“A gift, perhaps, from our friend and lord, Jupiter.”

In the comments zone of a previous post on the topic, Malachi blasphemously suggested that the Great Black Spot [of Jupiter] was proof of an intelligent designer. [Should I get the beards ready? – Ed] In the New York Times, a report points out that the gas giant’s influence is not always so benign.

Take, for example, Comet Lexell, named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Lexell. In 1770 it whizzed only a million miles from the Earth, missing us by a cosmic whisker, Dr. Marsden said. That comet had come streaking in from the outer solar system three years earlier and passed close to Jupiter, which diverted it into a new orbit and straight toward Earth.

The comet made two passes around the Sun and in 1779 again passed very close to Jupiter, which then threw it back out of the solar system. “It was as if Jupiter aimed at us and missed,” said Dr. Marsden, who complained that the comet would never have come anywhere near the Earth if Jupiter hadn’t thrown it at us in the first place.

And, as the report also suggests, it’s not necessarily comets we should be worrying about.

Asteroids pose the greatest danger of all to Earth, however, astronomers say, and here Jupiter’s influence is hardly assuring. Mostly asteroids live peacefully in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, whose gravity, so the standard story goes, keeps them too stirred to coalesce into a planet but can cause them to collide and rebound in the direction of Earth.

That’s what happened, Greg Laughlin of the University of California at Santa Cruz, said, to a chunk of iron and nickel about 50 yards across roughly 10 million to 100 million years ago. The result is a hole in the desert almost a mile wide and 500 feet deep in northern Arizona, called Barringer Crater. A gift, perhaps, from our friend and lord, Jupiter.

  • Thank you for this clarification of the character of God; it is much as i have long suspected.

  • Pete Baker

    Yes, malachi.

    Capricious. And, for the most part thankfully, not a very good shot.

  • Greenflag

    ‘for the most part thankfully, not a very good shot.’

    But when he/she /it scores a direct hit like way back 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs we should thank our lucky asteroids for without the subsequent demise of our reptilian predecessors the mammalian species would have remained small , hairy and backward much like the dissidents and the TUVer’s 😉

    So on the one hand Jupiter continually saves our bacon and on the other continually knocks asteroids out of their orbit and towards Mars from which they are in turn deflected towards Earth .On balance scientists seem to believe that Jupiter is slightly more malign than benevolent .. Presumably if Jupiter did not exist then the asteroids would generally remain where they are ? On the other hand those large comets coming from beyond the Kuiper Belt or from even further away the Ort zone would only need one major hit and it’s good night to not just Vienna but planet Earth .

    And the silent immense universe will scarce shred a tear but will resume it’s existence oblivious of the one time hopes of the human species who thought they were somehow ‘special ‘

    Now that the paleobiologists and scientific researchers tell us that some 99% of all species who ever existed have become extinct over the past 700 million years the so called ‘intelligent ‘ designer presumably creates a whole new match every few million years and replaces them with a new ‘design’

    So this joker of a Creator plays dice with asteroids , comets etc and wipes out everything created to start anew every couple of hundred million years on average ? An image of the Creator as a destructive teenage eternal entity is not a comfortable one.

    Had those comets hit Earth instead of Jupiter I believe the problems of Northern Ireland would finally be resolved . So keep looking on the bright side Pete 😉 There’s always hope 🙂