PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 19/2003 -  19 February 2003
---------------------------------


"A forgotten report on ocean waves generated by nuclear explosions
has surfaced, forcing researchers to rethink their theories on asteroid
impacts. "It appears the defence community has already determined
that explosion-generated waves are neither a serious threat nor a
promising weapon," writes Jay Melosh in his abstract. Such risk assessments
are extremely important as governments consider the costs of telescopes or
satellites needed to conduct asteroid surveys. Scientists agree that
the impact of an asteroid larger than 1 km in diameter would be
catastrophic, but there is much debate over the risk from smaller
ones. If Earth is under threat only from larger asteroids, then equipment
and research costs will be much lower than if scientists also have to
look out for numerous smaller objects."
--Rex Dalton, Nature, 13 February 2003


"For a disaster plan to be successful, Lee Clarke said that
communication must play an integral role. He pointed out that officials
may lose the public's trust and doom the plan to failure if information is
withheld based on the false assumption that people will become hysterical.
----Space Daily, 18 February 2003
 

(1) SPECTACULAR SOHO IMAGES OF COMET NEAT AND A SOLAR STORM
    Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

(2) AMAZING LIVE IMAGES: SUNGRAZING COMET POSSIBLY HIT BY SOLAR ERUPTION
    Space.com, 18 February 2003

(3) LONG-LOST WAVE REPORT SINKS ASTEROID IMPACT THEORY
    NATURE, 13 February 2003, p. 679

(4) NASA TO "INVEST IN SPECTACLES, NOT TELESCOPES"?
    Raynelle Feinstein <pmfeinstein@earthlink.net>

(5) THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF A NEO IMPACT
    Space Daily, 18 February 2003

(6) ROSETTA FACES UNPLEASANT OPTIONS: NOT ONE COMET IN SIGHT THAT SUITS ALL WISHES
    The Cosmic Mirror, 16 February 2003

(7) POSSIBLE IMPACT CRATER IN PERU
    Maximiliano Rocca <maxrocca@hotmail.com>

(8) ANOTHER TENTATIVE IMPACT STRUCTURE IN PATAGONIA
    Maximiliano Rocca <maxrocca@hotmail.com>

(9) EXTINCTION THEORIES
    The Globe and Mail 18 February 2003

(11) COMETS OF RECENT HISTORY, POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON EARTH
     Hermann Burchard <burchar@math.okstate.edu>

(12) AND FINALLY: AAAS 'GOES HOLLYWOOD' TO DRAMATIZE PERILS OF SCIENCE
COMMUNICATION
     (No, this is not about AAAS asteroid cover-up press release :-)
     Eurekalert, 15 February 2003

=============
(1) SPECTACULAR SOHO IMAGES OF COMET NEAT AND A SOLAR STORM

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

This unique image shows comet NEAT's brilliant tail billowing from the
comet's  rapidly evaporating nucleus, while a solar storm (a Coronal Mass
Ejection) appear to be heading
for the comet. Is it really?. Check the lates SOHO images today to see what
happens as the cloud expands into space.
http://zeus.nascom.nasa.gov/~pbrekke/TEMP/Comet-neat.jpg
(NOTE: please use this image but do not link it up since it will not be a
permanent link)

Note: The horizontal line near the head of the comet is a digital imaging
artifact caused by saturation of camera pixels.

A coronal mass ejection yesterday appear to have ineracted with the comet as
SOHO scientists belive to have seen a kink propagating down the ion tail of the comet.

The initiation of the eruption can be seen here:
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/javagif/gifs_small/20030218_0200_eit_195.gif
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/javagif/gifs_small/20030218_0212_eit_195.gif
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/javagif/gifs_small/20030218_0308_c2.gif

Follow the comet the two next days here:
http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/2003_02_12/
http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html

Paal

===========
(2) AMAZING LIVE IMAGES: SUNGRAZING COMET POSSIBLY HIT BY SOLAR ERUPTION

>From Space.com, 18 February 2003
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/neat_soho_030218.html

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer

The SOHO spacecraft is currently generating spectacular images of a recently
found comet called NEAT as the icy body circles the Sun and appears to have
been struck by a massive solar eruption. The chance encounter could lead to
new discoveries about the interactions of comets with hot, charged particles
billowing from the Sun.

