CCNet 119/2002 - 11 October 2002

** Due to a computer problem by JMU's listserver since last weekend,
a number of CCNet issues may have arrived late or not at all. Those
issues have now been posted on the CCNet archive at **


(2) J002E3: AN UPDATE
    Ron Baalke <>

    Sky & Telescope, 8 October 2002

    Geological Society

    The Plain Dealer, 10 October 2002

    Andrew Yee <>

    Hermann Burchard <>

    Drake A. Mitchell <PlanetaryDefence@Netscape.Net>

    Tech Central Station, 10 October 2002


>From, 9 October 2002

By Robert Roy Britt

In what is largely a reversal of an August announcement, astronomers today
said Pluto is undergoing global warming in its thin atmosphere even as it
moves farther from the Sun on its long, odd-shaped orbit.

Pluto's atmospheric pressure has tripled over the past 14 years, indicating
a stark temperature rise, the researchers said. The change is likely a
seasonal event, much as seasons on Earth change as the hemispheres alter
their inclination to the Sun during the planet's annual orbit. 
Jay Pasachoff and colleagues at Williams College made one set of
observations on Aug. 20 when Pluto occulted a star. This image, taken with a
University of Hawaii telescope, shows Pluto (the brightest object) 25
minutes before occulting the star, which sits to the lower right.

They suspect the average surface temperature increased about 3.5 degrees
Fahrenheit, or slightly less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Pluto remains a mysterious world whose secrets are no so easily explained,
however. The warming could be fueled by some sort of eruptive activity on
the small planet, one astronomer speculated.

The increasing temperatures are more likely explained by two simple facts:
Pluto's highly elliptical orbit significantly changes the planet's distance
from the Sun during its long "year," which lasts 248 Earth years; and unlike
most of the planets, Pluto's axis is nearly in line with the orbital plane,
tipped 122 degrees. Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees.

Though Pluto was closest to the Sun in 1989, a warming trend 13 years later
does not surprise David Tholen, a University of Hawaii astronomer involved
in the discovery.

"It takes time for materials to warm up and cool off, which is why the
hottest part of the day on Earth is usually around 2 or 3 p.m. rather than
local noon," Tholen said. "This warming trend on Pluto could easily last for
another 13 years."

Stellar observations

The conclusion is based on data gathered during a chance passage of Pluto in
front of a distant star as seen from Earth. Such events, called
occultations, are rare, but two of them occurred this summer.

In the occultations, which are like eclipses, astronomers examined starlight
as it passed through Pluto's tenuous atmosphere just before the planet
blotted out the light.

The first occultation, in July, yielded limited data because of terrestrial
cloud cover above key telescopes. Marc Buie, an astronomer at Lowell
Observatory, scrambled to observe the event from northern Chile using
portable 14-inch (0.35-meter) telescope. Afterward, Buie said he was baffled
by what seemed to be global cooling of Pluto's atmosphere punctuated by some
surface warming.

Then on Aug. 20, Pluto passed in front of a different star. The latter event
provided much better data captured by eight large telescopes and seems to
clarify and mostly reverse the earlier findings.

The results were compared to studies from 1988, the last time Pluto was
observed eclipsing a star.

James Elliot of MIT led a team of astronomers who coordinated their
observations and presented the findings today at the annual meeting of the
American Astronomical Society's (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences in
Birmingham, Ala.

Elliot said the Aug. 20 occultation was the first that allowed such a deep
probing of the composition, pressure and the always-frigid temperature of
Pluto's atmosphere, which ranges from -391 to -274 degrees Fahrenheit (-235
to -170 degrees Celsius).

Volcanoes on Pluto?

Elliot hinted at the possibility of another factor fueling Pluto's warming

He compared Pluto to Triton, a moon of Neptune. Both have atmospheres made
mostly of nitrogen. In 1997, Triton occulted a star and astronomers found
that its atmosphere had warmed since the last observations were made in 1989
during the Voyager mission. Back then, Voyager found dark material rising
above Triton, indicating possible eruptive activity.

