CCNet, 27 August 1999


     "A major meteor impact occurs on the North Polar icecap. There is
     no loss of human life, but the resulting tsunamis cause
     considerable damage along the coasts of Greenland and Canada. The
     long-discussed Project Spaceguard, to identify and deflect any
     potentially dangerous comets or asteroids, is finally activated"
             --Prediction by Sir Arthur C. Clarke for the the year 2019

     "The game isn't over: watch this space and read this book.  Read
     it, too, to any bureaucrats and research council members who love
     'Foresight' exercises and directed research with tightly defined
     'deliverables'. The unexpected result is often the most exciting
     and scientifically rewarding."
           -- Bob White's recommendation of "Evolutionary Catastrophes"

    Ron Baalke <>

(2) ASTEROID 1999 JM8
    Lance Benner <lance@think.Jpl.Nasa.Gov>

    Andrew Yee <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    Bob White, University of Cambridge

    Andy Nimmo <>

    Doug Keenan <>

    Stanford News Service <>



From Ron Baalke <>

Water of the Stars
By Greg Clark Staff Writer

Aug 26 1999 13:12:39 ET

A pair of scorched rocks that fell from space onto a west Texas town
last year may have delivered a bonanza to planetary scientists that
could turn out to be the most significant discovery in years: purple
extraterrestrial salt and miniature bottles of primordial water.

A team of scientists led by Michael Zolensky, a mineralogist at NASA's
Johnson Space Center, thinks it has found several minute samples of
water sealed inside the salt crystals in the Monahans meteorite. The
minute droplets of salty brine, which would have traveled through the
solar system for millions of years as tiny ice crystals, could reveal
the details of early solar-system chemistry. They may also tell
scientists how and where water formed, whether it was in the early days
of the solar system, or farther away and back in time somewhere in
interstellar space.

Full story here:


From Lance Benner <lance@think.Jpl.Nasa.Gov>

Hi Benny,
JPL issued a press release describing our radar observations of
asteroid 1999 JM8. For details, see:
Best wishes,
Lance Benner


PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Contact: Diane Ainsworth



Astronomers have used the world's two most powerful radar telescopes to
make the most detailed images ever obtained for an asteroid in a
near-Earth trajectory.

With an average diameter of about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles), 1999 JM8 is
the largest near-Earth asteroid ever studied in detail. Although this
object can pass fairly close to Earth in celestial terms, astronomers
concur that an actual encounter with Earth is not of concern in the
next few centuries.

The new images, obtained with NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in
California and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, reveal that 1999
JM8 is a several-kilometer-wide object with a peculiar shape and an
unusually slow and possibly complex spin state, said Dr. Lance Benner
of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, who led the team of
astronomers. The images are available online at or

"It will take much more data analysis to determine the object's shape
and exact rotation state," Benner said. "But just from looking at the
images we can see that this nearby world is extremely peculiar. At this
point we do not understand what some of the features in the images are,
much less how they originated." The asteroid was discovered on May 13,
1999, at a U.S. Air Force telescope in New Mexico that is part of the
Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Project, managed by the Lincoln
Laboratories of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The
discovery provided adequate notice for radar observations to be
scheduled at Goldstone from July 18 to August 8 and at Arecibo from
August 1-9 during the asteroid's close approach to 8.5 million
kilometers (5.3 million miles), the equivalent of 22 Earth-Moon distances.

"Although Arecibo is the more sensitive telescope, Goldstone is more 
fully steerable, and we took advantage of the complementary 
capabilities of the two antennas," noted Benner. "The discovery of this
object weeks before its closest approach was a stroke of luck," he
said. "The asteroid won't come this close again for more than a
thousand years."

Asteroid 1999 JM8 bears a striking resemblance to Toutatis, a
similar-sized, slowly rotating object also studied in detail with
radar, said Dr. Scott Hudson of Washington State University, who is an
expert in using radar images to determine the shapes of asteroids.

