Buckyballs from outer space!!

Buckyballs are carbon in a form resembling the geospheres first designed by Buckminster Fuller, hence the name. Scientists have learned how to make them in laboratories with lasers. Because of the tremendous heat and pressure needed to make them, there is only one place they could be formed in nature: the interiors of stars. Artificial buckyballs are also hollow; natural ones have helium3 or argon gases trapped inside, and helium3 is not formed on Earth.

Last year, buckyballs (with helium3 compounds inside) were found in Cretaceous sediments in Denmark, New Zealand and North America. It’s more evidence that a large asteroid or comet hit the Earth approximately 65,000,000 years ago and either caused or hastened the extinction of the dinosaurs.

What’s really intriguing to me is that these natural buckyballs may be the older than the solar system, that they may be remnants of a star that existed before our Sun.

And the reason this is relevant today is that buckyballs have been found in sediments 250,000,000 years old, meaning that yet another, earlier asteroid or comet (or TWO of them) caused the Permian extinction, the greatest extinction of life in the Earth’s history. Lost was 90% of all ocean species, 70% of higher land animals and nearly all land plants.

Before Colibi wades in here and agrees absolutely with you, I’d like to say that I believe that any asteroid/comet/space dust impact with the Earth, either for the Permian extinction or the most noted Cretaceous one, only contributed to them. During both, there was major vulcanism taking place (Permian = Siberian Traps, Cretaceous = Deccan Traps).

Aside from all this – the notion of buckyballs from space is intriguing. But I have read that another theory has it that during the volcanic episodes (these lasted centuries) iridium deposits could have welled up from close to the core of the planet (where early impacts during formation left behind debris from the beginning of the solar system) and spread just beneath the crust to other parts of the globe. Could be the same with buckyballs.

Which is one of the reasons this topic fascinates me. There’s always going to be someone saying, “Yeah, but what about …?”

*Originally posted by jab1 *
What’s really intriguing to me is that these natural buckyballs may be the older than the solar system, that they may be remnants of a star that existed before our Sun.

Isn’t all matter, including the Sun composed of material from earlier stars’ Novas?
That’s how all the elements apart from Hydrogen came into being originally is it not?

I especially like the thought of the clouds of ethanol that have been discovered by astronomers in interstellar space. Our true purpose in the universe has been revealed…we are her to rid the universe of all this ethanol by galactically pissed. :smiley:

[QUOTEbeen revealed…we are her to rid the universe of all this ethanol by galactically pissed. :smiley:

Blast!! That should have read: We are here to rid the universe of all this ethanol by getting galactically pissed.

Well, supernovae and the inappropriately named ‘planetary nebulae’ provided all the elements of our solar system except for hydrogen, helium, an a smattering of lithium. (i.e., a ‘nova’ is just a flaring up in brightness of a star…not a casting off of material).

jab1 wrote:

I believe they have also been discovered in common fireplace soot.

Are you serious?

Above, when I commented on the buckyballs being older than the solar system, I somehow interpreted that to mean the asteroid or comet that hit the Earth had come from outside, from another solar system.

My bad.

Woops, I was mistaken. I must have mis-remembered the buckyball episode of Nova, which had a segment showing fireplace soot and some soot chemists arguing vehemently with the pro-Buckminster-Fullerene researchers.

According to http://www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-2/text/rndmain1.html, “… fullerenes are not found in ordinary soot, like that in household fireplaces.” (However, apparently, Buckminster-Fullerenes can occur in some rare types of terrestrial rock.)

Couldn’t a major collision have CAUSED that vulcanism? Remember, we’re talking about an object that may have been as much as eight miles in diameter. The crust is very thin in some parts of the Earth; the ocean floor averages only 3.5 miles in thickness. Below that is the mantle. Hit that with an asteroid eight miles in diameter and there WILL be an eruption of mantle. (I’m assuming the asteroid was eight miles in diameter at impact after traveling through the atmosphere.)

Remember, the current theory on the formation of the Moon’s maria is that it was hit by asteroids and interior material welled up and filled in the depressions. (This would have to have been early in the Moon’s history; the Moon is geologically dead now, with no internal heat source.)

The article on Yahoo says the Permian collision caused far more damage than the Cretaceous event, even though the asteroids were roughly the same size. To me, the possibilities are:

  1. Different angle of impact

  2. Greater velocity at impact

  3. Different impact site

  4. Any two or all of the above.

Here’s another question: Is it possible for this collision to have caused the break-up of Pangaea, either directly or by starting a chain of events that resulted in the break-up?

jab1 wrote:

Considering that Pangaea formed at about the time of the Permian mass-extinction, and that the break-up of Pangaea happened long after the Permian mass-extinction and long before the Cretaceous mass-extinction, I’d say no.

Oh. I didn’t know that anything pre-dated Pangaea. All the stuff I’ve ever read about continental drift start with Pangaea.

So what pre-dated Pangaea?

Er… but so is everything on the earth that isn’t hydrogen. Couldn’t the bucky’s have always been here, just like the other carbon, the oxygen, the nitrogen, etc.?