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NHNE News Brief 54
Friday, March 28, 1997
"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."
1,008 days until January 1, 2000
Total Paid Subscribers: 120
Total Online Update Mailing List: 830
Jesus & "The Little Things"
World's Lightest Solid
Do You Make Your Computer Sick?
The Value of Woody Plants
The Dangers of Chlorine Bleach
A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Heaven's Gate, Wind & Wings & Easter
Always Room for Discussion
Dollars do not Give Domain
Crazy Horse Monument
Crop Circle Statistics
U.S. AIR FORCE on Roswell
Major UFO Flap Grips Arizona
Hale-Bopp -- Now is the Time
NASA Preparing for Moon Shot
Life from Mars
Earthquake & Volcano Update
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US
JESUS & "THE LITTLE THINGS"
"Whereas other prophets spoke through words, through prophecies, through admonitions, through knowledge, through great deeds, Jesus spoke through the human experience. He knew it was not in the thunder or lightning, not in the loudness of words or the magnitude of deeds, but in the little things -- the kind word, the gentle touch -- that brought God into the hearts and minds of men and women. Instead of seeking to illustrate metaphysical truths, or demonstrate healing ability, or explain the laws of God and life, or gain followers, Jesus was motivated first and foremost by compassion. Above all, Jesus taught, and demonstrated, love."
---From "Jesus, the Man," an overview of the essential characteristics of Jesus by David Sunfellow (http://nen.sedona.net/nhne/jesus.html)
(Source: EUREKAALERT, 3/5/97)
"X-ray vision," once the domain of comic book superheroes, may be coming to a mere mortal near you. The UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER has developed a budding new technology called "augmented reality" which uses computers and cameras to mesh views from different perspectives, giving the wearer of augmented-reality goggles something like superhuman vision. This ability to seamlessly combine a visible object, like a wall, with a whole database of images you can't see, such as an infrared view or a blueprint of the wall's interior, has many applications in such fields as medicine, entertainment, maintenance, and defense. For example, instead of having to glance back and forth between a patient and an MRI view of his brain tumor, surgeons at BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL in Boston can see on a monitor the MRI view superimposed over a video image of the patient. A version of augmented reality makes it possible for weather forecasters to appear on the air in front of their computerized maps. The biggest problem now is how to flawlessly coordinate the video and computer graphic images in an augmented reality sequence. The Rochester group takes the unique approach of using what is called an "affine set" of axial coordinates to place computer graphics into videos using visible natural landmarks as reference points. For more information on augmented reality, including images, see: <http://www.cs.rochester.edu:80/u/vallino/research/AR/>. (JG)
WORLD'S LIGHTEST SOLID
(Source: EUREKAALERT, 3/5/97)
NASA scientists at MARSHALL SPACE FLIGHT CENTER in collaboration with the LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY are working to improve the world's lightest solid material. Called Aerogel, the substance was discovered in the 1930s by a STANFORD UNIVERSITY researcher. A block the size of a human weighs less than a pound, but is able to support the weight of a car, and has tremendous insulating capabilities. Sometimes called "frozen smoke," it has so far only been produced with a hazy appearance, but NASA scientists believe that, in space, they might be able to make a transparent version of the foam-like material. The result would be a host of new insulating products that conserve energy and save money, by lowering heating and cooling costs of windows. A conventional window would have to be ten inches thick to have the same insulation value as a one-inch thick Aerogel window. Aerogel is a good insulator because of the material's large internal surface area. "Like the radiator in a car," said Raymond Cronise, a member of the Marshall Aerogel research team, "it disperses heat throughout its complex structure. It has so many sides and surfaces that if you could unfold a sugar cube-sized portion of Aerogel, it could cover a basketball court." No one is sure why Aerogel made on Earth is smoky. "We decided to take the challenge to space," said Cronise. The Marshall team is preparing for the January 1998 launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, which will "fly our experiment up to where we'll be able to test Aerogel with exposure to low gravity." More information on Aerogel research in space can be found on the Web at: <http://www.ssl.msfc.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/msad05mar97_1.htm>. (JG)
(Sources: Ann Kellan, CNN ONLINE, 2/19/97; Tim Beardsley, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 4/97)
