PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 2/2003 -  9 January 2003
------------------------------


"If David J. Tholen (University of Hawaii) is right, Pluto was
probably hit by a small Kuiper Belt object in the not-too-distant
past. One consequence of that collision, he argues, is seen in the
planet's motion - Pluto and its satellite Charon now waltz around each
other in slightly out-of-round orbits. And since tidal forces in the tight
planet-moon system should damp out any deviations from purly circular
orbits within 10 million years or so, the impact must have occurred
relatively recently. "It could have happened a century ago," Tholen says."
--Govert Schilling, Sky & Telescope, 8 January 2003


"We have one less thing to worry about. While the cosmic debris from
a nearby massive star explosion, called a supernova, could destroy the
Earth's protective ozone layer and cause mass extinction, such an
explosion would have to be much closer than previously thought, new
calculations show."
--Bill Steigerwald, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8
January 2003
 

"At the end of last December, the Solomon Islands were bombarded
with a devastating storm (winds well in excess of 200 miles per hour
and waves over 30 feet high for more than 12 hours). For days it was not
clear how many of the residents had survived. Finally, a New Zealand
cameraman visited Tikopia, on the following Saturday ... and there they all
were. They lost no one! ... because they had emergency plans and high
shelters (caves) and they knew what to do."
--Andy Smith, 8 January 2003 


(1) DID PLUTO TAKE A PUNCH? LARGE IMPACT ONLY 100 YEARS AGO?
    Sky & Telescope, 8 January 2003

(2) EARTH LIKELY SPARED FROM ONE FORM OF COSMIC DOOM
    Mark Hess <Mark.S.Hess@nasa.gov>

(3) K-T EVENT WAS UNIQUE, PETER WARD CLAIMS:
    NO OTHER IMPACT IN 3 BILLION YEARS CAUSED MASS EXTINCTIONS ON EARTH
    Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log, 7 January 2003

(4) FIRST NEPTUNE TROJAN DISCOVERED
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(5) MOON'S EARLY HISTORY MAY HAVE BEEN INTERRUPTED BY BIG BURP
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(6) A METEORITE? NO, IT'S JUST A BOWLING BALL
    Salt Lake Tribune, 8 January 2003

(7) THE BERLIN DECLARATION ON THE COSMIC IMPACT HAZARD
    Astronomy & Geophysics, volume 43, issue 6, p.8 (December 2002)

(8) EXTASOLAR METEORS HINT AT DISTANT PLANET FORMATION
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(9) MR PRESIDENT: LET'S GO TO MARS!
    Paul Davies <pcwd@ozemail.com.au>

(10) UK ASTROBIOLOGY 2003, March 27-28, 2003, Cambridge, UK
     Charles Cockell <csco@bas.ac.uk>

(11) 2002 PROGRESS, NEXT TUNGUSKA RISK & A VALUABLE LESSON FROM THE
SOLOMONDERS
     Andy Smith <astrosafe22000@yahoo.com>


=====
(1) DID PLUTO TAKE A PUNCH? LARGE IMPACT ONLY 100 YEARS AGO?

>From Sky & Telescope, 8 January 2003
http://skyandtelescope.com/news/current/article_839_1.asp

By Govert Schilling

January 8, 2003 | If David J. Tholen (University of Hawaii) is right, Pluto
was probably hit by a small Kuiper Belt object in the not-too-distant past.
One consequence of that collision, he argues, is seen in the planet's motion
- Pluto and its satellite Charon now waltz around each other in slightly
out-of-round orbits. And since tidal forces in the tight planet-moon system
should damp out any deviations from purly circular orbits within 10 million
years or so, the impact must have occurred relatively recently. "It could
have happened a century ago," Tholen says.

The first hints of Charon's slightly odd orbit came during the 1990s, when
Tholen and Marc W. Buie (Lowell Observatory) tracked the moon's motion using
the Hubble Space Telescope. They found an orbital eccentricity near 0.0075
instead of zero, the expected value. However, due to the great distance
involved even HST could not resolve bright and dark patches on Pluto's
surface. Consequently, Tholen explains, "We measured Charon's distance to
Pluto's center-of-light, not to its center-of-mass."

Luckily, a series of mutual eclipses of the two objects in the late 1980s
had enabled Buie to derive a crude albedo map for Pluto, so the effect could
be corrected for. But even then a small eccentricity of 0.003 remained -
Charon's orbit truly seems to be ever so slightly out of round. If verified,
the eccentricity implies an impactor that was many tens of kilometers
across, which most likely hit Pluto.

Between April 2001 and April 2002, Tholen used adaptive optics on the
8-meter Gillett (Gemini North) telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to repeat
the measurements. It's work in progress, he told astronomers this week at
the AAS meeting in Seattle, but so far his results are consistent with the
earlier findings.

Meanwhile, Buie has reanalyzed the old eclipse observations, and while the
resulting albedo map is of higher quality, he doubts that it has "enough
credibility to do the calculations right." To try to eliminate the remaining
uncertainty, Buie has observed Pluto and Charon repeatedly with Hubble's new
Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). More data is coming down this spring, and
he hopes to complete his analysis by year's end.

As for the cause of the eccentricity, Buie believes a mere close encounter
with a Kuiper Belt object would do the trick. "The probability of an impact
is very small," he notes. But his observing partner thinks a direct hit is
not so far-fetched, statistically speaking, and it might also explain some
of the striking brightness variations on Pluto's surface. "Impacts do
happen," Tholen stresses, noting Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's fateful encounter
with Jupiter in 1994. "All it takes for this model to work is one event."

Copyright 2003 Sky Publishing Corp.

============
(2) EARTH LIKELY SPARED FROM ONE FORM OF COSMIC DOOM

>From Mark Hess <Mark.S.Hess@nasa.gov>

Bill Steigerwald                                       January 8, 2003
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center                       
(Phone: 301/286-5017)
William.A.Steigerwald@nasa.gov

Release: 03-03

EARTH LIKELY SPARED FROM ONE FORM OF COSMIC DOOM

We have one less thing to worry about. While the cosmic debris from a nearby
massive star explosion, called a supernova, could destroy the Earth's
protective ozone layer and cause mass extinction, such an explosion would
have to be much closer than previously thought, new calculations show.

Scientists at NASA and Kansas University have determined that the supernova
would need to be within 26 light years from Earth to significantly damage
the ozone layer and allow cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation to saturate
the Earth's surface.

An encounter with a supernova that close only happens at a rate of about
once in 670 million years, according to Dr. Neil Gehrels of NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who presents these findings today at
the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

"Perhaps a nearby supernova has bombarded Earth once during the history of
multicellular life with its punishing gamma rays and cosmic rays," said
Gehrels. "The possibility for mass extinction is indeed real, yet the risk
seems much lower than we have thought."

The new calculations are based largely on advances in atmospheric modeling,
analysis of gamma rays produced by a supernova in 1987 called SN1987a, and a
better understanding of galactic supernova locations and rates. A supernova
is an explosion of a star at least twice as massive as our Sun.

Previous estimates from the 1970s stated that supernovae as far as 55 light
years from Earth could wipe out up to 90 percent of the atmosphere for
hundreds of years. The damage would be from gamma rays and cosmic rays, both
prodigiously emitted by supernovae. Gamma rays are the most energetic form
of light. Cosmic rays are atomic particles, the fastest-moving matter in the
Universe, produced when the expanding shell of gas from the exploded star
runs into surrounding dust and gas in the region. Gamma rays, moving at
light speed, would hit the Earth's atmosphere first, followed closely by the
cosmic rays moving at close to light speed.

Gamma-ray light particles (called photons) and the cosmic-ray particles can
wreak havoc in the upper atmosphere, according to Dr. Charles Jackman of
NASA Goddard, who provided the atmospheric analysis needed for the new
calculation.

