Meteor Showers

Leonid Meteor Shower

Leonid Meteor Shower

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We’ve seen where meteor showers may have played a major role in history in the past ( that 2200 BC collapse of civilizations) and may be synchronized with other climate drivers to some small extent (since tides, the sun, and even volcanic cycles may be driven by the same cosmic clockwork of gravitation). So what showers are there, and what have there been?

lists the 2011 set as:

Name 	        Date of Peak 	        Moon
Quadrantids 	night of January 3 	New
Lyrids  	night of April 21 	Rises after midnight
Eta Aquarids 	night of May 5 	Sets in early evening
Perseids 	night of August 12 	Full
Draconids 	night of October 8 	Nearly full
Orionids 	night of October 21 	Rises after midnight
Leonids 	night of November 17 	Rises around midnight
Geminids 	night of December 13 	Just past full

8 sets that are both large enough to be of note, and regular enough to come around each year. That’s rather a lot of time in the shooting gallery…

The present theory is that meteor showers are the result of a breakup of a larger body (asteroid or comet) earlier in history and that it leaves behind a bunch of ‘little stuff’. For some cases, the ‘little stuff’ is shown to have a very uneven distribution. The large comet Encke being a very large example as it’s a major chunk, stuck in a field of very uneven debris. The worst of it comes around every 2500 to 3000 years (or, rather, our orbit shifts enough to intersect the worst of it on it’s roughly 3 year orbit). But what about the others? Does this not imply their could easily be ‘other big lumps’?

Some Historical Events

I can’t vouch for the veracity of this site, nor for their cyclicality theory (those A, A’, B, B’ etc markers). On the other hand, it looks like they have done a pretty good job of digging up a chronology of historical meteor swarms / impacts:

THE 12,945 BC STRIKE – Swarm A – 14,945 YA
THE 11,600 BC STRIKE – Swarm B’ – 13,600 YA
THE 11,000 BC STRIKE – Swarm B – 13,000 YA
THE 10,600 BC STRIKE – Swarm A’ – 12,600 YA
THE 9,600 BC STRIKE – Swarm A’ – 11,600 YA
THE 8,300 BC STRIKE – Swarm B’ – 10,300 YA
THE 7,800 BC STRIKE – Swarm B – 9,800 YA
THE 6,800 BC STRIKE – Swarm A’ – 8,800 YA
THE 6,200 BC STRIKE – Swarm A – 8,200 YA
THE 5,600 BC STRIKE – Swarm C – 7,600 YA
THE 5,000 BC STRIKE – Swarm B’ – 7,000 YA
THE 4,500 BC STRIKE – Swarm B – 6,500 YA
THE 3,500 BC STRIKE – Swarm A’ – 5,500 YA
THE 3,000 BC STRIKE – Swarm A – 5,000 YA
THE 2,350 BC STRIKE – Swarm C – 4,350 YA
THE 1,600 BC STRIKE – Swarm B’ – 3,600 YA
THE 1,200 BC STRIKE – Swarm B – 3,200 YA
THE 200 BC STRIKE – Swarm A’ – 2,200 YA
THE 500 AD STRIKE – Swarm A – 1,500 YA
THE 1,000 AD STRIKE – Swarm C – 1,000 YA
THE 1,500 AD STRIKE – Swarm B’ – 500 YA

Ignoring the Chicago and Tunguska events (as they are much more speculative as to being a ‘swarm’ of anything) we get the following rough periods:


And with an average period of: 722.25 years. Inspection of those ‘periods’, shows the usual increase in long periods early in history (as it is more likely some event did not get recorded then) along with the observation that the 500 year recent periods tend toward a mix of 400 and 600 year earlier periods (with the odd 700 ish tossed in from time to time). The very long periods of 1000 and 1300 years look like multiples of these shorter periods.

OK, just looking at the dates shows a LOT of rounding has likely gone into them. Still, we can be pretty sure that something happened near those times. Does this imply anything for us, now?

(BTW, the Wiki lists about 72 meteor showers that happen each year, so if anything, significant events from some clustering in those showers ought to be more frequent than the shorter list would predict.)

Well, when the last one is listed as 500 years ago with recent periods being 500 years and the average 722, it kind of implies that their ought to be another such event in the next 222 years, and perhaps sooner rather than later.

That link goes on to give some pretty good detail on each historical comet swarm or strike event. This leads me to think that the actual historical research was probably pretty thorough (perhaps even more thorough than I would have done for One Little Posting Idea ;-) so I’m not going to second-guess them on that. They then launch into some rather more speculative bits such as:

Vulcan is the distant, yet to be observed, dark star companion of our Sun. It has flavored the human spirit, aided in the manifestion of avatars like Christ and Buddha, and stimulated quasi-periodic bombardment of Earth by comet strikes redirecting the course of human civilization. It is probable that Vulcan is (or is near) an already satellite identified far infra-red source. Vulcan attracts comets from the Kuiper belt and these form multiple swarms that pass through the inner solar system at quasi-perodic intervals, often impacting Earth. A catalog of past impacts fits predicted estimates. Public verification of Vulcan’s existence could save billions of lives. Further, Vulcan offers the prospect of understanding the human propensity for religious wars that have plagued our existence.

