[meteorite-list] Hungarian Has Dinosaur 'Wobble' Theory

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:13 2004
Message-ID: <200110191758.KAA07416_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Hungarian Has Dinosaur 'Wobble' Theory
By Gerson Perry
The Budapest Sun
October 18, 2001

The extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago may have been
caused by a kind of astronomical "wobble" in Earth's and Mercury's solar
orbits, according to a new theory being put forward by a group of
California scientists including a Hungarian.

Scientists have long speculated that a giant celestial body slammed into
ancient Earth, near what is now Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, causing
dinosaurs to starve to death after the effects killed-off food sources.

It is unclear whether the object that hit the Earth was a comet or an
asteroid, but 20-year researcher Ferenc Varadi, who hails from Hungary,
said that if he had to guess, he would choose the asteroid theory.

Using computer models, University of California at Los Angeles
professors Bruce Runnegar, Michael Ghil and Varadi tracked planetary
orbits as far back as 250 million years ago.

Varadi, 42, told reporters, "The original intent was to obtain better
data on the orbits of the planets to better understand past changes in
the Earth's climate."

The team's model showed that during the Cretaceous period, gravitational
pushes and pulls with the Sun and other planets created a wobble in the
Earth's orbit.

That wobble, in turn, may have caused Mercury's orbit to wobble.
Gravitational effects of the two celestial wobbles might have forced a
large asteroid to break away from the asteroid belt and smash into

There are thought to be hundreds of thousands of asteroids in our
system, ranging in size from the very small to as large as a mountain.

Most are floating in the main asteroid belt, an elliptical plane between
Mars and Jupiter.

Varadi admitted the scientists' conclusions were largely the result of
assumptions, but added, "This will probably result in a new direction of

He said the discovery would likely attract the interest of other
scientists who would work towards confirming the theory.
Received on Fri 19 Oct 2001 01:58:08 PM PDT

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