PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet DIGEST, 11 May 1999
-------------------------


(1) THE RISK OF IMPACT TO INHABITED REGIONS OF THE EARTH
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(2) ON LOCAL ETs, KBOs & NEOs
    Gregory Lee Matloff <gm21@is3.nyu.edu>

(3) AWESOME ASTEROIDS & COOL COMETS
    Ron Baalke <baalke@ssd.jpl.nasa.gov>

(4) NATURAL DISASTERS COST U.S. $1 BILLION PER WEEK
    Michelle Edwards <medwards@nsf.gov>

(5) PROCEEDINGS OF THE 30TH LUNAR & PLANETARY SCIENCE CONFERENCE
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(6) WEATHER OUT OF THIS WORLD
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(7) THE BAD NEWS KEEPS ON COMING FOR ROCKETEERS
    MSNBC NEWS SERVICES

(8) ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER IN THAR DESERT UNCONNECTED TO COLLAPSE OF
    INDUS CIVILISATION
    Y. Enzel et al., HEBREW UNIVERSITY JERUSALEM

(9) STILL NO CLUES AS TO WHY AGRICULTURE WAS INITIATED
    A.M. Mannion, UNIVERSITY OF READING


====================
(1) THE RISK OF IMPACT TO INHABITED REGIONS OF THE EARTH

From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

Dear Benny,

After considering the various methods of presenting the impact risk
to the public, I have carried out some provisional estimates of the
risk that an inhabited region (populated or agricultural) of the
Earth will be devastated by an asteroid impact in the next 50 years.
This works out at 1 in 16! By far the largest contributor to the risk
is the Tunguska-size event, which of course is very "localized"
(unless it triggers a nuclear exchange). The calculations are set out
at http://www1.tpgi.com.au/users/tps-seti/spacegd7.html#inhabit
 
Comments are welcome.
Michael Paine

====================
(2) ON LOCAL ETs, KBOs & NEOs

From http://www.accessnv.com/nids/GMatloff_essay.shtml

The Reenchantment of the Solar System: A Proposed Search for Local
ET’s

Gregory Lee Matloff <gm21@is3.nyu.edu>

ABSTRACT

It is argued using a conservative approach to interstellar travel that
intelligent extraterrestrials (ET’s) may be present in our solar 
system, living in world ships that have colonized cometary or
asteroidal objects during the last billion years. The originating star
systems for these advanced beings could be solar-type stars that
fortuitously approach our Sun within a light year or so at intervals of
about a million years or nearby stars that have left the main sequence,
prompting interstellar migration. If we are indeed within such a "Dyson
Sphere" of artificial worldlets, we could detect their presence through
astronomical means since a space habitat will emit more infrared
radiation than a like-sized comet or asteroid. Interestingly, several
Kuiper-Belt objects have recently been found to have an unexpected and
substantial red excess. It is argued that, in opposition to the
assumptions of current SETI searches, the very advanced occupants of
this possible local Dyson Sphere may have as little interest in beaming
radio signals in our direction as we do in communicating with termites.
A research program is proposed whereby large and small college
observatories would routinely monitor the spectral irradiances of Near
Earth and Kuiper Belt objects while a concurrent theoretical effort
models the spectral characteristics of various proposed space habitats.
Much of the observational work, at least, could be dovetailed with
projects designed to detect Near-Earth Objects (NEO’s) that might
impact Earth in the future. Possible strategies and protocols for
direct contact, requiring humans to be the active contactees are
presented to be considered for use if such intelligent ET’s are
discovered within our solar system.

FULL ESSAY at http://www.accessnv.com/nids/GMatloff_essay.shtml

======================
(3) AWESOME ASTEROIDS & COOL COMETS

From Ron Baalke <baalke@ssd.jpl.nasa.gov>
 
Two NASA programs that were broadcast on NASA TV are now available on
the Internet as Quicktime movies. The two 30-minute programs, titled
"Awesome Asteroids" and "Cool Comets", originally aired on March 10 &
11, respectively. The movies are available on the NEO website:
 
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/images/awesome.html
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/images/coolcomets.html
 
The "Awesome Asteroids" program had the Questions & Answers with Don
Yeomans.
 
Ron Baalke

=====================
(4) NATURAL DISASTERS COST U.S. $1 BILLION PER WEEK

From Michelle Edwards <medwards@nsf.gov>
 
MEDIA ADVISORY
May 10, 1999
PA/M 99-15
 
FIVE-YEAR STUDY ON NATURAL HAZARDS IN U.S. TO BE RELEASED AT NATIONAL
PRESS CLUB
 
The tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma and Kansas on May 3 were an
example of the enormous human and economic costs that can result from
natural hazards.  Since 1989, the financial cost of natural hazards
in the United States (including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and
wildfires) has frequently averaged $1 billion per week.
 
