CCNet 114/2002 - 2 October 2002

"There is strong evidence that the 14.5km Amöneburg Basin, apart
from the Nördlinger Ries   and the Steinheim Basin, is the third largest impact crater in
Germany. Conspicuous types of rock such as tectites and shattercones are indications of an
impact. But the final proof   has not been produced yet"
-- Markus Harting, University of Karksruhe, 1 October 2002

"John L. Remo has a modest goal: he'd like to save the planet. Unlike some
delusional people who share his interest, Remo is a levelheaded physicist,
based at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and his research
might actually further that goal. Since the mid 1990s he and his colleagues
at Sandia National Laboratories have conducted the first experiments aimed
at seeing how momentum from high intensity radiation bursts is transferred
to meteorite fragments. With access to Sandia's Z machine, the world's most
powerful x-ray generator, Remo and his team could guide efforts to divert an
incoming asteroid or comet."
--Steve Nadis, Scientific American, October 2002

    Michael Paine <>

    Frankfurter Rundschau 1 October 2002

    Oberhessische Presse (01.10.2002)

    Sky & Telescope, 1 October 2002


    UNESCO, 26 September 2002


>From Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny

My October edition of Scientific American just arrived (by snail mail). The
following is from a scan of the magazine, so might have some bugs.

Michael Paine

Planetary Protection

>From Scientific American, October 2002


John L. Remo has a modest goal: he'd like to save the planet. Unlike some
delusional people who share his interest, Remo is a levelheaded physicist,
based at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and his research
might actually further that goal. Since the mid 1990s he and his colleagues
at Sandia National Laboratories have conducted the first experiments aimed
at seeing how momentum from high intensity radiation bursts is transferred
to meteorite fragments. With access to Sandia's Z machine, the world's most
powerful x-ray generator, Remo and his team could guide efforts to divert an
incoming asteroid or comet.

A devastating collision with a near earth object (NEO) may be only a matter
of time. Consider asteroid 2002 MN: this past June the 100meterwide rock
came within 120,000 kilometers of our planet. "That's almost too close for
comfort," Remo says, especially considering that 2002 MN was discovered
three days after its near miss. More unnerving were initial reports of
asteroid NT7: this two kilometer wide rock swings by in 2019; if it were to
collide, it would cause global havoc (the latest calculations indicate that
it will miss).

Researchers have contemplated NEO mitigation or deflection for more than a
decade, but discussions have been hampered by the lack of data. When Remo
joined a deflection panel at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1992, he
emphasized the importance of understanding the material
properties of NEOs to predict how they would react to an impulse. Physicist
Bruce A. Remington of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory considers this
kind of research long overdue. Despite years of debate, mitigation has
remained an "abstract idea," Remington says. "Finally,
people are getting real numbers that can help us figure out how much energy
it would take to divert a menacing object. " The problem, he adds, is too
complicated to be calculated without seeing what happens experimentally.

For Remo, the crucial parameter is the "momentum coupling coefficient, "a
gauge of the efficiency at which radiation striking an object is converted
to kinetic energy. High energy x-ray pulses produced by the Z machine
impinge on the target material six varieties of meteorites have
been tested to date boiling off the surface layer and creating a plasma jet
that shoots backward. A momentum conserving shock wave formed in its wake
pushes the meteorite in the opposite direction. Remo, with Michael D.
Furnish of Sandia, computed the velocity of these particles by
measuring the Doppler shift of reflected laser light.

Because x-rays are a big component of nuclear blasts, the Z experiments are
designed to simulate the detonation of a weapon near a threatening NEO to
nudge it into a safe trajectory .Based on his computations of coupling
coefficients, Remo believes that moderate size nuclear explosives could do
the job. A 25 kiloton device, for example, could move a one-kilometer
diameter object out of harm's way, assuming we had a few decades' advance
notice. With longer lead times or smaller objects, nonnuclear options become
more feasible.

There are, of course, serious challenges in scaling up results from
centimeter size shards to rocks hundreds of meters in diameter.
Nevertheless, the coupling coefficients can be measured accurately in the
lab, Furnish notes, because x-rays interact with matter on a microscopic
scale and that's true for giant asteroids and micrometeorites alike. Major
uncertainty, however, stems from the question of whether asteroids are solid
objects or loose assemblages of rocks. "If it's a rubble pile, you might
move part of it the right way and other parts the wrong way," Furnish

Remo is devising experiments to investigate that possibility while also
planning Z tests of different meteoritic and comet materials. Ultimately he
hopes to turn the NEO peril into a straightforward physics and engineering
problem. Rather than scaring people with forecasts of
impending doom, Remo would like to tell them what can be done.


