- Gebundene Ausgabe: 320 Seiten
- Verlag: Blackwell Publishers (1. Mai 1990)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0631169539
- ISBN-13: 978-0631169536
- Verpackungsabmessungen: 23 x 15,4 x 2,6 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.141.071 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
The Cosmic Winter (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. Mai 1990
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During five days in late June 1975, a swarm of boulders the size of motor cars struck the moon at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour. On 30 June 1908 an object crashed on Siberia with the force of a large hydrogen bomb. The moon was also struck on 25 June 1178 struck, this time by a missile whose energy was ten times that of the combined nuclear arsenals of the world. Why late June? What is the nature of such events? And what threat do they pose to mankind? The authors aim to reveal the answers in this book. They argue that rains of fire visit the earth from time to time, destroying civilizations and plunging mankind into Dark Ages. They uncover a lost tradition of celestial catastrophe, and underpin these claims with foundations based on the latest discoveries in space. They produce a risk assessment which reveals that civilization could well come to an abrupt end, destroyed by a rain of fire followed by an icy, cosmic winter.
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I first became aware of this book when a friend sent me a copy of a paper addressed to the European Office of Aerospace Research and development, dated June 4, 1996, entitled: The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets by S.V.M. Clube. (For the uninitiated, Clube was an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford).
In this short (4 pages) letter and summary statement, Clube writes:
"Asteroids which pass close to the Earth have been fully recognized by mankind for only about 20 years. Previously, the idea that substantial unobserved objects might be close enough to be a potential hazard to the Earth was treated with as much derision as the unobserved aether. Scientists of course are in business to establish broad principles (eg relativity) and the Earth's supposedly uneventful, uniformitarian environment was already very much in place. The result was that scientists who paid more than lip service to objects close enough to encounter the Earth did so in an atmosphere of barely disguised contempt. Even now, it is difficult for laymen to appreciate the enormity of the intellectual blow with which most of the Body Scientific has recently been struck and from which it is now seeking to recover."
I stopped right there and asked myself: Hmmm... just what intellectual blow is he talking about here? After a bit of thought, it occurred to me that he must be talking about the Comet Shoemaker-Levy fragment impacts on Jupiter which produced a huge amount of excitement at the time which was just two years before the date of this letter. To return to Clube's report, he continues:
"The present report, then, is concerned with those other celestial bodies recorded by mankind since the dawn of civilization which either miss or impinge upon the Earth and which have also been despised. Now known respectively as comets (>1 kilometre in size) and meteoroids (<10>"
That he immediately switched from asteroids to comets seems to confirm my speculation that he was talking about Shoemaker-Levy. But it gets more interesting:
"Confronted on many occasions in the past by the prospect of world-end, national elites have often found themselves having to suppress public panic - only to discover, too late, that the usual means of control commonly fail. Thus an institutionalized science is expected to withhold knowledge of the threat; a self-regulated press is expected to make light of any disaster; while an institutionalized religion is expected to oppose predestination and to secure such general belief in a fundamentally benevolent deity as can be mustered. [...]
"(B) The present report based on the above grant addresses a variety of issues within the broad context of the hazard to civilization due to fireballs and comets. It consists of:
"(1) A brief statement of conclusions arising from a narrative report (3 copies);
"(2) A narrative report (with appendix) linking the results of three scientific studies described in papers submitted to mainstream journals (3 copies)
"(3) The relevant papers detailing the results which arise through the granted funds due to (a) Clube; (b) Clube & Napier; and (c) Clube, Holye, Napier & Wickramasinghe (3 copies; and
"(4) A co-authored foundation paper by Asher & Clube detailing the results from which items (3) and (2) progressed.
"It is emphasized here that the present report expresses a viewpoint which is contrary to the mainstream scientific theme currently reinforced through various US agencies in the wake of recent major findings under US leadership...
"Despite the importance of this mainstream theme, it is recognized here that the cometary signatures in the terrestrial record are generally stronger than the asteroidal signatures in the case of both long term and short term effects i.e. those affecting biological and geological evolution on the one hand and mankind and civilization on the other..[...]
"There are fundamental paradoxes to be assimilated as a result of this unexpected situation. Thus the perceived culture of enterprise and enlightenment which underpins the two centuries culminating with the Space Age and which led mankind to spurn comets and fireballs may now be seen as the prelude to a profound paradigm shift: the restoration of an environmental outlook more in keeping with that which preceded American Independence and which paid serious heed to comets and fireballs."
Clube's reference to the "mainstream scientific" ideas about comets and asteroids and so on is only the tip of the iceberg in reference to this debate.
The debate is about asteroids vs. comets. Asteroids are solid bodies of rock and there are about 1000 of them with diameters of 1 km or more that cross the orbit of the earth. They are called "Apollo" or "earth crossing" asteroids. The "American School" of astronomers believe that these objects are the main threat to earth and humanity and they are concerned with finding them, tracking them, and working out their orbits. This school believes that if all these asteroids can be mapped, and any "bad ones" dealt with, Earth will be safe for the foreseeable future. Their estimates are that we only get hit with one of these babies about every 100,000 years or so.
