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New Theory Links Biodiversity to the Stars

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the long-wait-for-results-returned dept.

Space 184

eldavojohn writes "Space.com's Mystery Monday has an article proposing a hypothesis that our solar system's undulations directly affects biodiversity on earth through cosmic-ray exposure. There's data that, through the fossil record, shows us earth's biodiversity peaking again and again until a great cataclysmic period where it is greatly reduced. The theory essentially suggests that this 62 million year cycle can be attributed to how our solar system moves within the milky way galaxy which turns out to be a 64 million year cycle. It's a plausible explanation though very tough to prove, hopefully we don't have to wait around 64 million years to draw a conclusion on this hypothesis."

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542 Million year chart (5, Funny)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844529)

Am I the only one who refreshed the chart after a few minutes to see if it updated?

Re:542 Million year chart (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844623)

Am I the only one who refreshed the chart after a few minutes to see if it updated?


Yes.

Re:542 Million year chart (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844641)

64 million years, for this we will not wait.

Enter we should, the dangerous area, in 10 millions.

start packing now

Re:542 Million year chart (3, Funny)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844709)

I hear digg is working on "Biodiversity Stack" so you never have to refresh again!

Fantastic Four! (2, Funny)

arcite (661011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844791)

Can I take a trip to a space station the next time cosmic radiation passes by earth?

I need to become a superhero if I am to have a chance in hell with Sue Storm...uh I mean Jessica Alba.

Preferably I would like super strength and the power to know women's thoughts -- could come in handy! ;)

Re:Fantastic Four! (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845491)

So you want super strength but at the cost of your sanity?

Re:Fantastic Four! (1)

Dutch_Cap (532453) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845725)

Sanity is just a special case of insanity.

Re:Fantastic Four! (3, Funny)

number1scatterbrain (976838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845821)

You know, I always considered Sue Storm and Reed Richards to be an example of a perfect marriage...
      He had the ability to stretch any part of his body to great lengths (heh, heh, heh,)and after sex,
      she would disappear...

Re:Fantastic Four! (1)

unchiujar (1030510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845891)

The power to know women's thoughts is incompatible with the power of compiling the Linux kernel! Which one do you prefer?

Re:542 Million year chart (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844853)

Speaking of charts...

Year of the Jackpot, anyone?

Re:542 Million year chart (2, Interesting)

Tofystedeth (1076755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844925)

I know I could look this up and possibly prevent myself from looking like an idiot, but I feel lazy so I'm just going to work on my own fuzzy recollections. I believe that was a Heinlein (or otherwise famous slightly olderschool sci-fi author) short story about the guy who studied trends and found that all of the cyclic trends were converging at one point and predicted the end of the world by a year or two?

Re:542 Million year chart (2, Informative)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845081)

I remembered it being Heinlein, too. You're right [wikipedia.org]

I've been meaning to re-read Heinlein for a while now that I'm older. This looks like the cynical depressing stuff that drew me to Heinlein when I was a kid.

Re:542 Million year chart (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845961)

Yup, Heinlein, and I think he predicted it spot on or something like that because it ended right as the sun was starting to die :)

No, but you need to click on this one too ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844957)

astrophysics link [arxiv.org]

as the title alone is the perfect companion to the worldview of the cosmological link clicker.

Global warming (1, Flamebait)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844975)

Cosmic rays can affect our biodiversity, but heaven forbid anybody suggest the sun affects our weather! It's the evil of mankind! Go green--the new marketing buzzword for people to make money off of (like "carbs"). Thanks, Al Gore.

Re:542 Million year chart (1)

ScriptedReplay (908196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845387)

Yes, but do not despair. There will be others as your species' membership increases.

What? (1)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844537)

"hopefully we don't have to wait around 64 million years to draw a conclusion on this hypothesis."

I don't plan on being here in 64 million years, do you?

Re:What? (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844665)

I don't plan on being here in 64 million years, do you?

Yes. Can I have your stereo?

Re:What? (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845243)

Say goodbye to your clock radio, asshole!

Re:What? (2, Funny)

badc0ffee (969714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844735)

I agree... I also do not plan to be around for the Y10K bug, which will come up before this.

Re:What? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844835)

I want to live that long, if only to see if daytime soaps ever improve.

Re:What? (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844921)

No, but we need to start preparing for "Galactic Warming", soon enough. Why wait?

Hey, we even get to keep initials.

I knew it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844581)

I always knew stars fit into the equation some how.

