Are the planets growing?

Beyond the boundaries of established science an avalanche of exotic ideas compete for our attention. Experts tell us that these ideas should not be permitted to take up the time of working scientists, and for the most part they are surely correct. But what about the gems in the rubble pile? By what ground-rules might we bring extraordinary new possibilities to light?

Moderators: MGmirkin, bboyer

Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby pavlink » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:45 am

During a presentation at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco in December, GPS expert Ben Harris (of the University of Texas at Arlington) described some tricky measurements of the Earth’s mass using the armada of GPS satellites that are in orbit around our planet. He noticed a mass discrepancy when compared with “official” mass measurements as quoted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
“The nice thing about GPS satellites is that we know their orbits really, really well,” said Harris. This orbital knowledge helped Harris calculate the Earth’s vital statistic to a very high degree of precision. After analyzing 9 months of data from the GLONASS, GPS and Galileo satellite systems, he found that his measurement of Earth’s mass came in at between 0.005 and 0.008 percent larger than the IAU measurement. ... gn=rssnws1

That's official, Earth is growing.
We live in a double star system.
We need to study double star systems.

Solar System as 4D energy vortex
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:39 am

HA! Blame it on "Dark Matter". HA!

Thanks, pavlink.

Is Earth Surrounded by Dark Matter? : Discovery News ... 140103.htm
Dark mater: The stuff that possesses mass, yet refuses to interact with radiation, so we can't 'see' it. Its nature has eluded scientists for decades, but there could be a reservoir of the stuff sitting right on our doorstep — if the weird measurements made by Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites are proven to be caused by a halo of the so-called non-baryonic matter around our planet.

PHOTOS: Hubble’s Latest Mind Blowing Cosmic Pictures

During a presentation at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco in December, GPS expert Ben Harris (of the University of Texas at Arlington) described some tricky measurements of the Earth’s mass using the armada of GPS satellites that are in orbit around our planet. He noticed a mass discrepancy when compared with “official” mass measurements as quoted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

“The nice thing about GPS satellites is that we know their orbits really, really well,” said Harris. This orbital knowledge helped Harris calculate the Earth’s vital statistic to a very high degree of precision. After analyzing 9 months of data from the GLONASS, GPS and Galileo satellite systems, he found that his measurement of Earth’s mass came in at between 0.005 and 0.008 percent larger than the IAU measurement.

What does this mean? Well, it could indicate some unforeseen error in data collection or analysis (in the GPS or IAU measurements), but there is another more intriguing possibility.

ANALYSIS: How Low Can a Dark Matter Halo Go?

This mass discrepancy could be the influence of a halo, or ring, of dark matter surrounding Earth. By Harris’ reckoning, to explain his measurements, the invisible planetary dark matter halo would need to straddle the equator and be 191 kilometers (119 miles) thick by 70,000 kilometers (43,500 miles) wide.

As noted by New Scientist’s Anil Ananthaswamy, Harris has yet to factor in the effects of relativity and gravitational interactions with the sun and moon.

This research highlights the gaps in our knowledge dark matter. Non-baryonic matter is believed to account for 85 percent of all matter in the universe, but we have yet to directly observe this elusive form of matter, let alone create it in immense particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider. We know it’s out there, however, bulking-out galactic clusters and warping spacetime. Through indirect means, such as gravitational lensing and orbital motions, we can detect the stuff and this most recent GPS measurements provide another tantalizing means of understanding the subtle mass effects on a potential Earth-dark matter coupling.

ANALYSIS: Dark Matter Matters, Especially When You Can’t Find It

Interestingly, the hypothetical presence of dark matter could have another subtle effect on our planetary neighborhood. During measurements of spacecraft flybys of Earth, very slight anomalies in spacecraft speed have been detected. For example, NASA’s NEAR asteroid spacecraft used our planet for a gravitational speed assist in January 1998. During the flyby, in addition to the extra velocity the flyby provided, there was an additional mystery boost of 13 millimeters/second. This tiny boost, which has been spotted in other spacecraft flybys, is known as a “flyby anomaly,” and one of the contributing factors could be the gravity exerted on the spacecraft by an invisible halo of dark matter.

The most recent flyby, however, of NASA’s Juno Jupiter mission in November, has yet to revel any velocity anomaly, only adding to the mysterious nature of flyby anomalies.

Source: New Scientist

Ben Harris ... harris.php

It seems they are developing tools for people to access the GPS data to find interesting results.

What is GPSTk?
The goal of the GPSTk project is to provide an open source library and suite of applications to the satellite navigation community--to free researchers to focus on research, not lower level coding.

The more such studies occur, the more "anomalies" will be found and blamed on things like "Dark Matter" rather than GET.

BTW, I love the comment about the "flyby anomaly". Things are GETting interesting. HA!
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:06 pm

They finally published -

Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
by Mark P. Witton

I've been waiting for years for them to publish this book since we discussed Dr. Witton's articles around page 42. HA!

Graham Hancock is working on a fun new book and posted this article on his website.

From Indonesia To Turkey New Archaeological Discoveries Uncover The Mysteries Of A Lost Civilisation By Graham Hancock ... zation.php

Illustrated (see end of article) with 26 photographs by Santha Faiia shot on location at Gobekli Tepe in September 2013 and at Gunung Padang in December 2013

Artist's impression of Gunung Padang as it would have looked in antiquity by and courtesy of architect Pon S Purajatnika. ©
Click for full size image.
"Everything we've been taught about the origins of civilization may be wrong," says Danny Natawidjaja, PhD, senior geologist with the Research Centre for Geotechnology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. "Old stories about Atlantis and other a great lost civilizations of prehistory, long dismissed as myths by archaeologists, look set to be proved true."

I'm climbing with Dr Natawidjaja up the steep slope of a 300-ft high step-pyramid set amidst a magical landscape of volcanoes, mountains and jungles interspersed with paddy fields and tea plantations a hundred miles from the city of Bandung in West Java, Indonesia.

The pyramid has been known to archaeology since 1914 when megalithic structures formed from blocks of columnar basalt were found scattered amongst the dense trees and undergrowth that then covered its summit. Local people held the site to be sacred and called it Gunung Padang, the name it still goes by today, which means "Mountain of Light", or "Mountain of Enlightenment", in the local Sundanese language. The summit, where the megaliths were found arranged across five terraces had been used as a place of meditation and retreat since time immemorial, archaeologists were told, and again this remains true today.

However neither the archaeologists, nor apparently the locals realized the pyramid was a pyramid. It was believed to be a natural hill, somewhat modified by human activity, until Natawidjaja and his team began a geological survey here in 2011. By then the summit had long since been cleared and the megalithic terraces recognized to be ancient and man-made, but no radiocarbon dating was ever done and the previously accepted age of the site - about 1,500 to 2,500 BC -- was based on guesswork rather than on excavations.

The first scientific radiocarbon dating was done by Natawidjaja himself on soils underlying the megaliths at or near the surface. The dates produced - around 500 to 1,500 BC - were very close to the archaeological guesswork and caused no controversy. However a surprise was in store as Natawidjaja and his team extended their investigation using tubular drills that brought up cores of earth and stone from much deeper levels.

First the drill cores contained evidence - fragments of columnar basalt - that man-made megalithic structures lay far beneath the surface. Secondly the organic materials brought up in the drill cores began to yield older and older dates - 3,000 BC to 5,000 BC, then 9,600 BC as the drills bit deeper, then around 11,000 BC, then, 15,000 BC and finally at depths of 90 feet and more an astonishing sequence of dates of 20,000 BC to 22,000 BC and earlier.

"This was not at all what my colleagues in the world of archaeology expected or wanted to hear" says Natawidjaja, who earned his PhD at Cal Tech in the United States and who, it becomes apparent, regards archaeology as a thoroughly unscientific discipline.

The problem is that those dates from 9,600 BC and earlier belong to the period that archaeologists call the "Upper Palaeolithic" and take us back deep into the last Ice Age when Indonesia was not a series of islands as it is today but was part of a vast southeast Asian continent dubbed "Sundaland" by geologists.

Sea level was 400 feet lower then because huge ice caps two miles deep covered most of Europe and North America. But as the ice caps began to melt all the water stored in them returned to the oceans and sea-level rose, submerging many parts of the world where humans had previously lived. Thus Britain was joined to Europe during the Ice Age (there was no English Channel or North Sea). Likewise there was no Red Sea, no Persian Gulf, Sri Lanka was joined to southern India, Siberia was joined to Alaska, Australia was joined to New Guinea - and so on and so forth. It was during this epoch of sea-level rise, sometimes slow and continuous, sometimes rapid and cataclysmic, that the Ice Age continent of Sundaland was submerged with only the Malaysian Peninsula and the Indonesian islands as we know them today high enough to remain above water.

