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NHNE News Brief 50
Friday, February 28, 1997

"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."

"Lighter Side" Edition

Millennium Countdown:
1,036 days until January 1, 2000

Total Paid Subscribers: 114
Total Online Update Mailing List: 839

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CONTENTS:
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QUOTABLES:
Overheard in Sedona

NEWS WATCH:
"Manhunt" Launched for Mystery Cameraman
Pat Boone Explains "Metal Mood"
World Gets 2.9 Percent Weirder
New Faces Picked for Mount Rushmore
The Highway to Hell
What's in a Coincidence?
Cemetery on the Internet
The New Buzz on Crime
Undersea Pyramids Discovered Near Japan

NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
The Circle of Atonement

A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Otto Comes to Sedona

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Loved the Video
Brinkley's Work Fascinating
The Benefits of Colostrum

SEDONA WATCH:
Dutch Evangelists Meet Sedona New Agers

SPACE WATCH:
Review of "Asteroid" Miniseries

LIFESTYLES:
Just What Is the New Age?

EARTH WATCH:
World Volcano Report

NHNE STAFF
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US

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QUOTABLES:
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OVERHEARD IN SEDONA

"The truth should never get in the way of a good story."

---A Sedona tour guide

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NEWS WATCH:
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"MANHUNT" LAUNCHED FOR MYSTERY CAMERAMAN
(Source: CNI NEWS, 2/25/97)

Rather than settle for just reporting the news, CNI NEWS has launched a full-scale search for the man who claims to have shot the controversial "Alien Autopsy" film footage. Their hunt for the mystery cameraman will use the power of the Internet as its primary asset, supported by the latest and best evidence CNI can acquire. Despite the best efforts of dozens of top researchers in the U.S. and elsewhere, the autopsy controversy has so far resisted solution since it began in early 1995. Resolving the cameraman's identity will surely help to clear up the greater mystery of the footage itself. Robert Kiviat, Executive Producer of the 1995 FOX TV special "Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction," has strongly encouraged this new CNI NEWS initiative, saying "This project may well be where the story breaks. We respect the direction you're going and we would like to help in every way we can to find this individual." The CNI NEWS Web site at <www.cninews.com/Manhunt.html> features still and motion pictures of the mystery man. Full details of the CNI NEWS Manhunt will be published in the next issue of the NHNE NEWS BRIEF. If you have any information that might help CNI NEWS identify the mystery cameraman, they would like to hear from you at "CNINews1@aol.com".

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PAT BOONE EXPLAINS "METAL MOOD"
(Sources: LA Times, 2/20/97 via Rev. Ann)

What the heck is happening with Pat Boone? Boone, one of America's best-known Christian entertainers, offended many of the religious right by appearing on the American Music Awards on January 27 decked out in leather, bare chest, studded dog collar and tattoos. Shortly after the event, TRINITY BROADCASTING NETWORK announced that they were dropping his weekly TV show. Now Boone claims it was just a publicity stunt to promote his new album "In a Metal Mood/No More Mr. Nice Guy" featuring his easy-listening renditions of heavy metal favorites. Pat Boone and heavy metal seem an unlikely mix. Boone explains: "I've been praying for 20 years that God would show me Jesus' formula. He was willing to go into the homes of publicans, tax collectors, prostitutes -- the outcasts of his days. Now that I've put on some leather jeans, choker, and tattoos, I'm being welcomed into the society of the metal heads, the bikers, the hard rockers. A rapport has sprung up. I'm humbled by it. I'm delighted by it. I realize it does not come without a cost. The 'righteous folks' don't want to have anything to do with these kind of people today." Boone could still redeem himself. Trinity officials have invited him to appear on "Praise," the network's flagship show to explain his actions. If the network and the viewers are satisfied by his explanation, his show might be reinstated. Otherwise, he, like Jesus, might end up spending more time with the outcasts than with the supposed faithful. (JG)

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WORLD GETS 2.9 PERCENT WEIRDER
(Source: REUTERS via CNN ONLINE, 2/13/97)

