"As an American, it was easy for me to view the horrible events of
the past few days as solely an 'American problem.' It was easy to forget
that the World Trade Centers were truly "worldly" in the demographic
make-up of those who worked there. Upon viewing coverage by other
nations and by CCNet, though, I began to realize this wasn't just an attack
on America -- it was an attack on humanity and upon globally-held
concepts of freedom. I realized America isn't standing alone in her grief
and anger; she is standing shoulder-to- shoulder with most of the planet.
Although I continue to mourn the loss of life, that last thought is
infinitely comforting to me."
--Nancy L. Clarke, Tucson, Arizona, USA

    The Times, 17 September 2001


    Benny J Peiser <>



    Cosmiverse, 14 September 2001

    Nancy L. Clarke <>

    Paul Davies <>

    James D. Perry < >
(10) TUNGUSKA 1908
     Wolfgang Kundt <>

     Michael Paine <>


>From The Times, 17 September 2001,,3-2001322272,00.html



Blair says Britain will play full part in military strikes

US gives Taleban ultimatum to hand over bin Laden

THE countdown towards America's fightback against terror begins today, with
the ruling Taleban regime in Afghanistan being told to hand over Osama bin
Laden within days or face a massive military assault.

The ultimatum was being prepared as Tony Blair yesterday said for the first
time that Britain and America were "at war" with terrorism, and in
particular with the fanatics who last week killed more than 5,000 people. He
told the world that Britain would play a full part in the military response.

Speaking in Downing Street before taking his family to Westminster
Cathedral, Mr Blair said: "Are we at war with the people who have committed
this terrible atrocity? Absolutely.

"We have to assemble the evidence, present it and then pursue those
responsible." [...]

Downing Street said that European support for Mr Bush's stance was strong,
as Mr Blair offered further support to America in an interview broadcast in
the US. Asked whether Britain was at war, he replied without hesitation:
"Yes. Whatever the technical or legal issues about the declaration of war,
the fact is that we are at war with terrorism." He later told CNN: "It is a
war between the civilised world and fanaticism. We must put together a
broad-based coalition to hound these people down and bring them to account."

Mr Blair said that there would be two components to action taken by America
and its allies in response to the attacks: bringing to account those
responsible, and then, over time, a systematic war on the machinery of

Senior British officials do not believe that military action is imminent,
but they say that when it comes it will be extensive. They believe that Mr
Bush wants to weigh the evidence, plan his assault, and then unleash a
large-scale response.

"The fact that nothing is happening now does not at all mean that nothing
will happen. It proves the seriousness of the intent," a senior diplomat
said. Mr Bush's hawkish words to the American people were part of a process
to prepare them for what was intended, the diplomat said.

The death toll meanwhile rose above 5,500, as the New York authorities said
that more than 5,000 people were still missing in the ruins of the World
Trade Centre.

Copyright 2001, The Times


>From, 16 September 2001

By Reuters and staff reports

SOMERSET, Pa. A rural Pennsylvania community will honor the victims of a
hijacked jetliner that crashed near Pittsburgh by having a star in the
heavens named in their memory, an official said Friday.

Somerset County District Attorney Jerry Spangler told an evening memorial
service attended by relatives of passengers who died aboard United Airlines
Flight 93 that the community had arranged for the naming of a heavenly body
through the International Star Registry.

Forty-five people died on board the Boeing 757, which crashed Tuesday in a
wooded area 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

It was the only one of four hijacked commercial airliners not to strike a
U.S. landmark, possibly because of a passenger revolt against the alleged
assailants just before the crash.

"They have thrown off this earthly coil, and touch the face of God,"
Spangler said at the candlelight memorial in Somerset, a town of 6,500
located about 10 miles from the crash site.

Hundreds thronged the town's main square, clutching small American flags and
candles, while dignitaries including Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge spoke
beneath a giant American flag.

Spangler did not say when the star would be named or what it would be
called. However, whatever name they select will be unofficial. Stars and
other heavenly bodies receive their names only from the International
Astronomical Union.

But he told grieving family members they would receive astronomical charts
to help them locate the star in the night sky from the registry.

