Skip to comments.Earth Punctured By Tiny Cosmic Missles
Posted on 05/11/2002 6:11:38 PM PDT by blam
Earth punctured by tiny cosmic missiles
By Robert Matthews, Science Correspondent
FORGET dangers from giant meteors: Earth is facing another threat from outer space. Scientists have come to the conclusion that two mysterious explosions in the 1990s were caused by bizarre cosmic missiles.
The two objects were picked up by earthquake detectors as they tore through Earth at up to 900,000 mph. According to scientists, the most plausible explanation is that they were "strangelets", clumps of matter that have so far defied detection but whose existence was posited 20 years ago.
Formed in the Big Bang and inside extremely dense stars, strangelets are thought to be made from quarks - the subatomic particles found inside protons and neutrons. Unlike ordinary matter, however, they also contain "strange quarks", particles normally only seen in high-energy accelerators.
Strangelets - sometimes also called strange-quark nuggets - are predicted to have many unusual properties, including a density about ten million million times greater than lead. Just a single pollen-size fragment is believed to weigh several tons.
They are thought to be extremely stable, travelling through the galaxy at speeds of about a million miles per hour. Until now, all attempts to detect them have failed. A team of American scientists believes, however, that it may have found the first hard evidence for the existence of strangelets, after scouring earthquake records for signs of their impact with Earth.
The team, from the Southern Methodist University in Texas, analysed more than a million earthquake reports, looking for the tell-tale signal of strangelets hitting Earth.
While their very high speed gives strangelets a huge amount of energy their tiny size suggests that any effects might be extremely localised, and there is unlikely to be a blast big enough to have widespread effects on the surface.
The scientists looked for events producing two sharp signals, one as it entered Earth, the other as it emerged again. They found two such events, both in 1993. The first was on the morning of October 22. Seismometers in Turkey and Bolivia recorded a violent event in Antarctica that packed the punch of several thousand tons of TNT. The disturbance then ripped through Earth on a route that ended with it exiting through the floor of the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka just 26 seconds later - implying a speed of 900,000 mph.
The second event took place on November 24, when sensors in Australia and Bolivia picked up an explosion starting in the Pacific south of the Pitcairn Islands and travelling through Earth to appear in Antarctica 19 seconds later.
According to the scientists, both events are consistent with an impact with strangelets at cosmic speeds. In a report about to be submitted to the Seismological Society of America, the team of geologists and physicists concludes: "The only explanation for such events of which we are aware is passage through the earth of ton-sized strange-quark nuggets."
Professor Eugene Herrin, a member of the team, said that two strangelets just one-tenth the breadth of a hair would account for the observations. "These things are extremely dense and travel at 40 times the speed of sound straight through the Earth - they'd hardly slow down as they went through."
The good news is that, despite their force, the impact of strangelets on an inhabited area would, probably, be less violent than that of a meteor. Prof Herrin said: "It's very hard to determine what the effect would be. There would probably be a tiny crater but it would be virtually impossible to find anything."
Scientists say that the discovery of strangelets would be a significant breakthrough, solving several long-standing mysteries. These include the nature of "dark matter", which, astronomers say, makes up more than 90 per cent of our galaxy. With their high density and stability, strangelets may account for much of this invisible matter.
Prof Frank Close, a particle physicist at Oxford University, said that confirmation of the events was crucial. "The first step is to see if one can find more examples and eliminate all other interpretations," he said. "If you're looking for very exotic and rare events, you need to be able to tell if it's the real thing or just an artefact."
According to Prof Herrin, the two events agree with predictions for strangelet impacts, which are expected to occur about once a year. He added, however, that finding more would be difficult, as seismic databases now automatically remove all signals not linked to earthquakes. He said: "To find more events we need to get at the data before that happens."
And reporters wonder why people don't respect them!
If these things depend on the "big bang" for their existence, we've no need to worry about them. The big bang is a bunch of BS.
Lots of mass, lots of velocity --- how does this NOT generate a big crater?
For the record: I have nothing whatever to do with that.
Ok, but what if it hits one of the inhabitants of an inhabited are?
They get a free body piercing?
The cross sectional area is small. It can only impart so much momentum to the stuff it knocks out of the way. The several kton TNT equivalent is distributed along a long thin string within the earth, it's not all localized at some point. The thing travels at 250 mile/sec and at 0.1diameter of a human hair there's not a lot you'd find at the surface. Maybe they'd find a long thin glassy rod of rock, extending from the entry point down twords the molten core.
There I was driving along and bang, the back tire blows out for no reason.
It had to be one of these, what else could it have been.
Honest, teacher, a strangelet ate my homework.
I question the findings based on the fact that any two points on the earth can be connected by a straight line. It seems that the research is trying to hang its hat on two siesmic events, happening seconds apart in two different parts of the world. Based on two events, it could be as much coinsidence as an actual discovery.
1. Size and density of the particles:
With dimensions of a arbitrary cube-shape of 0.12 mm at 1x10^14 times the density of lead 9 g/cm^3 works out to one metric ton.
(as the article says). But how can something that large (1/10th mm) go through the earth (about 4000 miles of which is molten and solid iron)... and keep going. I would expect more of a crater and explosion.
2. Relativistic mass factors additional energy.
It is going about 1/10 of 1% of c.
3. Within the past month or so the quark star has been tentatively identified... so this form of matter is otherwise believed to exist, but in a form more dense and trapped in gravity tighter than a neutron star. The "hot" stranglet must come from an early-cosmos event... or the collision of two quark stars?
4. Galactic (extra-solar system) objects (meteorites) are identified by their speeds... anything faster than about 130,000 mph cannot have originated in our solar system. Interesting.
186,000mi/sec x 3,600sec/hr = 669,600,000mi/hr
That's six hundred and sixty-nine million six hundred thousand miles per hour. About the distance it takes a signal to travel from earth to Jupiter (one light hour).
Think of these things as being incredibly small, sharp needles that are made of "unobtainium," weigh a ton, and are going almost a million miles per hour. They blast their way through almost anything because they are virtually indistructable, have almost no cross-sectional area (and hence don't encounter much matter when they penetrate) and have a kinetic energy that Indy race car drivers can only dream of.
Pretty weird stuff.....
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
I checked the thread to see if anyone had already said what I was thinking. You're it.
So I'd rather believe they don't exist! Neutrinos are enough of a worry! ;^)
It's a different kind of matter that doesn't interact in the same way as meteorites.
If this did that, the headline would have been different. Everybody [except those with career interests] wants relativity gone and the person who finally does it wouldn't be concerned with tiny cosmic missiles.
186000 miles per second (300000 km per second). Thats my final answer!
Goodyear Eagles perhaps?
Well, you've certainly blown holes in a few threads! ;-]
My wife made some meatballs out of this stuff once...
I think I see where this is heading....
Yup. I've read 'stuff' like that too. Basically, they're traveling away from each other at about 9/10's the speed of light and if you influence one of the particles (cause it to flip with magnets) the other will do the same. Now, the question is, "what sort of communication is going on between these two" and whatever it is, it has to be traveling well above the speed of light.
There's an interesting article in this months Discover magazine by John Wheeler, titled, "Does The Universe Exist If We're Not Looking?" It deals with human conciousness influencing the future as well as the past. Interesting reading.