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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid