PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 49/2001 - 28 March 2001
-----------------------------


"Recent advances in encounter theory have allowed the very early
identification and analysis of asteroid-Earth collision possibilities,
even those with very low impact probabilities. The problem hinges on
two issues. First, it is necessary to actually detect any impacting
trajectories that are compatible with the available astrometric observation
set. Linear methods are reliable only for detecting impacting trajectories
at uncomfortably high probabilities of impact (~0.1%). Thus nonlinear
search methods are necessary to ensure the earliest detection of a
threatening encounter, which is the key element of any hazard mitigation
strategy. After a potential collision is detected it becomes necessary to
compute the probability of impact in order to assess the risk posed by the
collision in question. The theoretical tools needed to automatically and
robustly monitor the ever- changing asteroid catalog for threats to the
Earth are now available and such a system is presently under development
at JPL.
--Steven Chesley, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, March 2001


"Having been an assiduous reader of the IAU Circulars and of the
Minor Planet Electronic Circulars for almost 7 years, I haven't seen
any announcement of 9 comets discovered by Frank and Sigwarth with the
IRO. Having other observers confirm their supposed small-comet discoveries
is especially important in view of the decade-long controversy regarding the
existence of Frank's small comets, and of the widespread (and justified)
skepticism of the scientific community about the small-comet theory.
If a small comet can be detected with the modest IRO (which I had occasion
to visit in February of this year), then it can surely be detected with
many of the similarly-sized or larger telescopes which are routinely used
for NEO detection and follow-up. [...] Since the supposed comet detections
by Frank and Sigwarth did not pass the MPC's regular confirmation
criteria, why should people give them any serious credit?
--Paulo Holvorcem, Universidade Estadual de Campinas,
Brasil, 27 March 2001


"The idea that medieval people thought the world flat essentially
didn't exist until 1820, when writers such as Washington Irving and
Antoine-Jean Letronne assigned the idea to people long dead. Humanists
of the Enlightenment, trying to replace centuries-old tradition and
institutions with their personal ideas, recognized the job becomes easier if
everything that preceding them is thought to be from an era of
darkness. The darker the past, the brighter and more irresistable new
ideas seem to be."
--Jon Giorgini, JPL, 27 March 2001


(1) BRILLIANT LIGHT PLUNGING INTO PACIFIC MAY HAVE BEEN METEOR
    Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

(2) ANALYSIS OF NEAR-EARTH OBJECT ENCOUNTERS
    James Oberg <JamesOberg@aol.com>

(3) PLUTO IS FALLING FROM STATUS AS DISTANT PLANET
    USA Today, 27 March 2001

(4) MARS ROCK RETURN MISSION PLANNED BY BRITISH
    Space.com. 27 March 2001

(5) COLLIDING SOLAR ERUPTIONS PACK POWERFUL MAGNETIC PUNCH
    NASANews@hq.nasa.gov

(6) THE DATE OF GERVASE'S "WONDERFUL SIGN" IN 1178
    Graeme Waddington <wgw@bioch.ox.ac.uk>

(7) REPLY TO "DETECTION OF SMALL COMETS WITH A GROUND-BASED TELESCOPE"
    Tom Gehrels <tgehrels@lpl.arizona.edu>

(8) SUPPOSED SMALL COMET DETECTIONS BY FRANK AND SIGWARTH
    Paulo Holvorcem <holvorcem@mpc.com.br>

(9) DARK MATTER TELESCOPE (DMT)
    Andy Smith <astrosafe@yahoo.com>

(10) AVERTING THE DRIFT BACK TO ICE-AGE CONDITIONS
     Stephen Ashworth <sa@astronist.demon.co.uk>

(11) MODERN ORIGINS OF FLAT EARTH THEORY
     Jon Giorgini <jdg@tycho.jpl.nasa.gov>

(12) EROS CLAIM
     Gregory Nemitz <gnemitz@orbdev.com>

(13) AND FINALLY: KERAUNONTHNETPHOBIA
     Duncan Steel <D.I.Steel@salford.ac.uk>

===========
(1) BRILLIANT LIGHT PLUNGING INTO PACIFIC MAY HAVE BEEN METEOR

From Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

Los Angeles Times, 27 March 2001
http://www.latimes.com/news/state/20010327/t000026482.html

A bright red and green light that appeared to plunge into the Pacific Ocean
on Monday night may have been a meteor, an astronomer said.

About 30 people from Santa Barbara to Marina del Rey called U.S. Coast Guard
and law enforcement officials about 8:20 p.m. to report what they thought
was a meteorite, a flare or a downed aircraft, authorities said.

Crews in boats and helicopters equipped with infrared scopes were sent to
search for crash debris in Los Angeles Harbor and Marina del Rey, but they
found nothing.

Paramedic Robert Johnson saw the brilliant burst of light in Sherman Oaks
while sitting around a bonfire with fellow firefighters.

"I could see how people thought it was a plane," he said. "There were flames
coming out, but they were green and large.