The established archaeological view of the state of human civilization until the end of the last Ice Age about 9,600 BC was that our ancestors were primitive hunter gatherers incapable of any form of civilization or architectural feats. In the following millennia settled agriculture was very gradually developed and perfected. Around 4,000 BC the increasing sophistication of economic and social structures, and growing organizational abilities, made possible the creation of the earliest megalithic sites (such as Gigantija on the Maltese island of Gozo for example) while the first true cities emerged around 3500 BC in Mesopotamia and soon afterwards in Egypt. In the British Isles Callanish in the Outer Hebrides and Avebury in southwest England, both dated to around 3,000 BC, are the oldest examples of true megalithic sites. The megalithic phase of Stonehenge is thought to have begun around 2,400 BC and to have continued to around 1,800 BC.

Within this well worked out and long-established chronology there is no place for any prehistoric civilization such as Atlantis. But interestingly the Greek philosopher Plato, whose dialogue of Timias and Critias contains the earliest surviving mention of the fabled sunken kingdom, dates the catastrophic destruction and submergence of Atlantis by floods and earthquakes to "9,000 years before the time of Solon" - i.e. to 9,600 BC, the end of the last Ice Age. Since the Greeks had no access to modern scientific knowledge about the Ice Age and its rapidly rising sea levels (often accompanied by cataclysmic earthquakes as the weight of the melting ice caps was removed from the continental landmasses) the date Plato gives is, to say the least, an uncanny coincidence.

In Danny Natawidjaja's view, however, it is no coincidence at all. His research at Gunung Padang has convinced him that Plato was right about the existence of a high civilization in the depths of the last Ice Age - a civilization that was indeed brought to a cataclysmic end involving floods and earthquakes in an epoch of great global instability between 10,900 BC and 9,600 BC.

This epoch, which geologists call the "Younger Dryas" has long been recognized as mysterious and tumultuous. In 10,900 BC, when it began, the earth had been emerging from the Ice Age for roughly 10,000 years, global temperatures were rising steadily and the ice caps were melting. Then there was a sudden dramatic return to colder conditions - even colder than at the peak of the Ice Age 21,000 years ago. This short, sharp deep freeze lasted for 1,300 years until 9,600 BC when the warming trend resumed, global temperatures shot up again and the remaining ice caps melted very suddenly dumping all the water they contained into the oceans.

"It is difficult," Natawidjaja says, "for us to imagine what life on earth must have been like during the Younger Dryas. It was a truly cataclysmic period of immense climate instability and terrible, indeed terrifying, global conditions. It's not surprising that many large animal species, such as the mammoths, went extinct during this precise time and of course it had huge effects on our ancestors, not just those 'primitive' hunter gatherers the archaeologists speak of but also, I believe, a high civilization that was wiped from the historical record by the upheavals of the Younger Dryas."

What has brought Natawidjaja to this radical view is the evidence he and his team have uncovered at Gunung Padang. When their drill cores began to yield very ancient carbon dates from clays filling the gaps between worked stones they expanded their investigation using geophysical equipment - ground penetrating radar, seismic tomography and electrical resistivity - to get a picture of what lay under the ground. The results were stunning, showing layers of massive construction using the same megalithic elements of columnar basalt that are found on the surface but with courses of huge basaltic rocks beneath them extending down to 100 feet and more beneath the surface. At those depths the carbon dates indicate that the megaliths were put in place more than 10,000 years ago and in some cases as far back as 24,000 years ago.

Columnar basalt does form naturally - the famous Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland is an example - but at Gunung Padang it has been used as a building material and is laid out in a form never found in nature.

"The geophysical evidence is unambiguous," Natawidjaja says. "Gunung Padang is not a natural hill but a man-made pyramid and the origins of construction here go back long before the end of the last Ice Age. Since the work is massive even at the deepest levels, and bears witness to the kinds of sophisticated construction skills that were deployed to build the pyramids of Egypt or the largest megalithic sites of Europe, I can only conclude that we're looking at the work of a lost civilization and a fairly advanced one."

"The archaeologists won't like that," I point out.

"They don't!" Natawidjaja agrees with a rueful smile. "I've already got myself into a lot of hot water with this. My case is a solid one, based on good scientific evidence, but it's not an easy one. I'm up against deeply entrenched beliefs."

The next step will be a full-scale archaeological excavation. "We have to excavate in order to interrogate our remote sensing data and our carbon dating sequences and either to confirm or deny what we believe we've found here," says Natawidjaja, "but unfortunately there's a lot of obstacles in our way."

When I ask what he means by obstacles he replies that some senior Indonesian archaeologists are lobbying the government in Jakarta to prevent him from doing any further work at Gunung Padang on the grounds that they "know" the site is less than 5,000 years old and see no justification for disturbing it.

"I don't deny that the megaliths at the surface are less than 5,000 years old," Natawidjaja hastens to add, "but I suggest they were put here because Gunung Padang has been recognized as a sacred place since time immemorial. It's the deepest layers of the structure at between 12,000 and more than 20,000 years old that are the most important. They have potentially revolutionary implications for our understanding of history and I think it's vital that we be allowed to investigate them properly."

Gunung Padang is not the only ancient site that raises huge question marks over the story archaeologists tell us about our past. On the other side of the world, in southeastern Turkey, another man-made hill has been excavated during the past decade, this time by Professor Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute. The site, called Gobekli Tepe (which means "Potbellied Hill" in the local Kurdish language) consists of a series of immense megalithic stone circles on the scale of Stonehenge and was deliberately buried (creating the appearance of a hill) around 8,000 BC by the mysterious ancient people who made it. The circles themselves date back to 9,600 BC, however, with the oldest work being the best. At least twenty further circles on a similar scale, identified by ground penetrating radar, are still deeply buried. Some of these, Klaus Schmidt told me when I visited Gobekli Tepe in September 2013, are likely to be much older than those already excavated.

At 7,000 or more years older than Stonehenge the megaliths of Gobekli Tepe, like the deeply buried megaliths of Gunung Padang mean that the timeline of history taught in our schools and universities for the best part of the last hundred years can no longer stand. It is beginning to look as though civilization, as I argued in my controversial 1995 bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods, is indeed much older and much more mysterious than we thought.

In essence what I proposed in that book was that an advanced civilization had been wiped out and lost to history in a global cataclysm at the end of the last Ice Age. I suggested there were survivors who settled at various locations around the world and attempted to pass on their superior knowledge, including knowledge of agriculture, to hunter-gatherer peoples who had also survived the cataclysm. Indeed even today we have populations of hunter gatherers, in the Kalahari Desert, for instance, and in the Amazon jungle, who co-exist with our advanced technological culture - so we should not be surprised that equally disparate levels of civilization might have co-existed in the past.

What I could not do when I wrote Fingerprints, because the evidence was not then available, was identify the exact nature of the cataclysm that had wiped out my hypothetical lost civilization, and this absence of a specific "smoking gun" was one of the many aspects of my argument that was heavily criticized by archaeologists. Since 2007, however, masses of scientific evidence have come to light that have identified the smoking gun for me in the form of a comet that broke into multiple fragments now known to have hit the earth 12,980 years ago. The impacts (some on the North American ice cap, some elsewhere) caused floods and tidal waves and threw a vast cloud of dust into the upper atmosphere that enshrouded the entire earth for more than a thousand years, preventing the sun's rays from reaching the surface, and setting off the Younger Dryas deep freeze.

I believe it is possible that Gobekli Tepe may prove to be the work of the survivors of a great civilization lost during the Younger Dryas (interestingly the so-called "origins of agriculture" have been traced back by archaeologists to the vicinity of Gobekli Tepe and to the exact period in which Gobekli Tepe was created). But it is to Gunung Padang that I now look for a possibly even more stunning confirmation of my theory. Danny Natawidjaja's geological survey has revealed not only deeply buried massive constructions and very ancient carbon dates at Gunung Padang but also the presence of three hidden chambers, so rectilinear in form that they are most unlikely to be natural. The largest of these lies at a depth of between 70 and 90 feet beneath the summit of the pyramid and measures approximately 18 feet high, 45 feet long and 30 feet wide.

Could it be the fabled "Hall of Records" of Atlantis? If Dr Natawidjaja's geological excavation is allowed to proceed, despite strenuous attempts by local archaeologists to prevent it, then we should know the answer to that question, one way or another, by the end of 2014.

Note: GRAHAM HANCOCK is working on a sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods, provisionally titled Magicians of the Gods, to be published in October 2015 by Coronet in the UK, by Saint Martin's Press in the US, by Kadokokawa Shoten in Japan and by Corbaccio in Italy.

All Photographs by Santha Faiia: © Do not reproduce without permission from
Click thumbnails for fullsize images

He's basing the event around the "Younger Dryas" event about 10,000 bc. They are still using the concept of the "ice age" to explain the changing sea levels; that water was tied up on the continents. It will take them time to accept the concept that during the "Younger Dryas" event the Earth grew 10% to 15%, generating water as well as crust, drowning the land, killing the large mammals with higher gravity.

You had mountains like the Appalachians crumble into their current jumbled form, and mountains like the Rocky's break out sharp and fresh, all in living memory.

