Asteroid games

Iron sulfide, or pyrite, is a perfect metaphor for spending government money to drag an asteroid to earth and land on it.
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Why is the federal government planning to bring an asteroid into orbit around the Moon? Even in “flush times” that would be a bad investment. It’s a worse investment with the country, and the world, in debt already almost non-repay-able. Especially when the world faces a natural disaster closer to home.

The Asteroid Mission

The liberal magazine Mother Jones first broke the story yesterday. As everyone knows, de facto President Barack H. Obama released a budget. One item of that budget interested their correspondent, Asawin Suebsaeng: to capture an asteroid and tow it to the Moon.

This seems more like a Newtonian (as in Gingrich) idea. But on Friday afternoon, the office of Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) blasted out a press release disclosing that Obama’s forthcoming budget includes a $100 million plan to tow an asteroid into moon orbit. And this will be done for freedom—that is, for the purpose of saving the planet Earth from complete annihilation. (This is not about just serving the Democratic Party’s base.)

Kudos to Asawin Suebsaeng for being honest and consistent. And for respecting neither persons nor parties when either one proposes something idiotic.

(Aside: Bill Nelson complained that Rep. Connie Mack, also of Florida, voted against a bill of goodies for NASA three years ago. But why? Not so that Americans would never again go into space. But because Connie Mack felt certain parts of it were a waste of money! Among them: building a heavy-lift rocket. Mack called it a “rocket to nowhere.” And even then-Representative Gabby Giffords voted against it, this although her husband was an astronaut!

Here is Senator Nelson’s press release. Nelson points proudly to the asteroid mission. He calls it part of a “broader program” leading to human beings living in space. Permanently.

That press release is full of:

  • Boasts of bringing home the bacon. Here’s a good name for that asteroid mission: Project Wild Boar. Oink, oink.
  • Fanciful language, meant to appeal to little boys who want to grow up to be astronauts. “Monster rocket”? Is that the language of a United States Senator?

As bad as this is, the actual plan, as Senator Nelson sketched it out, is worse. Of course, if you’re going to capture an asteroid, what will you do with it? Here’s what the plan amounts to:

  1. Go out and capture an asteroid, one weighing at least 500 tons.
  2. Bring it back to orbit the Moon.
  3. Then send an astronaut crew to land on it.

This is their bold plan? Why not a plan to land on the asteroid where it is? Why go to the trouble of towing it in? Just to land on it?

Nelson does mention mining the asteroid. But can we assume any asteroid we grabbed out of its orbit would have mineral wealth? 96 asteroids out of 100 are made of common stone – which means silicon. We can get that from common sand! True, the other four are made of iron, or an iron-nickel alloy. And iron in space would be more valuable than iron on earth – if you’re going to build something in space. But you don’t go somewhere to build a house, or a camp, with whatever materials you find there, just for the fun of it! Not if you have any economic sense, you don’t.

Nelson drops an impressive array of names, including a (for him) home name: Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. Why they would have anything to do with space science, Nelson won’t explain. But he drops this quote:

It would be mankind’s first attempt at modifying the heavens to enable the permanent settlement of humans in space.

Modifying the heavens? Ah, ahem, AHEM! Some-One might have a thing or two to say about that:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? (Job 38:4, NASB)

Do asteroids pose a threat?

Iron sulfide, or pyrite, is a perfect metaphor for spending government money to drag an asteroid to earth and land on it.

Iron sulfite, pyrite, or fool’s gold. A metaphor for grand missions to asteroids. Photo: Oregon State University, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License

Obviously, politicians (and maybe some grant-hungry scientists, movie makers, and other “suits”) want you to think so. Gull enough taxpayers and investors, and you can live like a king, and each person you gulled would barely feel the pinch. So let’s take anything a politician or a think-tanker says with a few micrograms of sodium chloride. Or iron (III) oxide. Or maybe iron sulfide.

Part of the reason Nelson gave for towing an asteroid into orbit around the moon, is figuring out how to shove an asteroid aside, or blow it up, if it drifted too close to earth. This plays on the fears that:

  • Our solar system is full of heavy and fast rocks, and dirty snowballs, that could break more than windows if they fell to earth.
  • No one knows what might move one of those rocks to come in for a disastrous landing.

So it would help, wouldn’t it, to figure out where these rocks came from, and how they got where they are.

Comets are a separate issue. Men have seen those for all of recorded history. Depending on what they wanted to make of them, they either signaled disaster (or they were the disasters, or “evil stars”) or marked when a dead ruler became a god. (The Romans indulged in such flights of fancy beginning with Julius Caesar). In fact, comets are always falling back to earth. Most of them, dirty snowballs that they are, burn up in the atmosphere. We don’t even notice them.

Asteroids are different. They’re bigger. Some (Ceres and Vesta, to name two) are big enough to have fallen in on themselves to form big balls of stone, “glued” together with ice.