In pursuing research on near earth objects, John L. Remo has relied almost
entirely on his own funds, underwritten by Quantum Resonance, a laser
instrumentation company he runs in St. James, N. Y ."Using lasers and the Z
machine to shock meteorites is so new, there weren't any programs to support
it, because the work doesn't fit into any established research categories,"
explains Remo, a physicist affiliated with the Harvard Smithsonian Center
for Astrophysics. "If I had waited for funding, it would have taken years to
start this work."

Steve Nadis is based in Cambridge, Mass.

c2002 Scientific American


>From Frankfurter Rundschau 1 October 2002
Amateur geologist discovers tectites in Amoneburg basin/ Giant impact 230
million years ago?/ Final proof still missing

Geschmolzenes Gestein weist auf Meteoritenkrater hin

Amateurgeologe fand Tektite im Amöneburger Becken / Gewaltiger Einschlag vor
230 Millionen Jahren? / Letzter Beweis fehlt noch

Von Gesa Coordes

Im Amöneburger Becken bei Marburg liegt möglicherweise einer der wenigen
submarinen Meteoriten-Krater der Welt.

AMÖNEBURG. Viele Indizien wiesen darauf hin, dass im Amöneburger Becken ein
Meteoritenkrater liege, erklärt Markus Harting vom Karlsruher Institut für
Mineralogie und Geologie: "Der letzte Beweis ist aber noch nicht erbracht."
Es fehlen noch mikroskopische Untersuchungen, die nur in
Präparationswerkstätten vorgenommen werden können. Nach bislang vorliegenden
Funden vermutet der Geologe, dass ein riesiger Meteorit mit mehreren Hundert
Metern Durchmesser vor etwa 230 Millionen Jahren in das Gebiet einschlug.
Damals war fast ganz Deutschland vom Muschelkalkmeer bedeckt, so dass das
kosmische Geschoss unter Wasser einschlug. In Deutschland gibt es noch
andere Impaktkrater im Nördlinger Ries und dem Steinheimer Becken, bislang
sind jedoch keine weiteren frei liegenden submarinen Krater bekannt. Harting
forscht über die Auswirkungen eines submarinen Meteoriten-Einschlags im
mexikanischen Yucatan, der für das Aussterben der dortigen Dinosaurier vor
65 Millionen Jahren verantwortlich gemacht wird.

Entdeckt wurde der Marburger Krater von dem Arzt Günther Lang aus Buchenau
(Kreis Marburg-Biedenkopf). Bereits als Kind sei ihm aufgefallen, dass die
Struktur des Amöneburger Beckens viele Besonderheiten aufweise, berichtet
der Amateurgeologe. Die mehr als 14 Kilometer breite Senke wird nur von dem
auf einem Basaltkegel thronenden Städtchen Amöneburg unterbrochen, deren
auffälliger Berg durch spätere Vulkantätigkeit entstanden ist. An einen
riesigen Mondkrater habe ihn das Becken erinnert, das er seit 25 Jahren
systematisch untersucht. Mit der langen Zeitspanne erklärt sich Harting
auch, warum die Hinweise von einem Amateur gefunden wurden: "Er hatte viel
Zeit, das Material zu finden, das ja nicht wie Sand am Meer herumliegt."
1981 entdeckte Lang die ersten wichtigen Hinweise: Tektite, die aus
schockartig geschmolzenem Gestein entstehen. In den folgenden Jahren fand er
weitere Schmelzprodukte. Er sei zunächst vorsichtig gewesen, um sich nicht
lächerlich zu machen. Zudem fürchtete er, Sammler anzulocken. Der 54-Jährige
ist von seiner These überzeugt: "Die Indizien sind erdrückend." Bei den
Experten stieß er mit seinen Funden zunächst auf taube Ohren. "Weil sich
viele Fachleute mit dem Ausland beschäftigen und sich wenig um Deutschland
kümmern", erklärt Harting. Jetzt fehlt als letzter Beweis noch der Nachweis
von Quarzkörnern, die bestimmte gekreuzte Bruchstrukturen aufweisen. Harting
und Lang hoffen, dass dieser Nachweis demnächst erbracht werden kann.