Researchers at JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY have developed an all-plastic battery that is smaller, lighter, thinner, and safer for the environment than the ones presently found in your car or flashlight. It's also rechargeable and could become a consumer item within a couple of years. Normally plastics are insulators, so the researchers had to incorporate dopants -- substances that promote the flow of electricity -- into certain types of plastic polymers, which then generated up to 3 volts in test batteries; new electrode materials are being tested which may generate 10 times more energy. The batteries could potentially compete with the 3-volt lithium types now on the market. Conventional batteries typically consist of: electrodes, usually made of metal and positioned at opposite ends, and an electrolyte, typically a toxic solution that carries electrical current between the electrodes. The experimental Johns Hopkins battery -- about the size of a business card -- contains electrodes made of thin plastic films coated with carbon powder. The electrodes sandwich the electrolyte, which is made of another plastic material developed by the researchers. "I don't see any problem with disposal of those batteries," says researcher Yosef Gofer. Their lack of cadmium, lead, and lithium means that, once they are dead, they can safely be disposed of in landfills. Because it's plastic, the experimental battery is also lightweight and can be molded into almost any shape, making it suitable for powering a variety of items from children's toys to satellites. (JG)
DO YOU MAKE YOUR COMPUTER SICK?
(Source: THE ANOMALIST via UTNE READER, Mar-Apr/97)
According to parapsychology researchers interviewed in THE ANOMALIST (Fall/96), people who experience frequent equipment breakdowns may be emanating hostile electromagnetism. Your bad vibes can, a la Uri Geller, cause computer malfunctions. So before you lash out at a balky computer, you may want to run a diagnostic on yourself first. (JG)
THE VALUE OF WOODY PLANTS
(Source: Philip A. Rutter, EARTHKEEPERS Web Site via E. Monroe)
According to the environmental group EARTHKEEPERS, woody plants could be domesticated and grown to provide food production equal to traditional cereal crops, while simultaneously producing wood for fuel. Current reliance on annual plants for food, results in the world's most fertile soils being rendered sterile and non-photosynthetic for large parts of the growing season, due to the requirements of constant planting and tilling. Calculations show that woody plants in temperate regions can fix more than three times as much carbon dioxide per year as annual grains such as corn. Converting 1/4 of world crop lands to woody plants would result five gigatons of carbon absorbed above that already absorbed by present crops -- enough to completely counteract the current carbon dioxide overload in the atmosphere. Two recommended species are chestnuts and hazelnuts, which are well adapted to temperate regions. Their seeds could easily be substituted for all needs currently filled by corn and soybeans. The land area between trees could either be grazed by animals or intercropped. Additional benefits of woody crops are resistance to drought and less maintenance than conventional crops. Trees can be periodically cut down to root level for wood and quickly regrow to crop-bearing capacity in a matter of a few years. Machinery to mechanize production and planting of woody plants for such large scale use already exists. For more information visit the EARTHKEEPERS Web site: <http://www.traverse.com/earthkeepers/default.html>. (JG)
THE DANGERS OF CHLORINE BLEACH
(Source: HARMONY PRODUCTS CATALOGUE, Spring/97)
A recent study by the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) has determined that chlorine bleach has no place in a healthy home. Whenever chlorine is used, whether to bleach paper or in the laundry, organochlorines are formed, which can then form dioxins. Dioxin is one of a deadly class of toxins which can cause serious health damage even in small amounts. What makes them particularly dangerous is the fact that they don't break down in the environment and they accumulate in human tissue. Some points to consider: anything that has been bleached contains organochlorine residue; a lifetime's use of bleached coffee filters alone can result in an exposure to dioxin that exceeds "acceptable risks," according to the EPA. There are a number of products on the market that do not use bleach such as unbleached coffee filters, or use a bleach alternative such as SEVENTH GENERATION's non-chlorine bleach. For more information on chlorine and dioxins contact the EPA at 401 M St. SW, Washington, DC, 20460. (JG)
A MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER:
HEAVEN'S GATE, WIND & WINGS & EASTER
We had originally planned to publish WIND & WINGS this week, but a last minute decision to catch up on recent "Letters to the Editor" in News Brief 53, left us with a backlog of important news to share. And then news of the Heaven's Gate group suicide reached us, accompanied by more letters and calls from news organizations. Because many of the issues surrounding Heaven's Gate are of special interest to us, we decided to encourage all of you to share your thoughts about this unsettling episode. Earlier today, I sent out a message outlining our plan to publish the best feedback we receive in an upcoming NHNE Special Report. If things go according to plan, this Special Report will tackle a variety of issues related to cult-type organizations as well as belief systems that lend themselves to harmful activities. If you have anything to add to this important discussion, I encourage you to drop us a line.