The particles collide with nitrogen gas (N2) and break the molecule into
highly-reactive nitrogen atoms (N). The nitrogen atoms then react fairly
quickly with oxygen gas (O2) to form nitric oxide (NO) and, subsequently,
other nitrogen oxides (NOx). The nitrogen oxide molecules can then destroy
ozone (O3) through a catalytic process. This means that a single NOx
molecule can destroy an ozone molecule and remain intact to destroy hundreds
of more ozone molecules.

The new calculations -- based on the NASA Goddard two-dimensional
photochemical transport model -- show that a supernova within 26 light years
from Earth could wipe out 47 percent of the ozone layer, allowing
approximately twice the amount of cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation to
reach the Earth's surface. Excessive UV radiation is harmful to both plants
and animals, thus a doubling of UV levels would be a significant problem to
life on Earth.

The gamma-ray irradiation would last 300 to 500 days. The ozone layer would
then repair itself, but only to endure cosmic-ray bombardment shortly after,
lasting at least 10 years. (Cosmic rays are electrically charged particles
whose paths are influenced by magnetic fields, and the extent of such fields
in the interstellar medium is not well understood.)

The calculations simultaneously point to the resilience of the ozone layer
as well as its fragility in a violent Universe, said Dr. Claude Laird of the
University of Kansas, who developed the gamma-ray and cosmic ray input code
and performed the atmospheric model simulations. Although the ozone layer
should recover relatively rapidly once the particle influx tapers off --
within about one to two years, the Goddard models show -- even this short
period of time is sufficient to cause significant and lasting damage to the
biosphere.

"The atmosphere usually protects us from gamma rays, cosmic rays, and
ultraviolet radiation, but there's only so much hammering it can take before
Earth's biological defenses break down," he said.

Dr. John Cannizzo of NASA Goddard and University of Maryland, Baltimore
Country, initiated and coordinated the new calculations. "I've long been
fascinated by the possibility of extinction from something as remote as a
star explosion," he said. "With this updated calculation, we essentially
worked backwards to determine what level of ozone damage would be needed to
double the level of ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth's surface and
then determined how close a supernova would need to be to cause that kind of
damage."

These results will appear in the Astrophysical Journal 2003, March 10, vol.
585. Co-authors include Barbara Mattson of NASA Goddard (via L3 Com
Analytics Corporation) and Wan Chen of Sprint IP Design in Reston, Virginia.


For images and more information, refer to:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2003/0108supernova.html

===========
(3) K-T EVENT WAS UNIQUE, PETER WARD CLAIMS:
    NO OTHER IMPACT IN 3 BILLION YEARS CAUSED MASS EXTINCTIONS ON EARTH

>From Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log, 7 January 2003
http://www.msnbc.com/news/750150.asp?0si=-

The ends of the world: It's pretty well accepted that a catastrophic
asteroid impact killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, during the
Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction. But what about Earth's other mass
extinctions, including the Permian-Triassic event, a global catastrophe that
makes the dinosaurs' demise look like a traffic accident? Do the impacts of
asteroids and comets regularly cause mass extinctions, or is there a wider
smorgasbord of killer causes?

"We perhaps know less than we thought we did two decades ago," says Peter
Ward, co-author of the book "The Life and Death of Planet Earth."

Ward, a paleontologist at the University of Washington, discussed the grim
long-term outlook for animals during the winter meeting of the American
Astronomical Society, which I'm attending this week in Seattle. (Don't worry
about my travel budget - it's just a 15-minute drive from MSNBC.com world
headquarters in Redmond, Wash.)

Among astronomers, Ward has developed a reputation for pessimism about the
prospects of finding intelligent life, on the strength of "Rare Earth," an
earlier book he co-wrote with UW astronomer Donald Brownlee. He and Brownlee
continue the theme in the new book, tracing the scientific theories about
how life began on Earth and how it might end.

The demise of species is never a happy thought - and Ward played off the
mortal theme, showing up at today's seminar on astrobiology in funereal
black. But for those worried about dying in an "Armageddon"-style asteroid
blast, Ward has a ray of hope.

"It looks as if the Cretaceous-Tertiary is a unique event," Ward said.

Researchers have looked for connections between Earth's other great
extinctions and deep impacts, but Ward said the evidence is scant. One study
found evidence in ancient buckyballs hinting that a space impact was the
culprit in the Permian-Triassic extinction, but Ward said "that particular
finding has not been replicated by anybody."

Ward sees more evidence to support a linkage, at least in a couple cases,
with episodes of flood volcanism millions of years ago. The eruptions
released huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and some
believe that sparked a species-killing round of climate change.

Ironically, a long-term diminution of carbon dioxide just might spell the
end of the animal kingdom perhaps 500 million years from now, leaving
microscopic organisms to inherit the earth.

Since multicellular life is thought to have arisen about 500 million years
ago in the Cambrian explosion, that would mean we are at the very midpoint
of the age of animals, "between the first and second great ages of
microbes," Ward said.

Copyright 2003, MSNBC

=================
(4) FIRST NEPTUNE TROJAN DISCOVERED

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Tucson, Arizona

For More Information:

Douglas Isbell
Public Information Officer
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Phone: 520/318-8214
E-mail: disbell@noao.edu

Kristi Phillips
Lowell Observatory
Phone: 928/774-3358, x232
E-mail: phillips@lowell.edu

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 2:00 a.m. PST, January 8, 2003

RELEASE NO: NOAO 03-02

First Neptune Trojan Discovered

Astronomers have discovered a small body orbiting the Sun at the distance of
Neptune whose orbit makes it the first known member of a long-sought
population of objects known as Neptune Trojans.

This small body, known as 2001 QR322, leads Neptune around its orbit in such
a way as to maintain -- on average -- approximately equal distance from
Neptune and the Sun. As such, it mimics the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter,
which orbit the Sun in two clouds approximately 60 degrees ahead of and
behind Jupiter. The first Jovian Trojan was discovered in 1906, and
approximately 1,560 such objects are known today. However, until the
discovery of 2001 QR322, Trojan-like objects associated with other giant
planets had not been found.

2001 QR322 was discovered in the course of the Deep Ecliptic Survey, a
NASA-funded survey of the outer solar system that uses the National Science
Foundation's telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, AZ,
and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

Astronomers from Lowell Observatory, the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of
Hawaii, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Large Binocular Telescope
Observatory comprise the Deep Ecliptic Survey team.

The team first detected 2001 QR322 on August 21, 2001, in deep digital
images taken with the 4-meter Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo by Marc Buie,
Robert Millis, and Lawrence Wasserman of Lowell Observatory. However,
several subsequent observations, made with a variety of telescopes over the
past 16 months, coupled with numerical orbit integrations of the trajectory
of the asteroid, were required to prove that 2001 QR322 is indeed a Neptune
Trojan. The object is estimated to be approximately 230 kilometers (140
miles) in diameter and, like Neptune, requires about 166 years to complete
each circuit of its orbit.

"Neptunian Trojans were long suspected to exist and it is gratifying to
finally know that they do," says team member Eugene Chiang of the University
of California at Berkeley. "The orbit of 2001 QR322 is remarkably stable;
projections of its trajectory into the future reveal that it can co-orbit
with Neptune for at least billions of years. It is likely that 2001 QR322 is
a dynamically pristine object whose orbital eccentricity and inclination
have been largely unaltered by processes that afflicted the majority of
bodies in the outer solar system."

A graphic that describes the orbit of 2001 QR322 is available.

Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory are part of the
National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), which is operated by the
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc., under a
cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

The survey team's research is supported in part by the NASA Planetary
Astronomy Program through grants to Lowell Observatory, the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and the University of Hawaii; by the National
Science Foundation through a grant to the University of California at
Berkeley; by the Space Telescope Science Institute through grants to
University of Pennsylvania and by the University of California at Berkeley;
by the University of California at Berkeley through a Faculty Research
Award; and by the Friends of Lowell Observatory.

