CCNet, 70/2000 - 21 June 2000

     "A 1999 survey on the public's understanding of science shows that
     while Americans' confidence and interest in science and technology
     is very high, their understanding of basic science facts and
     principles remains quite low. [...] Only 50 percent of Americans
     know how long it takes Earth to circle the sun [...] The
     scientific process isn't well understood either. Only 21 percent
     of those surveyed were able to explain what it means to study
     something scientifically, just over half understood probability,
     and only a third knew how an experiment is conducted. Most of what
     Americans know about science comes from television and newspapers,
     the report says, citing widespread consensus among scientists and
     journalists that important information about science and
     technology is not reaching the public. It also cites several
     surveys that show belief in the pseudoscience is commonplace in
     the U.S. and traces this belief to the entertainment industry.”
         -- National Science Foundation, 19 June 2000

    SpaceDaily, 20 June 2000

    Harvey Leifert <>

    Harvey Leifert <>

    Ananova News, 19 June 2000

    Michelle Edwards <>

    Andrew Glikson <

    Duncan Steel  <>

(8) 1570's CIRCLE OF FIRE
    Duncan A. Lunan <>

(9) AUGUST 1571
    Mark Bailey <>

     Andy Nimmo <>

     Bob Kobres <>


From SpaceDaily, 20 June 2000

NASA To Reveal New Evidence For Water On Mars

Washington - June 20, 2000 - NASA is expected to make an announcement
Thursday next week concerning an important new discovery from data
collected by the Mars Global Surveyor currently in orbit about Mars.

Speculation on the Internet has been running wild since late Monday
when word came of a special White House briefing by NASA of something
new that has been found on Mars.

After discounting the usual wild ideas of winking faces and what not,
the money appears to be on some sort of discovery relating to water at
a low point in the Valles Marineris where the atmospheric pressure of
Mars may be high enough to allow standing water.

Meanwhile, NASA Watch is reporting that a paper is under preparation by
members of the MGS Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team for submission
to Science magazine. NASA Watch further reports "Informed sources
within NASA suggest that the article may be concerned with water ice
and the Valles Marineris region of Mars."

Additional speculation has focused on outgassing or volcanic processes
being observed over an extended period. Although Mars still has the
potential for volcanic activity the planet is largely cooled with only
occasional eruptions.

Copyright 2000, SpaceDaily


From Harvey Leifert <>

American Geophysical Union
Geophysical Research Letters
Highlights of This Issue - July 1, 2000

I. Highlights

Leonid meteor shower 1998: Special Section

The 1998 Leonid shower was the best since the storm of 1966. The high
fluxes of visible meteors provided a rare opportunity to study the
effects of meteors on the upper atmosphere. The nights of 16-18
November 1998 were particularly rich in bright fireballs, some as 
bright as the full Moon. Many left in their wakes spectacular
chemiluminescent trails that remained visible for as long as 30
minutes. The four papers in the special section describe high
resolution lidar and imager observations of these ablation trails from
a research aircraft flying out of Okinawa, Japan, and at the Starfire
Optical Range near Albuquerque, New Mexico. These unique measurements
provide new insights into the chemical processes responsible for the
persistent ablation trails and the effects of eddy diffusion and
gravity wave dynamics on this region of the upper atmosphere.

1. The lifetimes of the ablation trails observed by the iron and sodium
lidars are directly related to the chemical lifetimes of the species
below 90 kilometers [56 miles] and to molecular diffusion above 95 km
[59 mi]. Chu, Pan et al. ["Characteristics of Fe ablation trails
observed during the 1998 Leonid meteor shower"] use a molecular
diffusion model to determine that the average age of the trails is just
over 10 minutes and is strongly altitude dependent. The shortest ages
were observed below 92 km [57 mi] and above 98 km [61 mi]. 