10,000 bc is the top range of the age, since radio-carbon readings will get distorted over time. Things are GETting interesting. HA!
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby jtb » Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:44 pm

A flat earth thread was recently locked out, but it made me think: it is speculated that a single continent once existed, standing in the water and out of the water, that expanded into the present configuration of land masses (continents). Could it be possible that Earth was once a single circular disk-shaped land mass, like a galaxy, surrounded by water that expanded into its present spherical shape? The Big Bang universe went from being uniform and spherical to flat and clumpy, so why couldn't Earth have gone from disk-shaped to spherical during that process?
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:46 pm

This is a Neal Adams video that discusses Pangea.

Essentially, if all of the land was on one side of the globe, there would be no physical way for it to split up, and slide up hill. That the ocean would flood most of Pangea leaving the Pacific high and dry. HA!

Maxlow took the Earth back as far as he could to half the size of the Moon where it grew to its present size. It could not have been a flat disk, because there needs to be the hollow core where the aether transmutes into hydrogen.

The Milky Way Galaxy started as a quasar, a sphere, spit out from Andromeda, then started fissioning parts to spread the electrical load, spinning out the galaxy shape as each star fissioned out gas giants and rocky planets to handle that electrical load. All the while the stars were growing, spitting out growing planets, no flat disks here.

Plus a flat disk would have all of the water and atmosphere in the center leaving the surrounding edge not only high and dry, but most of it outside the atmosphere. HA!
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby jtb » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:19 am

Thanks for the explanation, allynh. Since a flat earth myth is common among all ancient cultures like a world wide flood, I have to research it. Every challenge to the myth is a step closer to the truth.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:24 pm

I suspect that xkcd reads this thread. Everybody wave. HA!

Actually ... :_Actually
Title text:

Protip: You can win every exchange just by being one level more precise than whoever talked last. Eventually, you'll defeat all conversational opponents and stand alone.

Actually, measurements suggest it's flat.

The picture is designed to have us thinking about a planet (presumably Earth), such that when we read the first speaker's comment, we interpret it as "The Earth is flat", which was the earliest view of the planet. (The speaker does not explicitly state their subject, however, which leads to the comic's punchline.)

Actually, it's a sphere.

The second speaker explains that the Earth is actually a sphere, tracking the progression of knowledge of the Earth's shape.

Actually, it's an oblate spheroid.

The third speaker provides further detail on the shape, that rather than being spherical, the Earth is actually an oblate spheroid. On Earth, this occurs because a rotating body tends to bulge at the equator (where the matter experiences greater centrifugal forces - analogous to experiencing more force at the outside of a round-a-bout rather than at the centre), and is known as the equatorial bulge.

Actually, it's a sphere defined by the EGM96 coefficients.

A more accurate description is the Earth Gravitational Model 1996 which provided a detailed map of Earth's gravitational field. This therefore refines the oblate spheroid model even further.

Actually, it's that plus local topography.

The next speaker notes that this is still a very high level model of the planet (necessary because of the sizes involved) and that the true shape of the planet is given by the actual local topography (i.e., mountains, hills, valleys, etc.) which can be thought as overlaid on the planet wide models.

Actually, it's embedded in a universe that's curved.

Changing tack, the remaining speaker notes that our planet sits in a curved space-time, where our planet's gravity, as well as all other objects, bends the space and time around them. On the largest scale, this has the potential to lead to a curvature of the four dimensional space-time of the universe, hence "universe that is curved". Such a universe can either be "open" or "closed", depending on how much mass and energy there is. In a "closed" universe, if you drew a large enough triangle in space, you would find that the angles did add up to more than 180 degrees (just like if it was drawn on the surface of a balloon - in this case, the angles would add up to more than 180 degrees).[1] In an "open" universe, the sum of the angles would be less than 180 degrees.

Actually, measurements suggest it's flat.

Finally, the first speaker comments again, and we now interpret this as referring not to the planet but to the universe itself - current observations suggest that the balance of matter and energy in the universe is such that the universe is, in fact, flat on the largest scales. (Whether this is coincidence or reflective of underlying laws is currently unknown.)

The arguments could continue around the circle, now referring to the universe. They aren't generally applicable but going round the circle a second time suggests that some similar truth may apply at the scale of the universe, which in turn is again embedded in something else (a kind of meta-universe). The circular layout of the comics invites to continue without end, a nice example of meta-humor.

The comic may be a reference to "The Relativity of Wrong," an essay by Isaac Asimov which uses the Earth's shape as a central example of the role of models in science.

The pun of the title text lies in the ambiguity of the last sentence. "Eventually, you'll defeat all conversational opponents and stand alone" can literally be interpreted as 'winning' all the debates and standing alone as a sole champion, which would seem to be a flattering thing, but the other interpretation, arguably more likely to occur, suggests that the speaker is going to drive away all conversational partners by being an insufferable nitpicker and end up alone, with no-one wanting to speak to them.

↑ An example of closed geometry is spherical geometry, where the sum of the angles of a triangle is π < A + B + C < 3π


[Six people are standing upon a white circle as if it were a miniature planet. Each person is facing the reader and says something to the person on their right. All texts are displayed as a near-continuous stream over their heads to form one circle that encloses the whole picture.]
[From topmost, going clockwise.]

Cueball: Actually, measurements suggest it's flat.
Ponytail: Actually, it's a sphere.
White Hat: Actually, it's an oblate spheroid.
Megan: Actually, it's a sphere defined by the EGM96 coefficients.
Hairy 1: Actually, it's that plus local topography.
Hairy 2: Actually, it's embedded in a universe that's curved.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:50 pm

Then this is from the good Doctor. I would love to have him GET the new stuff coming out. Boy, would he be surprised. HA!

The Skeptical Inquirer, Fall 1989, Vol. 14, No. 1, Pp. 35-44

The Relativity of Wrong
By Isaac Asimov ... fwrong.htm
I RECEIVED a letter the other day. It was handwritten in crabbed penmanship so that it was very difficult to read. Nevertheless, I tried to make it out just in case it might prove to be important. In the first sentence, the writer told me he was majoring in English literature, but felt he needed to teach me science. (I sighed a bit, for I knew very few English Lit majors who are equipped to teach me science, but I am very aware of the vast state of my ignorance and I am prepared to learn as much as I can from anyone, so I read on.)

It seemed that in one of my innumerable essays, I had expressed a certain gladness at living in a century in which we finally got the basis of the universe straight.

I didn't go into detail in the matter, but what I meant was that we now know the basic rules governing the universe, together with the gravitational interrelationships of its gross components, as shown in the theory of relativity worked out between 1905 and 1916. We also know the basic rules governing the subatomic particles and their interrelationships, since these are very neatly described by the quantum theory worked out between 1900 and 1930. What's more, we have found that the galaxies and clusters of galaxies are the basic units of the physical universe, as discovered between 1920 and 1930.

These are all twentieth-century discoveries, you see.

The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong. The young man then quoted with approval what Socrates had said on learning that the Delphic oracle had proclaimed him the wisest man in Greece. "If I am the wisest man," said Socrates, "it is because I alone know that I know nothing." the implication was that I was very foolish because I was under the impression I knew a great deal.

My answer to him was, "John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that "right" and "wrong" are absolute; that everything that isn't perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong.

However, I don't think that's so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so.

When my friend the English literature expert tells me that in every century scientists think they have worked out the universe and are always wrong, what I want to know is how wrong are they? Are they always wrong to the same degree? Let's take an example.

In the early days of civilization, the general feeling was that the earth was flat. This was not because people were stupid, or because they were intent on believing silly things. They felt it was flat on the basis of sound evidence. It was not just a matter of "That's how it looks," because the earth does not look flat. It looks chaotically bumpy, with hills, valleys, ravines, cliffs, and so on.

Of course there are plains where, over limited areas, the earth's surface does look fairly flat. One of those plains is in the Tigris-Euphrates area, where the first historical civilization (one with writing) developed, that of the Sumerians.

Perhaps it was the appearance of the plain that persuaded the clever Sumerians to accept the generalization that the earth was flat; that if you somehow evened out all the elevations and depressions, you would be left with flatness. Contributing to the notion may have been the fact that stretches of water (ponds and lakes) looked pretty flat on quiet days.

Another way of looking at it is to ask what is the "curvature" of the earth's surface Over a considerable length, how much does the surface deviate (on the average) from perfect flatness. The flat-earth theory would make it seem that the surface doesn't deviate from flatness at all, that its curvature is 0 to the mile.

Nowadays, of course, we are taught that the flat-earth theory is wrong; that it is all wrong, terribly wrong, absolutely. But it isn't. The curvature of the earth is nearly 0 per mile, so that although the flat-earth theory is wrong, it happens to be nearly right. That's why the theory lasted so long.

There were reasons, to be sure, to find the flat-earth theory unsatisfactory and, about 350 B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle summarized them. First, certain stars disappeared beyond the Southern Hemisphere as one traveled north, and beyond the Northern Hemisphere as one traveled south. Second, the earth's shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse was always the arc of a circle. Third, here on the earth itself, ships disappeared beyond the horizon hull-first in whatever direction they were traveling.