NOTE: Marc Buie, Robert Millis, and Larry Wasserman can be reached at
928/774-3358 or via email at: buie@lowell.edu, rlm@lowell.edu, and
lhw@lowell.edu

Eugene Chiang can be reached at 510/642-2131 or via email at:
echiang@astron.berkeley.edu

For more information about the Deep Ecliptic Survey, see:
http://www.lowell.edu/Research/DES/

IMAGE CAPTION:
The left-hand panel displays a bird's-eye view of the outer solar system,
with the orbits of Jupiter (J), Saturn (S), Uranus (U), and Neptune (N)
about the Sun shown schematically. The dark tube of points lying on
Neptune's orbit marks the path of the newly discovered Trojan object 2001
QR322, relative to Neptune. The Trojan shuttles back and forth along
Neptune's orbit as indicated by the red and green curved arrows. Each full
shuttling takes about 10,000 years to complete.

The small inset rectangle at left is magnified in the right-hand panel. When
plotted over time, 2001 QR322 traces a local corkscrew pattern. The red
curve traces the path of the Trojan as it travels away from Neptune, as
indicated by the red arrows. The green curve traces the trajectory of the
Trojan as it approaches Neptune. Each full twist of the corkscrew takes
about the same time as Neptune takes to revolve around the Sun (166 years).

Image Credit: Deep Ecliptic Survey Team/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Download:

* 800 x 411 GIF [56 KB]
  http://www.noao.edu/outreach/press/pr03/images/trojan_med.gif
* 1969 x 1011 GIF [96 KB]
  http://www.noao.edu/outreach/press/pr03/images/trojan.gif
* 1969 x 1011 TIF [1.6 MB]
  http://www.noao.edu/outreach/press/pr03/images/trojan.tif"

==========
(5) MOON'S EARLY HISTORY MAY HAVE BEEN INTERRUPTED BY BIG BURP

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

University of California-Berkeley

Contact:
Robert Sanders, (510) 643-6998, rls@pa.urel.berkeley.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8 January 2003

Moon's early history may have been interrupted by big burp

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley -- Using a state-of-the-art computer model of the lunar interior,
geophysicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that a
mighty burp early in the moon's history could account for some of its
geologic mysteries.

The burp of hot rock, like a blob rising to the top of a lava lamp, would
have lifted a blanket covering the moon's core, allowing the core to cool
quickly enough to produce a magnetic field.

The moon has long since cooled off and the global magnetic field
disappeared, but the brief burp nearly 4 billion years ago would explain the
old, magnetized rocks picked up from the moon's surface during the Apollo
missions 30 years ago.

"This 3-D convection model produces an elegant explanation for the magnetic
field astronauts discovered on the moon," said UC Berkeley graduate student
Dave Stegman, who developed the lunar model based on earlier and more
general computer models simulating the dynamics of planetary interiors. "If
this model is correct, this would be the first full understanding of the
thermal history of any planet, including the Earth, and would be a
cornerstone for understanding the histories of all the other planets, such
as Mars and Earth."

The theoretical burp predicted by the computer model would also explain the
lunar mare -- seas of metal-rich volcanic rock, or basalt, that cover much
of the near side of the moon but little of the far side.

Stegman; Mark Jellinek, a Miller postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley; Mark
Richards, UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science; and John R.
Baumgardner, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, report results of their
modeling in the Jan. 9 issue of Nature. The late Stephen A. Zatman, a former
post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and most recently of the Department of
Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, also
contributed significantly to the work.

"Unlike many previous models of planetary evolution, this one starts from a
ball of goo and looks at how a likely magma ocean solidifies around a
metallic core," said Jellinek, who will be joining the Department of Physics
at the University of Toronto in April as an assistant professor. "One
message from this research is that, if you want to look at planetary
evolution properly, it's important to consider the initial conditions
carefully."

A global magnetic field like the Earth's, strong enough to wrench a
magnetized needle into north-south alignment, requires active convection
within a molten iron core, akin to the convection in a boiling pot of water.
The slowly cycling molten metal carries charged particles with it that, like
any electric current, generate a magnetic field.

Convection, however, can only be sustained if heat flows out of the core at
a high enough rate. The Earth's large core, for example, has presumably
remained convective since its formation more than 4.5 billion years, thanks,
in part, to the planet's active surface. Through volcanic
eruptions and plate subduction, the Earth's tectonic surface efficiently
cools the mantle and underlying core to maintain a high heat flux.

The problem with smaller bodies like the moon and Mars is that their cores
may not be big enough and hot enough, and the cooling processes in the
mantle efficient enough, to maintain a heat flux high enough to allow core
convection. The solid crust of these single-plate planets seems to act as a
blanket to keep heat from escaping the mantle, damping the heat flux in the
core and quenching any convection. If the core heat flux drops below the
level needed to sustain convection, any magnetic field disappears, usually
leaving the only record of its existence in volcanic rocks erupted during
that time.

How, then, could the moon have had a magnetic field from 3.9 to 3.6 billion
years ago, as suggested by dating of lunar rocks? Some scientists have
proposed that meteor impacts may have magnetized the surface briefly,
creating the small fields we see today. Stegman hit upon the idea of a
blanket of dense material that would briefly insulate and even heat the core
before bobbing to the surface to allow a brief period of rapid heat flux and
core convection. Others had proposed such a buoyant thermal blanket to
explain the uneven distribution of dense basalts that covers the
Earth-facing half of the moon, though support for this has come only from
two-dimensional models of the moon's interior.

Stegman had at his disposal a three-dimensional, spherical convective model
of planetary interiors originally developed by Baumgardner. Stegman,
however, added a crucial component -- the ability to account for different
chemical elements in the interior. Since different chemicals heat and cool
differently and have different densities, this makes a critical difference
in what the model can predict.

"Modeling two-component fluid flow, what we call thermochemical convection,
is much more difficult than modeling thermal convection alone," Richards
said. "This was a technical challenge that Dave Stegman has solved by
significant improvements to the computer model developed for the Earth."

Based on his model, Stegman proposes that, after the birth of the moon 4.5
billion years ago from the debris of a cataclysmic collision between the
Earth and a Mars-sized object, the moon began to cool and solidify, with
material separating into layers of different density. Iron intermixed with
sulfur settled to the core, while less dense matter formed a thick mantle
above the core. As the mantle solidified, however, the last liquid to freeze
was at the top, producing a titanium and thorium-rich layer of rock. Because
of the layer's density, however, it was unstable, and some of it eventually
dripped through the mantle to form a blanket at the core-mantle boundary.

"Without this sinking, the moon would have cooled off very slowly," Stegman
said. "This one event determined whether or not the moon had convection and
thus allowed the planet to have an  interesting life."

This layer, rich in radioactive elements, eventually heated up and became
buoyant, rising to the top in one or more burps, or superplumes. This
removed the thermal blanket surrounding the core, allowing, for a brief time
-- about 300 million years -- sufficiently rapid heat flux to start
convection and generate a magnetic field. The lunar model shows that this
scenario would create a lunar dynamo and a resultant surface magnetic field
of about one-tenth of a Gauss -- one-fifth the Earth's current field of
one-half Gauss.

The burp would break through the surface over one hemisphere, not the whole
surface, Stegman said, possibly explaining the mare of thorium-rich basalts
-- the dark feature we see as the "man on the moon."

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the model is whether the early
magnetism reported from the moon, based on analysis of moon rocks, is real.

"The paleomagnetism done on moon rocks is sketchy," Richards noted. "Dave's
work is really motivating people to go back and reanalyze the samples from
the Apollo missions."

