PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet, 12/2000 - 27 January 2000
--------------------------------


     QUOTES OF THE DAY

     "An unusual cold snap in Italy has knocked out cellular telephone
     links, killed homeless people near St Peter's Square and, to the
     population's growing alarm, caused mysterious ice blocks to tumble
     from the sky. Experts have been puzzling over the chunks of ice
     since since last weekend, when the first blocks crashed on to a
     school in the northern city of Padua."
         -- John Philllips, The Times, 27 January 2000


     "It sounded phenomenal a week ago, as American meteorologists
     unveiled a supercomputer capable of 2,500 billion calculations a
     second that would give them warning of impending weather problems
     up to ten days in advance. As it turned out, the new marvel failed
     to notice a huge snowstorm until it was almost on the doorstep. By
     yesterday, as the paralysed East Coast of the United States dug
     out from South Carolina to Massachusetts, there was much
     hand-wringing among weather forecasters over their misreading
     of the size, intensity and course of the storm."
         -- Ian Brodie, The Times, 27 January 2000


(1) ITALIAN ICE BALLS CLAIM FIRST VICTIM
    Kristof Gajsek <kiko@programmer.net>

(2) ICE BLOCKS RAIN ON FREEZING ITALY
    THE TIMES, 27 January 2000

(3) NOMAD ROBOT FINDS SECOND METEORITE
    ROBOTIC ANTARCTIC METEORITE SEARCH

(4) NEAR-EARTH ASTEROID DISCOVERY STATISTICS
    Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

(5) NEW SPECULATION ABOUT LIFE ON EUROPE
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(6) IMPROVING SOLAR FLARE PREDICTIONS
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(7) GLOBAL WARMING,  LITTLE ICE AGE & THE MALARIA SCARE
    EMERGING INFECTIOUS DESEASES

(8) AND FINALLY: DAFT COMPUTERS STILL FAIL TO UNDERSTAND WEATHER
    THE TIMES, 27 January 2000

==============
(1) ITALIAN ICE BALLS CLAIM FIRST VICTIM

From Kristof Gajsek <kiko@programmer.net>

Italian Man Felled by Ice Ball

http://www.discovery.com/news/earthalert/000124/hailitaly.html

Jan. 26, 2000 — Mysterious falling ice balls claimed their first
casualty when a man in the Italian city of Ancona suffered head
injuries after being struck on Tuesday. The victim was hospitalized 
after getting hit by a chunk of ice weighing more than 1 1/2 pounds.
Spain has also reported numerous similar incidents throughout the
country over the past two weeks, including one 9-pound block falling
on a car in the city of Seville.

Officials in Italy said there were four separate incidents on
Tuesday. Although the onset of the falling ice balls coincided with
a spate of cold weather, experts could not explain the phenomenon.
Italy's bout with the ice formations began last weekend when an
11-pound ball cascaded into the courtyard of a convent in the city
of Padua.

==============
(2) ICE BLOCKS RAIN ON FREEZING ITALY

From THE TIMES, 27 January 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Times/frontpage.html?999

Ice blocks rain on freezing Italy

FROM JOHN PHILLIPS IN ROME

AN UNUSUAL cold snap in Italy has knocked out cellular telephone
links, killed homeless people near St Peter's Square and, to the
population's growing alarm, caused mysterious ice blocks to tumble
from the sky.

Experts have been puzzling over the chunks of ice since since last
weekend, when the first blocks crashed on to a school in the northern
city of Padua.

On Tuesday a man in Ancona had a narrow escape when a block weighing
3.3lb landed on his head as he walked to work. Massimo Giunchi, 24,
suffered only minor injuries because he was wearing two hats to
protect himself from the cold.

In Marino in the Alban Hills, south of Rome, the groundkeeper of a
golf club discovered an ice block said to have weighed 11lb as he was
making his early-morning rounds. Just before midday in Milan, a
"pumpkin-sized" ice chunk crashed on to a street.