All three observations could not be reasonably explained if the earth's surface were flat, but could be explained by assuming the earth to be a sphere.

What's more, Aristotle believed that all solid matter tended to move toward a common center, and if solid matter did this, it would end up as a sphere. A given volume of matter is, on the average, closer to a common center if it is a sphere than if it is any other shape whatever.

About a century after Aristotle, the Greek philosopher Eratosthenes noted that the sun cast a shadow of different lengths at different latitudes (all the shadows would be the same length if the earth's surface were flat). From the difference in shadow length, he calculated the size of the earthly sphere and it turned out to be 25,000 miles in circumference.

The curvature of such a sphere is about 0.000126 per mile, a quantity very close to 0 per mile, as you can see, and one not easily measured by the techniques at the disposal of the ancients. The tiny difference between 0 and 0.000126 accounts for the fact that it took so long to pass from the flat earth to the spherical earth.

Mind you, even a tiny difference, such as that between 0 and 0.000126, can be extremely important. That difference mounts up. The earth cannot be mapped over large areas with any accuracy at all if the difference isn't taken into account and if the earth isn't considered a sphere rather than a flat surface. Long ocean voyages can't be undertaken with any reasonable way of locating one's own position in the ocean unless the earth is considered spherical rather than flat.

Furthermore, the flat earth presupposes the possibility of an infinite earth, or of the existence of an "end" to the surface. The spherical earth, however, postulates an earth that is both endless and yet finite, and it is the latter postulate that is consistent with all later findings.

So, although the flat-earth theory is only slightly wrong and is a credit to its inventors, all things considered, it is wrong enough to be discarded in favor of the spherical-earth theory.

And yet is the earth a sphere?

No, it is not a sphere; not in the strict mathematical sense. A sphere has certain mathematical properties - for instance, all diameters (that is, all straight lines that pass from one point on its surface, through the center, to another point on its surface) have the same length.

That, however, is not true of the earth. Various diameters of the earth differ in length.

What gave people the notion the earth wasn't a true sphere? To begin with, the sun and the moon have outlines that are perfect circles within the limits of measurement in the early days of the telescope. This is consistent with the supposition that the sun and the moon are perfectly spherical in shape.

However, when Jupiter and Saturn were observed by the first telescopic observers, it became quickly apparent that the outlines of those planets were not circles, but distinct ellipses. That meant that Jupiter and Saturn were not true spheres.

Isaac Newton, toward the end of the seventeenth century, showed that a massive body would form a sphere under the pull of gravitational forces (exactly as Aristotle had argued), but only if it were not rotating. If it were rotating, a centrifugal effect would be set up that would lift the body's substance against gravity, and this effect would be greater the closer to the equator you progressed. The effect would also be greater the more rapidly a spherical object rotated, and Jupiter and Saturn rotated very rapidly indeed.

The earth rotated much more slowly than Jupiter or Saturn so the effect should be smaller, but it should still be there. Actual measurements of the curvature of the earth were carried out in the eighteenth century and Newton was proved correct.

The earth has an equatorial bulge, in other words. It is flattened at the poles. It is an "oblate spheroid" rather than a sphere. This means that the various diameters of the earth differ in length. The longest diameters are any of those that stretch from one point on the equator to an opposite point on the equator. This "equatorial diameter" is 12,755 kilometers (7,927 miles). The shortest diameter is from the North Pole to the South Pole and this "polar diameter" is 12,711 kilometers (7,900 miles).

The difference between the longest and shortest diameters is 44 kilometers (27 miles), and that means that the "oblateness" of the earth (its departure from true sphericity) is 44/12755, or 0.0034. This amounts to l/3 of 1 percent.

To put it another way, on a flat surface, curvature is 0 per mile everywhere. On the earth's spherical surface, curvature is 0.000126 per mile everywhere (or 8 inches per mile). On the earth's oblate spheroidal surface, the curvature varies from 7.973 inches to the mile to 8.027 inches to the mile.

The correction in going from spherical to oblate spheroidal is much smaller than going from flat to spherical. Therefore, although the notion of the earth as a sphere is wrong, strictly speaking, it is not as wrong as the notion of the earth as flat.

Even the oblate-spheroidal notion of the earth is wrong, strictly speaking. In 1958, when the satellite Vanguard I was put into orbit about the earth, it was able to measure the local gravitational pull of the earth--and therefore its shape--with unprecedented precision. It turned out that the equatorial bulge south of the equator was slightly bulgier than the bulge north of the equator, and that the South Pole sea level was slightly nearer the center of the earth than the North Pole sea level was.

There seemed no other way of describing this than by saying the earth was pear-shaped, and at once many people decided that the earth was nothing like a sphere but was shaped like a Bartlett pear dangling in space. Actually, the pear-like deviation from oblate-spheroid perfect was a matter of yards rather than miles, and the adjustment of curvature was in the millionths of an inch per mile.

In short, my English Lit friend, living in a mental world of absolute rights and wrongs, may be imagining that because all theories are wrong, the earth may be thought spherical now, but cubical next century, and a hollow icosahedron the next, and a doughnut shape the one after.

What actually happens is that once scientists get hold of a good concept they gradually refine and extend it with greater and greater subtlety as their instruments of measurement improve. Theories are not so much wrong as incomplete.

This can be pointed out in many cases other than just the shape of the earth. Even when a new theory seems to represent a revolution, it usually arises out of small refinements. If something more than a small refinement were needed, then the old theory would never have endured.

Copernicus switched from an earth-centered planetary system to a sun-centered one. In doing so, he switched from something that was obvious to something that was apparently ridiculous. However, it was a matter of finding better ways of calculating the motion of the planets in the sky, and eventually the geocentric theory was just left behind. It was precisely because the old theory gave results that were fairly good by the measurement standards of the time that kept it in being so long.

Again, it is because the geological formations of the earth change so slowly and the living things upon it evolve so slowly that it seemed reasonable at first to suppose that there was no change and that the earth and life always existed as they do today. If that were so, it would make no difference whether the earth and life were billions of years old or thousands. Thousands were easier to grasp.

But when careful observation showed that the earth and life were changing at a rate that was very tiny but not zero, then it became clear that the earth and life had to be very old. Modern geology came into being, and so did the notion of biological evolution.

If the rate of change were more rapid, geology and evolution would have reached their modern state in ancient times. It is only because the difference between the rate of change in a static universe and the rate of change in an evolutionary one is that between zero and very nearly zero that the creationists can continue propagating their folly.

Since the refinements in theory grow smaller and smaller, even quite ancient theories must have been sufficiently right to allow advances to be made; advances that were not wiped out by subsequent refinements.

The Greeks introduced the notion of latitude and longitude, for instance, and made reasonable maps of the Mediterranean basin even without taking sphericity into account, and we still use latitude and longitude today.

The Sumerians were probably the first to establish the principle that planetary movements in the sky exhibit regularity and can be predicted, and they proceeded to work out ways of doing so even though they assumed the earth to be the center of the universe. Their measurements have been enormously refined but the principle remains.

Naturally, the theories we now have might be considered wrong in the simplistic sense of my English Lit correspondent, but in a much truer and subtler sense, they need only be considered incomplete.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:12 pm

This is an interesting interactive map showing different sea level rise.


This has nothing to do with Global Warming or rising sea levels due to melting the ice. If you set the height to 10 meters(about 30 feet), you barely see any change on a global scale. You have to zoom in to a region to notice such small changes. Set it to 100 meters(about 300 feet) and you will see some areas flooded.

Set the level to 500 meters(about 1,500 feet) and look at the different parts of the world. Those areas above the water still have a large curve from when the Earth was smaller. Those raised areas will break, flatten out over time as the Earth grows.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:59 pm

This is ironic. HA!

Einstein's Lost Theory Uncovered ... uncovered/
A manuscript that lay unnoticed by scientists for decades has revealed that Albert Einstein once dabbled with an alternative to the Big Bang theory, proposing instead that the Universe expanded steadily and eternally. The recently uncovered work, written in 1931, is reminiscent of a theory championed by British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle nearly 20 years later. Einstein soon abandoned the idea, but the manuscript reveals his continued hesitance to accept that the Universe was created during a single explosive event.

The Big Bang theory had found observational support in the 1920s, when US astronomer Edwin Hubble and others discovered that distant galaxies are moving away and that space itself is expanding. This seemed to imply that, in the past, the contents of the observable Universe had been a very dense and hot ‘primordial broth’.

But, from the late 1940s, Hoyle argued that space could be expanding eternally and keeping a roughly constant density. It could do this by continually adding new matter, with elementary particles spontaneously popping up from space, Hoyle said. Particles would then coalesce to form galaxies and stars, and these would appear at just the right rate to take up the extra room created by the expansion of space. Hoyle’s Universe was always infinite, so its size did not change as it expanded. It was in a ‘steady state’.

