CCNet 91/2003 - 23 October 2003

An explosion near giant sunspot 484 on Oct. 22nd hurled a coronal
mass ejection toward Earth. Forecasters expect it to arrive on Oct. 24th
and possibly trigger a strong geomagnetic storm.
     --Spaceweather, 23 October 2003

If you think about the effect that 9/11 had on our nation and on the world,
that was merely 3,000 people and a few buildings. The same number of people
die on the nation's highways in the month of September as died in the World
Trade Center, yet the impact on society was totally enormous. So, it doesn't
necessarily take a civilization-destroying asteroid to have a profound effect.
    --Clark Chapman, Denver Post, 22 October 2003

    Spaceweather, 23 October 2003


    Marshall Space Flight Center

    The Herald (South Carolina), 21 October 2003

    Denver Post, 22 October 2003

    Indian News, 22 October 2003

    Indian News, 20 October 2003

    The New York Times, 21 October 2003

    Tommy Tyrberg <>

     David E. Fisher <>

     E.P. Grondine  <>

     The Hindu, 21 October 2003


Spaceweather, 23 October 2003

An explosion near giant sunspot 484 on Oct. 22nd hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME, pictured right) toward Earth. Forecasters expect it to arrive on Oct. 24th and possibly trigger a strong geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers at middle latitudes should be alert for auroras.


Scientists track solar cycles by counting sunspots -- cool planet-sized areas on the Sun where intense magnetic loops poke through the star's visible surface.

Counting sunspots is not as straightforward as it sounds. Suppose you looked at the Sun through a pair of (properly filtered) low power binoculars -- you might be able to see two or three large spots. An observer peering through a high-powered telescope might see 10 or 20. A powerful space-based observatory could see even more -- say, 50 to 100. Which is the correct sunspot number?

Yearly-averaged international sunspot numbers from 1610-2000]

There are two official sunspot numbers in common use. The first, the daily "Boulder Sunspot Number," is computed by the NOAA Space Environment Center using a formula devised by Rudolph Wolf in 1848: R=k (10g+s), where R is the sunspot number; g is the number of sunspot groups on the solar disk; s is the total number of individual spots in all the groups; and k is a variable scaling factor (usually <1) that accounts for observing conditions and the type of telescope (binoculars, space telescopes, etc.). Scientists combine data from lots of observatories -- each with its own k factor -- to arrive at a daily value.

The Boulder number (reported daily on is usually about 25% higher than the second official index, the "International Sunspot Number," published daily by the Sunspot Index Data Center in Belgium. Both the Boulder and the International numbers are calculated from the same basic formula, but they incorporate data from different observatories.

Right: Rudolf Wolf devised the basic formula for calculating sunspots in 1848. Today, Wolf sunspot counts continue, since no other index of the sun's activity reaches into the past as far and as continuously. An avid astronomical historian and an unrivaled expert on sunspot lore, Wolf confirmed the existence of a cycle in sunspot numbers. He also more accurately determined the cycle's length to be 11.1 years by using early historical records. [more]

As a rule of thumb, if you divide either of the official sunspot numbers by 15, you'll get the approximate number of individual sunspots visible on the solar disk if you look at the Sun by projecting its image on a paper plate with a small telescope.


Marshall Space Flight Center

Sunspot Numbers

In 1610, shortly after viewing the sun with his new telescope, Galileo Galilei made the first European observations of Sunspots. Daily observations were started at the Zurich Observatory in 1749 and with the addition of other observatories continuous observations were obtained starting in 1849. The sunspot number is calculated by first counting the number of sunspot groups and then the number of individual sunspots. The "sunspot number" is then given by the sum of the number of individual sunspots and ten times the number of groups. Since most sunspot groups have, on average, about ten spots, this formula for counting sunspots gives reliable numbers even when the observing conditions are less than ideal and small spots are hard to see. Monthly averages (updated monthly) of the sunspot numbers (25 kb GIF image), (37 kb postscript file), (62 kb text file) show that the number of sunspots visible on the sun waxes and wanes with an approximate 11-year cycle.

(Note: there are actually at least two "official" sunspot numbers reported. The International Sunspot Number is compiled by the Sunspot Index Data Center in Belgium. The NOAA sunspot number is compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (. The numbers tabulated in spot_num.txt are the monthly averages (SSN) and standard deviation (DEV) derived from the International Sunspot Numbers)

The Maunder Minimum

Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715 (38 kb JPEG image). Although the observations were not as extensive as in later years, the Sun was in fact well observed during this time and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the "Little Ice Age" when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes. There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past. The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.