NEAT is putting on what may turn out to be the most remarkable comet show
ever witnessed by SOHO, which has photographed more than 500 comets rounding
the Sun.

"It is far the brightest and largest comet seen," Paal Brekke, SOHO deputy
project scientist, told SPACE.com. 
 
Comet NEAT near the Sun on Feb. 18 as a coronal mass ejection billows out.
The horizontal line running through the comet's head is an artifact caused
by saturation of the imager. The circle in the middle is created by a device
that blocks out the main disk of the Sun.

SOHO stands for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. The satellite sits
partway between Earth and the Sun and is designed primarily to monitor space
weather like the eruption currently witnessed. Live images of the comet and
the eruptive event are available at the SOHO website to anyone with an
Internet connection.

The comet, officially C/2002 V1, should be visible in SOHO's LASCO-3 camera
through the pre-dawn hours Thursday.

A solar eruption, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), appears to have hit
the comet Monday, Brekke said. Scientists think they observed a kink
propagating down the comet's ion tail.

"Certainly such effects from a CME could give us new information about
comets, their tails and how they interact with the solar wind," said Brekke,
who works for the European Space Agency out of an office at NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center. SOHO is a joint project between the two agencies.

Another eruption lifted off the Sun early Tuesday [as seen in the picture
near the top-right of this page] but it's not clear yet which direction it
is aimed.

NEAT was just one-tenth of Earth's distance from the Sun when it made its
closest approach to the Sun this week. Solar energy boils gas and dust from
the comet's nucleus. Sunlight then reflects off this fresh material,
creating the glowing head and tail of the comet. The tail always points away
from the Sun, driven by solar radiation.

The comet was faintly visible in the evening sky last week for viewers with
dark sky conditions. It has been in LASCO's field of view since Sunday. It
will begin to drop out of the picture, in the lower right, at about 4 or 5
a.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 20.

NEAT will then begin a long journey back out into the fringes of the solar
system. While Earth orbits the Sun every year, comet NEAT requires about
37,000 years to make a single, elongated loop.

Live and archived pictures and animations of NEAT, taken by the LASCO-3
imager, are available on the SOHO website.

Copyright 2003, Space.com

===========
(3) IMPACT TSUNAMI "NO SERIOUS THREAT"

>From NATURE, 13 February 2003, p. 679

Long-lost wave report sinks asteroid impact theory

Rex Dalton, San Diego

A forgotten report on ocean waves generated by nuclear explosions has
surfaced, forcing researchers to rethink their theories on asteroid impacts.

The "Handbook of Explosion-Generated Water Waves" was completed in 1968 at
the request of the US Office of Naval Research by William Van Dorn of the
Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. But it was not
entered into an academic library catalogue until March 2002, when Scripps'
library did so as part of a project to record old technical reports.

Since the report was written, planetary scientists have investigated the
potential effect of small asteroids -- particularly those with diameters of
100-500 metres -- landing in the ocean, and have concluded that the
resulting tsunamis could devestate regions over 20 kilometres inland.

But new analyses of Van Dorn's highly technical report on waves produced by
nuclear explosions, which takes account of factors such as the absorption
of wave energy by continental coastal shelves, indicate that tsunami damage
would be limited to immediate coastal areas.

Jay Melosh, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson,
tracked down the report last year.  He plans to talk at the Lunar and
Planetary Science Conference in League City, Texas, next month about his own
analyses that predict limited inland damage from asteroid-generated waves.
"It appears the defence community has already determined that
explosion-generated waves are neither a serious threat nor a promising
weapon," writes Melosh in his abstract.

