Cheeseburger Gothic

Planet Nine from Outer Space

Posted January 21, 2016 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

It's dark and huge and almost certainly coming for us.

Prepare the planetray defence grid!

From the Herald, and pretty everywhere online today:

Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology have announced they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it "Planet Nine."

Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth. But the authors, astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have not observed the planet directly.

Instead, they have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet — a "massive perturber." The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.

An artist's impression of Planet Nine, which could sit at the edge of our solar system. Photo: R. Hurt / California Institute of Technology.

Telescopes on at least two continents are searching for the object, which on average is 20 times farther away than the eighth planet, Neptune. If "Planet Nine" exists, it's big. Its estimated mass would make it about two to four times the diameter of the Earth, distinguishing it as the fifth-largest planet after Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But at such extreme distances, it would reflect so little sunlight that it could evade even the most powerful telescopes.


21 Responses to ‘Planet Nine from Outer Space’

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 21, 2016
Stealth Death Star.

I called it.

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ChrisB would have you know...

Posted January 21, 2016
...that's no planet...is it too late to say sorry for goofing on Kylo Ren?

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Shifty Tourist mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
Twenty times father away than Neptune.... that is a long freaking way out. Its not a long way in galactic terms but in "things we count as being in the solar system terms", thats a long way away. Makes a certain Douglas Adams quote about the size of space come to mind.

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Squid mutters...

Posted January 22, 2016
That far out and still affected by the sun's gravity enough that it orbits?

I'm sure there is some tricky maths behind all that but it sounds dubious.

Dave W mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
Hells yes. The Oort Cloud is out even further and is within the Sun's gravitational field.
Per the above reference from S.T., you might think that it's a long way to the shops, but that's nothing compared to space.
Those nice diagrams of the planets you remember from your high-school science books really should have had a fold out section with 4-5 blank pages to show just how far it is from Neptune to Pluto.

Squid would have you know...

Posted January 22, 2016
Jeez that is a long way out. The sun should be mighty proud of itself.

Currently re-reading HHGTTG and it's still fantastic.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted January 22, 2016
I can't remember the exact formula, but a big thing exerts a big effect on a big thing divided by distance. So if a dust mote in the Oort Cloud orbits Chad, then a big thing even further out will.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
The gravitational force is equal to the gravitational constant x the mass of object 1 x the mass of object 2 divided by the distance between them squared, so essentially the force is reduced by a factor of 4 every time the distance doubles.

F=G.m1.m2/r2

NBlob puts forth...

Posted January 22, 2016
Thankyou sleepy

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted January 22, 2016
so they bump Pluto off the list leaving a planet size hole in our hearts and all of a sudden there is a contender? Conspiracy! ;)

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted January 22, 2016
Come on, you munters. It's a joke. There isn't any 9th planet.

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted January 22, 2016
You canta foola me - there ainta no Sanity Clause.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 23, 2016
Honorable Charles H. Hungadunga
c/o Hungadunga, Hungadunga, Hungadunga, Hungadunga, & McCormack

Gentlemen?

In
re yours of the 5th inst., yours to hand and beg to rep, [brackets],
that we have gone over the ground carefully and we seem to believe, i.e., to wit., e.g., in lieu,
that despite all our precautionary measures which have been
involved, we seem to believe that it is hardly necessary for us to
proceed unless we receive an ipso facto that is not neglible at this moment, "quote, unquote."

Hoping this finds you, I beg to remain as of June 9th.

Cordially yours,

Regards

****

http://www.larecherche.it/public%5Cproposte%5CProposta_
Narrativa%5Cupload_pdf_doc_txt%5Cpaolom68_
20151106195902_Groucho%20e%20Zeppo%20-
%20La%20Lettera%20Agli%20Avvocati%20%28da%20Animal%20Crackers%29.pdf

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24, 2016
Dear Mr Hungadunga,
Please explain to your representatives that it is a tidal phenomenon. However we definitely did observe their shoelaces to be tied together like that when they arrived (see attached verified images), and any suggestion otherwise is scurrilous, etc.
YoursEntwhistle and cousins.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
Lord Blarkon?

NBlob mumbles...

Posted January 23, 2016
His continued silence does nothing to dispel the swirling rumours that P9 is a lizard empire craft.
Paging Mr Havoc. Please lock, load & report to your nearest launch facility.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted January 23, 2016
He isn't being silent: he is pondering.

HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted January 25, 2016
OH.....fkn and some! I would suggest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Pat would have you know...

Posted January 25, 2016
Can we call it Yuggoth?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted January 25, 2016
It has already been named Debbie.

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HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted January 25, 2016
When, just tell me fkn when I say!

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Phil Plait explains why Space X fail was a win

Posted January 19, 2016 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

And he is right:

Boosting a satellite into orbit takes a lot of speed. It needs to be moving at about 8 km/sec, or nearly 30,000 kph (18,000 mph) to reach orbit. The first stage booster gets the whole rocket moving as rapidly as possible, then is dropped as dead weight. This lightens the load, so the second stage is pushing much less mass, meaning it can accelerate harder.

That first stage booster has to flip over in space, use the little bit of fuel left over to slow from over 6000 kph, fall back to Earth from over 100 km in altitude, find the floating platform, guide itself there using steerable fins on its sides, deploy the landing legs, then ignite the engine again to slow for the final touchdown.

It’s a freakin’ technological triumph that they can get anywhere near a landing. And as any engineer will tell you, a failure is just a lesson in the steps to getting it right.

Whole thing's at Slate.

12 Responses to ‘Phil Plait explains why Space X fail was a win’

Surtac mumbles...

Posted January 19, 2016

Absolutely.

As I keep saying to anyone who'll listen: rocket science is easy (it's just maths). It's rocket engineering that's the hard part.


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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted January 19, 2016
It is simply incredible. And so much of the future depends on SpaceX figuring it out.

And they are close, but no cigar.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/18/463461790/watch-spacex-rocket-explodes-trying-to-land-on-a-barge

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted January 19, 2016
I contend that Elon Musk is the living embodiment of The Thunderbirds. How many sons (and daughters) does he have?

PNB, I agree that it is incredible to see our science fiction unfolding before us. Maybe it did when I was a kid as well but I was probably too young and stupid to realise. I also find it incredible that my granddaughter will know nothing else but being part of the e-generation.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted January 19, 2016
If not for a landing leg failure they would have had it. Then again, as Elon Musk said in a tweet, landing on a ship is immeasurable more difficult than landing on terra firma. The rocket suffered the same mishap which has afflicted more than one plane or helicopter landing on ships for more than a hundred years now. A bad tailhook, a blown gear, the arresting cable failed, the deck heaving up and down, all of those are hazards.

Yet they hit center mass, the video shows that clear enough. The rocket might not even have detonated if parts of the landing leg hadn't punched through the side.

Finally, the other rocket, which did successfully land, has had a test firing or two. By all accounts, it could be flown again.

In any case, I'd say they are on a roll. They'll get it next time.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted January 19, 2016
This may contradict my Pinko reputation, but making space a reality will be via FreeMarketeers, not state agencies.

HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 19, 2016
But thats on the back of state sponsored, its fact, that the kind of investment required already put in and really, IMHO still to come cannot be matched by private. They will take hard won gains and knowledge and commercialise it........when it reaches a threshold thats sustainable for that and I think its still a ways off yet

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted January 19, 2016
Yep, the privateers needed the government foundation funding, but Governments don't have the $ nor the appetite for risk anymore.

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted January 20, 2016
whilst I agree to a certain extent, I wil say, that gummit acceptance of RISK is very different to ours, in that both how they rank it and the consequences ..by their very very twisted perceptions are vastly different. Its almost a moon mars risk model with acid, PCP and fkn weed rolled into one...oh..and ego too!

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Sudragon is gonna tell you...

Posted January 19, 2016
And if you want to play 'SpaceX, The Home Game' and see how much fun rocketry can be, Kerbal Space Program.

https://kerbalspaceprogram.com/en/


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Sparty ducks in to say...

Posted January 19, 2016
Its all misdirection to hide the secret TR-3B http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/tr-3b/
(Ducks and leaves the room).
(Comes back in again- Hey Muldur believes and that's enough for me!)
It is very cool, and proper 50's sci fi, He has successfully proved the concept, just needs to improve reliability - next Musk will probably make usable jet packs....
I can barely make the worst elliptical orbit in Kerbal Space Program so will not be lending my help...

Sudragon puts forth...

Posted January 20, 2016
Mechjeb.