"There could be more massive activity on Pluto, since the changes observed
in Pluto's atmosphere are much more severe," Elliot said. "The change
observed on Triton was subtle. Pluto's changes are not subtle."

There is no firm evidence that Pluto is volcanically active, but neither is
there evidence to rule out that possibility. Even the Hubble Space Telescope
can barely make out Pluto's surface.

Elliot added that the process affecting Pluto's temperature is complex. "We
just don't know what is causing these effects," he said.

Let's go there

Elliot and others believe this poor understanding of our solar system's
tiniest planet is grounds for sending a robot to investigate. Pluto is the
only planet not visited by a spacecraft.

NASA has shelved a mission that would explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt of
frozen objects in which it resides.

Congress, however, appears to view the mission as worthy of some funds. A
House budget panel this week followed the lead of the Senate in approving
$105 million for the mission. If final approval comes, NASA would be
compelled to undertake the project.

Interestingly, while Pluto's atmosphere has been growing warmer in recent
years, astronomers have argued that a Pluto mission must launch by 2006,
lest it miss the opportunity to study Pluto's atmosphere before it
completely freezes out for the winter.

Tentative mission plans call for a robotic probe that would not reach Pluto
for several years, making a flyby sometime prior to 2020 prior to
investigating other objects deeper in the solar system.

Meanwhile, astronomers are looking forward to a space telescope called
SOFIA, slated to begin operations in 2004. SOFIA will carry an instrument
designed specifically to observe occultations and is expected to be employed
when Pluto passes in front of other stars in coming years.

The Pluto observations this summer were funded by NASA, the Research
Corporation and the National Science Foundation. Observations were made
using the telescopes at the Mauna Kea Observatory, Haleakala, Lick
Observatory, Lowell Observatory and the Palomar Observatory.

Copyright 2002,

(2) J002E3: AN UPDATE

>From Ron Baalke <>

J002E3: An Update
Steve Chesley and Paul Chodas
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office
October 9, 2002

We have new results since our September 19 report on the distant Earth
satellite J002E3. Evidence continues to accumulate that J002E3 is the lost
S-IVB third stage from the Saturn V rocket used to launch the Apollo 12
lunar landing mission in November 1969.

J002E3 passed into the daytime morning sky around Sept. 24, and a week later
amateur astronomers Richard Fredrick and Vance Morgan at Powell Observatory
in Kansas recovered the object after it had crossed into the evening sky.
However, their measurements did not match the predicted position unless we
added a gentle push from solar radiation pressure to our acceleration model.
As more observations were reported over the next few days, it became clear,
not only that radiation pressure was detectable in the motion of the body,
confirming that J002E3 is a man-made object, but also that the size of this
acceleration matches very well with what we would expect for an S-IVB.

With the quality of our orbital solution improving, we decided to look to
see if this relatively bright object had been detected by other telescopes
before its discovery in the first week of September. Indeed, using the SkyMorph online
search system, we found a single trail from the fast-moving object on an image taken by the
NEAT-Palomar NEO survey on June 16, 2002. After we notified him of the
detection, Reiner Stoss of DANEOPS [] immediately
measured the precise position for us.

The new precovery data extended the arc of observations from 35 days to 114
days, dramatically improving our ability to determine the past and future
paths of this object and to measure the acceleration of solar radiation
pressure. At our last report we had only 15 days of observations and there
was greater uncertainty about what the future held for J002E3. We were not
sure how long it would remain in the Earth's vicinity, although it appeared
likely to escape next June. We could not even rule out the possibility of a
collision with the Earth or Moon over the the next year. It is now certain
that J002E3 will depart the Earth-Moon system in June 2003 and that there is
no possibility of an impact for several decades. In the years ahead J002E3
may be recaptured, but the first opportunity for this will not be until the

