In 2007, a team of twenty-four scientists presented evidence that massive comet fragments exploded over North America 12,850 years ago, killing millions of creatures and people.
If this event happened in the not so distant past, why didn't our ancestors share this horrifying experience with their children and stress the importance of telling the story to future generations?
Fall of a Thousand Suns: How Near Misses and Comet
Impacts affected the Religious Beliefs of our Ancestors proves
that they did. There are descriptions of the cataclysmic event in
dozens of religious texts and myths around the world.
With the help of religious scholars,
anthropologists, and astrophysicists from JPL and NASA, the author
of Fall of a Thousands Suns spent years investigating what our
ancestors knew about comets and their godlike destructive power.
more recent impact appears to have created mega-tsunamis hundreds of
feet high that decimated coastal civilizations. That story too was
passed down orally, until it was eventually recorded
religious texts known to every Jew, Christian and Muslim alive
Fall of a Thousand Suns attempts to do just that.
After reading it, you won't look at comets, meteor showers or religion in the same way.
Let's Take Step Back
It would be a book of its own, and probably a pretty dry one. Chapter 4: The High Concentration of Helium-3 ("BuckeyBalls") in Sediment from 10,850 BCE. Ouch...
In short, they studied dozens of soil samples from the United States, Canada and Europe. Trapped in the soil was clear evidence of a comet impact near the Great Lakes in North America around 10,850 BCE.
So… what did this monster look
like as it approached and finally slammed into our planet at tens of
thousands of miles an hour?
When they finally collided with Earth, the explosions were hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Animals and humans near ground zero were incinerated. Millions more were killed by trillions of pieces of microscopic iron that flew in all directions at nearly 3,000 miles an hour, tearing through flesh and piercing vital organs. Fireballs arced thousands of miles into space.
When countless pieces of debris descended back to Earth, they sparked wildfires on four continents. The ash and debris blackened the skies, killing plants. Death rippled up the food chain.
Without plants to feed on the herbivores died first, followed by the carnivores. Due to the impact, the Ice Sheet in North America broke apart, sending trillions of gallons of cold water into the North Atlantic and effectively shutting down the "conveyor belt" that carries warm air up to the northern hemisphere.
Average temperatures in Europe and North America
(10°C) in less than a decade. Death was followed by more death for
years, but nobody forgot what started this nightmarish chain of
events - a "star" falling from the sky and hitting the ground.
Our ancestors were every bit as smart as us. They would have told their children and stressed the importance of sharing the story with future generations. After writing was invented, the stories were recorded on stone or parchment.
We haven't lost our ancestors' knowledge, and justified fear, of these celestial "beings" or "monsters" that fell from the sky.
We've simply foolishly dismissed their ancient end of the world
stories as religious fiction or moral cautionary tales. They tried
their best, without science, to describe what they witnessed.
Beliefs in the End of the World
In light of several religions believing in multiple cataclysms, not simply one in recent human history, Plato's words in Timaeus (360 BCE) are haunting, even though scholars are uncertain whether they're a completely fictionalized narrative or based partially on truth.
In Timaeus, a Greek legislator named Solon - a real man who lived during the seventh century BCE - traveled to Egypt in order to determine what Egyptian priests knew about ancient history.
While in the city of Sais, an Egyptian priest told Solon,
At least Plato identified one possible real-world cataclysm that, even in 350 BCE, was dismissed as a myth (Phaëton).
After the publication of Timaeus, some Greeks undoubtedly reexamined
other myths and religious texts, which hinted at real cataclysms in
the past including the war between the Titans and Olympians to end
the Golden Age, the destruction of the world by Zeus at the end of
the Silver Age, the end of the Bronze and Iron Ages, some of Herakles twelve labors, and the fall of Hephaestus to Earth.
Still, Plato's words
prove that everyone was made aware, or at least forced to consider
the possibility, that "after the usual interval, the stream from
heaven… comes pouring down" to kill nearly everyone.
They just couldn't put the puzzle together.
Protecting Our Future
These texts and myths obviously deserve another look.
Today, scientists are at least conscious that a large comet or asteroid could devastate life regionally or worldwide, depending on its size, but only a few countries are spending taxpayer money on research to defend us.
Leading the way is the U.S. Federal Government who, in 2012, spent $20 million on programs that discover, calculate, and track asteroids and comets.
Seems like a good chunk of money until you consider the fact that, in 2011 and 2012, Disney spent ten times that amount on the movie John Carter - an epic disaster in its own right.
We are living in a unique period in human history.
There comes a time when exceptionally intelligent
species, no matter which of the hundreds of trillions of solar
systems in the universe they call home, escape the atmosphere of
their planet for the first time. We did so in the mid-twentieth
century. Many still among the living witnessed it firsthand.
Currently, mainstream scientists do not believe that impacts occur as frequently as Fall of a Thousand Suns: How Near Misses and Comet Impacts affected the Religious Beliefs of our Ancestors suggests, but how can they be so sure, if less than 0.00000001% of the comets thought to exist have been discovered?
On top of that, there are only 186 confirmed impacts on Earth - only one of which is known to have occurred in water.
Mars and the Moon are pockmarked with hundreds of thousands of craters, and our ancestors are telling us in no uncertain terms that comet-gods descended to Earth, fire fell from the heavens, and killed the majority of the population. It wasn't even an isolated incident.
Multiple impact events, separated
by thousands of years, are described in ancient texts around the
world. Some texts even have an "end of the world" prophecy that
includes an "entity" or "star" falling from the sky to Earth.
After our first encounter with intelligent extraterrestrial life - and the universe is certainly teeming with it - we'll find the best moment to ask if they ever had religion or money, and get their opinion on our species' decision to fund John Carter instead of programs that detect, deflect, or destroy comets and asteroids with Earth-crossing orbits.