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Shifty Tourist mumbles...

Posted January 21, 2016
..... hmmm, fell over after sticking the landing... the Russian judge will mark them down for that. 5.2
Jokes aside, they are getting so close. Its an amazing achievement.
Musk is going a long way to proving himself a visionary (although he needs to be careful.... its a very thin line between millionaire visionary and Bond villain... if any renowned nuclear physicists start going missing, we may need to send someone to have polite chat with him.)

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Mine's bigger than yours

Posted January 14, 2016 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Starship size comparisons.

15 Responses to ‘Mine's bigger than yours’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted January 14, 2016
Man, that was fun.

I never realized how large a White Star is or the Lexx.

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Shifty Tourist would have you know...

Posted January 14, 2016
You can't but wonder do some of the bigger ones really need to be as large as they are. I mean, is all the internal space in some of the gigantic ones really that necessary, are they just turning the dial up to 11.
I can see the star destroyers for instance needing the space because they are shipping around entire armies of storm troopers and swarms of very expendable tie fighters, but some of the others... I'm not sure. Are there decks which nobody except the maintenance crew visits. Is all the space just being used for a power source and spare warp cores.

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Squid ducks in to say...

Posted January 14, 2016
Very cool.

I see someone superimposed the correct measurement on the Borg cube. Would be a little squishy otherwise.

It needs to be at least........3 times bigger!

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MordWa would have you know...

Posted January 14, 2016
Keep 'em all. I'll take a TARDIS over all of them - and still have unlimited closet space.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted January 14, 2016
Anyone else excited for Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak's release next week? Looks like Homeworld crossed with Dune - you start off driving a tracked aircraft carrier that's 500+ meters long across a desert planet and go larger from there.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 14, 2016
I don't even know what Homeward is, but I am unfeasibly excited by 500m long aircraft carrier/tank hybrid.

Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 14, 2016
Here's the trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7ior9JoUE0

Blarkon would have you know...

Posted January 14, 2016
Homeworld is based very heavily on the Chris Foss art aesthetic of those late 70's early 80's SF art covers.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 14, 2016
Whoa did someone shoot the aircraft carrier? I loved that aircraft carrier.

Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted January 14, 2016
Bastards with orbital weapons. They must be stopped.

HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 14, 2016
That rocked..fkn last section.....ZAP....FROM FKN ORBIT!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 15, 2016
It's the only way to be sure.

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Dave W reckons...

Posted January 14, 2016
Boys are responsible for all these stories, right?

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Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted January 14, 2016
Good to see the Dictator class cruiser in there. Stalwart of my second line in my Battlefleet Gothic days.

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Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted January 16, 2016
Someone needs to filk that famous Mental as Anything song for Eve Online...yes indeed

The Ships are getting Bigger.

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The fat goes where?

Posted December 31, 2015 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

You'll understand my current interest in any seasonally relevent article about losing weight. This one, by Dr Karl about where fat goes when it goes away, is gross but fascinating:

When your body burns fat, it has to inhale lots of oxygen from the air (78 molecules of oxygen to burn one molecule of triglyceride).

Suppose you want to lose 10 kilograms of fat. That means you're going to have to add 29 kilograms of oxygen. That's a lot of breathing, and huffing and puffing. And to finish the process, you're going to get rid of 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water.

And how are you going to get rid of this 39 kilograms of carbon dioxide and water? Overwhelmingly, by breathing them out.

You might lose a tiny amount of this water as sweat or urine. But the vast majority of those atoms that originally made up triglyceride molecules exit your mouth and nose as carbon dioxide and water. However, you have to do a lot of breathing – each breath removes only 33 milligrams of carbon dioxide.

This means that your main excretory organ is your lungs.


My lungs are gonna be working overtime through January. I didn't pack on my normal five kilo christmas pudding, but the tummy eel is looking undeniably well fed.

14 Responses to ‘The fat goes where?’

Barnesm reckons...

Posted December 31, 2015
and that carbon dioxide was made up of carbon forged in an exploding star.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted December 31, 2015
For the first time ever I've managed to maintain some consistency with my workout plan, even though I got sick with a four week long sinus infection, and stayed true to my eating plan. Thus, for the first time ever for December, I'm not hauling around extra weight.

How did I do it?

