds? (3, Informative)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526925)

Not sure why you didn't post this when we last "debated" the idea. ;)

All such theories should be described as tentative, in the absence of solid physical evidence (i.e. not just correlation). The CERN experiment will at least show what and how cloud condensation nuclei can be generated by Cosmic Rays. This may, or may not, be the start of a paradigm shift in Climate Science. We will wait and see.

Re:Clouds? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527291)

Yep all science is tenative and it's models are constantly improving. As you probaly know the IPCC rate clouds as having a low level of scientific understanding, regardless of the outcome getting a better handle on the CR idea will assist in modeling cloud formation [earthsimulator.org.uk]

it's nothing to worry about (-1, Redundant)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525777)

There's really no need to pan@:P:{}n o c a r r i e r

Re:it's nothing to worry about (-1, Redundant)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525813)

2001 called. They want their jo... Hmmm... My head feels a little warm all of a sudden. Why has the sky turne@:P:{}n o c a r r i e r

Re:it's nothing to worry about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525877)

It's Candlejac@:P:{}n o c a r r i e r

So the milky way is falling sunny-side up? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525781)

from TFA: It turns out that the biodiversity minima of the 62-million- year cycle happens when the Sun is âoebobbed upâ on only one side of the galaxy, when the solar system is on the diskâ(TM)s upper, âoenorthâ side...These [cosmic rays] should be showering the north side of the galaxyâ(TM)s disk. We are protected by the galactic magnetic field, much as the Earthâ(TM)s magnetic field protects our planet. When we rise to the north side, we are less protected.

Re:So the milky way is falling sunny-side up? (1)

zombie_monkey (1036404) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525809)

I remember reading about this decades ago in a book by Stanislaw Lem.

Re:So the milky way is falling sunny-side up? (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526121)

Yeah, I remember reading this a few minutes ago, it was even on Slashdot [slashdot.org] I believe, only there wasn't any Unicode to ASCII fuck ups.

I had seen that already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525783)

I made that observation for myself a long time ago. Large meteor impacts tends to have 32M years interval.

Re:I had seen that already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526213)

Just how long ago was that? Let me guess, 32M years?

Its also possible... (3, Funny)

bmgoau (801508) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525817)

Its also possible that my opening of a coke can will unsettle the quantum state of the water molecules vaporized in the air consequentially causing a pony to spontaneously appear. But as much as i wish it to be true, it aint going to happen (at least not for a really long time).

The whole point of the 65 million year cycle was not only the extinctions, but also the discover of elements in the ground only found as a result of asteroid impacts. Tha'ts why researches spend to much time trying to find a large mass that could disturb the Kuiper belt.

Re:Its also possible... (4, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525943)

Its also possible that my opening of a coke can will unsettle the quantum state of the water molecules vaporized in the air consequentially causing a pony to spontaneously appear.

Which is precisely why Coke kill a pony for every can they make ;)

Re:Its also possible... (5, Funny)

macshit (157376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526039)

Its also possible that my opening of a coke can will unsettle the quantum state of the water molecules vaporized in the air consequentially causing a pony to spontaneously appear.

Which is precisely why Coke kill a pony for every can they make ;)

Ah, the well known Pony Preservation Principle.

Re:Its also possible... (2, Funny)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526087)

OMG Ponies?

What a f**king dick (-1, Troll)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525819)

Those gas clouds are probably circulating at the same speed as us. Net speed zero. NTICBBRTFA (not that I can be bothered reading the f**king article). I mean, for Christ sakes. Couldn't it be that they had found 62 million years is the average time it takes a super duper virus to mutate. No, we have to be flying into some fucking cloud that just happens to be traveling at a speed in opposition to the rest of the galaxy.....in a few million years........I may have had a few glasses of wine tonight but there is no way I am going to fall for that.

What an f**king twit!

Re:What a f**king dick (4, Insightful)

boot_img (610085) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525859)

What an incoherent rant. Perhaps you should lay off the vino before posting to slashdot.

Re:What a f**king dick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28525905)

Us passing some gas clouds every 62 million years can't explain those extinctions.
I am passing gas way much more frequently than that without any major damage.

