Comet water discovered to be nearly identical in composition to Earth’s oceans

 Suggests comet bombardment contributed to forming oceans

This photo of Comet Hartley 2 from the November 2010 flyby performed by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft shows jets containing water vapor ejecting from the core.

From the European Space Agency: Did Earth’s oceans come from comets?

Comet Hartley 2 observed by ESA’s Herschel

This illustration shows the orbit of comet Hartley 2 in relation to those of the five innermost planets of the Solar System. The comet made its latest close pass of Earth on 20 October, coming to 19.45 million km. On this occasion, Herschel observed the comet. The inset on the right side shows the image obtained with Herschel’s PACS instrument. The two lines are the water data from HIFI instrument. Credits: ESA/AOES Medialab; Herschel/HssO Consortium

ESA’s Herschel infrared space observatory has found water in a comet with almost exactly the same composition as Earth’s oceans. The discovery revives the idea that our planet’s seas could once have been giant icebergs floating through space.

The origin of Earth’s water is hotly debated. Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated. Yet today, two-thirds of the surface is covered in water and this must have been delivered from space after Earth cooled down.

Comets seem a natural explanation: they are giant icebergs travelling through space with orbits that take them across the paths of the planets, making collisions possible. The impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in 1994 was one such event. But in the early Solar System, when there were larger numbers of comets around, collisions would have been much more common.

However, until now, astronomers’ observations have failed to back up the idea that comets provided Earth’s water. The key measurement they make is the level of deuterium – a heavier form of hydrogen – found in water.

Comet Hartley 2’s orbit in context

The left panel shows Comet Hartley 2’s orbit. The central panel shows a larger portion of the Solar System, including the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is one of the two main reservoirs of comets in the Solar System. Comets like Hartley 2 are believed to have formed here and to have migrated inwards. The right panel shows the Oort Cloud, the other main reservoir of comets located well beyond the outer Solar System.

All the deuterium and hydrogen in the Universe was made just after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago, fixing the overall ratio between the two kinds of atoms. However, the ratio seen in water can vary from location to location. The chemical reactions involved in making ice in space lead to a higher or lower chance of a deuterium atom replacing one of the two hydrogen atoms in a water molecule, depending on the particular environmental conditions.

Thus, by comparing the deuterium to hydrogen ratio found in the water in Earth’s oceans with that in extraterrestrial objects, astronomers can aim to identify the origin of our water.

All comets previously studied have shown deuterium levels around twice that of Earth’s oceans. If comets of this kind had collided with Earth, they could not have contributed more than a few percent of Earth’s water. In fact, astronomers had begun to think that meteorites had to be responsible, even though their water content is much lower.

Now, however, Herschel has studied comet Hartley 2 using HIFI, the most sensitive instrument so far for detecting water in space, and has shown that at least this one comet does have ocean-like water.

HIFI

The Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) is a high-resolution heterodyne spectrometer. It works by mixing the incoming signal with a stable monochromatic signal, generated by a local oscillator, and extracting the frequency difference for further processing in a spectrometer. HIFI will have seven separate local oscillators covering two bands from 480-1250 gigaHertz and 1410–1910 gigaHertz. HIFI was developed by a consortium led by SRON (Groningen, The Netherlands). Credits: ESA (image by C. Carreau)

“Comet Hartley’s deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio is almost exactly the same as the water in Earth’s oceans,” says Paul Hartogh, Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, who led the international team of astronomers in this work.

The key to why comet Hartley 2 is different may be because of where it was born: far beyond Pluto, in a frigid region of the Solar System known as the Kuiper Belt.

The other comets previously studied by astronomers are all thought to have formed near to Jupiter and Saturn before being thrown out by the gravity of those giant planets, only to return much later from great distances.

Thus the new observations suggest that perhaps Earth’s oceans came from comets after all – but only a specific family of them, born in the outer Solar System. Out there in the deep cold, the deuterium to hydrogen ratio imprinted into water ice might have been quite different from that which arose in the warmer inner Solar System.

Herschel is now looking at other comets to see whether this picture can be backed up.

“Thanks to this detection made possible by Herschel, an old, very interesting discussion will be revived and invigorated,” says Göran Pilbratt, ESA Herschel Project Scientist.

“It will be exciting to see where this discovery will take us.”

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118 thoughts on “Comet water discovered to be nearly identical in composition to Earth’s oceans

  1. I seem to remember that recently comets made from just ice were discovered by seeing specks in photographs of aurora. These were about the size of houses, and being all ice, simply melt and become part of the earth’s atmosphere. It was estimated from the rate of occurrence that all the water of the earth could have come from this source over a period of about 1 billion years. Or is my memory failing me.

  2. Here we go again, every time Scientists make an observation then speculate about origins it sparks a huge debate between religion and science and poo starts to get flung in every which way. All I know is I really don’t care where they think water might come from. Focus on the observation and leave the rest to us to conclude…please! I don’t care anymore about scientists thoughts on origins. In the end water doesn’t taste better because it came from a comet or created by someone, though I suppose it could alter your appreciation of it a bit. For all those who want to hotly debate this, I recommend you go enjoy a cold glass of water instead, it will be more beneficial in the end and you will save yourself some frustration…cheers!

  3. Anthony,

    I love when a good comet helps to prove my research!
    Water was here long before this theory of being bombarded by comets of water.
    What do you think kept toxic gases compressed when this planet was cooling?
    Massive amounts of water that has been lost to space at a rate of 1.25mm/10,000 years.
    Why do you think we have all this salt left over around the planet under a billion years old?

  4. I like the sound of that. The theory has been hanging around for years & seemed plausible. However, a question, if the water on Earth evaporated due to the heat generated in its formation, why would it have “disappeared” as opposed to merely being stored in the atmosphere ready to reform as water as soon as the Earth cooled?

  5. Isn’t water outgassed from volcanoes? I would think the most likely explanation is that water ice was buried in the formation of Earth and released late enough to remain and eventually form oceans as the Earth got cooler. Venus didn’t get it’s CO2 from comets.

  6. The article states: “The origin of Earth’s water is hotly debated. Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated.”

    But actually those who favor the idea that most of the Earth’s seawater came from internal sources (volcanic steam and outgassing from the Earth’s crust) say something else. They say that the primordial Earth’s atmosphere was much denser then, so that the boiling point of water at sea level was much higher. Hence, liquid water may have existed even at temperatures exceeding 212° F / 100° C.

    (P.S., Ian Plimer notes this in his “Heaven and Earth” — a must-have title for the AGW-skeptic’s bookshelf)

  7. It’s only a hop, skip and jump from this to “Comets cause catastrophic sea level rise, we must rid the solar system of comets”

  8. A nasty, sneaking, heretical thought: is it absolutely known that Earth was once completely molten (aside from the major moon-forming impact, that is)? Consider a pile of space rubble accreting under gravity. The centre gets heated and melts, gradually expanding the melt front, but will it actually reach the surface? I don’t have much problem envisaging a rubbly, dusty surface over a molten inner, with volcanoes erupting and gradually forming a crust, but with the water still liquid on top.
    As I said, just a thought.

  9. (snip) Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated. (/snip)

    “Evaporated”, or “evaporated and left the earth permanently”?

    It makes sense that any water would have evaporated, but it does not make sense that it would not condense again at some later time.

  10. I don’t get this at all. It sounds too much like “Was God a Spaceman?” I mean water doesn’t breed and I seriously doubt that any comet that DIDN’T destroy the earth would deposit enough ice to fill the oceans.
    Isn’t it more likely that it comes from hydrogen from volcanoes burning in the atmosphere, or something ?

  11. A single comet vs. multiples that didn’t check out .. I think the most basic math obviously dismisses the hypothesis unless low deuterium count comets have significantly higher probability of hitting earth than their high deuterium count brethren.

  12. Anthony, you are doing a fantastic job in making these things available so quickly.
    Comets seem a pretty logical source of water on Earth to me. The old portents of doom have also always seemed a highly likely candidate for massive climate change to me – all that water boiling off in the upper atmosphere. How big a comet would you need to actually impact – even then, what would be left – a nice lake? Would we even notice a few chunks of ice arriving pretty much continuously? .

    Why would anyone expect the ratio of deuterium in the oceans to be the same as deuterium in comets? I’m no expert, but the rates of reaction of deuterated organic compounds are dramatically different to hydrogen-based organic compounds, since all known life is hydro(gen)-carbon based, surely the presence of life would dramatically alter the H to D ratio in seawater? You get a lot of kinetics in 4 billion years…

  13. Of course the God was an Astronaut thing does rather fit, someone called Slartibartfast probably had a hand in it, he won an award for the fjiords you know! ;-)

  14. My issue with the “water came from comets” is that it ignores a likely common cause. I say water on earth came from the same source as the comets and the comets are just some minuscule left overs. I’ve say water is created in some sort of solar or other cosmic process, and recent discovery of a star emitting jets of water shows this to be at least one origin of galactic H20 supplies.

    Water is abundant in this universe, which will sadly make so many science fiction plots ridiculous.

    Scientists discover water cloud in galaxy…

    http://www.filtersfast.com/blog/index.php/2011/08/scientists-discover-water-cloud-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away/

    Star Found Shooting Water “Bullets”

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/06/110613-space-science-star-water-bullets-kristensen/

    Black Hole Holds Universe’s Biggest Water Supply

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/07/black-hole-holds-universes-biggest-water-supply/

  15. “Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated. Yet today, two-thirds of the surface is covered in water and this must have been delivered from space after Earth cooled down.”

    Must have been delivered from space? There are other options. Maybe the water changed state from gas to liquid. Or maybe it was made from a chemical reaction that combined hydrogen and oxygen.

  16. What difference does it make?

    Wheter a big pile of rock was forming first in space, and then bombarded by other lumps of ice, or, one big lump of rock and ice was formed in one go……

  17. evaporated doesn’t mean destroyed … does water vapor escape into space ? if not then the evaporated water would simply have hung around in the atmo waiting for cooler times …

  18. Jim Cripwell says:
    October 6, 2011 at 3:37 am
    I seem to remember that recently comets made from just ice were discovered by seeing specks in photographs of aurora.
    There was such a proposal, but analysis of the images show that the ‘ice’ specks were just that: artificial specks or defects in the imagery.

  19. Ted Wagner says:
    October 6, 2011 at 7:06 am

    (snip) Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated. (/snip)

    “Evaporated”, or “evaporated and left the earth permanently”?

    It makes sense that any water would have evaporated, but it does not make sense that it would not condense again at some later time.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    My thoughts exactly. To they have the calculations showing the earth’s early water vapor managed to obtain escape velocity???

  20. The Oort Cloud has a drive-thru window.

    “May I take your order, sir?”

    “Yes please. I’d like one global ocean with everything.”

    “Very good sir. Would you care for fries with that?”

    “No thank you but a few extra packets of kelp would be great.”

    “Thank you sir. Your order comes to $1,000,000,000,000,000 and will be ready in a billion years at the next window. Have a wonderful day!”

  21. If there are ‘good’ icy comets, might there not also be ‘bad’ dry-icy comets? Don’t ya just love ‘settled’ science? It’s soooooo unsettling.

  22. There are temperature constraints imposed on the reconstruction of H2O history, and much depends on whether we suppose cold or hot accretion. The smaller the molecule, the faster it travels at a given temperature. Water molecules have an escape velocity temperature intermediate between O2 and N2 on the one hand, and He and H2 on the other. So oxygen and nitrogen remain, while hydrogen and helium don’t hang around very long. Presumably the earth had to cool down before water could be retained in the atmosphere, to a temperature cooler than the upper atmosphere, which is hot enough to send hydrogen and helium into space. –AGF

  23. SiliconJon says:
    Water is abundant in this universe, which will sadly make so many science fiction plots ridiculous.

