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Comic for September 15, 2019

Dilbert - September 16, 2019 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

Here’s what happened in the impact crater the day it did in the dinos

Ars Technica - 2 hours 57 min ago

Enlarge / This is "Liftboat Myrtle," which housed the drilling operation into Chicxulub Crater. (credit: Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin)

Geology is a big science. The Earth is a large enough place today, but when you stretch the fourth dimension back across many millions of years, the largeness can get out of hand. Because we lose a lot of detail to the ravages of time, it's very difficult for geology to get small again—to tell us about what happened in individual locations or over short periods of time.

So it's not every day that you read a scientific paper titled "The first day of the Cenozoic." The Cenozoic is the name geologists give to the era spanning the last 66 million years, and it started with the mass extinction event that killed off (most of) the dinosaurs. There were incredible eruptions that contributed to the extinction event and spanned a considerable amount of time.

But the asteroid that struck off the coast of what is the Yucatán Peninsula today was the opposite—it couldn't have been much more sudden. A recent drilling project recovered a long core of rock from the Chicxulub impact crater, leading to greater clarity about how the calamity played out—including on that first day.

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How do you leave a warning that lasts as long as nuclear waste?

Ars Technica - 4 hours 27 min ago

Enlarge / Ominous looking skies you've got there... (credit: © Emily Graham for Mosaic)

In January 1997, the crew of a fishing vessel in the Baltic Sea found something unusual in their nets: a greasy yellowish-brown lump of clay-like material. They pulled it out, placed it on deck and returned to processing their catch. The next day, the crew fell ill with serious skin burns. Four were hospitalized. The greasy lump was a substance called yperite, better known as sulfur mustard or mustard gas, solidified by the temperature on the sea bed.

At the end of the World War II, the US, British, French and Soviet authorities faced a big problem—how to get rid of some 300,000 tonnes of chemical munitions recovered from occupied Germany. Often, they opted for what seemed the safest, cheapest and easiest method: dumping the stuff out at sea.

Read 67 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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