Cosmic crash may keep some geophysicists smiling for years


  • J. Wakefield


By reputation, scientists from chemists to geophysicists to astrophysicists are generally a serious crowd. But last week's explosive and fiery 6-day collision between Jupiter and the 20-some nuclei of periodic comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 has left them downright giddy. And it appears that this celestial event is one astronomical party that will be remembered for hundreds if not thousands of years by scientists from all walks.

While the world will have to wait for some time to know which comet and planet impact and origin theories will withstand the test of this kamikaze comet, planetologists and the like do have some initial impressions of the “gee-whiz cut” of data from spacecraft and ground-based observatories around the world. For starters, they know the comet went out with a bang.