The Butterfly Diagram

Detailed observations of sunspots have been obtained by the Royal Greenwich Observatory since 1874. These observations include information on the sizes and positions of sunspots as well as their numbers. These data show that sunspots do not appear at random over the surface of the sun but are concentrated in two latitude bands on either side of the equator. A butterfly diagram (142 kb GIF image) (610 kb postscript file) (updated monthly) showing the positions of the spots for each rotation of the sun since May 1874 shows that these bands first form at mid-latitudes, widen, and then move toward the equator as each cycle progresses. The cycles overlap at the time of sunspot cycle minimum with old cycle spots near the equator and new cycle spots at high latitudes. An alternate version of this diagram with different colors for even and odd numbered cycles is available as a 610kb postscript file.

The Greenwich Sunspot Data

The Royal Greenwich Observatory data has been appended with data obtained by the US Air Force Solar Optical Observing Network since 1976. This newer data has been reformatted to conform to the older Greenwich data and both are available in a local directory of ASCII files. Each file contains records for a given year with individual records providing information on the daily observations of active regions.

Sunspot Cycle Predictions

MSFC Solar Physics Branch members Wilson, Hathaway, and Reichmann have studied the sunspot record for characteristic behavior that might help in predicting future sunspot activity. Our current predictions of solar activity for the next few years can be found at this link. Although sunspots themselves produce only minor effects on solar emissions, the magnetic activity that accompanies the sunspots can produce dramatic changes in the ultraviolet and soft x-ray emission levels. These changes over the solar cycle have important consequences for the Earth's upper atmosphere.


The Herald (South Carolina), 21 October 2003

Bright lights in tri-county night sky were caused by meteor
showers, experts say. No confirmed reports of fragments hitting,
emergency officials say

By Wendy Bigham
The Herald (South Carolina)
October 21, 2003

If you saw bright lights in the sky Monday night, it
wasn't a UFO or a crashing plane. It was a meteor

The lights in York, Lancaster and Chester county skies
were from meteor showers generated from the
constellation Orion, said meteorologist Rick
Neal with the National Weather Service.

The showers began about 9 p.m. and were expected to
continue through the early hours this morning,
meteorologists said. Meteorologists predicted
10 to 15 meteors would streak across the sky per hour.

Meteor showers are caused by fragments left over from
passing comets that heat up as they fall through the

No one reported any damage from the meteors, emergency
officials said.

Sgt. Carson Neely with the York County Sheriff's
Office said dispatchers fielded several calls about
bright lights.  Some thought a plane had crashed, he

Many residents also felt their houses shake and some
said items fell off shelves in their homes,
authorities said.

The Sheriff's Office and the York County Office of
Emergency Management is working with other agencies to
see if something actually hit, said Ralph Merchant,
the center's 911 director.

"There have been no solid reports of damage or
something hitting the ground,"
Merchant said. It may not be until sometime today when
an airplane can see for sure if a meteor hit the
ground, he said.

In Chester, callers reported flashes that made the
night appear like daytime for a moment, said a
supervisor at Chester County's 911 center.

Sgt. Kevan Waiters of the Lancaster County Sheriff's
Department and other deputies weren't sent to check
any sightings.

Unlike his co-worker who saw flashes of light in the
city of Lancaster, Waiters didn't see anything in the
part of Lancaster County closer to Fort Mill. For him,
it was a normal night of calls, but no meteors.

"I've been so busy, I didn't have a chance to look at
the sky," Waiters said.

Contact Wendy Bigham at 329-4068 or

Denver Post, 22 October 2003,1413,36~53~1714277,00.html
By Diedtra Henderson
Denver Post Science Writer

Hulking masses of rock lurk outside our solar system, threatening to obliterate cities, spawn massive tsunamis and end civilization, were they to strike Earth. While the odds are tiny, the devastation such killer asteroids could cause lurches off the scale of human imagination.

What to do?

Tow the thugs safely out of harm's way, says a coalition of scientists that includes a Boulder- based researcher.

The team makes the case for its tugboat theory of protecting Earth's inhabitants in next month's issue of Scientific American.

An asteroid "with a diameter bigger than 1 kilometer would strike Earth with the energy equivalent of 100,000 megatons of TNT, far greater than the combined energy of all the nuclear weapons in existence," wrote the authors, led by former astronaut Rusty Schweickart. "Impacts of this size and larger have the potential to wipe out human civilization, and there is a chance of perhaps one in 5,000 that such a strike will occur in this century."

For as little as $1 billion, technology already in the works for upcoming NASA missions could be cobbled together for a craft that would jet into space, attach itself to a killer rock, and scoot the asteroid off its rendezvous path with Earth.

