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‘Dinosaur eggs’ on Comet 67P



Will the ESA find sea plankton here? If so, that's further evidence of creation.

No, the European Space Agency’s Philae lander did not find literal dinosaur eggs on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The experts at the imaging team for Philae’s high-resolution OSIRIS camera gave that name to what they did find. These large, rounded boulders, one to three meters across, cover the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Those experts, according to Eric Hand, journalist for Science, call these the building blocks of comets. They probably speak correctly. But they might not know a certain creation scientist said thirteen years ago astronomers would find such rounded boulders on comets.

‘Dinosaur eggs’ show clearly

The ESA, and more particularly the OSIRIS imaging team, only yesterday (22 January 2015) released high-resolution images of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In image after image, these rounded boulders, or “dinosaur eggs,” or “goosebumps,” show up. Eric Hand first wrote about these features on 18 December 2014. (He also called Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko the “breakthrough of the year.”) Holger Sierks, the head of the OSIRIS imaging team, called them “cometesimals.” But scientists could not agree on what they were seeing. The OSIRIS team did not help matters by refusing to release the high-resolution pictures.

Yesterday, they finally released them, according to the ESA and the BBC. Today Science devoted a special issue to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In it, Eric Hand described the wonders of the Rosetta/Philae mission to that comet. The ESA found no “boring lump of ice and dust.” It found a wealth of surface features. Including these “dinosaur eggs” in several features on the comet surface.

But neither Eric Hand nor any scientist who saw the “dinosaur eggs” knew what they really meant. They concentrated on how these boulders could come together to form a comet. But they did not discuss what process rounded those boulders before they came together to form Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Aggregation barrier

Walt Brown, of the Center for Scientific Creation, thinks he knows. About thirteen years ago, he said, “Most of the rocks (pebble-size and larger) comprising asteroids and comets will be found to be rounded to some degree. This rounding occurred as they tumbled and were eroded in the powerful fountains of the great deep.” In other words, they were part of the water, rock and mud that flew out into space about 5300 years ago (give or take a hundred years). The earth’s crust cracked open and let out a subcrustal ocean, under crushing pressure. The waters rushed out in a hypersonic jet at 32 miles per second. With it they carried rock and mud from a cliff system forty-six thousand miles long, and at least ten, and maybe twenty-five, miles high. These were the sides of the first crack. This crack, or seam, winds completely around the ocean. Today we call it the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system. The jet then widened this crack 400 miles on each side. And as these rocks rushed through the atmosphere, the friction rounded them, much as sandblasting might do.

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The waters that did not escape, made the Global Flood. They then receded into the present Atlantic and Pacific Basins.

The scientists whom Eric Hand interviewed for his articles, of course, believe the opposite theory: the comets formed from material in the original “solar nebula.” Comets falling to earth delivered the water that formed the rivers, lakes, and oceans we know today.

But those scientists have a problem. The pictures don’t help them resolve it, either.

Eric Hand called this problem the “aggregation barrier.”

It is relatively easy to get small pieces of dust to stick together, because of electrostatic forces and van der Waals forces (tiny forces arising from the polarity of molecules). But once these clumps get much bigger than a centimeter, high-speed collisions result in disintegrations rather than bigger clumps. So modelers have had to come up with ways to get these centimeter-sized clumps to cluster together into the larger objects that eventually become comets. There is some evidence that small clumps are the fundamental building blocks: Many asteroids are made of chondrules, small beads on the scale of a centimeter or less.

But these new “dinosaur eggs” are not a centimeter or less across. They are one to three meters across. Carey Lisse, at The Johns Hopkins University, expressed the surprise, and the vexation, of most conventional astronomers: “We’re getting not marbles but dinosaur eggs. They’re about a factor of 10 to 100 bigger than predicted.” Lisse admitted: either those “dinosaur eggs” are themselves aggregates of smaller objects, or the astronomy establishment must re-examine their entire concept of how comets came together.

How did it happen?

Walt Brown discussed the problem today with CNAV. Lisse and the others all assume the objects collided. Of course objects larger than a centimeter across would shatter. So: those objects did not collide. Instead they swam together in a cloud of mostly water vapor. Then a “seed rock,” as much as 200 meters across, would pull in smaller rocks. The rocks would fall in slowly at first, then faster as the mass would grow. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Brown says, formed from two such swarms of rocks. One became the “head” of the “rubber duckie” shape of the comet, and the other became its body. The two merged, likely at the “crack” in the “neck” of the comet.

“They [the conventional astronomers] can’t imagine that gas being there,” says Brown, because within a year, let alone a million years, that vapor should dissipate.” That, he says, offers further proof the comets formed rapidly and recently.

Brown chuckled at another image the ESA released: a graphic showing several statistics about Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The density of the comet caught his eye: 470 kilograms per cubic meter, less dense than one of the large moons of Saturn and, of course, less than half the density of water or ice (1,000 kilograms per cubic meter). That suggests the comet has “voids”: largely empty caverns that once held water vapor. Which the comet still releases, at a rate of 1200 millilitres per second at last report.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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