The world was 2.9 percent weirder in 1996 than in 1995, according to the annual FORTEAN TIMES index, and Pre-Millennial Tension (PMT) may be the reason. The year's weird stories -- including bloodthirsty goat suckers and Martian meteorites -- outdid the previous year's Hindu milk-guzzlers and tree-dwelling sheep, according to Joe McNally, Associate Editor of the magazine. "I wouldn't be surprised if the index continued upwards as a result of PMT." The Index of Weirdness is divided into four sections: the Animal World (up 4.8 percent), the Human World (up 2.9 percent), the Natural World (up 3.8 percent), and the Paranormal World (up 1 percent). One of the most popular stories last year followed rumors of the mysterious Puerto Rican goat sucker, which sprang up after goat corpses were discovered with their livers and blood sucked out of them. The only clues to the killer's identity were two small but deep incisions in the animals' necks. The first case was reported in Puerto Rico in early 1996, but similar corpses were soon discovered in other Latin American countries, Miami and even in the south of Spain. Rabbits as well as goats fell prey to the killer, which has yet to be captured, or photographed. Another big story of 1996 was the discovery by U.S. astronomers of what they said might have been the fossilized remains of bacteria inside 16-million-year-old meteorites. This sparked widespread speculation about the possibility of life on Mars. Other stories focused on sightings of sea monsters, weeping statues, and UFOs. The 2.9 percent increase in the Human World Index was due to "increases in strange behavior, conspiracies, and stupidity." (JG)

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NEW FACES PICKED FOR MOUNT RUSHMORE
(Sources: REUTERS; CNN ONLINE, 2/17/97)

In 1941, a project to carve the heads of four American heroes into the side of a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota was completed. To this day, the faces of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt can be seen in on Mount Rushmore from 60 miles away. Whose faces would you chose to grace the monument today? When the question was asked of the students of the COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY in Virginia, the top four choices were Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Mother Teresa, and to leave Franklin Roosevelt up there. Runners up were Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. Native Americans, meanwhile, who consider the Black Hills sacred, continue to feel that carving giant faces into their sacred mountains is an astonishingly insensitive crime against the land and their people. (JG)

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THE HIGHWAY TO HELL
(Source: WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/3/95 in "Strange Days #1," published in 1996 by FORTEAN TIMES)

Highway 666, so named because when it was built in the 1930s it was the sixth road to cross the fabled Highway 66, runs 200 miles from Monticello, Utah to Gallup, New Mexico. Residents along its length believe the fact that the road bears the Number of the Beast of Revelation explains its plague of death and destruction. The road has more than its fair share of drunk drivers and hit and runs, and even its own serial killer -- the Mad Trucker -- who police say runs over people for sport. The setting for Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers," where two psychopaths kill 52 people, is set along Highway 666. Skeptics blame most of the accidents on poor lighting, narrow bends, and the fact that the road links a dry reservation with the nearest bars. A coalition of evangelical Christians and Navahos from the reservation split by the highway are lobbying to have the number changed. The road is double trouble for the Navahos -- not only are many of them literalist Christians, but in their native tradition the number 6 is evil. (JG)

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WHAT'S IN A COINCIDENCE?
(Source: DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/29/95 in "Strange Days #1," published in 1996 by FORTEAN TIMES)

People may be reading too much into coincidental occurances, which, in fact, happen more often than expected. For example, in England where there are 5,000 schools, a person might think that the odds of two strangers in a group of five having gone to the same school would be the number of schools divided by five -- 1 in a 1,000. Statistically, however, the number is 1 in 85, 12 times more likely. The chance of two persons in a group of five strangers having the same birthday is not 1 in 73 (365 divided by 5), but actually 1 in 23. "It's not surprising we're poor at assessing coincidences," explains psychologist Susan Blackmore of ASTON UNIVERSITY in Birmingham, England. "We don't go around all day deliberately seeking them out. If we did, we'd soon realize we live in a sea of coincidences and should be far less surprised when they pop up." And influenced by them. (JG)

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CEMETERY ON THE INTERNET
(Source: REUTERS, 2/18/97; NEWSWEEK, 3/3/97)