"This thing was hot and just going before it disappeared below the horizon,"
he said. "I thought it was going to crash into something."

Troy Powers, a museum guide at Griffith Observatory, said that judging from
the descriptions, "it could have been a meteor."

"It might have impacted the water, although that's pretty rare," he said.
More likely, he said, "it was a meteor, between the size of a naval orange
and a basketball, about 40 to 50 miles high in the atmosphere."

Copyright 2001, LA Times

==========
(2) ANALYSIS OF NEAR-EARTH OBJECT ENCOUNTERS

From James Oberg <JamesOberg@aol.com>

Subj: LPI Seminar Friday March 30th
Date: 3/27/01 9:46:23 AM Central Standard Time
From: Kirkland@lpi.usra.edu (Kirkland, Laurel)

Lunar and Planetary Institute Seminar
**Friday March 30th** 3:30, Berkner Room
Seminar refreshments at 3:00 in the Berkner Room, please join us.
LPI Seminars are open to all

* Friday Mar 30th - Berkner Room
* Analysis of Near-Earth Object Encounters
* Steven Chesley, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Abstract: Recent advances in encounter theory have allowed the very early
identification and analysis of asteroid-Earth collision possibilities, even
those with very low impact probabilities. The problem hinges on two issues.
First, it is necessary to actually detect any impacting trajectories that
are compatible with the available astrometric observation set. Linear
methods are reliable only for detecting impacting trajectories at
uncomfortably high probabilities of impact (~0.1%). Thus nonlinear search
methods are necessary to ensure the earliest detection of a threatening
encounter, which is the key element of any hazard mitigation strategy. After
a potential collision is detected it becomes necessary to compute the
probability of impact in order to assess the risk posed by the collision in
question. The theoretical tools needed to automatically and robustly monitor
the ever-changing asteroid catalog for threats to the Earth are now
available and such a system is presently under development at JPL.

=========
(3) PLUTO IS FALLING FROM STATUS AS DISTANT PLANET

From USA Today, 27 March 2001
http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/astro/2001-03-27-pluto.htm

By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

NEW YORK - Like any former third-grader, Catherine Beyhl knows that the
solar system has nine planets, and she knows a phrase to help remember their
order: "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas."

Mercury, Venus, Earth and so forth.

But she recently visited the American Museum of Natural History's glittering
new astronomy hall at the Hayden Planetarium and found only eight scale
models of the planets. No Pizza - no Pluto.
 
"That's because the museum doesn't consider Pluto to be a planet," docent
Marjorie Kagan explained to Beyhl and other senior citizens on a trip
organized by the Westbury Public Library. "Poor Pluto has been downgraded,
knocked down."

"Excommunicated!" interjected Beyhl, who got her basic astronomy from the
nuns at St. Sylvester's Grammar School in Brooklyn in the 1930s.

And now here was Kagan, preaching heresy. "We think Pluto is probably a
comet. It's very small, very icy, and it has a very eccentric orbit," she
told the visitors. Some looked as if they'd just been told "A" isn't a vowel
or September hath 31 days. "There is a lot of disagreement about this, even
in the scientific community," Kagan added. "But we think within five years
everyone will agree with us."

"I don't think it's gonna be missed," muttered one member of the group.

"If it's a comet," replied another, "where's the tail?"

The Westbury seniors had stumbled into a debate that might rewrite
schoolbooks, render a million classroom astronomical charts obsolete and
change how generations yet to be born build model solar systems. Is Pluto
really a planet? And if not, what is it?

Last year, the museum opened its astronomy exhibit inside a giant glass cube
that's about 10 stories high and contains the Hayden Planetarium. The
display grouped eight of the planets into two "families" - the
"terrestrials" (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) and the "gas giants" (Jupiter,
Saturn, Uranus, Neptune). The ninth, Pluto, was quietly consigned to the
Kuiper Belt, "a disk of small, icy worlds" beyond Neptune.

But in 1999, the leading international organization of astronomers rejected
a move to list Pluto as both a planet and Kuiper Belt object. Those who call
Pluto a planet note that it has an atmosphere and a moon, Charon. It also is
larger than any object yet observed in the Kuiper Belt.

Other major museums still consider Pluto a planet, and some astronomers were
appalled by the revisionism in New York. David Levy, the noted comet-finder,
said the demotion was "off base." Alan Stern of the Southwest Research
Institute's space studies department called it "absurd."

Many non-scientists also spoke up for the outerdog planet. Docents at the
Museum of Natural History get many questions from children, some of whom
asked, "Where's my friend Pluto?"

So this month, the museum installed a plaque titled "Where's Pluto?" and
programmed an electronic kiosk to make the case to confused visitors.

It goes like this: Science is the classification of similar things. Pluto
has little in common with the two nearest planets, Uranus and Neptune. They
are made of gas (Pluto is ice and rock) and are much larger than Pluto
(which is smaller than Earth's moon). Also, Pluto's elliptical orbit is
tilted 17 degrees from those of the other planets.

