BHARAT DARSHAN – THE LAW OF CAUSALITY – DINOSAUR EXTINCTION
The term ‘causality’ refers to quality, power, or agency by which one event causes another. Every change in nature is produced by some cause. Causality is the relation between an event called ‘CAUSE’ and a second event called ‘EFFECT’ where the first event is understood to be responsible for the second. The Law of Cause and Effect states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. According to Aristotle, knowledge of a thing goes beyond its classification and description. Knowledge of a thing requires explanation of Causality, or why it is. Aristotle explained that corporeal things are composite of two principles; 1. Form, and 2. Matter. What is called ‘Matter’ is potentiality, and what is called ‘Form’ is actuality. ‘Form’, and ‘Matter’ together constitute concrete individual realities. For a thing to be known, Aristotle posited four ‘Causes’ or principles of explanation. These are, 1. The Material Cause( substance of which the thing is made), 2. The Formal Cause(its design, its morphological appearance), 3. The Efficient Cause( the maker or builder, or designer of a thing, or a principle that may contain features of its effect, or has power to produce that effect) and 4. The Final Cause( the ultimate purpose or function of a thing).
Natural Sciences such as Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences provide information about physical matter, and living things that exist in our natural world. The purpose of Science is to describe and codify observation and experiences. I like to arrange this information into a meaningful pattern and interpret it to describe reality or truth about life and living things. I apply a reasoning process that involves analysis of basic concepts to determine their consistency. The information about Dinosaur extinction has to be interpreted by examining basic concepts such as ‘Matter’, ‘Form’ and Fundamental Laws of Conservation which account for existence of all things found in natural world.
Dinosaurs reached maximum development during Cretaceous Period or third geologic period of Mesozoic Era. Cretaceous was followed by Tertiary Period of Cenozoic Era. At the end of Cretaceous Period, and beginning of Tertiary Period called K-T Junction, a Major Extinction Event eliminated approximately 80 percent of all species of animals. This K-T Extinction Event happened about 65 or 66 million years ago. While Dinosaurs dominated or ruled Earth, they belonged to two orders, and about 700 species have been named. There is controversy about the number of Dinosaur species that lived. About 350 complete specimens are known. There are 300 valid Dinosaur genera like Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, etc., Scientists believe that there could be 700 more Dinosaur species not yet discovered. To give a perspective, all these Dinosaur species are less than one-tenth the number of living Avian(bird) species, less than one-fifth the number of currently known Mammal species, and less than one-third the number of currently known Arachnid(Spider) species. Life forms perished during K-T Extinction Event and yet it has not stopped emergence of new forms of Life. While individual forms of Life or Species experienced individual death or demise, Living Matter continued to exist as if it is imperishable, immortal, immutable, or even eternal. There is an underlying Principle stated in Classical Physics that may explain as to why Life was not wiped out by K-T Event.
The Fundamental Laws of Conservation
The Fundamental Laws of Conservation describe Principles applied in Physics that certain physical properties of an isolated system remain constant with time. Laws of this type govern Mass, Energy, and Momentum. Each such Law signifies that ‘Nature’ does not change with passage of time. Conservation of Mass implies that Matter can be neither created nor destroyed, that is processes that change physical or chemical properties of Chemical Compounds leave the total ‘Mass’ unchanged. Conservation of Energy implies that Energy can be neither created nor destroyed although it can be changed from one form into another. If Dinosaurs are viewed as things with two principles called Matter and Form, the Form called Dinosaur died and its Matter called Protoplasm survived. Biology explains that living things change under the influence of time. Change is a natural phenomenon that Biology observes all the time. This ‘Change’ which is natural is always supported by ‘Unchanging’ Principle of Nature that conserves some values like mass and energy. Chemical Elements are neither destroyed or created while living things experience individual death or birth.
Prime Cause vs Final Cause
It may be difficult to describe that ‘Efficient Cause’, the maker, the designer, the builder of things called Dinosaurs. It may be equally difficult to describe that ‘Final Cause’, that ultimate purpose for which Dinosaurs lived on planet Earth for about 150 million years. In present day world, a single animal species called Homo sapiens sapiens seems to dominate all other life forms. This Species has not existed during the long history of planet Earth for it arrived during current Geological Period called Holocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era. During this period, planet Earth also witnessed extinction of a great variety of Mammals like Mastodon, Mammoth, Sabertooth carnivores apart from all archaic species of man. If Extinction Events are random, unguided, spontaneous, and purposeless events, man has to explain as to why Living Matter exists on Earth performing guided, goal-oriented, sequential, and purposeful actions. Dinosaurs missed an opportunity to demonstrate Prime Cause, Efficient Cause, and Final Cause while they lived over millions of years. Can Man afford to miss this opportunity to define his purpose in Life?