Soon it will be possible to be virtually dead. A Buddhist temple in Hiroshima, Japan plans to open a "virtual graveyard" on the Internet. Visitors will be able to choose different types of electronic tombstones, and include photos and records of the deceased. They also will be able to create their own memorials in advance. Yukihiro Takada, a monk at the Kannonin temple, said the idea came from people living too far away from the temple to visit who still wanted a way to have family memorials and pay respects to ancestors. "After we announced we would offer a virtual cemetery, about 200 people asked to register," Takada said. The temple also has had requests for virtual graves for pets such as dogs, cats and birds. The virtual graveyard is expected to be launched on the temple's home page by the end of February. There will be no charge. (JG)

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THE NEW BUZZ ON CRIME
(Source: Carla Koehl and Lucy Howard, NEWSWEEK, 2/10/97)

In order to overcome liability problems caused by police dogs biting litigious suspects, an inventor has come up with a novel high-tech solution. William Burke has developed a muzzle armed with a stun gun that allows police dogs to zap rather than bite perpetrators, immobilizing them long enough for the police to cuff them. According to Burke, the contraption "looks like a Darth Vader mask with blue sparks coming off the front," and will be on the market in June. (JG)

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UNDERSEA PYRAMIDS DISCOVERED NEAR JAPAN
(Source: Laura Lee Web Site via MILLENNIUM MATTERS, 2/19/97)

Man-made pyramids have been discovered under the sea near Japan. Information at this point is sketchy. While these aren't pyramids in the classic sense, they are magnificent, as can be seen by the pictures at: <http://www.lauralee.com/japan.htm>. Little more is known of them at this time other than that geologists have supposedly dated the underwater structures to be at least 12,000 years old. (JG)

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NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
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This issue is sponsored by:

THE CIRCLE OF ATONEMENT:
TEACHING & HEALING CENTER

The Circle is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching "A Course In Miracles." It grew out of the work of Robert Perry and now has an additional teacher, Allen Watson. The Circle publishes newsletters & booklets, offers weekly classes, quarterly intensives, correspondence courses and Sedona-based workshops.

P.O. Box 4238
West Sedona, AZ 86340
Phone: (520) 282-0790
eMail: circleofa@sedona.net
WWW: http://nen.sedona.net/circleofa

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A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
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OTTO COMES TO SEDONA

A couple weeks ago, we received a letter from Ted Daniels, Director of MILLENNIUM WATCH INSTITUTE, telling us that he had received a call from NEWSWEEK. According to Ted, NEWSWEEK was planning to do a story on Sedona, which they regarded as a sort of "New Age Vatican." NEWSWEEK wanted to know if anything special was happening in Sedona that they should know about for their story. I sent Ted a list of some of the remarkable people, organizations and events presently based in Sedona. Ted shared the list I put together with NEWSWEEK and, a few days later, emailed it to a Dutch television company that was working on a four-part series about how various people viewed the future and new millennium. Almost immediately, the Dutch producers contacted NHNE and before we knew it, James Gregory and I were busily organizing interviews, tours and adventures for Otto de Bruijne and his Dutch film crew.

Otto is the host of two very popular Dutch-speaking, evangelical-based television shows: "Omega," a talk show that discusses a wide variety of interesting topics, and "Otto Searches," an adventure series in which Otto travels around the world searching for meaningful stories. Over the last two and a half years, Otto and his film crew have produced 30 episodes of "Otto Searches". They have interviewed world leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev, explored Stonehenge, ley lines and near-death experiences, and talked with people from many of the planet's major religious movements. Their current project is a four-part special on how different people view the future. Part One, which was filmed before they arrived in Sedona, deals with how various experts saw technology shaping the future of our planet. Part Two explores millennium-minded individuals and groups and their views of the future. Part Three and Four will focus on Jerusalem and the extraordinary people and events presently swirling around this ancient city which plays a central role in many prophetic traditions.

While the second part of their current series will probably include interviews with Neil Postman in New York and Benjamin Creme in London, most of this segment focuses on Sedona, Arizona and the interviews and adventures that took place while they were here. Ted Daniels, who was flown in from Philadelphia for the event, will likely make an appearance in this segment. Ted will be accompanied by several Sedona residents, including Chet Snow, author of "Mass Dreams of the Future," Anita Dalton, the owner of "The Center for the New Age," one of Sedona's largest New Age stores, Marian Wahosi, the co-owner of "Starport Sedona," a store that specializes in UFO's and aliens, Christine Montes, a local UFO tour guide, myself and James Gregory. Set to air in June, the Sedona part of Otto's adventure will also include a breathtaking hot air balloon ride over Sedona and a trip to Montezuma's Castle, a famous Indian ruin in the area.