So what is Pluto? "A breed of comet that lives in the outer solar system,
never venturing near the sun," the display reports. "If Pluto were close to
the sun, it would grow a glowing tail of sun-blown ice vapor." Compared with
the other planets, it's "peculiar," "weird," "an oddball."

Pluto's very planethood, the museum argues, is a historical accident. When
Pluto was discovered in 1930, astronomers mistakenly believed it was roughly
the size of Earth and alone in space. Not until the 1990s were many other
chunks of rock and ice seen orbiting beyond Neptune in what is now called
the Kuiper Belt.

There is even a historical precedent for demoting Pluto. About 200 years
ago, the asteroid Ceres was briefly labeled a planet when it was discovered
between Mars and Jupiter. But then astronomers realized there were many such
bodies in that ring of space and reclassified Ceres an asteroid.

Not content to question Pluto's identity, the museum's astronomers argue
that there's no generally accepted definition of the word planet.

If Pluto is one, says Michael Shara, curator of the museum's astrophysics
department, then so is Earth's moon and hundreds of other hunks of debris
floating around the sun.

Having said that, he added, "I just don't think Pluto is a planet."

Some visitors take his word for it.

"It's a surprise," Annie Prince of Manhattan said with a gulp. "But if they
say it's so, I can live with it."

Others, perhaps out of a sense of loyalty to lonely Pluto, refuse to be
swayed.

"I'll believe it's a planet until I see proof otherwise," said Evelyn
McConnell, a mother chaperoning a class trip from Northport, N.Y. "It's nice
to have all nine of 'em."

But Neil de Grasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, has been
quoted as saying: "There is no scientific insight to be gained by counting
planets. Eight or nine, the numbers don't matter."

Which is not something Catherine Behyl would have dreamed of telling the
nuns at St. Sylvester's.
 
Copyright 2001 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
 
==========
(4) MARS ROCK RETURN MISSION PLANNED BY BRITISH

From Space.com. 27 March 2001
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/british_mars_010327.html

By Robin Lloyd
Science Editor

British scientists may be the first to dig up a piece of Mars rock and
return it to Earth, under a new proposal that could leapfrog them ahead of
NASA in the race to find signs of life at Mars.

The mission, which could launch in 2009 if approved by the European Space
Agency (ESA), is designed to cost well under the $1 billion that NASA had
allotted for a similar mission that presently is on indefinite hold.

"This is us saying, look, Mars is stuck in man's imagination for a long time
and we actually do have the capability on Earth to answer these fundamental
problems that puzzle people," said Colin Pillinger, a planetary scientist at
the Open University (near London) who is heading up the Beagle 2 mission set
to land on Mars in 2003. "And the technology isn't really all that difficult
if you prepare to take some risks."

Costs for the sample-return mission would be cut to between $200 million and
$600 million by dropping a probe somewhat larger than the 66-pound
(30-kilogram) Beagle 2 indiscriminately to the surface, rather than sending
rovers to specified sites as NASA previously proposed.

Pillinger and dozens of British scientists met last week to discuss the
mission, which could yield answers to the question of life on Mars.

The probe would ride to Mars aboard a larger orbiter. Once at the Red
Planet, the probe would be dropped through the atmosphere, slowed down by
parachutes and cushioned on impact with the surface by airbags. An arm would
drill down a yard (meter) or so for a 7-ounce (200-gram) core sample and
place it in a canister.

A small rocket engine would then send the probe back into orbit. It would
bleep for detection and undergo "laser-range control" retrieval by the
orbiter. The orbiter would return to Earth within the next two years, when
orbital mechanics were most favorable.

NASA had planned a series of missions designed to culminate in a lander that
would launch in 2005 to collect rocks for return to Earth, but those plans
were scrapped in the past two years as the agency reevaluated its Mars
exploration plan in light of two mission failures.

Nearly unanimous vote

The British plan was hatched at a meeting of scientists at the Royal Society
in London at which Pillinger challenged the group to conceive of a Mars
sample-return mission that would launch in 2009.

"The technology people said that building on existing technologies we have
for Beagle and considering what technologies we know are under development
in Europe, then a 200-gram sample would be feasible as long as we were
prepared to not have pinpoint accuracy for landing," he said.

Scientists in the group were amenable to that plan since they believe the
Martian surface is a "regolith" comprised of soil grains from a wide variety
of locations -- nearby rocks, sedimentary formations and materials moved by
fluids, wind and impacts. A random sample would include plenty of
interesting soil.

"So I put it to a vote -- either we try for a 200-gram sample of core in
2009 or wait a lot longer to get documented samples from individual sites by
moving around on the surface. The vote was unanimous, except one person
voted against," Pillinger said.

The meeting was timed to precede upcoming funding decisions by the British
government and the ESA, as well as a meeting of the International Mars
Working Group.

No one at the ESA could be reached immediately Tuesday to comment on the
proposal, but Dave Southwood, the new director of science for the ESA, was
in the audience at the Royal Society.

"He didn't walk out and laugh," Pillinger said.