Such risk assessments are extremely important as governments consider the
costs of telescopes or satellites needed to conduct asteroid surveys.
Scientists agree that the impact of an asteroid larger than 1 km in diameter
would be catastrophic, but there is much debate over the risk from smaller
ones.  If Earth is under threat only from larger asteroids, then equipment
and research costs will be much lower than if scientists also have to look
out for numerous smaller objects.

The US government is funding the development of the Panoramic Survey
Telescope and Rapid Response System and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope,
whose brief includes surveys of asteroids of various sizes. The latter
telescope is expected to cost around $200 million.

A NASA task force is to complete a report in the spring on the risk from
smaller asteroids. "It is fortunate this very important report has come out
now," says Steve Chesley, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and a member of the task force.

Copyright 2003, Nature

===========
(4) NASA TO "INVEST IN SPECTACLES, NOT TELESCOPES"?

>From Raynelle Feinstein <pmfeinstein@earthlink.net>

Dear Mr. Peiser,

In my rush to send the Nature article "Long-lost wave report ...", I didn't
include the cartoon. I'll describe it as well as I can:

Man in suit and tie, stands in front of a "Lunar and Planetary Science
Conference" poster, prominently holding "Handbook of Explosion-generated
Water Waves," by W. Van Dorn. He says:
"Instead of large new telescopes, perhaps we should just invest in some
decent spectacles ... "

As a person without any science training, I shouldn't comment the "long-lost
report" -- but I will, of course.

1. It's great news -- IF the info applies directly to asteroid impacts. I'm
skeptical and suspect nuclear-generated explosions differ, perhaps a great
deal, from asteroid impact-generated explosions.

2. 70% of the earth is covered with ocean. So, what about the other 30%?
Don't we need telescopes for that? Or is 2/3 coverage "good enough?"

3. Computer modeling, geophysics and math have progressed since 1968. Has
anyone checked Van Dorn's study, applying modern methods and data?

4. What about the effects of impact-generated earthquakes? Isn't there a
transfer of kinetic energy even in smaller asteroid impacts? Does ALL the
kinetic energy transform into nuclear energy in a nano-second? I know I
don't know any physics, but that just doesn't seem possible.  (My internal
"nonsense detector" didn't clang that loudly even when "spontaneous
generation" was described to me. I guess it needs a physics education.)

5. Can Van Dorn's study results be racheted up enough to be used to compare
with what are believed to be the tsunamis generated by Chicxulub? (See:
CCNet 99/2002 - 22 August 2002.)

6. I WISH there were some way to translate Van Dorn's paper into something
usable to make predictions about Shoemaker/Levy, and then to compare the
predictions with the actuality. That's the only impact we've actually seen.

I hope someone will post the Handbook of Explosion-Generated Water Waves to
the net so it can be widely reviewed.

Thank you,
Raynelle Feinstein

===========
(5) THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF A NEO IMPACT

>From Space Daily, 18 February 2003
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/deepimpact-03e.html

New Brunswick - Feb 17, 2003

Recently Lee Clarke, a sociology professor at Rutgers, The State University
of New Jersey, discussed "Responding to Panic in a Global Impact
Catastrophe" during a symposium at the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Denver.
The session, "The Asteroid/Comet Impact Hazard: A Decade of Growing
Awareness," took place Thursday morning (Feb. 14) at the Colorado Convention
Center.

Clarke is an internationally known expert in disasters and in organizational
and technological failures. He has written about panic, civil defense,
evacuation and community response to disaster, and is the author of "Mission
Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster," a book about planning
for very low probability-high consequence events.

Despite the mass panic depicted in the movies and on television, Clarke said
this is not what happens in real disasters. "We have five decades of
research on all kinds of disasters -- earthquakes, tornadoes, airplane
crashes, etc.-- and people rarely lose control," he said.