    Reminds me of those wonderful scriptures speaking of the massive, incomparable flood that occurred between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

    For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
    Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished – 2 Peter 3:5, 6

  24. >> Disputin says:
    October 6, 2011 at 7:03 am
    A nasty, sneaking, heretical thought: is it absolutely known that Earth was once completely molten (aside from the major moon-forming impact, that is)? Consider a pile of space rubble accreting under gravity. The centre gets heated and melts, gradually expanding the melt front, but will it actually reach the surface? I don’t have much problem envisaging a rubbly, dusty surface over a molten inner, with volcanoes erupting and gradually forming a crust, but with the water still liquid on top.
    As I said, just a thought. <<

    The Earth is STILL completely molten, except for a very thin solid crust, and a core that's well beyond the melting point of iron but is solid because of the pressure.

    In any case, most of the Earth's atmosphere and liquid water must have been lost in the collision that created the moon (if that theory is correct). That Earth has only about 25% of the nitrogen in Venus' atmosphere points to a catastrophic event after most or all of the atmosphere was in place. Earth, being formed farther from the sun, should have formed containing more volatile material than Venus.

    I would suspect that early Earth lost all of it's primordeal atmosphere, including the water vapor, before it cooled. The H2O and CO2 were probably outgassed after the Earth cooled. I can't see any validity in a theory that says that H2O had to come from comets but CO2 didn't have to, and I'm not familiar with comets containing a significant amount of CO2. The oxygen is from plants converting CO2. The argon is from decay of potassium 40. There should also be a lot of helium from alpha decay and it's absence points to a hotter upper atmosphere in the Earth's past.

    But I still want to know where the nitrogen came from. Was it a gas that stayed with the Earth when it was formed? Was it trapped inside the Earth as a gas (or a liquid or solid?) as it was formed and later outgassed? Was it originally from nitrogen in the form of methane ice? Was it from the decay of carbon 14? Does anyone know if there is appreciable nitrogen released by volcanoes?

  25. >> Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 6, 2011 at 9:27 am
    Jim Cripwell says:
    October 6, 2011 at 3:37 am
    I seem to remember that recently comets made from just ice were discovered by seeing specks in photographs of aurora.
    There was such a proposal, but analysis of the images show that the ‘ice’ specks were just that: artificial specks or defects in the imagery. <<

    Also, frequent house-sized comets would leave a visibly changing landscape on the moon with no atmosphere to prevent a full-speed collision.

  26. “Comet water discovered to be nearly identical in composition to Earth’s oceans … Suggests comet bombardment contributed to forming oceans”

    I recall last winter looking out the picture window at two feet of smooth virgin snow blanketing our property. Nearby the neighbor kids were playing and one of their errant snowballs landed right in the midst of our perfectly unblemished wintry landscape. I noticed how this snowball immediately vanished beneath the accumulation and soon so-one would ever be able to tell if it ever existed.

    I note for the record that at no time did it ever cross my mind that our yard had been filled the night before by neighborhood kids tossing snowballs from their snow filled yards into our empty one.

  27. Am I to assume then, that water soaked comets continue to bombard the earth (and I’m not talking about big ones we can see but, millions of little ones)? It’s only reasonable to make this assumption. It’s not like somebody suddenly deflected all the comets away once the earth had “enough” water.
    Could that not be the reason sea levels are rising and nothing to do with warming of the climate?
    Could there come a time when the earth does, indeed, become Waterworld?

  28. The photo of the comet shows what seems to be an awful lot of water being ejected.
    How old is the Comet?
    Has the water been issuing since the comet started?
    How much water is left?
    Etc.

  29. A G Foster says (October 6, 2011 at 10:13 am): “Water molecules have an escape velocity temperature intermediate between O2 and N2 on the one hand, and He and H2 on the other.”

    So if most of Earth’s water didn’t come from comets, that would imply yet another Goldilocks requirement met by our planet, making extraterrestrial life even less likely?

  30. The small, house-sized, comets are observed phenomena. The images are not defective, altered or explained away as specks.

    http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/preslectures/frank99/index.html

    http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/www/faq.htmlx

    http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/

    Earth’s orbit travels through a flux of very small comets and one enters the earth’s atmosphere about every minute or so. The H2O recently discovered on the moon is more intriguing than the supposed absence of impact craters from these small comets. The height of noctilucent clouds at 80 to 100 km, well how does anybody think water vapor get up that high?

    The problem with University of Iowa’s Louis Frank’s observations isn’t that they are invalid or refuted – they are so wildly disruptive to every branch of science they are rejected out-of-hand as impossible: The observed comet flux accounts for the earth’s oceans in ten to twenty million years, maybe less. What earth science can bear up to that time-line?

    I want to see a post on small comets. If Anthony would help me I’d have a go at it myself.

  31. Check out Small Comet Theory.

    Inferring from their observations, I was not at all surprised when the Mars probes found signs of a lot of water on Mars, past and present.

    Nor was it any great surprise that the Moon had water.

    The lack of water on Venus is also explained, the small comets don’t survive much further inward of Earth.

    The remaining unanswered question is, where do they originate?

    And it would be nice if someone put up a powerful enough radar satellite to detect them and plot their course.

  32. >> William Abbott says:
    October 6, 2011 at 11:31 am
    The small, house-sized, comets are observed phenomena. The images are not defective, altered or explained away as specks.

    http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/preslectures/frank99/index.html

    http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/www/faq.htmlx

    http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/

    Earth’s orbit travels through a flux of very small comets and one enters the earth’s atmosphere about every minute or so. The H2O recently discovered on the moon is more intriguing than the supposed absence of impact craters from these small comets. <<

    Really? How do you explain the absence of thousands of new impact craters on the moon if it were being impacted by house-sized comets every minute or so (or even every hour to more than account for the lower gravity and smaller cross-section)?

  33. OK, is this another example of Science getting it backwards?? How about the earth going through a catacysm where the water and minerals… were ejected and formed at least some of the comets?? This gentleman has an interesting theory possibly better than mainstream Science Theories!! Explains a whole bunch of anomalies that are problems for the consensus.

    http://creationscience.com/onlinebook/

  34. The problem is one of trying to shoe horn the facts to fit the theory. First they say that the inner solar comets could not have seeded Earth’s ocean’s because they don’t have the same deuterium signature. Then they find a comet from the kuiper belt which does, and in order to fit the theory, all the comets that provided the Earth’s water must now have come from the Kuiper belt only. But why should it be that inner solar comets never contributed water but Kuiper belt comets did? There is an inconsitency there that needs an explanation.

  35. This article reminds me of the following which I read a few years ago:

    In the spring of 1986, I published my explanation of the black spots in a scientific journal: The Earth’s atmosphere was being bombarded by house-sized, water-bearing objects traveling at 25,000 mph, one every three seconds or so. That’s 20 a minute, 1,200 an hour, 28,800 a day, 864,000 a month and more than 10 million a year. Spelled out in this way, the numbers truly boggle the mind. These objects, which I call “small comets,” disintegrate high above the Earth and deposit huge clouds of water vapor into the upper atmosphere. Over the history of this planet, the small comets may have dumped enough water to fill the oceans and may have even provided the organic ingredients necessary for life on Earth.

    http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/wp.html

  36. Pontification: The “firmament” of Genesis seems to have been a metallic hemisphere hammered out by God to keep all the water out. This hemisphere was put into place after day and night were separated. Day and night alternated a few times before the sun was created, showing that the ancient Israelites, like the Babylonians and everyone else, did not know that the sun was responsible for daylight. After all, the notion that the sun circles the earth presupposes that the earth is round, and this notion was taught to the Jews by the Greeks–as late as the Book of Enoch the Jews still believe in a flat earth.

    The idea that the whole universe was made of water trying to leak in from the sky and from the ground allowed for the flood myth: water came from everywhere and simply dissipated. It was not till Ecclesiastes that Greek science prevailed here: the Preacher complains that even the rain is not new, but recycled–he understands that the ocean is a constant store of water and that the global hydrological budget is finite. The Flood and the Flat Earth certainly do go hand in hand. –AGF

  37. To my mind, this is a leap of faith when so little is really known.

    It is one of many small pieces of information gleaned and while one can speculate theories, that doesn’t make them absolute fact.

    Water, as we think of it, is a clear fluid or gas as steam). Within the chemical concepts of geology water itself, is a component of minerals, sometimes in a high percentage. Under pressure, water with a high content of dissolved minerals or perhaps it is more illustrative to suggest that water is dissolved in the magma and it does not resemble water to us.

    What I’m stating is that the early earth could certainly have retained substantial water content even if all of it’s atmosphere was stripped away by solar activity (another speculation theory).

    What we need is more data before anyone decides they know what happened or how it happens. All we really know know right now is that Earth’s water has many sources.

    To steal someone else’s lines recently.
    “More study is needed” Send money!

  38. “The origin of Earth’s water is hotly debated. Our planet formed at such high temperatures that any original water must have evaporated.”

    Where did it get the requisite escape velocity to leave the planet?

  39. ‘All the deuterium and hydrogen in the Universe was made just after the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago,…………..’

    About 3.00 p.m. on a Thursday wasn’t it? You sound convinced on the Big Bang theory, Anthony. The trouble with the theory is that you have to believe in their ‘singularity’ – a point without dimension – nothing – out of which came an almighty lot of something. They have to have a beginning and an end, not having imagination enough to consider simple eternity.

  40. Tom_R says:
    Really? How do you explain the absence of thousands of new impact craters on the moon if it were being impacted by house-sized comets every minute or so (or even every hour to more than account for the lower gravity and smaller cross-section)?

    I assume there is lots of impact evidence. The density and size of the comets would make the impact footprint difficult to find unless you knew what you were looking for. And you would have to look… Has anyone looked? I don’t think we are talking about craters.

  41. A G Foster says:
    October 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm
    Pontification: The “firmament” of Genesis seems to have been

    Your “private interpretation” of the Scriptures is utter nonsense. You have no idea what you are talking about.

  42. A few questions:

    1) Who taught whom that the world is round: did the Greeks teach the Jews or did the Jews teach the Greeks?
    2) How is it that day and night alternated before the creation of the sun?
    3) How old are the stars? Why can we see them?

    This was hardly a “private interpretation”: it’s the standard critical view and has been for over a century. And it is well known that the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, and everyone else anciently considered daylight to dawn independently of the sun. Venus was the true harbinger of dawn, and so in Greek it was called “heosphoros,” the “dawn bringer.”

    But I don’t expect to be able to talk any sense into someone who takes the flood myth seriously–CAGW is a thousand times more scientific than that. –AGF

  43. Let’s make another leap. That these ice-comets contained microbes that seeded the earth with its first lifeforms. Not an original thought, I know – but one that instantly sprung to mind whilst reading the article.

  44. Tom_R says:

    “Really? How do you explain the absence of thousands of new impact craters on the moon if it were being impacted by house-sized comets every minute or so (or even every hour to more than account for the lower gravity and smaller cross-section)?”

    From site at http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/www/faq.htmlx

    Do the small comets also impact the Moon? If so, where are these impacts and why don’t we see dust clouds on the moon when the comets hit? Why didn’t the Apollo seismometers record their impacts? Where is all the water on the Moon?