Copyright 2001, Space.com

===========
(5) COLLIDING SOLAR ERUPTIONS PACK POWERFUL MAGNETIC PUNCH

From NASANews@hq.nasa.gov

Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington, DC                March 27, 2001
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
(Phone: 301/286-5017)

RELEASE: 01-56

COLLIDING SOLAR ERUPTIONS PACK POWERFUL MAGNETIC PUNCH

Fast-moving solar eruptions apparently overtake and often devour their
slower kin. This discovery was made by a team of astronomers working with
tandem NASA spacecraft.

Strange radio fireworks were first heard by the team using NASA's Wind
spacecraft. The link to the cosmic collisions came when researchers linked
the timing of the radio outbursts to images of solar eruptions consuming
each other captured by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
spacecraft from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Solar eruptions directed toward Earth are potentially harmful to advanced
technology, including communications and power systems, and this
cannibalistic behavior may result in longer magnetic storms. These
collisions change the speed of the eruption, which is important for space
weather prediction because it alters estimated arrival time of Earthbound
coronal ejections.

"Coronal Mass Ejection cannibalism is the most violent form of interaction
between CMEs," said Dr. Natchimuthuk Gopalswamy, lead author of a research
paper presented today during a meeting of the European Geophysical Society
in Nice, France. "This happens when a slow CME is expelled before a fast one
from the same general region on the Sun. The fast CME simply gobbles up the
slow CME, resulting in a single CME beyond the region of interaction."
Gopalswamy, a research professor with The Catholic University of America,
Washington, DC, is stationed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, MD. He presented the research with his colleagues from Goddard,
Catholic University and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Coronal mass ejections are clouds of electrified, magnetic gas, weighing
billions of tons, ejected from the Sun and hurled into space at speeds of 12
to 1,250 miles per second. Depending on the orientation of the magnetic
fields carried by the ejection cloud, Earth-directed eruptions cause
magnetic storms by interacting with the Earth's magnetic field, distorting
its shape and accelerating electrically charged particles trapped within.

The researchers believe cannibal eruptions may be the source of "complex
ejecta" CME clouds, larger and more complex in structure than typical
eruptions. These traits cause complex ejecta CMEs to trigger protracted
magnetic storms when they  envelop the Earth.

Severe solar weather is often heralded by dramatic auroral displays
(northern and southern lights), but magnetic storms are occasionally
harmful, potentially affecting satellites, radio communications and power
systems. Understanding what happens to ejection clouds on their way to Earth
is important in assessing their impact on the near-Earth space environment.

Observations from Wind's Radio and Plasma Wave experiment revealed
occasional intense bursts of emission originating far away from the Sun.
When Gopalswamy and his colleagues were searching for the source of these
radio outbursts, they discovered the ejection interaction, which produces
high-energy electrons and cause the radio outbursts. After the initial
discovery, 21 cannibalistic ejections have been identified since April 1997.
There may be even more events
that aren't detected because they are less energetic and do not produce a
radio outburst, according to the researchers.

"Collisions between CMEs may be more common than previously thought and may
play a key role in determining the interplanetary traffic of CMEs,"
Gopalswamy added.

The astronomers expect an increased rate of ejection interaction during the
current peak in the 11-year cycle of violent solar activity, called solar
maximum, because more ejections are expelled in quick succession during a
solar maximum. During solar minimum, only one ejection per every other day
is common; during maximum, several ejections occur in a day.

The cooperative SOHO project is part of NASA's and ESA's Solar Terrestrial
Science Program (STSP), comprising of SOHO and CLUSTER. SOHO was launched
Dec. 2, 1995. The SOHO spacecraft was built in Europe, and instruments were
provided by European and American scientists.

For images and background information on the Internet, see:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/GSFC/SpaceSci/sunearth/cannibalcme.htm

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

(6) THE DATE OF GERVASE'S "WONDERFUL SIGN" IN 1178

From Graeme Waddington <wgw@bioch.ox.ac.uk>

Benny,

Having been duly shamed to put finger to keyboard by Duncan Steel the
following note concerns the apparently errant date used in relation to
Hartung's postulated lunar impact. The note has been extracted from a series
of notes that I circulated to interested parties about ten years ago and
from a Usenet posting of 12 Dec 1991 (in the thread "1991 VG and Previous
Impacts") wherein I pointed out the significance of the phrase "luna prima"
and Hathorn's mistranslation of it in
Hartung's 1976 paper. The note itself concerns only the dating of the report
as given in the text, I make no comment on what the "wonderful sign"
referred to may have been.

To cut to the chase  -  the outcome is that Gervase's record explicitly
gives 19 June 1178 [Julian] (*) as the date of the event that was reported
to him. The commonly supposed dating of 18 June has arisen due to there
being two calendrical markers in the Gervasian text - not just the
[erroneous] day of the week  - which apparently conflict. As a result of the
translation given in Hartung's paper the second calendrical marker has been
completely disregarded and, following Bishop Stubbs, the date has been
universally held to be Sunday 18 June despite the fact that the record
concerns an observation that could not possibly have been made on that date
but which was eminently possible on the date identified by the mislaid date
specifier. 

