Maverick researchers like Dave Talbott and Walt Thornhill have long argued that many of the strange phenomena ob­served in the universe at large and locally in the solar system, such as the ropelike rills on Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons) and the gigantic canyon on Mars (the Valles Marinaris) are the result of enormous electrical discharges, great arcs of energy between planets or moons. These great bolts of lightning, they believe, go far toward explaining many ancient mysteries. Their views have been featured more than once in Atlantis Rising (See “Thunderbolts of the Gods,” A.R. #18). Now it looks like new evidence on both Mars and our moon is lending support to their thesis.

On Mars a continental scale dust storm, presently clouding visibility from earth, has provoked some new specula­tions on the role of “wind-generated” electricity and the ways it might affect the Martian soil. NASA scientists say that electricity could break apart carbon dioxide and water molecules in the Martian atmosphere, producing such chemi­cals as hydrogen peroxide (H202). These chemicals, in turn, could explain the enigmatic and contradictory results NASA obtained when the Viking landers tested the Martian soil for signs of life. Talbott and Thornhill say such old theories don’t begin to explain the amount of energy clearly involved.

Meanwhile, on the moon NASA scientist now say they have discovered that huge static charges can build up on the surface of the moon—up to 4,500 volts have been detected so far. In an article in Nature, Jasper Halekas of the University of California says that is more than enough to do some damage for future explorers. Where does all that energy come from? The orthodox view is that solar storms and the moon’s passage through earth’s magnetotail ex­plain it all. Talbott and Thornhill have a more shocking idea, but so far the establishment remains unmoved.


Once again conventional wisdom has taken a hit from new research. This time, it is the recently popularized scenario for the demise of the dinosaurs. Time Magazine’s cover, animated Hollywood features, and a Nobel prize, notwith­standing, it now looks like the famous asteroid impact at Chicxulub, on Yucatan’s northern peninsula, might not have been the death blow to the dinosaurs after all.

That, at least, is the view of Dr. Gerta Keller, a micropaleontologist with Princeton University. Keller and her col­leagues have found microfossil evidence which they say proves the mass extinction of the dinosaurs (the so-called Cretaceous Tertiary [KT] boundary) began at least 300,000 years after the Chicxulub event. According to Keller, the most likely cause of the dinosaur decline was an episode of global warming caused by massive volcanic activity in In­dia. The warming, she said, “led to dwarfing of all species and a gradual decrease in their diversity beginning 400,000 years prior to the mass extinction.”

The Chicxulub theory of the demise of the dinosaurs was offered in the 1980s by Walter Alvarez of the University of California. Now new drill samples taken along the Brazos River in Texas—where sediments left by a tsunami in the wake of Chicxulub had been cited as evidence for the extinction event—reveal that, in fact, most life forms survived long afterward. One geologist said he was not surprised by the new study, since it is believed in some quarters that di­nosaurs evolved into birds, and which means that even now we are surrounded by feathery survivors of the dinosaur breed.

Keller’s work was reported in an article by Barry E. DiGregorio for The American Society for Microbiology.

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