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NHNE News Brief 77
Friday, September 12, 1997

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

Millennium Countdown:
841 days until January 1, 2000

NHNE Online Mailing List: 848


Until One is Committed

Breathe Easier with El Nino
The Mother of All Asteroids?
Birds & Dinosaurs
Crop Circle Season Winding Down

Hard Rock Kills
Ugly Men Smell More Attractive
Occupational Hazard

Everything I've Been Looking For
Crazy & Dangerous
A Most Disturbing Article

Dannion Brinkley Seriously Ill

The Four Stages of Life After Death

Ed Dames On Art Bell (August 4, 1997)

Pilgrims Overloading Mecca
The Dalai Lama on Christianity

Hurting Animals a Sign of Abuse
Teen Values Learned at Home
Community Sentencing

Top 10 Volcanoes in Real Time

Global Surveyor Enters Mars Orbit
Voyager Spacecraft Still Going Strong

Medicare Considering Ornish Program



"Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from discussion, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way."

---W.H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition


(Source: Jim Hill, CNN ONLINE, 9/9/97)

When most Southern Californians hear of El Nino, they usually think of heavy rains, flooding and huge ocean waves, but there appears to be a bright side to the quirky weather pattern as well. According to air quality expert Joe Cassmassi, "We've been observing some of the lowest, if not THE lowest, smog levels on record." An El Nino occurs when westward-blowing trade winds weaken, allowing warm water normally blown into the western Pacific to drift eastward toward South America. Although the cause of the phenomenon is unclear, El Ninos alter the strength and direction of the jet stream and disrupt weather patterns all over the world. But for the moment, the skies are sunny and clear in Southern California -- what is ordinarily some of the dirtiest air in the country is now downright invigorating. "I think anything that clears up the air is just excellent," said Dr. Arthur Gelb, a doctor who specializes in lung disorders. "Perhaps this is an advantage that nature does provide us with every four years." (JG)


(Source: Deborah Zabarenko, REUTERS via CNN ONLINE, 9/4/97)

For the first time, the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed two huge craters 285 and 330 miles in diameter on Vesta, a mini-planet between Mars and Jupiter. Gouged out by collisions about a billion years ago, the craters are about eight miles deep and cut all the way through Vesta's outer crust and into the mantle. Material from Vesta's craters was blasted into space and large chunks of it quite probably compose thousands of the asteroids spread out in the inner asteroid belt. "The big impact craters are the smoking gun that reveals the trail of getting pieces from Vesta to the Earth," Richard Binzel, of the MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY in Cambridge. About 6 percent of the meteorites that fall to Earth have the same minerological signature as Vesta, which probably formed around 4.5 billion years ago. German astronomer Wilhelm Olbers first spotted the planetary object in 1807. (JG)


(Source: Richard Monastersky, SCIENCE NEWS, 8/23/97)

Contrary to popular wisdom, dinosaurs never went extinct. Paleontologists have determined that the modern day bird shares 200 anatomical features with dinosaurs -- far more than the number that link birds to any other type of lifeform, extinct or living. For this reason, most scientists now accept that modern birds are nothing more than feathered dinosaurs. When scientists draw the dinosaur family tree, they locate birds on the branch belonging to the theropods -- the group that includes T. rex. On a more detailed level, birds reside among a specialized group of theropods known as maniraptorans, which include Velociraptor -- one of the killing machines of "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World." (JG)



As the harvesting of field crops in Britain comes to an end, and the 1997 Crop Circle Season winds down, most croppies are in agreement that this season has been quite spectacular. We have seen some amazing geometry within the designs this year, and also the positioning of them within the landscape has also been exemplary. CROP CIRCLE CONNECTOR editors Mark Fussell and Stuart Dike are in agreement that "the phenomenon is moving on, their presence within the countryside is awe-inspiring, and this emotional effect is creating a response which we feel transcends normal reality. We still believe these designs are manifestations of consciousness, and they express our thought processes. We must move with the Circlemakers, and celebrate the time we have with the phenomenon, not only within the fields of England, but abroad also." NHNE will feature a full report of the 1997 Crop Circle season in a few weeks. (JG)


(Source: FLAGSTAFF LIVE! 8/7/97)

David Merrell, a high school student in Suffolk, Virginia won first prize in the state science fair for his science project to determine the effect of music on lab mice. He created a maze that mice took about 10 minutes to negotiate. Then Merrell played classical music to one group of mice and rock music to another for 10 hours a day. After three weeks, the mice exposed to the classical music made it though the maze in 90 seconds. The rock music group took 30 minutes. Merrell added, "I had to cut my science project short because all the hard rock mice killed each other. None of the classical music mice did that." (JG)