1. Swim three to five days a week, 500 yards usually.
2. Lift two to four days a week. Fell off during the sinus infection.
3. Walk our Boston Rat Terrorist everday.
4. Eat breakfast, usually a carb (oatmeal or croissant), a fruit (an apple), and a protein (hard salami).
5. Have a cheat day, usually Saturday or Sunday after payday.
The only mystery to me is that over the past six weeks I've been hitting the bourbon and beer on an almost daily basis. Normally that is a mixture for disaster but not this time. The only thing I can think of is that I take enough melatonin to knock me out at night, ensuring that I get sufficient sleep.

Hopefully come spring with tax season I'll get a refund check and use that to purchase a bicycle. If I ride back and forth to my summer lifeguard job, well, I don't think I'll have any body fat left.

Or I'll break a collarbone again. Who knows?

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted December 31, 2015
I kept up my gym visits, and jujitsu ran thru until a week before Christmas, which helps. But naturally I ate two or three times my own body weight in Christmas treats.

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted January 1, 2016
I suppose a blessing of GERD is that there is a long list of foods I can not eat, most of which fall under the very tasty category.

Still, I had some bacon this morning. With my apple. So I'm good.

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HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted December 31, 2015
I'm still in FKN DENIAL!!!!!

Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 3, 2016
Wrestle the crocodiles, that should burn a few calories and get the heart rate up.

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HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 31, 2015
you been talking with FITZ?
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/peter-fitzsimons-how-i-gave-up-the-grog-20151202-gldn92.html

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted December 31, 2015
I sent him an email after reading that, warning him the Fat Acceptance Jihad would be after his skinny arse now.

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Spanner is gonna tell you...

Posted December 31, 2015
Thanks to a tummy bug I'm 4kg lighter post Christmas.
In other news suck it tubbies.

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Spanner asserts...

Posted December 31, 2015
That said barfing up your own body weight in ham is not a feasible long term weight loss plan.

NBlob mutters...

Posted December 31, 2015
Told you that efnic food was worse for the digestion than a Greybeard story.

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 1, 2016
I've extended the Christmas blow out into New Year, by having a couple of friends around for roast beef and Guardians of the Galaxy last night. They brought two tubs of Connoisseur ice cream for dessert, 2/3 of which are still in my freezer, singing their siren song. I also cannibalised the battery out of my bathroom scales to go in the remote for the old Apple TV my brother handed down to me, so I can't even hop on the scales and guilt myself into exercising. I anticipate denial will last to mid January when I finally finish off all the Christmas chocolates I've been given. I moved house in September, and now I'm situated across from a lovely big park that I anticipate I'll start staggering around as my latent exercise regime boots up in late January. Mustn't rush into these things :P

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 2, 2016
You have to eat those chocolates. It's the only way to get rid of them.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted January 2, 2016
EXACTLY! It would be rude to make the people who gave them to me help me eat them. I"m sure they've got chocolates of their own to get through.

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Christmas buying guide: neural-nanonic wetware

Posted December 19, 2015 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

The last ep of the Clockwise podcast (four technology topics, four contributors, thirty minutes) featured listener questions for its last episode this year, and I am ridiculously excited to announce they used mine:

"Apple, Goolge and Microsoft all release neural nanonic wetware. The Internet in your head! Which one are you gonna buy?"

I work in media. I shouldn't get excited by this. But I do. I really, really do.

It's the last question, so scrub to the final third if you must. But the whole show is always worth a listen. I especially enjoy it when driving kids to school. The shorter length makes it a complete experience.

Link's here.

3 Responses to ‘Christmas buying guide: neural-nanonic wetware ’

Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 19, 2015
Apple's is shiny, expensive, and you have to have brain surgery each year to ensure that you have the current shiny because the last shiny just makes you feel sick thinking that there are people with current shiny. Shatters if you trip over and requires a special case to avoid having the finish ruined.
The Google one just uploads all your thoughts to the GooglePlex and sells them to advertisers. Any dreams that you have are published to YouTube and you won't get renumerated for them because "information wants to be free". Supported until the next version comes out.
The Microsoft ones are clunky and require patches before they work properly. End up being the most functional but the least cool. People with neckbeards mod them to run Linux which gives them greater smugness but less functionality. Supported for the next decade and come with a free Office 365 trial and McCaffee anti-bad though malware.

KreepyKrawly reckons...

Posted December 20, 2015
Don't forget the blank look while it reboots after the inevitable BSOD...