Candles were lit for the passengers and a bell tolled as each name was read
aloud. Names believed to be those of the alleged hijackers were said to be

Copyright 2001,


>From Benny J Peiser <>

While members of a rural community in Pennsylvania are honouring the victims
of a hijacked jetliner that crashed near Pittsburgh by having a star named
in their memory, astronomers are considering to name 5000 newly discovered
asteroids after the terror victims of the attacks in New York and
Washington. The suggestion by Vinzenz Luebben, an amateur astronomer, to
name these minor planets (which are currently awaiting numbering and
official IAU naming) in honour of the terror victims has triggered a lively
debate on the Minor Planet Mailing List.

Matt Dawson, an astronomer from Luxembourg, took up the idea and contacted
the LINEAR search team over this proposal: "Seeing as you now have 59,389
designations, when these become numbered, would it not be appropriate to
name them after the victims of the atrocities? To have a minor planet named
for a lost father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister, would mean a
great deal to many many people."

In her response, Jenifer Evans, a member of team LINEAR, said that the
search team right now "have naming rights to just over 5000 minor planets
which may not be sufficient (unbelievably!)." 

Let's not forget that the victims of last week's atrocities included people
from more than 40 countries around the world. As CCNet member Nancy L.
Clarke rightly stresses (see below), it is "easy to forget that the World
Trade Centers were truly "worldly" in the demographic make-up of those who
worked there.

In view of the universal character of this crime against humanity, I express
my support for the thoughts of Russell Sipe, another astronomer who wrote on
MPML: "I hope the idea will be given careful consideration. Such a gesture
of good will by the community, the survey team that chooses to adopt the
suggestion, and the CSBN, will surely provide a degree, however small, of
consolation to the bereaved families."

Benny J Peiser


>From, 16 September 2001
By Robert Pearlman

Charles Edward "Chuck" Jones, a retired U.S. Air Force officer who was
trained as an astronaut, was among the 92 victims of American Airlines
Flight 11 when it was piloted by hijackers into the northern tower of the
World Trade Center on Tuesday morning, September 11.

Jones, who was chosen in 1982 for Group 2 of the military's Manned
Spaceflight Engineers (MSE) program, was assigned to fly STS-71L scheduled
for August 1987 to assist the deployment of two Department of Defense
payloads. His flight however, was cancelled after the Challenger accident in
January 1986.

After leaving the MSE program in January 1987, Jones was stationed at
Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C. and then as Systems Program
Director for Intelligence and Information Systems, at Hanscom Air Force
Base, in Bedford, Massachusetts.

According to the Boston Herald, Jones boarded American Airlines Flight 11 on
"a routine business trip to Los Angeles on behalf of the Nashua, N.H.-based
defense contractor BAE SYSTEMS."

Born on November 8, 1952, in Clinton, Indiana, he is survived by his wife


>From, 14 September 2001

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer

WASHINGTON -- A growing constellation of commercial remote sensing
satellites are ready to help plan America's response to this week's
terrorist attacks, from rebuilding structures and scouting out those
perpetrating the destructive deeds to rebuffing future strikes.

Added reliance on military and private spacecraft for intelligence gathering
and war planning means taking steps to assure protection of these valuable
assets. Utilizing satellites is seen as an important tool in the Bush
Administration's campaign to uproot terrorist networks.

On September 13, Secretary of State, Colin Powell, also stressed that "a
global assault against terrorism" is to be pursued. To do so, classified
American photo-reconnaissance and electronic listening spacecraft are part
of a strategy to ferret out and monitor the whereabouts and actions of
terrorist groups. This all-out war against worldwide terrorism finds
operators of commercial remote sensing satellites at the ready to assist in
the effort.

As has been shown in past military skirmishes, commercially operated remote
sensing spacecraft -- specifically, Space Imaging's IKONOS and the
French-built SPOT satellites, are likely to see increased use of their
imagery by government agencies and groups, both within the United States and

Over the last several years, the level of service, ability to rapidly
respond, the quality and type of products that can be generated by the
commercial remote sensing sector has been stepped up.

Already, both IKONOS and SPOT satellites have demonstrated their respective
abilities. High-resolution snapshots from hundreds of miles above Earth show
the tragic consequences of terrorism in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Customer requests

"The IKONOS images provide a fresh context and content of the scale of the
disasters that one cannot see with a normal hand-held camera standing on a
street corner," said Mark Brender, Space Imaging's Executive Director of
Government Affairs and Corporate Communications in Washington, D.C.

