CCNet, 1 October 1999


     "Darwinian theory is correct in the small but not in the
     large.  Rabbits come from other slightly different rabbits, not from
     either soup  or potatoes. Where they came from in the first place is a
     problem yet to  be solved...."
                 -- Sir Fred Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution, 1999

    Ron Baalke <>

    Andrew Yee <>

(3) TO BE OR NOT TO BE....
    Malcolm Miller <>

    Brig Klyce <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    Larry Klaes <>


From Ron Baalke <>

Nanorover to Help Fetch Asteroid Material
By Glen Golightly
Houston Bureau Chief
Sep 29 1999 20:35:15 ET

PASADENA, California - When Ross Jones wants to show off the MUSES-CN
rover mock-up, he pulls it out of a briefcase-sized container.

"The usual reaction of people is that they say it's 'cute,'" said
Jones, the rover project manager.

Even the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner dwarfs the MUSES-CN "nanorover."

Sojourner weighs in at a "hefty" 23 pounds and is about 2-feet long,
while its smaller successor weighs about two pounds and is the size of
a cigar box.

With advances in technology and experience from the Sojourner, the new
rover has better optics and computing power than the Mars rover.

In January 2002, the nanorover will fly aboard the Japanese MUSES-C to
explore the near-Earth asteroid 4660 Nereus. If all goes well, the
probe will return the first samples of an asteroid to Earth.

Full story here:


From Andrew Yee <>

Public Information Office
University of California-Berkeley

Contact: Robert Sanders (510) 643-6998

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 1999

UC Berkeley researchers report experimental evidence for diamond
showers on Neptune and Uranus

BERKELEY -- If experiments at the University of California, Berkeley,
are any indication, future explorers of our solar system may well
find diamonds hailing down through the atmospheres of Neptune and

These planets contain a high proportion of methane, which UC Berkeley
researchers have now shown can turn into diamond at the high
temperatures and pressures found inside these planets.

"Once these diamonds form, they fall like raindrops or hailstones
toward the center of the planet," said Laura Robin Benedetti, a
graduate student in physics at UC Berkeley.

The team, led by Benedetti and Raymond Jeanloz, professor of geology
and geophysics, produced these conditions inside a diamond anvil
cell, squeezing liquid methane to several hundred thousand times
atmospheric pressure. When they focused a laser beam on the
pressurized liquid, heating it to some 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit,
diamond dust appeared.

They report their experimental findings in a paper in the Oct. 1
issue of Science.

The demonstration that methane can convert to diamond as well as
other complex hydrocarbons in the interiors of giant planets like
Neptune hint at a complex chemistry inside gaseous planets and even
brown dwarf stars. Brown dwarfs are small, dim stars barely larger
than the largest gas giant planets.

"This is opening the door to study of the interesting types of
chemical reactions taking place inside planets and brown dwarfs,"
Jeanloz said. "Now that technology is able to reproduce the high
pressures and temperatures found there, we are getting much better
quality information on the chemical reactions taking place under
these conditions."

"It is not amazing that chemistry like this happens inside planets,
it's just that most people haven't dealt with the chemical reactions
that can occur," Benedetti said. "The interior of these planets may
be much more complicated that our current picture."

A simple calculation, for example, shows that the energy released by
diamonds settling to the planet's core could account for the excess
heat radiated by Neptune, that is, the heat given off by Neptune in
excess of what it receives from the sun.

"What's exciting to us is the application of this high-pressure
chemistry to understanding the outer planets," Jeanloz said.

"As more planets are found in unexpected orbits around other stars,
the effects of internal chemical processes will need to be further
clarified in order to obtain a general understanding of planet
formation and evolution," the authors concluded in the Science paper.

Our solar system's other gas giant planets -- Jupiter and Saturn --
may also contain diamonds produced under such conditions, though they
contain proportionately less methane than Neptune and Uranus. Based
on theoretical calculations, Neptune and Uranus are estimated to
contain about 10 to 15 percent methane under an outer atmosphere of
hydrogen and helium. (See graphic for presumed internal structure of

Several groups of researchers have suggested that the methane in
these planets could conceivably turn into diamond at fairly shallow
depths, about one tenth of the way to the center. Nearly two decades
ago, a group at Lawrence Livermore National laboratory shocked some
methane and reported the formation of diamond before the stuff
evaporated. That group was led by retired scientist Marvin Ross and
researchers William Nellis and Francis Ree.

Recently some theorists in Italy also concluded that diamonds were

Benedetti and Jeanloz decided to try the obvious experiment --
squeeze liquid methane and see if they could make diamond dust.