At this point in time, the American school of astronomers has already found and tracked about 700 of the estimated 1000 such asteroids and, so far, none of them are likely to hit the earth anytime soon. By the end of 2008, they expect to have located 90% of these potential threats.
Of course, they aren't talking about objects smaller than 1 km because they are believed to pose much less risk even if they do smack into the earth.
So it is that the "American School" believes that they can, over time and with superior American technology, survey everything around us and keep our space in space "under control."
What they are saying, as Baillie astutely points out is this: There are objects that cross the path of the earth but they hardly ever hit us (only about every 100,000 years), but they are going to make us safe by finding any and all of them and devising methods to take out the ones that MIGHT pose a threat at any point in the future. They assume, of course, that if they figure out that any of them might be a threat by mapping their orbits, they will have time to do this.
In "Asteroid Astronomer World" there have not been any serious impacts in the last few thousand years, for sure, and they are going to see to it that it stays that way!
How typically American! Don't you worry, little Lady, John Wayne and his gang will circle the wagons and shoot up those redskins/outlaws!
It's obvious that Victor Clube is not a member of the American School.
The "Comet Hazard" school is British based and they think very differently from the American "mainstream" asteroid school.
Comets are said to be different from asteroids because they are made up of water ice, frozen gas, organic materials, and odd bits of rock and metal. The standard theory (which may need revision according to those who advocate the electric universe theory) says that comets are heated as they pass through the solar system and this causes outgassing. It is then that we see them as bright objects with long tails.
After a few circuits through the solar system, some comets "outgas" completely and all that is left is a "very black lump" of any size, typically at least a few kilometers in diameter. The reason a worn out comet is so black is possibly due to the poly-aromatic-hydrocarbons that are concentrated onto the comet's surface like a coating of tar. Such objects, unlike asteroids, are very difficult to spot because they do not reflect light.
Comets also leave trails of dust and debris in the inner solar system and the Earth passes through such periodically. When this happens, there are generally meteor showers which are really particles of comets burning up in the atmosphere.
Comets can also break up in to smaller - but still sizable - chunks.
Now, imagine that in a trail of comet dust, there are also some fairly large chunks of black, un-seeable, comet fragments. If you can't see them, you can't do anything about them. And when they do "hit," they tend to burn up and/or explode violently in the atmosphere (eg Tunguska event), so they don't leave long-lasting traces such as craters for archaeologists to find and say "Yes, the fall of this civilization was due to an assault from outer space." No, there is only fire, death and destruction; sometimes total.
What all this means is that the comet problem does not submit itself to an efficient solution.
The Comet Hazard school scientists propose that the Tunguska event was due to a fragment of Comet Encke. These scientists also now have the FACT of the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy hitting Jupiter in July of 1994 to illustrate the problem we face. The Comet Hazard scientists also think, as mentioned above, that impacts are a lot more frequent than many people suppose.
So, to sum it up: there are two very different schools that study hazards from space. The Asteroid school says that there have been very few impacts and the problem is solvable, and the Comet school says there is evidence that there have been numerous impacts by comet debris that have had profound effects on human civilizations, and will again, probably very soon.
This is what The Cosmic Winter is about. Victor Clube writes:
"Asteroid strikes, though important, are not the most serious short-term risk to mankind or civilization
"Every 5-10 generations or so, for about a generation, mankind is subject to an increased risk of global insult through another kind of cosmic agency.
"This cosmic agency is a "Shoemaker-Levy type" train of cometary debris resulting in sequences of terrestrial encounters with sub-km meteoroids.
"While the resulting risk is ~ 10%, the global insults take the form of (a) multiple multi-megaton bombardment, (b) climatic deterioration through stratospheric dust-loading, not excluding ice-age, and (c) consequent uncontrolled disease/plague.
"The sequence of events affecting involved generations is potentially debilitating because, whether or not the risk is realised, civilization commonly undergoes violent transitions eg revolution, migration and collapse.
"Subsequently perceived as pointless, such transitions are commonly an embarrassment to national elites even to the extent that historical and astronomical evidence of the risk are abominated and suppressed.
"Upon revival of the risk, however, such "enlightenment" becomes an inducement to violent transition since historical and astronomical evidence are then in demand.
"Such change and change about in addition to the insult is evidently self-defeating and calls for a procedure to eliminate the risk.
"Our technological ability to counter (a) multiple multi-megaton bombardment and (b) stratospheric dust-loading should therefore be explored.
"The very short lead-time commonly associated with the detection of sum-km meteoroids approaching the Earth implies countering procedures which differ from those associated with catalogued km-plus asteroids and comets."
So, the question is: if there is even a 10% chance that we are facing a Shoemaker-Levy type event, why isn't anybody doing anything about it?
