by Denis Montgomery
There is a magic that continually emerges around the period of about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago.
There had to be a particularly significant global event at about that time, lasting several thousand years perhaps. The flowering of creative aesthetics touching all of mankind’s activities began then, exemplified in the rock-art, jewellery and decorated tools they have left us. It is the usual order of time that I use to define the beginning of the African Late Stone Age in which this artistic creativity was developed.
That is also when the Neanderthals of Europe and the Middle East disappeared from the fossil record. For many years in my reading and thinking, and listening to archaeologists talking, 35,000 to 40,000 years ago kept cropping up as a kind of evolutionary watershed. I knew that something extraordinary happened about then.
I spoke to Adrian Berry who told me that he had detailed conversations with the scientists concerned from which he had summarized his brief quotes. I looked for some confirmation elsewhere of a close supernova in astronomically recent time and was pleased to find it from a study of radio waves.
I was much excited by this. It seemed that an extraordinary cosmic event had occurred which could have precipitated major changes to life on Earth about that magical watershed of time.
The Veil Nebula is indeed the remnant of a supernova, but it has been determined that it occurred at about 15,000 years ago and was about 2,500 light years away. This is very far in terms of an effect on life on our planet.
This supernova is generally known as the
Cygnus Loop. But it is interesting that the constellation of Cygnus
was noted for a number of large stars which usually terminate in
supernovae and in 2001, F. Mavromatakis and R.G.Strom published
their proposal that there were two supernova remnants in Cygnus
Loop. Uyamker, Reich, Yar, Kothes and Fürst published a paper, Is
the Cygnus Loop two supernova Remnants?, in the journal Astronomy
and Astrophysics in 2002.
There seemed to be no indication available of age or distance of this possible second stellar explosion and there may have been no connection with the event which concerned me. I was now beset by doubts, but there was the evidence of the beryllium.
Something strange and apparently random had occurred which had caused the surge in cosmic radiation, first brought to my attention by Adrian Berry’s article.
Beryllium 10 is an important marker in this particular research because its existence in precipitation has correlation to sunspot activity, which in turn is related to the power output of the sun and its warming effect on the Earth. From time to time I trawled through the Internet seeking references and found the paper, A tentative chronology for the EPICA Dome Concordia ice core by Jakob Schwander and others in Geophysical Research Letters v.28 no.22 of 2001.
Although the examination was principally concerned with recent observations of various types to establish the accuracy of dating in ice cores, one of the bench-marks used was the ‘high peak’ of beryllium 10 deposition dated to 41,000 BP. Elsewhere, I found a date of about 40,000 BP with variation of 2,000 years noted.
The additional reference to a peak of Beryllium 10 at ± 60,000 BP, which indicated an unusual event could have had relevance to earlier advances in creative thinking and expression on which the revolution of 40-35,000 years ago was based. If this earlier peak was evidence of an event with a wider ‘footprint’, then it could also have had relevance to the very beginning of creative activity at about 70,000 BP as shown by the Blombos cave site.
The whole matter of subtle mutations, reinforcing environmental pressures, aiding or provoking jumps in culture, coinciding with extraordinary periods of extra-solar or cosmic radiation bore deeper examination.
Scientific support was sparse, but my intuitive thinking about some kind of mutation-driven, speeded-up intellectual evolution between say 80,000 and 30,000 years ago remained active.
The logic seemed overpowering, but the physical data seemed to be wisps of cobwebs floating just outside my reach, brushing at my fingertips.
Dark-skinned races of Africa, tropical Asia and Australasia would have been least at risk from unrestrained ultraviolet radiation, but those bursts of cosmic radiation must have caused random mutation in all lifeforms.
If the Cro-Magnons had not yet become ‘white’ 165 they would survive when Neanderthals succumbed. Intense, unobstructed ultraviolet light killed those Neanderthals most subject to it and there would have been genetic defects affecting subsequent generations. The species was weakened and unable to withstand the challenges of the colonizing Cro-Magnons, or combat new parasitic diseases.
Cosmic dust entering our solar system has extraordinary effects on our sun; increasing its energy output, changing the wavelength of its radiation and provoking great flares.