Rome's city council and the Vatican have earmarked special funds for
the homeless after the deaths of seven people living rough in the
capital since the Pope declared 2000 a special Holy Year to mark the
advent of the third Christian millennium. The victims included a
devout Austrian Roman Catholic woman, who died close to St
Peter's Square.

The owners of mobile telephone handsets were told not to leave them in
cars or outdoors as the freezing temperatures could damage the liquid
crystals in their displays.

Record temperatures were registered around the peninsula including
-27C in Livigno in the Sondrio province of Lombardy, -17C in Umbria
and -23C in the Abruzzo ski resort of Ovindoli. Reports from the
Vatican said that it was the coldest weather in Rome for 200
years. 

Copyright 2000, The Times Newspapers Ltd.

==============
(3) NOMAD ROBOT FINDS SECOND METEORITE

From ROBOTIC ANTARCTIC METEORITE SEARCH
http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/projects/meteorobot2000/rams2k/updates/012600.html


Updates for Jan 26, 2000

PROGRESS SUMMARY

by Dimi

Nomad has found a second meteorite. This meteorite was the only rock
sample found and classified in a sector of an open ice field. Nomad
found the meteorite while executing a search pattern of straight rows.
Nomad's classifier gave a 19.1% confidence value that the rock is of
extraterrestrial origin. Due to heading errors from Nomad's compass,
the subsequent row lead the robot back to the same meteorite, but
approached it from the opposite direction. The independent second
classification resulted in a 35% confidence which is the highest
reading we have seen so far from in situ autonomous search sample data.
It is important to note that the second reading was taken from a point
at the exposed core of the sample as opposed to the first reading which
was taken from a point on the surface covered with fusion crust. The
meteorite is an ordinary chondrite and approximately the "size of a
large fist" (Liam's quote).

About 2/3 of the visible surface is covered by fusion crust. The
meteorite has a dark brown color, even the fusion crust. This meteorite
was originally discovered by John and Liam during foot searches early
in the expedition. The purpose of this phase is to test Nomad's
classification on additional meteorite samples. This will give a
greater understanding of the robot's search and classification
capabilities. The field team has uploaded superb images of Nomad's
searches. In addition they have provided a few images that show the
first meteorite find next to one of the "meteorongs". The similarity is
striking.

http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/projects/meteorobot/exp2k/pics_20000125/

Nomad will continue its open ice searches tomorrow. Before the previous
demonstration and meteorite find, Nomad was tested on eight planted
rocks (including one meteorite brought from the U.S.) and correctly
classified seven of them (see detailed results below).

==================
(4) NEAR-EARTH ASTEROID DISCOVERY STATISTICS

From Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov>

We've added some new charts showing the discovery statistics
of Near-Earth asteroids to our NEO website:

Total Known Near-Earth Asteroids
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo.html#number

Near-Earth Asteroids Discovery By Site
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/stats.html

LINEAR has dominated the number of new discoveries
over the past 2 years.

Ron Baalke

===============
(5) NEW SPECULATION ABOUT LIFE ON EUROPE

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

Stanford University

Contact:

Mark Shwartz, News Service
(650) 725-0224; e-mail: mshwartz@stanford.edu

Dawn Levy, News Service
(650) 725-1944; e-mail: dawnlevy@stanford.edu

1/26/00

New findings support prospect of life on Jupiter's moon Europa
By Mark Shwartz

If alien creatures exist elsewhere in our solar system, they're most
likely to be found on Europa, one of 16 moons orbiting Jupiter.

There is strong evidence that beneath Europa's frozen exterior of ice
lies an ocean of liquid water -- one of the essential ingredients for
all living organisms.

Many scientists believe that this vast subterranean sea could host
living microorganisms similar in size and complexity to bacteria found
on Earth. Others question whether a frozen moon with a surface
temperature of -260 F (-170 C) can produce sources of energy useful for
the basic chemical reactions necessary for life.

But a new report in the Jan. 27 issue of the journal Nature concludes
that Europa does indeed contain plenty of biological fuels, thanks to
billions of charged particles that constantly rain down from
neighboring Jupiter.

