[meteorite-list] Mammoths Found Peppered with MeteoriteFragments

From: Sterling K. Webb <sterling_k_webb_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 22:29:49 -0600
Message-ID: <049e01c83e09$f7bf0d20$5d22e146_at_ATARIENGINE>

Hi, Jason, List,

    No, no, I never said, nor meant, that everybody
has to come with "Theory, quantity: one (1)" before
criticizing the existing (inadequate) hypothesis. Criticize
away! You don't have to come up with new ones...

    I was objecting to the notion that the evidence was
possibly false or faked. I absolutely don't think that's
the case or any kind of possibility.

    Every time this comes up, I puzzle over it, trying to
find a potential solution. Haven't so far. So, it's a mystery.
But that's what science is about: mysteries.

    I shudder to think what we'd do if we ran out of
mysteries. Not likely, though.

    As for supernova iron, well, it's just iron. There's
only the one atom. Parts is parts. All of the iron in
the universe was made in supernovae. Most of every
element (beyond hydrogen, deuterium, and helium and
a little lithium) was made in supernovae (the rest in
small long-lived stars).

    One isotope of iron, Wt: 60, is rare and is only made
in supernovae. If you find iron-60, you have something
created in the heart of the beast, since it decays with a
half-life of 1.5 million years and ends up as "ordinary"

    You'll notice Firestone called the search for iron-60
"not easy." In 2002, a German researcher finished
processing a load of ocean muck separated out by age
layers and found one layer, dated about 2.3 to 2.8 million
years ago, contained a dozen or so iron-60 atoms. It
took 7 years of putting the muck through a mass
spectrometer. No, not easy...

    By a variety of models, it's possible to guesstimate
we would have closer to that supernova than we previously
thought possible, from 70 light years to 120 light years.
If you think that's far enough away, think again. Depending
on type, there are some supernovae whose safe distance
is 500 light years, and none whose safe distance is less
than 50 light years. Google these Googles:

    We don't have frequent nearby supernovae to observe,
but that's OK. We don't want them...

Sterling K. Webb
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jason Utas" <meteoritekid at gmail.com>
To: "Meteorite-list" <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2007 9:27 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Mammoths Found Peppered with

Hello Sterling, Tracy, All,

Sterling, you said, "As always, when people dislike an explanation, they
do not search for an explanation that works, they attack the facts for
demanding one."

I agree...kind of. While I do agree that attacking an existing
hypothesis may well be easier than coming up with one of my own, I see
no reason to refrain from criticizing an existing theory if it has
obvious flaws. I don't pretend to know what made those iron bits, or
what embedded them in tusks, etc. I know that I have no idea about
what could have done that.

That said, I see no reason to criticize an article that's come out
because there's a decent chance, in my opinion, that I might know more
about the field of meteoritics than a radiologist, given my ten years
(well, come this summer) in the hobby. In any case, I knew more about
it than he did when you sent your query back in 2005.

That said -
You're not talking about a meteoric airburst here: at least not in the
classic sense of one.

Unfortunately, when you enter the realm of supernova material, and
iron thus formed, I can't speak with any certainty regarding its
structure, or anything like that. I would still presume that, the
body's being iron and formed in high temperatures, the iron resulting
from a supernova-type explosion would be of the same general structure
of a typical meteorite. If there was a little nickel (or who knows
what else mixed in), it might be more like an ataxite or silicated
iron, but no known meteorite tends to spread like shot upon
atmospheric entry.

But you mention radiation, fullerenes, diamonds, etc - all material
for which I can't really account. Supernovas are interesting things,
and I can't guess with any certainty at what might come out of one. I
have learned (sat in on a grad class for a few days when they were
discussing the collapse and nova of a large star) of the processes,
though, and I must say that this theory seems the far said of
far-fetched to me. A ball of dusty iron-like...stuff...that came in
at, as you say, a galactic speed, etc, etc, and yet burned up to the
degree that by the time it reached an altitude of ~5-10 feet from the
ground (hah), that small particles still had enough velocity to
literally burn their way into bone material.

I suppose it's physically possible, I grant you that.

But you wind up with a few problems when you factor in other bits of

1) The break up would still have to be very late in the atmosphere.
If particles that size are moving at galactic speeds by themselves,
the only thing they're going to do (at an altitude of sixty miles,
never mind five or ten miles, or feet for that matter) is turn
straight into plasma.