Probable drastic climatic surges, caused by extraordinary seismic activity from rapidly melting glaciers and icecaps, inter-acting with the cosmic onslaught, some very short-lived as the atmosphere sought stability, no doubt resulted in the disturbance of many species. Ice core analysis shows that the end of the last ice-age about 12,000 years ago was extraordinarily abrupt, probably taking place in a matter of decades.
There were more detected coincidental extinctions amongst larger mammals at the end of the last Ice-age than at any time during the two million years of the Pleistocene.
Late Stone Age people, and their predecessors, had been hunting these prey animals for many millennia before their sudden disappearance at about 12,000 years ago. If hunting caused their extinction, then there must have been a most extraordinary increase of human populations! Elephants and plains antelopes in Africa survived in vast quantities until the invention of the breech-loading rifle and the motor vehicle. I have never believed the popular conventional explanation held by anthropologists, lacking knowledge or proper understanding of the effects of abrupt climate change, that hunting caused their extinction.
Rather than subscribe to the idea of a regular invasion of comets or meteors, such as the one at Chicxulub in Mexico which must have been the final straw for the demise of the dinosaurs, they thought that supernovae, or the collision of binary stars, close to us may have been a cause of a number of extinctions.
The merging of stars or nearby supernovae explosions would not account for all the extinction events, of course, but could be the cause of some.
Dr. Schramm said of Prof Dar’s theory on the probable effect of star explosions and their influence on Earth:
I would say that the ‘great leap’ in biodiversity also happened as the natural result of nature abhorring a vacuum, but an increase in biodiversity may result from accelerating mutations caused by external radiation.
There is no doubt that our small and insignificant planet is occasionally buffeted by extraneous radiant forces, randomly, that enhance or retard evolution of life.
Other reports from deep drilling in ocean floors were concerned with the discovery of layers of iron isotopes which show evidence of there being a close supernova or other cosmic event sometime in the last 5M years, perhaps at the beginning of the Pleistocene, 2M years ago.
The lack of time definition is typical of the problems scientists still encountered in pinpointing past events of this kind. Although I am discussing another context here, it is notable that it is at the beginning of the Pleistocene that the Homo range of hominids first appeared and the Australopithecines began fading away to extinction.
Other estimates place the supernova which caused the iron isotope deposits to have been only 100 light-years away which could have caused massive extinctions and mutations and suggest that if it occurred at 5M years ago it could explain the extinction of some hominid species and the emergence of new variants. I also took note of other work on the effect of sunspot activity on mammal genetic mutations through the effect of changing electro-magnetic fields in the sun, which in turn create fluctuations in radiation into nearby space, which in turn create responses in the electro-magnetic structure of our planet.
The effect of electro-magnetic change and cyclical fluctuation of solar radiation on foetuses, and particularly on the delicate genetic activity occurring at the moment of fusion of a mammalian sperm and ovum, is a fascinating study. However, it is not yet known precisely what effects the Earth’s magnetism has on higher lifeforms. The Earth’s magnetic polarity has reversed several times in the past and observations detect a weakening at the present time which is presumed to be leading towards a reversal.
Using Mayan mathematics and their complex calendar, Cotterell explored research carried out by a number of scholars on the cyclical activities of the sun and Earth and their correlation to known climatic and population changes in the recent ten thousand years.
Massive flooding (and the advent of the ‘wet’) resulted from the extraordinarily rapid melting of the vast glaciers and ice-caps. Ocean levels rose hundreds of feet within a few years. No doubt, the flood myths that every old culture retained were stimulated by these comparatively recent disasters.
This period of change was not different to many others in the last two million years of the Pleistocene, but its effects were being imposed on a different kind of mankind. No wonder the last 35,000 years have been the most eventful in our descent, if already anatomically modern mankind 167 had been bombarded by cosmic radiation.
The mutations had not changed the skeletons and general anatomy of humans, but it had affected their brains. Inside their brains lurked a different kind of mind. Many speculations about these millennia could be sharpened into focus.
His arguments have been attacked and his thesis had been muddied by ‘creationists’ seizing on the concept as being further evidence of intervention by a Supreme Being. But, Klein has been unable to give an explanation for this mutation and the “re-wiring” of brains, and his hypothesis has been seen as a lame duck.