Meanwhile, WIND & WINGS will probably be postponed a couple more weeks and Easter is almost upon us. Next to Christmas, Easter is my favorite holiday. I usually try to spend some time pondering this remarkable event, seeking a deeper understanding of what it must have been like to be there, in ancient Palestine, when human history was being changed forever, as well as what the Easter story means for those of us alive today, some two thousands years later. One of my all-time favorite Easter-related stories comes from a psychic reading that was done by Ray Stanford. It focuses on the Pentecost and what the Stanford source says happened on that monumental occasion. If any of you are interested in reading this inspiring story, I invite you to send an email message to "firstname.lastname@example.org" and write "Pentecost" in the SUBJECT FIELD of your letter.
With Love & Best Wishes,
Special thanks to Susan Perry for helping proofread the last two News Briefs.
ALWAYS ROOM FOR DISCUSSION
I would like to thank Daniel O. and David Sunfellow for their insightful letter and accompanying response in News Brief 53. I feel that Daniel was concerned about what he felt was an inappropriate stance taken by NHNE regarding recent world events and felt strongly enough about this to make his position known. I also commend David Sunfellow for his response and I would just like to add that this is why I have chosen time and time again to add my name to the growing list of members of NewHeavenNewEarth. Whenever anyone feels any issue is not receiving due consideration from the publisher, editor, or other members of NHNE, they are always invited to put their comments in writing and it will be a topic for discussion. NHNE invites commentary on any subject matter and welcomes discussion without demeaning anyone who happens to have a differing viewpoint. Thank you Daniel for your concerns and thank you also David Sunfellow for remaining consistent with your goals for NHNE and its members and for realizing that this new millennium brings with it people of diverse backgrounds with many differing viewpoints and that there is always room for discussion and an even exchange of ideas and concepts. To me, NHNE has always seemed extremely fair in attempting to present both sides of an issue, and only after doing so will analyze and present their personal conclusions with which the reader is invited to either agree or disagree. Keep up the good work folks!!
---Jan Morrow, Herndon, Virginia
DOLLARS DO NOT GIVE DOMAIN
I cannot help commenting on the discussion in News Brief 53 about paying and non-paying subscribers. Being a paid subscriber was my choice, whether I get the news first, or see it in the News Briefs later to share with my friends. Sharing the information is what is truly important. Some of us choose to contribute to the effort financially, others do not, whatever their reasons. Dollars do not give us first domain over the information. Follow your heart and your instincts David and James. You walk a good path.
---Carol Sanders, Nanaimo, BC, Canada
CRAZY HORSE MONUMENT
Being from the Black Hills, and having many close personal contacts in the native community, as well as having done professional research on Crazy Horse and the Crazy Horse monument, I will make a few brief comments:
I emphasize your point that this project is not sponsored by native peoples, although some native people work there and some sell arts and crafts in the gift store. Crazy Horse, a Lakota warrior and visionary, is close to the hearts of many people. As you stated, he did not allow his picture taken. He is also quoted as saying he would return, rising out of the rock. That does not necessarily imply that he was happy about it. As a traditional person, he did not point with his arm and finger, as he is portrayed in the mock up of the monument (the actual monument is far from being finished). Crazy Horse, as well as Black Elk, had prophetic visions in the Black Hills. These visions, to me, are the most interesting aspects of their lives.