The newly uncovered document shows that Einstein had described essentially the same idea much earlier. “For the density to remain constant new particles of matter must be continually formed,” he writes. The manuscript is thought to have been produced during a trip to California in 1931 — in part because it was written on American note paper.

It had been stored in plain sight at the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem — and is freely available to view on its website — but had been mistakenly classified as a first draft of another Einstein paper. Cormac O’Raifeartaigh, a physicist at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, says that he “almost fell out of his chair” when he realized what the manuscript was about. He and his collaborators have posted their findings, together with an English translation of Einstein’s original German manuscript, on the arXiv preprint server (C. O’Raifeartaigh et al. Preprint at 2014) and have submitted their paper to the European Physical Journal.

“This finding confirms that Hoyle was not a crank,” says study co-author Simon Mitton, a science historian at the University of Cambridge, UK, who wrote the 2005 biography Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science. The mere fact that Einstein had toyed with a steady-state model could have lent Hoyle more credibility as he engaged the physics community in a debate on the subject. “If only Hoyle had known, he would certainly have used it to punch his opponents,” O’Raifeartaigh says.

Although Hoyle’s model was eventually ruled out by astronomical observations, it was at least mathematically consistent, tweaking the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity to provide a possible mechanism for the spontaneous generation of matter. Einstein’s unpublished manuscript suggests that, at first, he believed that such a mechanism could arise from his original theory without modification. But then he realized that he had made a mistake in his calculations, O’Raifeartaigh and his team suggest. When he corrected it — crossing out a number with a pen of a different color — he probably decided that the idea would not work and set it aside.

The manuscript was probably “a rough draft commenced with excitement over a neat idea and soon abandoned as the author realized he was fooling himself”, says cosmologist James Peebles of Princeton University in New Jersey. There seems to be no record of Einstein ever mentioning these calculations again.

But the fact that Einstein experimented with the steady-state concept demonstrates his continued resistance to the idea of a Big Bang, which he at first found “abominable”, even though other theoreticians had shown it to be a natural consequence of his general theory of relativity. (Other leading researchers, such as the eminent Cambridge astronomer Arthur Eddington, were also suspicious of the Big Bang theory, because it suggested a mystical moment of creation.) When astronomers found evidence for cosmic expansion, Einstein had to abandon his bias towards a static Universe, and a steady-state Universe was the next best thing, O’Raifeartaigh and his collaborators say.

Helge Kragh, a science historian at Aarhus University in Denmark, agrees. “What the manuscript shows is that although by then he accepted the expansion of space, [Einstein] was unhappy with a Universe changing in time,” he says.

This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article was first published on February 24, 2014.

A steady-state model of the universe by Albert Einstein
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:00 am

I was sending e-mail to a friend explaining about the Green Sahara and in the process found some of the links from upstream are missing stuff, so I figured it was best to update the information.

I went looking for the links about the Green Sahara on the PBS NewsHour site. The NewsHour site no longer has the video or a complete transcript, I had to recover the text from a pdf. It is clear that the video and transcript were lost/altered because it is critical of the Global Warming Dogma.

I looked on YouTube and found the National Geographic episode of the find. Read the recovered NewsHour transcript and the National Geographic article before you watch the video.

PBS. National Geographic. Skeletons of the Sahara

This is the recovered NewsHour transcript.

Scientists Find Stone Age Burial Ground From Once-green Sahara ... age_08-14/
But here, in the middle of the Sahara, we got a cemetery, a very interesting lifestyle. So that's really what we're getting out of this.

Two different groups of people
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, now, you brought two skulls. I don't usually get to say this sitting here at the NewsHour, but you brought two skulls to the table.

PAUL SERENO: They're three for the interview.

JEFFREY BROWN: What did they tell us about the kind of people? As I said, they were two different peoples at two different times, right? And these represent the two types?

PAUL SERENO: Yes, and this is really a fairly stunning part of the discovery that two very different kinds of people -- they're our species. They're 6,000 and about 9,500 years old.

But if you look at these faces a little bit more closely, these are two men, adult men, but very different faces. So we have squared orbits here that are separated, different shape to the nose, different shape to the chin, a lot of different shape to the back end of the skull. These are clues that they're really very different people.

We may get some genetics out of the teeth eventually to go along with the differences in skull shape, but this is what we use to really determine different human populations, populations that are separated in time.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, so this is the older one, and they were tall?

PAUL SERENO: Very tall. This man here, we have his complete skeleton. He's sort of bundled up in a tube. You wouldn't know it from looking at him how he was buried how tall he is, but he's six-foot five, and that's...


PAUL SERENO: That's an average for the adult males.


PAUL SERENO: So they were very tall, the early population.

JEFFREY BROWN: And then the later ones, what year are we talking about here?

PAUL SERENO: About 6,000 years ago, this population -- we call them Tenerians. We call this Kiffian, and we call these Tenerians. Their average was below six feet. This man here stood a little bit below my height, about five-foot-six.

'A remarkable grave'
JEFFREY BROWN: Is it unusual to find two very different populations on the same site?

PAUL SERENO: Well, what we did in analyzing the skull shape of this individual and that individual is, first, show how different they are. And then, second, we linked across the Sahara populations from North Africa, the coast of the Mediterranean, all the way over to the Atlantic coast, an ancient population with this kind of skull.

So we see a migration into the Sahara, when it turned green, from those parts. And then they were driven out by a dry period. And when it turned wet again, another kind of person moved in.

Where these people came from, ultimately, and where they became the Tenerians, that's for future research. We're really interested, because the Sahara is inhabited today by some very interesting nomads. And we're wondering, ultimately, are we looking at the roots of that population?

JEFFREY BROWN: There's another photo that I want to show our audience. This is a finding from the cemetery of a -- well, you can describe it -- a mother and children?

PAUL SERENO: Yes, this is a remarkable, remarkable grave. There's really nothing been found in the fossil record, pre-historic record, anything like this.

It's a woman about 30 to 40 years of age reaching out towards two young individuals we presume to be her children. By the way, they're posed, very intimate pose, an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old. The 5-year-old is literally hugging the 8-year-old, reaching for the woman.

We found pollen clusters, evidence of flowers that were laid down underneath these burials, and arrowheads that were tossed into the grave before they were ceremoniously buried.

But emotion, a sincere intimacy that -- the human feelings that you get from this grave -- we brought it back exactly as we found it, 5,300 years old.

Climate change connections
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, one of the themes then -- climate change -- is very topical now. So what connections do you make?

PAUL SERENO: It's really stunning. Elephants, hippos, crocodiles, six-foot fish in the middle of the Sahara.

JEFFREY BROWN: In a place that now is all desert.

PAUL SERENO: It is not just desert; it's a desert within a desert. That's how they describe the Tenera. I mean, bone dry, hyper arid. And this is -- 5,000 years ago, things became drier and drier. We're talking just 5,000 years.

Humans didn't do that. Little wobbles in our Earth's orbit are the driving factor, ultimately, for these kinds of climate change, but climate change it is. And it really affected the populations that lived there. It really drove some out and allowed some others to colonize the place. It drove human history.

JEFFREY BROWN: And just briefly, you said what is coming next, in terms of some of the research. You're going to be involved? What happens?

PAUL SERENO: Oh, we're interested in fine-tuning our understanding.
I mean, basically, we want to know how the recent populations -- everybody wants to know how the recent populations relate to these ancient populations. Are we looking at the roots of the people who are living there today, the Egyptians, the Berbers, the Tuaregs?

And where do they come from? And, ultimately, we're interested in human history. And we have a much better view of the humans today that lived in the center of the Sahara than we did before we ran into that site.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Paul Sereno, thanks very much.

PAUL SERENO: You're welcome.

The National Geographic article requires you to sign in, but I was able to trick the site to show me the text. HA!

Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara ... -text.html
On October 13, 2000, a small team of paleontologists led by Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago clambered out of three battered Land Rovers, filled their water bottles, and scattered on foot across the toffee-colored sands of the Tenere desert in northern Niger. The Tenere, on the southern flank of the Sahara, easily ranks among the most desolate landscapes on Earth. The Tuareg, turbaned nomads who for centuries have ruled this barren realm, refer to it as a "desert within a desert"a California-size ocean of sand and rock, where a single massive dune might stretch a hundred miles, and the combination of 120-degree heat and inexorable winds can wick the water from a human body in less than a day. The harsh conditions, combined with intermittent conflict between the Tuareg and the Niger government, have kept the region largely unexplored.

Sereno, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence and one of the world's most prolific dinosaur hunters, had led his first expedition into the Tenere five years earlier, after negotiating agreements with both the leader of a Tuareg rebel force and the Niger Ministry of Defense, allowing him safe passage to explore its fossil-rich deposits. That initial foray was followed by others, and each time his team emerged from the desert with the remains of exotic species, including Nigersaurus, a 500-toothed plant-eating dinosaur, and Sarcosuchus, an extinct crocodilian the size of a city bus. The 2000 expedition, however, was his most ambitiousthree months scouring a 300-mile arc of the Tenere, ending near Agadez, a medieval caravan town on the western lip of the desert. Already, his team members had excavated 20 tons of dinosaur bones and other prehistoric animals. But six weeks of hard labor in this brutal environment had worn them down. Most had mild cases of dysentery; several had lost so much weight they had to hitch up their trousers as they trudged over the soft sand; and everyone's nerves had been on edge since an encounter with armed bandits.