The ’Cygnus Event’, or similar, provided the possible explanation he needed. I contacted Prof. Klein and his colleague, Prof. John Parkington of the University of Cape Town, an authority on the Late Stone Age, but was unable to get their attention to my ideas.
The ozone layer gradually re-established itself, of course, because Earth’s lifeforms were not catastrophically damaged and Gaia repaired the ravages of the radiation. It was a jolt, but not as serious as the cosmic super-events, or conjunction of several events relatively close to each other, which caused mass-extinctions like that of the dinosaurs.
In late 2005, on a whim, I contacted Adrian Berry whose article in the London Daily Telegraph had started me off on this speculative track away back in 1991.
He had become a much-published scientific writer and author and had a regular column in the journal, Astronomy Now. His interest was stirred and he wrote a follow-up piece in Astronomy Now of March 2006. From this article I received an email from Andrew Collins, another successful scientific author with wide-ranging interests.
He generously gave me much information he had acquired during his own researches and directed me to important sources. We met and talked in 2006.
My enthusiasm for my proposals was abruptly re-awakened. Firstly, as I had already discovered, Collins pointed out that the supernova in the Cygnus Loop had been shown to be recent and too far away to have had any effect on Earth. There may have been another supernova in that part of space, but there was no firm evidence.
Technical advances, the Hubble Space Telescope, other satellites designed for observing cosmic radiation and terrestrial observations from several different observatories had made a great difference between the often ill-defined information available in the 1970s and 80s and current published knowledge.
No doubt, there was even more advanced information available and not yet published, and there would surely be more to come.
The increasing awareness of artificially induced global warming was enabling much greater resources of funds and personnel to be devoted to the exploration of ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica, and the huge capital 168 investment in telescopes of different types around the world and above it demanded that they be properly used for advanced research. Now, is an exciting time.
Not only that, but the possibility of a more general hypothesis emerged to engage the strange coincidence of universal cultural ‘jumps’ all around the world.
Andrew Collins generously gave me the draft of a paper he had prepared, and provided numerous references.
Whereas a supernova has to be very close (within probably 150 light years or less, as discussed earlier) to provide sufficiently powerful cosmic radiation to affect the molecules of the genes in sperms or ova, and thus cause mutation, other possible sources have been discovered and identified. Close supernovae are extremely rare and their peak of radiation lasts a short time in the region of months.
But other extraordinarily powerful sources radiate gamma waves and particles at speeds approaching that of light.
These clouds are collected and projected in a concentrated narrow jet of enormous energy by the neutron star or black hole partner at right angles to its rotation plane, and they are active in varying strength for hundreds of thousands of years. They are increasingly identified in our own galaxy and others throughout the near universe.
As our galaxy ponderously rotates and its spiral arms change shape, in a time-scale of tens of millions of years, the jets from neutron- and black hole- binary systems swing achingly slowly in relation to our own solar system. It has been determined that Cygnus X-3 is one of these binary systems in our own galaxy which lies at a distance of 30,000 light years.
The power of its ‘blazar jet’ touches Earth. Andrew Collins prepared a paper in 2006 explaining his support of Cygnus X-3 as a critical source of cosmic radiation affecting Earth. He refers to a number of scientific observations and enters into discussion of astrophysics, some of which I have omitted.
I quote from a portion of it:
There seems little doubt that Cygnus X-3 is an exceptional source of cosmic radiation both of the range which is well understood, but of a new type, the ‘cygnets’, which demand further study.
Perhaps there are more kinds of electro-magnetic forces and sub-atomic particles which have yet to be identified and which bombard Earth from enormously powerful sources.
Collins and others point out that Cygnus X-3 is not in any way unique. A number of similar binary systems have been recorded. The relevance of Cygnus X-3 is that its blazar jet happens to be aimed directly at us.
The term ‘blazar’ applies to a stellar source with a jet pointing our way.) Andrew Collins dramatically described it to me as:
It has to be remembered that there are other sources of cosmic radiation including that produced by intergalactic gas and dust and, most obviously, from our own cosmic source, the Sun.