Yeah, the Invisible Dark Companion argument again. I’m always worried when causality is attributed to some invisible agent that will be made visible Real Soon Now; doubly so when the messiah asserts that it will be happening in the context of the proximate Catastrophe Of Biblical Proportions!!!! Yet such fervor can drive folks to doing a decent job of thorough data gathering.

At any rate, it’s a fun site as long as you don’t take the Apocalypse bit too seriously…

Along the way, links lead me to this site:

That purports to look at strange bits with a science filter. Sort of a science-meets-flaky-ideas-and-has-a-party approach. A bit ‘edgy’, but still seems to stay grounded (most of the time). The top page notes that the author of it died 8 July 2011, so now there is another interesting site I’ve run into that is or unknown future longevity…

At any rate, they also explore the ‘dark companion did it’ thesis a bit:

The general notion of such sites is that there is a dark star with a 5000 year or so period that kicks things around every so often. Variously called Vulcan or Nibiru or whatever. Personally, I’m OK with just assuming that the basic orbital structure of what we have isn’t all that stable, but if assuming an external orbital Dark Star floats your boat, well, OK… (Though it only very indirectly explains the 500 year scale events, via creating a new comet breakup every few thousand years…)

NASA, too, sees no reason to believe in Nibiru as existing or causal of anything:

My “issue” with the Dark Star in 2012 folks is pretty simple. If it WERE going to happen that we have a ‘close approach’ then, the object would already be fairly near and it’s effects obvious (and most likely the object itself would be visible fairly easily). It isn’t, so it isn’t… A similar reasoning can be applied to all the ‘Galactic Alignment’ things. We’re well past 99% of a 25,000 year orbit, so if something were going to happen it would already be manifesting some kind of effects. It isn’t. Gravity, radiation, whatever; it all tends to be a bit spread out and you get effects proportional to proximity. Even belts of cometary debris spread out under gravitational influence, so tend to ‘ramp up and down’ over years to decades.

So while it’s fun to read (as quasi-fiction), and can lead folks to do some good library research / data compilation on history; I’m not ready to subscribe to the doomsday cults just yet ;-)

So, meanwhile back at those meteor storms…

History Says?

It’s pretty clear that every so often we get significant rock falls from space. Sometimes they are large single bolides. Sometimes they are a gaggle of small stones. But always “they come”…

Which means they will come again. So we ought to be looking at that past history to get some kind of idea what they do when they come (and maybe a bit about how often…)

Some of the time it’s just a ‘strange event’. Rocks pelting a church in Europe, for example.

In 1790 a fireball raced across the sky near the town of Barbotan in southwest France. Immediately after the fireball disappeared a shower of stones fell. Over three-hundred people witnessed this event, making it difficult for French scientists to discount. The scientists were forced to admit there was some connection between the fireballs that fell from the sky and the rains of stone. In 1794, four years later, more than 200 stones fell from the sky near Siena, Italy with enough witnesses to make the existence of the event undeniable. Though many scientists explained the stones as condensations from “igneous clouds” or volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, a German researcher had a different idea.

That year Ernst Friedrick Chladni published his theory in a book titled On the Origin of the Mass of Iron Discovered by Pallas and Others Similar to It, and on Some Natural Phenomena Related to Them. In this work Chladni built a case that rock falls were related to fireballs even if the fireballs were not observed. He also reached the conclusion that fireballs because of their very high-speeds, among other characteristics, had to be coming from outer space. At first many scientists were reluctant to accept what seemed like such an outlandish idea, but a rock fall investigated by Jean-Bapiste Biot in 1803 cinched the case. Biot showed that some thousand stones had fallen in an elliptical pattern, just the sort of pattern one might expect from a disintegrating fireball coming down at an angle.

I would just note that it’s been a while since we had several hundred stones, falling in clusters, just a few years apart, in just one small part of Europe… Things have been spooky quiet recently, in comparison.

This wiki

Has a nice list of major meteor showers and the comet / asteroid from which they are thought to have originated. As a couple of them are now classed as ‘minor planets’, we can, in fact, say that a few meteor storms have been caused by a dark planet… just not the evil kind ;-)

At any rate, comets come along every so often, break up, and new ones get disturbed into our orbit. This alone means that attempting to make a regular periodic pattern of the historical data is a bit of a fools errand. It will always be somewhat variable. That is not a comfort… It means that we can get ‘the next one’ at any time, and it can be any size.