No one person speaks for the Lakota people. Opinions among native peoples are varied. It is extremely difficult to make any generalizations about the opinion of one tribe, much less native people as a whole. It is common for someone to hear the opinion of one native person and consider it true for all. Not so. The stated intent of Korczak Ziolkowski was to create a monument to the dignity of the Indian people, as a counterpoint to Mount Rushmore. One chief is said to have sanctioned this project. The Black Hills are considered sacred and the vast majority of native people I know consider carving into them for any reason a desecration. There is a prevailing ambivalence about this project. Native people traditionally have other ways of honoring their heroes. In contrast, Mount Rushmore was originally going to be a series of faces of folk heroes. Presidents were finally chosen, because they would attract more tourists. The original intent was as a tourist trap.
---Deb Chaplin, the Black Hills, South Dakota
CROP CIRCLE STATISTICS
In your last News Brief you challenged Daniel O's comment that "anyone who has studied this matter knows that most [crop] circles are authentic." You responded to Daniel O's comments by saying, "experts like Colin Andrews who study crop circles full time believe that as many as 70 percent of the crop circles appearing in England may be hoaxes." I visited the Web site that presently hosts Colin Andrews' work, "The K2 Crop Circular" (http://www.nh.ultranet.com/~lovely) and Freddy Silva, the site's creator, writes, "Since Doug and Dave's unveiling in 1990, many copycat hoaxers have appeared on the scene; some do it to disprove or derail researchers, some for profit, some because they are sociopaths, some because they genuinely believe they can communicate back to the phenomenon (with very positive results, I may add). Given that scenario, it's true to say that some 30% of formations are now man-made or hoaxed -- which leaves us some 70%."
Freddy Silva's vantage point seems to be the reverse of yours. Can you clarify this? What are the correct statistics for real versus hoaxed crop circles?
---Steve Haag, San Jose, California
[Here is what Colin Andrews told us in our September 30, 1996 email interview with him:
"NHNE: How many crop circles in England do you estimate are genuine, versus faked?
ANDREWS: I think it is possible that as many as 70% of the crop circles currently appearing in England are hoaxed, but that is not by any means a confident figure. Many are not visited on the ground due to limited resources, but by aerial surveillance you can usually get a good idea of legitimacy. I have visited many hoaxes and have been part of a number of experiments with people (including the British Army) who have tried to replicate the features of the genuine article. The experience of Pat Delgado proves that if you jump to quick conclusions before all the information has been gathered, it is possible to be fooled. [A few years ago Delgado was too hasty in announcing that a certain crop circle was legitimate, only upon further investigation to discover to his dismay and embarrassment that it was a hoax.]"
So why are Freddy Silva's figures so different from the figures offered by Colin Andrews? We contacted Silva and here is what he had to say:
"My figure is an educated estimate based on the pictograms covered by Colin's work, as well as the work of additional people. You will find that the figure varies up to 60 percent authentic and 40 percent hoaxed with other researchers and members of the educated public. Colin's data, on the other hand, is very precise because he will only acknowledge a 'genuine' formation when all the requirements are fulfilled. This can take months. For him, it is imperative not to say that more formations are genuine because the research community and the media are always out to get him.
"But to all of us who can see a genuine formation merely by its geometry and the energy it produces is another matter. I can confidently and publicly say that some 70% are genuine because I can see them, but if I were to approach the scientific community, I'd stay closer to Colin's data because it is factual and based on absolute data.
"I might also point out that even if only 30% of crop circles were authentic, that still means some 2000 formations are the genuine thing!"]