The Sun is itself influenced by strange gravity forces, cosmic radiation and intergalactic gas and dust. There is nothing at all simple about the constituents of the Universe; it is its laws that are simple Nevertheless, knowing that my ‘Cygnus Event’ was not a near supernova, but perhaps something of even greater significance, does not end my quest for a solution to the enigma of ± 35,000 BP.
Indeed, new doors were opened, for the bombardment from Cygnus X-3 did not occur during a short and specific time, as would that from a supernova, but has been going on for a long time, maybe as long as 700,000 years, with fluctuations caused by its own position in the galaxy and the effects of other activity on it.
His work is described on his website, www.andrewcollins.com, and he is publishing a comprehensive examination of the significance of the Cygnus constellation in his book The Cygnus Mystery in October 2006.
At the beginning of this chapter, and this train of investigation, beryllium was the isotope which was important to discovery 10 y of cosmic radiation effects in Greenland and Antarctic ice-cores.
Other isotopes, such as beryllium 7.8 , are also used to detect them. Andrew Collins directed my attention to a paper presented by Professor Aden Meinel of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona, during the TAG Conference at Sheffield University in December 2005.
Prof. Meinel and his colleagues had been researching several relevant avenues and in his paper he published several graphs illustrating results from ice-cores. He showed, for example, that the cores confirm the fluctuations of temperature which have caused the warm interglacials and severe ice-ages between the generally cool state of the Earth during the Pleistocene.
His graph taken from the Vostok site in Antarctica very roughly shows warm peaks at about 430,000BP, 320,000BP, 130,000BP and 15,000 BP, and cold troughs at about 330,000BP, 260,000BP, 135,000BP, 110,000BP, 80,000BP, 56,000BP and 22,000BP.
These approximate dates estimated from a small graph more-or-less coincided with those known for some years from ocean sediment and other particular data. [see the details in Appendix 1 .]
There are two sources of temperature change: random catastrophes such as volcanoes or meteors and change in the quantity of energy received from the sun. The abrupt melting of ice at the beginning of the present warm interglacial has been detected at the end of the last Ice-age, but it was several thousands of years before the climate changed and the Sahara dried. C
atastrophic floods resulted from the melting, but the Earth has great inertia and the force which causes acute atmospheric temperature change is followed by the expenditure of energy in warming or freezing ice-caps, stabilizing the ocean currents and climatic structures of winds and rainfall in the atmosphere.
An event which instantly freezes
mammoths in Siberia or melts the northern hemisphere glaciers in
decades must be followed by a sustained increase or reduction of
energy for centuries and millennia for a generally warm or cold
period to follow.
This inertia of the Earth creates what seems to be endlessly long periods of stability to humanity with a life-span of a mere seventy years. If it were otherwise, our core-ancestry would not have survived, but it also explains that the principal of ‘survival of the fittest’ has validity in the most basic behaviours of our planet. There has to be sufficient time for this evolutionary process to work on many generations in lifeforms.
A rise or fall in ocean levels of a hundred meters and the desertification of savannah in a hundred years is accommodated by a hundred million nomadic hunter-gatherers with not inconsiderable loss of life, but it is sustainable. For the 6.5 billion people on Earth today, 80% close to oceans and seas, half of them in cities and most dependent on mechanized industrial agriculture for survival, it would be true disaster.
Professor Meinel’s paper proceeded to discussion on detailed analysis of the ice-cores and the importance of beryllium isotopes. He wrote:
Meinel correlated beryllium deposits, which is a measure of cosmic radiation, and temperature evidence and found no agreement. Cosmic radiation and atmospheric temperature variation were not precisely related. He wrote:
The graphs that he created to illustrate these statements show that cosmic radiation fluctuations increased above a ‘normal’ level at 80,000 years ago with a sudden peak, experienced a more sustained peak at about 60,000 years ago and a substantial one at 40,000 years ago.
They tapered off at about 11,000 years ago. It will be recalled that in references I obtained in earlier years and quoted in the first part of this chapter, the periods of excessive radiation around 60,000 and 40, 000 years ago have been known for some time, but no 172 professional scientist had apparently seen their significance in relation to changes in human culture.
I have referred to Stephen Oppenheiner and his book Out of Eden (2003) and Christopher Springer & Robin McKie in African Exodus (1996) in previous discussion on this particular problem. But, the promotion of this behaviour may have been precipitated or facilitated by subtle mutation in their brains caused by cosmic radiation.
