Asteroid Impact, Biological Crises and Death of the Dinos: Top Expert in Canada to Examine and Explain Catastrophic Collisions

    WATERLOO, ON, June 4 /CNW/ - Jay Melosh, Regents Professor of Planetary
Science at the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona, in
Tucson, will be in Canada on June 6th to examine past history and present day
research into asteroid impacts on earth.
    He will be providing a Perimeter Institute Public Lecture on the subject
to a sold out audience in Waterloo, Ontario, just outside Toronto. Contact
information appears below.

    About the Subject:

    Sixty-five million years ago dinosaurs ruled the warm Cretaceous Earth.
Without warning, this world was swept away forever by the impact of an
asteroid about 15 km in diameter, leaving a huge scar now called the Chicxulub
crater in Yucatan, Mexico. This catastrophe set the stage for the ascendance
of our own biological group, the mammals. Although the fact of this impact is
now established beyond doubt, the precise means by which an impact could wipe
out such a large fraction of the Earth's inhabitants is not fully understood.
Recent study of the physical consequences of a large impact on the Earth have
revealed a plethora of potentially disastrous effects, ranging from an
immediate firestorm that ignited global wildfires to sulfuric acid aerosols,
acid rain, and ozone depletion lasting decades. The extinctions caused by
these physical traumas changed the way that the Earth's biosphere recycles
carbon, leading to climatic changes lasting nearly a million years longer.
Concerns over the future possibility of such large impacts have lead to a
worldwide program to identify potentially threatening asteroids and has
generated discussion of what humans might do to deflect such an asteroid,
should one be discovered.

    About the Speaker:

    Professor Melosh received his BA in Physics from Princeton University in
1969 and his PhD in Physics and Geology from Caltech in 1973. His principal
research interests are impact cratering, planetary tectonics, and the physics
of earthquakes and landslides. His recent research includes studies of the
giant impact origin of the moon, the K/T impact that extinguished the
dinosaurs, the ejection of rocks from their parent bodies and the origin and
transfer of life between the planets. Jay is a also a science team member of
NASA's Deep Impact mission that successfully cratered comet Tempel 1 in July
of 2005. He has published approximately 160 technical papers, edited two books
and is the author of a major monograph, "Impact Cratering: A Geologic
Process". In addition to a long list of accomplishments and awards, Asteroid
number 8216 was named "Melosh" in his honour.

    About PI:

    Perimeter Institute is an independent, non-profit research centre where
international scientists are clustering to push the limits of our
understanding of physical laws by contemplating and calculating new ideas
about the very essence of space, time, matter and information. The Institute,
located in Waterloo, provides an ongoing array of educational outreach
activities for students, teachers and the general public across Canada and
beyond in order to share the history and joys of science and discovery.
Additional information about the Institute and the upcoming public lecture can
be found at

For further information:

For further information: To coordinate an interview with Jay Melosh - in
person, via phone or radio or TV hook-up - please contact Angela Robinson, at
(519) 569-7600 ext. 5051, or

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Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

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