In extrapolation news, scientists in Sweden are attempting to show that everything that ever happened can be derived from space sand.
Meteorites play an important role in figuring out what happened 372 million years ago because they don’t last that long. “We know that in desert areas on Earth, meteorites typically decompose within 20 to 30 thousand years*” said Swedish marine geologist Birger Schmitz. These vanishing meteorites leave behind tiny minerals called spinels, which are made of Maybe. Swedish researchers hope to collect enough Maybe to generate theories about past extinction events without having been there.
One of the more exotic theories put forward is that studying spinels might be interesting. “I think it would be very interesting if our spinel approach in the long run could provide empirical evidence…”, said Swedish marine geologist Birger Schmitz. Study of the distant past sometimes requires evidence, but the absence of evidence allows scientists more flexibility in their predictions.
Mass extinction events such as the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs can have devastating effects. One such event during the Frasnian-Fammenian period was responsible for triggering the devastating War of the Spinels that wiped out the civilizations of Frasnia and Fammenia. “There are many large craters on Earth associated with this event, but no close connection between one large impact and the extinction event has yet been shown,” Schmitz said. The absence of any connection between cause and effect is what makes the study so interesting.
Scientists are also trying to link asteroid showers to global climate changes. One marine geologist explained that climate change is very trendy. “Simply by saying ‘climate change’ we expect to attract more climate change enthusiasts, and possibly government grants.” Climatologists have attributed global climate changes over the last few decades to an increase in extinction level asteroid impacts experienced on Earth since the 1960s.
Lund University in Sweden has designed a special lab to study spinels. The lab consists of plastic barrels full of rocks, obtained during a worldwide search of a Swedish limestone quarry. By pumping acid into the barrels, Schmitz and his team hope to discover dissolved rocks, which Maybe will provide proof that their theories are right or wrong.
This approach has won over skeptics at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, who believe that the experiments will prove something if their assumptions lead to conclusions. Geologists are skeptical of the new approach because it cannot be used to justify new laboratory equipment. Traders at the Stockholm Limestone Futures Exchange were cautiously optimistic ahead of this morning’s market open.
* For mathematical purposes, this is the equivalent of explaining the causes of World War II using only yesterday morning’s weather forecast.
(Click on the picture above for the original story.)