A single day's error in the ubiquitously assumed day of the week is all that
is needed to reconcile the two date markers.

So there we have it. Two markers, one referring to a possible date and one
to an impossible date that can, at a pinch, be reconciled with the possible
one. In spite of this, all discussion of this text has centred on the
impossible date and ignored the evidence of the text itself (which is
reproduced in Hartung's original paper).

Graeme

(*) 26 June in the proleptic Gregorian calendar

----------------------
THE DATE OF GERVASE'S EVENT OF JUNE 1178

Under the year 1178 Gervase records an appearance in the sky occurring,
apparently, on the Sunday before the Nativity feast of St. John the Baptist
--  that is, on June 18 in the Julian calendar  (as noted by Stubbs in his
marginal notes on page 276 of his edition of Gervase's Chronicle).  The
"event" noted concerns a distortion of the thin crescent moon after sunset
and has been taken to refer to an actual impact on the moon by Hartung.
Without wishing to comment on the merits or otherwise of Hartung's
hypothesis, the given dating presents problems as the moon was too near
conjunction at this time and would not have become visible in the evening
sky until the following day, monday 19 June.

Gervase's account commences thus,

      "Hoc anno, die Dominica ante Nativitatem Sancti Johannis
      Baptistae, post solis occasum, luna prima, signum apparuit
      mirabile, qunique vel eo amplius viris ex adverso sedentibus.
      Nam nova luna lucida erat, novitatis suae more cornua
      protendens ad orientem ;  ....."

The English translation of which, due to  R. Y. Hathorn  and as given in
Hartung's 1976 paper, is

      "In this year, on the Sunday before the Feast of St. John the
      Baptist, after sunset when the moon had first become visible a
      marvelous phenomenon was witnessed by some five or more men who
      were sitting there facing the moon.   Now there was a bright new
      moon, and as usual in that phase its horns were tilted toward the
      east ; ....."


Here we note that Hathorn has followed Stubbs in the usual assumption that
"die Dominica" refers to a Sunday, whereas in mediaeval (not medieval!)
monastic tradition the phrase should more correctly be rendered as the
Lord's day and as such may refer either specifically to a Sunday or,
generically, to any ecclesiastical feast day (which included all sundays) in
a monastry's liturgical calendar.

The normal way of specifying a given weekday was through the sequence feria
prima, feria ii, etc.  (as per the immediately following record in Gervase's
Chronicle). For what it is worth,  the equating of dies Dominica  with
feria prima (as per Stubbs and Hathorn) is not, in itself, objectionable.
Indeed, it is entirely reasonable and accords with practice elsewhere. Where
the problem arises is in the fact that the following day (monday) is
specified explicitly in the text via the phrase luna prima - that is, the
first day of the ecclesiastical lunar month (following the 19-year cycle).
Using the precepts laid down by Bede it may be readily shown that luna prima
was monday 19 June in 1178.

It should be stressed that there is a world of difference between classical
Latin and mediaeval (not medieval) monastic Latin as used in Britain and so
Hathorn (a classicist) can be forgiven for effectively changing  "the first
day of the moon" to "the moon had first become visible"  -  although it
should also be noted that the phrase appears in the text isolated by commas
as was usual for this kind of dating (as per the immediately following
record in Gervase's Chronicle) and that alone should have set the alarm
bells ringing.

On this basis, the beginning of the Gervasian record of the June event
should, perhaps, be rendered as

     "In this year, on the Lord's day before the Nativity of St. John the
     Baptist, after the sun had set, first day of the moon, a wonderful
     sign was seen by five or more men who were sitting facing it [the
     sunset/moon]. For there was a bright new moon and, as is its
     custom when new, its horns stretched towards the east ;  ....."


Thus, we have two date markers in the same sentence of the text which seem
to refer to two separate days for the same event.

Since the moon could not have been seen on the sunday (for a standard
atmosphere, I calculate a maximum sighting probability of only 0.1%  for
this date, so there is no doubt that it could not have been seen) but would
have been visible much as described later in the text (writhings etc.
notwithstanding) on the  luna prima  monday, the weight of evidence is in
favour of the monday being the date intended.

(As an aside we may note that the tuesday may be excluded since the text has
"luna prima" not "luna i" which could have been subject to a scribal error
for "luna ii", thus making tuesday a possibility.)

So, can we reconcile  dies Dominica  with monday 19 June ?

Given that the Lord's day can, perhaps, refer to any feast day, not just
sundays, it is open to us to see if the two date markers can be reconciled
on this basis.