Brender would not comment directly on how IKONOS and its ability to focus on
objects a little over three feet across (one-meter) may already be tapped by
military strategists in the swiftly moving campaign against terrorists.
"Consistent with past policy, we will not divulge the names of our customers
or the companies or agencies they represent without their prior approval,"
Brender told

Space Imaging has been contacted by the New York Governor's office, Brender
said, requesting information on how satellite imagery can be utilized for
disaster assessment and emergency management.

The French-owned SPOT spacecraft has also been busy churning out
high-resolution satellite snapshots showing the horror caused by terrorists.

"We're getting imagery every day of the sites at our customer's request,"
said Clark Nelson, Director of Communications for SPOT Image in Reston,

As a company policy, customer requests for SPOT data, and areas being
imaged, remains confidential, Nelson said. "We operate under open skies and
open access...the United Nations policy," he said.

"Commercial image providers from around the world can assist in very
valuable ways by providing the views and information necessary to help all
facets of this disaster. We provide another perspective. The emphasis in not
about commercial products, but using all the resources available to help
with the situation," Nelson told

Private, first-class

Over the next few weeks, the number of first-class Earth looking satellites
will grow by two.

Next up is ORBIMAGE's OrbView-4 satellite, a sophisticated private remote
sensing spacecraft, ready for a September 21 liftoff. OrbView-4 carries
high-resolution and hyperspectral imaging gear.

Also set to join the on-orbit ranks of commercial remote sensing is
DigitalGlobe's QuickBird.

QuickBird is slated for liftoff on a Boeing Delta II from Vandenberg Air
Force Base, California on October 18, said Chuck Herring, Director of
Marketing Communications for DigitalGlobe in Longmont, Colorado.

The company's former name was EarthWatch, changed to DigitalGlobe early this

Once in orbit, QuickBird will become the world's highest resolution
commercial satellite. It can focus on objects down to just 20-inches
(one-half meter) across.

"The U.S. government has stated that it will use commercial imagery to
complement the use of U.S.-owned assets. The extent and how they would use
our imagery I would defer to government officials," Herring told

"In general, having more assets on orbit, including commercial satellites,
improves the ability to get up-to-date and accurate information specific to
any area of interest," Herring said.

Under cover - a hyperspectral view

ORBIMAGE, a part of Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, has
been working on OrbView-4 for many years. It carries the world's first
commercial hyperspectral camera. This leading edge technology can measure
the signature of plant species, mineral type, and inland and coastal water

While hyperspectral imaging is of great commercial value, the high-tech gear
can produce information useful for military applications, said Gilbert Rye,
ORBIMAGE's President and Chief Executive Officer.

"It has a lot of potential for a number of different applications. Military
and national security communities are of course interested, because of its
ability to, in essence, see through camouflage," Rye told

"Today's sophisticated adversary can predict in some cases when our
satellites are coming over and take evasive action to hide whatever they
don't want to be seen. So the ability to see through camouflage or other
concealment activities taken by adversaries is very important," Rye said.

Rye said the crisis stemming from terrorist actions highlights the
importance of the U.S. government having the option to utilize commercial
imaging satellites. "Our government, our friends and allies around the
world" can benefit by using commercial spacecraft, he said.

"Looking into the future weeks and months ahead, we would expect to see
increased emphasis on our services and capabilities that we can bring to
bear," Rye said. Private investment in remote sensing, and the ground gear
to operate satellites, is nearly $2 billion, he said.

"It would be a terrible waste if the government couldn't find a way to take
advantage of these very valuable assets," Rye said.

Copyright 2001,


>From Cosmiverse, 14 September 2001

New Interest in the Outer Solar System

It's just a matter of time, say researchers, before astronomers find
something as big as Pluto in the chilly outer reaches of the solar system.

Long thought to be little more than a celestial desert, the outer solar
system beyond Pluto has been revealing new objects to determined scientists
searching distant space.

Focusing the University of Hawaii's 2.2 meter telescope into the Kuiper Belt
beyond the solar system's farthest planet, Dave Jewitt and Jan Luu found a
number of what have come to be called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBO).