(Source: CLARINEWS, 9/4/97)

Austrian researchers at the INSTITUTE OF URBAN ETHOLOGY in Vienna have made the startling discovery that ugly men smell more attractive to women than handsome hunks. The scientists made the discovery after they conducted an experiment in which men were asked to smell T-shirts that women had worn for three days. Another group of men was asked to rate the facial attractiveness of the women. It turned out that women who were rated attractive to look at were also judged to smell the most erotic. This confirmed earlier findings which suggest that sense of smell may play a role in choosing a mate. But the researchers had a surprise when the roles were reversed and the experiment was repeated to find out what women found attractive. The more attractive a man's face was, the less appealing he smelled. While the reason was unclear, the results show "intriguing differences in the mating strategies of men and women," the researchers concluded. (JG)


(Source: DISCOVER, 9/97)

Susan Sheridan, an anthropologist at NOTRE DAME, has been studying the bones of the monks who lived and died at the Byzantine monastery of St. Stephen just outside Jerusalem. At its peak about 500 AD, the monastery housed 10,000 monks. While Sheridan claims that "they were the healthiest population I've ever studied," she has discovered one curious aberration -- almost all the monks had arthritic knees and kneecaps worn smooth. Historical records show that the monks spent impressive amounts of time kneeling in prayer at sunrise, twice during the day, sunset, and midnight. (JG)



"Why did it take me so long to find you? Everything I've been looking for is at NHNE -- my favorite authors, great product lines, wonderful resources! I also love your graphics -- pictures moving, vivid colors. My senses are delighted! Thank you for a great Web site."

---Elaine Byer, St. Paul, Minnesota



"The story in News Brief 74 about toxic-waste-contaminated fertilizer saddens me greatly. All of our health is at risk when we tinker with our food supply in such an obviously sick way. Mad cow disease came about from feeding ground-up diseased sheep to cattle in England. This seems so crazy and dangerous and cynically dollar-minded. And it gets worse: According to Curt Anderson, a correspondent for ASSOCIATED PRESS, chicken manure, which is cheaper than alfalfa, is being increasingly used as feed by cattle farmers in the U.S, despite obvious health risks to consumers. It is theorized that the feeding of chicken manure to cows is the cause of the prevalence of virulent E-coli problems in the food supply. My husband assures me that if you let a cow stroll through a chicken yard it would never stoop to eating chicken manure off the ground despite its nitrogen/protein content."

---Joya Pope, Fayetteville, Arkansas



"I found the report 'Hazardous Waste & Fertilizer' (News Brief 74) one of the most disturbing articles I've ever read in NHNE. There is a follow-up article at the SEATTLE TIMES: <>. I think they definitely got the food industry and legislators' attention. There is a good tie-in article on endocrine disruptors at: <> (search on 'endocrine disruptors'). Key factoid from this article: 'Hormones work at almost incomprehensible low doses -- in concentrations measured in parts per trillion. It could radically alter notions about how much of a chemical or pollutant is needed to cause harm.' A wonderful resource on the issue of how much toxics are tolerable is the ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR NEWS at TULANE UNIVERSITY: <>. Maybe somebody should clue in the Washington State regulators to these facts. Nothing could emphasize the need for more organic growers than this 'toxic recycling' program. Those three-eyed frogs are trying to tell us something."

---David Willsey, Pagosa Springs, Colorado


(Sources: Art Bell Web Site, 9/5/97, thanks to Kathy Renbarger; Art Bell Radio Show, 9/11/97)

On September 4, Dannion Brinkley was admitted to intensive care in an unnamed southern hospital suffering from multiple brain aneurysms. On September 5, Brinkley was listed in serious condition and was facing brain surgery if his brain continued to hemorrhage. In a one-hour phone interview on the Art Bell radio show on Thursday, September 11, Brinkley reported that the bleeding in his brain has stopped, two of his three blood clots had dissolved, and it looked like brain surgery would not be necessary after all. He was still hooked up to four IV's and the blood thinners being used to dissolve his clots had left his body "one big bruise."

