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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Nov > Nov 4

Re: Science 17P/Holmes Comet & Denial

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2007 17:32:38 -0000
Archived: Sun, 04 Nov 2007 17:14:22 -0500
Subject: Re: Science 17P/Holmes Comet & Denial

>From: Vincent Boudreau <vincentboudreau.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2007 23:17:48 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: Science 17P/Holmes Comet & Denial

>A unique astronomical event is occurring actually. It is
>baffling scientists: the 17P/Holmes Comet.

Well, it isn't quite unique. The same periodic comet did a
similar thing in the year of its discovery, 1892. In fact it did
it _twice_ that time. Erratic magnitude estimates were also
recorded during the 1899 return. A number of other comets have
shown similar outbursts, but the scale of this one is said to be
greater than any seen for about a century.

See http://cometography.com/pcomets/017p.html

There doesn't seem to be any definite consensus explanation for
these outbursts yet, but that doesn't mean that astronomers
think they are inexplicable in the sense that you appear to mean
(see below).

>The object used to be a small (5 km) comet orbiting between
>Jupiter and Mars. Of a magnitude of 16-17 (visible only with a
>powerful telescope), it has exploded to a 2-3 magnitude object
>visible in the night sky in the constellation of Perseus.


>The Comet has become reportedly one million times brighter.

>There is no satisfactory explanation for the event.

There is no definite, proven explanation for the event and others
like it. There are sensible theories, though.

>I have read no real scientific analysis so far and nobody is
>displaying the numbers. How could one explain that a 2 inch ice
>cube (5 cm) would be vaporized to a cubic space of 1.6 by 1.6
>1.6 miles?

According to Prof Ftizsimmons (member of UK team observing
Holmes with the Isaac Newton Telescope in the Canary islands) an
estimated 1% of the total mass of the comet has been expelled.
This ejecta is dust spreading away from the comet at about
2000km/hr. The density of the huge expanding coma is extremely

I think what seems puzzling to people is the brightness ratio.
How does a millionfold increase in total reflectivity come from
only one hundredth of the mass?

The albedo of the undisturbed nucleus is only proportional to
its surface area, but the internal cubic volume of material that
isn't reflecting anything is colossal compared to the surface
material. So turning one hundredth of the total mass into a
cloud of dust is not the same thing as spreading around one
hundredth of the brightness, which would only equate to 1/100 of
the surface area. It is a very large amount of material. Even so
if it was ejected as a single lump it would probably never have
been visible, again because almost all of it would have been
shielded from the sun and from us by its own small surface area.
But the thinness of the spreading cloud means that virtually
every particle of dust gets the chance to scatter photons in our

>One astronomer said that in, forty years of his career, he has
>never seen or heard of anything like this.

I thought you were trying to convince us that astronomers were
taking no notice and showing no interest? The one astronomer you
do actually quote seems to be quite excited.

>I do not see this event making the front pages though.

It would only make the front pages in a najor way if it was a
great naked eye spectacle or if astronomers believed there were
fundamental mysteries involved requiring fundamental new
physics. It isn't, and they don't.

>It seems
>like science is turning its back on one of the greatest
>astronomical events ever.

Huh? The damn thing is still going on! Telescopes all over the
world are trained on it. Astronomers are keen as mustard.
Message boards are full of talk about it and I'm certain
there'll be many papers written over the next few months. When
they're published you'll be able to read them, if you're still
interested. But it seems what you want is science done
instantaneously and splurged over the tabloids. And I don't
think you will be interested, because what's written, whilst
very exciting for astrophysicists, won't be sensational enough
for you.

>There is no speculation, no questions
>asked, no 'day dreaming', no analysis done.

This is utter nonsense. Of course people are thinking about it.
There's plenty of speculation. But there are few hard facts
available to go beyond sensible likelihoods - i.e., meteoroid
impact is a possibility, but not highly probable, expecially
since Holmes is a "repeater". The most likely explanation
discussed seems to be a crustal weakness exploited by heated
gases. Please justify in detail your claim that "no analysis is
being done". Who is not doing any analysis, who ought to be, and
how do you know? And what sort of "day dreaming" would satisfy
your definition of sensible science?

>This attitude makes me think that Science might be rejecting
>UFOs because it can't explain them or that it has no control
>over the evident explanation.

I'm afraid this attitude - with its customary generalisation and
demonisation of science (sorry, Science, mustn't forget that
scare-capital, and maybe add the adjective "big" as well,
because Big Science = Nasty Mean Truth-Suppressing Science) - is
the sort of blithering nonsense that is most likely to guarantee
perpetual rejection of UFO evidence by most of the scientific

Martin Shough

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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