Date sent: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 15:11:32 -0500 (EST)
From: HUMBPEIS B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject: Re: EARLY MEDIA INTEREST
EARLY MEDIA INTEREST IN 2nd SIS CAMBRIDGE CONFERENCE
The following article by science reporter Steve
Farrar appeared on 3 February in THE CAMBRIDGE EVENING
NEWS. The newspaper plans two additional feature articles
in the run-up to the Cambridge Conference.
Scientists set course for controversial conference:
'CATASTROPHE FROM COMETS' THEORY SET TO LAND IN CITY
By Steve Farrar, Science Correspondent
Cambridge: A city conference will hear fresh evidence
that human civilisation may have been sparked when a
shower of cometary fragments smashed into the Earth.
Scientists from across the world will be discussing the
radical proposal - mocked by some - during the three-day
meeting in Fitzwilliam College in July.
The conference, organised by the Society for
Interdisciplinary Studies, will be looking for evidence
to link major changes in Bronze Age societies and cosmic
Historian Dr Benny Peiser, of Liverpool John Moores
University, who is helping to organise the meeting, said
the Bronze Age - a crucial time at the dawn of
civilisation - appeared to have started more or less
simultaneously in different parts of the world.
He suggested this could have been triggered by a sudden
change in global climate caused by a catastrophe such as
worldwide impacts of small cometary fragments.
"We also think violent rituals, such as human sacrifices,
started in many cultures during the Bronze Age and then
stopped at its end", Dr Peiser said.
He said it was possible these were used by people to
overcome the trauma many would have suffered during such
Prof Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory and
another of the conference's organisers, said recent
research has suggested the quantity of asteroids and
comets hurtling into the Earth's neighbourhood was much
higher than previously thought, boosting the likelyhood
of such disasters.
"If a comet broke up and the stream of debris intercepted
the Earth's orbit, the planet could have been
periodically bombarded with small objects and everyone
would have known an event like the Tunguska impact in
Siberia", he said.
Palaeo-ecologist Prof Mike Baillie, of Queen's
University, Belfast, said his studies of tree rings had
uncovered evidence of ecological catastrophes coinciding
with the dawn and end of the Bronze Age.
"The series of events that show up in the tree rings
could have been major turning points in human society",
Prof Baillie said.
"There might be more to these events than just volcanoes
- we cannot rule out comets".
CCCMENU CCC for 1997