The liquid methane, cooled with liquid nitrogen, was placed in a
diamond anvil cell and squeezed to between 10 and 50 billion pascals
(gigapascals), or about 100,000 - 500,000 times atmospheric pressure.
The researchers then heated the compressed methane with an infrared
laser to about 2,000 to 3,000 Kelvin (3600-5400 degrees Fahrenheit).

"It's really cool to watch," said Benedetti. "When you turn on the
laser the methane turns black because of all the diamonds created.
The black diamond specks float in a clear hydrocarbon liquid melted
by the laser."

Raman spectroscopy confirmed the identity of the suspended specks, as
did subsequent analysis with X-ray crystallography. The flecks were
diamonds interspersed with hydrocarbons.

Jeanloz said that the high temperature breaks up methane (CH4) into
carbon and hydrogen, while high pressure condenses the carbon to
diamond. Other types of hydrocarbons -- doubly and triply bonded
carbon -- also were produced, apparently in the cooler areas outside
that illuminated by the laser.

Jeanloz and his team plan next to see what happens to other
constituents of these planets -- ammonia and water -- at high
temperatures and pressures.

Coauthors of the paper with Benedetti and Jeanloz are post-doctoral
researcher Jeffrey H. Nguyen, now a scientist at Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory; geology graduate student Wendell A. Caldwell,
Chinese visiting scholar Hongjian Liu and Michael Kruger, a former
graduate student now in the physics department at the University of
Missouri, Kansas City.

(3) TO BE OR NOT TO BE....

From Malcolm Miller <>

Dear Benny,

I was in too much of a hurry to get my latest poem off, and so there
was an unfortunate repetition in one line which put the whole thing
out, and which I only discovered when I read the CCNet this evening -
that is, on the same day as I wrote and sent it.  I was mortified, but,
hell, these things happen, and the prime virtue of the CCNet is its
speed of publication, often on the same day that the news breaks.  I
don't expect the revised version to appear in the CCNet, but if anyone
queries the repetition of 'to be' in line 5 I am happy to admit my
error and have the revised version right here, which I don't expect you
to put in the CCNet, but show you out of a feeling of embarrassment and
probably, vanity.....

The Shifting Earth  (revised)

The world looks flat to most of us, and as well we think
that it's unchanging, too, its familiar features and its climate
there forever in the people's memory.
The rocks, the rivers, mountains andthe seas unchanged
since 'time immemorial', ordained by God to be for evermore our home.
'Not so' these upstart scientists say, the ancient shorelines
and retreating glaciers only a small part of those clear signs
laid out for us to read.  Faith in the constancy of Earth is natural,
but those who've learned to see and understand the unambiguous
book of nature now know we live on shifting ground.
And as our numbers grow our vulnerability increases,
so earthquake, ice, impact and flood will target more of us,
unless we learn survival skills that might  ensure our footing
on this impermanent surface of a rocky sphere, with strategies
to minimise the harm from shaking ground or flaming skies.

I look forward to reading CCNet every time I open my Eudora. It's so
rich in new ideas and interpretations that I wonder whether textbooks
can ever again be thought 'definitive'.  No textbook writer could ever
keep up with the present rate of discovery, and who can scan all the
journals? The links between oceanography and planetology are only part
of the ever unfolding picture, and the thought of a 'prehistoric'
spacecraft detecting a new member of the Solar System, even if only a
KBO of a couple of hundred kilometres is enough to make me say 'Wow!" 
I hope you can keep the CCNet going for a long time - I really
appreciate and enjoy it.

Malcolm Miller


From: Brig Klyce <>

A new book by Fred Hoyle, "Mathematics of Evolution", will be published
tomorrow by Acorn Enterprises LLC.

In a tradition begun by J.B.S. Haldane, renowned scientist Sir Fred 
Hoyle uses his prodigious mathematical skill to probe evolution. He 
concludes, "Darwinian theory is correct in the small but not in the
large.  Rabbits come from other slightly different rabbits, not from
either soup  or potatoes. Where they came from in the first place is a
problem yet to  be solved...."

Here Hoyle uses both skills. With powerful mathematical logic, he
exposes fundamental flaws in the Darwinian theory of evolution. With
straightforward, smooth and simple prose, he explains to the layman why
the theory cannot account for sustained evolutionary progress. If the
book is widely read, perhaps science will look more closely at the
flaws in Darwinian theory, instead of ignoring them. This outcome would
be good for all of us.