Re:I knew it! (3, Insightful)

EugeneK (50783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844843)

When I saw "link[ed] to the stars" and "millions of years ago" I was hoping scientists confirmed that HP Lovecraft was right.. [wikipedia.org]

Re:I knew it! (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844899)

This also correlates to other things, can you say global warming? I was trying to find evidence of a 62 million year cycle of other things too, as well as information on gravitational alignments within the solar system having effects on the Earth. There doesn't seem to be much easily available on either. Has anyone found any reliable information with regard to this?

Re:I knew it! (2, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845005)

How dare you, sir! It's clearly mankind that is causing global warming, and the only way to get rid of it is if people pay higher taxes to make up for their pure evil. It's not liberalism--it's a "consensus!" Al Gore knows all.

hopefully? (3, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844587)

hopefully we don't have to wait around 64 million years to draw a conclusion on this hypothesis.
If there is some 64M year galactic cycle which causes mass extinctions, I would prefer to wait as long as possible before having to verify this first-hand.

Re:hopefully? (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844655)

64 million years ought to be enough for anybody.

Civilization... (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844713)

You're over it!

I'll do it. (2, Funny)

oni (41625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845033)

I would prefer to wait as long as possible before having to verify this first-hand.

I volunteer to conduct the research. I'll just need a small yearly grant for 64 million years.

So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (2, Interesting)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844593)

How far into the cycle are we now?

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (2, Funny)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844651)

The dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, so theoretically, we're overdue.

Any chance of it happening before I'm forced to go to my cousin's wedding? Cuz that's going to be a real waste of time.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (2, Informative)

Piedramente (1063240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844699)

Not quite.

If you read TFA, you'll see that this particular extinction does not fit the cycle. This one is blamed on the asteroid.

TFA says we have ~10 million years to go.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (4, Funny)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844747)

So... not before August, then?

Rats.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (3, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844885)

but MFMC says we have five and a half years (my f-ing Mayan Calendar)

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (2, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18846153)

It doesn't really say anything about the K-T extinction one way or the other, just that two other extinctions- the end-Ordivician and the end-Permian event- do fit into this supposed cycle.

The problem I see, however, is that the end-Permian event is too sudden to be explained by this process. The end-Permian extinction, which wiped out about 95% of all marine genera, is thought to have occurred in under 200,000 years. However, if the Earth slowly traveled into a region of increased cosmic rays, you should see a gradual decline in diversity, not a catastrophic, near-total collapse of the ecosystem, which is what actually happens at the Permo-Triassic boundary. The end-Permian extinction isn't a "fluctuation", it's the near-annihilation of complex life. And given that water does a reasonable job of stopping cosmic rays and other forms of radiation, why would the marine ecosystem be expected to show such a dramatic decline?

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844773)

No worries, if you don't want to go to your cousin's wedding, just tell him you have other plans and you'll catch his next one.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845217)

Yeah, tell Zonk about the wedding; he'll dupe it for you.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

sharperguy (1065162) | more than 7 years ago | (#18846171)

Lol this could be quite scary because theres loads of stuff in various beleifes that some crazy shit is going to go down around about now.

check this [adishakti.org] for more info

ps: dunno if i actually believe this it's just interesting how many things seem to be pointing to it

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844663)

Since the dinosaurs were wiped out around the end of the Cretaceous http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous [wikipedia.org] period and that was about the right time (65M Years ago)

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844723)

Oh my God, they were right! The Rapture is imminent!

Do you think I still have time to start going to church, or should I just forget about it and sin like crazy?

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845313)

the fact that you had to ask that question can mean only one thing..

come join the rest of us in sin :)

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (4, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845459)

You don't need to worry about it. You can wait until the Rapture, and then the proof of the existence of Jesus will be clear, so you can believe. There's going to be 7 years of Tribulation after the Rapture, but that's really no big deal if you've got proof of Jesus, if you think about it.

Millions of people will probably die in the Tribulaton, and you're likely to be one of them. Be a hero and always try save others without regard for your own life. God loves that, plus it just about guarantees a violent and quick death. A head shot maybe. If you know that Jesus is real, then that's really nothing at all compared to the eternal bliss of heaven. Fundies like to hold up the Rapture as something truly awful, but really, it's no different than getting to heaven any other way, plus you have actual proof of Jesus because the Rapture can't be covered up.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845823)

SIn like crazy and choose a god that doesn't care.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

Xeriar (456730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844667)

How far into the cycle are we now?

