October 20, 2004
Carbon Coating Hiding Many Dangerous Comets?

Bill Napier, Chandra Wickramasinghe, and his daughter, Cardiff University student Janaki Wickramasinghe have proposed that there may be hundreds of comets in Sun's orbit that are so dark that optical methods will fail to detect them before they collide with Earth.

Napier worked with Chandra Wickramasinghe, an astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales, to explain the comets' invisibility. Wickramasinghe has suggested that Sedna, the most distant body identified in our Solar System, could have an orbiting twin that is dark, fluffy and made of tarry carbon compounds (see "Sedna 'has invisible moon'").

As Sedna may be a member of the Oort cloud, Napier thinks that other members of the cloud could be equally dark. Once ejected, the tarry comets would simply suck up visible light, he says, remaining cloaked in darkness. "Photons go in, but they don't come out."

Infrared telescopes may be able to detect dark comets.

Because dark matter emits little light it will be invisible to optical telescopes, but it might emit infrared radiation and be able to be picked up by infra- red telescopes.

As yet no such object has definitely been found in the solar system. But Prof Wickramasinghe believes that if there is one, there may well be hundreds, lurking beyond the outer planets of Neptune and Pluto.

Such comets may require defenses that can deflect them within fairly short distances from Earth.

Here we demonstrate that the surfaces of inactive comets, if composed of loose, fluffy organic material like cometary meteoroids, develop reflectivities that are vanishingly small in visible light. The near-Earth objects may therefore be dominated by a population of fast, multi-kilometre bodies too dark to be seen with current near-Earth object surveys. Deflection strategies that assume decades or centuries of warning before impact are inapplicable to this hazard.

If it was my decision to make I'd divert NASA money from either manned programs or space probe programs toward the detection of objects in the Sun's orbit that are dangerous enough to kill a lot of humans and toward the development of methods for diverting such objects away from collision courses with Earth. What would be going through your mind if you just heard on the radio a report that we were all going to die tomorrow due to a massive asteroid or comet just discovered to be on a collision course for Earth? I'd be thinking that we were total fools and idiots for failing to develop defenses against such a threat.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 October 20 03:51 PM  Dangers Natural General

David A. Young said at October 21, 2004 9:26 AM:

Unfortunately, the oh-so-enlightened wights we elect as our "leaders" seem unable to comprehend the danger of falling bricks until they actually take one between the eyes . . . at which point it's kinda moot. Our BEST defense against possible impactors, as opposed to a particular program, is just to have lots of infrastructure and lots of people doing lots of things in and around the solar system. This gives us the best chance of spotting unforseen dangers coming from unforseen directions, as well as varied in-situ resources to deal with them. Unfortunately, again, we needed to have been building that level of resources and activity over the last several decades. Accepting the world as it exists (which I do only grudgingly), I agree with your proscription. Determining whether there's microbial life on Mars is of little value if microbes are all that's left on Earth to consider the data.

Eric Pobirs said at October 22, 2004 9:43 AM:

The key, as with so many things related to space, is low-cost launch systems that be deployed on short notice. NASA is adamantly resistant to both of these features. You'd have a vastly better chance of good results from giving this task to the Navy or Air Force. NASA needs to be taken out behind the barn and shot.

Tim O'Donohue said at October 22, 2004 11:00 AM:

"If it was my decision to make I'd divert NASA money from either manned programs or space probe programs toward the detection of objects in the Sun's orbit that are dangerous enough to kill a lot of humans and toward the development of methods for diverting such objects away from collision courses with Earth. What would be going through your mind if you just heard on the radio a report that we were all going to die tomorrow due to a massive asteroid or comet just discovered to be on a collision course for Earth? I'd be thinking that we were total fools and idiots for failing to develop defenses against such a threat."

Currently, we are total fools and idiots. The last time I checked, the total budget for the NEO (Near Earth Object) problem was less than 3% of the overall NASA budget. This included detection and mitigation research. I would love to go see Mars as much as the next guy, and a space station sure sounds swell, but there isn't much point in any of these projects if we do discover a potentially harmful NEO. The issue simply doesn't garner enough attention. There are scientists at NASA working like mad to get more funding for these projects, but they never get the attention they deserve.

Thank you, thank you, thank you......I have been waiting to hear someone say this louder for a long time....

Ispdrudge said at October 28, 2004 4:15 PM:

A dark, carbonaceous body won't reflect much light, but it will absorb a lot of heat, and radiate strongly
when it gets hot enough. And it should get hot as it swings by the sun, which is why an infrared telescope might have a better chance of seeing it.
Something described as "tarry" should
liquify if it gets as close as the orbit of Mercury, which is said to have molten metals on its sunward side.
It doesn't seem likely that a tarry comet would survive long, if its orbit brought it very close to the Sun.
If its orbit is not very elliptical, won't there be less chance of it crossing our orbit?

DougBuchanan.com said at October 28, 2004 4:20 PM:

Would you prefer fully adequate funding for scientific endeavors which seek to identify and resolve contradictions which orginate within the design of the universe, exclusive of the human-caused contradictions, such as the potential contradiction to humans, of WHEN a large object or matter will strike earth with sufficient force to conclude its surface life experiment?

