by Jason Jeffrey
New Dawn No. 87 (November-December
Over a century ago Ignatius Donnelly
summed up our precarious existence: We are but vitalized specks
filled with a fraction of God’s delegated intelligence, crawling
over an egg-shell filled with fire, whirling madly through infinite
space, a target for the bombs of the universe.
By bombs Donnelly meant the untold number of asteroids and comets
that fill the heavens around us which on perhaps not a few occasions
have smashed into Earth itself, and may do so again.
Through revolutionary new techniques in observation, detection and
photography, modern astronomers and astrophysicists have now
identified two new classes of celestial objects which could pose a
real danger to our planet within the foreseeable future, called
NEA’s (Near Earth Asteroids) and ECC’s (Earth-Crossing Comets).
On September 29, asteroid “4179 Toutatis” passed within 1.6 million
kilometers of Earth. Its approach was the closest in this century of
any known asteroid the size of Toutatis, which measured around 4.6
kilometers in length. If it had struck the Earth, we could have
faced what scientists have dubbed “a mass extinction event.”
Scientists believe the asteroid poses no risk at least through 2562,
when Toutatis will pass within 400,000 kilometers of Earth – but
astronomers admit there are forces in the solar system that can
alter an asteroid’s orbit and put it on a collision course with
Earlier this year, on March 31, an asteroid skimmed past the Earth
at a distance of just 6500 kilometers above the ground. Object “2004
FU162”, which spans 5-10 meters across, would have burned up as a
fireball ending with a smaller explosion, had it ventured into the
Earth’s atmosphere. The problem was astronomers did not discover it
until after its passing. Scientists have since calculated the
asteroid’s orbit was shifted by a whopping 20 degrees because of the
The previous record for the closest asteroid approach to Earth was
set on 18 March by an object called “2004 FH” which missed the Earth
by about 40,000 kilometers. That was a much larger object, around 30
meters in diameter, but big enough to produce a one-megaton
explosion in the atmosphere.
NASA calculates objects in the 100-200 meter range hit Earth about
once every 700-1,000 years. Such an object did hit the Earth in
1908, over Tunguska in Siberia.
In the ECC (Earth-Crossing Comet) category, a very serious future
candidate for an Earth grazing is comet Finlay, due to pass on
October 27, 2060 – perhaps as close as 150,000 kilometers.
In 1993, astrophysicist Brian Marsden announced that comet
Swift-Tuttle could possibly strike Earth in the 22nd century. It is
scheduled to pass the Sun incoming from deep space on July 11, 2126,
and on August 14 will come very close to our world. Should the
slightest irregularity occur in its long periodic path during the
intervening one and a half centuries, it could hit the planet
dead-centre, and with a force equivalent to 100 million megatons of
Over the past few years we have often heard about the discovery of
new asteroids and comets. This is the result of NASA’s 25-year
survey of the sky to find objects wider than a kilometer that could
have a devastating impact if they collided with Earth.
Fortunately, nothing of a dangerous size has been spotted heading
our way for at least a century – or so they tell us. According to a
US government advisor, secrecy would be the best option if
scientists discovered a giant asteroid was on course to collide with
Speaking to a meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, Geoffrey Sommer, of the Rand Corporation,
“If an extinction-type impact is
inevitable, then ignorance for the populace is bliss. As a
matter of common sense, if you can’t intercept it and you can’t
move people out of the way in time, there’s nothing you can do
in terms of reducing the costs of the potential impact.”
For one week in July 1994, astronomers watched a planetary body
under attack, when two dozen pieces of the disintegrated
Shoemaker-Levy 9 plunged into Jupiter with explosive results,
equivalent to 40 million megatons of TNT going off in a chain
reaction. As several scientists warned, this was Earth’s wake-up
call for a similar event to happen to us.
Recent computer simulations reveal that if a comet or asteroid hit
the Earth on one side, the seismic waves generated would be
transmitted through the planetary interior. By being focused on
account of the Earth’s curvature, the waves would meet together at
the location directly on the opposite side where the impact took
place, and the high stress energy released could disrupt the surface
area, causing a tremendous outpouring of volcanic activity.
