Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sites near Chichen Itza and Tulum.

Hi Craig:

You asked about sites near Chichen Itza and Tulum. Coba is also in the area of Chichen and Tulum. It is not a postcard picture perfect site like Chichen, but it not only has the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan, its architectural style is much more Mayan than Chichen, which has a Toltec appearance.

Bob Gleason

Monday, September 21, 2009

Do all the natural apocalyptic threats emanate out of the heavens?


Many of them do. Not only comets and asteroids threaten humankind but apocalyptic solar storms in our own sun could end civilization as could a nearby star turning supernova. A major collision with black hole—such as the one at our galaxy’s core—could prove lethal for life on earth . . . particularly if that collision involved another black hole.

Some of humanity’s worst threats, however, come from the earth’s bowels, where many mythologies have believed hell resides. It turns out those mythologies were right. Supervolcanos—whose colossal calderas are measured in terms of square miles, sometimes tens of square miles—are scattered around the earth, and their explosive potential is earth-shattering. One supervolcano in Lake Toba, Indonesia detonated 74,000 years ago. Blanketing the earth in ash and flaming ember, it destroyed 90 percent of homo sapiens. The rest found themselves in a world of sunless blackened skies, the air choked with drifting volcanic debris. They must have truly thought they were in hell—and they were.

Most are under or near the sea, but one landlocked supervolcano is in America’s Yellowstone Park and is due to detonate every 600,000 years. The last time it blew was 640,000 years ago, so it’s 40,000 years overdue—and it’s making its impatience known. Groaning, sobbing, roaring, occasionally erupting, the pressure inside its magma chamber has increased dangerously during the last decade—to unprecedented levels. Eventually its chamber-roof will detonate, and the volcanic mountain will again blow apart with the force and velocity of a crashing asteroid and 100,000 thermonuclear bombs. Melting, demolishing and devouring the surrounding mountains, the explosion will expand its already massive cauldron-shaped volcanic crater, currently 34 by 45 miles. This vast depression is called “the Yellowstone Caldera”—or by tourists, “Yellowstone Park.”
The last time the Yellowstone supervolcano blew, it ejected 1,000 cubic kilometers of flaming hell into the atmosphere, which, coming down, buried North America in two meters of smoldering debris. That detonation had also effectively exterminated many of the world’s life forms and plunged the planet into black, volcanic winter . . .
-- Can we do anything to mitigate supervolcano disasters?
Some scientists believe sophisticated slant-drilling could syphon off the caldera’s pressure. Testing that thesis would require a lot of work, and money however. So far, we have no workable computer models.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Should we worry about global annihilation on 2012 for scientific reasons?

Yes, because it’s happened before. Science has identified 20 times during which earthly life has faced a “mass extinction event” caused by a natural phenomena. On some occasions over 90 percent of the life forms on the planet was wiped out.

Extinction of one life form to make room for the next is the way life has evolved on Earth. For instance, the dinosaurs’ extinction made possible the emergence and eventual domination of mammals . . . none of which is all that comforting if yours is the species facing extermination.

-- Does the fact it happened in the past mean it will happen again?

Absolutely – because many threats are cyclical in nature: Asteroid strikes, rise of poisonous atmospheric gases such as methane, geological upheavals such as super-volcanic detonations, ice ages and other radical climate changes are all events that occur in cycles.

It’s been said that life is a circle – and in many respects the universe operates that way. A good example of that is the near-miss asteroid on March 3, 2009. This chunk of speeding space rock was the size of the one that destroyed 800 square miles of Siberian forest in the early 1900s. This one swept “darn close,” as a JPL scientist put it. If it had hit a major metro area like New York or L.A., millions would have died.

The most frightening thing is that we only had about two days notice when it suddenly appeared closer to earth (about 48,000 miles) then most of our satellites . . . and it is coming back for another shot at us.

Five years ago a major asteroid missed the earth by only 4,000 miles, and we had only 19 hours warning.

In 2036 a massive planet-killing asteroid is estimated to have 1 in 5500 in hitting us. Given the scope and duration of its orbit, that impact is “too close to call.”

In 2013 the US will have a chance to approach the asteroid and attach a transponder to it, after which we could monitor its 2036 approach with scientific precision. We would have to begin that mission immediately, which no one is doing. The US seems indifferent to a potential extinction event 27 years from now.

Something even bigger could be coming at us and we are unable to spot it because space objects are tracked as they race across the line of sight – ones that come directly at us are not seen until they are almost on top of us.