Monday, March 8, 2010

Dinosaurs, Ancient Astronauts, and All That

Mix dinosaurs, ancient astronauts, a dash of paleontology and a handful of imagination. Shake well. It's been done before, but the K-T boundary has been in the news again.

Besides, I haven't got much else to write about today: and I'm scheduled to post something on this blog today.

The Chicxulub Consensus May Not Last Long

First, the news and background, all from background:Excerpt:
"A mysterious basin off the coast of India could be the largest, multi-ringed impact crater the world has ever seen. And if a new study is right, it may have been responsible for killing the dinosaurs off 65 million years ago.

"Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University and a team of researchers took a close look at the massive Shiva basin, a submerged depression west of India that is intensely mined for its oil and gas resources. Some complex craters are among the most productive hydrocarbon sites on the planet. Chatterjee will present his research at this month's Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, Oregon.

" 'If we are right, this is the largest crater known on our planet,' Chatterjee said. 'A bolide of this size, perhaps 40 kilometers (25 miles) in diameter creates its own tectonics.'

"By contrast, the object that struck the Yucatan Peninsula, and is commonly thought to have killed the dinosaurs was between 8 and 10 kilometers (5 and 6.2 miles) wide...."
(Geology Times (October 17, 2009))
It's early days, but my guess is that that international consensus reported in (March 4, 2010) is already starting to fray around the edges. That's not a criticism: We've known about the Chicxulub event for decades, and this Shiva crater seems to be a relatively new find.

What jumped out at me was the apparent coincidence: Two major impact events happening almost simultaneously (maybe), on the geologic time scale.

Let's say that the a five-mile wide hunk of rock, and another one 25 miles across hit Earth at almost the same time - on a historic time scale.

When All Else Fails, Throw Rocks

Dinosaurs and the other big critters on Earth, 65,000,000-plus years ago, don't seem to have been as consistently dim-witted as we once imagined them: But I think it'd snap the willing suspension of disbelief to write a story where they were as smart as we are. Not if the story was supposed to be even vaguely serious.

I'm about as certain as I can be that whatever long shot may have happened when the K-T boundary was created was a natural event.

On the other hand, what if it wasn't.

I know: It's been done. In a Dr. Who two-parter, "Earthshock" (1982), for example. That time the blast was caused by a spaceship hitting Earth.

There are many other options, of course.

Let's try this on for size:

The war had begun long before. Neither side was willing - or able - to surrender. And neither side had a significant advantage over the other: hardly surprising, as they were both descended from the same people. Not that either side's leaders would admit that this was the case.

They had established rules of conduct for the conflict. Both had found that people - intelligent races - were a rare phenomenon. Both believed that intelligence was important, although they differed on how it should be applied.

And so they agreed that their war would not be a threat to any people they might find.

Each side were, in their own way, quite ethical.

Which made the current situation so revolting.

A warm, damp planet had recently been found. It was virtually useless to both sides: The climate was not within their comfort range, and lacked the aesthetic appeal they demanded of their homes.

Besides, even if they had wanted to do so, neither side could settle there. An exploration team had found - not people, but creatures which showed great promise of developing intelligence.

So the planet was declared off limits.

The star this planet circled, however, was ideally positioned for one side to use as a - let's call it a "listening post." Such an installation could easily be placed in orbit around any of the star's planets, or in orbit around the star itself.

Instead, they built installations on a planet. The warm, damp one. Two installations, actually, near the equator but on opposite sides of the planet.

This was a brazen violation of a long-standing agreement: but the installations remained. They had been made self-sufficient, and so blockade was out of the question. They had defenses which were more than adequate to repel the largest force that their enemy could mount.

And the installations were gathering valuable information, which could easily break the long stalemate.

Something had to be done.

Finally, in desperation, the side which was now losing assembled a vast fleet and took control of the space around the damp planet's star. Then diverted two asteroids toward the damp planet, after mounting a formidable defense system on both.

The two installations could have destroyed any missiles directed against them, and were effectively protected from directed-energy weapons by the damp planet's atmosphere, and their own shielding.

The designers of the installations had even built adaptive intelligence into their defenses, so that as the enemy developed more sophisticated weapon systems, the installations could develop more sophisticated defenses.

The designers had not foreseen that the enemy would throw large rocks.

The larger of the two projectiles was already blasting a crater in the planet's surface while its remaining defenses, on the 'upper' side, were neutralizing a formation of missiles directed on its smaller companion.

Both installations were destroyed, of course.

The war ended not long after.

A few research teams returned to the damp planet. Most of the species which their predecessors had cataloged were gone. The researchers studied what was left, made their reports, and moved on to other tasks.

After a while the researchers stopped coming. Some life remained on the planet, small scurrying things which had somehow survived the twin cataclysms: but the species which had shown so much promise was gone, along with - as far as the researchers could tell - all similar creatures.

New creatures emerged, and changed as the damp planet turned cold. Several species of strange animals which could grasp branches with all four feet developed. One of these moved out of the forest, walking on its rear hands: which had lost most of their grasping function.

In time the descendants of this species chipped Troodon fossils out of rocks which had been sand and mud when incandescent waves of rock engulfed lands around the now-forgotten installations.

Okay: It's Not Shakespeare

Troodons were smart, sort of: probably about as bright as an ostrich. And they had hands. Again, sort of.

No, I do not think they were people. But there could be people built along the same general lines. We might find that we're the oddballs among this galaxy's races.

Assuming that there are any besides us, of course.

Which is another topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!

Privacy Policy

Nothing spooky here.

These days it's important to have a "privacy policy" available: so here's mine.

I do not collect information on individuals visiting this blog. If you leave a comment, I'll read what you wrote: but I don't keep a record of comments, apart from what Blogger displays. (In other words, the only record of what you write or who you are will be what people see at the bottom of the post.)

I do collect information about how many hits this blog gets, where they come from, and some technical information. I use the WebSTAT service for this purpose - and all that shows is which ISP you use, and where it's located.

You can stop most of Webstat's data gathering by disabling cookies in your browser. I don't know why you would, but some folks do.

I'm also an AdSense affiliate, so Google collects information on what I've written in each post: but that's mostly my problem.

I'm also considering starting an affiliate relationship with DAZ Productions. You should be able to keep DAZ and Commission Junction, their provider of affiliate services, from collecting information by - again - disabling cookies in your browser.

And you can keep DAZ Productions from finding out anything about you, by not buying any of their products.

Again, I don't know why you would: but some folks do.

Or, rather, don't.