He credits the prayers of his supporters in helping him heal and asks for continued prayers. Meanwhile, to promote healing, he listens to eight hours of healing music a day, is taking vitamins and trace minerals, eating fresh fruit, and making use of aromatherapy, color therapy, and healing crystals. He pointed out that it was 22 years ago that he was first hit by lightning and had his first near-death experience -- an event that changed his life. When Bell asked him if he was ever afraid at any time during this recent experience, Brinkley answered, "Now that I have had three near-death experiences, I am not afraid of dying. But I am hurting." He added, "I wouldn't miss the next five years and what's going to happen in the Quickening for anything."

Brinkley's voice was strong on the phone, and he was confident that he would be released from the hospital in one week. For the latest update on Brinkley's condition, Art Bell has a three-minute Real Audio message posted on his Web site: <>. (JG & DS)


(Source: Cathy Hainer, USA TODAY, 8/11/97)

Despite rumors to the contrary, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the Swiss psychiatrist whose 1969 book, "On Death and Dying," brought the subject to the mainstream, is still very much alive and well. In fact, she has just written her autobiography, "The Wheel of Life." In it, she marks the four stages of life after death, based on her interviews with more than 20,000 patients:

-- Phase 1: Leave the physical body. No matter what the cause of death, the recently deceased are aware of the scene they just left. They assume an ethereal existence and experience a wholeness.

-- Phase 2: Meet guides. Leaving the body behind, the deceased enter a state defined as "spirit and energy." Angels or guides comfort them and introduce them to previously deceased relatives and friends. It is a time of "cheerful reunion."

-- Phase 3: Enter the tunnel. People report feeling excitement, tranquility and the anticipation of going home. No matter what their religious background, all agree that seeing the light taught them there is only one explanation for the meaning of life, and that is love.

-- Phase 4: In the presence of a higher source. In this state, people go through a life review to see what they made of God's greatest gift -- free will. They are asked: "What service have you rendered?" Their answer determines whether or not they learned the lessons they were supposed to learn, the ultimate being unconditional love.

A few years ago, Kubler-Ross, who is now 71, suffered a series of strokes that left her paralyzed and bedridden. She was angry at God, but came to realize that she was just going through one of the stages of dying. Although her health has since improved, she feels that she now is in the last stage of dying: acceptance. She is no longer afraid of death; in fact, she welcomes it.

After her many years of working with the dying, she leaves us with these thoughts on the subject: "I have no doubt that there's life after death. I always say that death can be one of the greatest experiences ever. It's like walking through a door and into the next room, except the next room is much, much better than this one. There's no pain and no anxiety. Live honestly and full so that you don't look back and regret that you've wasted your life." (JG)


By Chris Czech

On August 4, 1997, Ed Dames, President of PSI TECH, appeared on the Art Bell Radio Show to discuss some dramatic predictions recently made by remote viewers employed by his company. Remote viewing has the potential of having a profound social impact and many claims by remote viewers have overt synchronicity with visions of future events as described by many others, past and present. Possible social impacts are not limited to the obvious global disasters he claims will occur in the next two years. This past spring, similar "information" led 39 people to "shed their containers" so they could be taken up on the Hale-Bopp companion. Even if Dames is wrong, some people could still take his warnings seriously and make rash decisions. Discernment is called for.

For those who are not familiar with remote viewing and the work of Ed Dames and his company PSI TECH, a comprehensive overview of the subject by James Gregory can be found at: <>.

Here are the salient points that Ed Dames made during the August 4 broadcast:

-- UFOs are real. They come from another place, outside this planet, or from this planet at another time.

-- Roswell was a real crash with real aliens. The debris and bodies were really there on the desert floor. An advanced race orchestrated that particular drama then went back in time and prevented the crash from happening and the physical evidence disappeared.

-- Advanced races utilize time travel regularly.

-- Crop circles are time-registration stamps used as reference markers by time travellers.

-- By August of 1998, the world will be in the midst of a global economic collapse that will be triggered by weather and disease. Dames stands by that claim.

-- A package from Comet Hale-Bopp is en route towards our planet. Dames thinks it will enter the Earth's atmosphere over Africa and will begin to kill green plant life. Dames is not sure if it's the ozone degradation or the plant pathogen or a combination of both that does such widespread damage.

-- Project Starman, the "capstone" project of PSI TECH, involves contact with another race. PSI TECH is going to transmit a signal using lasers.

-- Major earth changes will begin in late 1998, and we will be well into them in 1999.

-- The Antichrist is a "field effect" that exists in all of us, as opposed to something termed the false prophet in modern Christianity.

-- The Tetrahedron in the Cydonia region of Mars is an artificial feature. There was another race of men on Mars a long time ago.

-- The only thing that can effectively block information from being remote viewed is angels. We share this space with what Dames calls "angelic minds."