    If you remember that the small comets are like fluffy snowballs–not rocks–the Moon does not present a problem to the existence of small comets. It’s the difference between throwing a rock at your car and a snowball; one will leave a permanent mark, the other will not. Because the Moon is one thirteenth as large as the Earth it should receive about thirteen times fewer objects than the Earth. But the seismometers that were set up on the Moon during the Apollo missions recorded only about 2,000 events a year. How to account for this apparent discrepancy? The small comets do impact the Moon, but the seismometers were calibrated by looking at the seismic signature of everything from nuclear explosions to bullets shot into loose sand. No one ever worked out what effect a large snowball would have on the lunar surface. The small comets that strike the Moon will not make impact craters;they probably kick up some lunar dust and produce strange glows, and indeed these kinds of anomalous events have been reported by lunar observers for centuries. It is the seismometers’ lack of sensitivity to the impact of small comets that accounts for the discrepancy in the low number of large objects detected on the Moon relative to the number of such objects that are seen falling into Earth’s atmosphere. But if small comets strike the Moon, where is all the water then? The lunar gravity is such that practically all the water vapor from the impact of small comets simply flies off, though some of the water molecules may wander around and eventually condense in the crevices near the poles–exactly where it has been reported of late.

  45. A powdery snowball hurled 10 miles a second will leave a mark on my face, and I think on the face of the moon. And the landscape can sit untouched for a million years. I find it hard to believe there woiuld be no trace of these little cometisimiles on the lunar surface. –AGF

  46. http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/wp.html

    The above link from kramer at October 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm is a good one, because if what Dr. Louis A. Frank has proposed for the last 25 years is true, then there are other explanations for the slight rise in sea levels that that which Dr. Al Gore has proposed.

    Of course the amounts of water deposition by small comets are difficult to assess, at least by “Simple High School Physics” standards.

  47. One thing is for sure, that was truly a Climate Change Disruption, and it was certainly not human made.

    haha!

  48. >> A G Foster says:
    October 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm
    A powdery snowball hurled 10 miles a second will leave a mark on my face, and I think on the face of the moon. And the landscape can sit untouched for a million years. I find it hard to believe there woiuld be no trace of these little cometisimiles on the lunar surface. –AGF <<

    Exactly. Even if the density were only 0.1 gm/cm3, a comet the size of a house would have a mass of 100,000 kg, and the energy at impact would be equivalent to about 1 kiloton of TNT. That's not a Barringer-sized crater, but it would leave a visible crater.

  49. A. Viirlaid says: October 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    http://smallcomets.physics.uiowa.edu/wp.html

    …if what Dr. Louis A. Frank has proposed for the last 25 years is true…

    I thoroughly recommend Dr Frank’s book “The Big Splash”. Alas, it is out of print and both unavailable and un-reviewed at Amazon. It gives a spirited account of being rubbished because one is challenging the status quo. I see I am a lucky owner. But to quote from the page above, Dr Frank’s own words:

    I don’t bury observations that stand in the way of conventional wisdom… Unfortunately, this stance has made me the target of scientific vandalism.

    It all began in the mid-1980s, when a camera aboard a NASA spacecraft … presented me with data that many scientists would have ignored or overlooked… In the spring of 1986, I published… in a scientific journal… Over the history of this planet, the small comets may have dumped enough water to fill the oceans…

    Scientists reacted to my announcement as if I had plowed through the sacred field of established science with a bulldozer… I spent more than a year answering the objections of critics. But I didn’t convince them. It was 10,000 to 1 — actually 2, myself and John Sigwarth… “We have taken a representative poll of current opinion in this field,” an editor at Nature wrote… It was my first encounter with taking polls as a way of doing science.

    ATTITUDES SOUND FAMILIAR????????????

  50. When magma cools it expels water. The earths crust is ~30km+ thick, when this crust cooled the water was expelled and formed the oceans. It is also constantly recycled with plate tectonics. Sorry, it doesnt come form space. Most astonomers are not volcanologists and dont know that magmas expel large volumes of water, 30km of crust and 4.6 illion years of plate tectonics is enough to form the earths oceans.

  51. For those wondering about why the moon isn’t getting plastered with comets every day.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Heavy_Bombardment

    I didn’t really read much of the OP because it’s been taught as basic earth science since I was a child that the earth’s water was deposited by comets in the late heavy bombardment and everything we’ve discovered since then merely adds confirming evidence to the theory.

  52. thingadonta says:
    October 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    “When magma cools it expels water. The earths crust is ~30km+ thick, when this crust cooled the water was expelled and formed the oceans. It is also constantly recycled with plate tectonics. Sorry, it doesnt come form space. Most astonomers are not volcanologists and dont know that magmas expel large volumes of water, 30km of crust and 4.6 illion years of plate tectonics is enough to form the earths oceans.”

    Yeah well most posters here don’t know that the water in those magmas comes from the ocean when crust is recycled back into the mantle at underwater subduction zones.

    http://www.nsf-margins.org/Nuggets_Public/Nuggets_Final/SubFac/Plank_Kelley_Grove_Stolper_Newman_Hauri_Wiens_Water_Content.pdf

    The earth’s oceans are comet water. Get used to it.

  53. I have always believed that Earth’s water originated from so called “comets” and that water found any where in the solar system all came from the same source. This source is the hypothetical Oort cloud and its derivatives. How water may have formed in the first place is really the first mystery to contemplate. We believe that the matter in the Sun is “second hand” left over scrap material condensed from super nova remnants. This first star, the one that blew up to make our sun and all else, is where we must begin. The funny configuration of re-condensed matter we see as our solar system now is nothing more than the steady result of gravity’s effect on rearranging the super nova trash or more politely, elements and let’s not forget miraculous compounds that include vast amounts of water and hydrocarbons.

    Surely many giant celestial icebergs (comets) orbited the infant sun at all allowable orbital planes and great collisions occurred throughout the various stages of accretion Earth and all the other planets underwent to finally result in what we see in our night sky today. Some of these icebergs were enveloped during Earth’s early stages of accretion and were entrained within the ever shifting molten core to be boiled off over and over again in a dynamic ancient steamy atmosphere. And surely many more giant icebergs arrived after Earth’s collision with an errant sister body that resulted in our moon. The watery puddles that remained on the Earth’s surface, we now call oceans.

    But why did water form to begin with? How could the original super nova create gold, silver, iron, nickel and water and hydrocarbons?

    All we know is that did happen and if our little solar junkyard produced all of this and the human brain, imagine what other nearby solar systems must have fashioned out of their super nova trash.

    I wish a giant “comet” would collide with Mars next week so it could regain its lost Oceans. Perhaps we could nudge a giant dirty iceberg out of orbit so that it might happen.

  54. @Tom R and the general discussion –

    I would take a small leap here and guess the overall number of comets from the early days of the solar system’s formation is greatly lessened from planets/moons “absorbing” them in the form of impacts, which certainly would have been a much more common event in the distant past? The amount of craters on the moon, to use your example, shows intense activity, more so than we see now . Just because it isn’t now doesn’t mean it wasn’t then. Also, why does the answer have to be either terrestrial or extraterrestrial? Couldn’t it be some of both? And couldn’t comets have been MUCH larger that far back? I assume that the airspace near our orbit (sorry – spacespace just doesn’t sound right) was a mess with materials for accretion, so why not some of that debris being huge chunks of ice? I would think that since comets “bleed” off vapor as they travel, they could have been bigger in the past.

    Apologies for the drifty nature of the post but I have to go put the kids in bed and I don’t type very fast…

  55. Do I read correctly that this research proposes that comets are mostly water, so are Earth’s oceans, therefore comets made our oceans directly? I cannot believe any of this.
    Comets are not composed of water that contains 20,000 ppm sulfate, chloride, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. No, no, no. Our oceans are the result of outgassing from volcanoes. Ocean water has been recycled over the earth’s surface and through the crust many times. Did comets provide a significant amount of water to the primordial Earth? Maybe, but there are other possibilities here too.

  56. Reply to DSW October 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    My comments were skeptical of the theory that Earth’s water is from house-sized comets that continually and currently still bombard the Earth. In the early solar system, large bodies with lots of ice (call them comets if you will) no doubt contributed to the water on Earth.

    IMO, any theory that states where Earth’s water came from, also has to account for the CO2, since both are volatile ices. Earth’s CO2 was converted mostly to carbonates in the ocean, but we can guess that Venus was formed from roughly the same materials and should have the same proportion of volatiles. IIRC, Venus has four times more nitrogen than Earth, so as a first guess I’d say that Earth had about 1/4 the CO2 of Venus before it became carbonates (possibly Earth started with more CO2 and nitrogen but lost much of it’s atmosphere in the collision that created the moon). This gives the Earth a total original mass of CO2 of 1.2^1020 kg, compared to the estimate of 1.6×10^21 kg of water. If comets contain about 8% CO2 by mass compared to H2O, then comets could explain the water on earth. I expect that CO2 would be lost more quickly than H2O as comets outgassed each perihelion, so earlier in Earth’s history comets should have been richer in CO2. Does that account for the 8%?

  57. A G Foster says:
    October 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm
    A few questions:

    1) Who taught whom that the world is round: did the Greeks teach the Jews or did the Jews teach the Greeks?

    The idea that the earth is flat, or that the sun revolves around the earth, has no basis in the Scriptures. Likewise with “seven days of creation”.

    2) How is it that day and night alternated before the creation of the sun?

    They did?

    3) How old are the stars?

    I dunno. By some estimates, some > 14B years?

    Why can we see them?

    Eyeballs. What do these questions have to do with anything?

    This was hardly a “private interpretation”: it’s the standard critical view and has been for over a century.

    “Private” meaning belonging to you. Your own. Glad you brought up the consensus, it must be true. I should quit?

    You should take the time to adequately assess the basis for those “critical views” with the same verve and tenacity with which a real scientist tackles his work. Perhaps more so. Better yet, throw out those crap for commentaries you have, and learn how to read the book yourself.

    If God is the author of the Scriptures, and he needed someone to comment upon them so you could understand them, he wouldn’t be much of a God, would he? Nonetheless, you should be willing to admit that you have no idea how to read them, since you, like every one of us, has not been taught how to read particularly well.

    And it is well known that the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, and everyone else anciently considered daylight to dawn independently of the sun.

    Everyone? You’re sure of that? You interviewed them all?

    But I don’t expect to be able to talk any sense into someone who takes the flood myth seriously–CAGW is a thousand times more scientific than that. –AGF

    Exactly what sense are you talking about? What flood myth you are talking about?

    The myths and fairy tales told and retold about what all people in the past believed or didn’t believe is what rivals the story telling of CAGW. The private interpretations (which are also called lies) that people and organizations have promulgated over the centuries regarding what the Scriptures say has caused more harm to people than all scientific misunderstandings put together for all time.

    The deliberate mishandling of the Scriptures, and the deliberate mishandling of climate science observations has fascinating parallels. Both are employed to deceive, defraud, and enslave people. A case can be easily made that they both originate from the same source.

    There is not (nor, dare I say, will there ever be) a single scientific fact or observation that contradicts anything in the Scriptures.

  58. Well I’m happy to learn that water is still H2O no matter where you find it. For a while there, I was worried that somebody discovered some water witha different chemical formula. Whew !!

  59. The comet theory is impossible to prove like most other geo origin science. Its relevant what comets are out there now because the comets that would formed the ocean are gone already and of course its an amalgation of many different comets so individual contents of comets don’t even matter- you get some with higher D:H ratios and some lower.

  60. One of the wilder theories I’ve ever stumbled across is the expanding earth theory, where continental drift is explained by the earth increasing in volume over the aeons. I found it a novel idea, but the mechanism seemed missing. Yet, being at the bottom of a gravity well, we must have accumulated some amount of matter in the last few billion years. Does anyone have a rough estimate as to the amount we capture annualy?

  61. Dave Springer says in reponse to the assertion that water comes from cooling magmas:
    “Yeah well most posters here don’t know that the water in those magmas comes from the ocean when crust is recycled back into the mantle at underwater subduction zones.”