Too easy.

But the minds of all scientists refuse to ask and answer the questions to resolve the controlling contradiction of scientists, as an identified institution to which the minds of scientists ascribe to thus alter their perceptions, for reason, by design which they could easily discover to thus resolve the contradiction if they simply asked and answered certain effective questions.

And they do not hold the incentive, simple courage, curiosity or patience to ask real questions of the inordinately useful words you are reading.

If A equal B, and B equal each letter of the alphabet to Z, then A equals each letter of the alphabet to Z. If your mind, a contradiction identification and resolution device, has been so intensely trained by all your institutional trainers, such as parents, adults, school teachers, experts, friends, government officials and their institutional ilk, to intensely focus on devising the resolutions to the enduring problems B through Z, and throughout human history, by design of the human mind, every human mind of any rhetorically identified instutition responded with every form of intense negative reaction to any question of problem A, a contradiction which defines institutions of two or more people who identify their otherwise individual mind by a reference word that does not hold an individual human brain, such as the self-flattering and thus mental process altering words, scientists, friends, adults, and other such words, then that not-effectively questioned, unresolved contradiction will flaw all perceptions of the alphabet of other contradictions, and humans will therefore exist in year 2004, with a classic indicator of the aforementioned, among countless others, of nearly all humans, including the war-makers, whining about the contradictions, unpleasantries and damages of wars, while wars still remain as a highly popular and majority supported mechanism used by humans as their perception of resolving the contradictions that are verifiably created by wars, perpetually leaving inadequate human time and energy (money) for learning how to resolve the contradictions not created by humans, by learnable design of the human phenomenon, much to the howling laughter of the observers.

Is that not so?

Can complex contradictions, or even simple ones, be sustainably resolved with a process containing a controlling contradiction left in place?

Is not the total energy of humans, as it is utilized at this time, insufficient to resolve a currently unresolved contradiction?

Other than creating a larger number of humans who are enamored with creating more contradictions, a slow and self-stagnating process, is not a reasonable resolution to the contradiction identified by the above question, that of altering the current utilization of human energy, and therefore learning how to do so regardless of current opposition by institutionally trained human minds?

Is not the human mind capable of learning how to promptly resolve a human-caused contradiction, by design of its origin?

If scienists, or individuals, were sufficiently intelligent to learn how to resolve seeming contradictions illuminated by phenomena of the universe, would such chaps not be sufficiently intelligent to more readily resolve contradictions created by the human mind, and thus whose origin already exists within the design of their own mind, if they started questioning the controlling contradictions which previously obscured access to the origins of those contradictions?

The controlling contradiction of the human mind, a designed, identifiable and learnable phenomenon, when not learned and thus not resolved, precludes it from identifying the resolutions of a vast array of other contradictions, clearly illuminated by the test of time and the constant whining of humans, and would be the priority of rational adults to teach their young if a controlling concept did not cause the mind of the adult to induce a contradicted neural process upon its identification of a rhetorical illusion, such as the perception of being an adult or scientist, teaching thus flawed knowledge to young or students, when there is no separate design of adult, young, scientist or student minds.

Consider the questions which would easily destroy the existence of the adult and scientist institutions, including that of neurologists, and thus mental process self-identified as such, which adults and scientists would admantly refuse to answer, by intense institutional training, to protect their mind's addicting perception of their superior institutions, or those insitutions would not exist as separate from individual minds referenced as such, to therefore leave them ignorant of the knowledge, to therefore leave a controlling contradiction in place, and thus still be whining about inadequate funding for scientific endeavors while expending that percentage of their energy functionally supporting the common social processes to imprison, kill or otherwise damage the other guy, his highly useful mind, to thus create those contradictions, among other such self-contradicting processes, which is that percentage available to humans, which could resolve currently unresolved contradictions whose origin is perceived as the universe, by design.

Start asking those questions. You will be ostracized by scientists and every other institution, but you will learn what humans have been desperately attempting to learn since their invention. And you will laugh the laughter sought by all humans.

You will learn how to promptly shift all counter-productive human energy to genuine advancement of human knowledge, much to your inordinate entertainment.

Or simply stop whining about inadequate funding or human effort available to resolve contradictions that could kill humans, such as comets whizzing out of control through their universe, while humans are busy attacking and killing each other, their otherwise useful minds. That first easy resolution of the contradiction can eliminate an array of perceived contradictions, that can therefore free a controlling percentage of your mind's time and neural process, to thus use it to start learning how to re-allocate currently counter-productive human energy, regardless of opposition by less-thinking human minds.

You cannot create or use a reference other than your individual mind, with only your original, give name, without inducing a controlling contradiction that will alter your mind's perceptions to preclude your access to the knowledge that resolves all human-caused contradictions. But your mind cannot understand the utility of the that sentence until you divest yourself of all your institutional titles and their institutional benefits, to thus verify your resulting questions and answers, much to the amusement of the observers.

Odd lot these humans, a superlative comedy, by design. Would you not agree?

May you learn the most knowledge of the most concepts, most efficiently.

And you may inquire. Excessive funding for hard sciences is laughably too easy.


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