From Gervase's own establishment (Canterbury, Christ Church) we see that in
the century before he wrote his Chronicle the following entries were marked
in the liturgical calendar for the week before the Nativity Feast of St.John
the Baptist (which was itself a prime calendrical marker,
being one of the quarter days),

  18 June      xiv  kal Iulii    Sacctorum Marci et Marcelliani
  19           xiii              Sanctorum Geruasii Et Prothasii
  20           xii               Solstitium
  21           xi
  22           x                 Sancti Albani martiris
  23           ix                Sancte AEpeldrypae uiginis
  24           viii              Natiuitas Sancti Iohannis Baptiste


Thus, treating  dies dominica  as a truly generic feast marker would imply
that we are dealing with the 23 June (the feast of Etheldreda of Ely), in
which case why not simply refer to the date as the vigil of St.John rather
than the feast before St. John? In any case, the 23rd cannot be reconciled
either with luna prima or the statement that the new moon was shining
brightly (as per the second sentence of the text).

But what about the feast of the protomartyrs of Milan, one of whom was
Gervase's namesake?   Since this date accords with the mistranslated
date-specific marker (luna prima) in the text, could Gervase have been
having an "in-joke" here? Moreover, in the Christ Church calendar it is also
the day before the assumed solstice so any possible confusion between the
solstice and the quarter day could allow us to reconcile this "feast" marker
with that from the ecclesiastical lunar cycle  (given that Gervase is
repeating details given to him by others such an error could well be
understandable, if a little strange for a Chronicler of Gervase's standing).

Thus, it is possible to reconcile the impossible date specification with the
possible one, although, as with most things in annals of this period, it
remains a somewhat less than satisfactory state of affairs. Even so, I offer
the thought for what it may be worth.

W.G.Waddington
MRC Biochemical & Clinical Magnetic Resonance Unit
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
John Radcliffe Hospital
Oxford

=============
(7) REPLY TO "DETECTION OF SMALL COMETS WITH A GROUND-BASED TELESCOPE"

From Tom Gehrels <tgehrels@lpl.arizona.edu>

Dear Benny,

REPLY TO "DETECTION OF SMALL COMETS WITH A GROUND-BASED TELESCOPE"
         by Frank, L.A. and Sigwarth, J.B. in JGR-SP 106: (A3),
         3665-3683, 2001, as reproduced in CCNet, 27 March 2001.

Lou Frank has been an intriguing colleague, who once even listed me as a
co-author without checking with me (EOS 69, 1293,1988). The details of
non-detection with the Spacewatch Telescope I have published in Space
Science Reviews 58, 347-375, 1991.

============
(8) SUPPOSED SMALL COMET DETECTIONS BY FRANK AND SIGWARTH

From Paulo Holvorcem <holvorcem@mpc.com.br>

Dear Benny,

L.A. Frank and J.B. Sigwarth state in the abstract of their recent paper
published in J. Geophys. Res. (106: 3665-3683, 2001) that "There were
sightings of nine small comets in the set of
1500 usable images which were gained with the IRO" [Iowa Robotic
Observatory]. The authors then describe a technique using a shutter which is
used to eliminate spurious detections. Although I haven't had access to the
full article, the reality of their detections seems not sufficiently
substantiated, at least not according to the usual comet discovery
standards, which involve reporting the object's positions to the Central
Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) or to the Minor Planet Center
(MPC), and, most importantly, the confirmation of the existence and of the
cometary nature of the object (through the clear detection of a coma) by
independent observers. Having been an assiduous reader of the IAU Circulars
and of the Minor Planet Electronic Circulars for almost 7 years, I haven't
seen any announcement of 9 comets discovered by Frank and Sigwarth with the
IRO. Having other observers confirm their supposed small-comet discoveries
is especially important in view of the decade-long controversy regarding the
existence of Frank's small comets, and of the widespread (and justified)
skepticism of the scientific community about the small-comet theory. If a
small comet can be detected with the modest IRO (which I had occasion to
visit in February of this year), then it can surely be detected with many of
the similarly-sized or larger telescopes which are routinely used for NEO
detection and follow-up. I have been observing NEOs and faint comets with
charge-coupled devices (CCDs) for the last 5 years, and on occasion I and
other fellow observers have found apparent fuzzy moving objects whose motion
over a period of up to an hour fits a uniform straight-line motion with
residuals of less than an arcsecond, which is precisely what one expects of
a comet. However, after reporting such objects to the MPC, attempts by other
observers failed to confirm the objects' existence, so no credit was
received for any new discovery. In most cases, the apparent detections were
probably caused by stray light reflected inside the telescope, which
mimicked a fuzzy moving object. Regardless of the fact that they were
published in a prestigious journal such as the Journal of Geophysical
Research, since the supposed comet detections by Frank and Sigwarth did not
pass the MPC's regular confirmation criteria, why should people give them
any serious credit?

Paulo R. Holvorcem
Departamento de Matematica/IMECC
Universidade Estadual de Campinas
Campinas, SP 13081-970
Brazil
holvorcem@mpc.com.br
http://www.ime.unicamp.br/~holvorce/astro/astro1.html

===============
(9) DARK MATTER TELESCOPE (DMT)
 
From Andy Smith <astrosafe@yahoo.com>

Hi Benny and CCNet,

The Dark Matter Telescope (DMT) is another name for the next generation
asteroid telescope. We have called it the Super Terrestrial Asteroid
Telescope (STAT) and the U.S. National Research Council has called it LSST.
There is an excellent home page on it, at:
http:www.dmtelescope.org/index.htm

The human race needs at least one of these, as soon as possible(ASAP), and
it must be dedicated to the hunt for the 100,000, for at least a decade. It
is a very exciting combination of a large segmented primary mirror (8 meter
range), a large segmented CCD (30k x 30k pixels) and good software. It all
seems to be well within the state-of-the-art.