Mike Hettwer, a photographer accompanying the team, headed off by himself toward a trio of small dunes. He crested the first slope and stared in amazement. The dunes were spilling over with bones. He took a few shots with his digital camera and hurried back to the Land Rovers.

"I found some bones," Hettwer said, when the team had regrouped. "But they're not dinosaurs. They're human."

Heat, thirst, and, for the moment, dinosaurs were forgotten as the team members followed Hettwer back to the three dunes and began to gingerly survey their slopes. In just a few minutes they had counted dozens of human skeletons. Parts of skullcaps pushed up through the sand like upturned china bowls; jawbones clenched nearly full sets of teeth; a tiny hand, perhaps a child's, appeared to have floated up through the sand with all its finger bones intact. "It was as if the desert winds were pulling them from their final resting places," said Hettwer. Insinuated among the human bones was a profusion of clay potsherds, beads, and stone tools finely worked arrowheads and axheads and well-worn grindstones. There were also hundreds of animal bones. In addition to antelope and giraffe, Sereno quickly recognized the remains of water-adapted creatures like crocodiles and hippos, then turtles, fish, and clams. "Everywhere you turned, there were bones belonging to animals that don't live in the desert," said Sereno. "I realized we were in the Green Sahara."

For much of the past 70,000 years, the Sahara has closely resembled the desert it is today. Some 12,000 years ago, however, a wobble in the Earth's axis and other factors caused Africa's seasonal monsoons to shift slightly north, bringing new rains to an area nearly the size of the contiguous United States. Lush watersheds stretched across the Sahara, from Egypt to Mauritania, drawing animal life and eventually people.

Archaeologists have inventoried the stone tools used by these early inhabitants and the patterns inscribed on their ceramics. They have also identified thousands of their rock engravings, which depict herds of ostriches, giraffes, and elephants. Some of the images suggest that along the way the people of the Green Sahara learned to domesticate cattle. But they remain veiled in mystery. Did they arrive here from the Mediterranean coast, central African jungles, or Nile Valley? Were they nomads, or did they stake out territories and build settlements? Did they trade with each other and intermarry, or did they wage war, or both? As the monsoons began to recede, how did they cope with a drying landscape? The only part of the story that then seems clear is that by some 3,500 years ago the desert had returned. The people vanished.

Seeking answers to such questions is normally the domain of anthropologists and archaeologistsnot dinosaur hunters. But Sereno had become transfixed by the discovery. "There is something soul stirring about looking into the face of an ancient human skull and knowing this is my species," he said. Whenever he could steal a moment from his paleontological work, he pored through every scholarly publication he could find on the Green Saharans, tracked down the authors and badgered them with emails full of questions. Sometimes he would read all night before downing a cup of coffee and heading back to his lab. In 2003, during another dinosaur expedition in Niger, he took three days off to revisit the dunes and survey the site, counting at least 173 burials. To dig any deeper, however, would require more time, money, and expertise.

In the spring of 2005 Sereno contacted Elena Garcea, an archaeologist at the University of Cassino, in Italy, inviting her to accompany him on a return to the site. Garcea had spent three decades working digs along the Nile in Sudan and in the mountains of the Libyan Desert, and was well acquainted with the ancient peoples of the Sahara. But she had never heard of Paul Sereno. His claim to have found so many skeletons in one place seemed far-fetched, given that no other Neolithic cemetery contained more than a dozen or so. Some archaeologists would later be skeptical; one sniped that he was just a "moonlighting paleontologist." But Garcea was too intrigued to dismiss him as an interloper. She agreed to join him.

"I was impressed that he hadn't just ignored the burials and continued looking for dinosaurs," she told me.

They arrived at the site six months later. Clad in a salt-stained T-shirt and jeans, Sereno, vibrating with energy, powered up the first of the three dunes, identifying animal bones with nearly every stridegiraffe vertebra hippo ulna gazelle humerus. Garcea, a petite woman in unwrinkled chinos and a tennis hat, followed at a more measured pace, bending at the waist to scrutinize each item.

At the top, they surveyed a macabre scene. Around them lay dozens of human skeletons in various degrees of completeness, far more than Garcea had seen at all her other digs combined. Nonetheless, she seemed more interested in what looked to me like tiny gray chunks of gravel. "They're potsherds," she said, and held up one inscribed with a pointillistic pattern. She identified the markings as belonging to a people known to scholars as the Tenerian, a nomadic herding culture that lived during the latter part of the Green Sahara era, 6,500 to 4,500 years ago. Then she picked up another piece. She studied it for a moment, looking perplexed. Instead of little dots, this sherd was decorated with wavy lines. She picked up another like it, then another. "These are Kiffian," she said, her voice rising with excitement.

Garcea explained that the Kiffian were a fishing-based culture and lived during the earliest wet period, between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago. She held a Kiffian sherd next to a Tenerian one. "What is so amazing is that the people who made these two pots lived more than a thousand years apart."

Over the next three weeks, Sereno and Garceaalong with five American excavators, five Tuareg guides, and five soldiers from Niger's army, sent to protect the camp from banditsmade a detailed map of the site, which they dubbed Gobero, after the Tuareg name for the area. They exhumed eight burials and collected scores of artifacts from both cultures. In a dry lake bed adjacent to the dunes, they found dozens of fishhooks and harpoons carved from animal bone. Apparently the Kiffian fishermen weren't just going after small fry: Scattered near the dunes were the remains of Nile perch, a beast of a fish that can weigh nearly 300 pounds, as well as crocodile and hippo bones.

Garcea suspected that the Tenerian had made most of the stone tools. Nearly three-fourths of them were hewed from a strange green volcanic rock that bore a glasslike sheen and yielded razor-sharp edges when fractured. The abundance of green flakes on the dunes indicated that the Tenerian spent long periods of time at Gobero making and sharpening their tools. "But it's possible they lived part of the time at the place where they quarried the green rock," said Garcea. One of the Tuareg said he had seen big boulders of it in the Ar mountains, some hundred miles to the northwest.

At dusk the heat gave way to the cool evening air, and the camp divided into three groups. The soldiers, dressed in threadbare fatigues and combat boots with no socks, gathered around their fire, speaking Hausa, Niger's dominant language. At the Tuareg fire, the guides removed their linen chches, which they kept neatly wound around their faces during the day. They reclined on foam mattresses, served each other strong, sugary tea, and quietly discussed Niger's restive politics in their native Tamashek. Meanwhile, the dig team cooked couscous and freeze-dried vegetables on a propane stove, eating by the light of their headlamps. Their conversations focused on the stark differences in the burials. Some appeared to be little more than a tight bundle of bones, as if the body had been bound or squeezed into a basket or a leather bag, which had long since decomposed. These compact burials belied the fact that some of these individuals were surprisingly largeas much as six feet eight inches tall, with thick bones suggesting they had been well muscled.

By contrast, other skeletons belonged to much smaller people, about five-and-a-half feet tall. They were buried on their sides in relaxed positions, as if they had fallen asleep and drifted into death. Some of their graves contained beads, arrowheads, or animal bones. But since no potsherds were found in the burials, it wasn't clear which were Kiffian and which were Tenerian. Until the age of the bones could be determined, no one could say for sure. And what had led the Tenerian to bury their dead in the exact same spot as the Kiffian had laid theirs to rest, thousands of years earlier?

"Perhaps the Tenerian found the Kiffian burials and recognized this place as sacred," Garcea offered. "It's possible they thought these bones belonged to their own ancestors."

The search for answers could not wait long. Gobero held at least 200 burials, which would take several field seasons to excavate. But the constant desert wind was eroding the site year by year, scattering the bones down the sides of the dunes. An even more dire concern was looters. Officials in Niger have identified close to a hundred Stone Age sites in the Tenere and report that nearly all were looted before they could be excavated. Often Tuareg traveling in camel caravans find the sites and scavenge artifacts to sell to dealers in Agadez, who in turn sell them illicitly to tourists. Though the Niger government has outlawed the sale of antiquities, only Gobero and one other site remained unlooted.

Members of the dig team suspected that a few of the soldiers were picking up artifacts as they patrolled the site's perimeter. When confronted by Sereno, they denied it. One night by the Tuareg fire, I asked one of the guides whether he thought anyone might pilfer artifacts. He shrugged. "When you are hungry and your children are hungry, what can you do?" Another confided to me that over the years he had collected a small number of artifacts during his travels in the desert. He produced a leather pouch that held an array of gemlike arrowheads and a beautiful knife chipped from the strange green stone. "These are not for sale," he said. "They are for my children. It is their history. I want them to see it before it is all gone."