The K-T extinction event occurred about 65.5 mya so, from all appearances, we're in it.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844725)

Oh, about 64 million years plus or minus a few ...
!@#$! !#$ GAK!!!
~~NO CARRIER~~

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844961)

I know slashdotters hate obscure references so I'll narrow it down for ya:

December 21, 2012

http://www.levity.com/eschaton/Why2012.html [levity.com]

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1, Informative)

Manchot (847225) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844987)

We actually have mass extinctions going on now. It's off-cycle, since we're the cause.

Re:So when is this doomsday supposed to be? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845521)

We have an extinction rate which is higher than rates which have been associated with previous mass extinctions but we have not yet put that large of a dent into the current biodiversity so that we can not be sure that this is a mass extinction event or something more moderate. I think it is kind of up to us to decide.
--
Be kind to the Earth: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

hopefully we don't have to wait around 64 million (3, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844595)

That's ok.

I'll wait.

Apocalypse Later. (4, Funny)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844607)

There's data that, through the fossil record, shows us earth's biodiversity peaking again and again until a great cataclysmic period where it is greatly reduced [...] hopefully we don't have to wait around 64 million years to draw a conclusion on this hypothesis.

Personally, I hope we do have to wait that long. :-)

Re:Apocalypse Later. (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844691)

Dunno... you know, there are days when I look at MySpace and think, "today would be a good day for a cataclysm".

If sheeple aren't in the cycle, how do we get them in?

Re:Apocalypse Later. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18845293)

there are days when I look at MySpace and think, "today would be a good day for a cataclysm".
You are implying there are days when you look at Myspace and don't get that feeling.

Struth is stranger than fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18845125)

the fossil record, shows us earth's biodiversity peaking again and again until a great cataclysmic period where it is greatly reduced

Utterly stunning! The very idea that it peaks, until it reduces, that just leaves me totally gob smacked.

:P

Re:Apocalypse Later. (1)

squidfood (149212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18846201)

until a great cataclysmic period where it is greatly reduced...


Maybe we're the cataclysm.
64M is enough for intelligence to repeatedly re-evolve...

Cool (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844625)

I used to think God was responsible for sheep love because he made them so soft and cuddly. Now I know it's the stars it seems much more like it's cosmic destiny to create human/sheep hybrids.

Re:Cool (5, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844949)

two simple points

Slashdot needs a -1 disturbing modifier.

God made sheep soft so we could shave them naked first.

Re:Cool (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845593)

So you think it's a good idea to have REALLY hairy women?

Oh wait... (1)

flashdot1234 (925924) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844647)

...and the dinosaurs became extinct approximately 65 million years ago? Something tells me it's time for the tinfoil hat again...

Interesting and plausible theory, but not so new.. (4, Interesting)

leather_helmet (887398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844649)

A quick search will bring up a lot of similar ideas regarding the 'orbital rhythm' of the solar system and how it affects things like oceanic levels, radiation levels, which in turn, obviously, has an impact on biodiversity

This general idea has been around for a very long time, I've come across it several times in various magazines like Scientific American, etc.

Cyclic minima (3, Funny)

The Lerneaen Hydra (885793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844659)

Apparently the second derivative of biodiversity (wrt. to time) had a minima 3 years ago. Co-incidently bush got re-elected.

Re:Cyclic minima (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844787)

a minimum. several minima.

In Other News.... (4, Interesting)

bossesjoe (675859) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844661)

Astrologists are freaking out across the world at the first sign of honest scientific news that shows a link between stars and life on earth, telling everyone that they knew all along the stars are what makes everything the way it is.

Re:In Other News.... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845117)


Astrologists are freaking out across the world at the first sign of honest scientific news that shows a link between stars and life on earth

Unfortunately since the cycle is 64 million years long every person that's ever been born is the same "sign", and your horoscope doesn't change for millions of years. Astrologists are going to be out of a job if everyone has the same horoscope every day for several million years.

Less than 64M years (1)

hey (83763) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844669)

The cycle is 64M years so have to wait less than that. Maybe as little as 32M years.

Re:Less than 64M years (3, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844815)

The median of the cycle is exactly ....

31.4159265 Million years, anything else is not Geeky enough.

Re:Less than 64M years (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844977)

Real Geeks understand sigificant figures!!! It is very unlikey we even have the cycle down to better than plus or minus a million years or so. 3 x 10^7 years, now that is geeky enough.

Re:Less than 64M years (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845179)

Real Real Geeks recognize Pi.

