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Fire in the Sky


Comets, Meteors & Myth: New Evidence for Toppled Civilizations and Biblical Tales

"...and the seven judges of hell ... raised their torches, lighting the land with their livid flame. A stupor of despair went up to heaven when the god of the storm turned daylight into darkness, when he smashed the land like a cup."

-- An account of the Deluge from the Epic of Gilgamesh, circa 2200 B.C.
If you are fortunate enough to see the storm of shooting stars predicted for the Nov. 18 peak of the Leonid meteor shower, you'll be watching a similar but considerably less powerful version of events which some scientists say brought down the world's first civilizations.

The root of both: debris from a disintegrating comet.

Biblical stories, apocalyptic visions, ancient art and scientific data all seem to intersect at around 2350 B.C., when one or more catastrophic events wiped out several advanced societies in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Increasingly, some scientists suspect comets and their associated meteor storms were the cause. History and culture provide clues: Icons and myths surrounding the alleged cataclysms persist in cults and religions today and even fuel terrorism.

Fireball 5

When Meteors Explode: Full Account of a Wild Chicago Night

You might think meteor expert Steven Simon knew exactly what was happening one evening when the skies over his home were lit up by an exploding, 2,000-pound space rock bigger than a refrigerator. But it was only the next day, when nearby residents brought him chunks of the extraterrestrial visitor that had landed in the street and punched through their roofs, that Simon began to understand the true nature of the frightening event.

Now after a year of study, the University of Chicago researcher has helped produce a full account of the giant rock that tore through the atmosphere at 54 times the speed of sound.

Simon was in his Park Forest home about 30 miles south of Chicago with the drapes drawn near midnight on March 26, 2003.

"I saw the flash, and although it lasted longer than a lightning flash, that's what I thought it was," he told SPACE.com last week. "I knew it had rained that night, and thought maybe it was multiple flashes, perhaps diffused by the clouds."

Red Flag

Air France crash killed two prominent illegal arms foes

The puzzling crash of Air France's Flight 447 killed two of the world's "most prominent" illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking foes, according to a little-noticed report.

In a revelation sure to fuel conspiracy theories over the plane's demise, the report reveals that two key figures in the neverending internecine battle against global arms and drug trafficking perished when the plane abruptly fell out of the sky. Both were particularly active in efforts to stem illegal arms trading in Latin America.


Air France crash: Investigators recover 29 bodies in total

Air France A330
© Agence France-Presse/Getty
Divers recovering a huge part of the rudder of the Air France A330 aircraft lost in midflight over the Atlantic ocean
Investigators have found eight more bodies in the Atlantic Ocean, bringing the total recovered from Air France flight 447 to 29.

Search crews also recovered the vertical stabiliser from the tail section of the airliner, according to Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz, a spokesman for the Brazilian airforce.

The discoveries of debris and the bodies are all helping searchers narrow their hunt for the jet's black boxes, perhaps investigators' best hope of learning what happened to the flight. The data and voice recorders are located in the fuselage near the tail section of the jet.

William Waldock, who teaches air crash investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said that does not mean the black boxes will necessarily be located near where the debris was recovered, "but finding the tail narrows down the area even further."

Light Sabers

Key figures in global battle against illegal arms trade lost in Air France crash

Argentina: Argentine campaigner Pablo Dreyfus and Swiss colleague Ronald Dreyer battled South American arms and drug traffickingFrom Andrew McLeod

Amid the media frenzy and speculation over the disappearance of Air France's ill-fated Flight 447, the loss of two of the world's most prominent figures in the war on the illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking has been virtually overlooked.

Pablo Dreyfus, a 39-year-old Argentine who was travelling with his wife Ana Carolina Rodrigues aboard the doomed flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, had worked tirelessly with the Brazilian authorities to stem the flow of arms and ammunition that for years has fuelled the bloody turf wars waged by drug gangs in Rio's sprawling favelas.

Also travelling with Dreyfus on the doomed flight was his friend and colleague Ronald Dreyer, a Swiss diplomat and co-ordinator of the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence who had worked with UN missions in El Salvador, Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Angola. Both men were consultants at the Small Arms Survey, an independent think tank based at Geneva's Graduate Institute of International Studies. The Survey said on its website that Dryer had helped mobilise the support of more than 100 countries to the cause of disarmament and development.


Air France 447 Investigation, Bodies Found

© Unknown
News came Saturday that two bodies from Air France flight 447 were found roughly 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast. Friday French officials concluded that "wreckage" found by Brazilian authorities in the ocean and an observed 12-mile long oil slick were not in fact from the Air France Airbus A330 that was lost last Sunday with all 228 aboard. Amid reports of the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) data, which were reportedly sent from the aircraft in its final four minutes, Airbus Friday urged operators to review procedures for flying while receiving conflicting or "incoherent" air data information on the flight deck. Also Friday, an Air France memo obtained by the Associated Press states that pitot tubes are being replaced on the airline's jets. This has led to increased speculation from mainstream media sources that the A330 had entered turbulent air at an improper speed while operating in a confined stall/overspeed performance regime -- at 35,000 feet, roughly 5,000 feet from its service ceiling. While speculation continues, so too do the effects of debris earlier thought to be wreckage, which significantly impacted the search, stretching limited first response resources and widening the search area by 300 miles. With the debris and oil slick set aside, developing theories that the aircraft impacted the water without suffering a pre-impact explosion or substantial fire are no longer so readily supported and reports from an Air Comet flight out of Lima for Lisbon may attract significant interest.