The favorite theories on asteroids are that they are what’s left of a planet that either:

  • Blew up. (Like “Krypton”? Apologies to DC Comics.) Or:
  • Never came together to begin with.

Dr. Walter T. Brown has another idea. He points out that all the asteroids put together, would weigh less than the moon. So they didn’t come from a planet that blew up. As for a planet that started to form and stopped, that doesn’t explain how a rocky planet (like Earth or Mars) was supposed to form, or what could have stopped this planet from forming.

Instead, says Brown, the disaster happened on the earth itself. Thousands of years ago, half the water now in our oceans lay beneath the crust. The crust cracked open – at the Mid-Oceanic Ridge – and spilled all that water in a giant hypersonic jet into space. Most of this fell as rain – the hardest rain that has ever fallen. But enough water, rock and mud escaped into space. Once there, away from earth’s gravity, this “stuff” came together, to form the comets, asteroids, and meteoroids we know today.

Comets stayed in their long, elliptical orbits. Why not the asteroids? Because they were mostly rock with water inside. Shortly after they formed, the sun would heat this water. That water would jet out into space, and kick the larger body further out, like a balloon when you blow it up and let it go. Eventually, most of these objects went far enough out that these water vapor jets couldn’t push them out any further. So they settled into orbit in that broad ban we call the Asteroid Belt. Some went even further out, and fell into the lead and training Trojan Points of the orbit of Jupiter.

And now that they’re all the way out there, they’re not falling back. If they didn’t fall back before today, nothing is going to bring them back now. Not unless we’re foolish enough to take one under tow and have that tow fail at a critical moment.

A disaster closer to home

CNAV talked to Brown recently, not about asteroids, but about a larger threat here on earth: earthquakes. That long-ago disaster did more than launch the stuff of the comets, asteroids, and meteoroids. (And drown all the land, and leave up to twelve layers of mud with dinosaur bones mixed in.) It also caused much of the earth’s mass to settle, and then to melt, and formed the Ring of Fire. Humans have felt the aftershocks ever since; these are the “earthquakes” we record today.

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re seeing more earthquakes today than ever. We saw a five-pointer on the Eastern Seaboard in 2011. Michael Snyder at noticed all the “sinkholes,” and decided the New Madrid Fault was winding up to let go with another eight- or nine-pointer.

Instead of an asteroid, the government should look to earthquakes for the next disaster.

Displacement vectors, after the March 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, all pointing to one point in the Benioff Zone, or fault line, of the Japan Trench. Photo: US Geological Survey.

That’s only part of it, says Brown. After the nine-pointer that shook Japan in March of 2011, the major space agencies (NASA, JAXA) reviewed data from GPS instruments all over Japan. (“Japan is the best-instrumented country in all the world for this kind of study,” he said.) They noticed something ominous: all the motions were toward one point in the Pacific basin.

How could that happen? Unless, of course, something was removing the rock from that point. Which, Brown says, is what’s happening. The earth’s crust, you see, is broken up into plates. They’re not diving under one another at the trenches; they’re too thick for that. But fault lines do form at the trenches, where the crust buckles. This point is just inside the curve of the Japan Trench, a place where a lot of rocks are grinding against one another, creating a melt. If the melt is deep enough, it will drain – into the earth’s outer, molten core.

That core is taking drainage from several points inside the trenches that form the Ring of Fire. So it is growing, and building up pressure. Sooner or later, something has to give.

There is your disaster! Not an asteroid, or even several asteroids, falling back to earth. Instead, the earth will see more quakes, including one greater than any quake felt since that first disaster, 4400 years ago. And we don’t have to land anywhere to understand it. We’re already standing on top of it.

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. (Revelation 16:17-18)


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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.

32 Responses to Asteroid games

  1. […] Reprinted from Conservative News and Views […]

  2. yarnoiser says:

    There are numerous flaws of your interpretation of Dr. Brown’s theory.

    First of all, why would asteroids, which were supposedly “mostly rock with water inside” having the interior water (which has never been scientifically established to have even existed), push them out with jet streams further than comets, which are established to contain large amounts of water vapour, as well as other frozen gases such as CO2 and methane? The sun would do much more to heat these, causing gas eruptions and push them out of their orbit than it would water contained inside a mostly rocky object.

    In fact, most of them being kuiper belt objects, are much farther out than asteroids.

    In addition to this, asteroids are not always bigger. Pluto and it’s moon Charon have similar compositions to other kuiper belt objects. They are also large enough for their gravity to pull them into a roughly spherical shape.

    Finally, why the statement that ” they’re not falling back”, regarding asteroids when they fall back all the time? Many meteorites are actually fragments of, or actual asteroids. This includes the one which recently injured hundreds of people when it broke apart above Russia. The statement about asteroids never falling back to earth is completely false.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Let me remind you that the comets, being dirty snowballs, were lighter-weight than the asteroids, which were piles of rocks frozen together. It’s quite likely that the components of the comets moved much faster than the components that became the asteroids and meteoroids. That’s why the comets kept their elliptical orbits. They would have about the same average momentum but, having less mass, had more speed. And on that account their specific energies would be greater, since energy varies as the square of speed.