This model of the moon's three-dimensional interior could also apply to the
Earth, which appears to have a layer of dense material sitting at the
core-mantle boundary. The model also could help explain the evolution of
other planetary bodies, such as Mars, that have only one crustal plate.
Stegman's next projects are to model the Martian interior as well as the
dense rock layer at the base of Earth's mantle.

"We are inspired by this work on the moon to think that some similar kind of
catastrophic overturn event may have occurred on Mars as well," Richards
said.

IMAGE CAPTION:
[ http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/download/ ]
A model of the moon showing an enormous superplume of hot rock (red) bobbing
to the surface -- a lunar burp -- about 500 million years after formation of
the moon. The colors indicate temperature throughout the lunar mantle.
(David Stegman/UC Berkeley graphic)

=========
(6) A METEORITE? NO, IT'S JUST A BOWLING BALL

>From Salt Lake Tribune, 8 January 2003
http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Jan/01082003/utah/18283.asp

BY GLEN WARCHOL

If art imitates life, then science, at least in Utah, imitates the "Late
Show with David Letterman."

Letterman and Galileo, two wiseguys who made their marks by dropping objects
from great heights, could be consultants on an experiment being considered
by the Salt Lake Astronomical Society.

For years, Utah amateur astronomers have believed the Bonneville Salt Flats
are prime meteorite hunting grounds. The terrain is smooth and white -- the
perfect background for finding space rocks, says Patrick Wiggins, NASA Solar
System ambassador to Utah.

Meteors strike the Earth nearly every day. Fortunately, usually only tiny
fragments survive. Still, Utah has had more than a dozen known good-size
meteorite impacts.

A year ago, volunteers drove the flats, scanning the surface for
out-of-place rocks. Aside from rusted junk and objects dropped by the
military over the years, they didn't have much luck. A major problem was
that they had no idea what a meteorite impact in the salt would look like.

Astronomy buffs, who share important characteristics with 8-year-olds
[indeed!], put on their thinking caps. "Someone said, 'How can we simulate a
meteorite impact?' " remembers Wiggins. "The idea of a light aircraft
dropping a bowling ball came up and that sounded kinda fun." Also under
consideration are boulders, shot puts, and -- we can only hope -- canned
hams.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's meteorite expert Ron Baalke is dubious.
"Meteors don't tend to be round like a bowling ball." But, a scientist at
heart, he admits, "Dropping bowling balls sounds like an interesting
experiment."

Robert Haag, an Arizonan who deals in meteorites with scientists and
collectors, is also skeptical, but asks, "Where do I sign up to drop the
bowling balls?"

Wiggins says the experiment is still in the early stages. "We have an
aircraft lined up. And we've had a couple of members donate bowling balls --
one with the proviso that it not be traced back to him."

Which brings up a big issue: finding the bowling ball after it impacts at
100 to 200 mph. Ideas vary from fitting the ball with a radio transmitter or
a long streamer. The most breathtaking idea is from Wiggins, a skydiver.

"I could fall with the ball for a while to observe," he says. "I'll just
hope it doesn't get above me."

That, of course, would bring into play physics of the Roadrunner cartoon
variety.

Wiggins admits the idea is "a lark" and could go several scary directions in
research and development.

"There's a rocket group in town that lofts bowling balls," he says. "We've
also heard about a guy in Tooele who has a cannon that shoots bowling
balls."
   
© Copyright 2003, The Salt Lake Tribune.

=============
(7) THE BERLIN DECLARATION ON THE COSMIC IMPACT HAZARD

>From Astronomy & Geophysics, volume 43, issue 6, p.8 (December 2002)

Duncan Steel and Alan Harris
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Berlin Declaration on the cosmic impact hazard

The fact that asteroids and comets have hit the Earth in the past with
calamitous consequences for life on this planet, and will do so again in the
future with calamitous implications for the continued existence of our
civilisation, has become common knowledge. This situation has arisen via
public exposure to sources ranging from media reports of plausible impending
impacts, through popular-level books, and the numerous TV documentaries on
the subject, plus of course several Hollywood movies (of dubious scientific
veracity).

Our awareness of the impact hazard is not new, predating by centuries the
discovery of the first Earth-crossing asteroids in the 1930s. For example,
Edmond Halley made clear in the 1690s that comets like that bearing his name
could strike our planet and cause tremendous environmental upsets. The poet
Lord Byron knew of this possibility and, following his reading of Baron
Georges Cuvier's pioneering palaeontological excavations, believed that such
impacts had indeed caused mass extinctions in the past. In The Deformed
Transformed (1822) Byron mused upon the possible consequences of a future
impact:

When I grow weary of it, I have business
Amongst the stars, which these poor creatures deem
Were made for them to look at. 'Twere a jest now
To bring one down amongst them, and set fire
Unto their ant hill: how the pismires then
Would scamper o'er the scalding soil, and, ceasing
From tearing down each others nests, pipe forth
One universal orison! Ha! Ha!

About the same time, Byron suggested the notion that our science and
technology might enable us to obviate an impact by a threatening comet:

Who knows whether, when a comet shall approach this globe to destroy
it, as it often has been and will be destroyed, men will not tear
rocks from their foundations by means of steam, and hurl mountains,
as the giants are said to have done, against the flaming mass? -
and then we shall have traditions of Titans again, and of wars with
Heaven. (Medwin's Conversations of Lord Byron.)

It is 180 years since Byron spoke those words and we are now at a stage in
our development whereby we can not only assess the nature and the level of
this hazard, but can also do something about it. A dedicated workshop,
attended by both the authors of this letter, was held in the first week of
September 2002 under NASA sponsorship near Washington, DC. This was aimed
at defining the scientific questions that must be asked about
Earth-approaching asteroids and comets from purely the mitigation
perspective. What do we need to know before we might hope to mount some
programme directed toward avoiding, or at least ameliorating, the
deleterious effects of any such object found to be on an inevitable
collision course with the Earth?

There is no doubt about the first question that needs to be addressed. It is
simply stated: Is there an asteroid or comet destined to hit the Earth
within, say, the next 100 years? (This is the period of personal interest to
us all: for the lifetimes of our great-grandchildren.)

This part of the problem - searching out Earth-approaching asteroids (in
particular) and determining their orbits with sufficient precision such that
short-term (century-scale) terrestrial collisions may be identified - can be
solved at a very small cost compared to the long-term mean annual
expectation of loss due to impacts, which is of order £1 billion for
Western Europe alone. Despite this, only in the United States is there any
significant government-sponsored activity in terms of asteroid search and
tracking. It is now 11 years since the first-named writer contacted the U.K.
Government to point out the level of the impact hazard, and what needs to be
done. It is more than two years since the UK Government's Task Force
on Near-Earth Objects published its report, since when Britain has made no
significant contribution to asteroid search and tracking.

In July-August 2002 the triennial Asteroids, Comets, Meteors conference was
held in Berlin, the second-named writer being the acting Chair of the
Scientific Organising Committee. Considerable disquiet was expressed at this
meeting regarding the lack of activity at governmental level in tackling the
impact hazard, which affects all humankind. The following declaration was
framed by various concerned astronomers (the present writers were not
involved in the wording below). It is a truism that trying to get
astronomers to agree on anything is like attempting to herd cats, so this is
not a formal resolution of the conference; but it does represent the
feelings of a substantial number of those present, who are largely the
world's experts on asteroids and comets.

The Berlin Declaration

1) The human risk posed by near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) is real and current
search efforts are incommensurate with the level of the hazard.
2) There is no broad-based international search and tracking effort to deal
with the risk posed by NEAs.
3) Given current search efforts, any NEA due to impact within the next few
decades and capable of causing significant regional damage is
unlikely to be recognized with sufficient warning time to allow it to be
averted.

It is hoped that the publication of this declaration will prompt the world's
governments to take their responsibilities to their citizens more seriously
in this regard.