"Policy-makers have yet to accept this. People are quite capable of
following plans, even in the face of extreme calamities, but such plans must
be there."

For a disaster plan to be successful, Clarke said that communication must
play an integral role. He pointed out that officials may lose the public's
trust and doom the plan to failure if information is withheld based on the
false assumption that people will become hysterical.

Clarke issued the caveat that for plans to be effective, a nation must have
a sufficiently developed infrastructure for carrying out a civil defense
program during a major disaster. Clarke noted that no one has actually
planned for the massive disaster that could accompany collision with a
near-earth object (NEO) -- a comet or an asteroid.

"While the idea of this happening is almost unthinkable, we must realize
that no countries have plans in place nor are there international agreements
for coordinated civil defense responses," he said.

"The United States is the world leader in most things, and we ought to be
out in front in talking about the danger and in expending resources on
deflection and mitigation," he continued.

Though science policy advisers from the 30 member nations of the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development are considering NEO
contingency proposals, Third World countries are not represented. Clarke
stressed that the problem needs to be highlighted in the United Nations,
where the voices and interests of poorer countries can be heard.

Clarke posed the example of an NEO striking the ocean, a likely scenario
since 70 percent of the earth's surface is ocean. "An asteroid hitting the
water could create an immense wave hitting the coasts," Clarke said. "An
appropriate civil defense plan could focus on moving the population inland
prior to impact."

He said that even now we should be talking publicly about population
relocation, potentially on a massive scale, and developing incentives for
geographical redevelopment to slow the rate of people moving into vulnerable
places.

"Earth's history is filled with unanticipated catastrophes and their
disastrous consequences. With appropriate planning, the human toll could be
lessened," said Clarke.

=========
(6) ROSETTA FACES UNPLEASANT OPTIONS: NOT ONE COMET IN SIGHT THAT SUITS ALL WISHES

>From The Cosmic Mirror, 16 February 2003
http://www.astro.uni-bonn.de/~dfischer/mirror/249.html

The ambitious European comet mission Rosetta is in greater difficulties
after the loss of the original launch window in January to comet
46P/Wirtanen (see Update # 247 lead) than it had seemed in the weeks since:
Practically all of the potential targets have been eliminated for one reason
or another. Only two possibilities remain at the moment: heading for
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (nicknamed Chury) in February 2004 on an Ariane 5
P1+ or going to Wirtanen after all, in January 2004 on a Russian Proton DM.
Both options carry severe technical risks, and with Chury also the survival,
let alone scientific return, of the lander can not be guaranteed right now.
Here are the pros and esp. cons as presented at the 12th meeting of
Rosetta's Science Working Team at ESTEC in the Netherlands on Feb. 13:

Waiting for the next easy launch window to Wirtanen - takes way too long.
Keeping Wirtanen as the target would have one major advantage: The
spacecraft and especially its lander are designed for this comet with its
small nucleus (diameter approx. 1.6 km). But ESA also wants to have Rosetta
in space by mid-2005, so there's no way to wait for Wirtanen to compete
another 5.5 year orbit.

Going to Wirtanen via Venus - impossible. Rosetta is only qualified to go
within 0.9 AU of the Sun: A flyby of Venus (that would sling the spacecraft
to a 2012 rendezvous with Wirtanen after launches in Oct. 2003 or even April
2004) would surely damage many systems. And Rosetta, right now stored in a
cleanroom in Kourou in flight-ready condition, cannot be redesigned in time
- and should be touched as little as possible anyway.

Going to Tempel 2 or Howell - pretty much impossible. While those two comets
could be reached without using Venus, Rosetta would still have to approach
the Sun to within 0.8 AU and could be damaged. Also the nucleus of Tempel 2
is way too big with 16 x 8 km: Rosetta's lander would be destroyed, crashing
onto the surface in the comparably strong gravity field.