SERENO FLEW HOME with the most important skeletons and artifacts and immediately began planning for the next field season. In the meantime, he carefully removed one tooth from each of four skulls and sent them to a lab for radiocarbon dating. The results pegged the age of the tightly bundled burials at roughly 9,000 years old, the heart of the Kiffian era. The smaller "sleeping" skeletons turned out to be about 6,000 years old, well within the Tenerian period. At least now the scientists knew who was who.

In the fall of 2006 they returned to Gobero, accompanied by a larger dig crew and six additional scientists. Garcea hoped to excavate some 80 burials, and the team began digging. As the skeletons began to emerge from the dunes, each presented a fresh riddle, especially the Tenerian. A male skeleton had been buried with a finger in his mouth. Another had been interred inside a frame of disarticulated human bones. Among the strangest was an adult male buried with a boar tusk and a crocodile ankle bone and his head resting on a clay pot. Parts of the skeleton appeared to have been burned, hinting that an elaborate ritual had accompanied his burial.

Garcea paid close attention to these details. In lieu of a written language, such clues are critical to understanding what she described as a culture's "software"its traditions, value system, and beliefs about the supernatural. The very act of burial contains a message, Garcea told me as she delicately brushed dirt from another Tenerian skeleton. "By infusing the land with the remains of your people, you claim it."

Unlike the Tenerian burials, the bundles of Kiffian bones came with few artifacts to shed light on their culture. But bones and teeth alone can say a lot about the daily lives of a vanished people. Their appearance can reveal an individual's sex, age, and general health, and they hold chemical signatures that, analyzed in a lab, can reveal the kinds of food a person ate and the location of the water sources he drank from.

Even at the site, Arizona State University bioarchaeologist Chris Stojanowski could begin to piece together some clues. Judging by the bones, the Kiffian appeared to be a peaceful, hardworking people. "The lack of head and forearm injuries suggests they weren't doing much fighting," he told me. "And these guys were strong." He pointed to a long, narrow ridge running along a femur. "That's the muscle attachment," he said. "This individual had huge leg muscles, which means he was eating a lot of protein and had a strenuous lifestyleboth consistent with a fishing way of life." For contrast, he showed me the femur of a Tenerian male. The ridge was barely perceptible. "This guy had a much less strenuous lifestyle," he said, "which you might expect of a herder."

Stojanowski's assessment that the Tenerian were herders fits the prevailing view among scholars of life in the Sahara 6,000 years ago, when drier conditions favored herding over hunting. But if the Tenerian were herders, Sereno pointed out, where were the herds? Among the hundreds of animal bones that had turned up at the site, none belonged to goats or sheep, and only three came from a cow species. "It's not unusual for a herding culture not to slaughter their cattle, particularly in a cemetery," Garcea responded, noting that even modern pastoralists, such as Niger's Wodaabe, are loath to butcher even one animal in their herd. Perhaps, Sereno reasoned, the Tenerian at Gobero were a transitional group that had not fully adopted herding and still relied heavily on hunting and fishing.

The twilight of the Green Sahara around 4,500 years ago might have been the perfect time to be hunting at Gobero, said Carlo Giraudi, the team's geologist. As water sources dried up throughout the region, animals would have been drawn to pocket wetlands, making them easier to kill. Four middens found on the dunes and dated to around that time included hundreds of animal remains, as well as fish bones and clamshells not usually part of a herder's diet. "The Green Sahara's climate was rapidly changing," said Giraudi, "but just before the lake dried up, the people at Gobero would have thought they were living in a golden period."

Then they were gone, leaving only bones and a few artifacts to bear witness. On my last day at Gobero, Sereno and his colleagues began excavating a particularly poignant burial containing three skeletons. Several members of the dig team interrupted their own work to watch. Soon a few of the Tuareg abandoned their late afternoon tea and wandered over, and a couple of soldiers joined the group. Evening breezes began to sweep away the desert's intense heat. As the sand was carefully brushed away, a petite Tenerian woman came into clear relief, lying on her side. Facing her were the skeletons of two children. Their molars suggested they were five and eight years old when they died. Each child reached tiny arms toward the woman. Her fragile arm bones reached back to them. Between the skeletons lay a cluster of disarticulated finger bones, implying the deceased had been laid to rest holding hands.

Was this a mother and her children? Had a grieving father posed his family in this gesture of love before covering them with sand? The questions rippled around the graveside in English, French, Tamashek, and Hausa. The skeletons exhibited no clear signs of trauma, though four arrowheads turned up near the bones, perhaps part of a burial ritual. But if their deaths weren't violent, how did they all die at the same time? If it was a disease or a plague, who would have been left to bury the bodies in such an elaborate fashion? Maybe, someone suggested, they drowned in the lake.

Back in Arizona, Stojanowski continues to analyze the Gobero bones for clues to the Green Saharans' health and diet. Other scientists are trying to derive DNA from the teeth, which could reveal the genetic origins of the Kiffian and Tenerianand possibly link them to descendants living today. Sereno and Garcea estimate a hundred burials remain to be excavated. But as the harsh Tenere winds continue to erode the dunes, time is running out. "Every archaeological site has a life cycle," Garcea said. "It begins when people begin to use the place, followed by disuse, then nature takes over, and finally it is gone. Gobero is at the end of its life."

In February of 2007, as the team was making plans to return to Niger, hostilities broke out again between some of Niger's Tuareg groups and the government. By December, Human Rights Watch had reported scores of soldiers and civilians had been killed or injured in clashes and by land mines. The government declared emergency rule in the region, prohibiting foreigners from traveling to the Tenere. Sereno and Garcea were forced to cancel the 2007 and 2008 dig seasons. Meanwhile, the wind blows across Gobero, and the desert continues to consume the last remnants of the Green Sahara.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby Lloyd » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:01 pm

Mathis' photons may cause expansion as per this post:
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:37 pm

Here's another fun dinosaur that could not exist in a one gravity Earth.

Bizarre bird-like dinosaur discovered
http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot. ... vered.html
A team of researchers has announced the discovery of a bizarre, bird-like dinosaur, named Anzu wyliei, that provides paleontologists with their first good look at a dinosaur group that has been shrouded in mystery for almost a century.
chicken_from_hell-1 small.jpg

Anzu wyliei - a bird-like dinosaur nicknamed the "chicken from hell" that roamed the Dakotas 66 million years ago -- appears in its natural environment in this artist's depiction. Discovery and description of the new dinosaur was announced by the University of Utah, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History [Credit: Mark Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History]

Anzu was described from three specimens that collectively preserve almost the entire skeleton, giving scientists a remarkable opportunity to study the anatomy and evolutionary relationships of Caenagnathidae -- the long-mysterious group of theropod dinosaurs to which Anzu belongs.

The three described fossil skeletons of Anzu were unearthed in North and South Dakota, from roughly 66 million-year-old rocks of the Hell Creek Formation, a rock unit celebrated for its abundant fossils of famous dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops.

The team of scientists who studied Anzu was led by Dr. Matthew Lamanna of Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Dr. Lamanna's collaborators include Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues and Dr. Tyler Lyson of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, and Dr. Emma Schachner of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

According to Dr. Lamanna, "Anzu is far and away the most complete caenagnathid that has ever been discovered.

After nearly a century of searching, we paleontologists finally have the fossils to show what these creatures looked like from virtually head to toe. And in almost every way, they're even weirder than we imagined."

Hell's Chicken

At roughly 11 feet long and five feet tall at the hip, Anzu would have resembled a gigantic flightless bird, more than a 'typical' theropod dinosaur such as T. rex. Its jaws were tipped with a toothless beak, and its head sported a tall, rounded crest similar to that of a cassowary (a large ground bird native to Australia and New Guinea).
chicken_from_hell-3 small.jpg

This is the skeleton and selected bones of the new oviraptorosaurian dinosaur species Anzu wyliei as presented in the paper by Matthew Lamanna and colleagues published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE [Credit: The skeleton illustration was done by Scott Hartman [] and the individual bones by Mark A. Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History]

The neck and hind legs were long and slender, also comparable to a cassowary or ostrich.

Although the Anzu specimens preserve only bones, close relatives of this dinosaur have been found with fossilized feathers, strongly suggesting that the new creature was feathered too.

The resemblance to birds ends there, however: the forelimbs of Anzu were tipped with large, sharp claws, and the tail was long and robust.

Says Dr. Lamanna, "We jokingly call this thing the 'Chicken from Hell,' and I think that's pretty appropriate. So we named it after Anzu, a bird-like demon in ancient mythology."

The species is named for a Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Trustee's grandson, Wylie.

Not only do the fossils of Anzu wyliei paint a picture of this particular species, they shed light on an entire group of dinosaurs, the first evidence of which was discovered almost 100 years ago.

In 1924, paleontologist Charles Whitney Gilmore described the species Chirostenotes pergracilis from a pair of fossil hands found a decade earlier in ~74 million-year-old rocks in Alberta, Canada.

Later, in 1940, Caenagnathus collinsi was named, based on a peculiar lower jaw from the same beds.