The "Otto Searches" special marks the second time that NHNE has been featured on television. Our first appearance was on a Special Report about Gordon-Michael Scallion that was produced by KHOU-TV of Austin, Texas (see News Brief 31 & 36). This first report aired late last year on CBS affiliated television stations around the United States and is presently included on the NHNE Video (http://nen.sedona.net/nhne/mailorder.html). While our first television appearance was a simple interview between myself and Bureau Chief Jim Moore, our second television appearance was a major production. Not only did James and I both make personal appearances in the Dutch special report, but we also organized virtually every aspect of the Dutch crew's Sedona experience: setting up interviews, scheduling balloon rides, UFO tours and trips to local sites, suggesting various story angles and, perhaps most important of all, trying to help our Evangelical-minded visitors make sense of the bewildering, sometimes bizarre New Age/planetary transformation movement.

With Sedona becoming an increasingly influential center for planetary transformation, and with NHNE becoming an increasingly well-known, well-connected and reliable source for information concerning the remarkable events presently unfolding in Sedona and around the world, we expect a growing number of journalists to seek us out. This, of course, is great news for all of us: as NHNE's influence grows, so will our ability to report on -- and help shape -- the planet's most important news!

As soon as the Dutch special is finished, we will let those of you who are interested know how you can get copies of the report. We will also keep you posted about any potential NEWSWEEK story involving Sedona and/or NHNE.

With Love & Best Wishes,
David Sunfellow

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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LOVED THE VIDEO

"I watched the NHNE Video as soon as it arrived in the mail. I love it! It was so nice to have you guys just sit and 'relate.' Kinda like visiting, as opposed to some slick media spin. When the Scallion segments came up, they seemed almost ridiculous with all the hype and entertainment, rather than trying to simply inform the audience with respect. Your approach is wonderful! I have a few ideas for future videos, such as sacred hikes, more in-depth interviews with local people, interviews with the local Indians, and more NHNE activities as the organization progresses and grows."

---Chris Czech, Moose Meadow, Alberta, Canada

[You can find out more about the NHNE Video by visiting <http://nen.sedona.net/nhne/mailorder.html>]

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BRINKLEY'S WORK FASCINATING

"I enjoyed David Sunfellow's article on Dannion Brinkley in WIND & WINGS 5. I find Brinkley's work to be fascinating, and enjoyed catching up on his progress. At one time, I felt drawn to opening up one of his centers in Salem, Massachusetts. Perhaps this still may occur."

---Andrew Lutts, Salem, Massachusetts

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THE BENEFITS OF COLOSTRUM

"The article 'The Benefits of Breast Milk & Fish' in News Brief 47 reminds me of the benefits of colostrum, the first milk to appear after a birth with which the mother transfers her immunity to her baby. A recent issue of POSITIVE HEALTH NEWS has an article about a farmer, Herb Saunders, of St. James, Minnesota, who has healed many humans by injecting their blood into a cow's udder before the birth of a calf. He then gives some of the colostrum, which now has antibodies in it, back to the donor human. Over 20 years, it's been effective in treating many diseases, including cancer. It always works! Saunders has just come out of a three-year court battle unscathed, even with the judge not allowing his 'patients' to testify. Makes you wonder just what constitutes practicing medicine."

---Bill Dewey, Rochester, New York

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SEDONA WATCH:
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DUTCH EVANGELISTS MEET SEDONA NEW AGERS
By David Sunfellow

Imagine, for a moment, you are Dutch. You are an evangelical Christian. And you have come to Sedona, Arizona to find out more about the New Age/planetary transformation movement.

Scanning the Sedona horizon, the first thing that strikes you is the stunning beauty of Sedona's red rocks. Surrounding you on all sides, Sedona's natural beauty takes your breath away. Then you notice that Sedona is a tourist town, full of art galleries, touring trolly cars, jeep tours, hot air balloons, and tourist traps. You also notice that Sedona is a wealthy community, full of beautiful homes, highly-educated, art-loving people, and stores, signs and street lights that all seek to blend into Sedona's otherworldly landscape.

