January 30, 2013
Clovis Comet Hypothesis Called ‘Bogus’ By Credible Scientist
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Researchers are contradicting one hypothesis that comet explosions may have ended the 9,000-year-old Clovis culture.
The Clovis comet hypothesis was first reported in 2007, claiming a comet initiated the Younger Dryas cold period nearly 13,000 years ago. This period, also known as the Big Freeze, was a brief period of cold climatic conditions and drought, causing the collapse of the North American ice sheets.
According to the hypothesis, a swarm of comet fragments set areas of the North American continent on fire and helped cause the extinction of the North American Clovis culture after the last glacial period. This culture of prehistoric Paleo-Indian peoples were known for their distinct stone tools, found at sites near Clovis, New Mexico.
Mark Boslough and researchers from 14 academic institutions have put up a strong argument against this hypothesis and wrote about it in a monograph during the December 2012 American Geophysical Union.
Boslough has a tradition of understanding the effects of comet and asteroid collisions and gained notoriety when a publication ran about how the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with the planet Jupiter could be visible from Earth.
"It was a gamble and could have been embarrassing if we were wrong," Boslough wrote in a statement. "But I had been watching while Shoemaker-Levy 9 made its way across the heavens and realized it would be close enough to the horizon of Jupiter that the plumes would show."
He and his team's prediction was backed by simulations from Sandia National Laboratories' Intel Paragon supercomputer. Simulations from this massive supercomputer helped to check his theory back in 1994 and increase his credibility.
With loads of accreditation to his name, Boslough set out to look into the theory the Clovis civilization was doomed as a result of a comet.
As Boslough rebutted the comet hypothesis, he was faced with opposition from the scientific community which used his own idea as simulations for the hypothesis. Scientists had the backing of the scientific journal Science, as well as a documentary by Nova, showing his flawed thinking in rebutting the comet hypothesis.
However, Boslough put the call out for carbon dating of the major evidence provided by those who did not like he had cast doubt on the theory. These tests helped to raise red flags to those critical of the impact hypothesis.
Boslough told Sandia National Laboratories the contaminated samples, coupled with irregularities reported in the background of one member of the opposing team, were enough for Nova to pull the documentary from its list of science shows available for streaming.
“Just because a culture changed from Clovis to Folsom spear points didn´t mean their civilization collapsed,” he explained. “They probably just used another technology. It´s like saying the phonograph culture collapsed and was replaced by the iPod culture.”
He said there is no "plausible mechanism" to get airbursts over an entire continent. “For this and other reasons, we conclude that the impact hypothesis is, unfortunately, bogus.”