The air blast resulting from an impact would lead to large-scale and
worldwide pressure shock waves oscillating the entire atmosphere and
ionosphere, creating winds greater than the most powerful hurricanes
Fragments of the asteroid and earth hurled into space by the impact
would rain down all over the planet, setting forest fires. The
resulting smoke would further darken the atmosphere, plunging the
world into permanent night. The temperature would plummet.
Calculating the amount of dust, water vapor and smoke injected into
the sky from a kilometer wide object hitting the Earth, scientists
estimate a drop of world temperatures by about 15 degrees Celsius
lasting for about 15 days.
By far the worst-case scenario is an asteroid or comet striking one
of the world’s deep oceans. Some researchers worry the sudden
displacement of such large volumes of water across thousands of
kilometers of ocean would affect the axis spin and polar stability
of the Earth, like adding an off-balancing weight to a spinning
gyroscope. Even more disastrous would be a celestial object furrowed
into the ocean at a more oblique angle. In this case the energy of
the mass dissipates by pushing a titanic amount of water over a
large surface area, creating a tsunami wave so high and large in
size as to defy imagination.
As a tsunami wave reaches nearer to a coast with a shallower
continental shelf, its speed slows down, but its height is increased
by a factor of 10 to 40. Thus a deep ocean wave of 100 meters might
break ashore with a height of 1,000 to 4,000 meters.
A major earthquake triggered off the coast of Chile in May 1960
generated waves in the deep water of the Pacific travelling a full
150 degrees around the globe, or more than 16,000 kilometers
distance, landing ashore in Japan at a height of up to 4.5 meters,
and killing over 200 people.
Earlier, in 1946, a similar event took
place when a tsunami originating in the Aleutians killed a handful
of people along the nearby Alaskan shores, yet also went on to take
the lives of 150 people in Hawaii 8,000 kilometers away. Computer
projections indicate that a 9-metre asteroid impacting the ocean
between Australia and New Zealand would produce tsunamis breaking on
the southern Japanese coastline at 38 to 50 meters high.
That large asteroids have hit the Pacific before is evident from
geological remains on the islands within its perimeter. Deposits of
unconsolidated corals have been found almost a thousand feet above
the present coasts on Lanai, Hawaii, Oahu, Molokai and Maui,
indicating they were washed up to that height by a tremendous wave
of water in the distant past. Ordinary tsunamis generated by
earthquakes along the Ring of Fire do not produce waves of that
magnitude – only a major displacement of ocean waters from an impact
event would fit the findings.
The Atlantic Ocean is also in danger. Estimates are an impact
anywhere in the Atlantic by an asteroid 365 meters wide would
devastate coasts on either side with tsunami waves 60 meters high.
Major cities either on the coast or with river, bay or harbor
accesses such as New York, Boston, Washington, London, Amsterdam and
Copenhagen are in danger of being completely obliterated.
A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by
scientists at the University of California shows waves as high as
120 meters sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States.
The researchers based their simulation on a real asteroid known to
be on course for a close encounter with Earth eight centuries from
March 16, 2880, is the day the asteroid known as “1950 DA”, a huge
rock 1.2 kilometers in diameter, is due to swing so close to Earth
it could slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 60,000 kilometers per hour.
“From a geologic perspective, events
like this have happened many times in the past. Asteroids the
size of 1950 DA have probably struck the Earth about 600 times
since the age of the dinosaurs,” warns researcher Steven Ward.
Impact Events Linked
to Evolution of Life on Earth
It is known the Earth was pummeled by asteroids, comets and other
massive heavenly bodies in the early days of its formation – over 3
billion years ago. But, until recently, most scientists thought this
was an event limited to Earth’s distant past. They also believed the
ancient celestial pounding eventually gave way to billions of years
of gradual, non-catastrophic evolution.
In the 1950s, astronomer Gene Shoemaker sent shock waves through the
scientific community by suggesting various craters on our planet
(and the Moon) were formed by asteroids or comets, rather than
volcanic eruptions, which was what most scientists believed at the
There doesn’t appear to be one square kilometer of the lunar surface
that is not pockmarked with impact craters. While some craters are
undoubtedly very ancient, they also contain within their rims a
myriad of newer craters from more recent impacts.
The reason why craters do not remain visible on Earth is due to
their swift erosion by rain, snow, and wind, whereas on the Moon
they remain for eons until a new projectile strikes the scar zone.