    I think you are wrong.
    Magmas contain water in and of themselves, albeit less than those adjacent to subduction zones. Even magmas rising directly from the mantle contain water. Original earth-derived water was transferred to the crust and out, as the earth’s early crust differentiated and cooled. The formation of this crust was not complete for some time, so the water probably remained in the crust some time after the earth formed. It thus want ‘evaporated off’ in the early hot earth.

    The paper you refer to does not address water geneated from magma outside of subduction zones; because the earth’s crust has now already cooled and differentiated, this process is much reduced, however non-subduction related magmas are still expelling water, and are theorised to have some role in the development of intra-contintental springs for example, and for eg opal formation.

  62. Anthony,

    Interesting to see the theories coming out.
    If you calculate back, then the planet at formation had about 2 kilometers of water which would not allow steam to escape by the simple fact that pressure would change any gases to liquids.
    Rotation of the planet was faster but having dense salts would give the density of NOT having the water fly off the planet. The huge amount of water also, as today only allow solar penetration to go so far as the salts act to prevent solar rays penetration and surface evaporation creating the NON-TOXIC atmosphere that we evolved into.
    This is a massive chunk of ICE hitting a newly formed tiny molten planet.

  63. “identical in composition” I cringed when I read that bit of the headline on this on the news sites, and again while reading the article and finding that what the thing is about is the isotope ratio of Earth’s oceans and some comets.
    My first thought on the headline was “Really? What about all the stuff that’s washed off the land for all this time?”
    Identical in composition implies *everything*, salt content, other dissolved stuff, whatever else is in the sea water.
    Of course anyone who actually reads the whole article will find out what it’s about, but many will just read the headline and maybe the first two or three paragraphs – you can see what sort of wrong idea that can get into their heads.

    News article writers (there are dang few journalists these days) need to either get the right info in the headline or make certain it’s in the first paragraph.

  64. Anthony,

    Lack of evidence is just as important as having actual evidence.
    The lack of meteor strike evidence(like we have on the moon).
    Salt deposits all over the planet.
    The wave formation of when rock is being formed shows compression exerting down as well as the upwelling.
    Older volcanoes show the rock formation as not as porous as today surface volcanoes.
    Oil deposits around the planet were theorized to be of underground streams.
    Sand. Where did that come from if the pressure on porous rocks did not implode much of them?
    Ice core samples only being in the millions of years.

    This planet is extremely more complex when factoring in the circumference differences and speed difference as you go from the equator to the poles due to planetary rotation. Now add in the land mass height difference at those different speeds.
    These are not factored in with temperature data or climate models.

  65. The Great Salt Lake’s water doesn’t match the chemical composition of ice comets–it even has mercury. It’s salt obviously came from the basin that collects its water. Same for the ocean.

    Blockheaded at 832 says: “There is not (nor, dare I say, will there ever be) a single scientific fact or observation that contradicts anything in the Scriptures.”

    I would respond that there never has been a more naive and absurd claim than that. There is hardly a chapter in the Bible containing an account which does not directly contradict some other account or other version of the same story. Anyone who takes the trouble to compare the gospels for example, will encounter endless contradictions. Obviously Blockheaded has never read the Bible. He hasn’t even read the first chapter of Genesis, which tells how the sun was created on the fourth day–three alternations of day and night passed before the creation of the sun.

    And the Flood: Noah gets stuck on top of the highest mountain (bad luck), and while stuck, sends out a bird that comes back with an olive twig, growing higher than his mountain. Par for the course. And the water just disappears. And Blockhead believes it, and that to doubt it is unscientific. The numerous inner contradictions of the flood myth can be resolved by assuming a conflation of two versions, and we can also see how the ark story derived from Sumerian and Babylonian versions. But none of this explains where all the water went, or came from. The colossal ignorance–geophysical, anthropological, linguistic, archeological, zoological (how did the kangaroos get to Australia?)! Blockheads are a disgrace to this thread.
    –AGF

  66. Did Earth’s oceans come from comets?
    Did comets come from Earth’s oceans?

    =

    Does rising CO2 causes global warming?
    Does global warming causes rising CO2?

  67. Views;

    a) Earth resident H2 and O2 chemically combined to create earth resident water

    b) Water came from extraterrestial sources

    c) Water was always here from the earliest formations of earth

    d) ????? (other views?)

    The science process continues. Interesting to see the discourse. It does not get any better than this.

    John

  68. Since the Oort cloud is thought to be a remnant of the original protoplanetary disc that formed around the Sun approximately 4.6 billion years ago and is thought to be the source of our solar system’s comets, then the Earth should also have been composed of the same elements, originally. Evaporation due to heat does not produce escape velocity so the H2O should still be here. Unless, of course, we have been bombarded by interstellar comets or in the unlikely event that the water was all in one place and was blasted off of the planet by an impact that did give it escape velocity. Seems likely we got our H2O from both sources to one degree or another.

    This would then require that all solar system bodies with sufficient gravity to maintain an atmosphere have water somewhere in their planetary make up or still burried in their geology if too small to maintain an atmosphere in the event that it “boiled off”. Recent info says even our moon has some water.

  69. A G Foster says:
    October 7, 2011 at 6:00 am
    Blockheaded at 832 says:

    Pejoratives, really?

    There is hardly a chapter in the Bible containing an account which does not directly contradict some other account or other version of the same story

    Sorry, I seem to have a different bible than the one you use (mine has the word “Holy” on the outside). Either that, or you are making incredible assumptions when you read.

    Obviously Blockheaded has never read the Bible.

    Obviously, you are an expert on all thing Scriptural, and I must concede.

    He hasn’t even read the first chapter of Genesis, which tells how the sun was created on the fourth day

    You simply lie, or you parrot the lies of your esteemed commentaries. It does not say the sun was created on the fourth day. If the words “formed”, “made” and “let there be” mean the same thing as “create”, then words are useless as a means of communication.

    The word “create” in Genesis 1 refers to:
    1. The original creation, the former heaven and earth – vs 1.
    2. The creation of soul life (Heb. nephesh chai – living, breathing souls), first in great whales, in the present heaven and earth. – vs 21.
    3. The creation of Adam in the image of God, who is spirit, according to John 4:24 – vs 27.

    BTW, there is mention in 2 Peter 3 of a new heaven and earth to come, which will make it the third. Thankfully, that is promised because this present earth is predicted to melt with fervent heat.

    And the Flood: Noah gets stuck on top of the highest mountain

    We are talking about two different floods. In the flood of Noah, not everyone perished. In the flood between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, the world (Gr. kosmos – the inhabited world) perished. Not one inhabitant survived according to 2 Pet 3:5, 6.

    (bad luck)

    So you prefer the philosophy of luck to the revelation of truth by an almighty, loving God. I hope you find that satisfying. I’m fairly certain the luck religion has no credibility in real science. Prediction of the future based on statistics is inherently the same religion. Que sera, sera, as the Stoics would say.

    But none of this explains where all the water went, or came from

    None of what?

    Based on some of the discussion above, and some of the links, there is an abundance of possible sources for both the flood of Genesis 1:1-1:2 and the flood of Noah. How they might have occurred is another question, and would only be so much speculation. Where the water went is the inverse question, and has the same answer.

    If there is a God, and you cannot detect him in the natural realm by any sense or mechanical augmentation of sense, then there must be another realm, a spiritual realm, invisible. And if such a spiritual realm exists, then it is quite plausible that things in the natural realm can be affected by things in the spiritual realm, and especially so if the spiritual is the cause or source of the natural. If there were such floods as the Scriptures describe, their cause may not necessarily have any ultimate natural explanation.

    Since science is based on observation of physical matter and processes, its ability to explain, describe, or predict spiritual matters is not possible. Every honest scientist both past and present understands this, and many of them have attested to or do attest to the existence of two realms. It is not logical to dismiss the existence of a spiritual realm because you cannot detect it by your five senses. If you are simply “all scientific” or “all senses”, then you have to admit you don’t know if a spiritual realm exists. Its existence is not disprovable nor provable by the scientific method.

    The original creation has no natural explanation, and neither does any form of life. The same is true for a thousand other invisible things that tender-hearted people value, like love, peace, joy…

  70. For what it is worth (and for whomever may find it interesting) the primordial gas cloud from which the solar system condensed was probably not far from thermal equilibrium. The gas atoms and molecules all had the same average temperature, meaning that the heavier atoms would have been moving slower.
    When the gravity-driven condensation started, the slower-moving atoms would have condensed more rapidly, producing higher concentrations of slower (i.e. heavier) atoms towards the center.
    The consequence of this would have been metals (silicon, iron) concentrated closest to the center, and lighter molecules (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen) further out. Furthest out would be mostly hydrogen, depleted even of the deuterium (‘heavy hydrogen’) nucleus.

  71. “Blockheaded” is one dimension better than “Squareheaded.” You should be flattered.

    I lie? Here it is (AV):
    Gen 1:
    13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
    14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 
    15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
    16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
     17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
     18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
    19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

    Notice that the sun “rules” over the day; it does not cause it. To understand that the sun is responsible for daylight in spite of the fact that the dawn always appears before the sun rises, one must be aware than night is caused by being in the shadow of the sun, and that the sun revolves around a globular earth. Ancient man had no way of knowing that without some pretty advanced geometrical concepts combined with information from the Phoenicians. According to Herodotus Phoenician sailors circumnavigated Africa, and reported that they saw the sun in the northern sky–6th century BC. The brighter Greeks of the time were able to make sense out of that datum, but it took a few centuries for it to make its way to mainstream Jewry, as the Book of Enoch shows.

    Accordingly the only intellectually honest interpretation is that the biblical science represented the best science of the day. It was mainly concerned with making the creation monotheistic, and it succeeded quite adequately. There was nothing “spiritual” about this creation. –AGF

  72. Queue dramatic TV show score ….

    The comet in the photo reminds me of “The Planet Killer.”

    About the same size.

  73. A G Foster says:
    October 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    “Blockheaded” is one dimension better than “Squareheaded.” You should be flattered.

    You dissimulate.

    I lie? Here it is (AV):

    And “create” appears in which of those verses?

    Notice that the sun “rules” over the day; it does not cause it.

    “Ruling” is to have dominion over or domain. It is not an explanation of a physical property, or the expression of some physical relationship. You are just making stuff up, saying this verse describes a causal relationship. You could be a theologian.

    To understand that the sun is responsible for daylight in spite of the fact that the dawn always appears before the sun rises, one must be aware

    “set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth” sounds like a pretty good understanding of what we call daylight and night-light to me.

    Ancient man had no way of knowing that without some pretty advanced geometrical concepts

    There you go again, claiming to know what everyone has known.

    Adam had a pretty good relationship with God for a time; one can suppose that he and God would have talked things over. Adam also lived long enough to have met Noah, I think, and could have passed along a mountain of information. None of it recorded on cuneiform. And then there was Moses, with whom God talked face to face, and …

    Knowing how the dawn appears before the sun crests or knowing if the earth is round or flat is pretty inconsequential to the vast majority of people. Not everyone invents superstitious nonsense to explain things they don’t understand. Lots of people just say “I don’t know”. Lots of people don’t write down what they do know.

    Accordingly the only intellectually honest interpretation is that the biblical science represented the best science of the day

    If God bothered to author a scientific book for you or anyone in the ancient world, we’d all be out of jobs, and a big part of the fun in life would be gone. There is no such thing as “biblical science” from what I can tell. You are just making stuff up to imply there is.

    The Bible is not a scientific book, It is not a carpentry book, a political book, or a religious book, or any other kind of book with which you are familiar. it is a spiritual book; the words of it are of spiritual origin (not natural or man-made), pertain to spiritual matters, and are addressed to people who need and want answers about invisible, spiritual things. It is apparently not addressed to you.