Copyright © Frankfurter Rundschau 2002


>From Oberhessische Presse (01.10.2002)
Amöneburger Becken:
Meteorit soll eingeschlagen sein und riesigen Krater geschaffen haben
Marburg. Der Buchenauer Arzt und Amateur-Geologe Günther Lang behauptet,
dass ein Meteorit vor rund 230 Millionen Jahren bei Amöneburg eingeschlagen
ist. Der Karlsruher Geologe Markus Harting unterstützt diese These - auch
wenn der entscheidende Beweis in Form von Bohrungen noch fehlt.

Der Experte Harting sagte der OP: "Es gibt starke Hinweise dafür, dass das
14,5 Kilometer lange Amöneburger Becken neben dem Nördlinger Ries in Bayern
und dem Steinheimer Becken in Baden-Württemberg der dritte große
Meteoritenkrater in Deutschland ist." Besondere Gesteinsarten wie Tektite
und Shattercones lieferten Indizien für einen so genannten Impakt,
berichtete Harting.

Für den Marburger Geowissenschaftler Professor Wolf Stefan Vogler wäre diese
Entdeckung schlicht "sensationell". Der Dekan des Fachbereichs
Geowissenschaften der Marburger Philipps-Universität mag die Theorie des
Meteoriten-Einschlags aufgrund von bisherigen Untersuchungen und Bohrungen
allerdings nicht glauben. Bislang gehen die Wissenschaftler davon aus, dass
das Amöneburger Becken durch Grabenbildung entstanden ist.

Das Material, das Lang in den vergangenen 25 Jahren gesammelt hat, soll nun
in Schichten von der Dicke eines menschlichen Haares geschliffen und unter
dem Mikroskop auf geschockte Quarze untersucht werden. Mit Ergebnissen
rechnet Harting in vier Wochen.

Die von Lang gesammelten Gesteinsproben könnten auch für Vogler Beweise für
die Behauptung des Meteoriten-Einschlags sein - "wenn er sie wirklich hier
gefunden hat".

Genau dies bestätigt OP-Redakteur Michael Acker, der ebenfalls aus Buchenau
stammt und Günther Lang seit Jahren kennt. Acker recherchiert seit Monaten
an dieser schier unglaublichen Geschichte. Der Journalist ist einer der
wenigen Menschen, die von Lang ins Vertrauen gezogen worden sind. Acker
begleitete den Amateur-Astronomen zu den wichtigsten Fundorten. "Ich habe
die Beweise gesehen, die den Meteoriten-Einschlag belegen sollen", sagt

Für den Landkreis Marburg-Biedenkopf hätte der Beweis von Langs Theorie
große Auswirkungen: Der Tourismus nähme enorm zu, das zeigt das Beispiel am
Nördlinger Ries.

Die OP berichtet in der Printausgabe über die These des Amateur-Astronom und
-Geologen, wie der Buchenauer Arzt zum Hobby-Geologen wurde und informiert
rund um das Thema Meteoriten.
Copyright 2002, Oberhessische Presse

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Markus Harting, a geologist at the University of
Karlsruhe, will next week report on CCNet on the latest state of research on
the Amöneburg Basin.


>From Sky & Telescope, 1 October 2002

October 1, 2002 | William J. Merline (Southwest Research Institute) found a
companion to asteroid 121 Hermione on September 28th. The object, discovered
with the 10-meter Keck II telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, appears to be
about 13 kilometers across and has a projected separation from Hermione of
630 km. With this find, close to two dozen objects are now confirmed or
suspected to be binary asteroids.

Merline's discovery also appeared on IAUC 7980.

Coptyright 2002, Sky & Telescope


>From, 1 October 2002

By Wayne Wyrick

In last month's column, I briefly discussed the probabilities of a large
asteroid hitting Earth. A neighbor asked me whether the numbers I stated
were true. The probabilities are real, and sometime in the future --
hopefully the far future -- something large from space will collide with

There's more small stuff than large stuff out there. In fact, dust- and sand
grain- size objects constantly bombard Earth. We see these any dark, clear
night as meteors. Larger objects are out there and will eventually hit us.