Recently, Peter Jenniskens has argued that most of our short-period meteor showers are not from the normal water vapor drag of active comets, but the product of infrequent disintegrations, when large chunks break off a mostly dormant comet. Examples are the Quadrantids and Geminids, which originated from a breakup of asteroid-looking objects 2003 EH1 and 3200 Phaethon, respectively, about 500 and 1000 years ago. The fragments tend to fall apart quickly into dust, sand, and pebbles, and spread out along the orbit of the comet to form a dense meteoroid stream, which subsequently evolves into Earth’s path.

There are those 1000 and 500 year numbers again…

So What’s It Mean?

To me, it means that we ought to be getting whacked with decent meteor storms every 500 years or so. Maybe from our regular crossings of existing debris fields. Maybe from new breakups of old neighbors. Sometimes from whole new comets.

The last significant cluster looks like it was between about 1500 AD and 1800 AD, more or less. We are presently having fairly light bombardment (at least, there hasn’t been a lot of news of ‘town bombarded by hundreds of stones’ in the last century or so…) All in all, I think that’s a good thing. We’re likely in the low cycle side of things. The bad news is that cycles change. So most likely sometime in about 2100 – 2200 AD the density ought to pick up some. “Not my problem”…

And while I’d love to see a significant rock fall event, I’d even more love to have them not happen for a few hundred years more… But, if it does happen, what is it likely to be?

We can speculate. Cometary debris fields tend to deplete over time. Any of the existing showers is likely to be a “shadow of it’s former self”. So we would have a cyclical rise of density, but on the background of less each cycle peak. Any new event will tend to have a new cycle and would come from the breakup of a new source; that is, a new comet. That new comet would need to be a big one, too.

So there are two reasonable scenarios. A new, very large, comet appears in the sky. It has a breakup event and dumps a load of debris. Eventually our orbit crosses that orbit the same time as the debris field maximum density. Then we could get events like those of the past that look to have felled prior civilization wholesale. IFF the chunks are big enough, we could get an extinction scale event like the one that did in the dinosaurs, but that’s highly unlikely. Much more likely are Tunguska sized events. One or several at a time. The “worst likely” being like the events of 2300 BC to 2200 BC that caused a couple of hundred years of cold and drought in the Middle East and caused the collapse of empires in China, Egypt, and the Akkadians.

Looks like it as a decent catalog of events. This is just a sample, and each has a link to the full story it describes:

Swarm C: Cl – 1 Strike
Mesopotamia and other above-mentioned places were not the only victims of the 2200 BC event. As far away as in China, the Hongsan culture fell in pieces at this same time. This, if not anything else, is an indication of the mighty character of the event, and bolsters us to consider it as global.

Swarm C:Cl – 2 Strike
It seems that there was a great catastrophe around 2200 BC that has destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The Earth was hit in 2194 or 2193 BC by a comet which had spread into many parts, as did Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which hit Jupiter in 1994 AD. The Dead Sea lies at latitude 31 degrees N, and the badly devastated Mohenjo-Daro on the shores of Indus had a latitude of 28 degrees N. China’s Yangtze area has a latitude of around 30 degrees. N. (Impact latitude is stable, longitude varies, such as it did for Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.) This latitude is also the latitude between Canary Islands and Madeira.

Swarm C:Cl – 1 Strike
The incidence of 2345-2344 BC may have been an Anatolian event, destroying most badly the area from Troy (IIg) to Tell Leilan. The incidence of 2194-2193 BC surely had a global frame. Mahabharata may describe what happened at Mohenjodara, Indus. Edda may describe what happened in the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Israeli born social anthropologist Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores University, such biblical catastrophes as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or the flood may well record the havoc wrought by heavenly bodies. The Talmud records the tradition that God caused the flood by taking two stars and casting them to earth, says Dr Peiser. “Before, we did not know of any phenomenon that could trigger such a massive flood disaster,” he adds. “Now, recent research on ocean impacts shows that a large body hitting one of the world’s oceans could trigger the kind of massive tsunamis capable of wiping out coastal cities.”

So we get massive tsunami as some parts hit the oceans. Real “climate change” with 200 year droughts. Destruction of cities directly under some Tunguska like events (think “atomic bomb” scale event). And the associated forest fires. Now “that’s gonna leave a mark” on social order…

Further down that page (more recent in time) we have references to The Dark Ages of 540 AD or so. When Rome fell and society crumbled again. When ice reached far south and the sun was dim for a couple of years.

THE 500 AD STRIKES- Swarm A – 1,500 YA

236 AD Exact tree ring date ¨C Dr. Mike Baillie.
Swarm A:Cl – 1 Strike

Swarm A:Cl – 2 Strike
The 440 AD (1560 YA) strike? appears to have been in Britain. According to a TV production aired on KQED 9:00PM 16 May 2000 report, Celtic tales of Arthur record the fiery destruction of Camelot and the hands of the Sun god (tails of comets) reaching upwards. The 534 AD (1466 YA) strike seems to have caused 70 – 80% of China’s population to die. The KQED production reports atmospheric sulfur increased around this date, also suggesting a volcanic eruption. See also Baillie’s “A Slice of Time” or “Exodus to Arthur”. Note: the three-body situation involved result in quasi-periodic, not periodic, comet strikes.