    Accordingly, if that is the case, your honest response would be to in no wise attempt to explain the Scriptures to anyone else. The fact is, you cannot explain them. Your dishonest response will be to continue to mishandle, to falsely represent, and to deride and berate things which you know nothing about.

    Since the Bible is a spiritual book, you will not understand it without help. Of great help is the gift of holy spirit, which God has given and will give to anyone who believes him. It is something you were assuredly born without, thanks to Adam. Your shortcoming can be corrected…

  74. A G Foster at October 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm says:

    A powdery snowball hurled 10 miles a second will leave a mark on my face, and I think on the face of the moon. And the landscape can sit untouched for a million years. I find it hard to believe there would be no trace of these little comet-smiles on the lunar surface. –AGF

    Dear A G Foster,

    A little perspective please.

    Yes, most certainly a snowball of the type you or I might create in having our annual snowball fight would indeed blow your head off at that velocity and thus energy.

    But you are making an assumption about relative density.

    A plasma that is at 100,000 degrees Celsius but that has the density of near-space may not even feel warm to the touch (assuming your hand and that near-space-density plasma could simultaneously coexist in the same location).

    The term “snowball” or “dirty snowball” does not connote anything about a comet having the same density as the snowball you and I are familiar with.

    So, no, you cannot simply conclude that a “powdery snowball hurled [at a velocity of] 10 miles a second will leave a mark on my face”.

    How dense was that snowball?

    Was it the density of Kleenex or of raw cotton? Yes, even those might leave a mark, I agree, if they hit you at 10 miles a second.

    But you’re going to have to give me some figures about the comets we are talking about before I will believe your statement “carte blanche”.

  75. RoHa at October 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm says:
    The comets are trying to drown us?
    We’re doomed!

    Dear RoHa,

    It’s called WATERWORLD.

    You are right, in time, we are doomed.

    Unless we can join the whales.

  76. Frank posits a carbon envelope that holds the ice together. As I understand it, the plasma only comes into play when the comets enter the atmosphere, which doesn’t apply to a lunar impact. So I’m inclined not to accept the burden of providing a minimum density for the ice–I don’t know enough about the physical chemistry of water to do that. This is just one piece of the theory that seems contrived. Even if the ice and craters vanished, what becomes of this carbon envelope? The moon should be plastered with carbon splotches. —AGF

  77. @moderators:

    since when is all the bible chatter allowed here?

    [Moderation has always been done with a light touch at WUWT. That is one of this site's strengths. If it gets out of hand, we will fix it. ~dbs, mod.]

  78. I’m not sure how this is relevant. In any case the earth’s water, along with every other bit of it, came from “space” since all the elements heavier than hydrogen, helium, and lithium were created through fusion in dying stars that died long before our solar system formed.

  79. I think the quest for where the water comes from miss one central point: Water is not a chemical element and it therefore don’t need to have existed as water from the start.

    Water is made up of hydrogen and oxgen. If hydrogen and oxygen originally were chemically bound to other minerals, for example carbon in CO2 and methane (CH4), like we see on Titan, the origin of water on the Earth could very well be from the reformation from those sources.

  80. @Dave:

    since when is all the bible chatter allowed here?

    You missed the point of the discussion. A G F could be working for the UN, the IPCC, the CCCP, Dr. Mann, Dr Hansen, et. al., and his arguments and techniques would be exactly the same. The discussion demonstrates in part how religion is born and bred. By these things people are deceived and enslaved, even smart ones. It has been going on for thousands of years.

    The tenants of CAGW form a religion (man-made doctrine), and the cause is replete with false apostles, false prophets, and followers akin to parrots, zombies, and unholy crusaders. Should they successfully proselytize your country or town, your individual submission and sacrifice will be extracted (at the point of a gun) to appease Gaia or whatever the {insert offensive, derogatory word}’s name is. I exaggerate not.

    Spend some time and get to know your enemy. You live in a unique period of time in which freedom may only be a temporary enjoyment.

  81. Kevin Kilty says:

    October 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Do I read correctly that this research proposes that comets are mostly water, so are Earth’s oceans, therefore comets made our oceans directly?

    No, that is not a correct reading of it at all. The Earth’s first atmosphere included large quantities of Hydrogen until the Solar Wind stripped it away and propelled it into the outer Solar System. With the loss of the lighter gases, the Earth’s second atmosphere was overwhelmingly dominated by Carbon dioxide, and this was an atmosphere about 100 times more massive than today. Aerobic life subsequently removed this gargantuan quaantity of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, giving us Earth’s third atmosphere in which Carbon dioxide is only a very small trace component rather than nearly 95-98 percent of 100 atmospheres. There has always been and remains a question about how much of the Oxygen in the early atmospheric Carbon dioxide may have been chemically reprocessed by inorganic and organic processes along with other compounds such as Methane to produce the water in the Earth’s present oceans? Water compounded by chemical and biochemical processes on the Earth is expected to have a different isotopic composition than water compounded in interstellar space and accreted from the interstellar nebulae, proto-planetary disk, and the later comets. If research should find that water compounded on the Earth is a small proportion of the total water on the Earth, such informaton is important to understanding the chemical evolution of the planet. The article is discussing a comparison of istopic compositon which may arguably imply the vast bulk of the water in the Earth’s oceans have an isotopic signature indicating that part of the water was compounded in extraterrestial sources such as the stars and not in the terrestrial environment suchas a reprocessing of the earlier Carbon dioxide rich atmospheres.

  82. [POSTS IN ALL CAPS ARE SHOUTING - CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? try resubmitting sans capitalizing- Anthony]

  83. I already said a long time ago that life came “falling” from the skies….

    “Looking at it as a scientist, evolution really is a long chain of many, many chance meetings and interactions with nature, sometimes even collisions with celestial bodies like comets and asteroids, where it is believed that eventually intelligent life evolved from animal life and animal life from amphibian life and amphibian live from marine life and marine life from the first living cell. The thing is, if you do not believe that there was a plan to begin with, then everything connected to this chain of events really was just a lucky lotto draw and a one in a 100 billion chance or less in each of these stages”

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/why-do-i-believe-in-god

  84. Jim G says:
    October 8, 2011 at 9:38 am
    [POSTS IN ALL CAPS ARE SHOUTING - CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? try resubmitting sans capitalizing- Anthony]

    Was’nt shouting, only trying to differentiate between what I was saying from the Bible info I posted. Too much work to repost plus this post will be gone by then.. Next time will use italics.

  85. First, this headline “Comet water discovered to be…” is misleading, actually, they are only talking about one single comet here, thus it cannot be said to apply to all comets. Also, any comets that used to exist in the inner solar system, as well as many from other parts, will have gone on to their final rest as part of a planet or simply boiled off all their volatiles and thus now be known as an asteroid. In other words, the comets we are looking for are no longer there. It is quite possible that this comet started out long ago in our area, but was flung out due to any number of factors, and ended up way out there. Alternatively, the deuterium signature of our water could simply be due to many different comets and icy bodies falling together and mixing their signatures, and they just happened to find one that matches the signature we ended up with after all that.

    But meanwhile, the only way to resolve the argument about where the earth’s water came from would be to know any eyewitness to those events; otherwise, this sort of thing is speculation. The suggestion that this comet data would invalidate religious ideas suggests that such an eyewitness may be possible. I have for some time been looking into the whole “religion versus science” thing, to see if there is any truth to either side, and have found some results by doing something that appears to be unique (although why it should be is anybodies guess), that is, read the biblical account from a purely scientific perspective (you know, the perspective of people who read this site), plus reading the bible using strict logic to see exactly what it says, and more importantly, what it does not say, sometimes resorting to using the original language to see how that differs from what is generally taught that it says today (which in many cases is radically different than what it actually says). I shall mainly stick around the topic of our oceans and where they came from, however, some other parts later also show how our atmosphere came to be like it is, including that pesky (or not so pesky) dangerous “pollutant” carbon dioxide, which is rather relevant to what this site is all about. I am sticking to the bible since I have found no other religions that even come close to matching scientific reality of creation, or even claim to.

    Gen 1:1 There was a beginning (duh!), there is more but we are talking comets and water here. There was a lot of hydrogen, then, there were a lot of exploding supernovas. That threw out other elements, including the third most abundant element, oxygen. Thus, we see that long long ago, the basic elements of water were out there, thus we know that there must have always been a lot of water out there. There was also a lot of iron and inkle and other elements that later formed planets.

    Gen 1:2 The earth was a mess, being in the process of formation. During it’s formation, some of that water would have been included with all the rocks and dust and gasses. If a “late heavy bombardment” could have happened, what is to stop an early one? If water is out there (we know it is, we have detected huge clouds of it in space), then what, were there cops out there pulling over any water bearing rocks (comets) and turning them back like California fruit inspectors (“you got any water in there?”)? This explains why we find no comets in the inner systems that match our water signature, they were all used up making this planet. The idea of this water evaporating due to the heat of the early earth assumes that the heat would make the water assume escape velocity once there was a fair amount of gravity, and assumes that before there was, there was also a lot of heat. The earth may very well have started out with a lot more water and lost some.

    The result of all this was a planet so hot that none of the water could exist on the surface without boiling off immediately, hence, thick dark clouds of it, plus a lot of volcanic ash and possibly still dust thrown up from incoming asteroids and dust. This is also seen here Job 38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,” Here we see a good description of “outgassing”, which, considering that the very very most likely way and time water arrived on earth is, of course, with all the other stuff that made up the earth (how would you keep it out??), a lot of the water would get buried by later rocks and stuff, and after the forming planet gets hot, would turn to steam and shoot up out of the ground.

    Gen 1:3 All these thick clouds and dust made it pitch black at what we would now call sea level. The previous verse, talking to humans in language we would understand, specified that this next verse is true on earth at sea level “the surface of the deep”. When you understand that the point of view is what we humans know of, things become clearer (easily seen due to the fact the book is written for humans, not chimps, octopi, space aliens, or anything else). The “”Let there be light,” is thus seen as the time when things got just a little clearer when the dust settled out, although there was still thick clouds covering the whole earth, as seen here Job 38:9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness”. Note that this was not the creation of light, merely, as carefully specified, the first existence of light seen on earth at sea level.

    The “first day” was, in the original language, the first YOM (original Hebrew word), a period of time, length unspecified http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/longdays.html . The idea that many have where they insist that these are only 24 hour days appears to be a reaction to evolution, the idea being to make evolution impossible by denying it the time necessary to happen (evolution is covered later). Basically, the whole “seven days” thing appears to be groupthink http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink , the idea “we have to stop those evil, godless evolutionists by any means possible”. See CAGW for a good example of groupthink. Much of “creationism”, at least the young earth brand (the one most people think of) seems to stem from this basic idea.

    Gen 1:6 The crust starts to cool enough here that water can now fall onto the surface without boiling off Gen 1:7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. You can clearly see it in Gen 1:7, water above and below being specified, thus, before that, they must not have been separate, they must have all been one big hot cloud. The idea of some crystal sphere or something holding water up at first is a later idea, caused by the Hebrews not knowing anything about a hot early earth, planetary formation, or all that. Moses got this description when God told him about it in his tent; he just wrote it down, he did not necessarily understand it all. With our current understanding, however, we can, so there is no reason to repeat old misunderstandings (or to insist that old King James English still be used). Also seen here (speaking still of the sea) Job 38:10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, Job 38:11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?