Is it Possible that a meteor brought down Air France 447?

Back in 1996, after the initially very mysterious explosion and crash of Flight 800 from JFK to Rome, there were numerous eyewitness accounts of a "streak in the sky" just before the crash. This led to the "missile theory" of the crash, which was eventually attributed to the explosion of the center fuel tank by the NTSB. But, also at the time, it was suggested that a meteor of sufficient size could have struck the plane, bringing it down.

Could a meteor have brought down Air France 447? Today we are starting to see reports that there actually may have been a meteor:
However, both pilots of an Air Comet flight from Lima to Lisbon sent a written report on the bright flash they said they saw to Air France, Airbus and the Spanish civil aviation authority, the airline told CNN.

"Suddenly, we saw in the distance a strong and intense flash of white light, which followed a descending and vertical trajectory and which broke up in six seconds," the captain wrote.

Comment: Let's see what the physics and astronomy professors said exactly in their letter to the NYT in 1996:
In T.W.A. 800 Crash, Don't Discount Meteor
Published: Thursday, September 19, 1996

To the Editor:

In a Sept. 17 news article on conspiracy theories in the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, you report that ''more than once, senior crash investigators have tried to end the speculation by ranking the possibility of friendly fire at about the same level of the idea that a meteorite destroyed the jet.'' In fact, we believe this comparison must be based on a miscalculation of the probability that a meteorite is the cause of the crash.

The odds of a meteor's striking T.W.A. Flight 800 or any other single airline flight are indeed small. However, the relevant calculation is not the likelihood of any particular aircraft being hit, but the probability that one commercial airliner over the last 30 years of high-volume air travel would be struck by an incoming meteor with sufficient energy to cripple the plane or cause an explosion.

Approximately 3,000 meteors a day with the requisite mass strike Earth. There are 50,000 commercial airline takeoffs a day worldwide. Adopting an average flight time of two hours, this translates to more than 3,500 planes in the air; these cover approximately two-billionths of Earth's surface.

Multiplying this by the number of meteors per day and the length of the era of modern air travel leads to a 1-in-10 chance that a commercial flight would have been knocked from the sky by meteoric impact.

No such calculation of the probability of a rare event can be taken as proof of cause. But it is essential to pose the problem correctly in order to obtain an estimate that can be used in determining whether or not the hypothesis is worth considering. We believe the meteor impact theory deserves more considered attention.



New York, Sept. 17, 1996

The writers are professors of, respectively, physics and astronomy at Columbia University.


India: 'Object that fell from sky was a meteorite'

"Meteorite is a rocky material which enters into earth's atmosphere from outside the earth (for eg, Mars) whereas numerous small and big rocks circulating in between the planets Mars and Jupiter are known as asteroids," said Prof Harish Chandra Verma of department of Physics of IIT-K while talking to TOI, specifying the difference between a meteorite and an asteroid.

Prof Verma ruled out the possibility of the stone being an asteroid as reported in some newspapers and emphatically remarked that the initial study of the piece of the rock done on Wednesday confirms that it's a meteorite. Usually such pieces of rock (debris) come from asteroid belt only but sometimes they may very well be a part of other celestial bodies also.


French Minister says cannot rule out terrorism in Air France plane crash

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said Friday that the possibility of a terrorist attack on Air France Flight 447 cannot be ruled out.

"We have no right to exclude terrorism," he told journalists, but adding that he had not heard of any threats to the flight or of any group or individual claiming responsibility for bringing down the aircraft.

The Airbus A330-200 airliner with 228 people aboard went missing over the Atlantic Sunday night after leaving Rio de Janeiro to Paris. According to Air France earlier this week, the plane sent out a series of messages showing "multiple technical failure" just before it disappeared.


England: Eastbourne, East Sussex - Large 'Fireball' Moving Horizontally

Posted: June 4, 2009

Date of Sighting: 31st May 2009
Time: 10-11 PM

Witness Statement: I was having a ciggie out of the bathroom window and saw a large 'fireball' (glowing orange) moving horizontally and quite low in the sky. This thing appeared to be both bigger than a 747, and faster than any plane or helicopter. I watched it, shouted and ran to get my partner, was literally gone 3-4 seconds, and when I returned it had just vanished ! Impossible! I know what I saw, and it wasn't anything man made (that I know of !). Just a big ball of 'fire' flying at a constant speed and height.