Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mammoth-killing space blast 'off the hook'?

Artist's impression of mammoths (BBC)The theory that the great beasts living in North America 13,000 years ago were killed off by a space impact can now be discounted, a new study claims.

Mammoths, giant bears, big cats and the like disappeared rapidly from the fossil record, and a comet or asteroid strike was seen as a possible culprit.

But tiny diamonds said to have been created in the collision have been misinterpreted, a US-UK team says.

Without these diamonds, the theory falls, the group tells PNAS journal.

"This was really the last pillar for this theory and I think it's time now everyone moved on," said co-author Professor Andrew Scott, from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, told BBC News. ...

"We looked for these diamonds and we couldn't find them," said Professor Scott. "But not only that, [the proponents of the theory] have misinterpreted what are really just aggregations of carbon.

"There were frequent low-temperature fires all through this period - this is no big deal. And what happens is that the carbon in molecules gets re-ordered and this happens in very small domains, less than micron-sized areas.

""It's not a high-temperature phenomenon; it happens at low temperatures. Obviously, what they've done is take that material and identified these domains as diamonds when they're not."

The proponents of the impact theory are not prepared to let go of their ideas just yet, however.

Dr Douglas Kennett of the University of Oregon, Eugene, US, told Science Magazine that the research featured in PNAS had been looking in the wrong places.

"The Daulton et al claim that we have misidentified diamonds is false and misleading," he said.

And geoscience consultant Allen West added that Daulton and colleagues had not followed the same protocols and therefore it was no surprise they had came up with a blank.

"They did say that they looked in some carbon spherules but we looked at 10-15 per layer and specified that in our methodology, and they only looked at 'one to several' - that's their quote. They didn't understand what they were supposed to be looking for."

"They looked at charcoal but we never mentioned that we ever found diamonds in the charcoal," he told BBC News.

via BBC News - Mammoth-killing space blast 'off the hook'.

Most people do not realize that scientists are constantly trying their best to prove each other wrong. Unlike religion, science progresses because someone wins and someone loses these little debates based on the evidence.

Can you imagine any religion doing a mutually agreed upon discovery process and then admitting it had wrong beliefs compared to a different religion?  I know of no paradigm shifts in religion.

People suspicious of scientists being in on some vast conspiracy (global warming, age of the earth, evolution, etc.) don't understand the process that resulted in the shared views.

It boils down to this:  "Because someone said so" is not good enough evidence for a scientist.


Mirlen101 said...

Amen ;-)

Robert Dave Myrland said...

Here all can read about what happened

Ann said...

Your right Xeno. But, it's not so much trying to prove each other wrong as much as saying, "well, if that study says so-and-so is true, then ...". And, the "then" may lead to an experiment, an investigation or study etc., which may confirm or contradict or deny the previous study. They assume a study that's well-done (note!) establishes a certain truth, as it were, and then work from there.

But, something happens when money gets involved. If a scientist is funded by a granting agency, usually there's no problem, but if that grant is from a private institution things not infrequently things get slanted. In fact, the results of a study may be ok, legitimate scientists won't lie, but the conclusions may favor the funding institution. Big pharma studies are notorious for doing this.

You know, Xeno, after the discovery and the following study of the "Dead Sea Scrolls," there was, and in some circles still is a lot of discussion about Christianity. That discussion occurs between those who studied the scrolls, theologians, bible scholars and others. The scrolls consists of "gospels," other than Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and some are quite old, older than the 4 included in the Bible. Some people believe that perhaps they should have been included when the Christian bible was put together. But, they weren't. Within legitimate circles religious knowledge does grow. It isn't as stagnant as some people think.

Mirlen101 said...

Religious knowledge may grow but it grows with great resistance and at a snails pace . And it usually must conform with what is already believed by the particular religious community. The scrolls you speak of were kept under tight security so only a chosen few could view them until recently . This does happen in science also but not for the same reasons .Religious hierarchy seldom give scientists access to relics for scientific analysis .The Shroud of Turin is a good example . They fought testing for years .Then when they got results they denied them. Christianity and other "faiths" or religions are based on believing what can't be proven .Belief ( in the unknown )itself has become religion . As if belief itself is some sort of quality .In science they may believe something but they don't consider it gospel until they have verified it scientifically . Not by just wishing it so . Or because a book or person told them it is so .Religion will always be based on what can't be proven . If it were proven it becomes fact/science and therefore is not religion.Therefore religion will always be counter to science they are in fact opposites .Religion is as static as any process can be . It is it's essence ,it's nature to be that way . They have burned people at the stake for trying to bring change or scientific thought to religion . Ever hear of a scientific establishment torturing someone to death for a different view point ?

Rev. Eob said...

Thanks, Ann, I've never been called a scholar before. :)