      You have not shown that Dr. Brown said, anywhere in his book, that any of the trans-Neptunian objects, aside from the comets, came from earth. Nor have you shown that the asteroids could have formed by either of the two methods that conventional astronomers favor. (Actually, I’m not sure anyone today favors the theory of the planet blowing up.)

      As for meteoroids being fragments of asteroids: obviously you have not read Dr. Brown’s book, or you’d know he anticipated that. Meteoroids have remanent magnetism. But the one asteroid (Eros) that any man-built rocket probe has studied up close, has no net magnetic field.

      This is the same problem that Dr. Brown has with so many people who say they are ready to accept his debate challenges: they say things that suggest they never read the book. As you just did.

  3. MatthewJ says:

    I’m pleased to see another hydroplate post; it must mean that you remain in contact with Dr. Brown. Now that Christmas, the Feast of the Epiphany, Purim, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Passover, and Easter have passed, has he gotten back to you about the energy released when all the material from the Flood event that failed to achieve escape velocity returned to Earth? Perhaps he will have time to get back to you between Annunciation and Pentecost.

    Even in your Flood cosmology, not all the asteroids in the solar system are ‘safely’ out in the Asteroid Belt. NASA currently has a database of 1391 _known_ “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids”, based on known orbits that intersect or approach that of Earth _and_ brightness above a certain level, which is a proxy for size (~500 feet in diameter or more, given assumptions about composition) and therefore the potential for massive damage if impact occurred. That’s just a small subset of a larger number of objects that cross our orbit but aren’t expected to approach too close to Earth in the next hundred years or so – there are more than 5000 known Apollo asteroids whose orbits cross that of Earth, and that doesn’t count the other classes of Earth-crossing asteroids and comets. You don’t have to assume that they have “fallen back” in from the Asteroid Belt; however they got here, they are already here. If you want, you can think of them like you thought of 2012 DA14 back in February – like they’ve been arcing out since the Flood and are now falling back to Earth like a spent bullet (not that that works, mechanically, but whatever). I don’t think that anyone at NASA is worried that Ceres is going to make a sharp left and come plowing straight into Earth.

    Those are the ones we know about, mind you – if they are darker, or on more elliptical orbits, they won’t have been spotted. Plus, their orbits are only known up to the point that they interact gravitationally with whatever large object they pass by in space, be that Earth, or Venus, or Mars, or what have you. Each of those interactions bends the orbit slightly and unpredictably and requires that new observations and calculations be made. Even if those objects are Flood debris, they are still up there, their orbits still cross that of Earth, and we don’t know where they all are.

    I would agree with you that it is more likely that there will be a major earthquake in the next year, or ten years, or hundred years than that there will be a major asteroid impact. That’s because earthquakes are common, and asteroids strikes are rare. There hasn’t been a devastating impact since Tunguska in 1908, unless you want to count the Chelyabinsk meteor in February that caused 1,500 injuries and millions of dollars in damage (mostly broken windows and such). Earthquakes happen every day. A big enough earthquake, in the wrong spot, would be just as devastating as a Tunguska event. It would be a fair argument to say that money would be better spent on earthquake prediction, tsunami protection, retrofitting buildings to withstand shock, etc., rather than on asteroid interception missions. But don’t let your ignorance of the technological details – like why it’s easier to capture an asteroid and then send astronauts to it rather than send the astronauts to the asteroid and bring them back, or how you would know ahead of time whether a given asteroid was metallic or carbonaceous, or why in fact you might prefer to mine an asteroid with more volatiles in it, or why you would want to engage in a project that pushes the boundaries of what we are capable of in space – lead you to dismiss the very idea of such a project out-of-hand.

    As far as the Japanese earthquake goes, I recall you saying once that you wouldn’t believe in subduction unless someone showed you submarine video of one plate sliding under another. Do you apply the same standard of proof to the proposal that friction is melting rock at the Japan Trench, which is then sinking into the outer core, making the core grow and building up pressure? Does this frictional heating/melting/draining remove rock from the trench at the same speed that the standard plate tectonics model subducts it away, just by a different mechanism?

    Lastly, thank you for making the captcha widget visible again.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Subduction cannot happen. I told you why, and so does Dr. Brown. But fault lines do form along the lines that most people interpret as subduction. But here’s how to tell the difference, and again you have to read the book. (In fact you have to read the page I linked to.) With subduction, you’d get volcanoes on the side of the trench where the plate was diving in. But with the fault line forming as Dr. Brown describes, you get volcanic activity on the opposite side of the trench.

      Now look again at the book, and see where he says most of the volcanoes occur in relation to the trenches.