One of these would be like buying an asteroid/comet impact insurance policy
for the human race. We would be buying about 300 years of impact protection
for about $100 million or so and finding RAMA and friends, in a decade
rather than 3 centuries.

The fact that Carolyn Shoemaker and a host of other outstanding specialists
and concerned world citizens have endorsed this concept is enough for us to
give it priority #1. If you want to help make it happen, let us know or do
whatever you can to help. We would like to see it as an international
facility, supported and operated by the nations, institutions and the people
of the World.

Here's to the DMT and may we do the ground-breaking, on the first of them,
soon.

Andy Smith

===========
(10) AVERTING THE DRIFT BACK TO ICE-AGE CONDITIONS

From Stephen Ashworth <sa@astronist.demon.co.uk>

Dear Dr Peiser,

In their paper on cometary impacts and ice ages (CCNet Special, 27 March
2001), Hoyle and Wickramasinghe conclude that it would be in the interests
of humanity to find "an effective way to maintain a suitably large
greenhouse effect".

In one of his earlier books, Professor Hoyle proposed deliberately mixing
the surface and deep layers of the ocean, a process which would apparently
have the net effect of increasing the amount of heat stored in the oceans
and therefore decreasing the danger of a return to ice-age conditions. As I
recall, he noted that such a project would generate an excess of electrical
power. It would be interesting to know his current thinking on this idea.

In a more recent book, American space visionary Marshall Savage went a stage
further and proposed building marine cities in the tropical oceans, to be
powered by utilising the very same heat difference between the surface and
deep waters. He proposed drawing water up from a depth of one
kilometre for this purpose, and using the temperature difference of 22
degrees C to power a low-pressure turbine. The electrical power generated
would be used primarily to extract dissolved calcium carbonate and magnesium
from seawater, which would then be used to build the physical structure of
such a city. The inhabitants would enjoy a diet of seafood, and the
opportunity of political renewal. Since he makes no reference to any
climatic effects of such city-building, it appears that Savage came upon the
idea independently (*The Millennial Project*, Little, Brown, 1992).

Could it be that the solution to the problem of maintaining a temperate
climate would also provide humankind with both vastly increased living space
and an additional renewable source of electric power?

Stephen Ashworth (Mr)
27 March 2001

=============
(11) MODERN ORIGINS OF FLAT EARTH THEORY

From Jon Giorgini <jdg@tycho.jpl.nasa.gov>

The note on the passing of Charles Johnson, president of the International
Flat Earth Society, reminds me of a story richer in significance than that
recounted in the article, yet less well-known.

The idea that medieval people thought the world flat essentially didn't
exist until 1820, when writers such as Washington Irving and Antoine-Jean
Letronne assigned the idea to people long dead. Humanists of the
Enlightenment, trying to replace centuries-old tradition and institutions
with their personal ideas, recognized the job becomes easier if everything
that preceding them is thought to be from an era of darkness. The darker the
past, the brighter and more irresistable new ideas seem to be.

The myth that people used to think the world flat was cultivated throughout
the 19th century, particularly gaining ground from 1870-1920 during the
evolution debate. It even became a key thesis of Boorstin's popular book
"The Discoverers", published as recently as 1983.

There is actually little evidence of flat-earth thinking prior to the
Enlightenment and much showing its sphericity was known.  St. Augustine
(400's) observed the Bible gives no description on the shape of the earth,
thus was an irrelevant subject. Other church figures came down firmly on the
side of sphericity, as did Bede (700's)

Neither Columbus or his contemporaries thought the world was flat.
Scientific revolutionaries, such as Copernicus, Galileo and Campanella
seemed not to consider it something that needed correction.  Nor did
skeptics like Montaigne, Rabelais, Bruno or Bacon refer to it as problem;
they actually described roundness as having been determined long ago. The
phenomenon of ship masts slowly sinking as they went to sea, of new stars
appearing as one moved North or South was well known among educated
Europeans and even the common man.

To construct the Dark Ages, when people were so stupid they thought the
world was flat (e.g. thus were able to believe all sorts of silly things),
modernists Irving and Letronne drew on a couple isolated authors like
Lactantius (loosely mentioned by Copernicus but objected to as a heretic by
the church), and Cosmas Indicopleustes (whose influence on other thinkers is
undetectable until the Enlightenment sought him out as a villain) and some
pagan writers.

So the Flat Earth Society originating in 1832 seems a thread fitting well
the historical tapestry of the Flat Earth Myth. The whole scandal is
recounted in a fascinating historical review by J. Russell in the book
"Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians". As an added
bonus, there's a section on how Columbus fudged his distance estimates to
sell the 1492 voyage which discovered the New World. Chances are, CCNet
readers would find the account stimulating reading.