"The fact that both these several-kilometer-wide asteroids are in
extremely slow spin states suggests that slow rotators are fairly
common among near-Earth asteroids," he said. "However, although
collisions are thought to be the primary process that determines
asteroid spin states, we don't know how the slow, complex states come

The radar imaging technique uses transmissions of sophisticated coded
waveforms and computer determinations of how echoes are distributed in
range and frequency, instead of their angular distribution, as in
normal optical pictures. "Our finest resolution is 15 meters (49 feet)
per pixel, which is finer than that obtained for any other asteroid,
even for spacecraft" said Dr. Jean-Luc Margot, one of the team members
from Arecibo Observatory. "To get that kind of resolution with an
optical telescope, you'd need a mirror several hundred meters across.
Radar certainly is the least expensive way of imaging Earth-
approaching objects."

The images show impact craters with diameters as small as 100 meters
(330 feet) -- about the length of a football field -- and a few as
large as 1 kilometer (0.6 miles). "The density of craters suggest that
the surface is geologically old, and is not simply a chip off of a
parent asteroid," said Dr. Michael Nolan, a staff scientist at the
Arecibo Observatory. "We also see a concavity that is about half as
wide as the asteroid itself, but we're not sure yet whether or not it's
an impact crater."

This is hardly the first time that radar has revealed a near-Earth
asteroid with peculiar characteristics, said Dr. Steven Ostro of JPL,
who has led dozens of asteroid radar experiments. Radar studies have
revealed a stunning array of exotically shaped worlds with compositions
ranging from solid metal to low-density carbonaceous rock and rotation
periods ranging from 11 minutes to more than a week. "These are very,
very strange places," he said. "I really envy the coming generations of
space explorers who will visit them."

In addition to Benner, Hudson, Margot, Nolan and Ostro, the radar team
included Drs. Jon D. Giorgini, Raymond F. Jurgens, Donald K. Yeomans
and Martin A. Slade from JPL, and Donald B. Campbell from Cornell
University, Ithaca, NY.

The radar observations were supported by NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, DC. The Goldstone Solar System Radar is part of
NASA's Deep Space Network. The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is
part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, which is operated
by the Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the
National Science Foundation and with support from NASA. JPL is a
division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.


From Andrew Yee <>

News Service
Cornell University

Contact: Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.
Office: (607) 255-3290

FOR RELEASE: Aug. 26, 1999

Most-detailed images yet of an Earth-crossing asteroid are obtained by
Arecibo and Goldstone observatories

1999 JM8 is chock full of cosmic impacts and dings from solar system travel

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Using the radar systems at the National Science
Foundation's recently upgraded radio/radar telescope at Arecibo, Puerto
Rico, and at NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California,
astronomers have obtained the most-detailed pictures yet of an asteroid
which passed within 5.3 million miles of Earth earlier this month.

The radar images of this Earth orbit-crossing asteroid, known as 1999
JM8, reveal a several-mile-wide object with a peculiar shape and an
unusually slow and possibly complex spin state, says Lance Benner, of
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., who led the
team of astronomers.

"The photographs of this asteroid are phenomenal," says Donald
Campbell, Cornell University professor of astronomy and associate
director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) at
Cornell, which manages the Arecibo Observatory, for the National
Science Foundation. "This is one of the clear firsts for the telescope
and radar upgrade."

Scott Hudson, of Washington State University, an expert in using radar
images to determine the shapes of asteroids, added that at this stage of
the analysis, the resemblance of 1999 JM8 to Toutatis, a similar sized,
slowly rotating object also studied in detail with radar, is striking.
Why these asteroids and perhaps others rotate so slowly is not
understood. "Although collisions between asteroids are thought to be
the primary process that determines asteroid-spin states, we don't know
how the slow, complex states come about," he says.

The images show impact craters with diameters as small as 100 meters
and a few as large as one kilometer. "The density of craters suggest
that the surface is geologically old, and is not simply a 'chip' off of
a parent asteroid," said Michael Nolan, a staff scientist at the
Arecibo Observatory. "We also see a concavity that is about half as
wide as the asteroid itself, although we're not sure yet whether or not
it's an impact crater."

The pictures may not have been possible before Arecibo's upgrade,
financed by the NSF and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA). Fitted with a powerful new 1 million-watt radar
transmitter, it is now possible for the Arecibo radar system to capture
detailed images of these kinds of objects at greater distances than in
the past.