Erik Asphaug of the University of California at Santa Cruz calculated the
odds of objects of various sizes hitting Earth and the damage each would
cause. A car-size object strikes Earth a couple of times a month. These
explode high in the atmosphere with a force equal to a small atomic bomb. In
the 1960's, the U.S. military developed secret technology that detected
these explosions. The technology was designed to monitor compliance with the
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, looking for clandestine nuclear tests. The
top-secret technology was also the first to discover so-called gamma ray
bursts, still one of the most puzzling astronomical phenomenon in the

An asteroid the size of a blue whale would create a powerful shock wave that
would damage anything within a few hundred miles of the explosion. These
occur once every couple of centuries, and could level a large city if it
exploded over one. Objects in the range of a few hundred feet, the size of
the Titanic, strike every few millennia. These reach the ground, and if one
hit in the ocean, it would create a giant tsunami a mile high or so,
flooding virtually every coastal city on the planet.

Asteroids in the half-mile range strike several times per million years. One
of these packs so much energy that it could destroy an entire continent.
Once every million years or so, an object a mile wide hits Earth. These
create global calamity. Such an object would deposit so much energy on the
Earth, the atmosphere would heat up past the combustion point of trees and
grasses. Fires would rage worldwide, and the dust from the 50- mile-wide
crater would fill Earth's atmosphere. Smoke from the fires and the dust
would blanket our planet for a year or two, blocking out virtually all
sunlight. Photosynthesis in plants would virtually halt, destroying the
bottom rung of the food chain for almost every species on Earth, including

While we might survive as a species, we would essentially be blown into the
Stone Age again. The asteroids that have passed by Earth in the past few
months fall within the range of sizes of these last two categories. But even
larger asteroids exist in space, and many cross Earth's orbital path around
the sun. Eventually one will hit our home planet. Asteroids three miles
across or larger collide with Earth every few tens of millions of years.
These cause major extinctions of life on Earth. The last time one such
object struck Earth was 65 million years ago. It wiped out the dinosaurs and
more than half of all the species of life on Earth at the time.

Can we protect ourselves from such a catastrophe? Perhaps. But to begin
with, we have to learn just how many such objects are out there and where
they are. The Asteroid Belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter,
contains perhaps a million asteroids. But they're not the scary ones. The
asteroids that worry astronomers are those whose orbits cross Earth's orbit;
they are called Near Earth Objects, or NEOs. They are the ones that may
eventually collide with our planet. We don't know the exact numbers, but
astronomers estimate there are perhaps 2,000 NEOs (sic), and we know of less
than half that number.

There are only a few astronomers searching for NEOs. The federal government
recently ordered NASA to search for and catalog threatening NEOs. NASA now
spends $4 million per year on the search. But scientists involved with this
search feel that this amount is inadequate. After my neighbor asked me about
asteroid impacts, I explained the total number of people working on the
problem was less than the average day shift at a McDonald's restaurant. I
began wondering about the costs of locating all the NEOs. If the risk is so
low -- destruction of the human race likely only once in 10 million years --
is the cost of searching for them justified? I decided to do a cost/benefit

The World Domestic Product, WDP, is the total net worth of the goods,
services and money of planet Earth. As of the end of 2001, the WDP was $31
trillion. That's what would be lost if a giant asteroid hit Earth and
destroyed humanity. So, let's amortize that cost over the 10 million-year
expected lifetime of humanity. That comes out to about $300,000 per year.
Human population is roughly 6 billion, so the cost of replacing civilization
is a mere five-millionths of a cent per person per year. But that assumes
that we don't have to replace civilization for 10 million years. Considering
that the last such impact was 65 million years ago, we're possibly long
overdue. Considering those odds, does the $4 million per year that NASA
spends on finding these things really seem like much?

Not to me, it doesn't.

Copyright 2002, NewsOK


>From UNESCO, 26 September 2002

Paris, September 26 - The introduction of information and communication
technologies (ICTs) in government processes is fostering a closer
relationship between citizens and states, pushing official bodies towards
more transparency and accountability. They are also posing a challenge to
traditional decision-making structures. Such are the main conclusions of a
recent joint study by UNESCO and the Commonwealth Network of Information
Technology for Development (COMNET-IT) on e-governance in 15 countries

Every year before finishing their military service, some 270,000 soldiers
from the Republic of Korea sit for an exam organized by the Defence Ministry
to test their skills at searching the Internet, leading in some cases to the
awarding of a diploma.