The cost is going up and is expected to keep rising, according to a
new scientific study involving 132 experts.  Seven of the 10
costliest U.S. disasters occurred between 1989 and 1994.  The states
experiencing the greatest losses from natural hazards between 1974
and 1994 were California, Texas and Florida.
 
The results of the five-year, $750,000 study - funded by the National
Science Foundation (NSF)'s Engineering Directorate, with
contributions from four other federal agencies - will be publicly
released at the National Press Club, May 19 by the head of the study
team, Professor Dennis Mileti, chair of the sociology department and
director of the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information
Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
 
NSF Deputy Director Joseph Bordogna; U.S. Geological Survey Deputy
Director Tom Casadavell; and David Festa, senior advisor to Commerce
Secretary William Daley will be available to answer questions.  A
representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is also
expected to attend.

Who:   Professor Dennis Mileti, University of Colorado at Boulder
 
What:  Release and discussion of "Disasters by Design: A Reassessment
       of Natural Hazards in the United States," a five-year,
       $750,000  study
 
When:  10:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Where: National Press Club
       529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC  [Metro Center Metro

For more information contact:
Joel Blumenthal, National Science Foundation
(703) 306-1070/jblument@nsf.gov
Peter Caughey, University of Colorado
(303) 492-4007/caughey@colorado.edu

=================
(5) PROCEEDINGS OF THE 30TH LUNAR & PLANETARY SCIENCE CONFERENCE

From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

Dear Benny,

The Abstracts/Proceedings of the 30th Lunar and Planetary Science
Conference (March 1999) are available in interactive PDF format from the
Lunar & Planetary Institute at
http://cass.jsc.nasa.gov/meetings/recentmeetings.html

Here is a very brief sample of titles relevant to NEO research:

"Origin of the Giant Event Deposit in Northwestern Cuba and its Relation
to K/T Boundary Impact"
"Impact tsunami: a probabilistic hazard assessment"
"K/T impact tsunami"
"Mulkarra impact structure, South Australia..."
"The bouquet of the meteorite craters in the epicentre of the Tunguska
impact 1908 year"
"Impact cratering pulses through the Earth's history"
"Nanofossils and the size limits of life"
"Possible bacteria in Nakhla [Martian meteorite]"
 
A report on the conference is available at
http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/PSRdiscoveries/April99/lpsc30.html
 
Regards
Michael Paine

====================
(6) WEATHER OUT OF THIS WORLD

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

Anglo-Australian Observatory
PO Box 296
Epping NSW 1710
Australia

Astronomers have found the first hints that failed stars known as
'brown dwarfs' may have weather patterns with winds, clouds and
storms. This was announced today by Dr Chris Tinney at ScienceNOW! in
Melbourne.

Dr Tinney of the Anglo-Australian Observatory and Mr Andrew Tolley, a
student at the University of Oxford, recently observed a brown dwarf
and noted changes in its surface chemistry as it rotated. They made
their observations with Australia's largest optical telescope, the
Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), located at Siding Spring outside
Coonabarabran NSW.
 
Brown dwarfs are failed stars with masses in between that of
Jupiter-like planets and normal stars. For decades, scientists have
suspected that brown dwarfs exist but the first confirmed detection
came only a few years ago. Today, after 30 years of searching, less
than 50 brown dwarfs have been discovered. Of these, only a handful
are bright enough and close enough to be studied for weather.

Tinney's team is leading Southern Hemisphere attempts to learn more
about brown dwarfs. They are very faint, and extremely difficult to
detect, and for Tinney and Tolley to have noted surface changes is
remarkable.

Brown dwarfs never made it as stars, being too small to light up
their nuclear furnaces. Instead, they just smoulder away in space at
temperatures below 2000 degrees -- less than a third that of a
typical star like the sun. 'Proper' stars are so hot that their
surfaces are a completely smooth mix of vapourised material. But the
outer layers of brown dwarfs are cool enough for chemicals to 'rain'
out as smoke-like particles.

Tinney said, "Brown dwarfs are too small and far away to see the
clouds. We detected them indirectly through the effects they have on
the brown dwarf's atmosphere. We looked for a changing pattern of
chemistry in the atmosphere of one brown dwarf, called LP944-20, as
it rotated."

With a special instrument developed by the AAT, called the Taurus
Tuneable Filter, Tinney and Tolley were able to 'tune into' a very
narrow wavelength band and accurately measure tiny fluctuations. The
narrow band chosen matched that of a tracer molecule called titanium
oxide. The strength of this tracer allowed astronomers to track the
formation of cloud particles.