    Gen 1:11 The first plants. Note about evolution, this states Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation:”, note the land is doing it, not God directly, God specified a speaking, transmitting of information, not a doing, no plants made from nothing or from clay or something is stated or implied, despite what many creationists say. Thus, this does not deny evolution, in fact, it demands it. Many still say that evolution is impossible, and with good scientific reasons http://www.lifesorigin.com/chap9/Prebiotic-synthesis-DNA-RNA-Protein-1.php , to which I must reply “is anything impossible with God?”. The most likely method to do it would be for God to arrange for a long series of events to happen planned from the big bang resulting in a series of extremely unlikely events happening all at one place and time billions of years later at one small planet called earth. The ideas that God would reach down and do miracles to change genetics seems farfetched, not because he couldn’t, but because why take so long and with so many inefficiencies and false starts and the like? It could still be arraigned (if you have infinite intelligence to foresee all the possible options), but it would come out just as we have seen, not perfectly or fast, but “adequate”, or as good as it can get given the method (thus leaving us evidence, which would not exist if it was done instantly by miracle).

    The first plants are important here due to their effect on the atmosphere. This atmosphere appears to have been largely methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which would keep the earth hot and thus the planet would still have a complete cloud cover, not super thick like before, just regular but all encompassing clouds. These first plants (microscopic but numerous) used sunlight and munched on water to create free oxygen, which for quite a while was used up making rust.

    Gen 1:14 The appearance of blue sky seen for the first time through the clouds due to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event . All that oxygen finally finished off the rust, gathered in the atmosphere, and combined with the methane to create water (the oxygen has been made by the plants mostly from water to begin with, not net gain of water) and carbon dioxide, that pesky but actually rather comparatively weak greenhouse gas. The conversion of the atmosphere to nitrogen, oxygen and some carbon dioxide and no methane meant a lot less greenhouse effect, the planet went into an ice age, there was a lot less evaporation, hence the first appearance of blue sky (and probably the first appearance of ice). Some say that this was the first creation of the sun and moon, however, the text does not specify this, it says they were already in existence by the specific words used, they were just visible for the first time at the previously specified location, sea level on earth (basically, the usual human perspective, the perspective the readers would understand).

    Gen 1:20 Sea critters and birds. The great oxygenation event killed off a lot of the early one-celled organisms, new ones started to evolve to fill the new niches of the radically changed environment. The birds were in existence at this time in the form of dinosaurs (one is described in Job, not because he saw one, other things are described in Job that he never saw, as above), they are called birds here since the readers, humans, would never know dinosaurs directly.

    Then came mammals and eventually mankind. Note that no method is described for the creation of mankind in the first chapter, the second, however, very pointedly specifies a fashioning, a new word used, unique to mankind, as different from a gradual evolution. This makes sense when you think about it from God’s viewpoint, if mankind, a sentient creature, is given souls, what would you do if they gradually evolved, give the half sentient creatures half souls? Thus, God could be said to have “cheated” here with mankind, and skipped all that evolutionary stuff.

    Mankind was specified to have been created in “The garden of Eden”, a specified, named, located place. As a garden, it would be different from the non garden outside of it, no weeds, carnivores, etc, hence the word “garden”. Much of creationism seems to think that the whole world was like this, this is very clearly *not* specified, in fact, the word “garden” makes it clear this one areas was different from all the rest. Thus, when they sinned, God did not need to change the whole world and all it’s natural laws, merely remove them from the garden, out into the wild were there were carnivores and weeds and work that they had to do themselves if they wanted to eat, in contrast to the already planted and weeded garden they had lived in before. Thus we see much of the mythical and unscientific looking parts of creationism are not actually in the bible at all, and in fact are specified to not be true. Basically, much of “creationism” seems to be totally unbiblical, stories made up with no biblical or scientific foundation, and thus no foundation at all. Some “religious” people may object to that, but hey, either you believe that bible, or you don’t, and if you do, you must believe it the way it was actually written, not later stories made up around it.

    After they left the garden, they are specified to have moved “east of Eden”, where they multiplied. Thus, that whole “flood” thing need not be global, but only where they were at, which is almost certainly here http://www.livescience.com/10340-lost-civilization-existed-beneath-persian-gulf.html , the flood specified to be only local seen here http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/localflood.html . Much of what is said to be evidence of a global flood is probably from the gradual emergence of the land from the sea seen in Gen 1:6 and since then with continental drift and the like. We see further evidence of it in the human genetic record, “Mitochondrial Eve”, and “Y-Chromosomal Adam” dated much later, who was really Noah since his Genes would overwrite Adams since he was the father of all men still living at that time, his 3 sons and their wives of different mothers. I merely included the whole flood thing and the garden thing because they always comes up.

    In short, it may be possible to find out how the water got here by hearing it from an eyewitness (as dictated to Moses). This biblical version, when read using strict logic, only what it says the way it says it, matches up with the most likely, even, dare I say it, only reasonable choice explanation. Specifically, that the water arrived here when everything else did, formed a thick cloud, the earth cooled, it settled and became seas, and the reason we cannot find many comets with our seas signature is because you’re standing on them.

  86. Henry@Legatus
    Interesting thoughts. I like them but I always thought the bible to be a book of faith, not of exact science. In fact, it is not scientifically correct – like I observe from Gen. 1:14 that the plants arrive before the sun and the moon and the stars came (Gen. 1:11). I don’t know how you can grow plants without the UV light from the sun?
    The main thing is to understand what is written in the bible in the time when and where it was written. Like in the above example, the writer of Genesis clearly shows not to adhere to the beliefs of his time where most people worshipped the sun as their God. In hindsight he (Moses?) was right about that: the sun is indeed a dead body who cannot think for himself.

    Interesting for you to know is perhaps Jesus’ reference to the beginning of life (and the miracle that followed) in John 9:1-7
    The bringing together of sand (earth = formless, emptiness = chaos) and His Water (the water that gives life: His Spirit); makes a combination that causes light to shine in the darkness…..

    Coming back to the problem on hand: we have to admit that at the initial stages of the formation of earth it must have been very hot and water could not possibly exist. The idea that the water came with a (few) big splash(es) from outside is therefore perhaps not as improbable as it seems. Alternatively you have to find a source of a lot of oxygen – which I don’t currently see present at any of the other planets in our system?

    Another idea that you should consider is the fast development of intelligent life, almost at the same time as mammals developed. What came first: the chicken or the egg? It seems that there were cataclysimic events that triggered multiple nuclear reactions & various radiation types. Existing eggs were bombarded with this, and so new species were created instantly. I notice that when man plays around with nuclear bombs we have generations of misformed babies. When God does it, there is a plan…….. and you just know it must have been planned and thought through very far in advance.

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/why-do-i-believe-in-god

  87. “I always thought the bible to be a book of faith, not of exact science”, this is belief, as stated, it is your faith. I am not talking about faith here, what I beleive or do not, but about what the text actually says, or does not say. If you are God, why not tell the truth? After all, as God, if it turns out to be wrong, just change it backdated to the beginning of time, you need never be wrong that way (kinda like skepticalscience on steroids).

    “In fact, it is not scientifically correct – like I observe from Gen. 1:14 that the plants arrive before the sun and the moon and the stars came (Gen. 1:11). I don’t know how you can grow plants without the UV light from the sun?” read what I wrote again, I never claimed that the sun etc was created after the plants, only that they were visible at sea level on earth for the first time due to the first appearence of blue sky, the first break in the clouds, due to the removal (conversion actually) of methane to carbon dioxide and water, result, less greenhouse effect, less heat, thus less clouds, thus blue sky. The specific words used in the original language indicate that the sun etc were already in existance at this time. We clearly see this in the very first verse, where God create the heavens (includes the sun, moon, stars) and the earth long before this. Verse 1 comes before verse 11, nuff said.

    You reference to John 9:1-7 makes no sense at all, jesus is not even mentioning the beginning of life there. he mentiones on fellow, however, one man is not all life, is it? Was this man born at the big bang?

    “Coming back to the problem on hand: we have to admit that at the initial stages of the formation of earth it must have been very hot and water could not possibly exist”, uh, perhaps you have not heard, water can exist in several forms, solid, liquid, and GAS. Look up, see any clouds. that’s water. How, exactly, would you keep the water away from the earth during it’s initial formation? For that matter, how would you keep the Oxygen, the thrid most abundant element, away?

    There is plenty of oxygen on other planets, just not FREE oxygen. Example (if any is needed), the atmosphere of mars, carbon diOXIDE. You might want to check out Venus while your at it, Ozone, what is Ozone made of, how did it get there, scroll down to see the artical.

    “cataclysimic events that triggered multiple nuclear reactions & various radiation types”. Please be specific, where is this in the scientific literature, exactly?

  88. For those curious about the scientific interpretation of Genesis, there are dozens of commentaries out there (like the Anchor Bible, and the old International Critical Commentary), and other literature, like Perot’s little book titled “The Flood.” It certainly is necessary to work in the original languages: for example, “face of the deep” is loaded– “deep” is “tehom” in Hebrew, which is derived from “tehumat,” the Canaanite sea monster. The word also shows up in Psalms and in Isaiah. And the Hebrew word for Noah’s “ark,” “teva,” is used elsewhere only for the ark of Moses, made of woven reeds. And funny thing, in the Sumerian flood myth the hero turns his reed hut upside down to make it a boat.
    –AGF

  89. Henry@Legatus
    It appears you have not understood what the “bible” is. I suggest you read the first 5 verses of John.
    This is a science blog so I don’t think we can go into many of the wrong assertions made by Moses, some of which can be directly traced to have been the cause of segregation and apartheid, and some of which to this day are still the cause of gender unequality…..
    I suggest you read my book: http://www.hourofpower.org/global/south_africa/news/JesusisGodbook.doc
    especially where Jesus corrects Moses. (see Chapter: Male and Female).
    Jesus only confirms that the first few sentences of Genesis are correct, but you did not figure that one out yet. (see Chapter: Let there be light)

    I don’t know about the oxygen on other planets, even in the oxidised form. Remember that stone and sand on earth are also oxidised silicon. I don’t think you have an idea of how much water (= extra oxygen) we are talking on earth?

  90. PS @Legatus

    There was book I read caled: “Cataclysmic creation” ,
    I don’t remember who the writer was.

    [IV]

  91. PS. Again/
    There was book I read called: “Cataclysmic creation” ,
    I don’t remember who the writer was.

  92. Legatus says:
    October 11, 2011 at 12:57 am
    that is, read the biblical account from a purely scientific perspective (you know, the perspective of people who read this site), plus reading the bible using strict logic to see exactly what it says, and more importantly, what it does not say

    HenryP says:
    October 11, 2011 at 5:56 am
    Interesting thoughts. I like them but I always thought

    Legatus, you might have been heading down a noteworthy path when you started, but you violated your first principles immediately in your extended speculatory flights of fancy about what the Scriptures say. The exercise is the same for the proponents of CAGW and every religion.

    You both would do well to heed 2 Peter 1:20, 21:
    20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    And you would do well to take heed to the Bible as whole, instead of cherry picking verses of scripture to support your theology. To do otherwise is to commit the same errors as the CAGW group, and innumerable groups of well meaning people throughout this present age.

    Since you started a list of first principles to adhere to when reading the Scriptures, you ought to refine and extend it until you get to the point that, when you read, you are reading what was written and understand it as it was intended. That would be a more noble and useful goal.

    Since 2 Pet 1:20 says no “private interpretation”, start with that. Private is Gr. idios, meaning one’s own or his own. The interpretation does not belong to you, or your friends, or your preacher, or your science buddy; your speculation is of absolutely no use in understanding the Scriptures.

    If 2 Pet 1:20 is true, then the Scriptures either:
    1. Have no interpretation, or
    2. They provide their own interpretation, they interpret themselves. The author of the Scriptures may be able to help you understand them himself or he could send one of those “holy men of God” mentioned in vs 21 to help out, should there be any of left.