Originally, the object was found in 1990 by Eleanor Helene of NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who used the Palomar Observatory on Palomar
Mountain, Calif. It was dubbed 1990 HD1, and subsequently it went
unseen until last spring. On May 13, 1999, the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology/Lincoln Labs Near-Earth Asteroid (LINEAR) search program
re-discovered the object and the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass.,
designated it 1999 JM8.

Realizing that 1999 JM8 would make a good radar telescope target,
astronomers Lance Benner and Steve Ostro of JPL organized observations
and radar data collection with the Arecibo and Goldstone telescopes.
Ostro, who has led dozens of asteroid radar experiments, noted that
radar has revealed a stunning array of exotically shaped worlds.

In early August, Benner and Arecibo astronomers Nolan and Jean-Luc Margot
assisted by observatory staff took images of the asteroid with the
Arecibo radar system at a resolution of 15 meters (50 feet). At its 5
million-mile distance it took the radar signal about one minute to
travel to the asteroid and back to the earth. Arecibo's huge receiving
dish captured the echo and stored the data. In all, about 70 to 100
gigabytes of data were collected requiring many days of computer
processing to generate the images.

"This is the first good opportunity for radar imaging an asteroid in a
very long time," says Margot. "You don't get these kinds of objects
passing near the Earth everyday."

In addition to Benner, Campbell, Hudson, Margot, Nolan and Ostro, the
radar team included Jon D. Giorgini, Raymond F. Jurgens, Donald K.
Yeomans and Martin A. Slade, who are all from JPL.

The radar observations were supported by NASA's Office of Space Science
in Washington. The Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico, is part of the
National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, which is operated by the
Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National
Science Foundation and with support from NASA. The Goldstone Solar
System Radar is part of NASA's Deep Space Network. JPL is operated by
the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

Related World Wide Web sites:

The following sites provide additional information on this news release.
Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell
has no control over their content or availability.

JPL release on the work, with images from Arecibo and Goldstone:

The proposal for the research, with preliminary results, including
high-resolution copies of the images (loads very slowly):

JPL planning page (highly technical):

Other asteroid research at JPL:



From Andrew Yee <>


Saturday, August 21, 1999, 11:54 PM EDT

Key to why dinosaurs disappeared at bottom of crater in Mexico

BERLIN (AFP) -- "Hey dad, why aren't there any dinosaurs any more?".
The question which exercises the minds of toddlers and scientists alike
could receive a definitive answer, thanks as much to deep drilling as
deep thinking.

"We've got all the necessary permits," enthuses Philippe Claeys,
Belgian mineralogist at Berlin's natural history museum and one of the
experts involved in the drilling project to be carried out in Mexico
next summer.

Claeys, from California's Berkeley University, has long pursued a
single objective; to show that the disappearance of the dinosaurs was
the result of a massive meteorite smashing into the Gulf of Mexico 65
million years ago.

The existence of such a meteorite -- an asteroid or a comet --
measuring 10 or 12 kilometres (six to eight miles) in diameter has been
established since the early 1990s, with a crater site in Mexico
identified as the place where it hit the earth.

A crater 20 kilometres (12 miles) deep and 200 kilometres in diameter
has since been filled in by sand and sediment.

The meteorite's impact triggered an "apocalypse" with earthquakes
equivalent to 13 on the modern Richter scale and tidal waves 1,000
metres (3,000 feet) high, says Claeys. The result was the equivalent of
a Hiroshima nuclear bomb for each inhabitant of the planet.

But the thing that really did the damage, according to Claeys, was the
cloud of billions of tonnes of gas and dust which were almost instantly
hurled into the atmosphere.

The huge, choking cloud obscured the sky across the globe and lingered
long enough to kill off plant life, depriving the huge animals of food,
while also causing climate changes.

Over the next several years, half of the vertebrates were wiped off the
face of the earth, starting with the dinosaurs, according to Claeys'

The remaining question is: was the environmental fall-out really
catastrophic enough to support the theory that the meteorite was to

"The key to the mystery lies in the crater at Chicxulub, on the Yucatan
peninsula in southeast Mexico," replies Claeys.