The project would start with just a few million dollars in private funding to create a detailed study. That project would include enough specifics for NASA to take the tug concept seriously enough to fund the bulk of the $1 billion price tag for a 2015 demonstration mission.

"At the moment, a mission of this sort is not on NASA's drawing boards. Or the European Space Agency. Or any other space agency," said Clark Chapman, a space scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder who is part of the B612 Foundation. "A number of people have tried to get NASA, in particular, interested for some years about dealing with the impact hazard."

Apart from spending $3 million a year finding and cataloging potentially killer rocks, NASA hasn't funded such prevention efforts.

Scientific American editors chide the space agency for its "penny-wise, planet-foolish" stance. "(K)iller rocks are a fact of life on our planet. Doubters can ask the dinosaurs for their opinion," wrote the editors in a perspective piece.

Most space debris that rains down on Earth is as small as grains of rice. It burns with pretty sparks as shooting stars. But Earth - like the Moon, Mercury and Mars - has been battered by hulking asteroids as well. In Earth's early history, at least four asteroid impacts were sizable enough to cause mass extinction.

Smaller, far-flung rocks are just as worrisome. The Eltanin Impact event, a crash into the southern Pacific Ocean 2 million years ago, was less than half the size of the object that ended the Age of Dinosaurs.

"Had that impact occurred a few hours earlier, it would have been in southern Africa and wiped out," man's ancestors, said Gary Byerly, a geology professor at Louisiana State University. "So, timing and location are just as important as size in trying to understand the effects of impacts."

The B612 Foundation, named after an asteroid made famous in "The Little Prince," has created snazzy graphics, snagged 501C3 status for tax-free donations and will appear in an upcoming CBC/BBC documentary.

Chapman said the public response spans the gamut.

Some, more concerned about down-to-Earth risks, say it's "completely ridiculous" to worry about odds that can rise to one in a million. Others recognize such rare strikes imperil all of human civilization.

"If you think about the effect that 9/11 had on our nation and on the world, that was merely 3,000 people and a few buildings," he said. "The same number of people die on the nation's highways in the month of September as died in the World Trade Center, yet the impact on society was totally enormous.

"So, it doesn't necessarily take a civilization-destroying asteroid to have a profound effect."

Copyright 2003, Denver Post


Indian News, 22 October 2003

Kolkata, Oct 22 (PTI) Primary analysis of the fragments of the cosmic fireball that fell over large stretches of Kendrapada and Mayurbhanj districts in eastern Indian state on September 27 showed that it was an iron meteorite, heavier than its stony version.

Based on accounts of scientists studying the fragments at GSI, Bhubaneswar, Basab Chattopadhyay, Senior Geologist of GSI's Central Petrological Laboratories at its headquartes here said, the meteorite was heavier due to iron content as opposed to stony meteorites.

"Generally meteorites are classified either as iron or stony meteorites based on their contents. The fragments obtained from Orissa have been found to have iron content and as such their specific gravity is greater," he said.

The stony meteorites have a specific gravity of 3.84 as against iron meteorites which have a specific gravity of 7.8, Chattopadhyay explained.

He said the fragments would be transferred to the Kolkata laboratory by Tuesday and confirmatory tests to verify its age, density, type and rarity would be made here as well as at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad.

The remnants of the meteorite weighing 5.7 kg and 500 grams received from Purba Suniti and Paschima Suniti villages of Kendrapada district would later be handed over to the Indian Museum.


Indian News, 20 October 2003

Kendrapara (Orissa), Oct 20 (PTI) The Kendrapara district of the eastern Indian state of Orissa Monday handed over two remnants of the meteorite which had crashed near two villages under Mahakalapada block on September 27 last to scientists of the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

The extra-terrestrial objects, weighing 5.7 kg and 500 grams respectively, had been received from Purba Suniti and Paschima Suniti villages after they were located in paddy fields on September 28 morning.

Official sources said the remnants were handed over to the GSI as per the directive of the Science and Technology department of the state government.

B.K.Mohanty, Director (Operation), eastern zone of GSI, who came here along with two other scientists to take the meteorite pieces said that the objects would be subjected to scientific examination at GSI laboratories at Bhubaneswar and Kolkata which would continue for about a month.

The experiments would ascertain the metallic content of the meteorite and whether they were radio-active. The age of the meteorite could also be established by conducting the petrographical test, he said.