2) Such a low airburst would limit the size of the affected area. If
you're talking about a big climate change/extinction/whatever you want
to call it, it's going to take more than a single Tunguska or Sikhote
event to do it.
Maybe because of the higher velocities involved, you're thinking that
the explosion might have been bigger.
I would simply point out that the tusks have no sign of heat damage
other than the areas immediately surrounding the bits of iron (if
that's really heat damage). In my opinion, this would rule the
possibility of a large airburst of any kind out, simply because such
tiny fragments (as seen on the tusks) would only be able to travel a
very short distance: the sort of distance that would immediately be
seared by temperatures of several thousand degrees, if we're looking
at anything Tunguska-like and big enough to initiate climate change.

Any thoughts? You discounted my last post by saying that I shouldn't
criticize without coming up with my own theory.
Why not discount what I say instead of how I said it? ^ is taking the
easy way out, and I think that my points are quite valid.


On Dec 13, 2007 5:30 PM, Sterling K. Webb <sterling_k_webb at sbcglobal.net>
> Hi, List
> Well, I knew we were going to get back to those
> mammoth teeth... How about the history of the
> whole crazy thing? Who is Richard B. Firestone?
> Firestone is a well-established scientist, long at
> the Lawrence Radiation Lab at UC Berkeley, and
> for the DOE, Editor of the standard reference of
> the thousands of isotopes of the natural (and
> unnatural) elements, in its eighth edition. Publications:
> http://ie.lbl.gov/rbf/publist.htm are journal articles,
> refereed, invited, etc. Expert on isotopic dating
> lab techniques and geochemistry. Here is his CV:
> http://ie.lbl.gov/rbfcv.html
> I think you can dismiss the shotgun theory, really:
> No Cardiff Giant, no Abominable Snow Man, no fake
> diamond mine, no Barnum tricks.
> As near as I can determine, this entire thing began
> 20 years ago (you can't say he isn't patient) because,
> as a University geochemist, he was approached by
> several archaeologists, of varying degrees of academicality
> (some were "amateurs"), for assistance in dating their
> sites, and he did the nice-guy thing by helping them.
> He uncovered numerous isotopic anomalies in paleo-
> Indian sites and artifacts. Puzzling anomalies. Enough
> to get some funding from DOE to make a research
> project with Wm. Topping. He didn't go looking for
> anomalies (or anything); he found them, though. And,
> at first, the only conclusion that he drew was that the
> radiocarbon dates for these sites were wrong and
> couldn't be trusted, which was what he was asked to
> evaluate.
> This original research, begun in 1990, was published
> in this form in 2001, in "The Mammoth Trumpet,"
> which despite its name is a respected journal, with
> both scientific and popular articles:
> http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/nuclear.html
> The full PDF link will not open to a window,
> but will download (I discovered):
> http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/nuclear.pdf
> There is also an (formal) answer to criticism of
> the article by his co-worker, Wm. Topping:
> http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/nucbtrev.html
> What we have here is an "Orphan Fact." It has
> no convincing explanation to safeguard it. So,
> everybody ignores it and believes it is just an error,
> or aberration, some kind of mistake. But there is
> massive evidence of what Firestone originally called
> a "nuclear" catastrophe. He has advanced a number
> of explanations, of varying degrees of likelihood.
> They are: a) Super Solar Flare, b) Nearby Supernova,
> c) Neutron Bombardment of Unknown Origin,
> d) Comet, e) Comet from a Supernova, f) Iron
> Meteorite Airburst, g) Another Tunguska-type
> Airburst, h) Uh... Oh, gee, where'd I put that list?
> Back in the fall of 2005, there was a whole long
> string on the List about this. I actually sent Firestone
> a polite little email asking, if he thought these particles
> came from a supernova, why didn't he check them for
> Iron-60 (which is produced only in supernova)?
> Here's his response:
> < Sterling:
> <
> < There are many things to look for and 60Fe
> < is a good one. I don't think that this is
> < easy and nobody has come forward to do
> < it. So far we have found anomalous 40-K
> < abundances and strong evidence that the
> < impacting body was composed of KREEP-like
> < material identified on the Moon. We are
> < looking for fullerenes and diamonds in the
> < particle layer.
> <
> < It is interesting that people are critical
> < of something they haven't seen. The
> < archaeologists I showed this to are very
> < receptive. The particles that bombarded
> < mammoths probably are comparable to well
> < known "pre-solar grains" that are forged
> < in the supernova explosion itself. If
> < they can survive that environment, they
> < can likely penetrate the atmosphere.
> < Of course, this is a hypothesis and people
> < are welcome to provide other explanations,
> < but not to simply dismiss the data.
> <
> < Regards,
> <
> < Rick Firestone
> That was two years ago. As we know now, they
> found "fullerenes and diamonds" in the layer. As
> always, when people dislike an explanation, they
> do not search for an explanation that works, they