Using the Moon’s potholed surface as a reference point, Shoemaker
tried to determine how often celestial objects smashed into the Moon
and, by extension, struck the Earth. With the help of modern
satellite and aerial surveillance, Shoemaker and other scientists
soon identified over 200 impact sites around the planet.
In 1980 scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez claimed they had found
evidence of a huge impact event 65 million years ago. This age
corresponded with the demise of the dinosaurs at the end of the
Cretaceous Period. The evidence included a worldwide layer of clay
with high levels of the rare element iridium, usually the signature
of an impact.
In 1990, the buried remains of a 180-kilometre-diameter crater were
discovered near the town of Chicxulub on the Yucatan Peninsula in
Mexico. A crater this size would have been blasted out by a
16-kilometre-wide comet or asteroid colliding with the Earth at some
Some scientists now believe this crater as the long sought-after
“smoking gun” responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs and more
than 70 percent of Earth’s living species 65 million years ago.
In June 2003 Science published a report about a team of scientists
who believe a massive object from space smashed into what is now the
Moroccan desert 380 million years ago. Dates for the impact coincide
with the “Kacak/otomari” extinction, when up to 40% of all animals
living in the sea perished. Fossils found in rock layers just above
the impact layer suggest many new species appeared after the
And in November 2003, another team of scientists reported on
evidence for a massive asteroid colliding with the Earth 251 million
years ago which may have killed 90 per cent of all life.
The study, based on meteorite fragments found in Antarctica,
suggests the Permian-Triassic event, perhaps the greatest extinction
in the planet’s history, may have been triggered by a mountain-sized
space rock that smashed into a southern land mass.
“It appears to us that the two
largest mass extinctions in Earth history... were both caused by
catastrophic collisions” with asteroids, the researchers say in
their study in Science.
The evidence indicates asteroid impacts
are the key factors in the development of life on this planet. In
wiping out a large proportion of life on the planet periodically,
the asteroids have played a more important role in evolutionary
development than previously thought.
More pertinent is the question of cosmic impacts on the rise and
fall of mankind’s ancient civilizations. Is there any evidence
backing up the stories of ancient apocalypse and hell fire from the
sky that are preserved in mythology and some of the world’s
...and the seven judges of hell ...
raised their torches, lighting the land with their livid flame.
A stupor of despair went up to heaven when the god of the storm
turned daylight into darkness, when he smashed the land like a
– An account of the Deluge
the Epic of Gilgamesh, circa
Biblical stories, apocalyptic visions,
ancient art and scientific data all seem to intersect at around 2350
BCE, when one or more catastrophic events wiped out several advanced
societies in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Archaeological findings show that in the space of a few centuries,
many sophisticated civilizations disappeared. The Old Kingdom in
Egypt fell into ruin. The Akkadian culture of Iraq, thought to be
the world’s first empire, collapsed.
Around the same time apocalyptic writings appeared.
The Epic of
Gilgamesh describes the fire, brimstone and flood of possibly real,
not mythical, events. Omens predicting the Akkadian collapse
preserve a record that “many stars were falling from the sky.” The
“Curse of Akkad,” dated to about 2200 BCE, speaks of “flaming
potsherds raining from the sky.”
In 1650, the Irish Archbishop James Ussher mapped out the chronology
of the Bible – a feat that included stringing together all the
“begats” to count generations – and put Noah’s great flood at 2349
All coincidence? A number of scientists don’t think so.
Mounting hard evidence collected from tree rings, soil layers and
even dust that long ago settled to the ocean floor indicates there
were widespread environmental nightmares in the Near East during
this period: Abrupt cooling of the climate, sudden floods and surges
from the seas, huge earthquakes.
In 1999 geologist Dr. Sharad Master spotted a 3-kilometre-wide
crater in southern Iraq after studying satellite images. Scientists
now believe this circular depression bears all the hallmarks of an
impact crater, one that caused devastating fires and flooding. They
are now attempting to date the time of the impact, with some of the
main researchers estimating an age of around 6,000 years – placing
it in the close vicinity of the sudden decline in Middle East
civilization around 2300 BCE.