Well... maybe they are. Maybe all this War on Terror business and getting control of resources is, at its root, the psychopath's way of handling a threat to their survival. On the other hand, maybe they really are ignoring the signs and the data? Maybe they really do think that impact events only happen every hundreds of thousands of years and we aren't at risk? I don't think so because it is clear that there is deliberate suppression of news stories about cometary explosions in the atmosphere and even land impacts.
Clube also provides one of the most rational explanations for the creation and development of religions, astrology, magic, etc, I have ever read.
Read The Cosmic Winter and decide for yourself. After all, if the Dinosaurs had had a decent space program and had been aware of asteroid and comet impacts, they would still be here.
I did find the short reference to the 'second sun' theory rather funny as he disregards the data much as he criticizes most others for doing through the ages. Also the data there is incorrect if my understanding is right. It, brown dwarf, is said to be inbound, not outbound, which changes the equation, of it's affect on our system and the comet cluster that follows it as Clube does make mention of in a cyclical manner of return. History repeats.
The giant comets normally reside far beyond the planets, in a
spherical cloud surrounding the Sun, called the Oort cloud.
What prompts members of either of these comet repositories
to enter the realm of the planets? Clube and Napier suggest a galactic influence.
The basic mechanism is that the distribution of matter in the Galaxy
(including giant molecular clouds and possibly dark matter) is such that, as the
Sun moves above and below the Galactic mid-plane, the Oort Cloud of comets is
perturbed to such an extent that there would be intervals of enhanced flux of
long-period comets in the inner Solar system.
Each passage may dislodge giant comets and divert them closer to the Sun.
The outer planets, particularly Jupiter, may then perturb some of these giant
comets into orbits which enter the inner solar system. These comets, stressed
both by gravity and by heat from the sun, may fragment into a cloud of smaller
objects with dynamically similar orbits. The breaking up of a giant comet
produces a wide range of debris from objects 10 km across, to hundreds or
thousands of 1 km-sized bodies. Many of these bodies have sooty, black surfaces making them almost impossible to see. Many of them are in an orbit very similar to the Taurid meteor streams, though a few may be in an orbit rotated about 90 degrees. Clube & Napier posit that many (if not most or all) of the asteroids in the solar system split from a giant comet (or many of them) thousands or tens of thousands of years ago, and it is the streams of debris that pose the most serious and immediate threats to our planet.
Debris from the resultant disintegration of these giant comets can
adversely affect the environment of the Earth. Dusting can block sunlight,
resulting in globally cooler conditions (thus the Cosmic Winter). Impact events in the super-Tunguska
class may result in not only heavy localized destruction but also the occasional
"impact winter" or dust veil with global climatological effects.
Clube and Napier identified the progenitor of the Taurid complex as such a
giant comet whose injection into a short-period (about 3.3 year) orbit occurred
sometime in the last twenty to thirty thousand years. The Taurid complex currently
includes the Taurid meteor atream, Comet Encke (the only known currently active comet in the Taurid complex), "asteroids" such as 2101 Adonis and 2201 Oljato, and copious amounts of dust.
Clube and Napier also calculated that, because of subtle changes in the orbits of Earth and the remaining cosmic debris, Earth crosses through the densest part of the giant comet clouds about every 2,000 to 4,000 years. [According to Laura-Knight-Jadczyck there is a 3600 year Comet Cluster Cycle]
"This comet, in our picture, has been responsible for a potentially
devastating impact in the twentieth century; swarm activity and a
near-million-megaton lunar impact in the Middle Ages; a Dark Age
over Europe a few centuries earlier; widespread destruction of
civilization in at least the second millennium BC, the Biblical Flood at the
start of the third; and most traumatic of all, the last ice age, an event which
retarded the development of the human species for 20,000 years."
Clube and Napier also seek evidence of catastrophic events in ancient mythology. Their contention is that the great Taurid progenitor was the basis for much of the mythology associated with 'sky gods' and themes of generational conflict among gods.
Why is this book important? To quote the authors.
"...the Solar System is currently in a very noisy galactic
neighbourhood: we are in an impact episode now, just past
the peak of a strong galactic cycle, whose effect has been
enhanced by a recent disturbance due to passage through
a massive nebula."
"It is the fate of all species to become extinct and most manlike species have already done so. Over and above extinction, large population fluctuations take place in nature, sometimes within a few years. The controlling factor is often climate, and Earth's climate, in turn, can be greatly affected by its astronomical surroundings."
Other things you'll find in the book: Why did ancient civilizations pay close attention to the sky and various omens, is there an agenda behind the uniformitarian view of the Cosmos, the role comets play in the onset of the ice ages and much much more. Definitely worth reading!
Also do check out the works of Laura Knight-Jadczyk, Richard Firestone, Allen West, Simon Warwick-Smith, Michael Baillie, D. S. Allan and J. B. Delair.