      He gives sixteen different reasons why a “tectonic plate” cannot dive beneath another. The fault line formed, but not the way most seismologists think it formed.

  4. yarnoiser says:

    Never read the book, never claimed to. Just took geology of the solar system and volunteered at an observatory. I don’t need to read the book in order to know that the information you presented is wrong.

    First of all the planet theory doesn’t involve “blowing up” but being torn apart by gravitational influence from Jupiter.

    I also never suggested that Dr. Brown said that other trans-neptunian objects came from earth. I simply stated that objects with a similar composition to comets are also large enough to be pulled into a roughly spherical shape. What you have failed to show, is why the comets having orbits taking them towards the inner solar system MUST have come from earth, and not simply formed in the outer solar system like the rest of the trans-neptunian objects and been knocked inwards by a gravitational encounter. We already have a mechanism for the formation of these objects. What compositional differences are being sought out to distinguish an object with a supposed earth origin from one which would have formed in the outer solar system in the first place? These objects also tend to have orbits offset from the rough plane formed by most other solar system objects, while asteroids tend to be aligned to it like everything else. This suggests some of them may have come from further out, where the rotation of the proto-planetary disk would not have forced them into a plane.

    What exactly does residual magnetism in meteors have to do with them not being asteroids? I require clarification on this point. Also keep in mind that the sample size for in tact, out of atmosphere asteroids at this point is one. The fact is, mostly rocky objects can and do approach the earth very closely, and occasionally impact.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Well, if you never read the book (and I never said you claimed to), how can you judge it effectively? You’re applying the lessons you learned in “geology of the solar system.” Don’t you get it yet? Dr. Brown turns “geology of the solar system” on its head. He exposes every contradiction, every fudge, that conventional geologists have gotten away with since Lyell. Until you do read his book, from beginning to end, you will never understand how his system works.

      What you are saying is like saying, “Your theory does not work under my theory; therefore your theory must be wrong.” That’s circular reasoning.

      Now about the remanent magnetism: to get remanent magnetism, the meteoroids need to have come from a body having a powerful net magnetic field. That body is the earth. Of all the rocky worlds, earth has a magnetic field more powerful than any other. (And Dr. Brown has a theory about that, too. Read it.) Now if asteroids have no net magnetism, then either:

      1. They never were magnetized to begin with, or:
      2. They are clumps of rocks, each of which might be magnetized, but when you put them all together, the magnetic fields cancel each other out.

      Now even you have to admit, that’s very difficult to explain by either the exploded-planet theory or the failed-planet theory. Remember that the magnetic fields, such as they are, of Mercury, Venus, and Mars are weak – so weak they wouldn’t move a compass. Explain, if you can, according to the principles of “geology of the solar system,” how the former “fifth planet” could have had a magnetic field as powerful as that of earth while no other rocky world except earth has a magnetic field nearly as strong. (Mercury’s field is stronger than anyone expected, but still much weaker than ours.)

      I presume that your n=1 refers to the alleged Extinction Level Event (ELE) that allegedly occurred allegedly sixty-five million years before present. You must understand that I don’t accept that ELE, either. Nor “Nemesis,” the alleged brown dwarf double star that allegedly triggers alleged ELE’s every alleged twenty-six million years. Because, you see, I don’t accept the millions-of-years allegation.

  5. MatthewJ says:

    How about that energy transfer to Earth from the infalling Flood material? Any answer yet?

    I’m not sure what you were trying to say about volcanoes near subduction zones/faults/whatever. Plate tectonics proposes that volcanoes form on the overriding plate, set back from the subduction zone. Looking at a map of Japan and the western Pacific, there are five distinct arcs of volcanoes (Northeast Honshu, Kurile, Izu-Bonin, Southwest Honshu, and Ryukyu) that line up parallel to and set back from the subduction zones between the Pacific, Eurasian, and Philippine plates. And they are on the overriding plates. The Cascade range in the PNW parallels the subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate; the Andes formed on the South American plate parallel to the subduction zone of the Nazca plate, etc.

    Are you suggesting that Dr. Brown’s theory is that the volcanoes should form on the other side of the trench/fault? That the Andes, the Cascades, the Japanese islands, the Aleutians, etc., are on the wrong sides of the faults? What I saw in the book were two statements that ‘most volcanoes are not above Benioff zones’, but plate tectonics does not to my knowledge claim that Benioff zones are the only places that volcanoes can or do form. Midocean ridges would be one counterexample. Given that subduction zones represent only a small fraction of Earth’s surface, I don’t see a contradiction.

    Regarding Brown’s ideas about the Japanese earthquake: he seems to say that melting along the fault led to magma below the crossover depth (200 miles down) draining away to the core, and/or magma above the crossover line rising upward, leaving a void that Japan converged upon as the sides of the void collapsed. I can see where the magma would go if it drained to the core, but that would be from more than 200 miles down, and this earthquake was centered at only a tenth that depth, suggesting that the void was much higher. If that’s the case, then where did the magma go? Above the crossover depth it would have to rise to make a void; what evidence is there that the seafloor above the earthquake epicenter contains a large, rising bubble of magma?

