PLEASE NOTE:


*

Date sent: Fri, 07 Mar 1997 10:45:17 -0500 (EST)
From: HUMBPEIS <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk>
Subject: CONFERENCE PROGRAMME
To: cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority: NORMAL


Sorry, but I just noticed that I omitted Duncan Steel's
promising paper on 'cometary astronomy and the origins of
Stonehenge' in the list of speakers. Here is a corrected
version of the programme. BJP


SPEAKERS AT THE CAMBRDIGE CONFERENCE

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Robert Matthews (Science Correspondent
of The Sunday Telegraph)

Prof Mark E Bailey (Armagh Observatory) Sources and
Populations of Near-Earth Objects: Recent Findings and
Historical Implications

Prof Mike Baillie (Queen's University, Belfast) Tree-Ring
Evidence for Environmental Disasters during the Bronze
Age: Causes and Effects

Dr Victor Clube (University of Oxford) Predestination and
the Problem of Historical Catastrophism

Dr Marie-Agnes Courty (Institut National Agronomique
Paris-Grignon) Abrupt Climate Change around 2200 BC:
Stratigraphical and Geochemical Evidence from the Middle
East

Dr Bas van Geel (University of Amsterdam) and Dr Hans
Renssen (University of Utrecht) The Impact of Abrupt
Climate Changes around 2650 BP in North-West Europe:
Evidence for Climatic Teleconnections and a Tentative
Explanation

Prof Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) The
Catastrophic Emergence of Civilisation: The Coming of the
Bronze Age Cultures

Dr Euan MacKie (Hunterian Museum/ Glasgow University) The
End of the Upper Palaeolithic in the Dordogne and the
'Vitrified Forts' of Scotland: Two Archaeological
Problems which Neo-catastrophism could illuminate afresh

Dr Bruce Masse (University of Hawaii) Earth, Air, Fire,
and Water: The Archaeology of Bronze Age Cosmic
Catastrophes

Prof Bill Mullen(Bard College) The Agenda of the Milesian
School: The Post-Catastrophic Paradigm Shift in Ancient
Greece

Dr Bill Napier (Armagh Observatory) Catastrophes, Cosmic
Dust and Ecological Disasters in Historical Times: The
Astronomical Framework

Prof Amos Nur (Stanford University) The Collapse of
Ancient Societies by Great Earthquakes

Prof David Pankenier (Lehigh University) Heaven-sent:
Understanding Disaster in Chinese Mythology and Tradition

Dr Benny J Peiser (Liverpool John Moores University)
Comparative Stratigraphy of Bronze Age Destruction Layers
around the World: Archaeological Evidence and
Methodological Problems

Dr Duncan Steel (Spaceguard Australia) Before the Stones:
Stonehenge I as Cometary Catastrophe Predictor?

Prof Gerrit Verschuur (University of Memphis) Our Place
in Space: The Implications of Cosmic Catastrophes on
Human Thought and Behaviour

Prof Irving Wolfe (University of Montreal) The
'Kultursturz' at the Bronze Age - Iron Age Boundary



*

Date sent: Fri, 07 Mar 1997 09:50:25 -0500 (EST)
From: HUMBPEIS <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk>
Subject: CONFERENCE PROGRAMME
To: cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority: NORMAL

* FINAL PROGRAMME OF THE 2nd SIS CAMBRIDGE CONFERENCE *

I am please to inform the list members that - with the
invitation of Dr Euan MacKie and Prof Amos Nur - we have
now completed the list of speakers of the 2nd SIS
Cambridge Conference. There will also be some poster
presentations. Any further submissions will have to be
included in the poster section.

Archaeologist Euan Mackie (Hunterian Museum and Glasgow
University) is internationally recognised as one of the
leading experts on the Megalithic cultures of the
British Isles. He will give a talk on "The End of the
Upper Palaeolithic in the Dordogne and the 'Vitrified
Forts' of Scotland: Two Archaeological Problems which
Neo-catastrophism could illuminate afresh".

Amos Nur, geophysics professor at Standford University
and a renown expert on seismic activity, will present his
paper about "The Collapse of Ancient Societies by Great
Earthquakes".

I am also please to announce that participants at the
conference will have the opportunity to see the
documentary film "The Walls Came Tumbling Down:
Earthquakes in the Holy Land" which was produced by Amos
Nur and Chris MacAskill and which was the winner of the
Silver Apple Award for physical sciences at the
US National Educational Film Festival in 1991.