Looking into the past, we are still unable to connect the motion of J002E3
with the last know position of the Apollo 12 S-IVB. One reason is that the
solar radiation pressure is not constant in time, but rather changes with
its position around the sun; to precisely account for this effect we need to
know the pole of rotation. Furthermore, if J002E3 is the Apollo 12 S-IVB
then that stage spent more than a year in a highly chaotic orbit around the
Earth. So far these two factors have combined to prevent us from predicting
the position of J002E3 with sufficient precision to definitively link these
two objects. Nonetheless, we are hopeful that with continued observations,
and with the possibility of additional precovery observations, this link can
be conclusively established before J002E3 slips back into solar orbit next


>From Sky & Telescope, 8 October 2002

By J. Kelly Beatty

October 8, 2002 | While politicians have only recently begun to take serious
interest in possible impacts by near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), astronomers
have been trying to gauge the magnitude of the impact threat for decades.
Two new analyses, presented yesterday at the American Astronomical Society's
Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, hint that our planet may not be in
quite as much danger as previously thought.

A colliding asteroid at least 1 kilometer across would wreak havoc on a
global scale, so these are the objects that astronomers want to find and
catalog most urgently. More than 600 NEAs of this size have been found, but
it's unclear how many remain unseen. Based on the discovery rate to date,
dynamicists estimate that the total population probably ranges from 800 to
more than 1,200.

But each new find divulges only its brightness - astronomers must then guess
its diameter and mass, and to do so they typically assume an object has an
albedo, or surface reflectivity, of 11 percent. But after carefully studying
the spectral properties of many NEAs, J. Scott Stuart and Richard P. Binzel
(MIT) conclude that the average Earth-crosser has an albedo several percent
higher, which means that objects of a given brightness are likely smaller
than thought. So the good news, Stuart concludes, is that the total count of
1-km NEAs may be close to the low end of estimates, nearer to 800.

The bad news, however, is that one subgroup (known as D-type asteroids)
could be much darker - and thus more numerous - than thought, especially if
they are the extinct comet nuclei masquerading as asteroids. For example,
the nucleus of Comet Borrelly has ultrablack patches that reflect just 1
percent of sunlight. If all D asteroids are like Borrelly's nucleus, Stuart
explains, then the census of 1-km NEAs would climb by several hundred.

It doesn't take a big asteroid to cause a lot of damage, however. Impact
specialists are quick to note that the Tunguska event of 1908, which leveled
some 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian wilderness, was caused by an
interplanetary intruder no more than about 60 meters across. Telescopic
surveys surveys occasionally sweep up NEAs this small, but not very often.
So estimates of their total population (and thus how often they strike
Earth) are very uncertain - the best estimates suggest a collision every
every 100 to 300 years.

Alan W. Harris (Space Science Institute) thinks the threat from
Tunguska-size impactors isn't as great as thought. He has simulated the
population of small NEAs using discovery statistics from the LINEAR
telescopes in New Mexico. "It's like guessing how many black jelly beans are
in a big jar," Harris explains, by throwing in a handful of red ones (the
discovered objects), mixing them all up, then seeing how many red ones are
in each subsequent handful. LINEAR has spotted a few dozen Tunguska-class
NEAs, and from that Harris concludes that there must be about a half million
of them in all. That means we can expect one to hit Earth every 1,000 or
2,000 years. "That makes the Tunguska event quite rare, compared to its
statistical likelihood," Harris notes.

Copyright 2002 Sky Publishing Corp.

February 13-14, 2003
Geological Society
Burlington House, London

sponsored by the British Geophysical Association and the Royal Astronomical

We would like to bring your attention to a two day planetary science meeting
to be held on February 13-14, 2003 at the Geological Society in London.

The theme of the meeting is "Planetary Geophysics" and focuses on the use of
geophysical techniques to studying planetary surfaces, interiors and the
origins of planetary diversity. Our lead speakers include Prof David
Stevenson (California Institute of Technology) and Prof Jay Melosh
(University of Arizona). The meeting is being held under the auspices of the
British Geophysical Association and the Royal Astronomical Society, and one
aim of the meeting is to strengthen the links between the UK geophysical and
planetary communities.

We are soliciting both oral (15 minute) and poster presentations. The talks
must be primarily geophysical (from the nature of the sponsoring
organisation), but the posters can be on any aspect of planetary surfaces or
interiors. Titles and abstracts should be emailed to both of the conveners.