Now that the technique has been honed, the astronomers are looking to
other brown dwarfs. "We plan to study at least two more brown dwarfs
in the next few months," Tinney concluded.
  
Background material on brown dwarfs,
http://www.aao.gov.au/press/browndwarfbackground.html

Background material on titanium oxide,
http://www.aao.gov.au/press/titaniumbackground.html
Information and photos are also available on the ScienceNOW! website,
http://www.byc.com.au/sciencenow/

For further information contact:
Roger Bell,
Public Relations Officer
Anglo-Australian Observatory
email rb@aaoepp.aao.gov.au
(02) 9372 4865

Dr Chris Tinney
email cgt@aaoepp.aao.gov.au
(02) 9372 4849 (Office), May 3-5, May 6 (9am-2pm),May 11-14
0416 092117    (Mobile), May 6 (4pm) - May 10
 
[Image caption: http://www.aao.gov.au/press/browndwarfweather.html]
The left panel shows the weather patterns we might expect on a brown
dwarf if it looked like Jupiter. The right panel shows observed
variations seen as the brown dwarf LP944-20 rotates. The arrows
highlight strong episodes of cloud passage where very different
signals are seen in the two colours observed.

==============
(7) THE BAD NEWS KEEPS ON COMING FOR ROCKETEERS

From MSNBC NEWS SERVICES
http://www.msnbc.com/news/265874.asp

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 10 —  A communication satellite that was
launched into a useless orbit last week was flying higher Monday, but
was still far short of its intended orbit. The chances of getting the
Orion satellite to the desired 22,300-mile altitude remained slim.
Another satellite, meanwhile, will remain grounded for at least
another week because of rain that leaked onto it even though it was
in a protective room at the launch pad.

FULL STORY at http://www.msnbc.com/news/265874.asp

================
(8) ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER IN THAR DESERT UNCONNECTED TO COLLAPSE OF
    INDUS CIVILISATION

Y. Enzel*), L.L. Ely, S. Mishra, R. Ramesh, R. Amit, B. Lazar,
S.N. Rajaguru, V.R. Baker, A. Sandler: High-resolution Holocene
environmental changes in the Thar Desert, northwestern India.
SCIENCE, 1999, Vol.284, No.5411, pp.125-128

*) HEBREW UNIVERSITY JERUSALEM, INST EARTH SCI, IL-91904
   JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

Sediments from Lunkaransar dry Lake in northwestern India reveal
regional water table and lake Level fluctuations over decades to
centuries during the Holocene that are attributed to changes in the
southwestern Indian monsoon rains. The Lake levels were Very shallow
and fluctuated often in the early Holocene and then rose abruptly
around 6300 carbon-14 years before the present (C-14 yr B.P.). The
lake completely desiccated around 4800 C-14 yr B.P. The end of this
1500-year wet period coincided with a period of intense dune
destabilization. The major Harrapan-Indus-civilization began
and flourished in this region 1000 years after desiccation of
the Lake during arid climate and was not synchronous with the
lacustral phase. Copyright 1999, Institute for Scientific Information
Inc.

==================
(9) STILL NO CLUES AS TO WHY AGRICULTURE WAS INITIATED

A.M. Mannion: Domestication and the origins of agriculture: an
appraisal. PROGRESS IN PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY, 1999, Vol.23, No.1,
pp.37-56

UNIVERSITY OF READING,DEPT GEOG,POB 227,READING RG6 6AB,BERKS,ENGLAND

The first domestications of plants and animals, which occurred
between 10 K years and 5 K years BP, and which underpinned the
inception of agricultural systems, represent a major tuning point in
cultural and environmental history. Whilst much has been written on
these topics, new archaeological discoveries and the development of
new methods of data collection require that these issues should be
reappraised. One example of a new archaeological discovery is that of
evidence for rice cultivation prior to 10 K years BP in the middle
Yangtze Basin of China. This region is now considered to be the
likely centre of rice domestication and, because of the discovery of
settlement structures, it may have been home to China's oldest
civilization. In addition, further age determination may establish
this region of China as the earliest centre of agricultural
innovation, instead of southwest Asia. New methods of age estimation,
notably by radiocarbon, have necessitated a reappraisal of the
origins of agriculture in Mesoamerica, whilst biomolecular techniques
are contributing to the identification of the wild relatives of
domesticated plants and animals. Genetic analysis has also been
applied to modern human populations in order to establish the
relationships between different groups and thus to attempt to
determine the movement of peoples in prehistory. Such relationships
in Europe have been related to the spread of agriculture from its
centre of origin in southwest Asia, although this is speculative
rather than conclusive. Despite these advances, however, there is
still no unequivocal evidence as to why agriculture was initiated.
Copyright 1999, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.

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