Copyright 2003, Indian News


The New York Times, 21 October 2003


For decades, scholars have debated whether the eruption of the Thera volcano in the Aegean more than 3,000 years ago brought about the mysterious collapse of Minoan civilization at the peak of its glory. The volcanic isle (whose remnants are known as Santorini) lay just 70 miles from Minoan Crete, so it seemed quite reasonable that its fury could have accounted for the fall of that celebrated people.

This idea suffered a blow in 1987 when Danish scientists studying cores from the Greenland icecap reported evidence that Thera exploded in 1645 B.C., some 150 years before the usual date. That put so much time between the natural disaster and the Minoan decline that the linkage came to be widely doubted, seeming far-fetched at best.

Now, scientists at Columbia University, the University of Hawaii and other institutions are renewing the proposed connection.

New findings, they say, show that Thera's upheaval was far more violent than previously calculated - many times larger than the 1883 Krakatoa eruption, which killed more than 36,000 people. They say the Thera blast's cultural repercussions were equally large, rippling across the eastern Mediterranean for decades, even centuries.

"It had to have had a huge impact," said Dr. Floyd W. McCoy, a University of Hawaii geologist who has studied the eruption for decades and recently proposed that it was much more violent than previously thought.

The scientists say Thera's outburst produced deadly waves and dense clouds of volcanic ash over a vast region, crippling ancient cities and fleets, setting off climate changes, ruining crops and sowing wide political unrest.

For Minoan Crete, the scientists see direct and indirect consequences. Dr. McCoy discovered that towering waves from the eruption that hit Crete were up to 50 feet high, smashing ports and fleets and severely damaging the maritime economy.

Other scientists found indirect, long-term damage. Ash and global cooling from the volcanic pall caused wide crop failures in the eastern Mediterranean, they said, and the agricultural woes in turn set off political upheavals that undid Minoan friends and trade.

"Imagine island states without links to the outside world," Dr. William B. F. Ryan, a geologist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Scientists who link Thera to the Minoan decline say the evidence is still emerging and in some cases sketchy. Even so, they say it is already compelling enough to have convinced many archaeologists, geologists and historians that the repercussions probably amounted to a death blow for Minoan Crete.

Rich and sensual, sophisticated and artistic, Minoan culture flourished in the Bronze Age between roughly 3000 and 1400 B.C., the first high civilization of Europe. It developed an early form of writing and used maritime skill to found colonies and a trade empire.

The British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans called the civilization Minoan, after Minos, the legendary king. His unearthed palace was huge and intricate, and had clearly been weakened by many upheavals, including fire and earthquakes.

Nearby on the volcanic island of Thera, or Santorini, archaeologists dug up Minoan buildings, artifacts and a whole city, Akrotiri, buried under volcanic ash like Pompeii. Some of its beautifully preserved frescoes depicted Egyptian motifs and animals, suggesting significant contact between the two peoples.

In 1939, Spyridon Marinatos, a Greek archaeologist, proposed that the eruption wrecked Minoan culture on Thera and Crete. He envisioned the damage as done by associated earthquakes and tsunamis. While geologists found tsunamis credible, they doubted the destructive power of Thera's earthquakes, saying volcanic ones tend to be relatively mild. The debate simmered for decades.

In the mid-1960's, scientists dredging up ooze from the bottom of the Mediterranean began to notice a thick layer of ash that they linked to Thera's eruption. They tracked it over thousands of square miles.

Dr. McCoy of the University of Hawaii, then at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, took part in these discoveries, starting a lifelong interest in Thera. By the early 1980's, he was publishing papers on the ash distribution.

Such clues helped geologists estimate the amount of material Thera spewed into the sky and the height of its eruption cloud - main factors in the Volcanic Explosivity Index. Its scale goes from zero to eight and is logarithmic, so each unit represents a tenfold increase in explosive power. Thera was given a V.E.I. of 6.0, on a par with Krakatoa in 1883.

The similarity to Krakatoa, which lies between Sumatra and Java, helped experts better envision Thera's wrath. Krakatoa hurled rock and ash more than 20 miles high and its blasts could be heard 3,000 miles away. Its giant waves killed thousands of people.

Despite the power of Thera, the Danish scientists' evidence raised doubts about its links to the Minoan decline. Their date for Thera's explosion, 1645 B.C., based on frozen ash in Greenland, is some 150 years earlier than the usual date. Given that the Minoan fall was usually dated to 1450 B.C., the gap between cause and effect seemed too large.

Another blow landed in 1989 when scholars on Crete found, above a Thera ash layer, a house that had been substantially rebuilt in the Minoan style. It suggested at least partial cultural survival.