Analysing the "carrots", long tubes of rock brought up by the drilling,
will allow the team to deduce the nature and quantity of gas and dust
thrown up from the asteroid's crater.

Those tests, which could take up to four years, should make or break
the meteorite theorem and set it aside from the 80 or so other theories
advanced to explain the end of the dinosaurs' rule on earth.

Among the other favoured ideas is an ice age and intense volcanic activity.

The research team, including Claeys and scientists from the United
States, Germany and Mexico, has discovered what it believes to be
traces of the meteorite dust from Italy to New Zealand, observable in a
deep buried layer of black clay which contains unusually high levels of

That layer of clay, calculated on the earth's time-line, marks the
passing of the era of the dinosaurs and the rise of the mammals.

Iridium is naturally present in infinitesimally tiny quantities on earth.

The "anomaly", Claeys believes, shows the reach of the meteoric
material, as a meteorite is infinitely richer in the metal iridium than
any rock on earth.

Claeys and his fellow researchers hope that their trip to Mexico next
summer could provide the vital link in the chain to answer the
scientists, and infants, familiar query.

The project's principal backers are the US National Science Foundation,
Germany's Research Society and Mexico's CONACYT.

Copyright 1999 Agence France-Presses. All rights reserved.


Bob White ponders our catastrophic origins

Book review from NEW SCIENTIST, 28 August 1999

Evolutionary Catastrophes
by Vincent Courtillot, Cambridge University Press,
ISBN 0521583926

This is, in part, the story of a glorious failure. Vincent
Courtillot and his colleagues set out to study the volcanic rock
formations of the Deccan Traps, the volcanic deposits that cover
rather a lot of western and central India. They originally aimed
to clarify what actually happened in the collision between India
and Asia, which took place over the 50 million years during which
the Traps were thought to have erupted. Courtillot found, however,
that the bulk of the volcanism took place within less than half a
million years.

Something much more interesting came out of the project. The
Deccan eruptions shed light on the best-known catastrophe in the
story of life on Earth: the mass extinction at the end of the
Cretaceous. Courtillot tells the tale in Evolutionary
Catastrophes, subtitled 'The Science of Mass Extinctions'. Over
the past 300 million years our planet has been battered by at
least seven major ecological catastrophes.

That most fundamental of geological concepts, the stratigraphic
column, has recorded the pulse of these extinctions. When the
geological pioneers of the 19th century divided up rock sequences,
they chose units that could be recognised easily because they
contained distinct types of fossils.  It is no surprise, then,
that the boundaries between the different periods, subsequently
turned out to mark the mass extinctions.

The most famous of these occurred at the boundary between the
Cretaceous and Tertiary, some 65 million years ago - known as the
K/T boundary ('K' from the German for ‘Cretaceous').  A large part
of its fame stems from human self-interest: the K/T extinction
probably facilitated the evolution of mammals, including us, by
ending the domination of the dinosaurs.

So what dunnit? Were the extinctions due to the sudden impact of
an extraterrestrial body, or the result of normal, ongoing
developments in the evolution of Earth-global changes in sea level
or outbursts of volcanic activity? This debate between
catastrophists and uniformitarians is as old as geology, and has
been invigorated by the discovery of a massive impact crater
beneath the Caribbean, off Chicxulub, Mexico. There are telltale
remnants of that impact around the globe at the time of the K/T
extinction. But the Deccan lava flows were busy covering well over
1 million square kilometres at just the same time, geologically

Courtillot gives a reasonably balanced discussion of the strengths
and weaknesses of the impact and the volcanic theories. As he
notes, his own prejudices as a vulcanologist come through. Much of
the debate centres on the speed at which things happen. New dating
methods give ever shorter duration of the major volcanic episodes
that correlate with mass extinctions. The injections of huge
masses of dust and aerosols into the stratosphere would lead to
climatic disruption and the destruction of food chains on a
global scale. These effects were extensively modeled in the 1980s,
not least by researchers investigating the possibility of a
"nuclear winter" triggered by war. They would occur with either
volcanic activity or an asteroidal impact.