2. Kelly et al. ["First observations of long-lived meteor trains with
resonance lidar and other optical instruments"] measure for the first
time the sodium densities in the chemiluminescent trails produced by
the Leonid meteor storm event, and also image the trails in sodium

3. Chu, Liu et al. ["Lidar observations of elevated temperatures in
bright chemiluminescent meteor trails during the 1998 Leonid shower"]
probe seven persistent trails associated with bright fireballs with a
steerable sodium wind/temperature lidar in New Mexico during the
shower. They suggest that the masses of the meteors range from 1 gram
[.04 ounce] to 1 kilogram [2.2 pounds]. The persistent trails are
especially rich in sodium airglow emissions. The fine structure of
these emissions, recorded by CCD imagers, suggests that the airglow is
confined to the walls of a tube which increases in diameter over time
in response to molecular diffusion. Lidar profiles show clearly that
temperatures are warmest at edges of the persistent trails where the
airglow emissions are strongest. Current models of chemical heating,
however, predict heating rates that are about 100 times smaller than

4. Grime et al. ["Meteor trail advection observed during the 1998
Leonid shower"] acquire and track meteor trails with a Doppler
wind/temperature sodium resonance lidar, and use the spatial
tracking to estimate the region's neutral wind to infer the local
small-scale diffusivity.

II. Authors referenced in the Highlights (in order of appearance):

1. Xinzhao Chu, Weilin Pan, George Papen, Gary Swenson, Chester S.
Gardner, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, U.
Illinois at Urbaba-Champaign, Illinois; Peter Jenniskens, SETI Inst.,
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.

2. Michael C. Kelly, Craig Kruschwitz, Pamela Loughmiller, Jaclyn
Engleman, School of Electrical Engin., Cornell U., Ithaca, New York;
Chester Gardner, Alan Liu, Xinzhao Chu, George Papen, Dept. of
Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, U. Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; Jack Drummond, AFRL/DES, Kirkland AFB, New
Mexico; Tom Armstrong, Los Alamos National Lab., Los Alamos, New
Mexico; Brent Grime, Dept. of Electrical Engin., The Pennsylvania State
U., University Park, Pennsylvania.

3. Xinzhao Chu, Alan Z. Liu, George Papen, Chester S. Gardner, Dept. of
Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, U. Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; Michael Kelley, School of Electrical
Engin., Cornell U., Ithaca, New York; Jack Drummond, Robert Fugate,
AFRL/DES, Kirkland AFB, New Mexico.

4. Brent W. Grime, Timothy J. Kane, Dept. of Electrical Engin., The
Pennsylvania State U., University Park, Pennsylvania; Alan Z. Liu,
George Papen, Chester S. Gardner, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and
Computer Engineering, U. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Michael C.
Kelley, Craig Kruschwitz, School of Electrical Engin., Cornell U.,
Ithaca, New York; Jack Drummond, AFRL/DES, Kirkland AFB, New Mexico.

III. Notes, including ordering information

Authors are listed above, with institutional affiliations, in the 
order in which their papers appear in these Highlights. This
information is not repeated in this form in GRL itself.

The Highlights and the papers to which they refer are not under AGU

Journalists and public information officers of educational and
scientific institutions (only) may receive one or more of the papers
cited in the Highlights; send a message to Daryl Tate <>,
indicating which one(s). Include your name, the name of your
publication, and your fax number. If you did not receive this message
directly from AGU, i.e., if you are not on the AGU distribution list,
please provide your title, physical address, and phone number as well.

Harvey Leifert
Public Information Manager
American Geophysical Union
2000 Florida Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009

Phone (direct): +1 (202) 777-7507
Phone (toll-free in North America): (800) 966-2481 x507
Fax: +1 (202) 328-0566


From Harvey Leifert <>

American Geophysical Union
June 16, 2000
For Immediate Release

Contact: Harvey Leifert
(202) 777-7507

Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus to hold first forum

WASHINGTON - The recently formed Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus
will hold its first forum on reducing America's vulnerability to
disasters on Wednesday, June 21, at 11:00 A.M., in Room 124 of the
Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Speakers at this session will be James Lee Witt, Director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency; Dr. Bernadine Healy, President of
the American Red Cross; Eric Tolbert, North Carolina's Director of
Emergency Management; John Jones, Deputy director of the National
Weather Service; Harvey Ryland, President of the Institute for Business
and Home Safety; and Dr. William Hooke, Senior Fellow of the American
Meteorological Society.