U.S. AIR FORCE ON ROSWELL
(Source: Tech. Sgt. David P. Masko, AUFORA NEWS UPDATE, 3/11/97 via Chris Czech)
In response to various views that the U.S. government has withheld information about the Roswell sightings, the U.S. AIR FORCE (USAF) has issued a new study titled "The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert" by Col. Richard L. Weaver and Lt. James McAndrew. The researchers said they had the full cooperation of the USAF. When they discovered information under security classification, it was declassified, and if Air Force officials had been sworn to a secrecy oath, they were freed from it. In short, the writers said the objective was to tell Congress and the American people "everything the AIR FORCE knew about Roswell. McAndrew, who spent six months researching hundreds of documents relating to Roswell, told AIR FORCE NEWS SERVICE that he is "100 percent sure that the Roswell sightings are a hoax," and that there's no evidence of an AIR FORCE cover-up. He added that in all the recent books, movies and television programs, there's nothing conclusive about UFOs landing at Roswell.
UFO conspiracy theorists allege that both Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, Air Force chief of staff in 1947-1948, and Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, then Deputy Chief of Staff, directed the recovery of a flying saucer at Roswell Army Air Field on July 8, 1947. A review of Vandenberg's official daily activities calendar revealed "his knowledge of a reported flying saucer recovery on July 7 in Texas, an incident that he later determined to be a hoax."
UFO theorists also allege that Gen. Nathan F. Twining altered his plans unexpectedly in July 1947 to go to New Mexico to oversee the recovery of a flying saucer. The report found that Twining, then Commander of AIR MATERIEL COMMAND, did indeed go to New Mexico in 1947, but it was with several other general officers to attend the nuclear bomb commanders course. "Twining received orders to attend this course more than a month before the alleged incident occurred," the report states.
While a review of top brass involvement in a UFO cover-up proved unfounded, some questions remain about Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, who was commander of the 8th Air Force in 1947. Ramey is alleged to have participated in the cover-up of the recovery of an extraterrestrial vehicle by substituting debris from an ordinary weather balloon for that of an alien spacecraft. The report said "Ramey withheld only the components that would have comprised the highly sensitive MOGUL project." MOGUL refers to a then top-secret balloon project designed to monitor Soviet nuclear tests. Comparison of information obtained when the UFO crash supposedly happened are consistent with a balloon device, and most likely from one of the MOGUL balloons that had not been previously recovered.
The AIR FORCE report concludes:
-- Concerted research has failed to turn up any documentation confirming the Roswell incident, or of a flying saucer and/or aliens at Wright-Patterson Air Base. Because of the absence of documentation, the issue can never be definitively resolved. There will always be those who say, "You didn't search hard enough" or "We know you really do have the records, saucers, aliens."
-- Because the Roswell incident occurred 50 years ago, there may no longer be any paper trail.
-- Despite the best efforts of UFO researchers over the years, not one scrap of physical evidence or one incontestable photograph of either a flying saucer or an alien has ever been found relating to the Roswell incident.
In short, every reasonable avenue of research has been exhausted without finding evidence that a flying saucer or aliens landed at Roswell or were taken to Wright-Patterson. "The Roswell Report" is available from the government printing office.
[While we felt the above information was important enough to share with our readers, we can't help but be suspicious of an organization investigating itself. JG]
MAJOR UFO FLAP GRIPS ARIZONA
(Sources: Joseph Trainor, 3/16/97, UFO ROUNDUP; Tom King, AUFORA NEWS UPDATE, 3/16/97; CNI NEWS 3/16/97)
Each night at 9 p.m. for four consecutive days, March 10 through 14, Steve Blonder and his wife saw glowing orange spheres in the sky over Ahwatukee, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. By the fourth night, there was enough interest and excitement about the event that William Hamilton, Assistant Director of ARIZONA MUFON showed up at the Blonder house along with UFO videographer Tom King and Dr. Steven Greer of CSETI. After a 15 or 20 minute wait, the globe appeared for a few seconds low over the horizon in the same spot as the previous nights, then disappeared. In 10 minutes, it appeared again along with five others. The six UFOs shaped themselves into a perfect line on the horizon for about five minutes and then dropped out of sight one by one. The flickering orange globes were estimated to be at least 30 feet in diameter, moving in formation at an altitude of less than 1000 feet, 2 to 4 miles away. There was no visible structure. King caught the whole thing on his video camera.