* * * The deadline for abstract submission is 23rd December 2002 * * *

Full details can be found at the web site:

or by mailing the organizers:
Richard Holme (
Francis Nimmo (


>From The Plain Dealer, 10 October 2002

Winn L. Rosch
Special to The Plain Dealer

Advice to all those looking for a cure for the stumbling stock market and
stagnating economy - look up. Higher than that. Say about 238,000 miles.

The moon may be the answer.
Few people realize that the last economic surge as well as the other great
boom of the modern age - that of the 1960s - have roots in the moon race.
Many of the most exciting and profitable modern technologies had their
origins in the space program.

The list is impressive, everything from home smoke detectors and cordless
tools to heart pumps and protective clothing (like the moon suits worn at
your favorite hazardous waste site) have space-program beginnings. High on
the list are microelectronics and computers, the powerhouse of the most
recent boom years.

Total it all up, and you'll see the original moon program paid off big as an
investment. It cost billions but yielded trillions.

Now with the benefits of the original program fading, it's time to consider
doing it again.

"A lot of scientists would like to go back to the moon," said David
Williams, a planetary scientist at the National Space Science Data Center in
Greenbelt, Va. "We learned more about the moon from just those few years of
Apollo missions than we did in entire human history before that."

Sky-high payoff

But the real incentive is economic rather than educational. The challenge of
returning to the moon will inspire technologic advances like those of the
original effort of the '60s. Williams noted several areas of technology that
he believed would benefit from a new lunar effort.

Energy topped his list.

"I would want to have the most efficient and lightweight solar cells you can
possibly make," he said. "You still want solar cells for spacecraft, but you
would need them on a large scale to set up on the moon. And you would want
them to last for a long time and endure an environment that's both extremely
hot and cold."

Work developing the needed cells could lead to making terrestrial solar
cells more affordable - perhaps into a viable alternative to our dwindling
nonrenewable energy sources. They could help stall the greenhouse effect.

But solar cells can't supply all the energy needs for a lunar colony. Half
the time a moon base would be in the dark as the moon slowly rotates once
each month.

"Battery technology is one area where advances . . . would definitely be
required," said Williams. "Once it is night, moon colonists would have to
rely on stored energy. They would need batteries that would last for two
weeks under the extreme conditions of the moon's surface."

Any advances in battery technology might translate into better batteries for
other applications, for example in powering electric vehicles, which also
need extremely rugged, long-lasting power.

"You would also need to do more research in the stuff they did for Biosphere
2 into developing a self-sustaining environment," said Williams. "You would
want to grow some of your own food and produce some of your own oxygen. You
would have to develop technologies for large greenhouses with mixtures of
plants and gases."

With no chemical industry on the moon and delivery costs for fertilizers
that would be, in a word, astronomical, the needs of lunar colonization
could lead to advances in chemical-free farming and gardening.

Unpredictable profits

"The real advances would probably be things that you couldn't predict," said
Williams. "Living on the moon touches every single aspect of life - like
waste disposal, breathing and gravity. We know a little about what happens
under zero gravity, and it's not good. But no one has any kind of an idea of
what prolonged one-sixth or one-third normal gravity would do. Is it closer
to zero gravity or more like normal gravity? If you have any gravity at all,
it pulls blood to the legs. What happens in the in-between?"

Unfortunately, that knowledge and the rest of a renewed moon program would
be expensive. After all, economics are why we've not gone back.

Even thirty years ago when the Apollo missions were in full swing, the price
proved too high. Cost issues led to the cancellation of the last three
Apollo flights.

The three 365-foot-tall Saturn V boosters planned for those flights remain
as monuments to space technology, museum pieces in Alabama, Florida and

"The thing that would really make a permanent kind of space program is to
find out whether there is profit in space. For example, going to Mars or the
asteroids to set up a base for mining," said Williams. "If someone found it
was profitable, the whole equation changes."

If history is any guide, however, the real profits will be found here on
Earth. The technological fallout from a renewed lunar program might just
bring another 40 years of economic boom.