As seen from Earth those dim companions of Pluto appear to dark comets. It's
hard to know exactly what they're made of because their insides are
concealed by a layer of ruddy organic goop. Probably they're a mixture of
ice, rock, and dust. Most are about the size of small asteroids (a few km to
a few hundred km wide), and a few have emerged recently that are 30% to 50%
as wide as the planet Pluto (2274 km). Indeed, say astronomers, it may be
only a matter of time before observers spot one as big as Pluto itself.

It took five years, looking off-and-on through the telescope, but they
finally found what they were after: a reddish-colored speck 44 AU from the
Sun -- even more distant than Pluto.

That discovery marked our first glimpse of the long-sought Kuiper Belt,
named after Gerard Kuiper who, in 1951, proposed that a belt of icy bodies
might lay beyond Neptune. It was the only way, he figured, to solve a
baffling mystery about comets: Some comets loop through the solar system on
periodic orbits of a half-dozen years or so. They encounter the Sun so often
that they quickly evaporate -- vanishing in only a few hundred thousand
years. Astronomers call them "short-period comets." Short-period comets
evaporate so quickly compared to the age of the solar system that we
shouldn't see any, yet astronomers routinely track dozens of them.

Kuiper's solution was a population of dark comets circling the Sun in the
realm of Pluto -- leftovers from the dawn of our solar system when
planetesimals were coalescing to make planets. The ones beyond Neptune,
Kuiper speculated, never stuck together, remaining instead primitive and
individual. Nowadays they occasionally fall toward the Sun and become
short-period comets.

It was a neat solution, but with the arguable exception of Pluto, no one
could find any members of the Kuiper Belt until Jewitt and Luu did it in
1992. Since then astronomers have been discovering KBOs at a dizzying pace.
The International Astronomical Union now catalogues 432 of them. And that's
just the tip of the iceberg.

"Based on our surveys we think there are about 70,000 KBOs larger than 100
km across between," says Jewitt. If you added all of them together they
would form a planet about one-tenth the mass of Earth. The Kuiper Belt is
about 300 times more massive than the asteroid belt between Mars and
Jupiter, he added.

Are there more Plutos out there, yet to be discovered? Jewitt thinks so. "We
have known the size distribution of KBOs for some years," he says. "It's a
power law with index -4, and it suggests that a few Pluto-sized objects
exist, perhaps 5 or 10, of which we know just one."

Relatively large KBOs are already turning up among the many new discoveries.
For example, last year Jewitt and colleagues found Varuna orbiting 43 AU
from the Sun. Varuna is 900 km wide and nearly as large as the behemoth
asteroid Ceres (933 km). Then came 2001 KX76, a discovery of the NASA-funded
Deep Ecliptic Survey. 2001 KX76 was a sensation for a while last month when
widespread reports credited it with dethroning Ceres as the solar system's
largest asteroid. In fact, 2001 KX76, which is icy and lies 39 AU from the
Sun, is not an asteroid at all. But no matter, 2001 KX76 is still big,
perhaps 1200 or more km across.

Finding even 400 or so KBOs among the tens of thousands beyond Neptune is
impressive. These faraway objects are surprisingly dark. Although they're
icy, explains Jewitt, "most KBOs reflect about as much sunlight (4 - 7%) as
a lump of charcoal."

It's because of cosmic ray bombardment, which darkens and reddens their
surfaces by breaking the bonds of molecules in the ice -- molecules that
reform as complex carbon-based compounds. The organic goop makes good
camouflage against the black of space.

Source: Science@NASA

Copyright 2001, Cosmiverse



>From Nancy L. Clarke <>

Dear Dr. Peiser:

I'm a subscriber to CCNet. I just wanted to thank you for your excellent
coverage of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. and to
ask you to thank those CCNet subscribers who have sent messages of
consolation and solidarity.

As an American, it was easy for me to view the horrible events of the past
few days as solely an "American problem." It was easy to forget that the
World Trade Centers were truly "worldly" in the demographic make-up of those
who worked there.