Courtillot's work on the Deccan Traps found hundreds of huge but
relatively brief lava flows-which would have caused enormous
climate disruptions every few hundred years or so.  Imagine a
dinosaur species and the plants on which it depended surviving one
such event. The next catastrophe, or the one after, would likely
wipe it out. In this view, the multiple hammering from repeated
massive volcanic eruptions might be more effective agents of
global extinctions than a single event.

Perhaps it is bad luck that the best studied mass extinction
suffered the double whammy of the Chicxulub impact right in the
middle of the Deccan volcanism. No clear evidence of impacts has
been found at the time of any other extinction. So Courtillot
scores it: 1 for impacts, 7 for volcanism.

The game isn't over: watch this space and read this book.  Read
it, too, to any bureaucrats and research council members who love
'Foresight" exercises and directed research with tightly defined
"deliverables". The unexpected result is often the most exciting
and scientifically rewarding.

Bob White is professor of geophysics at the University of Cambridge

Copyright 1999, New Scientist


From Andy Nimmo <>

Dear Dr Peiser,

In item (10) 4000 BP CLIMATIC UPHEAVAL, Doug Keenan says in his final
paragraph, "But, the palaeodata from Europe, North Africa, and the
Atlantic fits the pattern of a specific climatic state--a high phase of
the North Atlantic Oscillation (with accompanying changes in NADW
production). Also, there is a likely mechanism by which an eruption
could have pushed the NAO into that high phase, and ample evidence for
a large eruption. By contrast, no one has suggested how a cosmic impact
could trigger a high NAO, and there is no direct evidence of such an

While I must admit, I haven't read anything specifically attributing
NAOs to cosmic impacts, I'm equally sure I have read many items (whether
valid or not) attributing eruptions themselves to cosmic impacts.
Indeed, it has been suggested (as I said, 'whether valid or not') that
the eruptions which caused the Deccan Traps in India were caused by the
Yucatan impact. If, as Doug Keenan himself says, "there is a likely
mechanism by which an eruption" can cause an NAO, it is surely not
logical for him to claim, "no one has suggested how a cosmic impact
could trigger a high NAO"? An impact can cause an eruption that can
cause the NAO.

Yours sincerely, Andy Nimmo.


From Doug Keenan <>

Hi Benny,

Regarding Steve Drury's posting yesterday, it is not certain that
record of a major climatic change need show up in Greenland ice cores. 
As an example, the principal mode of atmospheric variability in the
northern hemisphere (i.e. first eigenvector of the northern-hemisphere
atmospheric sea-level pressure field) is the North Atlantic
Oscillation; yet the NAO does not appear to be identifiable in ice-core
isotopic signals (d2H, d18O, and deuterium excess) from central
Greenland, over recent historical periods for which good data is
available [Barlow et al., 1997; White et al., 1997]--and climatological
analysis indicates that central Greenland is little influenced by the
NAO [Barlow et al., 1997].

Greenland ice cores do show strong evidence of a large volcanic eruption
(a large sulfuric spike and an absence of HCl and HF) at what I believe
is the right time.  Volcanic signals in Antarctic cores have not been
well reported for the time period, because of problems in ice-layer

Steve also requests articles discussing pollen analysis.  Numerous
citations of single-site pollen studies that likely evidence a
palaeoecological event are given by Peiser [1998] and Dalfes et al.
[1997]. The only overall synthesis work that I know of is my own
(Keenan [1999] and on my web site)--which concludes that much pollen
(and other) data that records the event results from a high NAO.

Doug Keenan
Barlow, L. K., J. C. Rogers, M. C. Serreze & R. G. Barry. "Aspects of
climate variability in the North Atlantic sector: Discussion and
relation to the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 high-resolution isotopic
signal." Journal of Geophysical Research 102: 26333-26344 (1997).

Dalfes, H. N., G. Kukla & H. Weiss (editors). Third Millennium BC
Climate Change and Old World Collapse (NATO ASI Series,
Springer-Verlag, 1997).

Keenan, D. J. "The three-century climatic upheaval of c. 2000 BC, and 
regional radiocarbon disparities." Los Alamos Archives: Physics/9908052

Peiser, B. J. in Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilisations
(Peiser, B. J., T. Palmer & M. E. Bailey--editors) 117-139 (British
Archaeological Reports, Oxford, 1998).