64 million year cycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844737)

I bet it's closer to a 67108864 year cycle.

Hypothesis Not Theory (0, Troll)

da_yingyang0 (1048770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844799)

There is nothing really backing this one up. The Permian extinction could have just as easily been a glaciation on Gondwana. My personal vote would be that the Permian and Ordovician extinctions were the result of some earth-based forcing of the environment. But most importantly, this new information is just a hypothesis, nothing more. Lets not try to give it more weight than it deserves.

I blame global warming (4, Funny)

us7892 (655683) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844801)

Buy hybrid cars. Start conserving toilet paper. Wait, that's for global warming!

Can we launch a few nukes at a nearby Asteroid? Oh, that's for stopping the apocolyptic end-of-the-world asteroid collision.

What can *I do* to help stop this 64 million year cycle? There must be something I should worry about here. I'll buy some solar panels. Doh! That's for global warming again...

Re:I blame global warming (3, Funny)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845055)

Let's ask Sheryl Crow. Not only does she seem to have all the answers, but the obsessive media is all to happy to report them to everybody. One square of toilet paper per shit? Sheer genius. I suppose the toilet paper is more for wiping the shit off your fingers than anything else. But think of how you're helping the planet here, and you know it's practical because it came from a liberal pop-folk musician. They're always right about everything scientific. And every day is a winding road.

Re:I blame global warming (2, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845197)

Why buy a hybrid for $15k that gets 50-60 MPG and needs $10k in new batteries every ten years when you can buy a 10-year-old economy gas or diesel car for $1k that gets 40-50 MPG? Yes, I drive a 1994 Geo Metro. I get 45/49 MPG on nothing but gas. I paid $1300 for it a couple of years ago. My alternative at the time was a diesel VW Rabbit, which gets similar mileage but is harder to maintain. My next car will be the Laremo, I hope. 157 MPG FTW.

Re:I blame global warming (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845833)

I can second the Geo Metro (also, Suzuki Swift) gets that kind of mileage. If they still made them, that would be my next car purchase. Yes, I have a huge truck for pulling my trailer, and hauling lumber, but for around town, and commute driving, the Geo Metro is fantastic.

Re:I blame global warming (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845981)

If you live in the Greater L.A. area, in particular Orange County, I can sum it up for you in two words.

Carpool Lane.

Certain hybrids (Prius, Civic Hybrid) are eligible for stickers which allow the driver to use the carpool lane solo.

Given the state of certain freeways in SoCal *cough*CA-91*cough*, this is a major, MAJOR benefit.

Re:I blame global warming (2, Funny)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845221)

> What can *I do* to help stop this 64 million year cycle?

Launch rockets. Just launch as much stuff as you can in the direction of motion of the Sun. That way there will be a net thrust on the Earth (and consequently the solar system through gravity) that will eventually slow down its orbit. Of course we'd end up falling into the big black hole at the center of the Galaxy as a result. But c'est la vie, you can't always get everything you want.

Re:I blame global warming (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845509)

Bio-Dome.

or you could pray if that comforts you.

Humans (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844817)

There's data that, through the fossil record, shows us earth's biodiversity peaking again and again until a great cataclysmic period where it is greatly reduced.
Is this where homo sapiens come in? Are we the next cause of a great cataclysmic period?

so it was the cosmic rays! (1)

passionfruit (1091373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844825)

...it was cosmic rays stupid!

Not so new theory? (1)

colin_faber (1083673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844831)

I thought I saw something a few years ago about this on discovery science discussing this same thing. I'm not so sure how 'new' this theory really is.

"cataclysm" (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844833)

"until a great cataclysmic period where it is greatly reduced" -- There is a cycle but no abrupt decreases in that graph. So the explanation may be different.

Re:"cataclysm" (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845089)

They looked pretty abrubt to me. In fact, it looks like we are at the end of a downspike right now. Makes me feel a little better about our impact on the planet.

Also, is it just me, or does anyone else feel like their brains are suddenly heating u

As for Me... (2)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18844837)

As for me, I'm not going to worry about it too much. Think of me as Beowulf Schaeffer not worrying too much about the galactic core exploding, and the shock wave arriving in a mere 20,000 years into the future. Nothing to lose sleep over.

periodicity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18844861)

FTFA: "At least two of the Earth's great mass extinctions--the Permian extinction 250 million years ago and the Ordovician extinction about 450 million years ago--correspond with peaks of this cycle"

Shouldn't the difference between these two (200 million years) be a multiple of 62 million years? (OK, 200 is a multiple of 66.7 million years, but still...)