    Plate tectonics would seem to explain the motion of the Japanese mainland at least equally well: the land mass was compressed from the east and south, and when that compression was released along a segment of the trench, the land slumped or flowed toward that point.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Now you know as well as I do that the bulk of the mountains in the Rocky/Sierra Madre/Andean chain are not volcanic. Any more than are the Appalachians, or the Urals. I see one volcano on the coastal side of the Ring of Fire in the United States, and that’s Mount St. Helens. If subduction had any truth to it at all, the entire chain should be volcanic. It isn’t. It formed when the American plates crashed to the floor of the old sub-crustal ocean and made a gigantic “wrinkle.”

      Sure, you get a few volcanoes on the same side of the trench as the Benioff zone. But most of the volcanoes are on the other side of it.

      That’s as much refutation as I have time to detail here. But I say again: read the book! Read the page I cited. And if you look carefully in the book, Dr. Brown gives sixteen reasons why subduction, as conventional geologists define it, cannot occur.

      Now concerning the magma draining into the outer core: first, I cite the El Niño formation as evidence enough of a hot spot on the ocean floor. Second, neither Dr. Brown nor I suggested that the outer core was compartmented. He predicts an increase in earthquake and volcanic activity everywhere it occurs today, and maybe in a few places where we haven’t yet seen it. And your plate tectonics still cannot explain why the displacements would converge on a single point! Your theory would predict that the displacement would converge on a seam, not a point. A straight seam, furthermore, and as I’m sure you know, not a single trench continues along a straight line.

  6. yarnoiser says:

    Sorry, the sample size of one was a little vague. I was referring to asteroids which have been closely studied outside of the atmosphere by probes.

    As for the planetary magnetic fields, that’s easy. All a planet needs for an active magnetic field is an active geodynamo. This creates a magnetic field through convection within a liquid outer core. Although different in size and composition, the outer gas giants produce their magnetic field through the same mechanism. Occasional magnetic anomalies on Mars suggest it may too have had a strong magnetic field of its own in the past.

    Smaller bodies cool down faster. There is evidence that the moon itself was once more geologically active than it presently is, the darker, smoother maria regions, with fewer craters are likely ancient lava flows. This firmly establishes that the geological activity of a solar system body can change. Since the planet would have broken apart, not “blown up” earlier in the formation of the solar system, it would may very well have had an active geodynamo.

    I’m also surprised that you are using the presence of a magnetic field to suggest the meteorites which impacted earth initially came from earth, when in the article you said, regarding asteroids “they’re not falling back. If they didn’t fall back before today, nothing is going to bring them back now”. If your argument is actually correct, it only proves my initial point that asteroids can and do impact the earth, and that your initial statement on the matter is false.

    Finally, you did not address the comet issue. We already have a mechanism for the formation of comets, without hydroplate theory. What compositional differences would distinguish comets allegedly formed in the great flood from ones that simply would have formed in the outer solar system?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      I can refute your geodynamo theory with but two examples. Mercury is one. It shouldn’t have a magnetic field of any noticeable strength, considering that its sidereal day is so long. Mars ought to have a magnetic field comparable in strength to that of the earth, since its sidereal day is only slightly longer than ours. Yet both planets break the rules.

      The moon was geologically active, all right. In the immediate aftermath of the Flood, seven very large impactors, and millions of smaller impactors, pummeled it on all sides. The seven impactors not only produced the maria, but also locked the Moon to keep a face toward the earth. The remanent magnetism found in the lunar samples recovered thus far could indicate an earthly origin for those samples. After all, we’re talking about rocks picked up from the surface. For obvious reasons, no crew has gone down with the kind of heavy equipment needed to take a deep drill core.

      As to comets, well, read the book again. He tells you the compositional differences. Chief among which: a very high dose of deuterium. Now to get that, you need a sea of neutrons passing through water. Which the Flood had.

  7. AlexM says:

    I dont even know where to begin. Nobody thinks that asteroids came from a planet that “blew up”. Rather they are the leftovers from planetary accretion. The objects in the asteroid belt would have likely been part of Mars if Jupiter’s intense gravity didnt interfere.

    It seems you (and Walt Brown) need to do some serious reviewing of primitive bodies in the solar system: nothing is “glued together with ice”. Vesta’s mantle is exposed on its surface, and Ceres had to have been partially molten during its formation in order to become spherical. Vesta also has a density of 3.4 g/cc (for comparison granite is ~2.8), so no, Vesta is not primarily ice, and could never have been.

    You should also review some very basic physics: If something is moving in a vacuum it wont just stop unless it encounters an opposing force. Meaning if the objects in the asteroid belt came from Earth, they wouldn’t just stop at a certain radial distance from the Sun.