White, J. W. C. & seven others. "The climate signal in the stable
isotopes of snow from Summit, Greenland." Journal of Geophysical
Research 102: 26425-26439 (1997).


Stanford News Service <>



August 26, 1999

Brian E. Tucker or Laura Dwelley-Samant

GeoHazards International
phone: (650) 614-9050
fax: (650) 614-9051

Izmit: a disaster waiting to happen in many Third World cities

In developing countries, nine out of 10 earthquake-threatened cities
are no better prepared to survive a major earthquake than Izmit, Turkey.

That is the conclusion of a just-completed survey of earthquake experts
in 20 cities around the world commissioned by the United Nations and
conducted by GeoHazards International (GHI), a Palo Alto-based nonprofit
organization established to reduce death and suffering caused by
earthquakes in the world`s most vulnerable communities.

The 7.4 magnitude quake that struck western Turkey on Aug. 17 killed at
least 12,000 people and left 200,000 homeless.

"When a passenger airliner crashes, at the same time that people are
tending to victims, others are inspecting the remainder of the fleet,"
says GHI President Brian E. Tucker. "Sometimes the fleet is grounded
until the causes of the disaster are identified and remedied. Here the
'fleet' is the world`s large cities built near faults capable of
generating large earthquakes. We should inspect these cities for the
conditions that existed at Izmit and fix the problems, the easiest and
deadliest first."

According to Tucker, the results of the GHI survey are consistent with
other recent assessments of urban earthquake risk in developing
countries. The results also imply that comparable disasters will
certainly occur in other cities around the world unless preventative
action is taken. Furthermore, the studies make it clear that
shortsightedness and lack of information, rather than cost, are the
major barriers to improved seismic safety, Tucker adds.

"Few people realize how affordable earthquake safety measures are,"
says Amod Dixit, executive director of the National Society of
Earthquake Technology - Nepal (NSET), which has been working with GHI
since 1993 on improving Kathmandu`s earthquake safety. "Our work has
shown that building safe structures in Nepal increases construction
costs by less than 3 percent in most cases, and significant increases
in safety can be achieved at virtually no additional cost."

Haresh Shah, professor emeritus of Stanford`s Civil Engineering
Department and a member of the Board of Trustees of GHI, uses the case
of Nepal, which is implementing an earthquake risk-management action
plan and is poised to adopt its first-ever seismic building code, as an
illustration that the devastating losses experienced in the Turkish
earthquake are not necessary.

"If existing methods of emergency response planning, urban planning,
retrofitting of existing structures and construction of new buildings
are aggressively applied, the magnitude of the impending tragedy could
be greatly reduced," Shah says. "Thousands of deaths can be avoided."

The GHI survey - undertaken as part of a United Nations seismic safety
project - interviewed specialists in eight Asian, six South American,
four European and two African cities about their city`s earthquake risk
and risk management practices. It found that three-quarters of the
cities have building codes, but only half enforce their code. Further,
only half of the 20 cities had even a minimal emergency response
capability, while even fewer had both an emergency response plan and
regular drills or actual experience using the plan. Only one city in 10
reported a good, well-enforced building code and a good, well-rehearsed
emergency response plan.

According to Tucker, cities in developing countries are at particular
risk of earthquakes, and that risk is increasing. In this century, four
out of every five deaths caused by earthquakes occurred in developing
countries. Of the people living in earthquake-threatened cities in
1950, two out of every three were in developing countries. In the year
2000, nine out of every 10 will be in developing countries.

The 1988 Armenian earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in
Northern California were nearly equivalent in their magnitudes and in
the number of people in the affected regions, but the results were far
different - 63 people died in California while at least 25,000 died in

Three years ago, GHI organized a NATO Workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
At that time the experts who attended the meeting determined that half
of the six million people living in the capital cities of the five
Central Asian Republics occupied buildings that were extremely
vulnerable to collapse during earthquakes. They estimated that a repeat
of large historical earthquakes could produce human death tolls ranging
from 30,000 to 135,000 per event and seriously injure between 120,000
to 540,000 people.