Rosch is a Shaker Heights free-lance writer.

Copyright 2002, The Plain Dealer


>From Andrew Yee <>

Office of External Communications
University of Houston

Amanda Siegfried
713/743-8192 (office), 713/605-1757 (pager)



Moon-Based Systems Could Supply Solar Power to Earth

HOUSTON -- The key to a prosperous world is clean, safe, low-cost electrical
energy, according to University of Houston physicist David Criswell. And his
idea for how to get it is literally out of this world. For more than 20
years, Criswell has been formulating the plans and the justification for
building bases on the moon to collect solar energy and beam it through space
for use by electricity-hungry Earthlings.

Criswell will talk about lunar solar power systems at the World Space
Congress 2002 in Houston Oct. 10-19.

"Prosperity for everyone on Earth requires a sustainable source of
electricity," Criswell says. The World Energy Council, a global multi-energy
organization that promotes the sustainable supply and use of energy for the
greatest benefit of all, agrees. The WEC's primary message is that
affordable modern energy services for everyone -- including the two billion
people who have no access to commercial energy -- are a key to sustainable
development and peace throughout the world. See for

Criswell estimates that by the year 2050, a prosperous population of 10
billion would require about 20 terawatts of power, or about three to five
times the amount of commercial power currently produced.

The moon receives more than 13,000 terawatts of solar power, and harnessing
just one percent could satisfy Earth's power needs, he says. The challenge
is to build a commercial system that can extract a tiny portion of the
immense solar power available and deliver the energy to consumers on earth
at a reasonable price.

"A priority for me is getting people to realize that the lunar power system
may be the only option for sustainable global prosperity," Criswell says. He
contributed a chapter to a new book, Innovative Solutions for CO2
Stabilization, published in July, which addresses major aspects of
sustainability and global commercial power. See

Criswell's lunar-based system to supply solar power to Earth is based on
building large banks of solar cells on the moon to collect sunlight and send
it back to receivers on Earth via a microwave beam. Solar cells are
electronic devices that gather sunlight and convert it into usable
electricity. The microwave energy collected on Earth is then converted to
electricity that can be fed into the local electric grid.

Such a system could easily supply the 20 terawatts or more of electricity
required by 10 billion people, Criswell says. The system is environmentally
friendly, safe to humans, and reliable since it is not affected by clouds or
rain, either on the Earth or the moon, which essentially has no weather.

The moon continuously receives sunlight, except once a year for about three
hours during a full lunar eclipse, when stored energy could be used to
maintain power on Earth, Criswell adds.

The system could be built on the moon from lunar materials and operated on
the moon and Earth using existing technologies, he says, which would greatly
reducing the cost of the operation. He estimates that a lunar solar power
system could begin delivering commercial power about
10 years after program start-up.

Technology under development at UH increases the options for successfully
building a lunar power base. UH researchers at the Texas Center for
Superconductivity and Advanced Materials (TcSAM) are developing
nanotechnology techniques that could transform the lunar soil into solar

"The raw materials needed to make solar cells are present in the moon's
regolith," says Alex Freundlich, research professor of physics, who has
examined lunar material to determine whether it contains the necessary
ingredients for making solar cells. He, research scientist Charles
Horton, Alex Ignatiev, director of TcSAM, and a team of NASA-JSC and
industry scientists also have used "simulated" moon soil to determine how to
go about manufacturing the solar cell devices on the moon.

"Our plan is to use an autonomous lunar rover to move across the moon's
surface, to melt the regolith into a very thin film of glass and then to
deposit thin film solar cells on that lunar glass substrate. An array of
such lunar solar cells could then be used as a giant solar energy converter
generating electricity," Freundlich says.

Criswell, who has a Ph.D. in physics from Rice University, began thinking
about lunar-based power systems more than 20 years ago when he was an
administrator at the Lunar Science Institute, now the Lunar and Planetary
Institute. For about seven years at the institute, Criswell was
responsible for reviewing nearly 3,400 NASA proposals for lunar science

"I really got to know the peer-review process and I learned about all
aspects of lunar science," he says.

