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Dinopocalypse

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We’ve all heard the story of what happened on the day the dinosaurs died, right? Well, we thought we had. Turns out, high-powered ballistics experiments, fancy computer algorithms, and good old-fashioned ancient geology have given us a shocking new version of the events on that day, 66 million years ago. It’s a new theory that is so scarily precise -- and hot -- it’s terrifying and nearly unimaginable.

 

Guests:

Kirk R. Johnson, Jay Melosh, Douglas Robertson, Pete Schultz and Molly Webster

Comments [17]

Gil Gerretsen from Greenville, SC

Immanuel Velikovsky (a friend of Albert Einstein) laid out the foundation of this model way back in the mid-1950's. His book "Earth In Upheaval" is a must read and was on Einstein's desk when he died. http://books.google.com/books/about/Earth_in_Upheaval.html?id=T3ShePQFGDEC

May. 16 2014 03:33 PM
Julian Johncraft from Atlanta

Isn't the impact crater in the Yucatan? half in and half out of the Gulf Of Mexico? and still known as Chicxulub?

May. 11 2014 11:56 PM
Tommy from near the crater

Good theory. This helps explain some nagging issues with the asteroid hypothesis. The mechinism for survival of burrowing mamals, reptiles, and flora is intriguing and is a good fit for what we know survived.

Mar. 30 2014 05:32 PM
Timmo from Wisconsin

Caught parts of this show today. Interesting but I don't buy all of it. If this strike , and the resulting fallout / super heating all happened in only a 2 hour time span, I would expect only a little over half the planet to receive the direct effect.

Mar. 29 2014 06:24 PM
bernard deters

Geez, didn't you watch Fantasia. The raindrop sequence is exactly what you described in metal ball in sand. You probably should watch it again and realize 'ya coulda done better if you'd resolved your anal-cranial syndrome.It's my opinion.

Mar. 29 2014 06:05 PM
Boni from Wisconsin

You might also be interested in the book, T-Rex and the Crater of Doom, by Walter Alverez. It's kind of a flamboyant title for a book that meticulously follows the story of the search for the crater.

Mar. 29 2014 04:40 PM
Dan Waltrip from Vero Beach, Fl

Listening to this now on NPR and it's really cool, love the atmospheric music and how well put together the whole thing is.

Mar. 29 2014 12:32 PM
Ben Faulkner

Fascinating take, but what about the other terrestrial organisms that survived? Dinosaurs definitely did NOT all die out during the K-Pg event because birds are just a group of theropod dinosaurs. There were also mammals, crocodiles, etc that made it. How could they escape temperatures so all-consuming?

Mar. 17 2014 02:20 PM
Jim Mica from Ihaca, NY

This was a ripping good podcast, I wish I could have seen you live.

Can you give us some links to papers discussing this new interpretation/analysis of the dinosaurian end-game?

My wife and I listened to most of the presentation and were very, very interested by it.

You site a number on experts on the subject, where can we read more to answer the questions (EG, why wasn't all plant life cooked --ginko trees are still around) generated by the theories being discussed.

Thank you

Jan. 13 2014 01:48 PM
Tom Fleischer from Philadelphia, PA

Such an interesting show. Quick question on the theory. If the temperature on the entire surface was raised to 1200 degrees, why do we still have plants such as conifers and ginkgoes? How did they survive through those temperatures?

Jan. 12 2014 03:00 PM
Al from Mars

Gary from Wisconsin,

It's off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, and since it's been underwater for more than 60 million years, it's pretty hard to spot.

It's still there, just a LOT shallower.

Jan. 06 2014 06:28 PM
Matt Wood from Commerce, TX

Very interesting show. Thanks as always. I Just did a very quick check calculation, and if we assume that the asteroid carried the 100 million megatons (equals 4x10^23 Joules), and use that the heat capacity of the entire atmosphere is 5x10^21 J/K, then if all that energy were deposited uniformly in the atmosphere, then it should raise the temperature by ~100 K. This is at least of the right order of magnitude. Also since the energy would presumably be deposited mostly at higher altitudes with lower total heat capacity, the temps discussed in the piece are possible, it seems. Really intriguing idea - thanks for broadcasting it.

Matt A. Wood, Dept Head
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Commerce, TX 75401
www.tamuc.edu/physics

Jan. 02 2014 03:58 PM
Scott from Silicon Valley, CA

Love your show. Saw a card with this alternate explanation of the dinopocalypse: http://girlfromthehills.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/dinosaurark.jpg. Thought you should know...

Dec. 23 2013 02:27 AM
Gary from Wisconsin

I apologize if i missed this but if an asteroid the size of Manhattan hit earth and the resulting impact caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, where is the crater? As far as i can remember this was not address in this radiolab story.

Dec. 21 2013 09:58 PM

Don't we know that birds at least evolved from dinosaurs, if not that they actually *are* dinosaurs? So, an asteroid that cooked the earth had at least a few survivors of each of the animal and plant kingdoms we currently know and love, let alone the ocean dwelling creatures. I can ascribe to a theory that anything larger than a breadbox cooked, but several times it was stated that "nothing" made it which we absolutely know not to be true.

Dec. 17 2013 01:36 PM
Michel X.

Awesome show, but I want to register some confusion re: the pizza oven claim (even though it's a really cool thought). I was under the impression that it was widely agreed (setting aside relatively new finds that may or may not cast some doubt on the impact theory) that the KT extinction wiped out *non-avian* dinosaurs. If the pizza oven claim is true, shouldn't it have done for the avian dinosaurs, the mammals, and the insects too? From what I gather, the fossil evidence definitely doesn't support *that* kind of claim.

Or did I miss something?

Dec. 12 2013 06:40 PM
A. Torp

The expert in this episode apparently needs to keep up with his asteroid news. As of 2011, it seems that a piece of the asteroid Baptistina is no longer considered a suspect in the untimely demise of the dinosaurs. The asteroid broke up later than previously assumed, too late to be the source of the dino-killing rock. The case is still open...

This according to NASA:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/WISE/news/wise20110919.html

Dec. 11 2013 10:02 PM

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