Mr Gidlow said: “In the 6th Century, a monk named Gildas, who wrote the earliest account of Arthur’s life, referred to both the City of Legions and to a martyr’s shrine within it.

Don’t know that I’d subscribe to the whole modern Arthurian Legend, but I could easily see a more modest form. A small kingdom with a fair king, snuffed out in a rock fall event. Then embellished over time into a legend. The impact on China is again of interest as they are typically isolated from European events until the modern era. Synchronicity in their empire falls is, IMHO, significant. Also a side note on KQED. They are the local “Public Television” channel and are generally of the ‘careful on their facts’ side of things. Liberal bias, as is all public TV, but not prone to embracing flaky catastrophe theories.

Swarm A: Cl – 2 Strike
The data indicate that the crater was formed in about 412 AD, with an uncertainty of 40 years in either direction. Additional sampling may allow this spread to be reduced, but it is clear that the event occurred close to the fall of Rome: some time between 370 AD and 450 AD, when the city was again under attack, this time by the Vandals.

THE DAY THE SKY FELL IN February 6, 2003
Swarm A: Cl – 2 Strike
A metallic asteroid may have coincided with the fall of Rome, says Duncan Steel. A small metallic asteroid descended from the sky, making a hypervelocity impact in an Apennine valley just 60 miles east of the city. This bus-sized lump of cosmic detritus vaporised as it hit the ground. In doing so, it released energy equivalent to around 200 kilotonnes of TNT: around 15 times the power of the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima in 1945. The data indicate that the crater was formed in about 412 AD, with an uncertainty of 40 years in either direction.

A giant meteorite that broke in two as it crashed off Australia, could have been responsible for a mini-ice age that engulfed Britain in 535AD.
The claim was made by marine geophysicist Dallas Abbott at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union last month.
She found evidence of two substantial impact craters in the Gulf of Carpentaria, off the northern Australian coast.
Until now scientists were divided as to whether the dust cloud was caused by a huge volcanic eruption like Krakatoa or a meteorite slamming into Earth.
The eruption theory has many supporters due to sulphate deposits found in ice cores from that period.
However, Dr Abbott’s research suggests the alternative theory. She found satellite measurements of sea levels pointed to two significant craters off Australia, which were 11miles and 7.4miles wide.
According to National Geographic, she was led to the site by large v-shaped dunes along the coast, which she believes are evidence of a great tsunami triggered by a giant impact. Dr Abbott calculated that the original object must have been 2,000ft across. She also found that core samples from the area revealed material likely to have been melted and then blasted into the sky. This could fit quite neatly with a 2004 paper in the journal of Astronomy and Geophysics, which suggested an object around 2,000ft across could have caused a cooling event on the scale of AD535.

Here we have several sets of historical things, all tied together with frequent and in some cases fairly large rock falls from space. Clearly the meteor storm context was different in those times in history compared to now. When was the last time the nightly TV news reported a “bus sized object vaporized over national capital”? Yeah, it’s been a while…

Now the thing that I find most intriguing out of all this is the “swarm” idea.

How A Swarm Changes History

Most folks embracing the “Meteor Did It” hypothesis tend to embrace The One Big Event. They go off looking for One Big Crater. They read history looking for THE One Collapse Date. They argue over 400 AD craters vs 540 AD reports of dim sun vs 560 AD falls of other places. They argue for ONE Volcano somewhere blowing up, or look at lava flow in A location.

Then the disparate dates, and disparate effects, cause each event to be dismissed as not causal.

But a swam is more like “A Death of 1000 Cuts”. As we see in Tunguska, there doesn’t even have to be a crater to have an atomic bomb scale event (or even much larger than an atomic bomb). As we see in our present meteor storm patterns, they often have a bi-modal peak and can have the largest strength distributed over a couple of hundred years. The Taurids look to be that way. About a 2500 – 3000 year period for the return of Peak Rockfall, but with two streams of about 200 years separation at the peak.

So what happens if, instead of ONE Big Rock, you have a few thousand Tunguska Events, spread over 200 years and around the globe, with the occasional Big Rock mixed in?

Well, you get the same kinds of things we see in the historical record. An event outside Rome, near the time of decay. A potential very large tsunami event near Australia almost on top of the “dim sun” period. Lots of opportunities for “neighbors” to attack and give us wars and turmoil between events (both erasing the written record and promoting the social based ‘war lead to collapse’ thesis). A series of smaller events that lead to shifts of weather and thus droughts and famine, so China looks more like an internal collapse than an exterior event. Basically, you see SOME evidence in the dirt, but it tends to show multiple potential causalities (all a bit too small) and you see VARIOUS characters to the fall of empires as some simply vanish (hit with an airburst at their core) and others suffer slow decline (better location for “climate change” and not hit, but still suffering – like the Egyptians of 2200 BC) while others look to have been destroyed by invasions as their ‘neighbors’ evacuated a less favorable area. In short, you get something that looks remarkably like our history.