Going to Chury - easy but dangerous! In principle the easiest solution would
be to use an Ariane 5 P1+ to launch in February 2004 and reach
Churyumov-Gerasimenko via Earth and Mars flybys in 2014. But this requires
that such an Ariane (a slightly modified version of the standard model) is
available and qualified by then - ESA has »reserved« one but Arianespace
cannot guarantee it'll be there. Furthermore Chury's nucleus with about 5 km
diameter is still too big for the current lander - which, even when
successful, would deliver less science because some of its instruments
require a small nucleus.

Going to Wirtanen with a stronger rocket - a technical challenge! This idea,
with a launch in January 2004, seems to be the favorite with many of
Rosetta's scientists, but it requires a stronger rocket than the Ariane 5
P1+ to leave Earth with greater velocity. The Ariane 5 ECA could do it in
principle, but it won't be ready in early 2004, Arianespace has had to admit
(e.g. in Space News of Feb. 10, p.3): The only qualified rocket strong
enough would be Russia's Proton DM. Rosetta is 40 cm to big for the Proton's
payload fairing, though, which would have to be modified and qualified, all
within the next 10 months ...

So these are the options ESA has to choose from within weeks: At its next
meeting on Feb. 25/26 the Science Programme Committee is to endorse a
solution, and at its next meeting in May a final decision must be made. At
the Science Working Team meeting a resolution was adopted that urges ESA to
work on the Wirtanen option as the better way to go. But in parallel all
possibilities should be studied to adapt the lander for Chury's gravity,
while all possible ground- and space-based opportunities should be used to
characterize its nucleus and behavior. Already extraordinary observing time
with the HST has been applied for, and ESO's telescopes are aimed at Chury
right now: On Feb. 12 it was showing strong jet activity, outbound from the
Sun at 2.3 AU.

========
(7) POSSIBLE IMPACT CRATER IN PERU

>From Maximiliano Rocca <maxrocca@hotmail.com>

Dear Benny:

Hello after so long itme.

I have been reading CCNet all these past months and it was always usefull to
me to be up-to-date about the developments in the world of NEOs and Impacts.
Great work!

I am happy to tell you that my research is now been funded by The Planetary
Society, CA, USA.I am deeply thankful to them. Argentina is still a messland
but I manage to live and work.

Bellow I am sending you a short report about a possible new impact crater in
Peru, South America.
Will love to share it with the CCNet readers!
Regards and thanks!: max

A POSSIBLE  2KM SIMPLE IMPACT CRATER IN PUNO, PERU, SOUTH AMERICA.
M. C. L. Rocca , Mendoza 2779-16A, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina,
(1428DKU), maxrocca@hotmail.com.

This work was funded by The Planetary Society, CA, USA.

Introduction:

By the examination of the  X-SAR/ HRMGD radar images of the DLR/DFD, Berlin,
Germany, a possible new simple crater was found in Peru, South America.
Position: South of Puno, Puno, Republic of Peru, ( S 15.90º  W 70.1º).
Identification of the radar image: D-PAF J. Nº 220097,
GMT 04-OCT-1994 / 06:55:15.
Available on the web at http://satftp.soest.hawaii.edu/dlr/jpeg/ql 13158.jpg
Diameter: about 2 km.
The crater seems to be well preserved.
A bright spot is visible in the crater's center.
Probably, it could be explained by a  central playa deposit containing
significant amounts of mineral salts and /or vegetation which produce
distinctly brighter radar signals.
The area is part of the Titicaca Lake's Basin and it is composed of
Quaternary-Recent aluvional deposits and Paleozoic Acid rocks, [ 1, 2 ].
Unfortunately, the detailed geologic map of the area ( Carta 32-V, Puno,
1993-1996 ) was not available for inspection. This is the first possible
impact site reported for this Latin American nation.
The site will be subject of more research.

References:
[1]  Steinmann G. ( 1930 ), " Geologia del Peru", 448 pp.( in Spanish )
[2] Geologic Map of Peru, 1996.

