Not by Fire but by Ice


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Discover What Killed the Dinosaurs . . . and Why it Could Soon Kill Us

Mass extinction every 27 million years,

say boffins

But they pooh-pooh "Nemesis Star"
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12 Jul 10 - Boffins insist that much of life on Earth gets regularly wiped out every 27 million years (give or take a few million years), says this article in the Register.

This revelation was set forth in a new paper by paleontologist Richard K Bambach of the Smithsonian Institution and astronomer Adrian Melott.

According to Bambach, there's no doubt at all that every 27 million years-odd, huge numbers of species suddenly become extinct. "An excess of extinction events are associated with this periodicity at 99% confidence, " says Bambach. (Give or take those few million years.)

This periodicity had previously been noted by other scientists, though not so far back into the past. (Just for the record, I point out a 28-million year periodicity to extinctions in "Not by Fire but by Ice.")

It had been thought that this periodicity was caused by the "Nemesis Star," a huge, dark companion star orbiting the Sun on a 27-million-year cycle. When "Nemesis" ploughs into the Oort Cloud - an area beyond the planets where comets seem to like to hang out - it causes a shower of comets to rain into the inner solar system, smashing up life on Earth. (I also discuss - and dismiss - the "Nemesis Star" in the book.)

Although the two boffins pooh-pooh the "Nemesis Star" idea, they think the next globo-extinction is due in about 16 million years.

Or maybe in six million years. (Thank God for scientific precision, aye?)

See entire article and graph:
Thanks to Christopher Thompson for this link
    "Damn," says Christopher. "What's if feel like, when the boffin's, et al, start
        to support your life's work with something approaching hard science?"

                                              What is a boffin?

According to Wikipedia,"boffin" is a slang term used in the U.K., Australia, New
Zealand, India and South Africa. Boffins are scientists, medical doctors, engineers,
and other people engaged in technical or scientific research. Sometimes, the term
refers to any particularly clever person.

The closest American equivalent is "egghead."




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