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NBlob asserts...

Posted December 20, 2015
Something something about the Digital Divide, the new disadvantaged & their resilience to malware/ hack/ 5 eyes/ sneaky smurf/ creepy marketing/ platform instability.

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Dark Matter blamed for dinosaur killing

Posted December 11, 2015 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

This story in the Herald is pretty cool. But it would have been cooler if the dark matter sucked the dinosaurs off the planet into a passing singularity. Professor Randall's hypothesis is kind of banal by comparison.

In her book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, acclaimed Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall outlines a complex – and radical theory – that goes something like this: about 66 million years ago, gravitational perturbations caused by a thin pancake-shaped disc of dark matter in the Milky Way galaxy dislodged icy comets in the Oort cloud at the very edge of the known solar system, resulting in the fiery meteoroid that eventually crash-landed in the Yucatan, leading to the mass extinction of more than 75 per cent of life on the planet in the process.

11 Responses to ‘Dark Matter blamed for dinosaur killing’

pitpat would have you know...

Posted December 11, 2015

Hmmm maybe but probably not. I haven't read the book nor the article but that has never prevented an uniformed pontification . I will admit to being an earth scientist and I am being paid to have a look at the east coast of Australia up round an old goldfield north of Brisbane.

So the first problem I can see being raised is the existence gravitational waves associated with dark matter. As far as I know these waves have not been measured or observed nor for that matter has 'dark matter'. It is the old correlation does not equal causation argument that geologists love to have. Sure it is an expected outcome from theoretical work and has apparently a very small signal in comparison to the 'noise' of the universe which would then have only a small ability to impart motive force.

Secondly I would propose a non-exotic model that does not deny the now obvious smacking the earth took at the end of the Cretaceous ( 66Mya) but places the impact in context of larger earth driven events. For example on the east coast of Aus from about 120-90Mya there has in recent years ( last decade or so ) been a recognition that a large extrusive event(s) ( see volcanoes, faults, plumes, rift valley formation etc) contributed > 2 000 000 cubic km to continental east coast of the Australian continent. Similar events are noted in Sth America and the Antarctic.

As much as I like the narrative arc of massive asteroid caused by gravitational waves which in turn had been caused by dark matter wiping out dinosaurs it would be really good to have some repeatable data or experiment against which we could test this hypothesis. Otherwise I might have to invoke the Skylords or great spaghetti monster as a causation.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted December 11, 2015
"nor for that matter has 'dark matter'."
The Clooney Thesis. You're forgetting the Clooney Thesis!

pitpat has opinions thus...

Posted December 11, 2015

Damn it, your right How could I forget the Clooney Thesis. Just to be sure are you talking about the much maligned paper : Periodicity of Non-Orbital Bodies J.Theor. Phys 1993 Clooney, G. submitted as part of the doctoral work between his work on 'The Harvest' and just before 'E.R.'

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted December 11, 2015
And in this way, The Wave was explained to waiting, desperate readers at long last.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted December 11, 2015
I didn't think the Syfy series/comic was that bad. I preferred series the Killjoys but even so to be retrospectively responsible for the C-T extinction is a bit much.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted December 11, 2015
I'm still confident that Greybeard et them.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted December 12, 2015
I prefer a simpler explanation: time travelers from the future visiting the Cretaceous accidentally discovered that - like their avian descendants - dinosaurs are delicious. They used time machines to supply a wildly popular global chain of fast food retail outlets called KFD (Kentucky Fried Dinosaur - "it's talon- lickin' good") and, consequent to free market capitalism, ate the dinosaurs into extinction. And why not? The KT-Event was going to render them extinct anyway.

Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 12, 2015
totally as described by Pat Mills in 2000ad https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesh_(comics) all based on a true story

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted December 13, 2015
Mills totally stole that idea from me. Just like Musk stole my idea for PayPal - including the name. Why does this keep happening to me? Perhaps the aluminum foil helmet I wear when I leave my aluminum foil fortified home isn't sturdy enough to stymie unscrupulous gypsy mind readers in league with the Russian mafia.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 13, 2015
Of course I have a particular reason to find the Term KT event particularly sobering.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2015
Sobering? Not the word I expected. Your personal KT-Event - although world-shaking and
destiny altering - wasn't an extinction event. Quite the opposite.

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