=======
(8) ANOTHER TENTATIVE IMPACT STRUCTURE IN PATAGONIA

>From Maximiliano Rocca <maxrocca@hotmail.com>

Dear Benny:

Bellow another possible new impact structure ... this time coming  form
Gravimetric data of the Patagonia.

regards: max

A POSSIBLE LARGE IMPACT STRUCTURE IN RIO NEGRO, PATAGONIA, ARGENTINA.
M. C. L. Rocca , Mendoza 2779-16A, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina,
(1428DKU),maxrocca@hotmail.com.

This work was funded by The Planetary Society, CA, USA.

Introduction:

A Search for potential unknown underground large impact structures in the
whole Republic Argentina was performed by the author. The gravimetric
Bouguer anomalies map of Argentina ( 1cm.= 150 km., 1998) was examined at
the Servicio Geologico y Minero ( SEGEMAR ) of Buenos Aires.

A promising candidate site was found.

A circular gravimetric Bouguer anomaly of clear negative values located
close to Rio Negro river in the area of Gran Bajo del Gualicho, (Rio Negro
Province, Patagonia, Argentina - W 66º00'  S40º00' ) could be a covered
complex impact structure.
Estimated diameter: 50 km. No surface expression of this circular structure
is visible in LANDSAT satellite color images (scale 1=250,000 ). The anomaly
has no evident structural connection with the local geology and there is no
reported large, 50 kilometers wide, felsic intrusion in the area. The whole
area is relatively flat and it is covered of Tertiary age marine sediments,
[1]. If the anomaly is in fact an impact, then it would be one completely
covered and probably older than several million years. The area is promising
and will be subject of more research.

References:
[1] Lizuain A. and Sepulveda E. (1979)  :in VII Congreso Geologico
Argentino, Actas I, pp. 407-422, (in Spanish).

===========
(9) EXTINCTION THEORIES

>From The Globe and Mail 18 February 2003
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030218/TUELETS-13/Comment/Idx
 
By DAVID SKENE-MELVIN
 
Toronto -- I am as much a Canadian nationalist as anyone, but I must take
issue with Anne McIlroy's assertion in her otherwise quite excellent and
timely article (Watching For The Big One -- Feb. 15) that "it was a
distinguished Canadian geologist, Digby McLaren, who in 1970 first proposed
that asteroids or comets might be linked to mass extinctions."

The idea that a giant impact could cause a mass extinction dates back to
Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, who suggested in 1742 that comets had
struck the Earth and caused extinction by changing the atmosphere and the
oceans. The idea was first published in his Les oeuvres de M. de Maupertuis
in 1750.

It was taken up by P. S. de Laplace, who wrote in Exposition du système de
monde (1813) that a meteorite of great size striking Earth would produce a
cataclysm that would wipe out entire species. Geologists remained stubbornly
unconvinced until the 1980s.

----------
MODERATOR'S NOTE: My Letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail: No offence
to Canadian or French nationalists. But when it comes to extraterrestrial
extinction theories, Jewish and British astronomers can make a compellingly
claim for originality: The first speculation about an impact-triggered mass
extinction was formulated almost 2000 years ago by the Jewish astronomer
Rabbi bar Nachmani (3rd century CE). Trying to find a natural cause for
Noah's Flood, Rabbi bar Nachmani claimed that the Flood and the ensuing mass
extinction was set off by two 'stars' which had punctuated the Earth. The
Talmud quotes his theory in simple terminology: "When God decided the bring
about the Flood, He took two stars from Khima [a place of hundred stars],
threw them on Earth, and brought about the Flood" (Tractate Brakhot, 59). In
the 17th century, Edmund Halley and William Whiston revived this impact idea
when they developed the first scientific theories about cometary
punctuations causing the biblical flood. Benny Peiser.

========
(10) CALLING ALL STUDENTS AND UNIVERSITIES

>From ESA, 18 February 2003
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEM5KU1A6BD_index_0.html
 
The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for innovative, imaginative
ideas, concepts and technologies to enhance Europe's long-term Aurora
programme for the robotic and human exploration of the Moon, Mars and
asteroids.
 