"So this is Sedona," you think, "a small, educated, artistic, touristy town of 9,000 people, nestled amid majestic red rocks."

But wait. What's that walking down the road? You see one person, half-naked, wearing a meager pair of buckskins, and another sporting tie-died clothes, dreadlocks, crystal necklaces, a guitar and backpack, and yet another dressed in white, swami-like clothes with strange Hindu-like designs permanently tattoed on his forehead. You see hippy-style VW vans parked along side BMWs in front of an astonishing number of New Age Stores. "How can there be so many New Age Shops in such a small town?" you think. Then you go inside a couple of the stores. You are surprised at the vast number of books, tapes, videos, posters, T-shirts, crystals, gems, stones, bumper stickers, tarot decks, flower essences, candles, incense, pyramids, Native American dream catchers, statues of Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Krishna and various goddesses. More stunning still are the bulletin boards, which are full of advertisements for virtually every far out, alternative-minded thing you've ever heard of: the latest message from the Ashtar Command is posted amid advertisements about vision quests, massages, yoga, ear coning, aura photos, aura cleansing, past life regressions, psychic readings, room rentals, workshops, seminars, UFO tours and conferences, spiritual real estate agents, perfect masters from India and elsewhere, local messiahs and prophets, Tibetan chanting, Japanese drumming, African dancing, Native American ruins, medicine wheels and ceremonies.

Everyone it seems -- the clerk at your hotel, the cashier at the grocery store, the tour guide dressed like a cowboy that is packing a foot long hunting knife and real six shooter, the grandmother eating an ice cream cone with her granddaughter -- seems to be involved in, or at least keenly aware of, New Age ideas and practices.

As a Christian, a follower of Christ, the whole scene seems shallow and superficial. You are tempted to think you are seeing an ocean of lost souls floundering amid a dizzying array of wayward paths. And perhaps they are. But then you find out that there is another layer to the New Age/planetary transformation scene in Sedona -- and elsewhere. Behind the scenes, less public and noticeable, you discover that there is a thriving network of serious seekers who have been on the spiritual path for many, many years. No longer wearing buckskins and tattooing their foreheads with strange symbols, these seekers are running the local health food stores and healing centers. They are creating eco-villages, sustainable cultures, and living in various kinds of spiritual communities. They are working hard on their relationships, seeking to love, forgive, accept, understand and deeply connect with one another. They are talking about dreams, visions, miracles, and awakenings. They are exploring radically new ways of thinking and acting. They are building networks that will allow them to exchange information and stay in constant communication with others of like-mind all over the planet. They are anxious to learn from one another, and other cultures, and are constantly seeking to integrate the best of what they encounter into their own lives. They believe they are part of a new way of life that is destined to transform the entire planet.

And, perhaps most surprising of all, many of these seekers are devout followers of Jesus. Even though they don't go to church or believe the Bible is infallible, somehow they've come to feel that Jesus is the leader of their movement. Jesus is not their Lord, though. He is their brother. And they don't look to him to save them. Rather, they look to Jesus to help them save themselves and become as well rounded, fully conscious and glorious as he is.

What is an evangelically-minded Dutch person to think?

While Otto de Bruijne and his Dutch film crew were in Sedona, they were exposed to all kinds of "New Agers." They listened to UFO guides sincerely discuss imminent pole shifts and mass UFO landings and beam ups. They learned about Sedona's famous energy vortexes. They filmed New Age stores, floated over the majestic red rocks of Sedona and went out on late night UFO hunts, searching the skies of Sedona for alien space crafts. They heard about locals who were storing food and guns in anticipation of a world-wide ecological, geological, political and social collapse, and other locals who believed their founder was a Messiah and their community was the beginning of the New World Order. They heard how Jesus was the central figure in some New Age movements and nothing more than an average ascended master, or intergallactic space commander in others. How will they sort it all out? What kind of final impressions will they share with their viewers all over Dutch-speaking Europe? We'll find out in June when their four-part television show begins to air...