The caucus was created to develop a wider understanding within Congress
of the value of reducing the risks and costs of natural disasters.
Jurisdiction for natural hazards programs is spread among many
committees, each of which handles only a piece of the overall effort to
prevent and mitigate natural disasters. A caucus can provide the "big
picture" to interested lawmakers and their staffs, and it gives them
the opportunity to see how the issues that fall within individual
committee jurisdictions fit into a larger national effort. Co-chairs of
the caucus are Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and John Edwards

The Natural Hazards Caucus is supported by a working group of
scientific and engineering societies, including the American
Geophysical Union, along with private sector companies concerned
with disasters. (A list of members of the caucus and of the working
group is appended to this document.)

Among the objectives of the caucus are:
   Improve understanding of the need to mitigate against the impacts
of floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides and land subsidence,
tornadoes, volcanoes, wind storms, drought, fire, and tsunamis.
   Foster better land-use planning and optimize building codes.
   Strengthen public and private support for science and engineering
research by demonstrating how application of advances in science
and engineering research can contribute to saving lives and money.
   Support the implementation of new technologies, such as
geographic information systems, to address societal challenges faced
by state and local government and the private sector.
Members of the Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus

Sen.. Ted Stevens (R-AK), Co-Chair
Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Co-Chair
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Thad Cochrane (R-MS)
Sen. John Breaux (D-LA)
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Members of the Natural Hazards Caucus Working Group

American Geological Institute
American Geophysical Union
American Meteorological Society
American Red Cross
American Society of Civil Engineers
Association of American State Geologists
Association of State Flood Plain Managers
Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
Emergency Information Infrastructure Project
Geo-Institute of ASCE
Geological Society of America
Institute for Business & Home Safety
International Association of Emergency Managers
IRIS Consortium
National Emergency Management Association
Multihazard Mitigation Council of the National Institute of
Building Sciences
Reinsurance Association of America
Seismological Society of America
State Farm
Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Western Disaster Center


From Ananova News, 19 June 2000

Britain cooling during global warming

Hopes of basking in Mediterranean sunshine as global warming changes
Britain's climate may be premature, according to new research.

The reality is that the weather in Britain and the rest of north-west
Europe is likely to get colder during the next 100 years.

The reason is what is predicted to happen to the Gulf Stream, which
guarantees the temperate climate of the British Isles. Thanks to this
ocean current, which acts as a "conveyor belt" bringing warm water
across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico, the climate of north-west
Europe is up to 10C warmer than it ought to be.

But new research suggests that the "conveyor belt" might be switched
off over the next century. So while global warming heats up other parts
of the world, Britons may have to put up with icy winters and miserable
wet summers.

Scientists from the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic
Survey came to the conclusion after following the path of a tracer
chemical added to the water of the Greenland Sea. The experiment was
part of an investigation into the complex way ocean waters circulate
and mix.

Team member Professor Andrew Watson said: "The conveyor belt mechanism
is a giant central heating system for keeping our part of the world
warmer than it would otherwise be. We need to understand better the
processes that sustain it and try to estimate its effects on climate
should it switch off."

The research is presented as one of the exhibits at the New Frontiers
of Science exhibition being held at the Royal Society in London from

Copyright 2000, Ananova News


Michelle Edwards <>

Media contact:
June 19, 2000
Charles Drum
NSF PR 00-45 (NSB 00-131)
(703) 306-1070/

Program contact:
Melissa Pollak
(703) 306-1775 ext. 6931/

Science & Engineering Indicators 2000 reports new data

A 1999 survey on the public's understanding of science shows that while
Americans' confidence and interest in science and technology is very
high, their understanding of basic science facts and principles remains
quite low.

The results of the survey are published in the National Science Board's
(NSB) biennial report to the President for Congress on the state of
U.S. science, engineering and technology, Science & Engineering
Indicators 2000.  The survey results show a slight improvement in
public understanding of certain scientific principles over the last two
decades. However, the improvement has been paralleled by a widespread
belief in pseudosciences such as astrology, alien abductions and
extrasensory perception.

The vast majority of Americans say that science and technology are
making their lives better, and describe their general reaction to
science and technology with words like "hope" and "wonder."  In
contrast, only 17 percent of respondents to the National Science
Foundation supported survey for S&E Indicators described themselves as
well informed about new scientific discoveries and the use of new
inventions and technologies. Thirty percent said they were poorly

Answering a series of 20 questions designed to test basic knowledge,
only 50 percent of Americans know how long it takes Earth to circle the
sun, and most still can't correctly describe in their own words some
basic scientific terms, including molecules, the Internet, and DNA,
marking little improvement over surveys conducted in 1995 and 1997.