---------------------------------------------------------
SPEAKERS AT THE CAMBRDIGE CONFERENCE

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Robert Matthews (Science Correspondent
of The Sunday Telegraph)

Prof Mark E Bailey (Armagh Observatory) Sources and
Populations of Near-Earth Objects: Recent Findings and
Historical Implications

Prof Mike Baillie (Queen's University, Belfast) Tree-Ring
Evidence for Environmental Disasters during the Bronze
Age: Causes and Effects

Dr Victor Clube (University of Oxford) Predestination and
the Problem of Historical Catastrophism

Dr Marie-Agnes Courty (Institut National Agronomique
Paris-Grignon) Abrupt Climate Change around 2200 BC:
Stratigraphical and Geochemical Evidence from the Middle
East

Dr Bas van Geel (University of Amsterdam) and Dr Hans
Renssen (University of Utrecht) The Impact of Abrupt
Climate Changes around 2650 BP in North-West Europe:
Evidence for Climatic Teleconnections and a Tentative
Explanation

Prof Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) The
Catastrophic Emergence of Civilisation: The Coming of the
Bronze Age Cultures

Dr Euan MacKie (Hunterian Museum/ Glasgow University) The
End of the Upper Palaeolithic in the Dordogne and the
'Vitrified Forts' of Scotland: Two Archaeological
Problems which Neo-catastrophism could illuminate afresh

Dr Bruce Masse (University of Hawaii) Earth, Air, Fire,
and Water: The Archaeology of Bronze Age Cosmic
Catastrophes

Prof Bill Mullen(Bard College) The Agenda of the Milesian
School: The Post-Catastrophic Paradigm Shift in Ancient
Greece

Dr Bill Napier (Armagh Observatory) Catastrophes, Cosmic
Dust and Ecological Disasters in Historical Times: The
Astronomical Framework

Prof Amos Nur (Stanford University) The Collapse of
Ancient Societies by Great Eathquakes

Prof David Pankenier (Lehigh University) Heaven-sent:
Understanding Disaster in Chinese Mythology and Tradition

Dr Benny J Peiser (Liverpool John Moores University)
Comparative Stratigraphy of Bronze Age Destruction Layers
around the World: Archaeological Evidence and
Methodological Problems

Prof Gerrit Verschuur (University of Memphis) Our Place
in Space: The Implications of Cosmic Catastrophes on
Human Thought and Behaviour

Prof Irving Wolfe (University of Montreal) The
'Kultursturz' at the Bronze Age - Iron Age Boundary



*

From: Bob Kobres <bkobres@uga.cc.uga.edu>
Organization: University of Georgia Libraries
To: David Morrison <dmorrison@mail.arc.nasa.gov>
Date sent: Fri, 7 Mar 1997 12:45:44 EST
Subject: Re: Film Review again
Copies to: cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority: normal

This is a resend for the benefit of readers without HTML aware news viewers.
BTW: Though I did not watch the second segment of this show either, I did
notice a four fold increase in the number of inquiries my web resource
received as a result of this movie.

bobk

Subject:
Film Review again
Date:
Fri, 7 Mar 1997 08:57:06 -0700
From:
David Morrison <dmorrison@mail.arc.nasa.gov>
To:
B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk, B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk,
cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
CC:
david.morrison@arc.nasa.gov, dmorrison@mail.arc.nasa.gov


COMMENTS ON NBC MINISERIES "ASTEROID" (2/16-17/97)

by David Morrison

As one of the few NEO impact scientists who actually watched the
entire 4-hour miniseries "Asteroid", I offer the following comments,
which are mostly directed at technical aspects of the production.
Overall, from the dramatic point of view, I found it surprisingly
weak, with cardboard figures and highly predictable plot. However,
there was one plot twist that surprised (and impressed) me, in which
the FEMA Deputy Director at the evacuation site outside Dallas was
shot by an angry refugee. (This was set in Texas, which encourages
its citizens to carry handguns). But there are some other interesting

positive aspects as well. One is that (unlike most disaster films) there were no
bad guys. It was strictly humans against a natural catastrophe, without the
artificiality of human villains. Essentially all of the characters were heroes
to some degree, and this is especially notable since nearly all were also
government employees: FEMA officials, military, firefighters, and astronomers at
the "National Observatory". There were no creepy scientists. I believe it is
unprecedented for the American media to give such a positive image to scientists
and government officials.

