Here at the Tusk we take a different approach to the study of cosmic impact threats than elsewhere on the internet. Some other sites are the digital equivalent of the bearded freak with a sandwich board imploring us from the sidewalk to “Repent!,” lest the rapture sweep us up.  Another class of sites is purely technical and they keep track, warn of and describe actual objects in space.

Then there is an entire world of communicators, grant-driven scientists, shallow non-profits, and major media figures, who treat the subject in a terribly awkward manner and downplay our cosmic impact history — while simultaneously pleading for people to pay more attention to “Near Earth Objects,” and give them more money.

But whatever the flavor, these sites focus on the future; here, we focus on the past.

Two perspectives can be used to assess and characterize the risk of future impacts. One approach is sending billions of dollars of equipment to space, and constructing mammoth telescopes out in the middle of nowhere, in order to locate and track actual objects in space. This approach seeks to answer the question: Where are they now, and when are they coming?

The other approach, reflected here, and in our data, asks the related question: How recently and with what frequency have we been clobbered in the past? (Obviously, the frequency of past impacts informs our future.)

The balance of global attention to these two questions is weighted to the former approach, peering into the heavens to spot our demise in advance. The Tusk and the Comet Research Group believe it to be less expensive and more productive to look under our feet, literally. Under our feet in the shallow soils of many, many places on earth, is a quantifiable, repeatable and acceptable record of what the hell happened.

But here my friends is the cruel irony of willful ignorance: No one is looking. Yep. While it has been lamented that the number of people looking into the heavens for Near Earth Objects could staff a McDonalds, the number of people searching shallow and recent Pleistocene and Holocene human contemporaneous soils for signals of past impacts and airbursts could not make a single french fry. It is a part-time effort from part-time researchers at the part-time but well qualified Comet Research Group.

Taking samples at well dated archaeological sites and testing them for cosmic impacts is both very doable…and simply not done. Why? Because we know there were no globally significant impacts in human times.