Upon viewing coverage by other nations and by CCNet, though, I began to
realize this wasn't just an attack on America -- it was an attack on
humanity and upon globally-held concepts of freedom. I realized America
isn't standing alone in her grief and anger; she is standing
shoulder-to-shoulder with most of the planet.

Although I continue to mourn the loss of life, that last thought is
infinitely comforting to me.

Thank you again, Dr. Peiser -- for the coverage and for the wonderful forum
you have given us in CCNet.

Nancy L. Clarke
Tucson, Arizona, USA


>From Paul Davies <>

Dear Benny,

Regarding technological solutions to aircraft hijackings, there is a simple
solution. Aircraft are perfectly capable of being landed safely entirely by
computer, a provision that is occasionally used in poor weather conditions.
It would be an easy matter to pre-programme airliners with default
instructions to fly to a designated airport in event of an on-board
emergency. These instructions could be made irreversible from within the
aircraft, and deactivated only by a coded instruction from Air Traffic
Control. If these measures were taken, and widely known, it is almost
certain that they would never be invoked. Any residual risk to passengers
from the measures would be far less than the risk from further hijackings.

Yours sincerely,
Paul Davies

>From  James D. Perry < >

With regards to the idea of using GPS and telemetry for collision avoidance,
we should keep in mind that the events of last Tuesday were not the result
of mechanical malfunction, accident, or incompetence, but of malign human
intent. Attempts to find a technological solution to the problem must
therefore take such intent into account.

The technological solution suggested in Die Welt is a Monumentally Bad Idea,
because a computerized system that could assume control of the aircraft via
telemetry would be the world's most lucrative target for hackers. The
terrorists wouldn't even need to sacrifice anyone, and they wouldn't need to
inflitrate a large, highly trained team into the United States. In
principle, with such a system one hacker could crash as many planes as he
wished from anywhere in the world. I can't imagine any self-respecting pilot
permitting such a control device in a plane he or she commanded. As a
passenger, I don't want ANYONE to be able to fly the plane from the ground.
I want the pilot in the cockpit to have TOTAL control -- he has a direct
personal interest in where we're going, since he will get there first!

James D. Perry

(10) TUNGUSKA 1908

>From Wolfgang Kundt <>

Dear Benny Peiser,

The convener of this year's Moscow conference on Tunguska, Andrei
Ol'khovatov, sends me a number of overly conservative reports by the Italian
research group. They unearth the stony asteroid as the cause, whose multiple
inconsistency has been stressed by others: Debris have been found in crash
sites from less massive meteorites, down to 10000 times lighter, whereas
none have been found here! A 4 mm thick layer would have been deposited on
the cauldron. Amomong the more than 15 further inconsistencies of the
meteoritic interpretation are the details of the treefall pattern with its 5
centers, the hurled root stumps and stone, the bright nights before and
after the storm, the chemical anomalies - which were always found consistent
with volcanic outgassings - and the preferred tectonic location of the
epicenter, inside Kulikovskii's crater. They measured a radonic storm of 4
hours near lake Cheko, another case in favour of the formation of a
kimberlite. For details see my contribution to Current Science 81, 399-407

Best wishes from Wolfgang Kundt, Bonn University.


>From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny

There is a good article about the scientific process at

"Critical feedback is the lifeblood of healthy science, as is the
willingness (however begrudgingly) to say "I was wrong" when faced with
persuasive evidence. It does not matter who you are or how important you
think your idea is--if it is contradicted by the evidence, it is wrong. In
contrast, pseudoscientists typically eschew the peer-review process in order
to avoid the inevitable critical commentary. Consider Immanuel Velikovsky's
controversial theory about planetary collisions..."

On another matter, I recently exchanged email with an Australian opposition
member of parliament and pointed out: "I recently purchased Carl Sagan's
Cosmos TV series on DVD. It is even better than I remembered when I first
saw it in the 1980s. He makes the point that the Earth can be expected to be
hit by asteroids and comets. He also warns against politicians appealing to
the "reptilian" portions of our brain - territoriality and fear of strangers
- sound familiar?"

My latter reference was to the Australian government's heavy-handedness with
boatloads of people claiming refugee status. Since then the dreadful events
have taken place in the USA but the same cautions must apply. We have to
remember the traits that make us "civilised".


Michael Paine

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