Monday, September 27, 2010

The Saginaw Bay Impact Hypothetis

Like many Google Earth afficionados I have pondered the origin and meaning of the Carolina Bays, those shallow teardrop ovals which can be miles wide, and whose longer axes seem to point back towards the American midwest.  The Atlantic coastal pain is just lousy with them, but there also is a swath through Kansas and Nebraska.  They resemble impact craters from above, but on the ground they are quite shallow and bear small semblance to Meteor Crater in Arizona.

What puzzled me most was why we hear so little about this earth impact forensic evidence, with no plausible hypothesis for their origin, even though they tell a story of devastation across our land and apparently date from within the time of mankind, unlike the celebrated Chicxulub comet that nuked the Yucatan at the end of the Cretaceous, which certainly ended the dinosaurs in North America, if not the entire world.

Then I found a website that offers a plausible scenario, Perigree:Zero at  Now if you go and examine this website, you may note it goes beyond explaining geography, and falls prey to the ambition of explaining everything.  A warning bell goes off when on the Dedication page it names Immanuel Velikovsky, whose books made great reading when I was a teenager, but whose ideas about the wandering of Venus and Mars completely misunderstand the orbital reality of those two huge solar bodies.  Also the pages are full of misspellings and typos!   Okay, I know these people aren't scientists, just web-era online diggers, but maybe they really have something here.  They aren't scientists, but they have leveraged other people's research into the Wisconsinan glaciation, geology, hydrology, soils, the behavior of 'ejecta' from impacts.

The central thesis of the Perigree: Zero website and its companion site is that there was an impact event circa 12500 years BP whose impact crater is now Saginaw Bay.  At the time this area was covered with a mile or two of glacial ice.  The low-angle impact upon the icesheet kicked out mountain-sized slush balls into the atmosphere and the Carolina Bays are the resulting splatter.  So the reason these Carolina Bays are shallow and such regularly shaped teardrops is the material of their formation is muddy slush.

The traditional explanation of Saginaw Bay is that there was a Saginaw Lobe in the Laurentian Ice Sheet which dug it out, the way glaciers dug out the Finger Lakes.  But glaciers are more successful at digging when the rock is soft, like the shale around the Finger Lakes; when they hit something hard like the Precambrian Adirondack rocks they go over or around.  Well, central Michigan has a big slab of sandstone that doesn't seem to have breached anywhere but up through the Saginaw Bay region, and Saginaw Bay is no fjord, it is a big wide open bay.

The authors, Michael and Jeanette Davias, have done their homework.  Michael's experiments with splattering things is in the best tradition of practical science, like Franklin and his kite.  The assembled collection of scholarly papers strongly braces their ideas. It is like a fusillade of smoking guns.  There are buried soils and organic material.  The "Saginaw Lobe" disappeared long before the Michigan and Huron lobes.  The glacial till has Precambrian pebbles.  There are anomalous heavy metal and salt concentrations around Saginaw.

For example, they cite a paper called "Fractured hydrothermal dolomite reservoirs in the Devonian Dundee Formation of the central Michigan Basin" published in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin in November, 2006, which concluded that the Dundee rocks have such incongruous inclusions that they must have been reheated, but the authors of that paper can offer no explanation of how this could have happened.  That's where scientists must leave off, inside the box, and inspired amateurs, who do not have careers to ruin, must take over.

I'm still savoring the excitement of this leap to conclusions. Velikovsky never marshalled quite so much hard science to his point, he fatally relied on ancient writings, legends express the desires of storytellers and their listeners, not data.

But the Davias's are not immune to trying to explain ancient historical egnimas using their new ideas about impacts, and I would like to separate this over-reaching from the basic hypothesis which has so much value.  They are right to be proud and excited about what they've cobbled together from the evidence at hand, and they've understandably fallen prey to trying to use their new ideas to explain everything.

One really funny thing they point out which is not obscure is that the temperatures during the Holocene, which is the latest interglacial warming period, have remained fairly stable for the last 10K years, while during earlier interglacial periods there was a spike of high temperatures, and then a falling.  They say the comet might have something to do with this.  Maybe or not, it is another cause to ponder.  Maybe our agriculture was altered the climate so the temperatures have not fallen as before.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Locust Swarm Algorithms

As my lab is virtual, here, and not in the sahel migratory path, I could not test my algorithms with Schistocerca gregaria in real time, so it was simulated using the most like web-based resource, Farmville.

My conclusions are the following:

1. Locust spread because they are cute and have big sad eyes that appeal to the mother in all of us, and are willingly adopted by many individuals, particularly older women.

2. These woman will send all their friends and friends of friends, including their children's disinterested friends, gifts of cute lonely locusts.

3. Some will respond, and so spawn new swarms.

These findings may provoke comment in some quarters.

Relevance is so irrevelant

At last the world has become a comfortable place, atomfractaled waves of singularities, you and me and them. I do mine, you yours, they theirs, in the silk hexagon (SH); who spins but spiders; the world is now home for we eight legged ones.

My singularity was spinning in a corner all these years and now I can websling like the movies.

In this open mike chaos of in the web's fruit market of ideas, anyone can hunt and peck fame crowing and scratching in the barnyard of public esteem.

Humanity wired to the Ubiquitous, all is one, even if it is mostly pigbook, it is remarxable.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eff the ineffable

Religions must stress "Faith", and or referred as "Faiths" because there is no evidence for any of it.

The 21st century is cursed with the coming hegemony of the scientific method; we now pry into the sausage-making of the Faiths and amongst the blobs of fatty meats we find a slippery greasy paper trail in the holy documentation, which was assembled back when there was not much facility for independent fact-checking.

There is one prominent faith around today whose claims could quite easily be fact-checked into oblivion if that's all it took, Mormonism and their Book of Mormon with its astounding tales of vast pre-Columbian kingdoms where everybody had pseudo-Semitic names, and Old Testament technology like iron and wheat which never ever has shown up in any archeological dig anywhere in the Americas. The mother of all battles supposedly took place in Upstate New York.

Today all controversy is at home on the internet, and there is enough material and discussion and dissection available by simple search to see how the sausage called Christianity was stuffed.
The first bad news for our childhood memories of sunday school is that Jesus (which is by the way 'sausage' is pronounced backwards) is probably about as real as the Angel Moroni, a literary character composed by the author of the Gospel of Mark, the other canonical gospels being merely franchise reboots.

But even worse it's possible the character of Jesus is based on much-maligned Simon Magus, just sexed up to act more like the holy men of the Old Testament, but spouting comforting Cynic bromides instead of insane damnations like Isaiah and Elijah; and the Epistles of Paul were first written by Simon Magus but the names were changed to protect the innocent, and the Acts of the Apostles written to provide a back-story for the Paul character by the same Luke who cleaned up the poor Greek of Mark and Matthew. The Gospel of Mark was written close enough to reality, unlike most 'Gnostic' style stories, to be plausible, and the public ate it up. Once it was believed to be literal and not an allegory (which may have been the original intention of the author!) it became great, greater than its origin, because like the Book of Mormon, it gave people tremendous control over their mental world, they invested themselves in a partnership with God, and what a friend to have, no problem facing death when God has you covered with eternal paradise.

The martyrs of the early Christian church could face death, really nasty death, because they believed allegories were real. There weren't many Gnostics fighting lions, because in the Gnostic fairyland everything groovy is ineffable and there are no facts known well enough to think about dying for.

So do not sneer when the curtain is pulled back and there are no facts, please reflect with respect that an author can change history.