The Tusk has a large library of books related to catastrophism. I love them all. From the laboratory inspired to the ridiculously speculative, the range of publications touching on what happened 12,800 years ago is delightfully enormous. Unfortunately, many of these books have painfully small sales — sometimes in inverse proportion to their attention to the Younger Dryas Boundary event.
But that is changing this year. The world’s most popular alternative historian Graham Hancock has written “Magicians of the Gods,” which by all reports is an attentive study of the Tusk’s favorite planetary disaster and its consequences, and gives direct credit to the research of Kennett, West, Bunch and the gang for providing an empirical basis for many years of speculation and inference by others. A prolific author in the meantime, Hancock is presenting the new publication as a bookend to his enormously popular bestseller twenty years ago: Fingerprints of the Gods.
The YDB subject needs attention of all kinds in order to be widely appreciated and further researched. Thankfully, the science journal press has been (somewhat) busy for nearly a decade publishing point and counter-point to the YDB claims. And mainstream science reporters pay attention from time to time. But surprisingly, the popular and hyper-speculative “New Age” press has lagged behind, with scant attention paid to YDB data, despite support for many of their traditionally wild claims. You can find more about the YDB at Google Scholar or Academia.edu than the “Alternative” section of your local bookstore.
So, love him or scoff, Hancock is a welcome figure to the Tusk. He is a big deal. Fingerprints of the the Gods sold millions. His fans are everywhere and will soon be curious new experts in the Younger Dryas Boundary phenomena. Perhaps it is juvenile, but I enjoy the thought of the The Bos and his “Requiem” chorus cringing before the wave of attention this book will bring. Our subject is going precisely nowhere but up in the imagination of the public.
The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis suggests that multiple airbursts or extraterrestrial impacts occurring at the end of the Allerød interstadial resulted in the Younger Dryas cold period. So far, no reproducible, diagnostic evidence has, however, been reported. Quartz grains containing planar deformation features (known as shocked quartz grains), are considered a reliable indicator for the occurrence of an extraterrestrial impact when found in a geological setting. Although alleged shocked quartz grains have been reported at a possible Allerød-Younger Dryas boundary layer in Venezuela, the identification of shocked quartz in this layer is ambiguous. To test whether shocked quartz is indeed present in the proposed impact layer, we investigated the quartz fraction of multiple Allerød-Younger Dryas boundary layers from Europe and North America, where proposed impact markers have been reported. Grains were analyzed using a combination of light and electron microscopy techniques. All samples contained a variable amount of quartz grains with (sub)planar microstructures, often tectonic deformation lamellae. A total of one quartz grain containing planar deformation features was found in our samples. This shocked quartz grain comes from the Usselo palaeosol at Geldrop Aalsterhut, the Netherlands. Scanning electron microscopy cathodoluminescence imaging and transmission electron microscopy imaging, however, show that the planar deformation features in this grain are healed and thus likely to be older than the Allerød-Younger Dryas boundary. We suggest that this grain was possibly eroded from an older crater or distal ejecta layer and later redeposited in the European sandbelt. The single shocked quartz grain at this moment thus cannot be used to support the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.
Your correspondent has some fun news to share. The Tusk is writing from downtown Amman, Jordan, after joining Trinity Southwest University on a fabulous dig for biblical Sodom.
I have been meaning for weeks to let you all in on the adventure but have been distracted more than usual by my work and preparations for the trip. Also, it seemed such a wild proposition that — until it actually happened — it seemed premature to “announce” it.
But here I am. Indeed, I can hear loud protest drums and Arabic chanting in the streets as I write (let us pray it is Pro-King).
The story of Steven “Dr. C” Collins and the Tall el-Hammam archeological dig is a wonderful tale. I know Tusk readers will hit Google and read all about it, so I will not stay up late explaining it all tonight. But what attracted me to Dr. Collins and this project was more than simply the catastrophic tangent (which was plenty). It was also the intellectual courage, deep curiosity and faithful determination demonstrated by Dr. C and his team.
Like the YDB team, Collins et al. must not only convince the professional skeptics and know-nothings — they must also persuade their colleagues and traditional intellectual allies their quest is well founded. That is a difficult job, which makes it worthy and interesting.
So, I am here for two weeks and promise to provide some pics and irregular updates. (For readers who are on Facebook and have not friended me in the past, please do if you would like to see some photos).
Quite reasonably, I cannot share any details regarding what is being found this season. But rest easy, my readers, it is extraordinary — and right up your alley.
We agree with them that glass could be formed a lot of different ways. We don’t have a problem with that,” said Allen West, a retired oil and gas executive who is one of the leading proponents of the theory.
“You can get them from grass fires but you also get melt glass from lightning, volcanic eruptions and you also get it from cosmic impacts. The trick is being able to tell them apart.”
West said house fires don’t explain why they found evidence of particles from the Syrian soil and in North America that contained rare minerals like suessite, which melts at 4,100 degrees, and corundum, which melts at 3,200 degrees.
“No building fire can create those temperatures, a fact that refutes their hypothesis that this glass was produced in low-temperature building fires,” he said. “The sad thing is that these guys ignored all the high temperature evidence.”
So it’s clear the debate will go on.
West said he and several other supporters of the impact theory are readying papers that will provide further evidence of additional cosmic minerals at the sites, as well as more evidence shoring up the dates of the impact sites.
“The only time these melted minerals are seen in glass is when there was a cosmic impact or an atomic bomb blast,” West said of the new findings. “We can pretty much rule out an atomic bomb in Syria at that time.”
As a rule, the Tusk is scrupulously clean of politics. There is a reference in my own blog bio to being a former conservative policy staffer in the US Senate, but that is background and not polemics. I am old fashioned and believe politics is generally if not inherently destructive of sound inquiry. The more political a scientist appears to me, the less likely I am to take him or her seriously.
If you are wondering, Boslough assumed the “Uterus” appellation out of sympathy for a senator’s failing 2014 campaign. Readers are forgiven for forgetting the election trivia that departing senator Mark Udall (D-CO) was dubbed Mark “Uterus” Udall by his state. Udall’s shameless consultant-driven flogging of an imaginary “War on Women” became a joke — and he got clobbered.
Boslough maintains the silly name online today, nearly two months following Udall’s rejection by voters.
If you doubt a federally funded media scientist would be so foolish, overt and hyper political, take a look at the Bos’ public Facebook page, or his regular contributions to the Huffington Post. It is pure polemics. No cat pics, hiking in the mountains, or birthday parties for The Bos’ Facebook. Just snarky, condescending, frequently vile and universally left-wing political red meat. And his HuffPo work, which at best could provide informed commentary on threats to all of us, instead proselytizes science as a political tool to damage some of us.
For The Bos, politics is not the contest of ideas — It is the justification to silence opposing thoughts.
But why should it matter that Mark Boslough is a polemicist with two left feet? It matters because his politics have had a significant negative influence on our favorite topic here at the Tusk, the Younger Dryas Boundary Hypothesis.
First, it is well rumored that he was directly responsible for a PBS NOVA episode sympathetic to the ice age impact, “Mammoth Mystery,” being removed without explanation by WGBH Boston and PBS’ on-line streaming service. If true, this was a despicable act of intellectual suppression and digital book burning. I’d welcome hearing The Bos was uninvolved and the decision was inspired by the producers. But I doubt it.
The Bos actually makes a living downplaying the seriousness of his own damn subject — while stoking a fever pitch of worry for another! He is cynical 21st century media politics at its best…and science at its worst.