Quotulatiousness

December 8, 2009

How to get rid of pesky dinosaurs

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:37

According to recent theorizing, you don’t incinerate ‘em, you broil ‘em:

The asteroid impact that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago didn’t incinerate life on our planet’s surface — it just broiled it, a new study suggests. The work resolves nagging questions about a theory that the impact triggered deadly wildfires around the world, but it also raises new questions about just what led to the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period.

The impact of a 10-kilometre asteroid is blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs and most other species on the planet. Early computer models showed that more than half of the debris blasted into space by the impact would fall into the atmosphere within eight hours.

The models predicted the rain of shock-heated debris would radiate heat as intensely as an oven set to “broil” (260 °C) for at least 20 minutes, and perhaps a couple of hours. Intense heating for that long would heat wood to its ignition temperature, causing global wildfires.

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