This relentless bombarbment of radiation "should produce organic and
oxidant molecules sufficient to fuel a substantial Europan biosphere,"
writes Christopher Chyba, associate professor (research) of geological
and environmental sciences.

On Earth, all organisms use carbon as a basic building block of life to
construct everything from cells to DNA. Many organisms obtain their
energy from carbon-based molecules like sugar, and some form of energy
is required to free the carbon atoms from their chemical bonds.

Plants and algae use energy from sunlight to produce their own organic
molecules out of carbon dioxide gas taken from the atmosphere or the
ocean. The process is known as photosynthesis.

According to Chyba, sunlight would not provide enough energy to sustain
life on Europa since its ocean appears to lie "beneath an ice layer too
thick to permit photosynthesis."

A likelier source of energy, he concludes, may come from fast-moving,
charged particles that pound Europa from the atmosphere of Jupiter.
Jupiter has the strongest magnetic field of any planet," Chyba says,
more than 10 times stronger than Earth's. When protons, electrons and
other particles from space get trapped in Jupiter's magnetosphere, they
are accelerated to extremely high velocities.

Europa's orbital path around Jupiter lies deep within this powerful
magnetic field, so it receives a continuous barrage of electrified
particles or ions.

According to Chyba, when these ions slam into the icy surface of the
moon, chemical reactions are likely to occur, transforming frozen
molecules of water and carbon dioxide into new organic compounds
such as formaldehyde.

It turns out that one of the most common bacteria on Earth,
Hyphomicrobium, survives on formaldehyde as its sole source of carbon,
and Chyba believes that similar formaldehyde-feeding microbes could be
alive and swimming in Europa's subsurface ocean.

In addition to creating organic fuels, radiation from Jupiter also may
drive chemical reactions that produce oxidants -- molecules such as
oxygen and hydrogen peroxide that can be used to burn formaldehyde
and other carbon-based fuels.

But Chyba notes that the oxidant and organic molecules formed on
Europa's frigid surface "are biologically relevant only if they reach
the ocean."

The problem is that, if there is a liquid ocean on Europa, it's hidden
beneath an ice sheet about 50 to100 miles (80 to 170 km) thick. So if
extraterrestrial creatures are going to feast on formaldehyde, there
has to be a way to get that compound through the dense layer of ice
and into the liquid sea below.

Recent photographs taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft reveal evidence
of sudden melt-throughs in the ice that could allow oceanic microbes
to come into quick contact with oxidants and organic food sources. The
result could be a dramatic increase in population similar to "microbial
blooms" that periodically occur in the Earth's oceans. Chyba points out
that Europa's surface ice appears to get naturally recycled into the
ocean every 10 million years -- a process that would allow a very
gradual delivery of life-giving molecules to any submerged organisms.
And just how many microbes might exist in Europa's sea? Chyba's
conservative estimate: one per cubic centimeter -- a far cry from the
hundreds of thousands of organisms that occupy each cubic centimeter
of water on Earth.

Could life on our planet have its origins on Europa? Probably not,
according to Chyba.

"Europa is as old as our solar system," he says, "but it's probably too
far, too deep inside Jupiter's gravity well to have inoculated Earth
with life-bearing debris."

Chyba emphasizes that all theories about life on Europa hinge on proof
that a liquid body of water actually exists between the moon's surface
and its rocky core.

"The point is to go there and find out," Chyba says, noting that in three
years NASA plans to launch the Europa Orbiter satellite that will use
radar to detect the presence of large bodies of subsurface water. The
Orbiter should reach Europa in 2008, and NASA hopes to follow that
with a remote landing.

"We'll know in the next 10 years if there's an ocean," Chyba predicts.
"If there is, Europa will be the site of a series of new space missions."

As a student, Chyba's interest in extraterrestrial life led him to the
Cornell University laboratory of famed astronomer Carl Sagan, a
long-time advocate of planetary exploration. Chyba received his Ph.D.
in astronomy under Sagan's guidance in 1985. Today, in addition to his
post on the Stanford faculty, Chyba holds the Carl Sagan Chair for the
Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute in Mountain View,
Calif. "SETI" is the acronym for the Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence.