> attack the facts for demanding one. That's not the
> way it's supposed to work, as Firestone rightly says
> in the last sentence of that reply (above).
> At the same time (2 years ago), I suggested that the
> Earth's passage through a small tight globule or compact
> stream of supernova debris (dust), likely from the
> Scorpius-Centaurus OB Association, the nearest star
> cluster with recent supernovae, could explain the irradiation,
> the isotopic anomalies, the radiocarbon excursions, the
> iron particles, the micro-meteoritic debris, the fullerenes
> and the diamonds --- all stuff you'd find in supernova
> left-overs.
> I do not imagine that "dust" can account for particles
> embedded in mammoth-teeth. I don't know what could
> account for it, frankly. It is (just barely) conceivable that
> a dense clump of very fast-moving supernova dust might
> contain particles much larger than dust. You have to bear
> in mind that "galactic" objects don't just travel at interplanetary
> speeds; they travel in the ranges of possible galactic speeds.
> Much faster, or could be.
> You can see from Firestone's comments about tiny fast
> particles surviving the atmosphere that he knows pretty
> much nothing about it. He's been learning though. Now,
> he understands only the airburst of a large object can
> get the particles close to the elephants, er, mammoths,
> hence the new explanation. It probably isn't explanation
> enough. But if you don't like the hypothesis, then the
> appropriate response is to put on your hypothesizing
> hats and get into Deep Thought. (Yeah, you're right;
> I got nothing.)
> However, don't waste time kicking the Orphan Fact!
> There is independent evidence of cosmic radiation "spikes"
> in the Antarctic ice cores at the very same dates as Firestone
> finds elsewhere, in the isotope Beryllium-10, again this is an
> isotope only generated in supernovae.
> Something happened, but what?
> And, Firestone has a popular-market book out now (of course):
> http://www.amazon.com/Cycle-Cosmic-Catastrophes-Stone-Age-Changed/dp/1591430615
> Sterling K. Webb
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "tracy latimer" <daistiho at hotmail.com>
> To: <cynapse at charter.net>; "Meteorite Mailing List"
> <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
> Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2007 2:41 PM
> Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Mammoths Found Peppered withMeteorite
> Fragments
> I also agree. Any airburst or cratering event sufficiently energetic to
> create Meteor-Crater-esque iron spherules and fire them, still smoking,
> into
> mammoth tusks, should result in more definite signs of concussion and heat
> damage to the other bones. We should be finding, in conjunction with
> pitted
> mammoth tusks, skeletons with shattered bones, singed hair and flesh and
> other remnants, and other evidence of being at the meteoric equivalent of
> ground zero. Look at what happened at Tunguska. Where are the charred
> tree
> stumps and other plant matter?
> Playing Devil's advocate for a moment, is there a chance the author is
> fudging the findings? Could the proposed results be replicated by, say,
> firing a shotgun shell full of coarse iron filings at a tusk, like using
> paper from the appropriate era to forge a historical document? Stranger
> things have happened in the course of academia, especially when a
> scientist
> has strongly invested in a theory. Human beings also love a fantastic,
> even
> if erroneous, story, over a more pedestrian explanation, despite Occam's
> Razor. Is there another, simpler explanation for the findings?
> Just call me Doubting Tracy (I was dubious about the Peru crater as well,
> and was happy to have been proven wrong!)
> Tracy Latimer
> > From: cynapse at charter.net
> > To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
> > Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 22:27:33 -0400
> > Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Mammoths Found Peppered with Meteorite
> > Fragments
> >
> > On Wed, 12 Dec 2007 11:23:33 -0800 (PST), you wrote:
> >
> >>
> >>Eight tusks dating to some 35,000 years ago all show signs of having
> >>being peppered with meteorite fragments.
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> >>
> >>The mammoth and bison remains all display small (about 2-3mm in size)
> >>perforations.
> >>
> >>Raised, burnt surface rings trace the point of entry of high-velocity
> >>projectiles; and the punctures are on only one side, consistent with a
> >
> > Okay, does this make much sense to someone better with the math than I
> > am?
> > (I'm
> > staring in your direction, Sterling). How far would particles of
> > meteorititic
> > or cometary dust (presumedly from an airburst) be able to travel in
> > near-surface
> > atmospheric thickness while still retaining enough velocity to penetrate
> > bone
> > and leave "raised, burnt surface rings"? I'm betting not very far at
> > all.
> > Tens
> > of meters? Hundreds? I'm betting that if you are close enough to have
> > dust
> > (2-3mm) penetrate bone, you are close enough that you are going to be
> > turned
> > into a bag of splintered pulp by the shockwave. Just doesn't seem to
> > hold
> > water
> > to me.
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Received on Thu 13 Dec 2007 11:29:49 PM PST

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