-- There is light at the end of the tunnel but it is awful grim on the way there.

What does Ed Dames have to gain by all this? Dames makes his living by offering remote viewing courses and selling instructional how-to videos. His target market are the types who listen to Art Bell's radio show, which is one of the most popular radio programs in the U.S. It seems to follow that appearing as a "guest" on the program is cheap advertising. Nevertheless, his claims are corroborated by other sources in the mainstream and "environmental" media. It is also important to note that a number of doomsayers are selling the same message. Dames is merely trying to tell the story in a context that the public can accept.

Dames claims don't seem to be at odds with the Bible. The prophet Joel prophesied (in the words of the Apostle Peter) that of the last days, God said, "I will pour forth my Spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come, I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the Earth beneath. The Sun shall be turned into darkness, and the Moon into blood. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:17-21) Who can say one way or the other that Dames and others aren't getting this information from some outside source, be it God, Satan, or aliens?

My personal opinion of this matter is simply this: God put us all here to experience life, no matter what it may hold for us. Each of us has something to learn each day. There is no comfort in "knowing" the future and it only inhibits us from living without restraint. Eventually life will end for all of us. It's what we do in the meantime that counts. If Dames' predictions are a wake-up call for you, then do something about it. While it may be too late for mankind to avoid whatever might be coming, we can still live out our lives and achieve what we came here to do.


(Source: Adnan Malik, ASSOCIATED PRESS via THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 4/17/97, thanks to Rev. Ann Tognetti)

50 years ago, only 10,000 pilgrims arrived at Mecca each year to participate in the annual Muslim Hajj. These days the number has swelled to 1.1 million pilgrims from abroad and another million from within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government is struggling to keep up with the ever-growing flux. Each year as the numbers grow, so does the need for additional security and services. Protecting pilgrims from harm is a monumental chore that is not always successful -- in April, 343 pilgrims were killed and many more injured when a combination of gas cooking stoves and high winds triggered a fire that tore through the pilgrim camp in Mina on the plains of Mecca.

The Saudis have tried to control the number of pilgrims by imposing a quota which allows a country to send only one pilgrim for every 1,000 of the Muslim population, but even that has not helped to quell the numbers. The new Muslim republics of Central Asia have joined the ranks of countries sending pilgrims, and growing interest in the Muslim religion also means that more Muslims want to make the Hajj -- a religious requirement for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, which can only be performed on a specific day each year as decided by the lunar calendar.

The Saudis have spent more than $18 billion in the last 10 years to develop facilities in Mecca for the pilgrims. Even so, the roads are narrow and congested, with no extra lanes for emergency vehicles. A tent city at Mina is used to house pilgrims despite the obvious fire risks because it is impractical to build hotels for use just once a year. Refrigerated trucks line up to provide water to the 2 million-plus pilgrims in white robes as they walk in 100 degree F heat to the high plain known of Mount Arafat to carry out their religious duties. (JG)


(Source: VENTURE INWARD, May-June/97)

[In 1995, the Dalai Lama was invited to share his views on the teachings of Jesus with the WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIANITY MEDITATION. His lectures have been published as a book called "The Good Heart." The following are excerpts of his comments on two passages from the Sermon on the Mount.]

"It is my full conviction that the variety of religious traditions today are valuable and relevant. According to my own experience, all of the worlds's major religious traditions provide a common language and message upon which we can build a genuine understanding.

"Do not resist those who wrong you. If any one slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other one also. If anyone wants to sue you and takes your shirt, let him have your cloak too. Give to anyone who asks; do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow." (Matthew 5:38-41)

"The practice of tolerance and patience which is being advocated in this passage is similar to the practice of tolerance and patience which is advocated in Buddhism in general. In fact, one could almost say that this passage could be introduced in a Buddhist text and it would not even be recognized as traditional Christian scripture.