The plot is simple: Astronomers discover that a close-approaching
comet has attracted two main-belt asteroids which are being carried
along with it, but on orbits that will intersect the Earth. The leading
asteroid is called Helios and is sub-kilometer in size. The second one,
a couple of days behind, is a 4-km diameter asteroid called Eros. The

impacts will occur in less than a week from the discovery. The
Director of the National Observatory (located in Boulder), an
attractive 29-year-old widow, contacts the Director of FEMA, a single
male hunk, who in turn passes the alert to the President. Helios is
computed to be targeted to Kansas City, which is evacuated in the 72
hours before impact. Fortunately Helios breaks up during
atmospheric entry, and only one fragment (apparently of meter size)
hits the surface. However, this fragment strikes the face of a high
concrete dam outside Kansas City, the dam ruptures, and the city is
flooded. The astronomers point out that Eros, coming behind, is large

enough to cause a global ecological catastrophe, so the military is
called in to try to stop it. Under command of the Air Force Space
Command at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, two experimental high-
power aircraft-mounted lasers are used to strike Eros, disrupting it.
Some hours later, however, the asteroid reappears as a swarm, with
hundreds of fragments still on collision course, including one large
(hundred meter, perhaps) fragment headed for Dallas. All this happens in the
first two hours of the film. The Dallas impacts occur at the beginning of the
second two hours, and the rest of the film is devoted to rescue efforts. It is
pretty much generic disaster stuff, including exploding oil storage tanks,
collapsing buildings, crowds of wounded people, mass panic, lost children, etc.
-- it could just as well have been about an earthquake rather than asteroidal
impact. In the end all the main characters survive, the lost child is found, and
the astronomer and FEMA Director go off into the smoky sunrise hand in hand.

How bad is the science? Well, pretty bad, although in fairness it
should be noted that the scriptwriters do understand such concepts
as atmospheric breakup on entry, the existence of a threshold for
global disaster, the inability of military missiles to get to an asteroid, and
the danger of fragmenting a large asteroid to produce a swarm of objects that
can still hit and cause widespread damage. But some of the rest is dumb. The
basic premise that a comet could dislodge two main-belt asteroids and send them
toward Earth is of course absurd. The "National Observatory" has its telescope
in the middle of an always-well-lit lab and conference room, with astronomers
dashing back and forth from the eyepiece to their workstations. Although
reference is made to atmospheric breakup, it seems that most of the objects that
get through the atmosphere and strike are in the meter size range, so the
breakup concept is not consistently used. Also, I note that the impact speeds
appear to be about an order of magnitude below escape velocity. Perhaps in order
to enhance opportunities for special effects, the makers of this film love
multiple impacts. There are at least a dozen such shown in Dallas, at the level
of hits that strike and bring down individual buildings. These are not depicted
to be the result of atmospheric breakup of a large object, but rather represent
a tight coherent swarm of fragments, which have not expanded in the two days
since the parent object Eros was disrupted. The filmmakers also conveniently
stop both orbital motion and spin of the Earth, so that impactors arriving over
an hour of time all hit right on Dallas. The largest Dallas impact seems to be
of a few megatons, creating a crater nearly a kilometer across, perhaps at most
of Tunguska scale, so I wonder what happened to the 4-km parent. They do handle
the earthquake from the primary impact pretty well, however, showing it reaching
Kansas City and Boulder as it expands out from ground zero. The estimates of
casualties strike me as way too low, just 10,000 dead for a direct multi-megaton
impact on Dallas plus the dozens of additional smaller hits. More ridiculous is
the earlier Kansas City impact, where the one fragment that makes it through the
atmosphere scores a direct hit on a high dam. Anyone familiar with the American
Great Plains will surely wonder how there came to be a 100-meter high dam and
storage reservoir in this part of the world! Elsewhere, the lasers used to
fragment Eros are pitiful, small gadgets that fit in a fighter plane, yet are
supposedly able to break apart an asteroid at a distance of millions of
kilometers. Finally, in the concluding scenes, the comet appears in broad
daylight visibly moving across the sky at several degrees per second angular
speed.

Do these technical lapses make any difference? Probably not. I have
yet to talk to anyone else who managed to watch the entire two-part film, and I
gather that the reviews have been uniformly bad. It is hard to say whether this
film will in itself have any effect pro or con on public opinion, but the hype
associated with it has certainly provided many opportunities for scientists to
talk to the press about comets, asteroids, and impacts.


Bob Kobres

email= <bkobres@uga.cc.uga.edu>
url= http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk
phone= 706-542-0583



CCCMENU CCC for 1997

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.