The scientific process isn't well understood either.  Only 21 percent
of those surveyed were able to explain what it means to study something
scientifically, just over half understood probability, and only a third
knew how an experiment is conducted.

Most of what Americans know about science comes from television and
newspapers, the report says, citing widespread consensus among
scientists and journalists that important information about science and
technology is not reaching the public. It also cites several surveys
that show belief in the pseudoscience is commonplace in the U.S. and
traces this belief to the entertainment industry.

"Americans in the next decade will be asked to make important decisions
that will involve highly technical issues such as genetically
engineered crops and the preservation of biodiversity," says NSF
director Rita Colwell. "To understand these issues, the public must be
better informed about basic science and engineering, as well as the
scientific process."

Even if they don't understand it, Americans respect science. In 1999 a
record 82 percent voiced support for federal funding of basic research.
While 14 percent thought the government was spending too much on
research, 37 percent said not enough, the report says. Americans
consistently believe that the benefits of scientific research outweigh
any harmful results. Public confidence in the medical and scientific
communities, the report points out, is  higher than in other American
institutions, including education, the Supreme Court, television, and
the media.


For more information see:
Also see:



From Andrew Glikson <

Research School of Earth Science, Australian National University,
Canberra, ACT 0200

Dear Benny,

In this letter I point out terrestrial life survived during early
episodes of heavy asteroid bombardment which recurred during the
Archaean as late as c. 3.2 Ga, as well as to factors which favour
the existence of life on Earth in pre-3.8 Ga ("Hadean") times.

This contrasts with suggestions cited in CCNet (13.6.2000) from
Nicholas Wade's article (New York Times, 13.6.2000) regarding
conditions in pre-3.8 Ga times: "The surface of the earth is
molten rock. The oceans are steam or superheated water. Every so
often a wandering asteroid slams in with such energy that any
incipient crust of hardened rock is melted again and the oceans
are reboiled to an incandescent mist. Welcome to Hades, or at
least to what geologists call the Hadean interval of earth's
history. It is reckoned to have lasted from the planet's formation
4.6 billion years ago until 3.8 billion years ago, when the rain
of ocean-boiling asteroids ended. The Isua greenstone belt of
western Greenland, one of the oldest known rocks, was formed as
the Hadean interval ended. And amazingly, to judge by chemical
traces in the Isuan rocks, life on earth was already old".

On this basis, it is stated "life seems to pop up almost instantly
after the last of the titanic asteroid impacts that routinely
sterilized the infant planet." (CCNet (13.6.2000). 

I suggest such a conclusion is not borne by the geological evidence.

That solid crustal rocks existed on Earth at least as far back as
4.27 Ga ago is indicated by detrital zircons in quartzites of the
Mount Narrier - Jack Hills terrain, Western Australia (Compston
and Pidgeon, 1986, Nature, 321, 766-769), and by 3.97 Ga and older
xenocrystic zircons in the Acasta Gneisses, Slave province
(Bowring et al., 1989, Geology, 17: 971-975) and the Nappier
Complex, Enderby Land, Antarctica (Black, 1988, Precambrian
Research, 38: 355-365). This precludes a totally molten crust
pre-3.8 Ga, as this would have resulted in age resetting of the
older U-Pb zircon ages, particularly parallel to the lunar maria
formation at 3.95-3.80 Ga. The existence of solid crustal domains
pre-3.8 Ga would allow the survival or re-emergence of chemotropic
bacteria residing in crustal faults and fractures, and possibly
also of transient near-surface bacterial colonies.

Likewise, the lunar impact record suggests that the period pre-3.8
Ga was affected by episodic bombardment rather than forming a
tail-end of planetary accretion, and that maria formation was
concentrated during 3.95-3.8 Ga (Ryder, 1991, LPI Contr. 746,
42-43; 1997, LPI Contr. 790, 61-62). This is consistent with the
terrestrial evidence for existence of pre-3.8 Ga crustal rocks.
Life could have existed on Earth several hundred million years
prior to the Isua greenstone belt.