"You have heard that they were told, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But what I tell you is this: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors; only so can you be children of the heavenly Father. If you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect? There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father's goodness knows no bounds." (Matthew 5:43-48)

"This reminds me of a passage in a Mahayana Buddhist text in which Shanti-deva asks, 'If you do not practice compassion toward your enemy, then toward whom can you practice it?' Shanti-deva [also] states that it is very important to develop the right attitude toward your enemy. If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding. By developing greater tolerance and patience, it will be easier for you to develop your capacity for compassion and, through that, altruism. So even for the practice of your own spiritual path, the presence of an enemy is crucial." (JG)


(Source: Anita Manning, USA TODAY, 9/10/97)

A recent report by the U.S. HUMANE SOCIETY (HSUS) has determined that people who are cruel to animals are more likely to be cruel to humans as well. It found that the majority of abusers were men (71 percent), and that among abusers of animals, 28 percent were also charged with domestic violence and 27 percent with child abuse. Animal advocates "have known for years that sometimes abuse of animals can be a warning sign," says Martha Armstrong of HSUS. She says that HSUS is developing national standard for reporting animal abuse and a database "to get a handle on the extent of this problem and create intervention programs." (JG)


(Sources: Anita Manning, USA TODAY, 9/10/97; ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 9/9/97)

Adults have a powerful effect on their children's behavior right through the high school years. In the largest survey of adolescents conducted in the U.S., the NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF ADOLESCENTS HEALTH has discovered that teens who feel strong bonds with their families and schools are less likely to fall prey to drugs and alcohol, violence or suicide. Specifically:

-- Teens who live in homes where alcohol and drugs are available are more likely to use them.

-- Teens who live in homes with guns are more likely to consider or attempt suicide.

-- Teens who feels close to their families and schools and who have higher grades are likely to postpone becoming sexually active.

-- Strong religious beliefs were associated with reduced risks for most dangerous behaviors.

"There is a perception that pretty much after early adolescence, parents surrender their influence over kids and kids become beholden to the peer group," said lead author Michael D. Resnick, a sociologist at the UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA in Minneapolis. "Everything in this study suggests the contrary. Adolescents are often very effective at convincing us that what we say is irrelevant to their lives, and the mistake we make as adults is that we turn around and we believe it," continued Resnick, a father of two. (JG)


(Source: USA TODAY, 2/12/97)

Despite concerns about "The Crucible Factor," Vermont is moving ahead with a program of "restorative justice" whereby panels of citizens decide punishment for convicted criminals. The program is designed to compensate victims, rehabilitate offenders, and involve the community in a direct way in the justice process. "A fundamental rethinking of the sentencing function is taking place," says Jeremy Travis, Director of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE. "Communities are asking, 'Whose justice is it, after all?'"

One of the issues that prompted this action was the overcrowding in Vermont's prison system. Rather than build more jails, the pragmatic New Englanders decided to free up space by locking up fewer non-violent offenders. That's where the "reparative" boards come in. The boards, typically four to six volunteers, handle misdemeanors and low-grade felonies. People accused of non-violent crimes agree to be sent to the community sentencing program as part of a plea bargain that is approved by a judge. Board members meet with the offenders in hour-long sessions, hear explanations and apologies and tailor penalties. Victims are encouraged to sit in on the hearings, but few have, some citing fear of the antagonists, so it falls to the board members to act as surrogates for victims and entire community. The idea is to make the punishment relate to the crime. Here are a few cases:

-- A 22-year-old college student convicted of assault after nearly driving into two police officers who were breaking up a party, was sentenced to work 30 hours with troubled youth, and to meet with the police officers he menaced so they could vent their anger about his driving.

-- A man who dove 105 mph down a residential street was ordered to work with brain-injured adults, many of whom were survivors of high-speed crashes.

-- Two shoplifters with nearly identical cases appeared before a board. One was judged genuinely apologetic and was directed to make restitution and undergo counselling; the other who was judged insincere, got 120 hours of shovelling snow and chopping wood.

-- A man who was ordered to help repair a van he broke into, eventually won a job reference from the van owner.

About one in five of those sentenced by community boards don't complete their sentences, and are returned to court where they receive probation or jail time. Offenders sent straight to probation have about the same drop out rate. Since the program started in Vermont in 1995, the percentage of non-violent offenders in the state's prisons has dropped from 50 percent to 28 percent.

The concept has also been picked up by the states of Maine, Texas, New York, and Saskatchewan in Canada, where judges are experimenting with a technique practiced by some Native American tribes called "circle sentencing" -- families of the offender and victim gather together around a table to work out a punishment.

While there is some opposition to the community sentencing, such as the constitutional problem of giving judicial power to non-judges and the danger of vigilantism, Austin prosecutor Ronnie Earle sums up the feeling of most people involved, when he says, "We want to bring back the idea of a caring neighborhood. Outside of the family, it's the greatest single influence on behavior." (JG)


(Sources: Bill Rose, Laboratory of Atmospheric Remote Sensing, MICHIGAN TECH UNIVERSITY, Press Release, 9/8/97; Dennis Chesters & Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA Press Release, 9/8/97)

The SPACE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CENTER in Madison, Wisconsin has set up a Web page ( to display photos of ten of the most active volcanoes around the world, based upon which volcanoes are most likely to have observable volcanic clouds. The site provides highest resolution satellite images renewed automatically every half-hour utilizing visible data in daylight, infrared at night. The site creators are asking for input at "" as to which volcanoes you think should be monitored. This week's list of volcanoes includes: Alaid, Etna, Popocatepetl, Soufriere Hills, Pacaya, San Cristobal, Semeru, Manam, Rabaul, and Merapi.