For the past 10 years, Criswell has been director of UH's Institute for
Space Systems Operations, which receives funding from the state for
space-related research projects conducted by faculty and students at UH and
UH-Clear Lake in conjunction with NASA-Johnson Space Center. See

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photo of UH researchers with a
solar cell device is available at



>From Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

states [CCNet Oct 8, 2002]:  ".. Siberian Traps (continental).." Actually,
there seems to be sufficient data to show that there was a Sibirian ocean,
but no continent prior to 250 Ma. The continent of Sibiria was sutured to
Asia only in late Jurassic times. The traps are formed from magma erupted in
an oceanic environment, with a spangling of micro-continents [cf work on
Uralian eclogites by fellow Oklahoman Mary Leech, Stanford Univ and UC Santa
Barbara]. See my CCNet note of 17 September 2002 for details and

More details are in my CCNet notes 27 Apr, & 2 May 2001, 11 June 2002, etc

The eruptions of a plume or plumes from impact(s) in the WSB (and S Kara
Sea) most likely created the continent. in the first place.

I do realize this is hard to reconcile with geologists' traditional
uniformitarian views.

Cheers and best regards,


>From Drake A. Mitchell <PlanetaryDefence@Netscape.Net>

Dear Benny,

If Saddam Hussein were an asteroid, would the United Nations be singing
diplomatic overtures? I rather doubt it. For that matter, given the world's
"Iraq-niphobia" [1], he and Iraq's oppressed people should be quite thankful
that he is >not< an NEO. We can perhaps hope to witness a timely exodus of
innocent civilians from Baghdad.

I must commend NASA Associate Adminstrator Dr. Edward J. Weiler not only for
his lead sponsorship of a groundbreaking workshop last month (kudo's to the
BBC's taped coverage, and all participants), but also for his public
appearance on C-SPAN (Tue 08Oct02 [2], webcast archived [3]) demonstrating
courageous leadership in spite of not being a specialist in our very new,
very complex, very underfunded field.

I must also commend the convergence of U.S. aerospace leadership exemplified
by the STA meeting later the same day (webcast replays expected on C-SPAN
and NASA TV) [4], not to mention the DPS meeting awardees and our latest
Nobel Prize winners - truly a World Space Week.

I think we all look forward to senior UK government executives upping the
ante in the near future.

Best Regards,


[1] Diane C. Swonk, Chief Economist, Bank One
[3] In the 3-hour Washington Journal, 30-min subsegment available:


>From Tech Central Station, 10 October 2002

By Yuval Levin
The new National Security Strategy document released by the White House last
month includes a terse one-sentence summary of the risks we confront: "The
gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and
technology." This is certainly true, but it is worth noting that at this
crossroads also lies the greatest danger facing our opponents.

The risk to us is mostly plain and simple. Modern technology is uniquely
suited to empowering madmen and fanatical cults of destruction. In earlier
ages, to pose a real threat to the security of a great nation usually
required large armies, smart strategy and good tactics, which in turn
required numbers, prudence and practical sense usually lacking in bands of
barking-mad zealots.

Today, doing certain sorts of real damage can require only technical
knowledge and daring-a combination quite common at the edges of sanity. From
its beginnings, the modern move in both science and politics has aimed to
empower the individual, and it has succeeded in the realm of war as in
others. Only in our age of technology could 19 men kill three thousand in an
instant. And only in this age could we plausibly fear the loss of many
thousands more in a nuclear, chemical or biological attack by a relatively
small group of loosely organized madmen.

But the fact that Al-Qaeda can only threaten us with our own high technology
reveals not only our vulnerability, but also their weakness. Their own
stated purpose in threatening us, and in killing and maiming us, is after
all to undermine the very culture and civilization that has made that high
technology possible. If they can hurt us only with our weapons, then their
mission-the undoing of western modernity-seems fatally weak at its core.
That they can only confront us at "the crossroads of radicalism and
technology" spells more trouble for them than for us.