At 60,000 years ago, I see a new surge beginning: migrants crossed the seas to Australia and explored far beyond the apparent previous limits of about 45ºN latitude in Eurasia. It is most probable that island-hopping and coastal migration began from northeast Siberia to the northwest coast of North America so that people reached Mexico, near Puebla, 40,000 years ago, as has been recently demonstrated.
There is considerable evidence of Homo sapiens in the Americas with, for example, Pedra Furada in Brazil and Orogrande in New Mexico revealing dates between 50-20,000 years ago. There were warm periods within the general glacial period from about 110,000 to 12,000 years ago when it may have been practical for people and other large mammals to migrate across the Canadian plains, but I am satisfied that it was not necessary for Alaska and Canada to be ice-free.
Coastal migration is the pattern that I believe has always been the most natural route for all pioneering movements since the emergence of the earliest Homo erectus. This is central to my hypothesis.
Neolithic Homo sapiens was confident in its mastery of the planet. I am examining the last 100,000 years, specifically the last 80,000 during the significant rise of cosmic radiation illustrated by Aden Meinel, but the importance of this concept has to be taken backwards into far reaches of time. I am confident in speculating that the major jumps in evolution which have resulted in modern mankind, apparently inexplicable by conventional science, may have been the result of similar cosmic ray bombardments.
Significant increases in cosmic radiation over a fairly prolonged period of tens or hundreds of thousands of years will not have been the sole cause of evolutionary jumps. That could be absurd.
But the combination of climate change forcing great environmental alterations, which in turn forced migration and changes in diet and nutrition, especially prolonged seashore living and seafood eating, and combined 173 with periodic mutations in soft tissue caused by cosmic ray bombardment, all coincidentally acting with feedback through natural selection on a vulnerable hominid with vertical stance, may have been the magical combination of ingredients we have been seeking.
When considering mutations caused by cosmic radiation, this principle must be always before one’s eyes.
Genes may be changed by radiation, and the greatest concern is that they then develop into cancers. Research on male airline pilots in Canada and the United Kingdom and on female staff in Scandinavia show increased rates of prostate and breast cancer among them.
But, those malevolent changes are within a living entity and do not survive their death. For mutations to succeed in changing the genes of a population, they have to occur in reproductive cells before conception, and the resulting offspring must survive to reproduce itself, and so on.
However, we are considering in this chapter recent evidence of extraordinary levels of radiation, particularly those strange peaks at times coincident to worldwide change in human behaviour. These high levels of radiation were also coincident to the extinction of the Neanderthals.
He then proceeds to speculate on possible scenarios resulting from probable mutation. He suggests:
Here, for the first time, I was reading
material from an academic scientist with much experience in
astronomical disciplines which linked proven bursts of exceptional
cosmic radiation to possible evolutionary mutation.
It is interesting that in his paper Prof Meinel proposed that the source of cosmic radiation he was investigating came from the Cat’s Eye nebula.
As I understand it, he was not dismissing Cygnus X-3, but was suggesting an alternative or additional source. It is notable that the Cat’s Eye nebula lies in the Draco constellation and is close to Cygnus X-3.
Stimulated by Andrew Collins’ material and casting about on the Internet, I found Dr. LaViolette’s website and discovered that he has been researching cosmic radiation for many years. He is Director of an independent research institute in the U.S.
He asserts that this is true of all galaxies and so-called nebulae. The physics argument for this is beyond the scope of this chapter. As part of this phenomenon, these gamma ray bursts are preceded by a gravity wave which propels gas and dust particles outwards from the galaxy centre.
Interference with the sun increases its radiance and its solar flares can ‘scorch’ nearby bodies.
The spectrum of the sun’s radiation is shifted towards both infra-red and ultra-violet during different phases of activity and both have major effects on our climate and the health and survival of animals. Visible light may be ‘dimmed’ by these spectrum shifts. The phenomenon of extreme solar flares is generally accepted and is not particular to LaViolette’s thesis.
Relating such an event to our present time, LaViolette predicts the complete shutdown of electronic devices, damage to power systems and widespread disruption and chaos to our civilization.