Similar stories were reported by thousands of other witnesses in the area and at least five different videos were broadcast on local television stations. King, who lives in Phoenix, said, "Nearly every news channel in town was running the sightings as their 'top story.' Stations were competing with each other to out-scoop the other with better footage or witnesses." A pilot taking off from nearby Sky Harbor Airport reported to the control tower that he had just seen a triangular pattern of lights, even though nothing showed up on the airport radar. On March 14, Peter Davenport, Director of the Seattle-based NATIONAL UFO REPORTING CENTER, said that his Center had also received numerous reports of triangular objects sighted in the vicinity of the Arizona towns of Prescott, Paulden, Glendale, Tempe, and Kingman. On March 15, "orange spheres" were seen flying over the Arizona towns of Prescott and Tucson, in addition to Phoenix.
The U.S. military first claimed that it wasn't involved in the sightings, and later claimed that the sightings were due to maneuvers at night that involved anti-aircraft parachute flares. Eyewitnesses, on the other hand, said that the sightings definitely weren't flares. Not only did they not drip or smoke as flares commonly do, but flares don't possess the ability to streak off at incredible speeds, or simply vanish, as many of these objects reportedly did. In addition, the military claimed the flare tests were conducted in one area some fifty miles from Phoenix, while the sightings themselves were reported over many different Ariziona cities. Along with speculation that the sightings were alien space crafts, there was also widespread speculation that the objects may have been secret U.S. military planes, including the famed, super-secret, triangular-shaped, "Aurora."
These reports follow a tremendous escalation in sightings of orange globes worldwide. The Phoenix UFO reports are being called the best documented mass sighting in the last 10 years. (JG, DS)
HALE-BOPP -- NOW IS THE TIME
By James Gregory
The closest approach of the Hale-Bopp Comet to Earth occurred on March 22. In the last few weeks, the comet has developed an incredible series of waves that arc out in front of the nucleus. Whatever you want to call them -- shock waves, bow waves, domes, arcs -- these features are likely the result of a quickly rotating nucleus that causes the dust jet to stream out in an expanding circular shell. Since we are looking somewhat down the axis of the comet, we see the spinning effect much as we would see a spiral galaxy face-on. The sunward side of the spiraling dust jet is brightly lit while the shadow side is not visible. If the spiraling jet were equally illuminated we would see something like a spinning bullseye.
Russell Sipes, Editor of the Hale-Bopp Web site, claims that the appearance of the comet has triggered world-wide Millennium Madness: "The turning of a millennium fuels people's imaginations and ultimate expectations about the universe. At the first millennium, they channeled those feelings into religion. The expectation of Christ's return, supported by their interpretations of Scripture fueled their belief that the world would come to an end with the return of Christ in 1000 AD. Now, the same thing is happening again, only this time around, it is not religion that fuels the millennial fervor, it is pseudo-science that seems to be the focal point of these imaginations and expectations."
In an unexpected development, some observers of Comet Hale-Bopp have been reporting that the nucleus of Comet Hale-Bopp may have split into as many as six segments. The fragmentation of comets is not unusual; the break-up of Shoemaker-Levy in 1994 into 21 distinct pieces is a case in point. More observations are needed before this claim can be confirmed and astronomers are unduly cautious ever since the "Saturn-like Object" flap of last November and the "Mysterious Eyes" image of Comet Hale-Bopp posted on the Internet last July, which turned out to be an artifact of electronic imaging software. It is too early to rule out that explanation here. Other comet watchers have indicated that they see no evidence of such splitting and that it is simply the very active jet activity around the nucleus that is causing the appearance of a second nucleus.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the comet can now be seen in both the morning and evening skies with the comet setting in the west early in the evening and rising in the east just before dawn. After March 22, it will be seen better in the evening. Because the comet is racing towards the sun, its location changes somewhat each night. Hale-Bopp is now one of the brightest objects in the sky, and can even be seen during the day, if you know where to look. To give you an idea of its brightness, Comet Hale-Bopp is 13 times brighter than last year's Comet Hyakutake.