Mathematics of Evolution by Fred Hoyle
163 pages, 6x9 hardcover, $36.00
ISBN 0-9669934-0-3
Published 1 October 1999, by Acorn Enterprises LLC, Memphis, TN

For further information, please contact
Brig Klyce
Acorn Enterprises LLC
1503 Union Ave #200
Memphis, TN 38104-3739


From Andrew Yee <>


Thursday, September 30, 1999

Stellar debris collection

Stars are formed when vast clouds of gas are disturbed and collapse
through gravitational attraction. Much of the material in the cloud
condenses into the star, but some forms a disc about the star, from
which planets and comets arise. Such discs have been observed around
young stars, but they are absent from older ones such as our own Sun.
How long do these stellar discs persist? H. Habing of the Leiden
Obervatory, Leiden, the Netherlands and colleagues present new
evidence from infrared observations of 84 stars.

Writing in Nature (30 September 1999), Habing and colleagues present
the results of a study using the ISOPHOT instrument on the Infrared
Space Observatory (ISO) satellite. ISOPHOT measures the infrared light
emitted from a star at different frequencies. Habing and colleagues
studied stars that were as far as possible 'normal', avoiding any that
were variable in brightness or were components of multiple-star
systems. By using observations at three wavelengths of infrared light,
they determined which stars were circled by dust. Of the sample of 84
stars, 14 had haloes of dust and gas. Combining these determinations
with the age of the stars showed that 60% of stars less than 300
million years old had discs, but only 9% of older stars had them.
Therefore, most of these discs lasted about 300-400 million years
before fading away.

Calculations suggest that dust particles remain in stellar discs for
less than one million years. Small dust particles are pushed away by
the star's radiation, while larger ones are slowed down by the impact
of solar wind particles and spiral into the star. So how do these
stellar discs persist for so long? The most likely explanation is that
material is added to them during their lifetimes and that the discs
dissipate when the source of material is exhausted. Habing and
colleagues calculate that a typical disc would require about 40 times
the mass of the earth to be added to it over its lifetime. Two
mechanisms could supply this dust -- collisions between larger objects
and the evaporation of comets as they pass close to the star.

Habing and colleagues point out possible links with events in the
beginnings of our own Solar System. First, calculations suggest that
the so-called Kuiper belt of asteroids beyond Neptune contained more
material in the early history of the Solar System than it does now.
Collisions in this zone could be one source of the dust. Second, the
Oort cloud of comets -- a halo of material extending beyond the Kuiper
belt -- probably formed very early from material ejected during the
accretion of the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
This would have been a rich source of cometary material in the early
Solar System.

Finally, Habing and colleagues point out that a very heavy meteoric
bombardment of the inner planets took place at a time coinciding with
the dissipation of the debris halo. They propose that the two events
may be connected, although they do not suggest how.

In one in eleven cases, these discs may persist around stars of a
similar age to our own Sun. The debris haloes around these older stars
remain a mystery. However, Habing and colleagues have shown that discs
of debris are a common feature around young, normal stars. As these
debris belts are closely linked with planet formation, it is possible
that planets are very common around ordinary stars.

Macmillan Magazines Ltd 1999 - NATURE NEWS SERVICE


From Andrew Yee <>


Many moons

The Moon might have a whole clutch of hidden siblings, according to
planetary scientists Carl Murray and colleagues of Queen Mary and
Westfield College in London, UK. In a paper published in the 27
September issue of Physical Review Letters[1] they show that
asteroids that pass close to the Earth can become trapped in weird
orbits around our planet.

One such asteroidal companion to the Earth has already been
discovered. In 1997, scientists in Canada and Finland reported that
the asteroid Cruithne, a chunk of rock wandering between the orbits
of Mercury (the innermost planet) and Mars, is following a path that
is linked to the motion of the Earth (see Nature 387, 685; 1997).

Cruithne does not go around the Earth, like the Moon itself -- its
trajectory is considerably more complex. Basically it travels in
loops shaped like a kidney bean, which lie beyond the Earth. As the
Earth circles the Sun, it drags Cruithne's loopy path with it. But
the motion is even more complicated than this, because the loop runs
slightly ahead of the Earth, completing almost a full circle until it
approaches the planet from the other side -- whereupon it changes
direction and creeps back again.

At its closest point (which it reaches every few hundred years),
Cruithne comes within just 10 million miles of the Earth. Its path
actually overlaps the Earth's position, but there is no risk of
collision because the kidney-bean loops are tilted at an angle to the
plane of the Earth's orbit -- so Cruithne passes over our head, as it

The only other known examples of such peculiar "horseshoe" orbits are
those of two of Jupiter's satellites, Janus and Epimetheus. But
neither has such a complex relationship to its mother planet as does
Cruithne does to the Earth, and Murray and colleagues have examined
the theoretical aspects of the asteroid's motion to develop a better
understanding of how it arises.