From 1993 to 1995, Chyba served as a White House adviser on national
security. Beginning Feb. 1, he will become co-director of the Stanford
Center for International Security and Cooperation, an organization
dedicated to finding innovative solutions to worldwide security
problems such as arms control and ethnic conflict.

==============
(6) IMPROVING SOLAR FLARE PREDICTIONS

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

Steve Roy
Media Relations Department
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL
(256) 544-0034
Steve.Roy@msfc.nasa.gov
http://www.msfc.nasa.gov/news

For Release: Jan. 26, 2000

RELEASE: 00-022

NASA Scientist Improves Solar Predictions

Solar flares can happen at any time and are difficult to predict, but a solar
physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has
devised a better way to predict their frequency.

Every 11 years, the Sun spawns a flurry of sunspots, solar flares and other
explosive events -- the result of cyclical shifts in the gaseous orb's
magnetic field. Such events can happen any time in the Sun's 11-year cycle,
which is akin to Earth's year. But at the peak of the cycle, called "solar
maximum" or "solar max," they're particularly plentiful.

Using a new forecasting technique, Dr. David Hathaway, leader of the
Marshall Center's solar physics group, predicts "this cycle looks like it's
going to be bigger than average, but probably similar to the last two
cycles or perhaps slightly smaller," he said.

Scientists have been watching and charting the Sun's explosive activity
since Galileo invented the telescope in the early 1600s. But while they've
been able to follow the 11-year cycle, they've had little success predicting
a cycle's month-to-month intensity in terms of the number of sunspots. The
sunspots are the precursors to solar flares and other events.

"If you look at it from day to day, the Sun's activity fluctuates wildly over
the course of a month," Hathaway said. "If you look at the monthly values,
they fluctuate wildly, as well."

Prior to the Space Age, the most visible effect of solar activity was the
showy aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, Hathaway said. "Because we're
more dependent on technology now -- in particular as we venture into
space — it's more important for us to understand solar activity and
predict it reliably so people can take the necessary precautions."

For instance, during the solar max of 1989, such a "solar power surge"
damaged transformers of the Hydro-Quebec power system, leaving 6
million people in Canada and the Northeast United States powerless for
more than nine hours.

Scientists have worked for decades with dozens of prediction techniques,
focusing on two methods to forecast sunspots: long-term predictions for
the size of the next cycle and month-to-month forecasts within a given
cycle. At best, their results have been mediocre. The long-term predictions,
called precursor methods, only forecast a cycle's general intensity. And the
month-to-month forecasts were accurate only in the middle of a cycle.

Hathaway analyzed scores of techniques, combining the best of both
methods. He took two precursor methods that generally scored much
better than others and usually had offsetting errors, and combined them
into a weighted value. These values were then used with a bell curve of
monthly sunspot activity. When he aligned the low points of the curve with
low points of the current solar activity cycle, he found the results were
better than expected.

"Three out of the last four months have been right on what we have
predicted," he said.

Hathaway predicts solar max 2000 will reach its peak in mid to late 2000,
but high levels of activity will continue well into 2001. "The sunspot
maximum is usually a broad peak," he said. "There is a two- or three-year
period when activity is quite high." Still, he said, solar max 2000 will be
"no record-breaker."

Note to Editors / News Directors: For an interview with Hathaway, or
photos and video supporting this release, please contact Steve Roy of
the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034.

============
(7) GLOBAL WARMING,  LITTLE ICE AGE & THE MALARIA SCARE

From EMERGING INFECTIOUS DESEASES
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol6no1/reiter.htm

FROM SHAKESPEARE TO DEFOE:
MALARIA IN ENGLAND IN THE LITTLE ICE AGE

Paul Reiter
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Juan, Puerto Rico
                                             
Present global temperatures are in a warming phase that began 200 to
300 years ago. Some climate models suggest that human activities may
have exacerbated this phase by raising the atmospheric concentration of
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Discussions of the potential
effects of the weather include predictions that malaria will emerge
from the tropics and become established in Europe and North America.
The complex ecology and transmission dynamics of the disease, as well
as accounts of its early history, refute such predictions. Until the
second half of the 20th century, malaria was endemic and widespread in
many temperate regions, with major epidemics as far north as the Arctic
Circle. From 1564 to the 1730s—the coldest period of the Little Ice
Age—malaria was an important cause of illness and death in several
parts of England. Transmission began to decline only in the 19th
century, when the present warming trend was well under way. The history
of the disease in England underscores the role of factors other than
temperature in malaria transmission.