Re:What a f**king dick (5, Funny)

adamchou (993073) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525911)

you're so f**king right man. this article is f**cking stupid. i get you cause i drank a barrel of wine earlier too. OBVIOUSLY, the gas cloud is orbiting the milky way at 62 million year intervals and we're the ones standing still. IDNTRTFAWIDTBYDE (i don't need to read the f**king article when i'm drunk too because you didn't either)

Re:What a f**king dick (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525937)

This is about the motion of our star relative to the disk. Because our orbital inclination around the galactic core is different from other stars in the galaxy we tend to drift above the disc, then we get pulled back by gravity and pop out the bottom of the disc. When we pass through the disc we encounter more objects such as stars and gas clouds.

Re:What a f**king dick (4, Funny)

jarleih (1587871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526311)

I would say encountering a star would definitely fit the description of "hitting the bottom of bioversity"

Re:What a f**king dick (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526391)

This is about the motion of our star relative to the disk.

OCIADBTRTFA (Of course I also didn't bother to read the f**king article), but what the hell has the Discworld to do with this???

What if the Great A'tuin would change course? Huh? We wouldn't even know, because we're not ON the f**king Discworld. It's fiction.

[/deliberately off-topic]

Re:What a f**king dick (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526573)

The Galactic disk.

On a related topic I recently rented a movie of The Color of Magic. The elephants were shown standing motionless on the turtle with their heads pointing out and their tails pointing in. I had always assumed that the elephants were lined up around the turtle head to tail so to speak so that they could rotate the disk while the turtle kept pointing the same way.

Re:What a f**king dick (1)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526743)

but why would they rotate the disk if the sun is rotating around the disk?

Re:What a f**king dick (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526805)

Showing my unfamiliarity with discworld physics here. I assumed that the sun around turtle+elephants+disc is one year, while one turn of the disc is one day.

Re:What a f**king dick (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525939)

Those gas clouds are probably circulating at the same speed as us.

Nice assumption. TFA apparently assumes otherwise. Now I don't know which one of you is right, but at least they did not call people names without even bothering to read their text and without bothering to give any more of an explanation for their opinion other than "I mean, for Christ sakes [sic!]". Which leaves only one fucking twit here, as I see it.

Just no (0, Flamebait)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525895)

The interval between extinctions is 62 million years only if you accept ~30 millions of year of error margin.
The current downfall of biodiversity is really fast compared to the time scale mentioned here. Its most likely reason has two legs, two arms, a big brain and a various set of forest-destroying machines as well as a bad habit of dumping various materials into the ocean.

Re:Just no (4, Funny)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526503)

The interval between extinctions is 62 million years only if you accept ~30 millions of year of error margin. The current downfall of biodiversity is really fast compared to the time scale mentioned here. Its most likely reason has two legs, two arms, a big brain and a various set of forest-destroying machines as well as a bad habit of dumping various materials into the ocean.

You're right! It's people that is the problem. Please write your congressman and tell them to expand Cap'n Trade to cover Humans. All that human breathing is producing unacceptable levels of CO2.

We could put a life clock on everyone's hand, and only allow a few people selected by lottery to live past age 35. That should keep the population down enough to save planet Earth!

Re:Just no (1)

Copperhamster (1031604) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527095)

There is no sanctuary!

Re:Just no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28527383)

No, 35 won't do, you really need to catch them before they breed if you really want to affect long term population numbers.

Re:Just no (1)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527465)

All right, Carousel!

Woo!

Brain full? (3, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525921)

As others have noticed, this is hardly new. I'm starting to think we just have too much knowledge these days. I've lost count of the number of 'discoveries' that are already known, both in IT and the wider areas of science and beyond. It's effectively impossible for people to fully grasp the entire sum of knowledge in their field with the result we're starting to spend time 'reinventing the wheel' to a depressing level.

Re:Brain full? (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526109)

I'm starting to think we just have too much knowledge these days.

Certainly too much data, perhaps too much knowledge, definitely too little insight.