Mike Baillie, professor of palaeo-ecology at Queens University in
Belfast and author of Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with
Comets, figures it would have taken just a few bad years to destroy
Even a single comet impact large enough to have created the Iraqi
“would have caused a mini nuclear
winter with failed harvests and famine, bringing down any
agriculture based populations which can survive only as long as
their stored food reserves,” Baillie says. “So any environmental
downturn lasting longer than about three years tends to bring
Professor Mike Baillie is an authority
on dendrochronology, the science of studying tree growth rings. His
decades long collaborative effort with many scientists has developed
a worldwide record of climate modulated, annual tree growth as
recorded in tree growth rings. That effort has produced a reliable
timeline from the present back to several thousand years BCE.
Occasionally environmental conditions are so extreme that trees all
over the world are affected. Certain of these patterns imply weather
conditions leading to local or worldwide catastrophes, including
crop failures, famine and flooding.
As described in Exodus to Arthur, the dates linked to extreme events
The significance of the date 2354 BCE has been noted. The other date
to stand out is 540 CE, with the extreme weather events actually
starting in 536 CE.
Until recently, historians had little notion dramatic climatic
events had occurred. The accounts left by contemporary observers
were poorly understood and overshadowed by later historical events.
In fact, those later events, it turns out, may have been caused,
directly or indirectly, by the weather of the time.
The Praetorian Prefect Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator,
who lived between 490 and 585 CE, wrote a letter documenting the
“All of us are observing, as it
were, a blue coloured sun; we marvel at bodies which cast no
mid-day shadow, and at that strength of intensest heat reaching
extreme and dull tepidity... So we have had a winter without
storms, spring without mildness, summer without heat... The
seasons have changed by failing to change; and what used to be
achieved by mingled rains cannot be gained from dryness only.”
In the wake of this inexplicable
darkness, crops failed and famine struck. Then a new disease swept
across the entire continent of Eurasia: bubonic plague. It ravaged
Europe over the course of the next century, reducing the population
of the Roman empire by a third, killing four-fifths of the citizens
of Constantinople, reaching as far east as China and as far
northwest as Great Britain.
Other reports about the weather conditions from Byzantine and
Constantinople record the same environmental phenomena such as dry
fog, darkness, cold, drought, and famine.
In 1984, Mike Baillie proposed that the climatic event of 536 CE
(and by extension, all six of the others) could have been caused by
“an asteroid, a comet, cometary fragment(s), or cosmic swarms.”
Perhaps one of the most fascinating and well researched theories is
offered by authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas in their book
Uriel's Machine: The Prehistoric Technology That Survived The Flood.
They present recent geological evidence showing that in 7640 BCE
Earth was hit by seven comet fragments causing gigantic tidal waves.
These findings are derived from the work of Austrian geologists
Alexander and Edith Tollmann of Vienna University's Geological
By combining evidence from various disciplines (including the global
distribution of tektites and a study of worldwide myths and
legends), the Tollmanns propose that a comet approached the Earth
from the south-east and fragmented into seven pieces which fell
subsequently into the oceans causing mass destruction on all
continents. One piece is believed to have landed in the North
Atlantic, while another is considered to have fallen into “the
Central Atlantic south of the Azores” creating a direct hit on
According to the authors of Uriel's Machine, there is a Masonic
tradition that the biblical character Enoch constructed a machine to
predict comets on an Earth collision course. They believe the
Book of Enoch describes how this machine should be
constructed, and how this secret technology has been preserved since
ancient times in Freemasonic lore.
The fall of ancient civilizations may now come to be viewed not as a
failure of social engineering or political might but rather the
product of climate change and, possibly, heavenly happenstance.
The Bible and other ancient texts have kept alive the memory of
ancient catastrophes whose scientific analysis and understanding
might now be vital for the protection of our own civilizations from
These concerns are probably why the European Space Agency’s chief
scientist wants a “Noah’s Ark” on the Moon, in case life on Earth is
wiped out by an asteroid or nuclear holocaust.
“If there were a catastrophic
collision on Earth or a nuclear war, you could place some
samples of Earth’s biosphere, including humans, [on the Moon],”
said Dr. Bernard Foing. “You could repopulate the Earth
afterwards, like a Noah’s Ark.”
At this point, only two things are
the Earth could be hit at any moment by a roving asteroid
or comet, and
we will be hit, again, unless something is done to