The earth's climate has always been in a state of change. The past 250
to 300 years have seen a fairly steady warming trend. Average 
temperatures are now approaching those at the height of the Medieval
Warm Period, near the end of the 12th century. The intervening 
centuries included a much colder period, the Little Ice Age, by far the
most important climatic fluctuation in recent history. Such
fluctuations, spanning several generations, are natural phenomena that
have recurred several times in the past 10,000 years. They take place
against a backdrop of episodes of longer duration and greater impact,
such as the last Ice Age (1,600,000 to 10,000 years ago). In recent
years, there has been growing concern that human activities may be
modifying the natural climate. A decline in temperatures from the 1940s
to the late 1970s gave rise to warnings that industrial pollutants were
causing global cooling. Subsequent warming has been attributed to
increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by
burning fossil fuels, and other greenhouse gases. Climate models
suggest that this trend could accelerate in the coming century,
although the contribution of human-induced greenhouse gases to global
temperatures is far from clear.

FULL PAPER at
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol6no1/reiter.htm

================
(8) AND FINALLY: DAFT COMPUTERS STILL FAIL TO UNDERSTAND WEATHER

From THE TIMES, 27 January 2000
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Times/frontpage.html?999

COMPUTERS FAIL TO NOTICE US SNOWSTORM

FROM IAN BRODIE IN WASHINGTON

IT SOUNDED phenomenal a week ago, as American meteorologists unveiled a
supercomputer capable of 2,500 billion calculations a second that would
give them warning of impending weather problems up to ten days in
advance. As it turned out, the new marvel failed to notice a huge
snowstorm until it was almost on the doorstep.

By yesterday, as the paralysed East Coast of the United States dug out
from South Carolina to Massachusetts, there was much hand-wringing
among weather forecasters over their misreading of the size, intensity
and course of the storm.

For a second day, the federal Government remained closed in Washington.
So, too, did hundreds of schools and businesses. Airlines struggled
back into operation, but delays were horrendous.

The new IBM supercomputer, running an array of programmes said to be
the world's best for weather forecasting, had digested reams of data
from balloons, satellites, ships and ocean buoys on Monday. At 3.30pm,
the National Weather Service announced: "A 40 per cent chance of light
snow. Total accumulation: less than one inch." It was not until 10pm
that forecasters issued their first winter storm warning, but by then
it was too late. Most Americans get their weather forecasts from the
early evening television news.

FULL STORY at
http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/Times/frontpage.html?999


----------------------------------------
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----------------------------------------
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please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and
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*

LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR, 27 January 2000
-----------------------------------------


(1) WHY OCKHAM'S RAZOR FAVOURS PANSPERMIA THEORIES OF LIFE
    Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe <xdw20@dial.pipex.com>

(2) MORE DOUBTS ABOUT EXTRATERRESTRIAL AMINO ACIDS
    Iain Gilmour <I.Gilmour@open.ac.uk>
    Mark Sephton <m.a.sephton@open.ac.uk>
    Andrew Steele <andrew.steele@easynet.co.uk>

(3) ON THE TERRESTRIAL NATURE OF ICE OBJECTS
    Josep Ma. Trigo i Rodriguez <jmtrigo@ctv.es>

(4) SEVERE RAINSTORMS IN EGYPT
    Doug Keenan <Doug.Keenan@virgin.net>


=============
(1) WHY OCKHAM'S RAZOR FAVOURS PANSPERMIA THEORIES OF LIFE

From Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe <xdw20@dial.pipex.com>

Dear Benny:

It is precisely the circumstance of the 1 in 10^130 - type chance of
random assembly of a protein, cited by Glikson, that makes panspermia
theories score over insitu generation theories of life. In our model
it takes all the resources of all the stars in the Universe to get the
first living system started, but once begun its continuity and
propagation is assured. Comets mop up and vastly amplify a minute
surviving fraction of bacteria from a presolar cloud. Of course
DNA/RNA in comets could only amplify as components of cells.

