Using the Bible (as a historical record) it was said before Noah's flood people lived to be around a thousand years old. Shortly after the flood the life span went to about 120 years. present day the life span average in humans is about 80 years. Until the flood there was also no mention of seasons on a yearly basis. From a scientific point of view and using the bible as a history book of catastrophic events could it be possible that:

  • Could an asteroid have hit at an angle to slow the Earth in its revolution or rotation also creating more tilt on Earth axis giving birth to seasons?

  • Could an asteroid pass through the crust into the magma changing its flow in the Earth and the crust following after?

  • Could an asteroid hit on a polar cap or a deep ocean causing it to rain and flood the World? http://physics.stackexchange.com/q/269617/


closed as off-topic by knzhou, Alfred Centauri, mmesser314, anna v, user10851 Jul 24 '16 at 7:03

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    $\begingroup$ An asteroid large enough to slow the rotation of Earth would most certainly be an extinction-level event. Even if what you suggest were possible, there probably wouldn't be people around to talk about it. $\endgroup$ – CoilKid Jul 24 '16 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ What does slowing the Earth's rotation have to do with lifespan? $\endgroup$ – Zack Hutchens Jul 24 '16 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ A year is defined in terms of Earth's orbital period with respect to the sun. Earth's own angular velocity (i.e. the period of a day) has nothing to do with it. $\endgroup$ – Zack Hutchens Jul 24 '16 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ "Extinction level event" doesn't do justice to how screwed the planet would be if something hit it hard enough to change its rotation speed by a factor of 10. You're not surviving that unless your boat can fly you into space and stay there for a couple millenia while things settle back down. The imagined impact in this video is tame by comparison. $\endgroup$ – Craig Gidney Jul 24 '16 at 2:25
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because mythology is not on topic $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Jul 24 '16 at 2:30

If I understand correctly, you are asking if a meteor impact could (i) slow the Earth's rotation on its axis or revolution around the Sun enough to account for the 8 to 12-fold decrease in longevity of human-kind measured in Earth days/years; and (ii) cause 40 days of torrential rain, resulting in sufficient inland flooding to float a large wooden boat.

An asteroid hit near the equator big enough to slow the rotation rate by a factor of 8 to 12 would be, literally, an Earth-shattering event. Assuming a glancing impact at a typical asteroid speed of 25 kph and negligible mass ejected into space, I estimate a mass of around $\frac{1}{100}$ of that of the Earth - about the size of the Moon, roughly 3000 km in diameter.

Such an enormous impact would be like the collision of 2 raindrops. The thin crust would be vaporised, the viscous mantle would be broken open and would mix with the liquid core, the solid core might even be ejected. The Earth undergo large distortions and oscillations, and significant portions would be ejected into space, possibly creating new moons.

Getting into a wooden boat wouldn't give Noah any protection at all. Except for a few hardy microbes travelling in/on space debris, all life would be extinguished. No oceans or atmosphere would remain - but an atmosphere of heavy volcanic gases would probably build up as the Earth cooled, which could contain significant amounts of water. After several thousand years of cooling, the Earth would still be a barren, uninhabitable rock. It would take millions of years for animal life to get re-established.

Yes, the effects would be instantaneous - within days or weeks, not spread out over hundreds or thousands of years to make the impact survivable. A series of 3500 smaller asteroids of 50 km diameter would cause far less destruction, but could not add up by chance to the same effect on rotation or revolution rate.

An asteroid that big would be as spherical as the Moon. Another shape (eg spear-like) would make little difference to the outcome. In order to get the same change in linear or angular momentum, its mass and the amount of kinetic energy dissipated by the impact would be about the same. A 'spear' would not penetrate very much deeper than a 'sphere' (see Rod Vance's answer to your qn How an asteroid enters the Earth make a completely different outcome?).

A meteor hit on the polar ice cap won't have much effect on the rotation rate, although it is possible that a glancing impact could vaporize enough ice to cause a world-wide deluge without causing global devastation. A large polar impact could knock the Earth off its axis, but not without similar devastation to that described above.

The following video simulates the effect of a 500km wide asteroid hitting the Earth head-on. It is estimated that the Earth has suffered 6 such hits during its 4.5 billion year history, plus the larger collision which created the Moon.


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    $\begingroup$ What if not a meteor hit the Earth directly, but a gravitational field with non-zero rotation was created to make the Earth to rotate slower? Accurately sized field could have done this with minimal secondary effects, although we probably don't know even any similar mass-energy tensor which could have resulted it. $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 24 '16 at 2:51
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    $\begingroup$ @peterh : Why not? "Everything is possible for God." $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Jul 24 '16 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Jen I don't think, a meteor is coming with some times ten km/s, and its energy produces a wave on the crash. But I say this knowing only a little part of the currently known human knowledge which is very limited, and I think this meteor, if it was a meteor, weren't a normal meteor but some very different thing. Maybe it was a temporary, very uncommon stress-energy distribution I suspected here. $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 24 '16 at 3:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Jen Then this spear was from a very uncommon material. Maybe from neutronium. Matter with neutronium density can have highly uncommon gravitational effects. Its movement had to be controlled by an external source accurately, a simple free fall had only destroyed everything as Sammy Gerbil wrote. $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 24 '16 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Jen Doesn't matter it was -10C or +20C, the energy of the crash is the equivalent of tens of thousands C as thermal energy. Btw, the Bible says the whole Earth was flooded after the "channels of the sky were opened" (these words are from a non-English Bible, in an English Bible it is probably with different words). Such an ice meteor had destroyed the Earth crust, except if it had some external control. $\endgroup$ – peterh Jul 24 '16 at 3:28

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