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SPACE WATCH:
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REVIEW OF "ASTEROID" MINISERIES
By Alan Hale, co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp

[The following edited excerpts are taken from a longer article on the Hale-Bopp Web Site: <http://www.halebopp.com/>]

After quite a bit of hype, NBC-TV aired their miniseries "Asteroid" [last week]. Although I normally don't watch much television, I was curious as to how the asteroid-impact phenomenon would be treated in this type of format, and since I expected to receive questions from the media soliciting my views on the broadcast, I spent four hours in front of the TV watching this show. [What follows] is strictly a review of the scientific aspects of the program.

The phenomenon that "Asteroid" attempts to treat -- the threat that the Earth could be impacted by an asteroid or comet with devastating consequences for human civilization -- is real. A tremendous amount of evidence gathered during the past two decades all indicates that the Earth has been hit numerous times in the past and will be hit again. Even during this century we have had some impact events; for example, the Tunguska event in Siberia in 1908, and the Sikhote-Alin impact in 1947, also in Siberia. Although the possibility that a global catastrophe resulting from an impact during our lifetimes is quite remote, this is clearly an appropriate topic for discussion in the popular media, and I have no problem with addressing it in a fictionalized setting.

Having said that, my overall opinion of "Asteroid" is that, while it was certainly better from a scientific standpoint than the late 1970s motion picture "Meteor" which addressed the same theme, the producers of "Asteroid" could clearly have benefited from the use of a scientific consultant. I wish they would've asked me.

The original premise -- i.e., a passing comet perturbs some asteroids out of their orbits into orbits that intercept the Earth -- is absurd. Comets, even large ones like Hale-Bopp, have nowhere near enough mass to affect an asteroid's orbit in any significant way, and the probability of an impact scenario like that depicted in "Asteroid" is zero.

I am not really qualified to discuss the high-energy laser system that was used in the movie in an attempt to destroy the asteroid, although one USENET posting pointed out that any laser weapon which can function in the atmosphere should certainly be able to work in [space]. Whether or not such a device would actually work is another story. Even in a best-case scenario, I don't see that any weapon we currently have -- be it laser beams, nuclear warheads, or whatever -- could do anything other than break an asteroid into a handful of smaller fragments. Vaporizing an asteroid [is] completely out of the question. The characters in the movie registered surprise at the fact that all the weapons succeeded in doing was to break the asteroid into smaller pieces, when in fact that is almost exactly what should have been expected, except I think that the fragments would be larger and fewer in number.

I am also not an expert in the actual physics of impact events themselves, but my understanding is that most objects in the 5- to 10-meter-diameter class would explode in the atmosphere without any significant fragments hitting the ground. There might, of course, be airburst damage associated with such an occurrence; the Tunguska event appears to be an example of this. Objects in the 100-meter-diameter class and larger, would certainly survive their passage through the atmosphere. Gene Shoemaker (co-discoverer of the Shoemaker-Levy Comet that hit Jupiter in 1994) tells me that the meteor crater near Flagstaff, Arizona resulted from an object in this size range, [which] would certainly create quite a bit of damage over the surrounding geographical area, as depicted in the movie. The chances that such an impact would happen to coincide with the center of a major metropolitan area are probably quite small, although, for story purposes, I'm willing to accept the premise.

It would also seem quite possible that an object entering our atmosphere would fragment into smaller pieces as a result of friction and atmospheric stress, as was depicted in the movie. If this did happen, the result would be a "shotgun" effect, i.e., a series of near-simultaneous hits over a fairly limited geographical area, [but] there wouldn't be any of this business of hits occurring in the same area over a period of hours. Even in the movie's unlikely scenario of a thousand objects all headed toward Earth, those impacts would all take place almost simultaneously throughout the hemisphere that was facing the incoming stream.

The depiction of the comet at the end of the movie seemed to follow the popular, but incorrect, view that comets streak across the sky over a short period of time. Even in the case of a comet passing one million miles from Earth -- which, incidentally, would be about the closest cometary approach to the Earth in history -- the comet's motion through the sky would only be apparent on an hour-to-hour basis at best. A comet passing this close would certainly be a bright and spectacular object -- Comet Hyakutake's approach last year was almost ten times this distance, and if Hale-Bopp were to come this close to Earth, it would clearly be visible during broad daylight.