The period March 24th through April 10th will be the peak of Hale-Bopp's performance. SKY & TELESCOPE MAGAZINE reports that "during this time Comet Hale-Bopp is high enough that it will remain in good view for well over an hour after the end of twilight. Anyone able to get away from glaring city lights should be treated to an awe-inspiring spectacle of the comet's brilliant, starlike pseudo-nucleus in a hood-shaped coma trailed by a thin, bluish ion tail and a broad, curved, yellowish dust tail, both extending upward."
On April 1, the comet hurtles round the Sun at a speed of 43,000 miles per hour, and begins its lonely journey back out into the cold, dark reaches of space. And, in the words of Data, the sentient android of "Star Trek - The Next Generation," despite all the furor and speculation since the comet was first discovered almost two years ago, Hale-Bopp is "operating within normal parameters."
(Sources: Russell Sipe, Carlos E. Hernandez, Hale Bopp Web Site; Anita Manning, USA TODAY, 3/13/97; SKY & TELESCOPE via CNI NEWS, 3/16/97; David A. Kaplan, Sharon Begley & Theodore Gideonse, NEWSWEEK, 3/24/97)
NASA PREPARING FOR MOON SHOT
(Source: NASA Press Release via CNI NEWS, 3/16/97)
Despite a high level of scientific and public interest going back to the first Apollo missions of the '60s, major gaps remain in scientific knowledge about Earth's nearest planetary neighbor -- over 75 percent of the lunar surface is not mapped in detail, and important questions about the Moon's history, composition and internal processes remain unanswered. This situation is about to change. Construction and assembly of NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft, designed to obtain the first complete compositional and gravity maps of the Moon, has now been completed in preparation for its scheduled launch on September 24, 1997.
Lunar Prospector is an embodiment of NASA's new way of doing business. With an emphasis on minimized risk, lowered costs, rapid turnaround time, and its prime focus on delivery of scientific data, the spacecraft will help usher in a new era of Solar System exploration missions.
The Lunar Prospector is a small 4.5 foot high vehicle with a fully-fueled mass of only 660 pounds. Once the spacecraft reaches the Moon, it will settle into a 62-mile high, polar-mapping orbit to begin its one-year mission. Five scientific instruments are mounted on the booms to isolate them from the main structure and electronics. A neutron spectrometer will have the capability to locate as little as one cup of water in a cubic yard of lunar soil. A gamma-ray spectrometer will provide global maps of the elemental composition of the surface layer of the Moon. An alpha particle experiment will provide information on the level of tectonic and volcanic lunar out-gassing activity. A magnetometer and electron reflectometer will map local lunar magnetic fields. The Doppler gravity experiment will provide the first global gravity map of the Moon, essential for planning future missions.
This information should provide insights into the origin and evolution of the Moon. Lunar Prospector also should directly determine the existence or absence of water ice in the Moon's polar regions, something that has been suggested by analysis of indirect, radar-based data from the Clementine mission. Eventually the Moon's gravity will win out, and the spacecraft will end its useful service by a slow spiral into the lunar surface. Further information on Lunar Prospector is available at: <http://pyroeis.arc.nasa.gov/lunar_prospector/home.html>. (JG)
LIFE FROM MARS
(Source: REUTERS, 3/13/97, CNI NEWS, 3/16/97)
As interest in the possibility of Mars life continues to grow worldwide, a panel of science experts at the 28TH LUNAR AND PLANETARY SCIENCE CONFERENCE delivered a progress report on the continuing "Life on Mars" discussion at a press briefing on March 19. In two separate studies, researchers added new weight to the theory that tiny structures in a gray rock found in Antarctica were relics of Martian life. While the research did not confirm the existence of life on Mars, John Valley of the UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN and his colleagues attacked the thermodynamic assumptions of some of the Martian life doubters, who maintained that the kind of material found in the meteorite -- officially known as ALH84001 -- had to form at temperatures over 650 degrees C. His best guess was that the rock's micro-fossils formed at temperatures below the boiling point of water, leaving ample scope for the Martian organisms' survival. The second team, headed by Joseph Kirschvink of the CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, came to similar conclusions by studying the magnetic field of the rock. "There must have been numerous meteorites capable of carrying life between Earth and Mars," said Kirschvink. "We don't know if they did, but at least we've got one stone sitting on a desk that travelled the low-temperature path."
The NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL, which advises NASA and other federal agencies, has now decided that there is enough of a risk of contamination from Martian rock samples for them to suggest that any future samples recovered from Mars be isolated. The text of complete abstracts presented at the conference can be found at: <http://cass.jsc.nasa.gov/LPSC97>. (JG)
EARTHQUAKE & VOLCANO UPDATE
By David Sunfellow
Numerous psychics have predicted that the Earth would experience a stunning rise in earthquake and volcanic activity as the year 2000 approached and the Earth prepared to shift it poles. In previous News Briefs (31, 34, 36), we reported that both earthquake and volcanic activity has been near or below normal annual averages. Now that the earthquake figures are available for 1996, we can report that this trend is continuing: Nothing out of the ordinary is happening in the world geologically; psychic predictions of massive geological change continue to be embarrassingly wrong.
The annual average for earthquakes with a magnitude 7.0 and greater is 19. In 1996 there were 20 earthquakes that fell within the 7.0 to 7.9 range, and 1 that fell within the 8.0 to 9.9 range, for a total of 21 earthquakes greater than 7.0. Here is a breakdown of totals for the last few years from the UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (USGS) NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION CENTER:
YEARLY NUMBER OF EARTHQUAKES WORLDWIDE, 7.0 & GREATER
1980 - 18
1981 - 14
1982 - 10
1983 - 15
1984 - 8
1985 - 15
1986 - 6
1987 - 11
1988 - 8
1989 - 7
1990 - 12
1991 - 11
1992 - 23
1993 - 16
1994 - 15
1995 - 23
1996 - 21
Since 1900, the most seismicly-active year occurred in 1943, with 41 major (magnitude 7.0 and larger) earthquakes. Significantly, the years from 1934 to 1951 all exceeded the average annual rate of 19 major earthquakes per year.
While the yearly number of earthquakes worldwide 5.0 and smaller has increased, the USGS says this is because earthquake-tracking equipment has improved and tracking stations are located in more places around the world. (In 1931 there were 350 tracking stations, while today there are over 4,000.)
AVERAGE YEARLY FREQUENCY OF EARTHQUAKES SINCE 1900
Great (8 and higher) - 1
Major (7 to 7.9) - 18
Strong (6 to 6.9) - 120
Moderate (5 to 5.9) - 800
Light (4 to 4.9) - 6,200 (estimated)
Minor (3 to 3.9) - 49,000 (estimated)
For more earthquake information, you can visit the USGS NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION CENTER: <http://wwwneic.cr.usgs.gov/>.
In News Brief 36 we reported that there are presently 1,511 active (as opposed to dormant) volcanoes around the world and of these active volcanoes, there were 376 eruptions in the ten years from 1975 to 1985 according to the GLOBAL VOLCANISM NETWORK. The level of volcanic activity for these years is right in the middle of the yearly average of 35 to 40 eruptions. Preliminary research indicates that volcanic activity during the years 1985 to 1995 is also at or below normal averages. We will be presenting a more detailed overview of current volcanic activity in a future News Brief.
(Sources: VOLCANO WORLD; EUROPEAN VOLCANOLOGICAL SOCIETY; John Murray, GLOBAL VOLCANISM NETWORK of the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE; Mary Koch)
David Sunfellow (DS)
James Gregory (JG)
Gail Rossi (GR)
Joya Pope (JP)
Palden Jenkins (PJ)
Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
Karol Ann Barnett (KAB)
Mary Koch (MK)
Robert Perry (RP)
Steve Haag (SH)
Chris Czech (CC)
Sandy Ezrine (SE)
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