    You should probably also read the actual plan about the asteroid “towing”. It will be a NEO (Near Earth Object), not a main belt asteroid. NEOs are asteroids that cross Earth’s orbit from time to time (and occasionally collide). We know where asteroids come from and why they cross the Earth’s orbit, what we dont know is where they are, or how many of them there are.

    There are several companies such as Planetary Resources (which counts Ross Perot Jr. and John C. Whitehead among its investors) and Deep Space Industries, that are planning on mining asteroids within the decade. Walt Brown has a degree in mechanical engineering, not geology or planetary science. Unless I am mistaken, he has never submitted any of his theories to the scientific community to receive criticism. Instead he publishes books that are written at an elementary school level. So with all due respect, Mr. Brown and the flat-Earthers ought to stay out of the way while the rest of us create a new frontier for human exploration.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Who said anything about an asteroid “just stopping”? At all times, the objects that became the asteroids were in orbit around the sun. The sun warmed each object on one side, causing the water jets that propelled the rocky bodies to orbits further out, until the sun could no longer impart any more energy. For most of these objects, that’s when they had reached the region called the Main Belt. For others, it was after they had fallen into Jupiter’s Trojan Points.

      Now about NEO asteroids: at least going after an asteroid like that would make the project less expensive. (Though no more valid for all that.) But consider this: how did such objects come that close to earth, if they were left over from failed accretion? How did they fall toward earth from the main belt? Or if they were always in Earth’s planetary neighborhood, why didn’t they all fall to earth long ago, if the earth has been around for 4.5 billion years? You do realize, of course, that you just violated the current IAU definition of the word planet that was their justification for demoting Pluto. Earth itself would not be a planet by that definition, because it has not “cleared its neighborhood” of all foreign objects.

      Oh, no. Those NEO asteroids are still around because the earth, the solar system, and they, are young. And because those asteroids came from earth to begin with.

      Now: if you’re convinced that you have Dr. Brown nailed, then his debate offers are still on. Take him up on them. Put your money where your mouth is.

  8. MatthewJ says:

    I didn’t say anything about the Rockies or Sierra Madre, so I don’t know where that’s coming from. The Andes are a complex range but there are four volcanic arcs there separated by gaps where the subducting plate is traveling at a shallower angle. If you only see one volcano on the landward side of the Ring of Fire in the US you need to have your vision checked, because you missed the whole Cascade Range with twenty volcanoes stretching from northern California to British Columbia, including such notable examples as Mt Shasta, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Mazama/Crater Lake, and Lassen Peak. And yes, there have been quite a few eruptions in recorded history along this arc.

    There’s no subduction going on now from northern California southward (the motion there is sliding along the San Andreas fault) until you get down to the Cocos plate subducting off the Central American coast from Guatemala to Panama. That subduction zone is also nicely paralleled by the Central American volcanic arc of hundreds of formations, many active.

    Where are the volcanoes on the other side of these trenches that should be there in Dr. Brown’s model?

    El Nino doesn’t show that there’s a hot spot on the ocean floor, because it’s a surface temperature phenomenon. The deep water temperature doesn’t change; in fact the thermocline _rises_ in the western Pacific at the same time it falls in the eastern side, because less warm surface water is being pushed west by trade winds.

    As to the ‘convergence’ thing – I’m sorry, but I just think you’re seriously misinterpreting that image. If you have a snow fence holding back a giant slab of gelatin, and you pull some of the stakes out, the fence will bow out from the now unopposed pressure of the gelatin, and the gelatin will slump as it pushes the fence back. If you track the movement of points on the surface of the gelatin, they will show the same pattern as in the Japanese quake: even if a whole linear section of fence is unmoored, the net movement of the relaxing surface will show that points move in the direction of a ‘focal point’ that is out beyond where the fence was. If you drew a line where the fence was, the lines would cross it at a spread of angles but would not focus on it; they focus out beyond the fence. The leading edge advances farther than the trailing edge and the surface stretches out; points on it get farther apart, not closer together. Note that the movement lines in the Japanese quake appear to focus way out in the Pacific, a long long way east of the fault line. Is that where you think the void was? As far east of the fault as Japan is west of it?

    I don’t know where you get your idea that plate tectonics predicts convergence on a straight seam

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Well, I mentioned those other mountain chains, because all the mountains on the Pacific coast of the Americas, from the Yukon all the way to the southern tip of Chile, are all one mountain chain that formed largely from wrinkling of the American hydroplates after they crashed to the floor of the old subcrustal ocean. And the volcanoes you mention are still too few, on the land side of the trenches, for the subduction model to work. You still have a lot more volcanic activity on the ocean side of those trenches.