The post-3.8 Ga Archaean impact record is likewise episodic, as
suggested by the Ar-Ar impact spherules age data of Culler et al.
(2000, Science, 287, 1785-1789). The most intense meteoritic
bombardment on Earth is recorded at 3.24 - 3.18 Ga by multiple
impact spherule units at the base of the Fig Tree Group,
Barberton, Transvaal, originally detected by Lowe et al., 1989
(Science 245, 959-962) and now established by Ir anomalies,
Ni-chromites and 53/52Cr isotopes. The significance of these
impacts may be corroborated by Culler et al.'s
near-contemporaneous major lunar spherule peak about 3.18 Ga. The
spherule data suggest multiple terrestrial maria-type basins
several hundred km in diameter about 3.24-3.227 Ga (Byerly and
Lowe, 1994, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 58, 3469-3486; Shukloyukov
et al., Proceeding Conference on Impacts and the Early Earth,
Cambridge, U.K., December, 1998). Stromatolites, which occur at
3.46 Ga in the Pilbara (Hoffman et al., 1999, Geol. Soc. Am.
Bull., 111: 1256-1262) appear to have survived these cataclysmic

There is still a tendency to underestimate the survivability of
early as well as present-day life forms. The occurrence in the
upper melt breccia (Onaping Black Member) of the 250 km-large
Sudbury impact structure of isotopically light carbon
(Sudbury-1997 - Lunar and Planet. Instit. Contrib. 922) and the
recently detected nano-bacteria (150-20 nm) in drill cores derived
from 4-5 km depth and temperatures of 115-170 degrees C (Uwins et
al., 2000, in Glikson and Mastalerz [eds.], Kluwer Academic
Publishers, 421-444) illustrate the extreme conditions under
which micro-organisms may survive.

Despite the large datasets which now exist for the Archaean
(post-3.8 Ga) Earth, little is known regarding its pre-3.8 Ga
history, and even less about contemporaneous surface conditions on
Mars and other terrestrial planets. For this reason suggestions of
interplanetary bio-transport, whether import to or export from
Earth, though possible in principle, are of limited help where the
fundamental question of the origin of life is concerned. The
insights allowed by Paul Davies (The Fifth Miracle, 1998, Penguin
Press) suggests that the fundamental factors inherent in the
origin of the genetic code and phenomenon of life arise from yet
little-understood mathematical principles and biological
hardware/software-type information/complexity laws. With the odds
weighed against accidental formation of complex protein molecules
in the order of 10^130 (Davies, 1998), panspermia import/export
ideas and views of the origin of life as a mere accident merely
avoid the fundamental issue of the underlying principles and the
origin of the phenomenon of life.

Andrew Glikson

Research School of Earth Science
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200
17 June, 2000


From Duncan Steel <>

Dear Benny,

In the issue of CCNet dated 13 June the following paper in ICARUS
was listed:

D. Janches, J.D. Mathews, D.D. Meisel, Q.H. Zhou: Micrometeor
observations using the Arecibo 430 MHz radar I. Determination of the
ballistic parameter from measured Doppler velocity and deceleration
results. ICARUS, 2000, Vol.145, No.1, pp.53-63

The abstract finished with the following text:

"We believe these are the first radar meteor decelerations detected
since those ones reported by J. V. Evans (1966, J. Geophys, Res. 71,
171-188) and F. Verniani (1966, J. Geophys, Res, 71, 2749-2761; 1973,
J. Geophys, Res, 78, 8429-8462) and the first ones for meteors of this

Unfortunately the authors' belief is erroneous, indicating a lack
of familiarity with much recent work. I will limit my comments to radar
meteor observations with which I have myself been involved; others might
care to describe other work in which radar meteor decelerations have been
presented. I will list only a few papers; there are others available
in the scientific literature.