Critics such as Glikson, who seem to have an unshakable conviction
(prejudice) that panspermia has to be wrong, would  be well advised to
study all our writings first before profering ill-considered
judgements.

Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe

====================
(2) MORE DOUBTS ABOUT EXTRATERRESTRIAL AMINO ACIDS

From Iain Gilmour <I.Gilmour@open.ac.uk>
     Mark Sephton <m.a.sephton@open.ac.uk>
     Andrew Steele <andrew.steele@easynet.co.uk>

Dear Benny:

More on the "extraterrestrial amino acids" alpha amino-isobutyric
acid (AIB) and isovaline. As mentioned yesterday, isovaline is a
common constituent of soil fungi. The situation with AIB as a
diagnostic indicator of extraterrestrial material is not much
better.

AIB is important for forming alpha helices for one of the most
common secondary protein structures. Also AIB is part of ATP
synthase i.e., is in every living cell and probably fingerprints!

Part of the problem is that the microbiology references most of the
planetary community use are all circa mid-seventies to mid-eighties
and the field of microbiology has quantum leaped since then.

To attempt to use either of these amino acids as diagnostic
indicators of extraterrestrial material is risky at best. However,
the story does not end there. Murchison amino acids have very heavy
carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions (cf. terrestrial material).
An obvious experiment is therefore to look at the nitrogen isotope
composition of amino acids in KT boundary material or anywhere else
that "impact derived amino acids" might be suspected. In fact, this
experiment was done a couple of years ago by a student of Steve
Macko's at the University of Virginia for an abstract presented at a
GSA meeting. They found no anomalous isotope signatures.

In our opinion this simply reinforces the evidence that the KT amino
acids have nothing to do with the KT impact but are a feature common
to most organic geochemical analyses - contamination.

Regards,

Iain Gilmour & Mark Sephton, PSRI, The Open University.
Andy Steele, NASA/JSC & University of Portsmouth Microbiology Laboratory.

===============
(3) ON THE TERRESTRIAL NATURE OF ICE OBJECTS

From Josep Ma. Trigo i Rodriguez <jmtrigo@ctv.es>

Dear Mr. Peiser,

First of all, my sincere congratulations for the quality of the
CCNet-LETTERS discussion forum. I am sending you our oppinion on the
terrestrial nature of ice objects fallen on Spain and Italy. We hope
you can include it in a next issue.

Best wishes,
Josep Ma. Trigo i Rodriguez


ON THE TERRESTRIAL NATURE OF ICE OBJECTS

The Spanish Fireball Network is an interdisciplinary project of three
mediterranian universities (Valencia, Castello and Barcelona) together
with the Research Catalan Foundation (FCR). We analyse the fireballs
produced by the entry of meteoroids in the Earth atmosphere using
photographic and video techniques. We explain below our mean arguments
to claim that these ice ball objects cannot have cosmic origin.

- Actually our knowledge on the composition of these ice balls is
increasing. Past week the Chemistry Department of the University of
Valencia obtained a detailed analysis of one reliable ice ball fallen
near Valencia. From this and other analysis obtained by the Spanish
Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) we can say that the
objects really fallen from the sky are composed by water ice with
little quantities of some common salts. In all cases the isotopic
composition corresponds closely to the natural isotopic mix of
atmospheric water. In these conditions, we must remark here that none
of solar system objects (comets either) have similar composition.
Comets are bodies formed by ice-dust dark aggregates as suggested long
time ago Fred L. Whipple. We know that cometary ice is a very complex
mixture of dust particles with ices of water, methane, ammonia,
etc...In any case all cometary components have important isotopic
anomalies.