      Ask yourself: why are nearly all mountain chains in an north-south orientation? (The Himalayas are the exception; you can read Dr. Brown’d discussion of the unique circumstances of their formation, and the creation of a land mass so heavy it threw the earth itself off balance, thus shifting the geographic poles.)

      As for the rest: read the book. And if you think subduction can occur on an arc, or on anything other than a straight line, take it up with him. He offers to debate anyone willing to read his book.

  9. AlexM says:

    Once again, this just shows an utter misunderstanding of very basic physics. An object in motion will not come to rest unless it come across an opposing force (Newton’s First Law). Under your scenario, these asteroids are accelerating from the Earth while under increasing less influence of the Sun’s gravity, so why would they stop rather than continuing out of the solar system?

    I could continue with how NEOs did not have to come from the main belt as there were leftovers to Earth’s accretion, the IAU accepts that asteroids are remnants of planetary accretion, the Earth indeed has cleared out its neighborhood other than a few outliers, impactors have been hitting the Earth for billions of years (leaving behind massive craters).

    I don’t plan on debating Walt Brown because he has neglected to show any scientific credibility. Why won’t he publish his basic research and allow it to be critiqued by the scientific community? The Geologic Society of America and the American Geophysical Union will accept practically any abstract that is submitted for their annual conferences. Can I expect to see Brown presenting his work at either meeting this fall?

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Who said anything about rest? “Orbit” is not “rest.”

      And now you’re going to say that Earth could leave rocks over from its own accretion for four and a half billion years? With statements like that, fully half of what you say contradicts the other half.

  10. AlexM says:

    This really isn’t that complicated: an object moving in one direction (outward from the Sun) can’t suddenly move in another direction (orbiting the Sun) unless it experiences some other force, which you have not made any attempt to specify.

    You haven’t given any reason why the Earth must collide with any object near it, other than that 4.5 billion years is a long time. Its almost like saying that a car driving down the highway for a specified amount of time is required to collide with every other car on that highway, regardless of their proximity to one another.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Except that it was moving more than “outward from the Sun.” It was moving around the Sun, at least as fast as the earth itself, after escaping earth’s gravity. It was on a prograde orbit. The water vapor jets turned that orbit into a transit. And thus each asteroid transited out to what became the Main Belt.

  11. AlexM says:

    Unfortunately for your “theory” (but fortunately for the workings of the rest of the universe) physics doesn’t work like that, directions dont just change unless there is some other force at work. And a prograde orbit makes things even more difficult. The trailing side of the object would be warmer, providing more acceleration and moving it more outward from the sun.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Now I know what you’re forgetting: the Law of Inverse Squares. The amount of energy the sun could impart to any object, diminishes as that object retreats from the sun.

  12. AlexM says:

    And you’re forgetting that we are operating in a vacuum. It doesn’t matter how much the Sun’s energy decreases, so long as those asteroids are receiving any force from the Sun they are accelerating (increasing in velocity) outward.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Not a total vacuum. Especially in the immediate aftermath of the Flood, enough gas remained to exert drag on the asteroids. So when they reached the Belt region, they found equilibrium.

  13. AlexM says:

    Continuing to try and teach you pre-high school physics seems like a lost cause, so I give up. But what exactly is Brown’s evidence for all of this (in other words, why do you believe it)? Is he running models to verify his predictions? When is he going to submit his work to the scientific community to allow it to be critiqued? A single book written at a grade school reading level does not count as a scientific publication, and should not be viewed as such.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      And continuing to set a proper example of comment-space etiquette seems likewise, from where I sit, like an exercise in futility.

      For the benefit of anyone else reading this, this commenter makes painfully obvious to anyone having eyes to see, that he has not read the book.

      If he had, he would have noted that Dr. Brown stands ready to submit any of his work to any journal (at least on the creation side; he already knows that the evolutionistic journals will reject his work out-of-hand, if only because it goes against their favored narrative), so long as anyone wishing to criticize him will:

      1. Read the book before he sounds off about it or against it,
      2. Engage him in a polite debate (of which this latest back-and-forth with AlexM is not a good example), and
      3. Last but not least, do it in public, where everyone can read and judge for himself who’s right and who’s wrong.

      See here for further details.

      Now: AlexM asks why I believe Dr. Brown. Well, first and foremost, I do not believe, because I cannot believe, the alternative. Whether it’s that asteroids are the remains of a planet that blew up or got ripped to smithereens (or else, per the Flavor of the Month, are what’s left of a planet-formation process that did not complete), or that the earth itself formed entirely by gravitational accretion, and in the process accumulated enough heat to melt it forty-four times over and somehow vented all but a small fraction of that heat into space. Better, more credentialed men than AlexM have managed to dupe the world with their artificial models. But I can smell fraud, or at least things impossible to believe. (And besides, credentials don’t impress me anymore. It’s too easy to get them, if you are willing to play along with a narrative that you know is false.)