Last year, a collaborative study between GHI and Nepalese earthquake
experts concluded that the next major earthquake near Kathmandu could
kill 40,000 people, seriously injure 100,000 and leave even more

GHI`s Carlos Villacis, working with leading Latin American earthquake
experts, has come up with similar estimates for Tijuana, Mexico,
Antofagasta, Chile and Guayaquil, Ecuador as a result of the UN
project. In the event of a large quake, they have calculated that
Tijuana could suffer 18,000 deaths and 37,000 serious injuries;
Antofagasta could sustain 3,000 deaths and 7,000 serious injuries; and
Guayaquil could have 26,000 deaths and 53,000 serious injuries.

"It is important to realize that even the most well-drilled emergency
response team, using the best emergency response plan, would have been
overwhelmed with the situation - some 40,000 buried souls ! - that
faced the authorities in Turkey," said Shirley Mattingly, a GHI
collaborator and former regional director of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. "There is no single 'silver bullet' in the
earthquake preparedness business. Threatened communities must have good
and well-enforced building codes, land use plans, and emergency
response plans, as well as informed leaders and an aware public that is
intolerant of corruption."


Here are Sir Arthur C. Clarke's predictions for 2001 to 2100.


2001  Jan. 1   The next millennium and century begin.

-    Cassini spaceprobe (launched October 1997; arrives Saturn July
     2000) begins exploration of the planet's moons and rings.

-    Galileo probe (launched October 1989) continues surveying Jupiter
     and its moons. Life beneath the ice-covered oceans of Europa
     appears increasingly likely.

2002 The first commercial device producing clean, safe power by
     low-temperature nuclear reactions goes on the market, heralding
     the end of the Fossil-Fuel Age. Economic and geopolitical
     earthquakes follow, and, for their discovery of so-called "Cold
     Fusion" in 1989, Pons and Fleischmann receive the Nobel Prize for

2003 The motor industry is given five years to replace all fuel-burning
     engines by the new energy device.

-    NASA's robot Mars Surveyor (carrying Lander and Rover) is

2004  The first (publicly admitted) human clone.

2005  The first sample launched back to Earth by Mars Surveyor.

-     The Dalai Lama returns to Tibet.

2006  The world's last coal mine closed in India.

2007  NASA's Next Generation Space Telescope (successor to the Hubble)

-     President Chandrika Kumaratunga gets the Nobel Prize for
      restoring peace to Sri Lanka.

2008  On what would have been his 80th birthday, July 26, the film
      director Stanley Kubrick, who made 2001: A Space Odyssey,
      posthumously receives a special Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.

2009  A city in North Korea is devastated by the accidental explosion
      of an A-bomb. After a brief debate in the U.N., all nuclear
      weapons are destroyed.

2010  The first Quantum Generators (tapping space energy) are
      developed. Available in portable and household units from a few
      kilowatts upward, they can produce electricity indefinitely.
      Central power stations close down; the age of pylons ends as grid
      systems are dismantled.

-     In spite of protests against "Big Brother" government, electronic
      monitoring virtually removes professional criminals from society.

2011  Largest living animal filmed: a 75-meter octopus in the Mariana
      Trench. By a curious coincidence, later that same year even
      larger marine creatures are discovered when the first robot
      probes drill through the ice of Europa, and an entire new biota
      is revealed.

2012  Aerospace-planes enter service. The history of space travel has
      repeated that of aeronautics, although more slowly, because the
      technical problems are so much greater. From Yuri Gagarin to
      commercial space flight has taken twice as long as from the
      Wright Brothers to the DC-3.

2013  On a flight sponsored by Bandar Seri Begawan, a Brunei prince
      becomes the first member of a royal family to fly in space.

2014  Construction of Hilton Orbiter Hotel begins, by assembling and
      converting the giant Shuttle tanks which had previously been
      allowed to fall back to Earth.

2015  An inevitable byproduct of the Quantum Generator is complete
      control of matter at the atomic level. Thus the old dream of
      alchemy is realized on a commercial scale, often with surprising
      results. Within a few years, since they are more useful, lead and
      copper cost twice as much as gold.