Teams of graduate and undergraduate students from universities in Europe and
Canada are invited to participate in this exciting programme by entering the
Aurora Student Design Competition. Student teams will be expected to work
with their professors and supervisors to produce a project relevant to the
Aurora programme.

MORE INFO at http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEM5KU1A6BD_index_0.html

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

(11) COMETS OF RECENT HISTORY, POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON EARTH

>From Hermann Burchard <burchar@math.okstate.edu>

Dear Benny,

the Little Ice Age might have been caused by frequent cometary dust
injections into our atmosphere. Wars would result from the cold weather.
Disgruntled subjects of monarchs would be more likely to rebel: Not because
they SAW giant comets threaten in the sky but because comet dust made them
COLD and HUNGRY.

Responding to my CCNet note of 2/13/03 on comets during the 17th (and 18th)
century, Clark Whelton states "..1660, when Hevelius showed conclusively
that comets moved well outside the lunar orbit"  (actually, Tycho Brahe 1577
used observations of the giant comet of that year, cited by Clark Whelton,
to prove that it was farther away than the moon).

Here I need to demur that since comets almost certainly have impacted Earth
such a blanket statement as attributed to Hevelius cannot be maintained.
Also, consider that COMET FRAGMENTS of varying sizes are probably impacting
frequently. From the best publicized evidence, it
seems the Tunguska impactor was a comet fragment (the orbit must be a dead
give-away for its Taurid family origins).

Regarding comets, cometary dust tails, and comet fragments in meteor streams
of recent history (impacting or not, and larger ones very likely remaining
outside lunar distance from Earth) it would still be of interest to know
more QUANTITATIVE ESTIMATES from astronomical evidence for how
much dust has been and is being injected into the atmosphere of Earth.
Probably this has be done! Even if the nuclei are more than .002 AU from
Earth this could still be substantial enough to alter the climate. In the
case of the Justinian event there seems to be a lot of evidence of it, as
there were reports strongly suggestive of the Sun being obscured by cometary
dust. But as CCNet readers are only too aware (from work of our historians,
Ed Grondine, Mike Baillie, Bob Kobres, and many others), in reality such
cosmic dust storms have occurred regularly throughout history and
prehistory. Probably, tree ring chronologies and ice cores could offer more
definitive proof, although the confusion with volcanism is a substantial
detraction. But then, how many volcanoes were impact related?

Since this is an interdisciplinary project we may ask how the existing
academic environment can focus on these questions so vital for human beings
(all of whom live on Earth). 

It did occur to me, when I sent my note of last week that I probably should
guard against the conflation of psychology with physical impact (of course
as fascinating and interesting as conjunctions of planets and supernovas are
in their own right they would not have any other than
psychological effect here in our world, -- ok, supernovas might if close
enough).

Cheers,
  Hermann

=========
(12) AND FINALLY: AAAS 'GOES HOLLYWOOD' TO DRAMATIZE PERILS OF SCIENCE
COMMUNICATION
    (No, this is not about AAAS asteroid cover-up press release :-)

Eurekalert, 15 February 2003
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-02/su-ah021003.php

Contact: Dawn Levy
dawnlevy@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University

AAAS 'goes Hollywood' to dramatize the perils of communicating science
in a pressure cooker

It may look like just another episode of Saturday Night Live, but it's
really a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. Instead of actors, these skits will feature
academics, a congresswoman and a journalist, arguing amongst each other
on stage to illustrate the problems of the scientific publishing business.

Donald Kennedy, professor emeritus of biological sciences and a former
president at Stanford University, and editor-in-chief of Science magazine,
will participate in the Feb. 15 symposium in Denver, titled "HYPE! The
Greatest Symposium Ever!! - Communicating Science in a Pressure Cooker."....

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