  14. MatthewJ says:

    Sadly, Dr. Brown’s book does not provide any details of the computer model he used to show to his satisfaction that the amount of gas (derived from Earth) in the inner solar system was sufficient to both provide the radiometer effect to boost material out to the Belt region while simultaneously producing the correct drag to circularize the orbits there. The distribution of gas needed to accomplish this is not stated, for example. Were the gas pressures necessary to maintain the radiometer effect (>10^-4 Pa) present throughout space from the region of Earth’s orbit out beyond that of Mars? Was the gas co-orbital with the asteroid material, or was it considered stationary for the purposes of drag calculations? What sort of temperature and density gradients were developed across this gas? Over what time scale are these events expected to have occurred? How does the gas circularize the orbits of objects of various sizes, shapes, and densities all in the same region? What is the mass of gas needed to achieve this effect, compared to the mass of the asteroids in the belt? Those sorts of things.

    Did you notice the recent review of Dr. Brown’s work by Michael Oard over at He doesn’t seem to feel that Brown’s theory explains the Grand Canyon or frozen mammoths adequately. I found it interesting that he stated that Brown fit his model to the data with regard to amounts of rock eroded from crust and mantle, and made unsupported claims about an axial shift to make his model work, since it seems to me he has done the same at multiple other places as well: for example, since chondrites form above certain temperatures, that must be how hot the subcrustal cavity became. Similarly, because orbital velocities for certain bodies are a certain number, that must have been the speed at which the water jetted from the Earth. It would have been better if he could have shown that the physical processes of collapse _could_ produce such velocities rather than claiming that the _did_ because he needs that result.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      I regret to inform everyone that Michael Oard really fell down on the job with that so-called review. Yes, I read it. Dr. Oard commits the same fault he purports to find with Dr. Brown. I’ll have more to say about that in the next day or two.

      Here I need only point out that any origins scientist, like any detective, infers certain past events from present observation. To illustrate: if I investigate a crash on an Interstate, or Motorway, or whatever, and I can measure skid marks, crumple depths, and the weight of the motorcar(s) involved, then by whatever authority I had vested in me to conduct that investigation, I might cite the driver whose motorcar did the striking for exceeding the posted speed limit, if I can show that the skid marks, as long as they were, and the amount of energy that the collision had to dissipate, were such that the motorcar must have been traveling at an unlawful speed before the motorist hit the brakes.

      Or to take a simpler example: if I’m running the program for E-Z Pass (or a similar automatic toll-taking program), and I notice that a motorist took far too short a time to pass between two toll plazas, I could cite him for speeding. The Mean Value Theorem (by which average speed is the same as instantaneous speed at some point en route) would prove that he was making at least the average speed. And if that average speed exceeded the speed limit, I have him dead-to-rights.

      And that is the sort of inference that Dr. Brown makes.

      For that matter, it is the sort of inference that radiometric dating makes. It is the source of the conventional assumption that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. To challenge that, various investigators (Austin, Snelling, etc.) have shown that the three cardinal assumptions behind radiometric dating are fundamentally unsafe and unsound.

      Can you, or anyone, make a comparable showing against Dr. Brown’s theory? I think not. To make such a showing, you have to show that the water jet did not and could not have achieved the speed he calculates.

      I let his record, including education and military service, speak for him. To show that he is both truthful and capable. (If you read further in the book, you’ll find things in that record to show that he pays exactly the sort of attention to detail that one must pay to build a model of this kind.)

  15. Geno says:

    Terry claims:
    If he had, he would have noted that Dr. Brown stands ready to submit any of his work to any journal (at least on the creation side;

    Yet in the introduction to Oard’s article at, we find this:
    “We would love to have seen Dr Brown accede to our repeated invitations to submit his model or aspects of it to the Journal in order to have it pass through the refining fire of robust criticism in the normal scientific fashion.”

    Maybe Dr. Brown is not as willing to submit his work for scientific criticism as Terry claims.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Dr. Brown has stated he will not submit to criticism in a forum that will not allow him the freedom of rebuttal. The problem is that the forum involved pretty much set the rule that the other guy would have the last word.

      I realize that this is a difficult thing for you to admit. But I suggest to you that Dr. Brown’s critics are being less than candid.

  16. Geno says:

    Terry wrote:
    Dr. Brown has stated he will not submit to criticism in a forum that will not allow him the freedom of rebuttal. The problem is that the forum involved pretty much set the rule that the other guy would have the last word.

    Since Brown’s presentation of his model would constitute the first word, it looks like he wants both first and last. That strikes me as less than fair.

    Terry wrote:
    I realize that this is a difficult thing for you to admit. But I suggest to you that Dr. Brown’s critics are being less than candid.

    When there are one or two complaints over a short period, that might be a valid observation. When these complaints accumulate over a 32 year period with not even one exception, my experience has been that it is more likely the complainers are the ones who are accurate. In this case, it is not only Brown’s opponents who are complaining, but his (natural) allies as well.

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