Oh, and you get a load of religion, too. What, but the hand of God, could explain a couple of cities in Israel being destroyed, but others left whole? It must be their wickedness. What, but the hand of God, could explain your rival neighbor having their capital broken, just in time for your victorious conquest? (And as history is written by the victor, the story will be heavy on your strength and conquest, with a ‘thank you’ to the hand of God smiting your enemy, but a bit thin on comet fragmentation theory…) Often at times like these we see a change of religion on the part of the participants as the losers feel their Gods have abandoned them in favor of the neighbor.

From more recently, about 1500 AD, we have things like:

Swarm B’: Cl – 1 Strike
The most incredible Chinese report is that of the Chíing-yang Meteorite Shower of 1490. Supposedly, tens of thousands of people were killed during the shower in the Shansi province. Yau et al. tell us that “[t]he Chíing-yang incident seems rather implausible in terms of the total number of casualties and the narrow size distribution of the meteorite fragments (Yau et al. 1994),” but they also point out its similarities to the Tunguska event, which would have devastated a populated area.

Swarm B’: Cl – 1 Strike
How does this square with human history? Here, scientists may review records left in the language of folklore. For example, in China’s Shanxi Province, 10,000 people were said to have been killed in the year 1490 by a hail of “falling stones that some astronomers surmise may have been triggered by the breakup of a large asteroid. Strike killed many people, but maybe did not change weather much.

In China it is recorded as rather dramatic rock falls that present a load of physical evidence along with a load of dead folks.

Yet just a couple of hundred years later we get Frost Fairs in England and the paintings of the period show a lot of sky glow at sunset. “Stuff” in the air.

WARMING OR COOLING? – 12/01/2000
Swarm B’: Cl – 2 Strike
The Thames River at London froze frequently in the 1600s. “Frost fairs” atop the Thames became common in the 1700s, and in 1820 it was so cold the river ice was reported as five feet thick.
By 1700, Iceland was surrounded with sea ice that made commerce with the rest of the world hazardous. And in faraway China, citrus groves that had survived for centuries froze in Jiangxi province.

METEOR FALLS AND OTHER NATURAL PHENOMENA BETWEEN 1392-1863 Table I shows the distribution of the records of abnormal phenomena I examined, divided roughly into 50-year periods. Looking at Table I shows that the records of unusual phenomena were concentrated from Period 3 to Period 7, or the period from 1501-1750. This 250-year period comprises 63% of the total period examined, yet it accounts for 80% of the recorded phenomena. Therefore, it seems safe to assume that there was a high frequency of abnormal natural phenomena concentrated during this period.

Typically, this is attributed to volcanic activity (and we have identified some volcano events big enough to account for it). BUT… What if both causes are valid? What if the same orbital mechanics that drive ‘resonance’ to give us concentrated rock falls in some centuries, slim in others, also drive the 1800 year (or so) cycle of lunar tides and ALSO drive magmatic tides leading to cycles of volcanic activity?

Then you get the same confused muddle we have now. One person the champion of The Volcano Did It. Another pointing to a medium sized crater. A third recounting that Emperor FOO attacked King BAR and they destroyed each other. Yet another pointing to disease outbreaks and a record of crop failures.

I think Occam’s Razor applies here. But in a twisted form. Often it is stated as parsimony, or the need to not over complicate an explanation. I’d assert that there are times when the simplest explanation LOOKS more complicated, but isn’t. In this case “They ALL did it” is very simple. The complicated bit is how they “conspired” to do it. The need for a celestial resonance synchronizing mechanism that is not shown to exist. The need for the interactions between things like local rock falls and distant enemies to play out in what is a simple way, but with complex results. So, for example, a major rock fall that craters one side of the planet can have the energy focused on the OTHER side of the planet. If there just happens to be a volcanic zone there (as WILL happen some times), you can easily have BOTH an impact AND a volcano blow off at the same time. Linked by simple physics. Inevitable.

The lava flows in Siberia are not an alternative to the meteor impact in Mexico as causing extinction, they are a matched set.

So in that case, ‘parsimony’ requires us to say “it is one event” (as a contentious example).

Back at now

So what does this mean for us?

Probably not much for a while. The “good news” is that geology is slow. We’re in a slow time for rock falls from space (given the past comet storms) and it isn’t likely to change all that quickly. Yes, the orbital intersections happen fast, but usually it takes a bit of ‘ramp up’ to get to the more concentrated core of a comet trail of debris. The older the comet, the more things are spread out. So given the debris we know about, it’s likely to be a slow ramp up over a couple of hundred years. Even then, the odds of a sudden catastrophic event are less than they were in the past (as more debris has been removed from the field and what there is has become more spread out in space, thus time of impact or probability of impact are more diluted over time).