NASA-GSFC has also been providing Web access to satellite photos centered on various volcanoes at: <>. They are currently archiving images of the last 48 hours of Popocatepetl and the last 100 hours of Montserrat. By making several days worth of raw data available, the NASA site provides a nice complement to the Wisconsin site. (JG)


Sources: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 9/8/97; Dan Whitcomb, REUTERS, 9/9/97; NASA Press Release, 9/9/97, thanks to Chris Czech)

In a follow up to the spectacular Pathfinder mission, the 2,300-pound Global Surveyor slid into Mars' orbit on September 11 in preparation of a years-long reconnaissance of the red planet. Surveyor's work will lay the foundation for a 10-year NASA program to dispatch pairs of orbiters and landers to Mars every 26 months, as it draws detailed maps of the surface. Over the next four months, it will employ a navigational technique called aerobraking, using atmospheric drag to help reshape its orbit into a circle 235 miles above Mars.

Mapping won't begin until March 15, 1998. Then, for an entire 687-day martian year, the spacecraft will repeatedly pass from the north pole to the south, gathering data and seeking out the likeliest hiding places for life, a process that scientists hope to complete before seasonal dust storms obscure the view. Project scientist Arden Albee said Surveyor's detailed survey of the red planet also may end centuries of speculation about it's surface features. "We hope we will lay to rest various controversies," he said. For years, space enthusiasts have claimed that a long-gone civilization existed on Mars and built canals and formations that looked like tetrahedrons, rectangles, and even a human face.

After January 2000, the spacecraft should operate another three years as a communication satellite for future rovers and landers. Four years ago, the Mars Observer spacecraft disappeared before ever reaching orbit to record surface and atmospheric data. Surveyor, costing $250 million and using leftover parts from Observer, is expected to complete 75 percent of the work laid out for the earlier spacecraft. (JG)


(Source: NASA Press Release, 9/2/97, thanks to Chris Czech)

20 years after their launch and long after completing their planetary reconnaissance flybys, both Voyager spacecraft are now approaching another milestone -- crossing that invisible boundary that separates our solar system from interstellar space. Science instruments on both spacecraft are sensing signals that scientists believe are coming from the heliopause -- the outermost edge of the Sun's magnetic field that the spacecraft must pass through before they reach interstellar space. Before the spacecraft reach the heliopause, they will pass through the termination shock -- the place where the solar wind abruptly slows down from supersonic to subsonic speed. Reaching the termination shock and heliopause will be major milestones for the spacecraft because no one has been there before and the Voyagers will gather the first direct evidence of their structure.

The Voyagers owe their ability to operate at such great distances from the Sun to their nuclear electric power sources which provide the electrical power they need to function. Both spacecraft have enough electrical power and attitude control propellant to continue operating until about 2020 when the available electrical power will no longer support science instrument operation. The Voyagers are now so far from home that it takes nine hours for a radio signal traveling at the speed of light to reach the spacecraft. In January 1998, Voyager 1 will pass the Pioneer 10 spacecraft to become the most distant human-made object in our solar system. Voyager 1 is currently 6.3 billion miles from Earth and travelling at a speed of 35,000 miles per hour; Voyager 2 is currently 4.9 billion miles from Earth. (JG)


(Source: Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY, 9/10/97)

In February, a national study determined that the Ornish program -- a no-surgery, no-nonsense regimen for people with heart disease -- spared many patients surgery and cut each patient's medical costs by $10,000 a year (News Brief 65). Now, in a rare foray into alternative medicine, MEDICARE has agreed to give the program a try, testing it on up to 1,000 patients in selected hospitals nationwide. If it's effective, MEDICARE may begin reimbursing hospitals for enrolling heart patients in the program. 10 hospitals around the country already offer the program for $6,000 to $7,500 a year and 45 insurance companies already pay for it. Ornish is thrilled, saying, "For the first time, MEDICARE has agreed to study a nonsurgical, nonpharmacologic, alternative approach to medical care." (JG)


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