    If the vast bulk of the Scriptures are written in such a way that you cannot know the interpretation (translation notwithstanding), of exactly what use are they? A loving and kind God, and one who is worthy to be listened to, does not hide behind a cloak of incomprehensibility.

    In any event, you should be willing to admit that you may not have been trained particularly well in how to read. That is the case for all of us.

    2 above is the correct answer. Build from there. You have a ways to go…

  93. squareheaded says:
    October 11, 2011 at 11:51 am
    Legatus says:
    October 11, 2011 at 12:57 am
    that is, read the biblical account from a purely scientific perspective (you know, the perspective of people who read this site), plus reading the bible using strict logic to see exactly what it says, and more importantly, what it does not say

    Legatus, you might have been heading down a noteworthy path when you started, but you violated your first principles immediately in your extended speculatory flights of fancy about what the Scriptures say. The exercise is the same for the proponents of CAGW and every religion.

    These “speculative flights of fancy” are simply the scientific descriptions, as we now know them that happen to match the text. The text does not go into such great detail, however, what it does say matches this. If you want to read about exactly how the text says this in the original language, here are some links that go into it exhaustively.

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencebible.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis1.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/dayagedefense.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/longdays.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/psalm104.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/gilgamesh.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/progressive.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/origin_first_plants.html

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/genesis2.html

    That should cover most of it, there are probably a lot more, including on other websites, that I have links to, but we were discussing comets and water here, and that is a bit off topic. I did not include a word by word how the scriptures say what I said, the above sites do, to do a word by word here would be very long and also even more off topic.

    Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    Well, then later you say you are reading what was written and understand it as it was intended, excuse me, “understand it as it was intended”? That sounds like you first decide, “how it was intended” and then read it that way. I have a better way, simply read what it says, the text. As you yourself said if the vast bulk of the Scriptures are written in such a way that you cannot know the interpretation (translation notwithstanding), of exactly what use are they? A loving and kind God, and one who is worthy to be listened to, does not hide behind a cloak of incomprehensibility. Simply put, the vast bulk of scripture says exactly what it means, and means exactly what it says, Genesis is no exception. Genesis was obviously written as a simple narrative of what happened, nothing more (the whole book is such a narrative), there is no need to “understand the intent of the author” or other such deconstructive nonsense.

    You may be holding to “interpretations” held by many churches today, such as
    “Its just allegory”, (odd, it is not written in that style, places that are very clear, such as calling it a ‘parable”), or…
    “Poetical” (odd, it doesn’t look like Hebrew poetry, Psalms does, this doesn’t), or…
    The many “interpretations” that break the very principles you say I should follow, adding a lot to the text, such as saying that God created the life out of nothing instantly (which is not in the text), or insisting that these are only 7 24 hour days (despite the exact wording used).

    instead of cherry picking verses of scripture to support your theology Exactly how did I cherry pick here? Be specific. I was talking about the formation of the earth, with special interest in its seas, where is that written about, exactly? So which verses should I use? Those are the ones I used, how is this cherry picking? I did not quote the verses or go into a line by line to show exactly how they say that, because that would be lengthy and off topic, plus I supplied links that go into that in detail which you can click, thus saving a lot of space on this site.
    In any event, you should be willing to admit that you may not have been trained particularly well in how to read. That is the case for all of us.
    Actually, I have been trained since boyhood in exactly that (there’s this thing called school, plus I have a fair amount of training in the bible specifically). But, perhaps more to the point, all you are saying here is “your wrong” without giving even one example of exactly how or why I am wrong. Since you have given me no actual specific reasons of exactly how I am wrong, your unsupported personal opinion is of no value. I cannot be convinced by anything you have said, since you haven’t actually said anything.

    If you wish to convince me that I am wrong, be specific, exactly where am I wrong, and for what exact reason? Here I am talking about the topic in question, creation, with special interest in Genesis the first chapter, and it’s description of same. Simply more of you are interpreting scripture wrong opinion without supplying any detail of exactly where and how I am doing so is of no value. I suggest that before you reply to that, you click at least some of the above links and then decide. That is because I did not include exactly why I gave this “interpretation”, since the above sites go into that sort of thing exhaustively and that would fill up a whole page just for that. There are already sites for that, and WUWT isn’t it.

    Here are some questions for you (chosen to be on topic, comets and water):
    In Gen 1:2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Note the exact wording, first, formless and empty, literally, empty and in emptiness (original language), an apt description of what the earth is like just before and during the time it forms from rocks and dust and gasses and ices in space, you know, space, “emptiness”. As it is forming, at first it is rather formless, wouldn’t you say, a chaotic mess for a while there? It was certainly unlike the earth we know now, it was not in the form we know now, and so “formless” is also an apt description.
    Now see darkness was over the surface of the deep, surface?? How can there be a surface when we see later (Gen 1:6) that the water “above” (clouds) and “below” (seas) are not separate? If they are not separate, where can they possibly be? If they are as liquid water on the surface, at least some would have formed clouds in the air, and would be separate, now wouldn’t it? Water evaporates, after all, and especially so on what all scientists agree would be an initially rather hot earth (as does the physical evidence). Therefore there can only be one place for this water, up in the air, since any rain that fell on the hot earth would instantly vaporize to steam. There really can’t be any other option here, not with the text, or the simple physics of the situation, the earth ,must be hot under the circumstances, and the water, if not separated (as explicitly stated in Gen 1:6 and demanded by the physics of water), must be in the form of clouds.

    So, now, how can “the Spirit of God be “hovering over the waters? Notice the specific wording used here (this is God, if he can plan an entire universe, he can certainly plan to use very exact language when he wishes), specifically spirit. Well, what is a spirit? It isn’t like a material body, as seen here Luke 24:39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”. The word ‘spirit” is described in the bible as something not physical, not like us, not made of atoms or photons or anything which we can detect, and not being physical, it does not have extension in space, and cannot be said to actually “be” anywhere. So why even include this, when God can only be said to be everywhere and nowhere? Once you understand why this text must be included here to understand the context of “let there be light”, the light will start to dawn (so to speak).

    This is the bible, written to human beings. As such, it must be written from a perspective we understand, and most people throughout history have lived not too far above sea level, on the surface of this planet, earth. Not in outer space, not in the air, few on the tops of high mountains, and none underwater, thus, God will not write from those perspectives. As such, God must be very carefully and pointedly including this text the surface of the deep for a specific reason (as usual). God is showing how the earth was terraformed from it’s earlier, uninhabitable state into the state we now know and enjoy. One thing that we humans need is a little light down here to see by (plants also need it). God is here then showing how once, long ago, at the specified place, sea level (as we know it), when there was Job 38:9 thick darkness (another place where the seas and their formation are specifically described), God was at work terraforming the planet, in this case, during planetary formation, the dust and volcanic ash fell out and some light was seen at the surface (there was still a complete and very thick cloud cover over the whole earth as seen in both Job 38:9 and Gen 1:2). You might say as some do, that there was no light, no sun then, however, first, Gen 1:1 states the “the heavens” were created before this, and “the heavens” is all that is above us humans, sky, sun, moon, planets, stars. Later, where sun and moon are described, the specific phraseology is that of already existing things, not of just created things. Thus, there was a sun, but it was not seen at sea level, ask yourself, why? If the entire seas were up in the air, as clouds, which I have already shown must be so, both from the text and physics, would this make “thick darkness”? Would a very early earth, very hot, and thus with much volcanic activity (and a lot of outgassing of water and other stuff, as seen here Job 38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb) have a lot of volcanic ash in the air, have you seen how dark that stuff gets? Would still incoming big rocks smashing into the earth throw up any dust? All that dust and ash, plus those thick clouds, does that sound like good visibility conditions to you?

    Now we are discussing the seas, where they came from, in this thread. Where in the bible would I find such early creation of earth type things described? Does Genesis sound like a good place (hint, the name, Genesis)? So I look there and I find Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth., well, that certainly sounds promising for a description of the earths formation! What about those seas? Well, there is that ‘surface of the deep” and ‘waters’ stuff a few verses down, that sure sounds appropriate! Are there any other places where God describes to anyone this creation of the earth and it’s seas? Well, there is this Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand., that certainly sounds like a place God is describing the creation of earth, anything about seas? How about a few verses down Job 38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,, well, certainly appropriate, sounds like what scientists would call “outgassing”, the most likely explanation of where all this water came from (since it is most likely to occur when 99% of the material that made up the earth gathered together as this earth, I mean, how would you keep it away?). Is this a good place to look for a description of Gods creation of the sea? After all, you said I should learn to read this, I do, and I see this thing called a subject, the sea, and I see God saying that he did something with it, shut it up, then it burst forth, sounds like verbs. This “reading” thing is not all that hard after all! And what, exactly, do you say about the very next verse Job 38:9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness”, well, that certainly sounds like darkness, as also seen in Gen 1:2, doesn’t it, and also associated clearly with the sea, as it also is in Gen 1:2, where the phrase “the deep” is used.

    So tell me, when I am looking specifically for the topic of this thread, the creation of the seas, should I look at the two places where this is specifically described, Genesis the first chapter, and Job the 38th? If I do, how is this “cherry picking”? About this topic of the sea, how, exactly should I “read” it differently, to do it “correctly? Should I ignore all that noun and verb and subject stuff? How should I read these few verses in Genesis and Job, describing the seas creation, the way you believe it should be read? How exactly is that done? Could you show me, in the same, word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase way I just have, how these verses describing the creation of the seas mean anything else than I have stated here? Be specific, not just some vague idea like “your reading it wrong”, show me how you would read it, and why.

    You might try the old one, that Moses was only speaking as he knew, or was transcribing old folklore. However, look here Exo 33:11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. You yourself quoted 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, well, God speaking directly to Moses, that makes sense when describing something that no one could possibly know, it being so very long ago and under conditions that would kill any human who witnessed it, such as planetary formation. How could one have folklore of something that no one ever witnessed? Why would Moses write down something he had no knowledge of, when he could just ask God “face to face”? And look what God said to Job Job 38:21 “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!”, yup, 4.5 billion year old Job knew all about this stuff. And Job was said to have lived long before Moses. Thus God is stating the obvious truth, that no one did or could know about the things God described to Job or narrated to Moses. Or are you saying I should decide the “intent” of Moses and Job when I read them, and change the clear meaning of the text as written to “match” that “intent”, and exactly where am I to find this “intent”, if not the text? Could you show me this “intent”? How, exactly?

    So now the ball is in your court, show me exactly how I should read it, if I am reading it wrong. Be specific. To keep things short, you might want to stick with the text I used above, the text dealing with the topic of discussion, the creation of our seas. If you think I am “cherry picking”, tell me, why should I not use Genesis and Job, when they are the text’s describing the topic, the creation of the seas/? Be specific.

  94. A G Foster says:
    October 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

    For those curious about the scientific interpretation of Genesis, there are dozens of commentaries out there (like the Anchor Bible, and the old International Critical Commentary), and other literature, like Perot’s little book titled “The Flood.” It certainly is necessary to work in the original languages: for example, “face of the deep” is loaded– “deep” is “tehom” in Hebrew, which is derived from “tehumat,” the Canaanite sea monster. The word also shows up in Psalms and in Isaiah. And the Hebrew word for Noah’s “ark,” “teva,” is used elsewhere only for the ark of Moses, made of woven reeds. And funny thing, in the Sumerian flood myth the hero turns his reed hut upside down to make it a boat.,

    Your statements here do not fill me with any confidence in these commentaries, lets look at some:

    ” “face of the deep” is loaded– “, exactly how is it “loaded”?? Deep means seas in the Hebrew language; it is irrelevant what it means in another language, however derivative the word may be. In Hebrew it still means sea, it does not mean sea monster. If we are to start changing the meanings of the words now based on past meanings of vaguely similar words in former languages that may have evolved into English, our words now will end up mean very different things than they do now. In actual Hebrew, it still only means the sea, and the face of the deep is the surface of the sea, or as we would call it, sea level. Is your mentioning of “loaded” and “sea monster” merely an attempt at obfuscation or what? I mean, what does it even have to do with the clear and well known (for thousands of years even) meaning in the Hebrew?