What they found was that Cruithne's strange dance represents just one
manifestation of a whole class of "co-orbital motions" -- that is, of
asteroids whose orbits are tied to those of a planet. These motions
become possible if the asteroids pass by a planet on orbits that are
very elongated (rather than circular) and tilted with respect to the
plane of the Solar System.

Under these conditions, the planet can capture the asteroid, forcing
it into co-orbital motion for periods of several thousand years. But
because the motion of many-body gravitationally bound systems like
the Solar System is intrinsically chaotic, these periods of capture
don't last forever -- the asteroid might escape to drift at random,
before perhaps then being recaptured in a different kind of orbit.

The researchers identified at least one other known near-Earth
asteroid that might share Cruithne's fate, becoming temporarily
enslaved to the Earth. They say that both this asteroid, called
Khufu, and Cruithne itself could in the future adopt orbits that do
actually circle the Earth, like the Moon -- but going "backwards", in
the other direction. Their calculations predicted that, in the past,
Khufu could already have behaved in this way for 35,000 years. It may
be that our planet even now has such "retrograde" moons, too small to
be easily spotted.

See the York University and Tuorla Observatory site to learn more about the asteroid Cruihne.

[1] Namouni. F, Christou A.A., & Murray C. D. Coorbital Dynamics at Large
Eccentricity and Inclination. Physical Review Letters 83, 2506; (1999)

Macmillan Magazines Ltd 1999 - NATURE NEWS SERVICE


From Larry Klaes <>

The Moon at its Core
Written by Linda M.V. Martel
Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

Ever since Apollo astronauts picked up rock samples and started to
collect geophysical data from the Moon, evidence has been growing for a
small lunar core. The most recent news comes from the Lunar Prospector
magnetometer team of Lon Hood (University of Arizona), David Mitchell
and Robert Lin (University of California, Berkeley), Mario Acuna (NASA
Goddard Space Flight Center), and Alan Binder (Lunar Research
Institute). Using the spacecraft's on-board instruments, they measured
Earth's magnetic field paying particular attention to the slight
alterations caused by the Moon. The data were collected in April 1998
while the Moon swung through the north tail lobe of Earth's
magnetosphere. The spacecraft magnetometer detected changes in Earth's
magnetic field thus giving the researchers the information they needed
to estimate the size of the Moon's core. That size came out to be very
small. Hood and his collaborators report a lunar core radius of only
340 km 90 km. For an iron-rich composition, a core of this size
represents merely 1 to 3% of the Moon's total mass. In contrast,
Earth's core is about 33% of our planet's total mass. This new evidence
for a small lunar core strengthens the popular giant impact hypothesis
which says that the Moon formed from hot, rocky debris after a
Mars-sized object smashed into the early Earth. Down to its very core,
the Moon has a unique history in our Solar System.


Hood, L. L., D. L. Mitchell, R. P. Lin, M. H. Acuna, A. B. Binder, 1999, Initial
Measurements of the Lunar Induced Magnetic Dipole Moment Using Lunar Prospector
Magnetometer Data, Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 26, no. 15, p. 2327-2330.

Magnetometer Data from an Orbiting Spacecraft

The magnetometer onboard Lunar Prospector was designed to measure the
magnetic field surrounding the spacecraft as it orbited the Moon. In
order to eliminate the possibility that the instrument would detect
magnetic fields generated by the spacecraft's own electronics, the
magnetometer was mounted on a boom 2.6 meters away from the drum-shaped
craft. The magnetometer was used by researchers to figure out the
magnetic field generated deep inside the Moon itself. In April of 1998,
the Moon spent 2 days moving through the near-vacuum environment of the
relatively strong and steady magnetic field of the north tail lobe of
Earth's magnetosphere (see schematic diagram below). Lunar Prospector
was positioned perfectly to detect disturbances in Earth's magnetic
field caused by the presence of the Moon, and estimate the magnetic
field induced in the Moon.

This sketch shows Earth's magnetosphere, the region (in green)
dominated by Earth's magnetic field. Lines of force are drawn as though
produced by a giant bar magnet inside the center of the planet. Arrows
on the lines point in the direction of the magnetic force. The area
shaded blue is the magnetosheath, the area between the magnetosphere
and the bow shock. The long, stretched-out tail of the magnetosphere
extends downstream in the solar wind and away from the Sun, which is
off the left side of the diagram. The Moon's orbit intersects Earth's
magnetic tail and is shown here in the north tail lobe.