- Velocities of Solar System objects at their encounter with the Earth
atmosphere are necessary within a limit, consequence of encounter
geometry and the relative velocity between the bodies. The lower impact
velocity of a meteoroid with our atmosphere is 11,2 km/s (considering
only Earth's gravity). The upper limit is close to 73 km/s (considering
a 30.3 km/s velocity plus a 42.5 km/s velocity to an object following a
parabolic orbit). During the entry the preheating is intense and the
surface temperature of meteoroid rises rapidly. Surface temperatures as
low as 500 K and shock pressures can disrupt with rapidity a
homogeneous ice body.

- The mass loss during the atmospheric ablation can reach the 100%
meteoroid mass, especially in low-density bodies as reported. In any
case them must originate an impressive fireball seen by a lot of
people. No one reports such event connected to the ice-ball falls. Our
Photographic Network either reports a significative fireball activity
increase during the past month.

- As consequence of high velocity entry and hard atmospheric ablation
the fall of a 5kg-ice body in the Earth surface implies a huge entering
body. But we cannot explain either the fall of a single 5 kg object.
The reason is that to low density material (as water ice) is expected
the disintegration in multitude of fragments, falling in an impressive
rain as has been reported in real meteorite events.

- Finally we can calculate the impact expected velocity into the Earth
surface of 1-10kg mass bodies. Assuming free fall after deceleration
this velocity would be close to 100 m/s. We think clearly that such
velocity is higher that the estimated in the majority of reported fall
events.

All previous arguments lead to the conclusion that the reported falls
of ice objects in Spain and, recently, in Italy are originated by an
atmospheric unknown phenomenon or, more probably as in other
occasions, due to natural ice formation on the fuselage or ejection of
on-board water in aeroplanes. In any case a cosmic origin is highly
improbable.

Josep Ma. Trigo i Rodriguez
SPANISH PHOTOGRAPHIC METEOR NETWORK (SPMN)
-Dept. Astronomy & Astrophysics, Universitat de València               
-Prof. Dept. Experimental Sciences, Universitat Jaume I
E-mails: jmtrigo@ctv.es / trigo@exp.uji.es
Web page: http://www.ctv.es/USERS/jmtrigo/
Phones: (+Spain Code 34)  964 -  282584  / 282968  (office)
(964) 395064 (part.) Fax: 964 - 285161
Postal address: c/ Manuel de Falla 26,
12.560 Benicassim (Castello) SPAIN

===================
(4) SEVERE RAINSTORMS IN EGYPT

From Doug Keenan <Doug.Keenan@virgin.net>

Benny,

Regarding Mr. Ogilvie-Herald's request, the most famous example of an
ancient Egyptian text describing severe rainstorms is the Tempest Stele:

     ... a tempest of rain
     ... unleashed without cessation
     ... [that] flooded territories

The tempest occurred at the beginning of the 18th dynasty--see K. P.
Foster & R. K. Ritner, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 55: 1-14 [1996].

Giovanni Belzoni (one of the earliest modern Egyptological excavators)
told of some severe rains in his "Narrative of the Operations and
Recent Discoveries in Egypt and Nubia" [1822]--see vol.II, p. 137,
308-309. On p. 138 Belzoni notes that the raindrops are large: the
larger the drops, the more prone to runoff, rather than
infiltration--at least in soil or sand.

I realize that the second reference is more modern than he was looking 
for. It does, however, provide further support for the Dr. Harrell's
claims. It also illustrates how monthly averages can mislead.

I've been looking at the climatic mechanisms underlying severe Egyptian
rainstorms. This is still at the research stage though.

There are also two records of the precipitation of Israel that extend
back over millennia. See the papers by M. A. Geyh and H. J. Bruins in
"Late Quaternary Chronology and Paleoclimates of the Eastern
Mediterranean" (editors--O. Bar-Yosef & R. S. Kra) [1994].  Note though
that neither of these records is guaranteed reliable (in either
axis--i.e. time or amount).

Cheers,
Doug Keenan
http://freespace.virgin.net/doug.keenan

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