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
Scientists suggest a new, earth-shaking twist on the demise of the dinosaurs
By JOEL ACHENBACH October 01, 2015.
An illustration of the Chicxulub impact on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, seen from 100 kilometers (km) altitude. (D. van Ravenswaay/Photo Researchers, Inc)
New research suggests that the asteroid or comet that slammed into the Earth 66 million years ago rocked the planet so violently that it accelerated a massive volcanic eruption in India, a double catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs and 70 percent of the Earth’s species.
The study, published Thursday in the Journal Science, puts a twist on the consensus explanation of the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. Scientists have long been confident that a mountain-sized object crashed into the planet, leaving traces even today of a vast crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
They’ve also known that massive volcanism in India was happening around the same time, spreading lava across a huge region known as the Deccan Traps. The coincidence of those two events initially hinted at causality, but subsequent dating of the Deccan Traps formations indicated that the flood of basaltic lava began long before the cataclysmic impact.
With the new data, causality’s once again in play. The asteroid or comet didn’t cause the initial eruption, but it could have intensified it, according to the paper.
The Chicxulub impact – named after a town in the Yucatan – created earthquakes of magnitude 11 in the vicinity of the crater, the authors say. Magnitude 9 earthquakes would have been felt around the planet, they say.
The seismic energy made the planet’s crust more permeable. Molten rock deep in the interior began flowing through fractures. As that magma expanded, gasses in the solution began forming bubbles. As with a shaken soda bottle, the results were likely explosive.
“Once that’s initiated, it becomes a kind of runaway process,” said Paul Renne, a University of California, Berkeley geologist and lead author of the new paper.
Lava leftovers may offer clues to dinosaur extinction
Eruptions in India could have contributed to their extinction. Researcher Mike Eddy uses a rock hammer to scrape out fine-grained material from a rock layer within the Deccan Traps, step-like hills formed by lava in India that cover roughly the sizes of the states of Washington and Oregon combined. Around the end of the Cretaceous period, there was a massive volcanic eruption in India. Gerta Keller
His co-author Mark Richards, another Berkeley geologist, was lead author on a study published in April that said the Chicxulub impact, increased volcanic activity and mass extinction may have occurred “within less than about a hundred thousand years of each other.” The latest study reports new measurements that narrow that window to less than 50,000 years.
Major gaps remain in the data, but these events “could have been exactly at the same time,” Richards said. That would then suggest causality and not random coincidence: The object from space could have boosted the rate of lava flows.
The end-Cretaceous mass extinction has been the subject of rancorous debates in the scientific world. Until 1980, no one had a solid theory for what triggered the dinosaurs’ die-off. Then the father-son team of Luis and Walter Alvarez reported anomalous amounts of iridium in a clay layer right at the geological boundary between the Cretaceous and what is now called the Paleogene period. Iridium is rare on Earth but common in extraterrestrial objects. They hypothesized a giant impact, and the discovery of the crater remnants a decade later seemed to close the case.
But the volcanism camp persisted. They pointed out the extreme levels of volcanism at the same time as the impact. Was all that lava irrelevant?
Gerta Keller, a Princeton geologist who has long championed the idea that the volcanism, and not the Chicxulub impact, led to the mass extinctions, said in an email that “there is still the big problem of demonstrating that this impact could have triggered the intense eruptions that led to the mass extinction.”
The new research could point to an eventual reconciliation of the two views, Renne and Richards believe. Both camps could both be right to some degree. First came the blow from space, which incited the blow from the Earth’s molten interior.
“Maybe it’s a paradigm-uniting theory,” Richards said.
Paul Renne, director of the Berkeley Geochronology Center and a professor-in-residence at UC Berkeley, inspects a reddened soil horizon called a red bole between lava flows. (Mark Richards, UC Berkeley)
Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post’s national desk and on the “Achenblog.”
national/health-science, speaking-of science
© 1996-2015 The Washington Post