Firstly, the AMOR system in New Zealand delivers atmospheric decelerations
using the classical specular reflection geometry; see, for example,
W.J. Baggaley, R.G.T. Bennett, D.I. Steel & A.D. Taylor,
'The Advanced Meteor Orbit Radar Facility: AMOR,' 
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 35, 293-320 (1994)

Secondly, a VHF radar located near Adelaide, South Australia, has been
used to measure speeds and decelerations for meteors propagating down
the pencil beam towards the radar site:

A.D. Taylor, M.A. Cervera, W.G. Elford & D.I. Steel, 'A new technique
for radar meteor speed determination: inter-pulse phase changes from
head echoes,'  IAU Colloquium 150: Physics, Chemistry and Dynamics of
Interplanetary Dust (eds. B.Ĺ.S. Gustafson and M.S. Hanner),
Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, 104, 75-78

Thirdly, the same VHF radar has been used to measure meteor speeds from
the phase variation before closest approach in classical specular
reflection mode, this being of much greater accuracy than previous speed
determination techniques for this classical mode, making accurate
deceleration measurements feasible through this avenue:

M.A. Cervera, W.G. Elford & D.I. Steel, 'A new method for the
measurement of meteor speeds: The pre-t0 phase technique,' Radio
Science, 32, 805-816, (1997).

Yours sincerely,

Duncan Steel

(8) 1570's CIRCLE OF FIRE

From Duncan A. Lunan <>


Dear Luz,

Although the year isn't exact I think I can shed some light on your
'circle of fire'. Sunspot activity resumed in 1547 at the end of
the Sporer Minimum. The solar cycles which followed were of normal
intensity, but there was a major auroral display in 1564, following
prolonged meteor showers the previous winter. The chronicler John
Stow recorded an exceptional aurora in 1566: " night from seven
of the clock till nine was seen in the element as though the same had
opened the breadth of a great sheet and showed a great flame of fire and
then closed again, and as it were at every minute of an hour to open and
close again, the which I being at the Barrs without Aldgate saw plain
east as it were over the church called Whitechapel." (‘Barrs’ refers to
the ‘bars’ or barriers which marked the limits of the city’s
jurisdiction, where tolls were levied – such as Holborn Bar and Temple
Bar.) He saw still another big aurora in 1574, on 14th November,
coming from a black cloud in the north like the 1173 event. It was
followed the next night by a major display of a type which Edmund Halley
later named 'coronal', which is distinguished by a glowing ring at the
observer's zenith. The references for these are:

1. Dr. Thomas Short, "A General Chronological History of the Air,
   Weather, Seasons, Met­eors Etc. in Sundry Places and at Different
   Times", 2 vols., Longman, 1749.
2. James Gairdner, ed., 'Stowe's Memoranda', in "Three Fifteenth
   Century Chronicles with Historical Memoranda by John Stow, the
   Antiquary", Camden Society, 1880.
3. W.H. Newton, "The Face of the Sun", Penguin, 1958.

There were several comets later, but I think the aurora fits the
description better. The comets were:

1577. October. Great Comet in retrograde orbit which inspired Tycho
      Brahe's variant of Copernican theory. Tycho believed the orbit
      was circular; comet was depicted in Turkey, and later tabulated
      by Halley.
1580. Nov. Comet in direct orbit, later tabulated by Halley.
1585. September. Comet in direct orbit, later tabulated by Halley.
1590. Jan. Comet in retrograde orbit, later tabulated by Halley.
1596. July. Comet in retrograde orbit, later tabulated by Halley.

References for these are:

4.  Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, "Comet", Michael Joseph, 1985.
5.  Sky & Telescope, Dec. 1977 p.452-.  
6.  Anon, 'Halley's Cometary Studies', in 'Scientific American Reports
    on the 1910 Apparition of Halley's Comet', in John C. Brandt, ed.,
    "Readings from Scientific American:  Comets", W.H. Freeman, 1981.
7.  R.A. Lyttleton, 'Comets and Their Origins', in John C. Brandt, ed.,

(9) AUGUST 1571

From Mark Bailey <>

Dear Benny,


The entry for 1571 in Thomas Short (1749: `A General Chronological
History of the Air, Weather, Seasons, Meteors etc'), reads

...Was extreamly intemperate with South Wind, Rain and Fogs. The Winter
following was much moister, with either continual Rains, Wind, or Snow,
to the middle of February; then came an intense Cold with continual
North Wind, and thick dark Air to the Equinox. The following Spring,
Summer, and even into the Harvest, were very moist and watery, with a
South Wind, and abundance of fiery meteors; then followed the




From Andy Nimmo < >

How wide is our Sun's shockwave? How many molecular, atomic and
subatomic interstellar dust and/or gas particles will flow round it in
the lifetime of our Sun? How many different kinds of these will there
be? How many differing kinds of juxtapositions will result? What are
the probability odds of at least one or more such juxtapositions in a
star's lifetime being such as to create one or more molecular primitive
embryo life forms?