The “bad news” is that nothing has changed the process that gave us major impact events 1000 years ago and 500 years ago. Geology is slow, so there are substantially the same number of cometary bodies out there breaking up at about the same rate. Giving debris fields that have about the same sizes and frequencies. And given that the frequency is “about 500 years” and it’s been “about 500 years”, we’re left to take solace in the “plus or minus a couple of hundred”… Not all that comforting. Also in the “bad news” column is that the SpaceGuard and similar folks are not likely to spot these debris fields any time soon. They are looking for the One Big Planet Killer and will get to the ‘small stuff’ later. Much later. It’s not easy to spot things the size of a car millions of miles away… things the size of a watermelon are even harder.

What happens when one of these catches you by surprise can be a big deal. I’d often wondered why it was only in the last few thousand years that the Polynesians had populated the Pacific Islands. Perhaps the answer is just that they periodically get scrubbed clean by tsunami of great proportions. If so, it does not bode well for the present islanders. (Though I’d happily retire there…) In this regard, there are two things that come to mind. One is the Chinese Fleet. Perhaps the Emperor was not quite so petty when he ‘burned the fleet’. If you’ve sunk a lot of treasure into something, and all it’s been is a money sink, well, you can make a point of dumping it… The other being that ‘life on a small island’ is precarious. I’ve also often pondered what happens to our global oil and food system if all the ships in the Pacific get sunk by a rock fall. It would take a decade or two to replace them…

When Cedric Bell returned to New Zealand in 2004 he found yet more startling evidence – not least that wrecked junks were to be found impaled upside down high up on the cliffs of South Island. Some wrecks were charred; some were upside down and tilted as if a giant had hammered them into the cliffs, some lay nearly one hundred feet above the sea. The only feasible explanation for such widespread destruction was a huge tsunami. As New Zealand lies on a fault line, the tsunami and forest fires could have been caused by a seismic event but an earthquake would not explain how the wrecks had been turned to charcoal before being impaled in the cliffs. Aborigines in Australia and the Maoris in New Zealand both reported a comet being the cause of the ‘mystic fires? Then in November 2003 researchers announced they had found that a comet had impacted the sea between Campbell Island and New Zealand South Island, blasting a crater twenty kilometres across.

The comet, named Mahuika for the Maori God of Fire, hit the ocean some sixty miles south of the combined fleet. Gigantic waves, more than six hundred feet high, toss the ships about like matchsticks, the masts and rigging are afire, fanned by four hundred mile an hour winds.
Why did all the civilisations of South America, save for the Incas, collapse in the 1440’s and four decades after that? In my view the Mahuika tsunami was responsible; besides destroying the Chinese fleet, it wrecked the rich cities of the coast, leaving the mountain peoples, the Incas, to take over.

Hard to explain ships upside down that high in the hills. It would be interesting to find some other documentation of that. It’s recent enough I’d expect there to be photographs and maybe even a tourist exhibit, yet I’ve not heard of it before. This site makes it sound more like a couple of chunks of burned timber and not so much like a ship:

What he believes to be the remains of an upturned Chinese junk is clearly outlined in cliffs at Wakanui Beach, about 300 metres south of the car park.
Mr Bell said he had first visited Wakanui Beach in February this year “to do some fossicking” and had taken material from the outline of what he believed was the remains of a junk. The material had proved to be burned timber. It had been carbon-dated by scientists at Waikato University to the period around 1422.
He returned to the beach yesterday to do more investigation into the ship’s remains.

So that part I’d take with a chunk of salt…

To Egypt

One of my favorite passages involves Solon talking with an Egyptian Priest from long long ago. The Greeks are criticized as being ‘like children’ in their youthful view of history. Here is a longer version of that passage from It is from Plato, Critias.

Thereupon, one of the priests, who was of very great age; said, ‘O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are but children, and there is never an old man who is an Hellene.’

Solon, hearing this, said, ‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean to say,’ he replied, ‘that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you the reason of this: there have been, and there will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes.

There is a story which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Phaethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now, this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving around the earth and in the heavens, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth recurring at long intervals of time: when this happens, those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the sea-shore; and from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing savior, saves and delivers us.

When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, among you herdsmen and shepherds on the mountains are the survivors,
whereas those of you who live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea; but in this country neither at that time nor at any other does the water come from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below, for which reason the things preserved here are said to be the oldest.

The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer sun does not prevent, the human race is always increasing at times, and at other times diminishing in numbers.
And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed–if any action which is noble or great, or in any other way remarkable has taken place, all that has been written down of old, and is preserved in our temples; whereas you and other nations are just being provided with letters and the other things which States require; and then, at the usual period, the stream from heaven descends like a pestilence, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and thus you have to begin all over again as children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves.