There is, of course, no "National Observatory" in Boulder, although I'm willing to accept the premise for story purposes. Professional astronomers do not look through guiding telescopes and read off coordinates; instead, they input the coordinates of the object they wish to observe into the telescope's controlling computer, and the telescope then slews to the object in question. Also, these days, astronomers don't take slide photographs of objects they study and hold these slides up to a light for examination; almost all photographs are now taken with electronic CCD cameras with the resulting images stored on computer disks and analyzed on a computer monitor. And incidentally, if any actual event even remotely like that depicted in "Asteroid" were to occur, we would not depend upon the work of one observatory for our data; professional and amateur astronomers from around the world would be examining and measuring the object on an around-the-clock basis.

The most implausible part of the whole movie was the depiction of a 29-year-old astronomer being Director of The National Observatory. As any recent science Ph.D. can tell you, the employment situation for young scientists in our society today is nothing less than abysmal, with about the best that one could hope for being a low-paying temporary post-doctoral position at some institution. The situation is, in fact, so bad that I cannot with a clear conscience encourage any student in our country today to pursue science as a career. The idea that a "fresh-out-of-grad-school" Ph.D. scientist could be found in a position of such responsibility and authority is so ridiculous that I would be rolling on the floor laughing, if it wasn't so tragic. The astronomer heroine was [also] the widowed single parent of an (approximately) 10-year-old boy. With the employment situation being what it is, a young scientist could have a career in science or a family, but not both. All this makes the heroine's depicted employment only that much more ridiculous.

[In conclusion] yes, there are objects out there that might hit us someday. And yes, it is theoretically possible that we might experience an event like that depicted in "Asteroid" within our lifetimes. But astronomers are on the lookout for these things, [and] right now we don't see anything coming our way. In the meantime, there IS a bright comet shining in our skies, and I hope all of you will take the time to enjoy it during the weeks to come.

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LIFESTYLES:
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JUST WHAT IS THE NEW AGE?
(Source: Elizabeth Lesser, David Spangler, NEW AGE JOURNAL, Jan-Feb/97)

Alvin Toffler called it the Third Wave; futurist Hazel Henderson called it the Solar Age; John Naisbitt and Yoneji Masuda speak of the Information Age; physicist Fritjof Capra, the Turning Point; Teilhard de Chardin described it as the Noosphere, and scientist James Lovelock regards this as the Age of Gaia. David Spangler, a former leader of the Findhorn spiritual community, has been credited with coining the word "New Age" in his 1976 book, "Revelation: The Birth of a New Age." And although Spangler himself dislikes the term, he comments that he is "proud to be associated with the New Age."

So what exactly is this New Age that we hear so much about? Annie Gottlieb, in her book, "Do You Believe in Magic?", speculates that "the generation born right around the time the Bomb fell, would, when they came of age, feel driven to search for new modes of thinking and living that might enable the natives of the planet to co-exist rather than annihilate each other and their home." The roots of the New Age as we know it can be traced in part to the yearning of baby boomers to change humanity's modes of thinking. According to historians William Strauss and Neil Howe (News Brief 45), history is a repeating cycle of four turnings. The Second Turning, which the U.S. experienced most recently from 1964 to 1984, is a passionate era of spiritual upheaval when civic order comes under attack from new values.

It is hard to know what the New Age is, because it seems to be something different for each person experiencing it. In a 1976 article in the NEW AGE JOURNAL (a magazine, Spangler notwithstanding, that was founded in 1974), Marilyn Ferguson's description of "the movement that has no name" is as good as any: a new way of thinking that links science, spirituality, art, psychology, technology, and nature. Ferguson went on to write "The Aquarian Conspiracy," the definitive sourcebook for the movement. But rather than depend on one person's view of the phenomenon, we thought that in order to paint a more complete picture of the New Age, we would provide a wide variety of comments from a number of well-known "New Agers," starting with the Father of the New Age himself, David Spangler:

On crystals: "Why is it that crystals have become the symbol of the New Age? If we must have a symbol, a much better image would be the cell. The cell is a fluid organization, a highly complex and structured system that is still flexible and dynamic."

On the commercial aspects: "In 1995, total sales of New-Age oriented books, tapes, videos, CDs, and mail-order products, plus the income from retreats and seminars were in excess of $450 million. As a commercial enterprise, the New Age movement is no trivial matter."