2016  All existing currencies are abolished. The megawatt-hour becomes
      the unit of exchange.

2017  December 16. On his 100th birthday, Sir Arthur Clarke is one of
      the first guests in the Hilton Orbiter.

-     China holds the first nationwide popular elections to its

2019  A major meteor impact occurs on the North Polar icecap. There is
      no loss of human life, but the resulting tsunamis cause
      considerable damage along the coasts of Greenland and Canada. The
      long-discussed Project Spaceguard, to identify and deflect any
      potentially dangerous comets or asteroids, is finally activated

2020  Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaches the human level. From now
      onward there are two intelligent species on Planet Earth, one
      evolving far more rapidly than biology would ever permit.
      Interstellar probes carrying AIs are launched toward the nearer

2021  The first humans land on Mars, and have some unpleasant

2023  Dinosaur facsimiles are cloned from computer-generated DNA.
      Disney's Triassic Zoo opens in Florida. Despite some unfortunate
      initial accidents, mini-raptors start replacing guard dogs.

2024  Infra-red signals are detected coming from the center of the
      Milky Way Galaxy. They are obviously the product of a
      technologically advanced civilization, but all attempts to
      decipher them fail.

2025  Neurological research finally leads to an understanding of all
      the senses, and direct inputs become possible, bypassing eyes,
      ears, skin, etc. The inevitable result is the metal "Braincap" of
      which the 20th century's Walkman was a primitive precursor.
      Anyone wearing this helmet, fitting tightly over the skull, can
      enter a whole universe of experience real or imaginary - and even
      merge in real-time with other minds. Apart from its use for
      entertainment and vicarious adventure, the Braincap is a boon to
      doctors, who can now experience their patients symptoms (suitably
      attenuated). It also revolutionizes the legal profession;
      deliberate lying is impossible. As the Braincap can only function
      properly on a completely bald head, wig-making becomes a major

2026  Singapore becomes the world's first country to enforce Truth in

2036  China overtakes the U.S. in gross national product to become the
      world's largest economy.

2040  The "Universal Replicator," based on nano-technology, is
      perfected: any object, however complex, can be created - given
      the necessary raw material and the appropriate information
      matrix. Diamonds or gourmet meals can, literally, be made from
      dirt. As a result, agriculture and industry are phased out,
      ending that recent invention in human history - work! There is an
      explosion in arts, entertainment and education. Hunter-gathering
      societies are deliberately recreated; huge areas of the planet,
      no longer needed for food production, are allowed to revert to
      their original state. Young people can now discharge their
      aggressive instincts by using cross-bows to stalk big game, which
      is robotic and frequently dangerous.

2045  The totally self-contained, recycling, mobile home (envisaged
      almost a century earlier by Buckminster Fuller) is perfected. Any
      additional carbon needed for food synthesis is obtained by
      extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

2047  Hong Kong celebrates its 50th year as an SAR by completely
      eliminating border controls and barriers between itself and the
      rest of China.

2050  "Escape from Utopia." Bored by life in this peaceful and
      unexciting era, millions decided to use cryonic suspension to
      emigrate into the future in search of adventure. Vast
      "hibernacula" are established in the Antarctic and in the regions
      of perpetual night at the lunar poles.

2051  Ground is broken on the moon for self-sustaining, robotized
      colonies, where the elderly will survive longer, thanks to the
      low lunar gravity.

2057  October 4. Centennial of Sputnik 1. The dawn of the space age is
      celebrated by humans not only on Earth, but on the Moon, Mars,
      Europa, Ganymede and Titan - and in orbit round Venus, Neptune
      and Pluto.

2061  The return of Halley's Comet; first landing on nucleus by humans.
      The sensational discovery of both dormant and active lifeforms
      vindicates Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's century-old hypothesis that
      life is omnipresent throughout space.

2090  Large-scale burning of fossil fuels is resumed to replace the
      carbon dioxide "mined" from the air and postpone the next Ice Age
      by promoting global warming.

2095  The development of a true "space drive" - a propulsion system
      reacting against the structure of space time - makes the rocket
      obsolete and permits velocities close to that of light. The first
      human explorers set off to nearby star systems that robot probes
      have already found promising.

2100 History begins...

Copyright Arthur C. Clarke 1999

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