While the Moon and orbiting spacecraft were passing through the north
tail lobe, Hood and his colleagues used 21 orbits of Lunar Prospector
magnetometer data to estimate the magnetic field induced in the Moon.
Their calculations yield an amplitude of -2.4 1.6 x 1022 Gauss-cm3
per Gauss of applied field. Such a negative value, in general, is
attributed to electrical currents flowing through the Moon's interior
that create magnetic fields oriented opposite to the Earth's magnetic
field. If this negative value is a result of a highly electrically
conducting, iron-rich, lunar core, then it corresponds to a lunar core
radius of 340 90 km - representing only 1 to 3% of the total mass of
the Moon.

Why a Small Lunar Core is Interesting

The size and electrical conductivity of the lunar core is directly
related to the formation of the Moon, its magnetic history, and
ultimately, its relationship to Earth. These three issues are briefly
considered below.


Earth rocks and Moon rocks have similar compositions so it's natural to
conclude that they share a common origin. But, if Earth and Moon had
simply formed together from the same material, then we'd expect their
cores to be proportionately similar. They're not. The lunar core is, by
latest accounts, 1 to 3% of the total mass, but Earth's core is 33% of
the total mass. The Moon's core is, in fact, proportionately smaller
than the cores of any of the inner planets in the Solar System. There
are many more arguments pointing to another origin for the Moon, as
explained so eloquently by the giant impact hypothesis. For a complete
discussion see PSRD article: Origin of the Earth and Moon. Ultimately,
a small lunar core strengthens the giant impact hypothesis and suggests
that the Moon's origin is unique.

M A G N E T I C     H I S T O R Y

The Moon, as any conductor, has electrical currents induced in its
interior when it is exposed to an external magnetic field change. These
currents result in a lunar induced magnetic field. This does not
require the Moon to be capable of generating its own magnetic field. In
fact, the Moon today does not have an internally-produced magnetic
field the way the Earth does. But lunar rock samples show a remnant
magnetism which suggests that three to four billion years ago, the
lunar core was producing its own magnetic field. The question lingers:
what shut off the Moon's magnetic field? The best guess is that the
core, like the rest of the Moon, cooled enough to cause the core to
solidfy, at least partway. The magnetic field would have shut down when
the flow of molten metal in the core ceased.

R E L A T I O N S H I P  T O   E A R T H

The diagram below depicts what we know about the interiors of the Moon
and Earth. The drastic differences in total size and in the total 
amount of metallic core in each is a manifestation of the origin of the
Earth-Moon system. When the giant impact happened, Earth's iron core
had already formed. The impactor itself also had an iron core which
melted on impact and was added to Earth's core. Some of the debris from
the rocky mantles of both Earth and the impactor was ejected into orbit,
forming the much smaller Moon. Because so little metallic iron was
blown out to orbit, the Moon ended up with a tiny core.

A related origin and partnership in space affect both the Moon and
Earth. The more we understand the Moon, inside out, the more we 
understand our own planet. We also look to the Moon as a new place for
people to live and work, as well as a place to mine natural resources
to support future human space activities farther away.

Sizing the Lunar Core: In Search of Conclusive Evidence

The deployment of new seismometers on the Moon is anticipated early in
the next decade. The Japanese mission, LUNAR-A, is currently scheduled
for launch in 2003. It will carry a mapping camera and two surface
penetrators equipped with seismometers. Each 13-kilogram, missle-shaped
penetrator has been designed to withstand an impact force of 10,000 G
(10,000 times the force of gravity at Earth's surface) and is expected
to pierce one to three meters into the surface. According to the
mission profile, one penetrator will hit the equatorial near side (in
the vicinity of the Apollo 12 and 14 landing sites) and the other one
is targeted at the equatorial far side. Key questions about the Moon,
including its internal structure, origin, and relation to Earth, are
being addressed now and will usher us into the 21st century.

Hood, L. L., D. L. Mitchell, R. P. Lin, M. H. Acuna, A. B. Binder,
1999, Initial Measurements of the Lunar Induced Magnetic Dipole Moment
Using Lunar Prospector Magnetometer Data, Geophysical Research Letters,
vol. 26, no. 15, p. 2327-2330.

Lunar Prospector homepage from the NASA Ames Research Center.

Lunar-A Mission description of the Japanese mission planned for launch
in 2003.

Taylor, G. J. "Origin of the Earth and Moon." Dec 1998.

The Apollo Manned Space Program, from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

The Exploration of Earth's Magnetosphere from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Origin of the Moon website at the Planetary Science Research Institute.

Plasma, Plasma, Everywhere story on the plasmasphere surrounding Earth from NASA
Space Science News.

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