>A recent article in the New Yorker about asteroids (“Vermin Of The Sky”, February 28 issue) includes this interesting tidbit:

“In 3123 B.C., a Sumerian astronomer reported seeing a bolide a kilometre wide streaking across the sky like a ‘white stone bowl approaching’. Along its path over Sodom and Gomorrah, en route to crashing in the Austrian Alps, it would have broiled those below at temperatures reaching seven hundred and fifty degrees. A pair of British astronautical engineers, Mark Hempsell and Alan Bond, argue that the bolide inspired the Greek myth of Phaeton — who lost control of his father’s sun chariot and plunged to Earth — and was also responsible for the demise of Ötzi, the mummified ‘ice man’ found in the Alps, in 1991, with an arrowhead in his shoulder. One suggestion is that Ötzi was sacrificed afterward to placate the gods, but Hempsell believes that he died in the explosion, and points out that if you’re about to be hit by a colossal shock wave, ‘having a quiver full of arrows on your back is not a good idea.’

Oh, please. Just because two things are found to have happened in the same millennium sometime long long ago doesn’t mean they have to be connected to each other.
The Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics at the Vienna University of Technology has this to say about that place where the bolide supposedly crashed:

The Köfels rockslide (Ötztal, Tirol, Austria) is recognized as the largest rockslide in the crystalline Alps. This event took place about 8700 radiocarbon years BP. The geoscientific community became more interested in this event, when fused rock was found at different sites of the rockslide deposits (“Pumice of Köfels”). These findings gave rise to numerous theories about the cause of the rockslide. Most probably it developed from deep creep and it is now in a post-failure state. In order to bring more light into the whole process refraction and reflection seismic measurements were carried out in the period from 1986 to 1997. Structural models of the compact rock topography, the basal sliding plane and the old valley fill overthrusted by the rockslide, the post-failure topography, and the pre-failure topography were constructed on the basis of this new information and the previously existing evidence. Characteristic parameters like the volume of the rockslide mass, the initial and average sliding angle and the release of potential energy were calculated. The pre-failure volume of the rockslide mass was determined to 3.28 km3. The structural models of the rockslide support purely geomechanical theories of the possible causes of the rockslide. Arguments are the sudden deepening of the erosional basis of the Ötz Valley by about 300 m at the upstream margin of the rockslide and the significant change of the state of stress at the toe of the slope after the retreat of the last main glaciation.

Which says to me that they don’t consider an asteroid crash as a serious theory for the Bergsturz. And yet the New Yorker tells me that not only is it a given, but killed Ötzi too. There is not even adequate evidence that he was sacrificed, as 1) he had all his travel stuff with him, and 2) high-altitude human sacrifices, like those carried out in the Andes, were not known to have happened here. But lets not let facts get in the way of a few good assumptions! If we can tie in Noah’s Ark somehow and the demise of the unicorn, even better.

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10 Responses to >LOLWHUT?

  1. Astrid says:

    >LOL! I love The New Yorker dearly (although I'm always about a month or so behind in it), and I do believe a lot of what they publish. Should this sway my faith? ;-D

  2. Marcellina says:

    >I love it too, it has literally helped keep me sane for over 15 years living overseas. I looked this up because I wanted to find the location of that asteroid-hit spot, and only found unserious sites, all quoting the same work without a thought. I'm giving the NYer a pass but keeping my eye on them… 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    >You should write a letter to the New Yorker editor! -Carlisle

  4. Marcellina says:

    >I assume I'm too late, it's not the most recent issue.

  5. Astrid says:

    >That's the problem – who has the time to read the whole thing in a week? I don't know how anyone who's not retired can keep up with it 😀

  6. Astrid says:

    >Come to think of it, maybe I should add that to my list of Retirement Resolutions: when I retire, I shall write real letters, bake lots of sweet treats and invite friends over for tea and coffee, and read the whole New Yorker before the next issue comes!

  7. MsMezzo says:

    >Yes! write a letter to the editor! Its never too late…and most definitely yes to Astrid baking lots of sweet treats and inviting friends over..we'll discuss the New Yorker and dissect the contents over tea! I love this idea.-Becca

  8. Marcellina says:

    >OK, I'll take a stab at it after the Fanciulla premiere this weekend!

  9. Astrid says:

    >All right! I'll look for your letter, and expect you both over as soon as we can all work out the retirement thing… ;-D

  10. Paschberg says:

    >A new kind of pyramidology! 😉

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