News / Science & Technology

S. African Scientists Claim Discovery of First Comet Strike

South African Scientists Claim Discovery of First Comet Strikei
X
October 21, 2013 3:00 PM
South African researchers say they have found conclusive evidence of earth's first-ever known comet strike, about 28 million years ago. The researchers say this exciting find in rural Egypt could unlock more secrets of the universe. Anita Powell reports for VOA in Johannesburg.
Anita Powell
South African researchers say they have found conclusive evidence of earth's first-ever known comet strike, about 28 million years ago. The researchers say this exciting find in rural Egypt could unlock more secrets of the universe.
 
 South African academics say the evidence they've found indicates the comet hit the earth some 28 million years ago - in a desert in western Egypt.
 
The bits of glassy black rock left at the scene - which scientists say are comet fragments - could help unlock the secrets of our universe. The academics presented their findings at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg this month.  
 
Meteors and asteroids collide with this planet fairly frequently. But a comet strike, said Professor David Block of the University of the Witwatersrand, is unique and exciting.

“Because a comet is this dirty snowball of not only rock, but rock mixed with ice.  And the point is that atoms, life-giving atoms of carbon, of oxygen, of nitrogen, of argon, of neon, of krypton, are encoded within this little chemical factory from beyond the solar system," said Block. "These are grains of cosmic dust, which existed prior to our solar system forming. So they contain unique secrets of the chemical compo [composition] of the cloud of gas and dust, which collapsed to form our sun and the planets around it.”
 
Some scientists have theorized it may have been a comet strike that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago - but there is no evidence.
 
And, said Dr. Marco Andreoli, no one has seen a comet hit and lived to tell about it because they tend to fry every living thing in their path to ashes. He said, though, the evidence of this comet strike is clear to him.
 
“We are looking at something of… an astronomical phenomenon,” he said.
 
Geoscientist Jan Kramers from the University of Johannesburg said that although the scientific community is divided on his team’s conclusions that the fragment is a comet, he himself is fairly certain.
 
“… it’s a probably a comet, because it can’t be anything else, coming from the outermost reaches in the solar system, traveling in the gravity of the sun and hitting the Earth by chance. What it did tells you something more," said Kramers. "What it did when it hit the atmosphere, it exploded.  And that is what comets do when they hit the atmosphere. And this explosion produces an incredible amount of heat, which can account for the Libyan desert glass which we found in that region.”
 
The researchers say they hope further study of this comet fragments will help them figure out the beginnings of our universe.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid