PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 61/2002 - 21 May 2002
---------------------------


"Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary theorist at Harvard University
whose research, lectures and prolific output of essays helped to
reinvigorate the field of paleontology, died yesterday at his home
in Manhattan. He was 60. One of the most influential evolutionary
biologists of the 20th century and perhaps the best known since Charles
Darwin, Dr. Gould touched off numerous debates, forcing scientists to
rethink sometimes entrenched ideas about evolutionary patterns and
processes. One of his best known theories, developed with Niles
Eldredge, argued that evolutionary change in the fossil record came in fits
and starts rather than a steady process of slow change."
--Carol Kaesuk Yoon, The New York Times, 21 May 2002


"The government appreciates that the international scientific
community is concerned about the threat posed by NEOs.... I would also
note that the Australian government funds research through various
mechanisms at universities, public sector research agencies, and
private sector research laboratories. Most government funding [in Australia]
is on a competitive basis, with proposals selected on merit and
based on peer review, as in most other OECD countries. Neither of the
reviews of astronomy research published in 1995 and 2001 identified
monitoring for asteroid detection as a priority for Australian research
funds."
--Catherine Murphy, Senior Adviser (Science and Innovation)


(1) STEPHEN JAY GOULD, EVOLUTION THEORIST, DIES AT 60
    The New York Times, 21 May 2002

(2) SOHO: NEW VIEWS OF THE SUN
    Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

(3) MORE FROM "DOWN UNDER": AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT WAITING FOR OECD
RECOMMENDATIONS
    Jonathan Tate <fr77@dial.pipex.com>

(4) NWA 011 from Mercury?
    Matthew Genge <M.Genge@nhm.ac.uk>

(5) ASTEROID ARMAGEDDON DEBATE
    NEO Information Centre

(6) IMPACT ODDS
    Jens Kieffer-Olsen <dstdba@post4.tele.dk>

(7) AND FINALLY: SCIENTISTS IN SPAT OVER 'IMMINENT, DEVASTATING' ROMANIAN
QUAKE
    Ananova, 21 May 2002

=============
(1) STEPHEN JAY GOULD, EVOLUTION THEORIST, DIES AT 60

>From The New York Times, 21 May 2002
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/21/obituaries/21GOUL.html

By CAROL KAESUK YOON

Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary theorist at Harvard University whose
research, lectures and prolific output of essays helped to reinvigorate the
field of paleontology, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Rhonda Roland Shearer.

One of the most influential evolutionary biologists of the 20th century and
perhaps the best known since Charles Darwin, Dr. Gould touched off numerous
debates, forcing scientists to rethink sometimes entrenched ideas about
evolutionary patterns and processes.

One of his best known theories, developed with Niles Eldredge, argued that
evolutionary change in the fossil record came in fits and starts rather than
a steady process of slow change.

This theory, known as punctuated equilibrium, was part of Dr. Gould's work
that brought a forsaken paleontological perspective to the evolutionary
mainstream.

Dr. Gould achieved a fame unprecedented among modern evolutionary
biologists. He was depicted in cartoon form on "The Simpsons," and
renovations of his SoHo loft in Manhattan were featured in a glowing article
in Architectural Digest.

Famed for both brilliance and arrogance, Dr. Gould was the object of
admiration and jealousy, both revered and reviled by colleagues.

Outside of academia, Dr. Gould was almost universally adored by those
familiar with his work. In his column in Natural History magazine, he wrote
in a voice that combined a learned Harvard professor and a baseball-loving
everyman. The Cal Ripken Jr. of essayists, he produced a meditation for each
of 300 consecutive issues starting in 1974 and ending in 2001. Many were
collected into best-selling books like "Bully for Brontosaurus."

Other popular books by Dr. Gould include "Wonderful Life," which examines
the evolution of early life as recorded in the fossils of the Burgess Shale,
and "The Mismeasure of Man," a rebuttal to what Dr. Gould described as
pseudoscientific theories used to defend racist ideologies.

Dr. Gould was born on Sept. 10, 1941, in Queens, the son of Leonard Gould, a
court stenographer, and Eleanor Gould, an artist and entrepreneur. Dr. Gould
took his first steps toward a career in paleontology as a 5-year-old when he
visited the American Museum of Natural History with his father.

"I dreamed of becoming a scientist, in general, and a paleontologist, in
particular, ever since the Tyrannosaurus skeleton awed and scared me," he
once wrote. In an upbringing filled with fossils and the Yankees, he
attended P.S. 26 and Jamaica High School. He then enrolled at Antioch
College in Ohio, where he received a bachelor's degree in geology in 1963.

In 1967, he received a doctorate in paleontology from Columbia University
and went on to teach at Harvard, where he would spend the rest of his
career. But it was in graduate school that Dr. Gould and a fellow graduate
student, Dr. Eldredge, now a paleontologist at the American Museum of
Natural History, began sowing the seeds for the most famous of the
still-roiling debates that he is credited with helping to start.

Studying the fossil record, the two students could not find the gradual,
continuous change in fossil forms that they were taught was the stuff of
evolution. Instead they found sudden appearances of new fossil forms
(sudden, that is, on the achingly slow geological time scale) followed by
long periods in which these organisms changed little.

Evolutionary biologists had always ascribed such difficulties to the famous
incompleteness of the fossil record. But in 1972, the two proposed the
theory of punctuated equilibrium, a revolutionary suggestion that the sudden
appearances and lack of change were, in fact, real. According to the theory,
there are long periods of time, sometimes millions of years, during which
species change little, if at all.

Intermittently, new species arise and there is rapid evolutionary change on
a geological time scale (still interminably slow on human time scales)
resulting in the sudden appearance of new forms in the fossil record. This
creates punctuations of rapid change against a backdrop of steady
equilibrium, hence the name.

Thirty years later, scientists are still arguing over how often the fossil
record shows a punctuated pattern and how such a pattern might arise. Many
credit punctuated equilibrium with promoting the flowering of the field of
macroevolution, in which researchers study large-scale evolutionary changes,
often in a geological time frame.

In 1977, Dr. Gould's book "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" drew biologists'
attention to the long-ignored relationship between how organisms develop -
that is, how an adult gets built from the starting plans of an egg - and how
they evolve.

"Gould has given biologists a new way to see the organisms they study,"
wrote Dr. Stan Rachootin, an evolutionary biologist at Mount Holyoke
College. Many credit the book with helping to inspire the new field of
evo-devo, or the study of evolution and development.

Dr. Gould and Dr. Richard Lewontin, also at Harvard, soon elaborated on the
importance of how organisms are built, or their architecture, in a famous
paper about a feature of buildings known as a spandrel. Spandrels, the
spaces above an arch, exist as a necessary outcome of building with arches.
In the same way, they argued, some features of organisms exist simply as the
result of how an organism develops or is built. Thus researchers, they
warned, should refrain from assuming that every feature exists for some
adaptive purpose.

In March, Harvard University Press published what Dr. Gould described as his
magnum opus, "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory." The book, on which he
toiled for decades, lays out his vision for synthesizing Darwin's original
ideas and his own major contributions to macroevolutionary theory.

"It is a heavyweight work," wrote Dr. Mark Ridley, an evolutionary biologist
at University of Oxford in England. And despite sometimes "almost
pathological logorrhea" at 1,433 pages, Dr. Ridley went on, "it is still a
magnificent summary of a quarter-century of influential thinking and a major
publishing event in evolutionary biology."

Dr. Gould was dogged by vociferous, often high-profile critics. Some argued
that his theories, like punctuated equilibrium, were so malleable and
difficult to pin down that they were essentially untestable.

After once proclaiming that Dr. Gould had brought paleontology back to the
high table of evolutionary theory, Dr. John Maynard Smith, an evolutionary
biologist at University of Sussex in England, wrote that other evolutionary
biologists "tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be
hardly worth bothering with." Sometimes these criticisms descended into
accusations that were as personal as intellectual. Punctuated equilibrium,
for example, has been called "evolution by jerks."

Some who study smaller-scale evolution within species, called
microevolutionists, reject Dr. Gould's arguments that there are unique
features to large-scale evolution, or macroevolution. Instead, they say that
macroevolution is nothing more than microevolution played out over long
periods. Dr. Gould also had heated battles with sociobiologists, researchers
using a particular method of studying animal behavior, and there are many
there who reject his ideas as well.

Others criticized him for championing theories that challenge parts of the
modern Darwinian framework, an act some see as aiding and abetting
creationists. Yet Dr. Gould was a visible opponent of efforts to get
evolution out of the classroom.

An entertaining writer credited with saving the dying art form of the
scientific essay, Dr. Gould often pulled together unrelated ideas or things.
(He began one essay by noting that Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were
born on the same day.) A champion of the underdog (except in his support of
the Yankees), he favored theories and scientists that had been forgotten or
whose reputations were in disrepair.

Dr. Gould also popularized evolutionary ideas at Harvard, sometimes finding
his lecture halls filled to standing-room only. But while his adventures
typically took place in the library, colleagues said that Dr. Gould, whose
specialty was Cerion land snails in the Bahamas, was also impressive in the
field.

Noting that in graduate school Dr. Gould dodged bullets and drug runners to
collect specimens of Cerion and their fossils, Dr. Sally Walker, who studies
Cerion at the University of Georgia, once said, "That guy can drive down the
left side of the road," which is required in the Bahamas, "then jump out the
door and find Cerion when we can't even see it." Then, she recalled, this
multilingual student of classical music and astronomy and countless other
eclectia might joyously break out into Gilbert and Sullivan song.

Dr. Gould is survived by his wife; his mother; his two sons from a previous
marriage, Jesse Gould of Cambridge, Mass., and Ethan Gould of Boston; his
stepson, Jade Allen of Gainesville, Fla.; and his stepdaughter, London Allen
of Manhattan. His previous marriage, to Deborah Lee of Cambridge, ended in
divorce.

Dr. Gould had an earlier battle with cancer in 1982. When abdominal
mesothelioma was diagnosed, he reacted by dragging himself to Harvard's
medical library as soon as he could walk.

In a well-known essay titled, "The Median is not the Message," he described
discovering that the median survival time after diagnosis was a mere eight
months. Rather than giving up hope, he wrote that he used his knowledge of
statistics to translate an apparent death sentence into the hopeful
realization that half those in whom the disease was diagnosed survived
longer than eight months, perhaps much longer, giving him the strength to
fight on.

"When my skein runs out, I hope to face the end calmly and in my own way,"
he wrote. However, "death is the ultimate enemy - and I find nothing
reproachable in those who rage mightily against the dying of the light." He
survived the illness through experimental treatment, but died of an
unrelated cancer, in a bed in his library among his beloved books.

Dr. Gould received innumerable awards and honors, including a MacArthur
"genius" grant the first year they were awarded. He served as president of
the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was a member of the
National Academy of Sciences and won the National Book Award and the
National Book Critics Circle Award. He was the Alexander Agassiz Professor
of Zoology at Harvard and the Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology
at New York University.

Whether eloquently and forcefully championing new or forgotten ideas or
dismantling what he saw as misconceptions, Dr. Gould spent a career trying
to shed light on an impossibly wide variety of subjects.

He once wrote, "I love the wry motto of the Paleontological Society (meant
both literally and figuratively, for hammers are the main tool of our
trade): Frango ut patefaciam - I break in order to reveal."

Copyright 2002, The New York Times

=============
(2) SOHO: NEW VIEWS OF THE SUN

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

We are pleased to announce the release of a new and updated SOHO slide
presentation. The 37 slides give an overview of SOHO's views of the Sun and
include some of our most dramatic and compelling images. They cover such
topics as the parts of the Sun, sunspots, corona mass
ejections, flares, the solar cycle, and space weather. Each slide is titled
and has an explanatory paragraph associated with it. This set was developed
expressly for the general public and educators. So, as much as possible,
scientific jargon and unfamiliar terms were avoided.

http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/2002_05_15/
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/

Sincerely

Paal Brekke
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
Paal Brekke,
SOHO Deputy Project Scientist  (European Space Agency - ESA)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,      Email: pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov
Mail Code 682.3, Bld. 26,  Room 001,   Tel.:  1-301-286-6983 /301 996 9028
(cell)
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA.        Fax:   1-301-286-0264
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-
SOHO WEB: http://soho.nascom.nasa.gov/
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-

==================
(3) MORE FROM "DOWN UNDER": AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT WAITING FOR OECD
RECOMMENDATIONS

>From Jonathan Tate <fr77@dial.pipex.com>

Benny,

As you are aware, a letter was sent at the end of March to the Australian
Prime Minister commenting on Mr McGauran's silly comments on the Open
Letter. That letter follows, and the reply is attached below.

Jay

------

27 March 2001

The Hon John Howard, MP
Prime Minister of Australia
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Australia

Dear Mr Howard,

On 28 January 2002 the International Spaceguard Information Centre sent an
open letter to the Australian Federal Government from international
scientists concerning Australia's contribution to the developing global
Spaceguard programme.

Although no formal reply has yet been received by any of the 91 signatories
it would appear that the letter has caused considerable interest in the
Australian media, and that the Minister for Science, Mr Peter McGauran, has
made some comments in public on the subject.  I refer specifically to an
interview on the Channel 9 '60 Minutes' programme aired on 17 March 2002.

Sadly it would appear that Mr McGauran had been badly briefed, as many of
his comments were factually incorrect.  It would clearly be embarrassing for
the Commonwealth of Australia should these comments be repeated in a more
widely accessible forum.

Mr McGauran stated that he was not going to be "spooked or panicked into
spending scarce research dollars on a fruitless attempt to predict the next
asteroid." The use of the word "panicked" seems bizarre and misleading in
this context, because it is now five years since Mr McGauran issued a press
release (on 31 March 1997) announcing that the Australian Government was
considering re-starting the asteroid search and tracking programme cancelled
by your administration.

No one is suggesting that fear should be the main driver for Near Earth
Object (NEO) research.  However, the hazards posed by NEOs have been
validated, and are significant.  The "attempts to predict the next asteroid"
impact that are currently underway are far from fruitless.  Discovery rates
have increased by about a factor of ten over the past five years, mainly
thanks to search projects in the United States carried out by express
instruction of the government of that country.  Follow-up observations and
orbital analysis are also moving on apace, though at a slower rate due to
lack of funding and a coherent international programme.  Mr McGauran then
went on to describe the Spaceguard programme as a "fruitless, unnecessary,
self-indulgent exercise".  We have seen that it is not fruitless, in that
our knowledge of the contents of near-Earth space has been revolutionised by
research carried out over the past several years in many countries (but not
Australia).  With regard to the word "unnecessary", if Mr McGauran knows
that to be a fact - that is, he knows that no asteroid impact on the Earth
will occur within the next fifty to a hundred years - then clearly he is
privy to information far beyond that available to all the astronomers in the
world, who must admit that they know no such thing.  Perhaps Mr McGauran
also does not insure his car, because he knows he will not have an accident
within the next twelve months.  The British government, before accurate
briefing, was of the same opinion concerning the asteroid impact hazard.
However, having commissioned a Task Force to investigate the hazard this
attitude has changed radically.  In the US, Congress insisted in 1990 that
NASA take action, and this resulted in the vast majority of current work in
progress.

The US has embarked on an ambitious programme of space-based research,
investigating both asteroids and comets at close quarters, and ESA is
actively pursuing similar projects.  In Japan a Spaceguard Centre has been
established.  Within separate European nations there are active research
projects on NEOs. The immense contribution to planetary science made by such
research can hardly be over-estimated, but there is a more important
implication: such work is helping us to avert the next inevitable cosmic
collision with the Earth.

The term "self-indulgent" frankly leaves me speechless.  Not a single
scientist that signed the open letter to your government stands to gain
personally from an Australian Spaceguard project, except that they know that
the global programme will be greatly aided by the gathering of the essential
data that such a project would produce.  The increasing number of concerned
scientists and other individuals around the world, including a substantial
body of amateur expertise who conduct NEO research will be justifiably
insulted by this comment.  An honourable man might consider that some sort
of apology is in order.

When Mr McGauran asks how many other astronomers agree with Dr Steel on the
requirement for an Australian Spaceguard project he should have been made
aware that there is near unanimous agreement on the gravity of the threat
posed by NEOs. Areas of disagreement centre only on the allocation of
responsibility for dealing with it. Many, with justification, regard this
as a defence matter, while others consider it an issue for the scientific
community, but this is a matter for politicians and decision makers to
resolve; astronomers have alerted governments to the threat, and are
attempting to develop solutions to the problem.  It was therefore somewhat
surprising to hear the science minister attempting to garner astronomical
support for his position by the implied threat of reduced funding.

The matter is considered serious enough to have initiated careful assessment
by the UN, OECD and various governments around the world.  When Mr McGauran
suggests that "astronomers themselves, under the supervision of an objective
worldwide working party make a true and proper assessment" he should have
been aware that this has already been done under the auspices of the
International Astronomical Union (IAU), which has established the IAU
Working Group on NEOs (without notable Australian membership); by the UN
which carefully considered the issue at the UNISPACE 3 conference in 1999,
and also a dedicated meeting at the UN HQ in New York in 1995; by the US
where Congress is actively involved; and in the UK where the Task Force,
convened by the Science Minister (Lord Sainsbury), published a report making
14 substantive recommendations for British and international action.  Since
Mr McGauran's advisors have clearly yet to receive copies of this report, I
enclose one for reference.  I note that the Task Force included three
members: one a career diplomat and former science advisor to Mrs Thatcher
whilst she was PM; one the President of the Royal Astronomical Society; and
the third, a career science administrator, science director within the
European Space Agency, and a member of the Anglo-Australian Telescope Board.
They very carefully consulted with a large number of NEO experts from around
the world (none of them working in Australia because that expertise has been
lost from your country).

Finally, Mr McGauran described the signatories of the open letter as
"scientific generalists."  Mr McGauran should have been advised that NEO
studies are truly interdisciplinary in nature.  Of the 91 signatories, 82
are professional astronomers or space scientists, the vast majority actively
working in the field.  The remainder are specialists in the wide range of
disciplines that are concerned in the evaluation, definition and eventual
elimination of the impact hazard.

The ill-considered comments made by the Australian Minister for Science are
very similar to those made by the authorities in the UK five or six years
ago.  However, in the UK the issue has been the subject of close and
independent scrutiny, and the government attitude has now changed radically.
I would be most willing to provide any relevant information to your science
establishment to assist them in their reappraisal of the NEO hazard in the
light of scientific opinion worldwide, and the increasing public interest in
the subject.  Since you doubtless would feel that I would represent a biased
viewpoint, I would also be pleased to direct you simply towards independent
information sources.

Please let me be clear that we only wish to help Australia here to come to
the correct decision.  Through ill-advice your Government has painted itself
into a corner, and Mr McGauran has made comments that are easily shown to be
false, and contradicted not only by scientists but also by politicians
elsewhere. NEOs pose a surprising but real hazard, and Australians are
particularly at risk because such a large fraction of the population lives
on the coasts, your cities facing the largest targets on Earth (i.e. the
oceans).  In all democracies the elected government has a duty of care to
its citizens, and it would not be too strong a term to say that, having been
made aware of the NEO impact hazard, the Australian Government has broached
that duty of care.  We who live elsewhere feel this lack of action on your
part particularly strongly because of the need for action in the southern
hemisphere.  We need you to be involved in this international programme.

I await Mr McGauran's formal reply to the open letter with interest, and I
would be grateful for your views on these issues.

Yours sincerely,

J R Tate

Enclosure: CTI/Pub 4990/5K/9/00/NP.URN00/1041 - Report of the Task Force on
Potentially Hazardous Near Earth Objects

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------

Office of the Prime Minister
Canberra

14 May 2002

Dear Mr Tate

Thank you for your letter of 27 March 2002 to the Prime Minister regarding
near-Earth objects (NEOs).  The Prime Minister has asked me to reply on his
behalf. The delay in responding is regretted.

The government appreciates that the international scientific community is
concerned about the threat posed by NEOs.

As you may already be aware, Australia is a member of the OECD's Global
Science Forum, which agreed at its meeting in January 2002 to establish a
Working Group to examine the issues related to NEOs. Australia supported the
establishment of the Working Group and will participate in its activities.

The Australian government will consider the report of the Working Group when
it is delivered in early 2003 and will assess the potential for further
Australian involvement at that time.

I would also note that the Australian government funds research through
various mechanisms at universities, public sector research agencies, and
private sector research laboratories. Most government funding is on a
competitive basis, with proposals selected on merit and based on peer
review, as in most other OECD countries. Neither of the reviews of astronomy
research published in 1995 and 2001 identified monitoring for asteroid
detection as a priority for Australian research funds.

Thank you for taking the time to bring your concerns on this important issue
to the Prime Minister's attention.

Yours sincerely

Catherine Murphy
Senior Adviser (Science and Innovation)

============
(4) NWA 011 from Mercury?