In the abstract to his paper, Evidence for a Global Warming at the Termination I Boundary and Its Possible Cosmic Dust Cause, he wrote:
This is a long and comprehensive paper and, together with much other material, it is available on the Starburst Foundation website. Amongst the conclusions, he wrote:
There is great detail in this paper which is an extended scientific description of the mechanism of the last ice-age.
Several tables showing ice-core readings and cosmic radiation calculations correlating to known glacial and interglacial periods are included. The list of references seems equally exhaustive.
Dr Paul LaViolette’s book, Earth Under Fire (1997, revised 2005) is useful reading for those who wish to explore greater details of the accumulating information from many disciplines and their research resources on the effect of cosmic radiation, gravity shock-waves and intergalactic dust and gas clouds. His scholarship and synthesis is impressive. [Also see Appendix 1 for detail of cold and warm periods.]
The fact that LaViolette savours relating real cosmic events to flood and disaster myths and legends from around the Earth, which have long excited scholars of ancient literature, should not put off those with an interest solely in the science. The connection between the science and the universal legends and the birth of astrology is an objective in his book. The veracity of legend is being shown by starting with the scientific evidence, rather than speculating on events from the base of legend, as often in the past through lack of evidence.
An article in Science in August 2006 by Govert Schilling, Do Gamma Ray Bursts Always Line Up with Galaxies?, spotlights continuing problems with conclusions from astronomical observation of cosmic radiation. It would seem that the dust-penetrating capability of radiation from massive Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) in distant galaxies is different from that emanating from quasars.
Schilling reports on a paper by Gabriel Prochter of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and wrote:
There is apparently an insufficient
number of GRBs coming from distant galaxies available for study, and
explanations for anomalies are wanting. LaViolette’s hypotheses may
have greater attention when more is known.
Whereas I seemed to have been unable to access the information I desired about cosmic radiation and extraneous interference with the workings of the solar system and our planet for many years, I now seemed to have an excess.
It seems clear to me that the general and often obscure insights I was pondering fifteen years ago and more, and proposed when this book was first put on the Internet in 1999, have increasingly valid support.
The evolution of life, and mankind in particular, on Earth is an amazingly complex process. What seemed a simple theorem when first described so comprehensively by Charles Darwin is now demonstrated to be enormously complicated with any number of different factors, mostly outside the control, and maybe even the understanding, of the most enlightened scientific intellects possessed by Homo sapiens sapiens.
Our skeletal structure did not change between 100,000 and 10,000 years ago and our skulls are the same. It is what goes on inside those skulls which is different.
Palaeontology and anatomical studies of skulls cannot provide proof of a mutation within our soft tissues. It is the evidence of abrupt efflorescence of culture and behavioral change, exemplified in the worldwide explosion of rockart from 35,000 years ago, which is the potent signpost. Another extraordinary efflorescence occurred at about 10,000 years ago with the rapid development of agriculture and urban society in the Middle East.
Prof. Michael Crawford in a personal communication in August 2006 reiterated the importance of environment when considering the effect of mutation by radiation.
It follows that seashore-living early hominids, and later homo erectus and homo sapiens, had the necessary nutritional regime with epigenetic activity at work to be affected by mutation from a cosmic radiation burst.
Chimps and the other
great apes did not have that nutritional advantage, and they were
living in tropical forests where they were in any case shielded from
less penetrative radiation such as ultra-violet or weak gamma rays.
Elsewhere, in discussing the transition from Australopithecus to Homo erectus, I have quoted from this article which draws together themes on which I have been speculating for many years in the earlier versions of this book.
The synthesis of information on mutations caused by various bursts of cosmic radiation, in their different forms, the transition of species and the extinction of some while others burgeoned, the physical environment and finally the coincidentally critical effect of seafood diet is occurring quite rapidly now.
I quote the whole of the article from the New York Times here, which is somehow fitting since my association of cosmic radiation with evolution began with Adrian Berry’s article in the London Daily Telegraph fifteen years ago, quoted at the beginning of this chapter.
What was needed to understand more of the story was to study the effects of seafood nutrition, and the difference of exposure to cosmic rays between living along seashores and within the rainforest.