On cyberspace: "Over the past few years, millions of people around the world have become involved with the growing planetary computer network called the Internet. As a result, cyberspace has become a very real place to these people. It is a place of the imagination, a mental construct supported by an electronic network of millions of computers, modems, and phone wires. The New Age is like that -- a mental construct supported by a loose, amorphous network of centers, workshops, seminars, retreats, teachers, books, magazines, and stores. You can plug into it like you plug into cyberspace. You can visit it for some information or inspiration, or you can make it a place to live and work."

-- Andrew Weil, physician: "I think we are entering a period of great turmoil, change and transformation. We are going to see the incorporation of New Age ideas into the general culture with far-reaching results."

-- Joan Borysenko, biophysicist: "Ten years ago, people were much more oriented toward what the power of mind could do for them in their own lives. I am beginning to see a breakthrough from that to what I consider the heart of New Age thinking: the recognition that we're all interconnected, that what we do for ourselves, we do not out of selfishness, but to uplift the whole."

-- Ram Dass, spiritual teacher: "I find the word 'new' partly exciting, like the Good News in Christianity, but also partly offensive, because it's not new at all; it's just a remembering of what we have collectively forgotten."

-- Jean Houston, psychologist: "We're going through perhaps the most massive whole-system shift the world has ever seen, with factors absolutely unique in human experience: the move toward planetization, the interaction of all peoples, the revolution in the understanding of human capacities, the revolution of the media, the rise of women to full partnership with men, and the rise of other cultures in partnership with hitherto dominant cultures. It exceeds the language of description. So we fall back on this rather archaic term."

-- Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher: "The New Age isn't going anywhere -- the world is going new age. The term 'New Age' is used by the mainstream media to invalidate, trivialize, and diminish the serious work being done and to damage the reputations of people doing the work. They've done to the word 'New Age' what they did to the word 'liberal,' only worse. I'm beginning to think that we should leave the phrase behind us, but can't honestly say I know what would be better."

-- Joan Halifax, anthropologist: "When the Zapatistas and people in the rain forest of Borneo are on the Internet sending bulletins, and people in Siberia are Interneting with people in Santa Fe, you realize that this is definitely a New Age. It's an idea whose time has come."(JG)

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EARTH WATCH:
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WORLD VOLCANO REPORT
By Mary Koch

While the world is in a fairly quiet period of volcanicity, the hit movie "Dante's Peak" and television show "Volcano" has generated renewed interest in volcanic activity worldwide. Here is a brief rundown on a few of the world's currently active volcanoes:

Soufriere Volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean continues to show evidence of magma moving upward. The dome growth has produced numerous rockfalls and the report issued February 1 indicates an instability within the dome. Approximately half the island has been evacuated in anticipation of an eruption similar in magnitude to the one that occurred on September 17, 1996.

On December 4, Manam Volcano in Papua New Guinea erupted, killing 2, injuring 18 and forcing 1,500 to evacuate the island. In Guatemala, Pacaya Volcano had an eruption consisting of lava ejection and flow which forced 1,200 people from three villages to be evacuated. No deaths were reported.

There has been increased activity at Nyamuragira (Zaire). Etna (Italy) has had magma shifting from the Bocco Nuova crater towards the southeast crater. Pavlov in Alaska continues to show lava fountaining. On the Kamchatka peninsula in eastern Russia, Kliuchevskoi had an eruption of gas and ash on November 14, while Karymsky began having Strombolian-type (lava fountaining with a white eruption cloud because there no ash is being ejected) eruptions on January 2.

Merapi (Indonesia) has been having numerous pyroclastic flows as the lava dome continues to grow and fragment. Akan on the island of Hokkaido, Japan has a small phreatic eruption as water encountered the hot rocks, but studies indicate no magma involvement at this time. This is its first eruption since 1988. Popocatepetl in Mexico shows every sign of magmatic intrusion, but as the gas is being released passively, scientists do not believe a volcanic eruption is imminent.

(Sources: MONTSERRAT VOLCANO OBSERVATORY, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE Bulletin Of The Global Volcanism Network, SOCIETE VOLCANOLOGIQUE EUROPEENNE Volcanic News, MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY Volcano Page)

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Mary Koch (MK)

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Copyright 1997 by NewHeavenNewEarth

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