Archive for August, 2013

Will Comet ISON bring Wormwood, or are we our own worst threat?

August 16, 2013

ISON is a comet that will become visible to the naked eye in October of this year. The fact we will be able to see it makes ISON a rare viewing opportunity indeed.

It will leave a vast streak of cosmic dust in a trail behind it.

Most remarkably, ISON may hit Mars on or about the beginning of October!

The Red Planet has had encounters with extraterrestrial bodies in its past. I know it’s not impossible for moons to strike the planets around which they orbit.

Such events are incredibly rare, and occur so rarely to actually see one is incredible.

NASA is trying to follow the trajectory of numerous asteroids and comets in the Inner Solar System. A private-led effort to chart all asteroids of a size or trajectory that threatens Earth has begun, named B612.

Part of the challenge is identifying trajectories from such a distance. And so many of these interplanetary travelers are too small to be seen.

Despite the huge numbers of asteroids, the risk of an actual collision with Earth is quite low. The vastness of space makes the chance of any one thing hitting another tiny.

It’s worth remembering that compared to the size of our solar system, our planet is just a speck. Trying to hit us with an asteroid would probably be tantamount to throwing a peanut into a cup from 3 miles away and thirteen thousand feet up.

The Tunguska event in 1908 does prove however that such things happen, and not just on an astronomer’s turtle-like time horizon, either. Recently the surface of Mars was videoed as it was struck by a comet.

Then there was the rock that exploded over central Russia earlier this year in Chelyabinsk.

The gravitational pull exerted by the relative mass of one object over another means that trajectories can change. Astrophysicists measure the gravitational pull exerted on comets and asteroids to chart their courses. Mars being a larger sized item relative to a smaller one, it can easily change ISON’s trajectory.

The closer to the Red Planet it comes, the more ISON’s course will change. Even if it doesn’t hit Mars, the threat it poses to Earth will have to be re-evaluated after it makes its pass by the Red Planet.

I can’t quantify the chance that ISON will hit Mars. It’s not predicted to come anywhere near Earth, although starting about the beginning of 2014 Earth will cross its path/wake.

The greatest risk is not fragments of ISON crashing down on Earth–a possibility if the comet smashes into Mars–but the cosmic dust that will be spewed out by the comet as it nears the Sun. Thousands of pounds of cosmic dust are being created as the comet superheats–contributing to the growing plume behind the comet as it blows through our Inner Solar System.

What is this cosmic dust? Should we be afraid of it? Undeniably, I’d say yes.

There’s that Biblical reference to wormwood. Revelation 8:10-11. Apparently over 1/3 of the world’s “rivers and springs” will be turned to wormwood. “Many” will die. See the Biblical citation below.

Could this Biblical passage refer to environmental contamination? Quite possibly. One one level, there’s the term Wormwood– a poisonous, acidic substance that makes water undrinkable.

Shockingly, the word in Ukrainian for “wormwood” is “Chernobyl.” Chernobyl is the site of a horrendous 1986 reactor meltdown.

ISON could douse our planet with radioactive particles from outer space, possibly. I don’t know the composition of cosmic dust. Some believe it holds the elements needed to form the basis for life on our planet, like an interstellar bee…a pollinator.

Could cosmic dust be radioactive? I doubt ISON could deposit on the surface of Earth a radioactive cloud big enough and bad enough to poison so much of the Earth’s water.

Sadly, the radioactive contamination of our oceans has already begun. I don’t think any comet could do to us what we’ve already done with our reckless use of nuclear power (an industry I’ve written about here at this blog and in, “Nuclear Power–Unsafe in Any Dose.“)

On a recent interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Michio Kaku classified Fukushima on a par with Chernobyl. Both can be classified as Class 7 nuclear accidents, apparently. It’s been only very recently that the Japanese have admitted the scale and severity of ocean leakage, leading some to assume that’s been their plan all along. See the interview here:

If it saturates the Earth’s atmosphere heavily, the dust could change the pH (alkalinity/acidity) of many bodies of water on the surface.

Even if it were able to drop huge amounts of dust,  I think it would take some sort of chain reaction between water and the cosmic dust to turn so much bad.

To penetrate deep into the water table–the source of springs–might require some sort of wave like gamma rays to go through bedrock. There again the worst incarnation of cosmic evil would have to compete with the toxic fracking process occurring throughout so much of the world, where chemicals are pumped deep underground in order to locate deposits of shale gas (the documentary Gasland 2 from HBO offers a look into that Hell, one of our making, not the Devil’s and certainly not one created by Nibiru, the presence of that mysterious dark star (brown dwarf) thought to be a companion star to our sun.)

Maybe confining the Wormwood to “rivers and springs” is lost in the translation of the Biblical passage from the original Greek, as so much of the Bible is. There’s no mention of lakes or oceans becoming wormwood/being wormwood-ized.

Maybe the conditions in the ocean aren’t as immediately impactful as where we get our drinking water, although whatever turns rivers and springs bad can’t be good for the world’s oceans upon which we depend so much for our sustenance. Many will die if fish are made inedible.

Trying to tie 2,000 year old prophecies to what may or may not happen is too speculative. At this point, all we can do is take adequate preparations for disruptions to our food and water supply, which ALL of you should do, not because of what might happen, but what you’ll need if something goes wrong, which is a real possibility considering recent natural disasters, degradation of infrastructure, climate change (more radical weather, flooding, storms, droughts), and localized episodes of civil disorder, all of which will increase the risk of bad things happening.

Rather than be sucked into one doom prophecy or another, I’d be willing to use common sense to identify risks. Encourage self-reliance, a trait too many of us have abandoned in favor of 24/7 retail availability, air conditioning, media, electricity and all those other “essentials” that makes us depend on a functioning energy grid, roads, emergency services. Beware also the psychological condition that leads us to assume that what has happened will happen again–what is called “normalcy bias.”

Enjoy ISON’s beauty. It might be the best thing to ever come from the heavens. Or the worst.

Rev 8:10-11 “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”