If the calculations are as rigorously pursued as possible with the
information available to us, as others pointed out, they lead to the
virtually inevitable conclusion that the odds are very much that sooner
or later this will be a certainty. Accordingly, somewhere in the gas
and dust tails behind stars in interstellar space, embryo molecular
life forms should exist, even if only some nano ancestors of viruses.

From time to time such star tails will be cut by a passing interstellar
star, planet, moon, comet, asteroid or whatever, crossing through them,
either in its oscillation up and down through the gravitational plane
of our galaxy, or in galactic orbital motion. Because of the number of
stars in our galaxy and the complexities of their motions, this should
happen frequently. Our galaxy must positively seethe with rivers of
such gas and dust particles. From time to time such tails will flow in
and be absorbed by stars, and those will thereby grow in mass and move
up the Hertsprung-Russell diagram. Often, when a tail is cut, the part
immediately behind the cut will be slowed by this cutting. All the
material behind that slowing part will then begin to ball up into it.
This will create interstellar asteroids, comets, and sometimes even
larger objects.

The size of the tail balling up will depend on the size of the star
whose tail it is, on the density of interstellar matter through which
it has moved, on the time it has existed and on how much of that tail
is behind the cut. Really big stars' tails may create baby stars this
way. - This may explain why there are so many red dwarf stars in our
galaxy. This hypothesis indicates that such stars should be young stars
rather than old ones, whereby large stars are the oldies that have

Even a baby star would fry any embryo life that we know of. However
many smaller bodies, particularly comets, moons or planets, might
sometimes provide an environment in which such life forms can develop
and evolve through eons into something like us, if their host body is
later captured into orbit round a passing star.

As I'm sure all CCNet readers are aware, the above is not accepted
theory, but at least some of the theories that are accepted, are far
too preposterous for me to believe in. Perhaps this modern accretion
hypothesis for the interstellar creation of stars, planets, moons,
comets, asteroids - and life, may provide a plausible alternative.

Andy Nimmo (President, The Space Settlers' Society).


From Bob Kobres < >

Woven clothing was being produced on looms 27,000 years ago, far earlier than had been thought, scientists say.

By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

It had been thought that the first farmers developed weaving 5,000 to
10,000 years ago. But Professor Olga Soffer of the University of
Illinois, is about to publish details in the journal Current
Anthropology of 90 fragments of clay that have impressions from woven

Prof Soffer first revealed her findings in previous research when she
said that a 25,000 year old figurine was wearing a woven hat. If
confirmed, this work will change our understanding of distant
ancestors, the so-called Ice Age hunters of the Upper Palaeolithic
Stone Age. [. . .]

A detailed examination of the impressions reveals a large variety of
weaving techniques. There are open and closed twines, plain weave and
nets. Professor Soffer told BBC News Online that twining can be done by
hand but plain weave needed a loom.

It may be that many stone artefacts found in settlements may not be
objects of art as had been supposed but parts of an ancient loom, which
should now be considered as the first machine to be made after the
wheel and aids such as the axe, club, and flint knife.

This research will force a re-evaluation of our view of ancient man,
who lived tens of thousands of years ago, before the last Ice Age had
ended and before the invention of agriculture.

The traditional view is of the male Ice Age hunters working in groups
to kill large prey such as mammoths. But this may be a distorted and
incomplete view of their lives.

All that scientists have from these ancient times are mostly solid
remains such as stone, ivory and bone. Now they have evidence of

The discovery that they developed weaving as early as 27,000 years ago
means that we must consider the role that women and children may have
played more carefully.

The possibility that they made nets has fascinating implications
according to Professor Soffer. It may be that nets were used by women
and children to catch small prey such as hares and foxes.

By catching food this way, women and children could have made all the
difference to their communities' food budgets, allowing a surplus to be
generated that permitted society to grow.  [. . .]

Complete article with pictures of imprints:

Web warped.
woof woof. . . ;^)

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