In Seoul, an inhabitant can track the way the administration is handing his
or her case on-line, getting information about when it has arrived, to which
department and, when, if it is rejected, why. The city government's Open
Procedure Service boasts such a high level of transparency that citizens can
follow the work of civil servants on a daily basis.

In Estonia, where 90 percent of civil servants are equipped with personal
computers, the government organizes it working sessions on-line. Paper
documents for these sessions have been replaced by digital ones. Over the
past eight years, the country has allocated one percent of its budget to ICT
development in the public service. By the end of this year all
municipalities should be connected to the Internet.

In Tanzania, the government computerized its payroll system, covering some
280,00 civil servants. This process led to the unmasking of many phantom

One of the most visited Internet sites in Canada - with more than seven
million monthly hits - is the government's official web page
( The sites includes the National Job Bank, a
comprehensive data base of job offers across the country. The resources of
some 460 organizations from the public health sector are grouped in the
Canadian Health Network (, providing
on-line access to reliable and comprehensive information on health.

E-government refers to the growing use of ICTs in the development of
society. Little by little, these technologies are changing the ways in which
State, private sector and civil society interact.

A telling case is how civil society, NGOs and professional associations are
harnessing the Internet to mobilize public opinion in an attempt to
influence decisions that directly affect them. With the Open Plaza service,
for example, South Korean citizens can freely criticize government policies
as well as politicians. This service is accessible on-line to all citizens,
who can use it to communicate directly with the president, governors and
senior officials. Several National Assembly members experienced the
repercussions of this new service first hand, losing their seats in the
general elections of April 2000.

The same year, in Mexico, the newly elected government of President Vicente
Fox launched an initiative via the Internet to encourage citizen
participation in the design of the National Development Plan for the period
2001-2006. Opinions, proposals and expectations were collected on some one
hundred themes from the federal level right down to individuals. Based on
117,040 questionnaires received by Internet and mail, a list of 196,854
proposals was drawn up. Mexicans residing abroad sent in 43,000 proposals.
After they were collated and analysed, some were included in the objectives
and strategies of the national plan.

However, in many countries, low levels of education and poverty still bar
large swathes of the population from accessing public information and
participating in these new democratic practices. Acting on this, several
governments have launched far-reaching training programmes.

Malaysia plans to create a Multimedia University where curricula will
include courses on information management, knowledge and computer
programming. The country faces a rising demand for highly qualified workers
and professionals , especially in the ICT sector and manufacturing

In the Republic of Korea, computer technology is now compulsory in primary
school and broadband Internet access permitting fast transmission was
provided to 200 localities in one year. A programme to supply free computers
and Internet access for five years to 50,000 underprivileged children is
under study.

In India, the language barrier poses a formidable challenge to providing
electronic public services. With roughly one billion inhabitants, the
country has two official languages (Hindi and English), 18 major languages
and 418 officially listed languages. Optical Character Recognition
technology should be developed and perfected since many local databases are
written in local languages.

While there is demand from business and the private sector for e-government
facilities, the advantages are much less obvious to large proportions of the
population in many countries. Even when the infrastructure does exist,
illiteracy, high transmission costs, access difficulties or linguistic
barriers bar significant numbers from taking advantage of electronic
facilities. Tanzania, for example, counts two personal computers and five
telephone lines for every 1,000 inhabitants. In 1999, there were hardly any
Internet service providers in the country.

This context places governments before difficult choices. In Botswana, a
country that has an enviable telecommunications network both in terms of
coverage and product diversity, authorities consider that access to
information technology, specifically the Internet, remains too scarce to
justify further investment in developing new e-portals for public services.

In other countries, the Internet is slowly but surely gaining ground. In
Morocco, where there are more than 200,000 Internet subscribers, there are
some 1,800 providers and cyber-cafés, and the market is expanding rapidly.
Since 1991, computer sales have increased unabated, thanks partly to a cut
in import duties, which in January 1996, fell from 42.5 percent to 17.5
percent. Moroccans own some 200,000 personal computers, which represents a
market penetration of 0.7 percent.


The report, Country Profiles of e-Governance (UNESCO 2002) was prepared at
UNESCO's request by the Commonwealth Network of Information technology for
development/COMNET-IT, a foundation sponsored by the Commonwealth
Secretariat and the government of Malta. It covers Botswana, Canada,
Estonia, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico,
Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United
Republic of Tanzania. The country by country analysis is available online at

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