>From Matthew Genge <M.Genge@nhm.ac.uk>

NEO Information Centre
http://www.nearearthobjects.co.uk
17/05/02
 
Japanese researchers, reports BBC Online, may have discovered a meteorite
from Mercury. The meteorite, NWA 011, was found in the Moroccan Sahara in
1999 and is classified as a eucrite, an igneous meteorite similar to basalt
and gabbro rocks on Earth. The eucrites are thought to come from the main
belt asteroid 4 Vesta because they have almost identical infrared and
visible spectra. However, in the April 17 edition of Science researchers
suggested that NWA 011, although similar to other eucrites, comes from
another melted, igneous asteroid in the main belt, perhaps 1459 Magnya which
also has a basalt-like spectrum.

The new claim states that NWA 011 has an oxygen isotope composition that
indicates that it is from a body larger than an asteroid and suggests the
planet Mercury. However, Dr Phil Bland, a meteorite researcher at the Open
University, thinks this is unlikely. "There's an enormous variation in the
oxygen isotope compositions of meteorites, for example, the Earth, Moon and
some melted meteorites from asteroids all can have the same oxygen isotope
compositions. Clearly oxygen isotopes do not relate to the size of the
source body" says Bland. Experts think there may be meteorites from Mercury
on Earth, however, they are likely to be very rare.

____________________
Dr Matthew J. Genge
Researcher (Meteoritics)
Department of Mineralogy, The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
Tel: Int + 020 7 942 5581
Fax: Int.+ 020 7 942 5537
email: M.Genge@nhm.ac.uk
Staff internet page http://www.nhm.ac.uk/mineralogy/genge/genge.htm

=========
(5) ASTEROID ARMAGEDDON DEBATE

http://www.nearearthobjects.co.uk/events_display.cfm?code=events_intro&itemID=9

>From NEO Information Centre
 
Want to ask a question about the hazards from Near Earth Objects? The
Asteroid Armageddon event at the Cheltenham Science Festival will allow you
to do just that. Quiz the panel on what is being done about the dangers
presented by NEOs. The panel for this discussion event includes Dr Duncan
Steel, a leading NEO astronomer from Salford University, Lembit Opik, MP for
Montgomeryshire and leader of the parliamentary campaign to raise awareness
of impact hazards, Paolo D'Arrigo of the Space Science Group of Astrium, who
studies concepts for new space missions, and Dr Matthew Genge, a meteorite
scientist from the Natural History Museum and web manager for the NEO
Information Centre.

The Asteroid Armageddon event is sponsored by PPARC and Astrium.

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

(6) IMPACT ODDS

>From Jens Kieffer-Olsen <dstdba@post4.tele.dk>

Dear Benny Peiser and CCNet,

Michael Paine wrote:

> I would expect an event causing 1 million or more fatalities
> would be quite traumatic for our society, irrespective of where
> it hit. The annual risk is 1 in 5555 - that's the same as drawing
> four of a kind in poker!

I concur with this overall assessment, but the trauma limit depends on
whether fatalities are suffered within the Western world or in the
developing countries. As I recall it not much consternation arose from
100,000 fatalities in Bangla Desh due to severe floods a few decades ago.
But if that figure applied to the USA as a result of an impact from outer
space I suspect that the trauma limit would indeed be surpassed.

Also we should not forget to count the number of badly injured. Does Michael
Paine have figures for their ratio as compared to outright fatalities? In
the event of a flood survivors are generally ok, but not so after a
widespread collapse of high-rise buildings.

Yours sincerely
Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark

=============
(7) AND FINALLY: SCIENTISTS IN SPAT OVER 'IMMINENT, DEVASTATING' ROMANIAN
QUAKE

>From Ananova, 21 May 2002
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_592275.html?menu=news.scienceanddiscovery

Seismologists in Romania say predictions the country will suffer a
devastating earthquake this year are "ridiculous".

Researchers at the Russian Academy of Science say the quake will hit Vrancea
seismological area and parts of Russia.

Experts at the Institute for Earth Physics in Romania say a quake may hit
the country, but not before 2006.

They also dispute the Russian claim the quake will have a magnitude of over
nine on the Richter scale.

They say if the earthquake was this big, it would change the relief map of
the world.

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