More recently, after studies of these and other fragmentary fossils, Hans Sues and other paleontologists determined that Chirostenotes and Caenagnathus belonged to the same dinosaur group, Caenagnathidae, and that these animals were close cousins of Asian oviraptorid theropods such as Oviraptor.

Asian relations

Oviraptor ('egg thief') is widely known because the first fossil skeleton of this animal, described in 1924, was found atop a nest of dinosaur eggs, suggesting that the creature had died in the act of raiding the nest.
chicken_from_hell-2 small.jpg

With its head crest and presumably feathered forelegs, the newly discovered and described dinosaur Anzu wyliei was nicknamed the "chicken from hell" by its discoverers at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and University of Utah [Credit: Bob Walters]

This thinking prevailed until the 1990s, when the same type of egg was found with a baby oviraptorid inside, demonstrating that, rather than a nest plunderer, Oviraptor was a caring parent that perished while protecting its eggs.

More than a dozen oviraptorid species have been discovered, all in Mongolia and China, and many are known from beautifully-preserved, complete or nearly complete skeletons.

Additionally, beginning in the 1990s, several small, primitive relatives of oviraptorids were unearthed in much older, ~125 million-year-old rocks in northeastern China. Many of these are also represented by complete skulls or skeletons, some of which preserve fossilized feathers.

Researchers have established that caenagnathids, oviraptorids, and these more archaic Chinese species are closely related to one another, and have united them as the theropod group Oviraptorosauria.

The occurrence of oviraptorosaurs in both Asia and North America was not a surprise to paleontologists, because these continents were frequently connected during the Mesozoic Era (the 'Age of Dinosaurs'), allowing dinosaurs and other land animals to roam between them.

However, because their fossils were so incomplete, caenagnathids remained the most poorly known members of Oviraptorosauria, and indeed, one of the least understood of all major dinosaur groups.

"For many years, caenagnathids were known only from a few bits of the skeleton, and their appearance remained a big mystery," says Dr. Sues.

More fossils, more knowledge

The nearly completely represented skeleton of Anzu opens a window into the anatomy of this and other caenagnathid species.
chicken_from_hell-4 small.jpg

This is a mounted replica skeleton of the new oviraptorosaurian dinosaur species Anzu wyliei on display in the Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pa., USA [Credit: Carnegie Museum of Natural History]

Armed with this wealth of new information, Dr. Lamanna and his team were able to reconstruct the evolution of these extraordinary animals in more detail than ever before.

Analysis of the relationships of Anzu reaffirmed that caenagnathids form a natural grouping within Oviraptorosauria: Anzu, Caenagnathus, Chirostenotes, and other North American oviraptorosaurs are more closely related to each other than they are to most of their Asian cousins -- a finding that had been disputed in recent years.

Furthermore, the team's analysis confirmed the recent hypothesis that the enormous (and aptly-named) Gigantoraptor -- at a weight of at least 1.5 tons, the largest oviraptorosaur known to science -- is an unusual member of Caenagnathidae as well, instead of an oviraptorid as had initially been proposed.

"We're finding that caenagnathids were an amazingly diverse bunch of dinosaurs," says Dr. Lamanna.

"Whereas some were turkey-sized, others -- like Anzu and Gigantoraptor -- were the kind of thing you definitely wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Apparently these oviraptorosaurs occupied a much wider range of body sizes and ecologies than we previously thought."

The anatomy and ancient environment of Anzu provide insight into the diet and habitat preferences of caenagnathids as well. Although the preferred food of these oviraptorosaurs remains something of a puzzle, Dr. Lamanna and collaborators think that caenagnathids were probably omnivores -- like humans, animals that could eat either meat or plants.

Moreover, studies of the rocks in which several of the most complete caenagnathid skeletons have been found show that these strata were laid down in humid floodplain environments, suggesting that these dinosaurs favored such habitats.

In this way, caenagnathids appear to have differed greatly from their oviraptorid cousins, all of which have been found in rocks that were deposited under arid to semi-arid conditions .

"Over the years, we've noticed that Anzu and some other Hell Creek Formation dinosaurs, such as Triceratops, are often found in mudstone rock that was deposited on ancient floodplains. Other dinosaurs, like duckbills, are found in sandstone deposited in or next to rivers," says Dr. Lyson, who found his first Hell Creek fossil on his family's ranch in North Dakota when he was only six years old.

Anzu led a life that was fraught with danger. In addition to sharing its Cretaceous world with the most notorious carnivore of all time -- T. rex -- this oviraptorosaur seems to have gotten hurt a lot as well.

Two of the three specimens show clear evidence of injuries: one has a broken and healed rib, while the other has an arthritic toe bone that may have been caused by an avulsion fracture (where a tendon ripped a piece off the bone to which it was attached).

Says Dr. Schachner, "These animals were clearly able to survive quite a bit of trauma, as two of the specimens show signs of semi-healed damage. Whether these injuries were the result of combat between two individuals or an attack by a larger predator remains a mystery."

As much insight as the Anzu skeletons provide, paleontologists still have much to learn about North American oviraptorosaurs.

Ongoing studies of these and other important fossils promise to remove more of the mystery surrounding these remarkable bird-like creatures.

"For nearly a hundred years, we paleontologists knew almost nothing about these dinosaurs," concludes Dr. Lamanna. "Now, thanks to Anzu, we're finally starting to figure them out."

A fully-articulated cast of Anzu wyliei is on public view in Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibition.

The scientific paper describing the discovery appears today in the freely-accessible journal PLOS ONE.

Source: Carnegie Museum of Natural History [March 19, 2014]

A pdf of the paper is at:

A New Large-Bodied Oviraptorosaurian Theropod Dinosaur from the Latest Cretaceous of Western North America ... ne.0092022
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:11 pm

Ancient flying reptile from China fills evolutionary gap | Reuters ... 7P20140424

The fragmentary remains of the Kryptodrakon progenitor found in the famed ''dinosaur death pits'' area of the Shishugou Formation in northwest China are seen in an undated illustration courtesy of Brian Andres.

(Reuters) - It was the start of something big - really big.

Scientists on Thursday said they have found a fossil from 163 million years ago that represents the oldest known example of a lineage of advanced flying reptiles that later would culminate in the largest flying creatures in Earth's history.

The newly identified Jurassic period creature, a species named Kryptodrakon progenitor that was unearthed in the Gobi desert in northwestern China, was modest in size, with a wingspan of perhaps 4-1/2 feet.

But later members of its branch of the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs were truly colossal, including Quetzalcoatlus, whose wingspan of about 35 feet was roughly the same as that of an F-16 fighter.

Roughly 220 million years ago, pterosaurs became the first flying vertebrates to appear on Earth, with birds - first appearing about 150 million years ago - and bats - appearing about 50 million years ago - coming much later.

Pterosaurs arose during the Triassic period not long after their cousins, the dinosaurs, also made their debut. Their wings were supported by an incredibly elongated fourth digit of the hand - the "pinky finger."

The pterosaurs remained largely unchanged for tens of millions of years - with characteristics like long tails and relatively small heads - and none became very big. But later during the Jurassic period, some developed anatomical changes that heralded the arrival of a new branch called pterodactyloids that eventually replaced the more primitive forms of pterosaurs.

Many of these pterodactyloids had massive, elongated heads topped with huge crests, lost their teeth and grew to huge sizes. Perhaps the defining characteristic of the group is an elongation in the bone at the base of the fourth finger called the fourth metacarpal, and Kryptodrakon is the oldest known pterosaur to have this advance, the researchers said.


"In primitive pterosaurs, it is one of the shortest and least variable bones in the wing, but in pterodactyloids it is quite elongated," said Brian Andres, a paleontologist at the University of South Florida, and one of the researchers.

Kryptodrakon lived right before its fellow pterodactyloids began to take over the ancient skies. "We can look at his anatomy and see what were the last changes in his body that may be responsible for the success of the group," Andres added.

Another important element of the discovery is the environment that Kryptodrakon called home.

It lived in a river-dominated ecosystem far from the ocean in a region teeming with life, including a fearsome dinosaur predator called Sinraptor and a gigantic plant-eating dinosaur named Mamenchisaurus that boasted one of the longest necks of any creature ever to walk the planet.

George Washington University paleontologist James Clark said the fact that Kryptodrakon lived in such an ecosystem along with other evidence indicates that the advanced pterosaurs - many of which later ruled the skies over seashore ecosystems and fed on fish in the oceans - actually first evolved far inland in a terrestrial environment.

The origin of the pterodactyloids had been a little bit of a quandary, with their fossil record not extending back in time as much as some scientists had expected. Kryptodrakon is about five million years older than any other known member of the advanced pterosaur lineage, the researchers said.

"This is filling in that time gap," Clark said.

Its genus name, Kryptodrakon, means "hidden dragon" in honor of the 2000 film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," that had parts filmed near where it was unearthed. Its species name, progenitor, means ancestral.

The research was published in the journal Current Biology.

(Reporting by Will Dunham, editing by G Crosse)
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby Jatslo » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:15 pm

The Earth's putting on weight, so I hear.
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