Duncan Steel, Joule Physics Laboratory, University of Salford, M5 4WT, UK;
D.I.Steel@salford.ac.uk;

Alan W. Harris, DLR Institute of Space Sensor Technology and Planetary
Exploration, Rutherfordstrasse 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany; alan.harris@dlr.de

Copyright 2003, Astronomy & Geophysics

===========
(8) EXTASOLAR METEORS HINT AT DISTANT PLANET FORMATION

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

Department of Public Affairs
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

CONTACT:

Joseph Weingartner, CITA
ph: (416) 978-8497; email: weingart@citautoronto.ca

Norman Murray, CITA
ph: (416) 978-1778; email: murray@cita.utoronto.ca
(Available Jan. 7)

U of T Public Affairs
ph: (416) 978-6974; email: nicolle.wahl@utoronto.ca

Jan. 6, 2003

Extrasolar meteors hint at distant planet formation

Radar telecopes could trace dust grains back to neighbouring
solar systems

By Nicolle Wahl

University of Toronto astronomers say that detecting microscopic meteors
from other solar systems could provide clues about the formation of planets
like Earth.

Dust streams from our sun's stellar neighbours consist of tiny grains of
pulverized rock ejected from a disk of dust and debris that commonly
surrounds young stars, says Joseph Weingartner, a post-doctoral fellow at U
of T's Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. According to
Professor Norman Murray, associate director of CITA and co-author of the
study, "if we can detect these grains and trace them back to the star system
that they came from, we'd have very good evidence of planet formation going
on in that system." Weingartner presented the study Jan. 6 at
the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash.

The tiny grains are created by collisions of large objects such as boulders
and asteroids during or slightly after the process of planet formation, he
explains. The collisions create a disk of particulate grains (each grain is
about 100 times smaller than a grain of sand).

Some of these grains are then ejected from a disk after "slingshotting"
around a planet. Weingartner says the speeds of the grains entering our
solar system can range from a few kilometers to 100 kilometres per second.
If the grains are travelling at high velocities, researchers know that they
originate from outside our solar system.

Weingartner and Murray propose that future radar telescope facilities that
can examine roughly one million square kilometers of space be used to detect
dust streams coming from nearby stars. By detecting the speed and direction
of grains when they hit the Earth's atmosphere, scientists could potentially
trace the path of the tiny grains back to star systems where planet
formation may be occurring.

"In astronomy, if you want information, you always rely on radiation like
visible light or infrared light," says Weingartner. "You can think of these
radar facilities as a different type of telescope -- a telescope for
collecting dust rather than a telescope for collecting light."

Among the star systems whose dust streams could be studied is beta Pictoris,
a 10-to-20 million-year-old star located roughly 63 light years from the
sun. Weingartner and Murray estimate that in the dust disk around beta
Pictoris, the mass of the particles with a radius of one centimeter or
smaller is about 19 times the mass of the Moon.

"We have a real opportunity to open a new window on these kinds of systems,"
says Weingartner. He and Murray say that their study is a first step in a
new approach to astronomical research, and note that further studies will
require the construction of large radar telescope
facilities with expanded sky coverage.

The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada.

[Nicolle Wahl is a news services officer with the department of public
affairs.]

============================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
============================

(9) MR PRESIDENT: LET'S GO TO MARS!

>From Paul Davies <pcwd@ozemail.com.au>

Dear Benny,

The New York Times' selection of responses to John Brockman's Edge website
question on science advice to President Bush (CCNet 7 Jan 2003) omitted my
contribution. Your readers may be interested to read it.

Happy New Year!

Paul Davies

--------
Memorandum from Paul Davies to President George Bush, Jr.

Mr. President,

As the year 2002 draws to an end, your Administration is preoccupied with
the prospect of war with Iraq, and with a more shadowy adversary in the form
of global terrorism. Much has been said in that context about 'weapons of
mass destruction.' It goes without saying that such weapons are the products
of science and technology; one might say they are perversions of science and
technology. What could be more pressing than finding a way to promote the
beneficial aspects of science while curbing the misuse?

I do not wish to repeat here the well worn arguments about defensive versus
offensive military research, the development of better sensor and detection
technology and more efficient intelligence gathering systems. Arms races
have dogged mankind from the dawn of history, and history seems bound to
repeat itself.

What America, indeed the world, needs most urgently is a positive and
uplifting project, a project born of a vision that transcends the factional
squabbles that divide us, something to celebrate the creative side of
science by the world's greatest scientific power. Forty years ago, when the
world was in the grip of the Cold War, the United States committed itself to
putting a man on the moon. Although the Apollo program was undeniably a
by-product of the Cold War arms race, viewed with hindsight it was the
crowning achievement of twentieth century science and engineering. Apollo
continues to stand as an emblem for the triumph of the human spirit in a
world dominated by dark fears and ideological divisions.

What, then, should be the Apollo program of the Bush Presidency? The answer
has been clear since your own father articulated the concept 14 years ago.
The United States, together with its partners in space, should commit to
sending an expedition to the planet Mars. The Red Planet is probably the
only body in the solar system on which a permanent self-sufficient colony
might eventually be established. Although relatively hostile to humans, the
surface of Mars is far more congenial than the moon. By establishing a human
presence on Mars, our species will be afforded an insurance policy against a
global cataclysm at home.

But that is not the prime reason to go to Mars. Rather, the exploration of
the Red Planet will represent a scientific bonanza of unprecedented value.
By general consent, Mars offers the best - quite possibly the only - hope of
finding life beyond Earth. It harbors vital clues to the origin of life on
our own planet; indeed, it is possible that life came to Earth from Mars. So
the search for life on Mars is a search for ourselves: who we are and what
our place is in the great cosmic scheme.

Many commentators are urging George Bush Jr. to finish in Iraq what
President George Bush Sr. began in the Gulf War. Mr. President, I urge you
to apply this advise in space. Take up the challenge. Go to Mars!

Sincerely,
Paul Davies

=============
(10) UK ASTROBIOLOGY 2003, March 27-28, 2003, Cambridge, UK

>From Charles Cockell <csco@bas.ac.uk>

Dear Benny,

On March 27 and 28, King's College, Cambridge will host the UK Astrobiology
Workshop. The UK Astrobiology Workshop 2003 will provide an opportunity for
the astrobiology community to gather and discuss topics of mutual interest.
The conference is open to international participation.

The first day of the workshop will be a general day of astrobiological talks
ranging from astrobiological robotics and the search for life beyond Earth
to the effects of asteroid and comet impacts on the Earth's environment. The
purpose of this first day is to familiarise attendees with the diversity of
astrobiology work being undertaken in the UK and to provide an opportunity
for cross-disciplinary discussion.

The second day will be a specialist day focusing on 'The early Earth -
conditions for the emergence and radiation of life'.

Important Dates

January 31st 2003: Deadline for submission of abstracts.

Accommodation

Accommodation has been arranged at Girton College, Cambridge for the first
100 registrants.

See www.astrobiology.rl.ac.uk for registration details
__________________________
Dr. Charles Cockell,
British Antarctic Survey,
High Cross,
Madingley Road,
Cambridge.
CB3 0ET. UK

Tel : + 44 1223 221560
e-mail : csco@bas.ac.uk

===========
(11) 2002 PROGRESS, NEXT TUNGUSKA RISK & A VALUABLE LESSON FROM THE
SOLOMONDERS

>From Andy Smith <astrosafe22000@yahoo.com>

Hello Benny and CCNet,

Well, we made it. Another fortunate year, without a hit. Let's give thanks
and tighten our resolve, to do more and more....until we are really
prepared.