Re:periodicity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18846089)

Well, if you use more precise dates for the end of the Ordovician and the end of the Permian, you get a lot closer. According to Wikipedia, the Ordovician period ended 443.7 ± 1.5 million years ago and the Permian ended 251.0 ± 0.4 million years ago. A 192.7 million year difference would put the two almost exactly three 64 million year cycles apart.

Nemesis (4, Interesting)

jafuser (112236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845009)

One interesting hypothesis is is that a red or brown dwarf [wikipedia.org] in a highly elliptical orbit with our sun periodically (every ~26M years) passes through the Oort Cloud [wikipedia.org] and pulls comets into the inner solar system, causing a wave of extinctions.

BTW, one of the physcists researching this idea, Richard A. Muller [wikipedia.org] teaches a great physics course, titled "Physics for Future Presidents" [google.com] which is available online for free on google video.

Re:Nemesis (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18845255)

I don't know 'bout all of you guys, but every time a drop a Brown Dwarf it definitely causes a wave of exstinktion. Don't get me started on the Oort Clouds.

You laugh now (4, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845235)

This is not meant to be a funny post.

Here's an article on extinctions [wikipedia.org] in Wikipedia.

Here's a snipet from that article about mass extinctions:

There have been at least five mass extinctions in the history of life, and four in the last 3.5 billion years in which many species have disappeared in a relatively short period of geological time. The most recent of these, the K-T extinction 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, is best known for having wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs, among many other species.

In other words, don't laugh about the 62-64 million year cycle. We are due for a mass extinction, according to the fossil record. Maybe this phenomenon has something to do with it. Note that when biodiversity goes down in a species, that's not good, biologically speaking. Less diversity means less chance of a species being able to survive a catastrophic event.

Take it for what you want, but all those people laughing about having to wait 64 million years, my point is, I don't necessarily think you have to wait all that long.

Re:You laugh now (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845769)

"We are due for a mass extinction,..."

your use or the word 'Due' indicates you don't understand what the hell is going on.

The most simplistic definition:

On averages x has happenned every y years. That doesn't mean the x is 'due' to happen again. That this is a probalistic chance it may occure.

OTOH, maybe every 63 million years a sentient life blooms up and spreads destructivly around the globe taking more resources then it puts back.

Re:You laugh now (2)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18846087)

However, isn't it now generally accepted that the K-T event was caused by a comet or asteroid or something slamming into the planet? If that was the case, how does the cycle bear any relation to lack of biodiversity?

Why this is not so: evolving DNA repair (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845371)

I really doubt this hypothesis because it assumes that organisms are helpless in the face of change levels of cosmic radiation. The reality is that DNA repair mechanisms are subject to evolution (and can evolve relatively quickly in lab experiments). If background radiation rose, organisms would simply evolve more robust DNA repair mechanisms. If cosmic radiation dropped off, then organisms would simply evolve less robust DNA repair mechanisms.

Totally Implausible (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18845537)

The 64 million year cycle they are invoking is an up and down cycle through the galactic plane. This means the danger zone must be associated with a certain Galactic height
(distance above the mid-plane of the Galactic disk). But:
1) the bio-diversity cycle would not be a fixed 64 billion year cycle, unless the danger zone was at the sun's peak Galactic height. Otherwise, the
sun would pass through the danger zone at uneven (though still periodic) time intervals.
2) the height of the danger zone would have to be at a roughly uniform Galactic height throughout the disk, otherwise the sun would aperiodically emerge into the danger zone.
3) the danger zone would have to exist on one side of the galaxy, but not the other.

Seems unlikely to me.

Re:Totally Implausible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18845645)

I take it back. The point of their explanation is that they introduce such a plausible asymmetry that could explain objections 1), 2), and 3).
A clever way to link Galactic epicycles to biodiversity!

Re:Totally Implausible (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845683)

And what if the "danger zone" orbits the galaxy just like our sun is?

Re:Totally Implausible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18846215)

Proof that Kenny Loggins posts on slashdot!

64000K out to be enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845865)

for anybody.

out? Out!?! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18845915)

Damn it, I read that twice. The moment I hit submit I noticed the error!

grrrr...stupid getting old lazy brain.

Obligatory Rreference..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18846101)

I hear that the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe has a great bar called Cosmic Ray's.....

Rosie/Ellen (1)

NotFamous (827147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18846221)

Another article about Rosie O. and Ellen D. Haven't we had enough??
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