Isn't it the same problem popping up in the IP arena? You know, patents and such.

Re:Brain full? (5, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526177)

I'm starting to think we just have too much knowledge these days. I've lost count of the number of 'discoveries' that are already known, both in IT and the wider areas of science and beyond.

Sorry, somebody already thought of that.

Probably the Simpson's.

Re:Brain full? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526989)

Their what?

Re:Brain full? (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526493)

People have always been reinventing the wheel, that is when we haven't had dark ages and lost the wheel in the first place. It just shows the importance of putting knowledge in a context. By all means I'm not saying wikipedia is perfect in content, but the basic idea of hyperlinking up documents to related concepts makes it 1000% user-friendlier than the dead tree encyclopedias I grew up with.

We do have a few books like that too, trying to give a bird's eye view of a topic. I remember using one of those in my master's degree, it was 8-900 pages thick, basicly shortly put a topic in context and listed central works. They referenced literally hundreds of works and basicly told us enough to say whether it was relevant or not for the thesis.

Yes, it's impossible to know the whole width of human knowledge or even within a single field. I think you'd have a helluva time trying to get through the Library of Alexandria, so it's hardly a new thing. But knowing every wheel is different from not finding the one wheel you seek and end up reinventing it. The former is impossible, the latter takes structure.

And there's a cost to overstructuring. You mention IT as an example - yes, but how long does it also take to find a library that does what you want, is it documented properly, is it of good quality, is it still developed so people will fix issues, can you adapt it to your needs, will upstream want your changes, in short reusing the wheel is not free either.

Re:Brain full? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526715)

"Hardly new"? Well, yes and no. It's hardly new because ideas about periodicity of extinctions have been proposed before ... and found to be statistically bogus (as the article mentions, originally people were suggesting a 26Ma periodicity). It's hardly new because the idea that galactic cycles could affect the Earth's climate significantly has been proposed before too ... and found to be pretty weak compared to the effects of asteroid impacts, very large volcanic eruptions and the slow reorganization of continental positions and ocean currents, for which there is much clearer evidence in the Earth's geology. Some of the biggest mass extinctions (e.g., the Cretaceous/Tertiary and the Permian/Triassic) are clearly associated with these sorts of events. Increased cosmic rays? Oh, please. Life would hardly notice. That's hardly much of an effect compared to the biggest known asteroid impact in the last 200Ma or so (the Cretaceous/Tertiary one on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico), or areas of flood basalt volcanism that are cover areas a third the size of Australia (associated with both the Cretaceous/Tertiary and Permian/Triassic). What "new" is that anybody bothered to resurrect the idea, but I guess there is a cyclicity to old ideas too.

While the record has improved a lot, I'm still doubtful that this study is any more valid than the earlier ones.
Extinctions don't have to be cyclic, and the proposed mechanism for causing them is poor.

Re:Brain full? (2, Interesting)

kjllmn (1337665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527421)

So the next thing would be an area of knowledge which deals with precisely this. Not philosophically, but more in terms of optimizing knowledge acquisition and management - or something like that. Or, speaking of reinventing the wheel, perhaps there already is?

Crap (4, Funny)

powerslave12r (1389937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28525929)

Its actually the Infinite Improbability Drive in action. Research my ass. Before you ask any more questions, 42.

Re:Crap (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526085)

Research my ass.

I've just got the research report about your ass, and you're not going to like the findings.

From a Galactic Origin (5, Funny)

Toutatis (652446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526059)

All this has happened before and will happen again.

Re:From a Galactic Origin (1)

kjllmn (1337665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527629)

Read a lot of Nietzsche, do you?

Examine It For Yourself (5, Insightful)

TerribleNews (1195393) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526089)

Take a look at wikipedia's graph of extinctions [wikipedia.org] from the article about the history of life [wikipedia.org] . I haven't done any actual signal analysis on this data.

I would buy that there is a bit more energy in the per 62 million years signal, but I wouldn't call it clockwork-like regularity. If they came up with a p-value of 0.01, I'd say that there must be something happening, but I would expect a little more consistency out of a big cosmic event like the one they're describing.