2002 Hunt

We almost reached the 500 NEO goal. MPC says 484 new ones were reported.
That's an increase of two orders-of-magnitude, in about a decade....real
progress. However, it is only about 0.5% of the minimum threat population of
100,000 NEO (larger than Tunguska)....AND THAT BRINGS OUR TOTAL NEO
INVENTORY TO ABOUT 2% OF THE THREAT....so we have a very long way to go. 

LINEAR found about 60% of the 2002 total and a big thanks goes to that great
team, from all of us. Using their numbers, it takes almost 8,000
observations to find one NEO. About 1,200 of those will be asteroids and
that number will include about 170 new discoveries and one NEO.

NEAT found about 30% of the total and another big thanks goes to those
dedicated teams.

Both of these outstanding programs get a lot of help from NASA and the Air
Force, so we are certainly grateful to them, and to our friends, in the
Congress, who do so much to encourage NEO work and priority.

LONEOS and SPACEWATCH found about 5% of the total, each. They are special
and true pioneers, in this vital arena, and we are all very grateful to them
and to such outstanding technical leaders as Tom Gehrels and Ted Bowell, for
all they have done for the cause....for many decades. SPACEWATCH continues
to have the best record for finding objects smaller than a kilometer (where
95+% of the danger lies)....90% of their discoveries were smaller than 1 km.
(compared to an average of 75%).

There are over a thousand facilities/teams registered with the MPC (from
around the World) and this is a call to most of them to somehow join the
hunt....if at all possible. Because most of the objects we need to find are
smaller than a kilometer (abs. mag. 18), it will take special capabilities
and dedication. However, the danger we face is so great that it justifies
special effort.

We appreciate what the SLOAN and NEWTON teams have done to help, and we hope
they will be able to do more, this year. We are also delighted to see such
new programs as the LSST, Pan-STARRS, GAIA, Sub-millimetron, etc. making
progress....because they offer such great promise.

Next Tunguska Class Impact Risk

We welcomed the attention recently given to trying to refine estimates of
the risk of the next major NEO hit and we urged caution, in reducing the
risk estimate (from about 1 in 100 years to about 1 in 1,000 years)....based
on recently reported fireball data.

Our earlier concern was tied to a review of lunar crater and meteorite data.
Additional studies, of Cambrian extinction data [??], also support a risk
interval estimate that is much closer to a 100 than to 1,000 years. Again,
we urge prudence and a conservative extimate of this vital risk.

Bravo Solomonders....A Valuable Lesson

At the end of last December, the Solomon Islands were bombarded with a
devastating storm (winds well in excess of 200 miles per hour and waves over
30 feet high for more than 12 hours). For days it was not clear how many of
the residents had survived.

Finally, a New Zealand cameraman (Geoff Mackley) visited Tikopia, on the
following Saturday.....and there they all were. They lost no one!....because
they had emergency plans and high shelters (caves)...and they knew what to
do.

The lesson, for us, is clear....and we urge all of the CCNet participants to
advise the emergency preparedness managers, in coastal cities, to be prepared for rapid
evacuation and to understand the NEO impact signs. They need to understand
the dangers, be prepared to respond quickly (around the clock) and train the
residents to work togeather, in the interest of rapid evacuation.

We are compiling a list of vital NEO emergency indicators and we invite help
from others, on this. The list will include such things as the
proximity/visibility relationship, the speed of a
tsumnami, the wave height and travel distance (over land) relationship, etc.


There is a good international tsunami emergency preparedness program, for
the Pacific Ocean cities, and we continue to urge a similar program, for the
Atlantic.....but there seems to be some resistance. If you can help us, in
this area, please advise. All of the Atlantic coastal cities should have NEO
tsunami preparedness programs. We will give this a high priority, this year.
Good planning and training could save millions of lives.

We wish you all the best, with your programs, this year and we pray for
another year without a hit.

Cheers

Andy Smith/International Planetary Protection Alliance (IPPA) 
astrosafe22000@yahoo.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------
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circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational use only. The
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without prior permission of the copyright holders. The fully indexed archive
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*

CCNet TERRA 2/2003 -  9 January 2003
------------------------------------


"The main conclusion by DCSD finds that my book is "clearly contrary
to the standards of good scientific practice" because of systematically
biased selection of data and arguments. But since the DCSD has
neglected to take their position on the technical scientific disputes,
their conclusions are completely unfounded. The DCSD does not give a single
example to demonstrate their claim of a biased choice of data and arguments.
Consequently, I don't understand this ruling. It equals an accusation
without defining the crime."
--Bjorn Lomborg, 7 January 2003


"Scientists are in grave danger of becoming a kind of medieval
priesthood, cut off from public discourse, using their supposed
`authority' to act like thought police. Science still has a good
reputation with the public, a reputation being rapidly squandered by the
environmental branches of science who are now resorting to Star Chamber
methods to suppress dissent against their jaundiced view of humanity.
No-one, no scientist, no government, no institution, has a monopoly
on truth and any attempt to rule by scientific papal bull is a betrayal of
the past heroes of science who were themselves victim of exactly this kind
of intellectual tyranny."
--John Daly, 9 January 2003


"In a little over a year, a global smear campaign has attempted to
discredit the Danish academic who had the audacity to question the
hysterics and distortions of the modern day environmental movement. So
threatened were the professional environmental pessimists in academia,
NGOs and think tanks by Lomborg's arguments and ideas, they lashed out and
viciously attacked him, seeking to destroy his credibility. The smear has
now reached a new low, with the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty
(DCSD) playing the 17th Century Catholic Church to Lomborg's
heretical Galileo."
--Nick Schulz, Tech Central Station, 8 January 2003



(1) SOMETHING ROTTEN IN DENMARK
    www.john-daly.com, 9 January 2003

(2) BJORN LOMBORG'S FIRST REACTION

(3) A SMEAR CONTINUES
    Tech Central Station, 8 January 2003

(4) LOMBORG'S RESPONSE
    Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

(5) A NEW BREED OF INQUISITORS
    Clark Whelton <cwhelton@mindspring.com>

(6) GUILTY OF WHAT? IS "CHERRY PICKING" ILLEGAL IN DENMARK?
    John Michael Williams <jwill@AstraGate.net>

(7) COLD SPELL DEATH TOLL RISES TO OVER 800 IN SOUTH ASIA AND EUROPE
    The Penisular, 9 January 2003

(8) TENS OF THOUSANDS SHIVER AS ARCTIC COLD HITS RUSSIA
    Reuters, 8 January 2003

(9) 'PRESSURE FLIP' MAY LEAD TO RETURN OF ARCTIC WINTERS
    The Times, 9 January 2003

=========
(1) SOMETHING ROTTEN IN DENMARK

>From John-Daly
www.john-daly.com, 9 January 2003

Shakespeare's play `Hamlet' contains the famous line "Something is rotten in
the state of Denmark". He could have been writing about today because the
Danish science establishment have just disgraced themselves and the rest of
environmental science by employing a Star Chamber type inquisition against
one lone book by a Danish professor.

At issue is Danish Professor Bjorn Lomborg's book `The Skeptical
Environmentalist', a scientific statistical survey of environmental data
from around the world, the basic conclusion of which demonstrated that the
world environment was in much better shape than environmentalists would have
us believe.  Lomborg himself was a former GreenPeace activist, and still
regards himself as an environmentalist.

Predictably, the environmental movement and allied scientists attacked the
book, including a multi-page spread in Scientific American which also
denounced the book.   That's ok.  In free societies, works like that are
open to attack and ultimately stand or fall by how well they reflect
reality. This website is frequently attacked and that's ok too, since
criticism here of current climate science orthodoxy itself invites counter
criticism. 

But in Denmark, they have gone a step further in Lomborg's case. Three
complaints by Danish activists about Lomborg's book resulted in the
convening of what can only be described as a Star Chamber - the `Danish
Committee on Scientific Dishonesty' (DCSD). Their `ruling' and procedure
would have won favour with the medieval Papal inquisitions, a pointer to
just how debased the environmental sciences have become. All that was
missing was the formalities of `Bell, Book, and Candle' used by medieval
priests in earlier inquisitions.