=================
(12) EROS CLAIM

From Gregory Nemitz <gnemitz@orbdev.com>

Dear Mr. Nimmo and Readers,

Please take some time to learn about how original ownership arises when an
un-owned thing is claimed.  Here is a suggestion for a starting point:
http://www.snowcrest.net/siskfarm/origprop.html. It details the progression
of this facet of the law since early Roman law.

Carefully read my letter at http://www.orbdev.com/010322.html. It includes
the logical rationale behind the claim.

I am doing this unprecedented action to move into government this discussion
of how property rights to the vast resources in space will be decided. I
expect that my claim will be recognized and upheld.

When recognized, I will be able to borrow on 433 Eros' equity value to
leverage the tens of billions of dollars it will take to develop the
resources on Eros. This is the essential point.  A thing must be owned
before it can be developed. Without using the equity as a lever to get the
funding, development is impossible.

A scenario to consider is the North Slope Alaskan oilfield. The development
companies had secured the rights to the oil before they built the pipeline
south to the terminus. Wasser's plan requires that the pipeline be built and
operating before ownership rights are conferred. Space resource development
simply will not happen Wasser's way. Giga-investors must own the security
inherent in the equity. Without ownership equity, no money will be raised.

Some people have a problem with standing by and letting someone have what
they do not have. It is a quirk of human nature. Yes, Eros is the
second-largest NEO, but just see how many pebbles there are in the sky:
http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/lists/InnerPlot.html.

Wasser and others postulate with hyperbole that "unregulated claims will
stifle commerce or even be dangerous". That is patently absurd. Natural
Commerce will always fit the resource to the buyer with a deal acceptable to
both. There are too many asteroids available to rationally postulate that
commerce will not function.

Wasser's plan, and Mr. Nimmo's support of it are based on a lack of
knowledge about how giga-funds are raised to do projects. The existing body
of original property law is sufficient to begin a few experiments in
equity-based space development.

Mr. Nimmo has a mis-perception on the function of the Archimedes Institute.
It is simply a Registry of claims. It sells nothing, it is a free service.

The example of my property Eros is unique in that a legal and valid claim
was made before the resource survey spacecraft landed. The spacecraft's
owners were prohibited from making a claim based on that improvement of the
property. In a case like this, any individual, or preferably the existing
property claimant myself, may enfold that equity into the property and
further the validity and solidity of the property right. My property Eros
now contains the equity of the NEAR Shoemaker mission, so the property's
present book value is at a minimum $225,000,000. If I should pay to send my
own survey spacecraft or even a small beacon to Eros, It would not improve
my present property right, because that activity has already been done on
Eros. It simply doesn't matter who did the survey. This is the unique
feature of my claim on Eros.

Best Regards,
Gregory Nemitz
OrbDev Eros Project
Ad Astra via Eros
http://www.orbdev.com/erosproj.html

*********
Gregory Nemitz on the Property Right to 433 Eros:
"With this toehold, I will climb a mountain in Space."
*********

================
(13) AND FINALLY: KERAUNONTHNETPHOBIA

From Duncan Steel <D.I.Steel@salford.ac.uk>

Dear Benny,

The item you carried today regarding a lady in Oklahoma who was struck,
apparently, by some falling space debris reminded me of something I had
meant to ask the list earlier. Although my spelling (from memory) may be
wrong, I believe that the technical word for a fear of being hit by
(man-made) space debris is keraunonothnetphobia. That is what much of the
world was suffering from last week as people anxiously considered the
re-entry of Mir.

My query to others is this: is there a distinct word to describe the fear of
dying due to an asteroid or comet hitting the Earth? Is there yet another
term for the fear of a meteorite landing on your head?

Cheers,

Duncan Steel

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Yes, Duncan, there are such expressions. In fact, there
are two such technical terms: Cometophobia refers to the (age-old) fear of
comets, Meteorophobia refers to a fear of meteors or meteorites. Then there
is the more general Siderophobia, the ancient (and not-so-ancient) fear of
the stars which has been considered a pagan superstition ever since the
Hebrew prophets faught and ridiculed it. While all three of these
astro-phobias used to be regarded as totally "irrational", there are others
that are more directly related to recurring natural hazards, such as:
Antlophobia (fear of floods), Astraphobia (fear of lightning), Brontophobia
(fear of thunder and thunderstorms) and Keraunophobia (fear of thunder and
lightning). Many people suffer from these phobias mainly because they can't
get to grips with (or even don't know anything about) the complex theory of
probability. The most widespread modern phobias, however, remain Xenophobia
(the fear of foreigners) and Misanthropy, the pessimistic distrust of human
nature and technological evolution. The former is found more often among
right-wing scaredy-cats, whereas the latter has almost become synonymous
with left-wing and environmental doom-mongers. (Which reminds me of an old
Jewish joke: suffering from persecution mania doesn't mean that nobody is
after you .....) BJP

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