As for those genealogies of yours which you have recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children; for, in the first place, you remember one deluge only, whereas there were many of them; and, in the next place, you do not know that there dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, of whom you and your whole city are but a seed or remnant. And this was unknown to you, because for many generations the survivors of that destruction died and made no sign.

For there was a time, Solon, before that great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war, and was preeminent for the excellence of her laws, and is said to have performed the noblest deeds, and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.’

Solon marveled at this, and earnestly requested the priest to inform him exactly and in order about these former citizens.

‘You are welcome to hear about them, Solon,’ said the priest, ‘both for your own sake and for that of the city; and, above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and protector and educator of both our cities. She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and then she founded ours, the constitution of which is set down in our sacred registers as 8000 years old.

As touching the citizens of 9000 years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of the noblest of their actions; and the exact particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers themselves. If you compare these very laws with your own, you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours, as they were in the olden time.

Notice that the 8000 years put the founding of the Egyptian civilization as being about the end of the last ice age. Just about when we know that the Sahara was drying up and people were being pushed into Egypt.

So, IMHO, this passage does a rather decent job of matching what we know of the actual climate history of the planet. It matches what we know about periodic meteor storms. It matches what we know of archeological evidence for the destructions of civilizations “periodically”. All in all, I see little reason to dispute it being an accurate rendition. That it then goes on to describe a place called Atlantis, and that a lot of modern folks try to stretch THAT into a variety of odd shapes, those are not reasons to dispute what the written record actually states. I also wonder if that Greek civilization that preceded the Egyptians and was so great is the Minoan civilization. The timeline fits.

That it also explains the ‘non-hieroglyphic’ stoneworks that look to be older than the consensus “start of Egyptian civilization”, such as just in front of the Sphynx, and matches in date the erosional evidence from the Sphynx enclosure is, IMHO, just gravy ;-) That we’ve also found 12,000 year old megalithic structures in Turkey lends even more evidence.

So, if the written record is true, what does it say? It says ‘we are living in the good times, watch out’.

It argues for rocks from space burning things up, and when they don’t, water (likely from rocks hitting oceans) washing away low areas in floods and tsunami. (And the implication that there may be droughts and hyperrains from rockfalls ought also to be considered). It says that when you are close to the mountain tops, the rock falls (airbursts?) are worse and when you live along the ocean shores where many cities / ports are located, the tsunami are the problem… But live inland a ways, just up slope a tiny bit from a large river, and your society can survive. This, it turns out, is a Very Good Thing.

We, as humanity, are now spread all over the place. Not just modest sized cities on the mouth of a river, or scattered shepherds on a mountain. We have cities, like Chicago, far inland. Places, like Moscow, with large underground retreats. Yes, we may lose the occasional New Orleans, but that doesn’t result in the collapse of society or the loss of history.

I have no doubt that what the Egyptian Priest said was true. That the Destructions Of Mankind will return and do so “periodically”… But I’m pretty sure that we will have many more survivor civilizations with written records. We no longer depend on an Emperor keeping The Gods happy for our stability. We would understand that this was a natural event. We would have far more places of refuge, and far more ability to feed ourselves on ‘reduced rations’. (We have about 5 times the total food needed on the planet right now, we just feed a lot of it to other animals as we prefer bacon and eggs to corn grits… )

The part I do have doubt about is just “when”… but I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’ve had a pretty good run of “good times” and that cycles turn…

Vulcan / Hephaestus - God of Smiths, Technology, and Volcanoes

Vulcan / Hephaestus - God of Smiths, Technology, and Volcanoes

Original Image

SIDEBAR on Hephaestus:

From The Wiki
God of Technology, Blacksmiths, Craftsmen & Volcanoes.

Hephaestus (play /hɪˈfiːstəs/, /həˈfɛstəs/ or /hɨˈfɛstəs/; 8 spellings; Ancient Greek Ἥφαιστος Hēphaistos) was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods – or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes. Like other mythic smiths but unlike most other gods, Hephaestus was lame, which gave him a grotesque appearance in Greek eyes. He served as the blacksmith of the gods, and he was worshipped in the manufacturing and industrial centers of Greece, particularly in Athens. The center of his cult was in Lemnos. Hephaestus’s symbols are a smith’s hammer, an anvil and a pair of tongs, although sometimes he is portrayed holding an axe.

So you can blame all of Greek culture and civilization on a Smith ;-) per the Egyptians… and it’s nice to know that my family have been admiring Vulcan since far before Star Trek captured our imaginations…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Meteor Showers

  1. Adrian Vance says:

    I remember seeing the Leonid shower in 1942 from southern Indiana. My mother and it sat outside until midnight. They came down like rain for hours. It was incredible and she tried to explain it to me as her father had been something of an amateur astronomer and she had seen them before. It was totally incredible and to think each one was probably no bigger than a grain of sand.

    See The Two Minute Conservative at has political analysis,science and humor. Now in the top 2% on Kindle.