    And this “the ark of Moses, made of woven reeds”, excuse me, made of woven reeds? You know this exactly how? Lets see exactly Gen 6:14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.. Cyprus wood, clearly stated, not reeds. You might want to look here for a comparison of the biblical flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh, to see if there is really any comparison. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/gilgamesh.html

    The only way this is on topic is this mention of commentaries and other such, which I assume you mean to say that they disagree with my reading (and it really is a reading, the plain text, in it’s context, exact words and phrases used) of what is said about creation, specifically as it relates to our seas. If this is what these commentaries say, even disagreeing without reason with the text (reeds??), then I will not even bother with them.

    My basic idea here is to show that the bible, the only text we know that claims to have an eyewitness account of the creation of our seas, agrees with what can only be called the only real reasonably scientific view. That view is the “outgassing” view (which is the majority view, for what that is worth). The idea is simple; first, there is a lot of oxygen and hydrogen out there to make water, and planets, from. If comets can bring the water after the earth is formed, can they not also bring the water as the earth is forming? If they did, they would no longer be around, right? Might that be why we see so few comets with our seas signature? If 99% of our planet was formed early on, from space rocks and the like, would not water ice be among them? How would the remaining 1% of material, the water, be kept away when the former 99% was not? I mean, 99$ chance it will arrive early, 1% chance it will arrive late, I’ll take the 99% odds. And if, say, such a rock arrived early, would it not get buried by following rocks? And as more rocks arrive, the planet gets bigger, and gravity kicks in, and now following rocks are hitting rather hard, result, friction and heat. So now we have a hot early planet, what does water do when it hits red-hot rock? Steam, and steam expands, and expanded things are lighter and exert pressure, and tend to rise to the surface and shoot out (while the heavy stuff sinks). So now we have a red hot earth with steam venting out, and a lot of gravity to hold that steam in (so most of it sticks around in our atmosphere), result, thick clouds. The venting sounds just like this Job 38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, and the following thick clouds sound just like this Job 38:9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness,.

    There really is no need for commentaries here, the text is plain, as is the science. Really, the text and the science seem like the only thing that could happen. You may not wish to believe one, or the other, but really, they both lead to the same inescapable conclusion.

    And if you believe in a “late heavy bombardment”, tell me, how, exactly, was all that water out there kept away from the earth when it was forming most of it’s mass? How, exactly, would water escape the earths gravity, however hot it might be? I mean, we have water up there now, it doesn’t seem to be trying to escape to me. We even have volcanoes, and steam, no escaping out to space there either. Who comes up with this stuff?? These guys need to get out more.

    But, they say, we cannot find any comets that match our signature nearby! Well of course you can’t, all the stuff around here went into planetary formation, I mean, there is this thing called gravity, g r a v i t y (you really should get out more). Gravity scavenges up stuff like ice bearing rocks, which then form planets and stuff, result, no more little rocks, just big planets (except for some few that escape out to the rim, or were there all along). So if we look and see no nearby comets with water like ours, well, that is exactly what we should expect to see. Duh!

  95. HenryP says:
    October 11, 2011 at 5:56 am
    Now that I heave read the relevant section of your book linked below, I can understand what you are talking about here.
    Interesting for you to know is perhaps Jesus’ reference to the beginning of life (and the miracle that followed) in John 9:1-7
    The bringing together of sand (earth = formless, emptiness = chaos) and His Water (the water that gives life: His Spirit); makes a combination that causes light to shine in the darkness…..

    You have made one error here however, you read to John 9:7 and then apparently stopped, if you had read further you would have realized that there was a reason Jesus did what he did with the mud he made, and it had nothing to do with Genesis 1. Jesus made the mud so that he could tell the man to go wash in a pool which was elsewhere. He did, and then, having been blind all his life after all, and not knowing where Jesus was, he went home (he at least knew where that was), all according to plan. Naturally, at home, he is now surrounded with people who know he has been blind since birth, and who are naturally surprised, and words gets around, also, according to plan. The word got to the local Jesus hating religious leaders (just because you say you are religious doesn’t mean you are), and they questioned the man, which caused the man to come to a belief that Jesus was someone he should listen to (instead of them), exactly as planned. Jesus now seeks out the man, now that his making that mud has resulted in the man being receptive to Jesus’ words (the plan all along), and the man listens and becomes a believer. Thus, instead of merely being sighted for a while (temporary), and then dying and going to hell, he goes to heaven (forever, not temporary). That was the plan, and why Jesus made the mud in the first place. It had nothing to do with Genesis, and there is nothing (zip, zilch, zero, nada) in the text to even suggest anything about Genesis, any connection to it, sand/earth/formless/chaos (quite a stretch there), his water, light, or any of that stuff you mixed in. All you needed to understand the mud he made was the text.

    John 9 is talking about the actions Jesus took in this part, not Genesis, if he were talking about Genesis, he would have said so. He mentioned nothing about “the beginning of life” here, only about this one mans life, that is clearly seen in the text. For you to read in “the beginning of life” where it is not stated or implied means you need to learn to simply read the text. You can’t just make up stuff like that, when it says one thing, it means that one thing, making it mean something other than what it actually says is for guys like skepticalscience. The same is true of the first chapters of John, it is talking about the book of John there, specifically about “The Logos”, Jesus. You might want to look up what “The Logos” (“the word”) means, specifically what it meant back then. . It is off topic here however.

    You cannot just ‘spiritualize” the text of Genesis this way. Genesis states in the text what it is talking about in the very first verse. John does the same for what he is talking about. They are obviously talking about different things, because they say so in the text. That is why they both exist, if they were both talking about the same thing, one of the texts would be unnecessary. If you are going to go around and turn different things you read into somehow semi-connected, spiritualized, rambling meanings (if it can even be called meanings), why, whatever you read could mean anything, and thus, actually will mean nothing. Do you read the newspaper this way, where a front-page article about the governor’s actions will be turned into an allegory about the ball game in a different article in the sports pages?

  96. Legatus says:
    October 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    If you wish to convince me that I am wrong, be specific

    Legatus, I have no desire to do that. As soon as you said

    there is no need to “understand the intent of the author”

    I bailed.

    Every author in the world is afforded the respect of “understand the intent”. Why shouldn’t the author of the Scriptures be afforded at least the same respect? Why not add that respect to the list of first principles? If you don’t understand the words written on the page, or if you don’t understand the intent of the author, you just say “I don’t know”. Then you shut up.

    Superstition is born of the rest. The tradition is to resort to deriding and misrepresenting the Scriptures, and worshiping Baal. 100 years of “progress” and public re-education in the USA have thoroughly prepared the current and next generations of scoffers, truth deniers. So-called ministers who have no respect for God’s word take much of the blame.

    If such respect for the Scriptures should somehow reappear, so many people would be disappointed you might say. Their favorite indoor and outdoor sport (taking pot shots at God’s word) would cease to exist. What would the fans do?

    This is what a pot shot looks like:

    Genesis was obviously written as a simple narrative of what happened, nothing more (the whole book is such a narrative)

    Obviously, you have no idea what you are talking about. Jesus Christ said that God’s word is truth in John 17:17. You say that it is an historical narrative. I should believe you instead? Next you’re going to tell me its a religious book, a science book, a comic book…

    Throw out your crap for commentaries and start afresh. Get that list done…

  97. Legatus reminds me of the joke about the animals on Moses’ ark. Moses’ ark was certainly made of reeds (see Exodus, not Genesis). So was the ark of Ziusudra in the Sumerian flood myth. Accordingly, the fact that Noah’s ark seems to be called a basket suggests that the Hebrew word for ark made its way from some version of the Sumerian myth, bypassing the Akkadian version. Obviously the Akkadian version better approximates the construction of Noah’s ark, but not the word for “ark.” At any rate, the biblical version of the flood is something that educated and intelligent people simply cannot take seriously, just as they cannot take CAGW seriously. The flood is not only incompatible with the most basic laws of physics, it is not compatible with the present distribution of species as determined by evolution and continental drift.

    How do you know-nothings think that Australia came to be populated by marsupials and monotremes? Why are edentates endemic to South America? Why does every island have a list of species that grow there and nowhere else? We can explain this through evolution. You know nothings can’t explain anything through a universal flood!

    And why do “morning and evening” alternate before the creation of the sun. (And yes, “create” and “make” are used interchangeably right there in Genesis chapter 1.) Because, like I said, the author of Genesis does not know that the sun is responsible for daylight. In most pantheons the chief god is the blue sky god, not the sun god. Even our English words “day” and “diva” are related for the same reason, In fact the word Tuesday is redundant for that reason. The chief Indo-European god was the “day god.” And I repeat, the Jews did not teach science to the world; they learned it from the Greeks. The Bible didn’t advance their science in the slightest–it advanced their ethics.

    As for “tehom,” it’s true that the etymology doesn’t inform us clearly of the later nuance of the word, but it gives us some inkling of how to interpret such verses as Ps 74:

    13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength; thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
    14 Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

    These verses clearly link the biblical and Babylonian creation myths, as does Is 27:

    1 In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

    But to get more basic, where did you learn the myth that the Bible is of consistent divine inspiration, or that Moses wrote the Pentateuch? These notions are absurd to anyone with the slightest background in biblical science. The Hebrew Bible represents the sum total of surviving ancient Hebrew literature. The difference between the Hebrew and Greek versions, the Apocrypha, represents that literary tradition which did not survive in Hebrew, but which was preserved only by Greek speaking Jews. And we know that at least one Apocryphal book, Ben Sirach, was extant in Palestine in the common era. So who decided what was “canon”? In modern times bible publishers gradually omitted the Apocrypha from the King James Bible until now most are ignorant of the fact that it was originally included. So I ask you, by what authority was the Apocrypha sometime included anciently, and by what authority was it removed in modern times? And why did the Qumran sect ignore Esther? Might it have been that they were aware that it was entirely fictitious, along with Tobit and other Apocryphal books?

    You seem to think that Moses wrote Genesis. This is just more flat earth science. Hebrew is the original language of Genesis, as all the puns prove, and Hebrew did not exist in Moses’ time. Especially the Hebrew of the Priestly texts, which derive from the Persian period and include a few Persian words, like “paradise” (Hebrew [Persian] ‘pardes’). The Genesis creation myths are of two sources, the Yahwistic and the Priestly source, the former being several centuries older than the latter. But the earlier Canaanite version of the myth was closer to that of the Babylonians, as preserved in Pss and Isaiah–the polytheistic supernatural themes were extant long after Moses lived. So was polytheism for that matter, as seen in the historical narratives, as well as human sacrifice, as we see in Judges.

    Nor is there any reason the descendants of Abraham should have spoken Hebrew, seeing as they migrated out of Syria and supposedly annihilated the Canaanites. Any anthropologically astute reading of Joshua (as opposed to Judges) would lead one to conclude that the “language of Canaan” was extinguished. But of course the language, culture, and mythology of Canaan survive–in the Bible. –AGF

  98. Henry@Legatus

    You did not get it yet. Pity. You should have read the whole chapter. God challenges us to become His partner in creating new “light” (inventions) that will help people. You need to adhere to true scientific principles and do hard work. The whole purpose of our life is to do miracles in the lives of other people. That is what proves your faith?

    http://www.letterdash.com/HenryP/what-was-that-what-henry-said

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