It is so troubling for them because our technology always carries with it
hints of the larger culture that produces it. In fact, this is why many
Western worriers about technology (among whom I now and then count myself)
are so concerned about it: because a lot of modern technology relies upon
and points toward a culture of its own, a culture of radical individualism,
technical utopianism, and total materialism. If this is far from our ideal,
it is immeasurably further from the ideal of Muslim radicals.

Those of us who want to defend the classical liberal ideal from being robbed
of its soul by certain uses of technology face a daunting but (we think)
achievable challenge. We want to keep capitalism rooted in its moral
grounds. We want to keep liberal democracy aware of the higher uses of
politics. We want to keep societies alert to what holds them together and
why, and individuals conscious of the importance of dignity, nobility and
virtue. We seek to defend modern society from its own excesses. In doing
this, we sometimes run the risk of focusing too much on the excesses, and of
sounding like prudes or Cassandras. But at bottom, we are always defending
modern, Western, liberal-democratic society, and seeking to make it better.

High technology is one important fruit of that modern society, and the very
ideals we seek to defend are those that can show us how to use technology
responsibly, and thereby enjoy some of its benefits while averting the
gravest of the dangers it might pose for us.

Al Qaeda Handbook
Radical Islamists, however, would use that very technology in their struggle
against the civilization that has made it possible. This means that radical
Islam has more destructive power than it otherwise could, but it also means
that in the realm of ideology-which is after all where they make their
claims to legitimacy-radical Islamists are in the grip of utter
contradiction. The creed for which they have pledged to kill and die leaves
no room for the methods by which they would do so. The Taliban-style
reversion to medieval life would make high technology impossible, and a
dependence on high-tech makes that reversion impossible. The
combination-"the crossroads of radicalism and technology"-is an impossible
home for radical Islam.

Of course, it is a far more comfortable home for some others among the
threats we confront. Saddam Hussein would face no fatal contradiction by
nuking us, and the combination of technology and his lunacy is much more
dangerous for us than for him. And, to be sure, the intellectual problem of
relying on Western technology to attack the West does not mean that the
radical Islamists won't attack us. What it does mean, however, is that the
field of battle is better suited to our strengths than theirs.

Most of the truly mortal long-term dangers posed to our society by
technology are the risks of success: like the risk of dehumanization at the
hands of mishandled biotech. We risk losing sight of the limits to our
power. Some modern technologies-and not only weapons technologies-could pose
real threats to our way of life, and we should not drown out worries about
these in a torrent of careless techie triumphalism. Technology will not
solve our society's problems, and we can plausibly imagine a number of ways
in which it could make many of them substantially worse, and give rise to
brand new ones. Nonetheless, modern technology is a product of the cluster
of notions that defines our way of life-individualism, rationalism, science
and liberty. Taken too far, all of these are destructive. But properly
handled, they are the source of much of our greatness.

For Muslim fundamentalists, they can only be destructive.

For us, the great challenge of the age of technology is to keep sight of
prudence, remember our limits, and be willing to defend ourselves when our
way of life is at risk, from within or without. In the war against terror,
victory would involve being true to our ideals. And the war itself has
helped us remember just what these are.

For our enemies, the challenge is to master the techniques and technologies
of Western modernity while resisting and rejecting its liberating
principles. When they live true to their retrocessive ideals, they are
powerless. When they wield power, they are violating the principles for
which they claim to be acting. In their war against us, any victory would
involve a complete corruption of their so-called cause.

If this is the shape of the battle, our prospects are bright.

Yuval Levin is a member of the staff of the President's Council on Bioethics
and the author of Tyranny of Reason: The Origins and Consequences of the
Social Scientific Outlook. The views expressed here are his own and do not
represent those of the President's Council on Bioethics or its members.

Copyright 2002, Tech Central Station

CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe, please
contact the moderator Benny J Peiser < >. Information
circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational use only. The
attached information may not be copied or reproduced for any other purposes
without prior permission of the copyright holders. The fully indexed archive
of the CCNet, from February 1997 on, can be found at DISCLAIMER: The opinions,
beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the articles and texts and in other
CCNet contributions do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and
viewpoints of the moderator of this network.

CCCMENU CCC for 2002