The DCSD did not bother to evaluate the book for themselves, instead
settling to accept the Scientific American feature articles as sufficient
proof that the book was `contrary to the standards of good scientific
practice'. For example, Lomborg's sections on climate were reviewed in
Scientific American by Stephen Schneider, noted for his remark in Discover
Magazine in 1989 - "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up
some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention
of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance
between being effective, and being honest."  Schneider is also remembered
for his dire  warnings in the 1970s about global cooling. In effect, the
DCSD is accepting the opinion of one man, well known for his partisan views
and gross exaggerations, and accepting that opinion as final and
scientifically authoritative.

On the sole basis of Schneider's and others denunciatory articles in
Scientific American, the DCSD ruled Lomborg's work `contrary to the
standards of good scientific practice'. The DCSD kangaroo court `ruling' was
quickly released to the world's media, marking out a new line of political
attack against anyone speaking out against the environmental science
establishment.   The DCSD in effect is giving the `green' light for partisan
activists to be judge, jury, and executioner of the work of other
scientists, and is contrary to both natural justice and scientific protocol.
They have even introduced the absurd notion that anything disagreed by
Scientific American can be construed as `contrary to the standards of good
scientific practice'.  Are they now the new Vatican of science?

It is the DCSD which has acted `contrary to the standards of good scientific
practice' since they failed to cite even one example from Lomborg's book
which warrants such an adverse view. The authority of Scientific American
and the partisan authors they hired was enough for them.  Lomborg remarked
in a public response that the DCSD were acting like police accusing someone
of murder without telling them who was murdered, or why, or how. 

Scientists are in grave danger of becoming a kind of medieval priesthood,
cut off from public discourse, using their supposed `authority' to act like
thought police. Science still has a good reputation with the public, a
reputation being rapidly squandered by the environmental branches of science
who are now resorting to Star Chamber methods to suppress dissent against
their jaundiced view of humanity.  No-one, no scientist, no government, no
institution, has a monopoly on truth and any attempt to rule by scientific
papal bull is a betrayal of the past heroes of science who were themselves
victim of exactly this kind of intellectual tyranny.

Postscript -  Prof Bjorn Lomborg's formal response to the accusations of the
DCSD - (below)

============
(2) BJORN LOMBORG'S FIRST REACTION

Press release, Copenhagen 2003-01-07

The ruling on the matter of scientific dishonesty from the DCSD  - a comment
by Bjørn Lomborg

In the beginning of last year several complaints regarding my book `The
Sceptical Environmentalist' were handed in to the Danish Committee on
Scientific Dishonesty (the DCSD). Naturally, I have been looking forward to
being cleared of the charges of scientific dishonesty. Therefore I have
submitted my comments on many of the accusations to DCSD.

Unfortunately the DCSD has made their decision without taking a position to
the content of the complaints. The DCSD has ruled that "it is not DCSD's
remit to decide who is right in a contentious professional issue". I find
this ruling inexplicable and it means that there is still no ruling about
the numerous complaints put forth in public. So I maintain that the
complaints of the plaintiffs are unfounded.

The main conclusion by DCSD finds that my book is "clearly contrary to the
standards of good scientific practice" because of systematically biased
selection of data and arguments. But since the DCSD has neglected to take
their position on the technical scientific disputes their conclusions are
completely unfounded. The DCSD does not give a single example to demonstrate
their claim of a biased choice of data and arguments. Consequently, I don't
understand this ruling. It equals an accusation without defining the crime.

The DCSD, however, refers to the criticism of my book put forth by 4
scientists in Scientific American. This is a one-year-old discussion, which
I participated in at that time, e.g. by writing a 34-page response
<
http://www.greenspirit.com/lomborg/ScientificAmericanBjørnLomborgAnswer.pdf
>. But in spite of the fact that the DCSD received a copy of my response,
they refer to none of my arguments. In fact the only thing that the DCSD
does is to repeat the Scientific American arguments over 6 pages, while only
allowing my arguments one line. This seems to reflect an extremely biased
procedure. On top of that the DCSD has failed to evaluate the scientific
points in dispute outlined in Scientific American article.

My initial response when I read the conclusion of the DCSD was one of
surprise and discomfort. But when reading through the complete ruling I
found it to be:

* Inexplicable in its negligence to take a position on the complaints of the
plaintiffs
* Undocumented by ruling the book to be systematically biased without
documenting this with a single example
* Biased by its reference to only one side of the comprehensive discussion
concerning my book (the plaintiffs side)

=========
(3) A SMEAR CONTINUES

>From Tech Central Station, 8 January 2003
http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/envirowrapper.jsp?PID=1051-450&CID=1051-010803F

By Nick Schulz
 
When Bjorn Lomborg's book The Skeptical Environmentalist was published a
little over a year ago it caused an immediate sensation in the United States
and Europe for its unconventionally optimistic take on environmental
matters.

At the time, I asked Ronald Bailey, the author and editor of two books on
the environment and the foremost expert in the United States on the
intersection of science policy and political controversy, what he thought of
the book.

"Lomborg doesn't have a clue what's about to happen to him," Bailey said. "I
feel sorry for him."

Bailey was right.

In a little over a year, a global smear campaign has attempted to discredit
the Danish academic who had the audacity to question the hysterics and
distortions of the modern day environmental movement. So threatened were the
professional environmental pessimists in academia, NGOs and think tanks by
Lomborg's arguments and ideas, they lashed out and viciously attacked him,
seeking to destroy his credibility. The attack included a one-sided smear in
the pages of Scientific American, protesters throwing pies at him at
speaking engagements, and a website, www.anti-lomborg.com, devoted to
discrediting him.

The smear has now reached a new low, with the Danish Committees on
Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) playing the 17th Century Catholic Church to
Lomborg's heretical Galileo. The DCSD has written a 16-page book report
denouncing the Dane for publishing a book that they say falls "within the
concept of scientific dishonesty."

"The publication is deemed clearly contrary to the standards of good
scientific practice," the Committees concluded. This smear was then picked
up and amplified by The New York Times, Washington Post, and other
publications.

But the Committees' report is nothing more than a rehashing of the
complaints already lodged against Lomborg, complaints that are largely
without merit or that he has refuted.

For example, the Committees rely heavily on Stephen Schneider's complaint
about Lomborg's treatment of climate science in The Skeptical
Environmentalist. The Committees describe Schneider as "a particularly
respected researcher who has been discussing these problems for 30 years."

But Schneider is hardly always a paragon of scientific integrity. In a now
famous interview with Discover magazine, Schneider showed his true colors:

"On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific
method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but - which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs,
ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human
beings as well. And like most people, we'd like to see the world a better
place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk
of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that, we need to get some
broad-based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course,
entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary
scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of
any doubts we might have. ... Each of us has to decide what the right
balance is between being effective and being honest."

Would the Committees deem that admission within "the standards of good
scientific practice"? It is those "scary scenarios ... simplified, dramatic
statements" that Lomborg sought to address in his book.

But what the Committees and others who perpetuate the smear against Lomborg
don't realize just yet is they have a bigger problem on their hands. The
extreme pessimism of the environmental movement doesn't stand up to
scrutiny, and more and more scientists who refuse to be cowed by academic
bullies and their lapdogs in the press are speaking out.

This April, Jack Hollander, the distinguished emeritus professor at
Berkeley, is publishing a new book "The Real Environmental Crisis: How
Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment's Number One Enemy." An early
draft of the book shows it deepens our understanding of many of the same
themes Lomborg discussed in The Skeptical Environmentalist and denounces in
convincing fashion the extreme pessimism of the environmental movement
typified by Schneider and others who have attacked Lomborg.