Re:Examine It For Yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28527557)

I would expect a little more consistency out of a big cosmic event like the one they're describing.

With 62 million years since our last pass, I feel it would be naive to expect the gas to be exactly where we left it.

extinction... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526119)

[W]e are on the downside of biodiversity, a few million years from hitting bottom,' writes Mellott

I totally agree with that assumption, though I personally think Adrian Mellott should have left out "the few million" part.

We're doomed anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526125)

Well we're all gonna die on December, 21 2012 anyway, so why bother???

Arthur Conan Doyle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526195)

had a story that's strangely similar: "The Poison Belt". Except that instead of radiation, it's poisonous aether.

Skeptics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526227)

Tor the "skeptics" are desparate for anything, anything at all which can be called "science" that can somehow justify continuing to mine and burn coal and avoid investing in environmentally responsible energy policy

The reapers are coming! (4, Funny)

Redlite (1588373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526249)

Shut down the mass relays!

Re:The reapers are coming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526667)

Shut down the mass relays!

If extinction is the price, I'm 100% for a world with blue, sexually ambiguous females and floating thespian clouds who refuse to refer to themselves in the first person exist.

So what keeps the globular clusters alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526279)

M94 is about the age of the universe: 13-18Bn years old.

It is out of the plane of the milky way.

Yet it still remains a cluster, not shocked apart by its life in the danger zone.

Re:So what keeps the globular clusters alive? (2, Informative)

jarleih (1587871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526613)

1st m94 is a galaxy at a distance of 15-33 mio ly not a globular cluster 2nd) globular cluster form sperical halos around the galaxies at distances several times the diameter of the host galaxy 3rd you are right, m94 is definitely out of the plane of the milky way, so at least your post is not total nonsense

Sorry, m92, not m94 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526887)

So sue me.

It's still an old globular cluster.

Re:Sorry, m92, not m94 (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527103)

yo mama.

Re:Sorry, m92, not m94 (1)

jarleih (1587871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527377)

old it might be, especially since science nowadays dates the age of the Universe at ~13.7bn years.

Well, i always wondered what was before the Big Bang; now I know: m92, ah m94, ah whatever...

Congrats, I hereby nominate you for the 2009 (IG) Nobel Prize

awesome (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526441)

can't wait to see it in action the next michael bay movie

Re:awesome (5, Funny)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526481)

Why not just put it in your Low Budget HDV Filipino Horror Movie in NYC.

Re:awesome (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527241)

can't wait to see it in action the next michael bay movie

Why not just put it in your Low Budget HDV Filipino Horror Movie in NYC.

He said "low-budget", not "no talent".

yeah i really have to finish that thing (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28527435)

no time ;-(

faster pussycat, kill, kill (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526567)

'[W]e are on the downside of biodiversity, a few million years from hitting bottom,'

Ha! With good ol' human ingenuity, I'm sure we can hit bottom a lot faster than that!

Mayan Calendar (1, Interesting)

elkto (558121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28526675)

Chime in here with any information on this.

I was lead to believe at one point that the Mayan Calendar's "Beginning of time/End of time", December 21 2012, corresponded to when our Solar System transverses the plane of the Milkway.

Where these people a few million years off? (Amongst other things)

Adrian Melott (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526699)

Not to be anal, but his name is spelled Adrian Melott , with one L. This spelling will help if you google his name.

I attend the University of Kansas (where he teaches), and know this guy is associated with some pretty far out ideas.

Gamma Ray Bursts Anyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28526875)

Seriously, that would cause mass extinction [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-ray_burst]. Though the odds aren't great of one happening. However, if one considers that galaxies move and collide all the time, then I suppose over the course of Earth's history it's possible that the Earth came really close to a Super Nova at the same time a Gamma Ray burst happened.

The odds aren't good.

FYI we get bombarded by Cosmic Rays all the time.

This guy needs to publish a paper and not "speculate" in a magazine. Pseudo Science, nothing to see here, move along.

Ob. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28527481)

This has all happened before, and it will all happen again...
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