  2. tckev says:

    If course at Mecca there is a rather large rock that is most probably of extraterrestrial origin. Is there a date any where for its arrival?

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, looking up some history on it:

    It isn’t even clear WHAT it is, let alone when it was first found. There are some odd hints, and at the end of it the conclusion I reach is it’s not possible to even know if the present stone is THE stone. (It’s wandered around a bit from time to time…)

    But one interesting bit in the wiki caught my attention:

    Elsebeth Thomsen of the University of Copenhagen proposed a different hypothesis in 1980. She suggested that the Black Stone may be a glass fragment or impactite from the impact of a fragmented meteorite that fell some 6,000 years ago at Wabar, a site in the Rub’ al Khali desert some 1,100 km east of Mecca. The craters at Wabar are notable for the presence of blocks of silica glass, fused by the heat of the impact and impregnated by beads of nickel-iron alloy from the meteorite (most of which was destroyed in the impact). Some of the glass blocks are made of shiny black glass with a white or yellow interior and gas-filled hollows, which allow them to float on water. Although scientists did not become aware of the Wabar craters until 1932, they were located near a caravan route from Oman and were very likely known to the inhabitants of the desert.

    The 6000 years BP matches one of the meteor episodes, more or less. The description of the material allows for the variable descriptions of the Black Stone (as black outside, whiter inside; and one story of floating). But the neat bit is this:

    The wider area was certainly well-known; in ancient Arabic poetry, Wabar or Ubar (also known as “Iram of the Pillars”) was the site of a fabulous city that was destroyed by fire from the heavens because of the wickedness of its king. If the estimated age of the crater is accurate, it would have been well within the period of human habitation in Arabia and the impact itself may have been witnessed.

    But no good deed escapes attack:

    However, a recent (2004) scientific analysis of the Wabar site suggests that the impact event happened much more recently than first thought and might have occurred only within the last 200–300 years. The meteoritic hypothesis is now seen as doubtful, and the British Natural History Museum suggests that it may be a pseudometeorite, i.e., a terrestrial rock mistakenly attributed to a meteoritic origin.

    OK, so the recent analysis may be measuring a different crater, or may be confused by recent contamination. The “ancient Arabic poetry” will most likely predate that 200 year mark in any case. Destruction by fire from the sky for wickedness seems a common event…

  4. tckev says:

    Thanks for the timely update.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Great post! I still think we are spending way too little on the asteroid problem and too much on the CO2 hoax. The media is like that, they always warn you of a non danger, then suddenly a city will be wiped in a second from a meteorite strike unseen

  6. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Also, the Pacific Ocean is almost 1/3 of the earth. Tsunami from these are a common occurence. The Australian Aboriginals would not live close to the coast, and there is lots of evidence of rocks high up on the cliffs in Sydney for eg. We have only been here for just over 200 years or so, which is nothing in geological time.

    I mean this also happened, and happenings in NZ could have wiped out settlers there a few times as well.

    Click to access PirajnoMine04-Fortescue.pdf

    Click to access paine_sydney_tsunami2.pdf He has a nice book too, which is out of print…

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. : “Worlds in Collision”!. Scholars (oh! the tender naivete of academia!)usually do not translate name, but we could, thus Hephaestus becomes: He – Φαετων (with accent on the e ): He-faeton (faeton=Shining, beaming). He=αι =woe; then= Woe + Shining. See?

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    BTW: We should begin to acknowledge, in these interesting times, of changing paradigms, in times of the apokalypse (the realization of knowledge coming from above) that “stars”, “comets” and the like, are not, by any means, flying “pebbles” made out of “Ice-cream”.
    Sir Arthur Eddington, during a famous conference, described the table before him, as moving particles, which our senses perceived as a “table”(now you know why parents take very special care in describing reality to their recently born kids, by teaching them NAMES, which substitute, for their mind sanity, reality).
    If we could have all the solar system with all its “pebbles” in our hands, knowing that they move, along with the Sun, in a certain direction, to the “apex”, would resemble more like an electric shock, a spark, for our surprised eyes, a current of vibrating protons and electrons, a moving “current” of “quanta” of the primordial energy running eagerly to fill the void: Unity, the One, chasing the receptive vacuum of a female void, the zero.
    Thus, reality is encompassed in between 1 and 0, between Sinus and Cosine.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adolfo: Shining woe? I hope there’s another translation ;-)

    BTW, it’s not the matter that matters in a collision with a comet, it’s the energy. Getting whacked by a hyper velocity snow cone is not much improvement over stainless steel… You get vaporized in either case. (And I pretty much think that if the energy is primordial or not, yin or yang, unity or void: I’m still going to be vaporized and I’m still not going to like it… Reality sucks, but it’s a good idea to keep a toe in it as a reference point…)

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    An interesting site with a very well done graph of all of history, with BOTH impacts and flood basalt eruptions on the same chart:

    Well worth a visit and doing a very nice job of supporting the ‘they come together when they come’ thesis.

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