In the meantime, in the effort "to capture the public's imagination," as
Schneider so honestly put it, the smears against Lomborg and others will no
doubt continue.

Editor's Note: For More on the Lomborg controversy click here
http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/indexwrapper.jsp?PID=1051-157
 

============================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
============================

(4) LOMBORG'S RESPONSE

>From Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

Dear Benny,

I am not surprized that WallisMK@Cardiff.ac.uk did not include Bjorn's own
web site where he in fact has answered all the critique. I assume you will
soon see his commenst about this report there to...

http://www.lomborg.com/

Cheers..

Paal

Dr. Paal Brekke,
SOHO Deputy Project Scientist  (European Space Agency - ESA)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,      Email: pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov
Mail Code 682.3, Bld. 26,  Room 001,   Tel.:  1-301-286-6983 /301 996 9028
(cell)
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA.        Fax:   1-301-286-0264
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
SOHO WEB: http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/
PERSONAL WEB: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/localinfo/brekke.html
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-

==============
(5) A NEW BREED OF INQUISITORS

>From Clark Whelton <cwhelton@mindspring.com>

Benny...

Thanks for lighting candles in this very dark room. "Global warming" has
become a sort of "scientific" religion. Now this new religion is being
defended by a new breed of inquisitors.

Happy 2003,  Clark

===============
(6) GUILTY OF WHAT? IS CHERRY PICKING ILLEGAL IN DENMARK?

>From John Michael Williams <jwill@AstraGate.net>

Hi Benny.

It wouldn't hurt to provide some information as to what he is accused of
doing.
"Cherry picking"? Is that illegal in Denmark?

I once attended meetings at a hotel that served a salad apparently in part
adulterated with shrubbery trimmings. Shouldn't they have been more selective?

                         John
                     jwill@AstraGate.net
                     John Michael Williams


MODERATOR'S NOTE: The Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology wishes to make clear
that the anonymous press released circulated by Max Wallis (and posted in
yesterday's CCNet) does not originate or is in any way associated with
Cardiff University. CCNet's subject headline ("Medieval Witch Hunt....")
was, of course, my own spin on a press release that some CCNet members
reminded them of the totalitarian language used in Stalinist show trials. 

============
(7) COLD SPELL DEATH TOLL RISES TO OVER 800 IN SOUTH ASIA AND EUROPE

>From The Penisular, 9 January 2003
http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&month=January2003&file=World_News200301092266.xml

NEW DELHI: Nearly 600 people have died due to cold weather that has swept
across India, Bangladesh and Nepal, while in Europe, severe winter weather
claimed more lives and wreaked havoc on road, rail, air and sea traffic,
freezing the Russian port of Saint Petersburg and dumping snow across
central Europe.

The eastern state of Bihar has been hardest hit, with more than 200 people
dead from freezing temperatures since mid-December. The media also reported
that over 1,000 cattle had perished in the cold.

In Uttar Pradesh, 34 people died on Tuesday, bringing that state's frozen
death toll to 121. More than 1,200 schools in New Delhi have been closed.

A new cold front has fallen over Bangladesh, claiming more than 50 lives
overnight and pushing the death toll to over 240. Nine people have died and
hundreds others are ill with pneumonia and diarrhoea in Nepal.

In Moscow six people died as temperatures plunged to record levels bringing
this year's death toll from cold there to 239.

Sub-freezing weather also claimed three fatalities each in Lithuania and
Slovakia respectively. Moscow thermometers dipped to minus 32 degrees
Celsius. Nearly 200 people have frozen to death in Poland. In Germany, the
Bavarian Alps hit a record minus 31.2 degrees.

Across the continent, roads were closed, trains delayed and airports
paralyzed by snowfall. In Britain, frozen railway points and road accidents
plagued traffic across wide swathes of the country as a band of snow hit
eastern sections and travelled westwards. The continental cold snap has also
caused serious disruptions to traffic in the Balkans as well as Portugal and
Italy.

===========
(8) TENS OF THOUSANDS SHIVER AS ARCTIC COLD HITS RUSSIA

>From Reuters, 8 January 2003
http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/WireFeed/WireFeed&c=WireFeed&cid=1034950815284&p=1013517595334

 
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people have been left without
heating across Russia as temperatures reach their lowest levels in more than
15 years.

In European Russia and east Siberia, where temperatures approached minus 50
degrees Celsius on Wednesday, hot water pipeline heating systems collapsed
in 13 regions, forcing about 23,000 people to live without heat, Russia's
Emergencies Ministry said.

In the coldest first week of January since 1987, the thermometer plunged to
minus 32 degrees Celsius (minus 25.6 Fahrenheit) in central Moscow and to
minus 37 in the suburbs. The average winter temperature is minus 10 in
Moscow.

============
(9) 'PRESSURE FLIP' MAY LEAD TO RETURN OF ARCTIC WINTERS

>From The Times, 9 January 2003
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-537097,00.html

By Paul Simons
 
THIS present cold spell in Britain is a mere trifle compared with winters of
the past. Forty years ago, the winter was so savage that to everyone it
seemed as if a new Ice Age was heading our way.

The coldest winter for more than 200 years began suddenly just before
Christmas 1962 with biting winds, followed soon afterwards by blizzards. By
early January 1963 much of the country was buried under snow, but South
Wales and the West Country caught the worst of it with monstrous snowdrifts
up to 6m (20ft) deep.

Villages were cut off for several days and food and medical supplies had to
be airlifted in by helicopters. Farmers could not reach livestock and
thousands of sheep and cattle perished in the arctic conditions.

The winter was also unusually long. Much of Britain was blanketed in snow
continuously from Boxing Day 1962 to early March 1963. As well as that, and
in many places across Southern England, the temperature remained stuck below
freezing point for the whole of January.

Lakes and rivers froze, and people were ice-skating on the upper reaches of
the Thames. Seawater froze along coastlines, harbours were iced over, and
ice floes bobbed down the English Channel. Wildlife suffered horribly as
animals either froze or starved to death; there were reports of starving
foxes battling with badgers over scraps of food.

The winter of 1947 was even more devastating. Britain was suffering greatly
after the war and rationing had actually become more severe. Even though the
winter was not as cold as 1962-63, the snows were heavier and blocked rail
and road transport with drifts more than 4m (13ft) across the country. Coal
supplies could not get through to power stations and electricity had to be
rationed, while people shivered at home for lack of domestic coal.

Conditions on the Continent were so bad that West Germany was facing
starvation and America had to launch the Marshall Plan to save the nation.

Those winters were dreadful, but they were by no means a freak of climate.

Many other winters in the 1940s were cold, as the Germans found to their
cost in the invasion of Russia, and the winters of the 1960s and 1970s were
also bitter.

It seems that our winter climate swings over decades for reasons not
completely understood. However, part of this mystery may lie in a strange
flip in the weather systems sitting over the North Atlantic.

Normally, the subtropical Azores area enjoys high pressure and mild weather,
while the pressure is low over Iceland, leaving Britain wet and windy.

But the pattern can suddenly and inexplicably somersault, plunging Britain
into the cold under a high pressure system, an anticyclone.

Andy Yeatman at the Met Office said: "An anticyclone usually takes a lot of
shifting - cold dense air is harder to move than warm wet air. This blocks
the cold weather over the UK and can stay for some time."

This sudden flip in pressure is called the North Atlantic Oscillation. The
winters of the 1940s and 1960s were during the negative phase of the
oscillation, but since then we have tended to have a much milder run.

Exactly why the North Atlantic behaves like this over decades is a mystery,
though.

It has been a long time since anyone has talked seriously about the return
of the Ice Age, but if the North Atlantic does another one of its flips we
could see the return of Arctic winters to Britain.
 
Copyright 2003, The Times
 

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