By 1996, experts like Prof. Jeremy B. Rutter, head of classics at Dartmouth, judged the chronological gap too extreme for any linkage. "No direct correlation can be established" between the volcano and the Minoan decline, he concluded.

As doubts rose about this linkage, scientists found more evidence suggesting that Thera's eruption had been unusually violent and disruptive over wide areas. Scientific maps drawn in the 1960's and 1970's showed its ash as falling mostly over nearby waters and Aegean islands.

By the 1990's, however, the affected areas had been found to include lands of the eastern Mediterranean from Anatolia to Egypt. Scientists found ash from Thera at the bottom of the Black Sea and Nile delta.

Dr. Peter I. Kuniholm, an expert at Cornell on using tree rings to establish dates, found ancient trees in a burial mound in Anatolia, what now is in the Asian part of Turkey. For half a decade those trees had grown three times as fast as normal - apparently because Thera's volcanic pall turned hot, dry summers into seasons that were unusually cool and wet.

"We've got an anomaly, the biggest in the past 9,000 years," Dr. Kuniholm said in an interview.

More intrigued than ever, Dr. McCoy of the University of Hawaii two years ago stumbled on more evidence suggesting that Thera's ash fall had been unusually wide and heavy. During a field trip to Anafi, an island some 20 miles east of Thera, he found to his delight that the authorities had just cut fresh roads that exposed layers of Thera ash up to 10 feet thick - a surprising amount that distance from the eruption.

And Greek colleagues showed him new seabed samples taken off the Greek mainland, suggesting that more ash blew westward than scientists had realized.

Factoring in such evidence, Dr. McCoy calculated that Thera had a V.E.I. of 7.0 - what geologists call colossal and exceedingly rare. In the past 10,000 years only one other volcano has exploded with that kind of gargantuan violence: Tambora, in Indonesia, in 1816, It produced an ash cloud in the upper atmosphere that reflected sunlight back into space and produced the year without a summer. The cold led to ruinous harvests, hunger and even famine in the United States, Europe and Russia.

"I presented this evidence last summer at a meeting," Dr. McCoy recalled, "and the comment from the other volcanologists was, `Hey, it was probably larger than Tambora.' "

Dr. Ryan of Columbia has woven such clues into a tantalizing but provisional theory on how distant effects might have slowly undone Crete. First, he noted that winds at low and high altitudes seem to have blown Thera's ash into distinct plumes - one to the southeast, toward Egypt and another heavier one to the northeast, toward Anatolia. Even if the changes wrought by Thera helped trees there, they apparently played havoc with delicate wheat fields.

Mursilis, a king of the Hittites, set out from Anatolia on a rampage, traveling between the plumes to strike Syria and Babylon and seize their stored grains and cereals. The subsequent collapse of Babylon into a dark age, Dr. Ryan said, also undid one of its puppets, the Hyksos, foreigners who ruled Egypt and traded with the Minoans.

He theorized that the new Egyptian dynasty had no love of Hyksos allies. So Minoan Crete, already reeling from Thera's fury, suffered new blows to its maritime trade.

In an interview, Dr. Ryan said he and other scholars were still refining dates on some of the ancient events, promising to better fix their relation to the eruption. The outcome of that work, he said, could either strengthen or undermine his thesis.

Even without such distant upsets, some prominent archaeologists have concluded that the volcano's long-term repercussions meant the end of Minoan Crete. For instance, they argue that the revolt of nature over the predictable certainties of Minoan religion probably crippled the authority of the priestly ruling class, weakening its hold on society.

In scholarly articles, Dr. Jan Driessen, an archaeologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and Dr. Colin F. MacDonald, an archaeologist at the British School in Athens, have argued that changes to Cretan architecture, storage, food production, artistic output and the distribution of riches imply major social dislocations, and perhaps civil war.

By 1450 B.C., Mycenaean invaders from mainland Greece seized control of Crete, ending the Minoan era.

Thera's destructiveness was probably the catalyst, Dr. Driessen and Dr. MacDonald wrote, "that culminated in Crete being absorbed to a greater or lesser extent into the Mycenaean, and therefore, the Greek world."

Copyright 2003, The New York Times

=========== LETTERS =========


Tommy Tyrberg <>


I've been a lurker at the CCC for quite a while, but now I would like to
comment on a matter within my field (I'm an ornithologist with a special
interest in palaeontology).

The interglacial (MIS 11) that killed off the albatrosses on Bermuda was
probably no more sudden than any other one. Just rather warmer and/or
longer since the sea level rose higher than during any other recent
interglacial (which probably means that the West Antarctic ice melted -
there being no other credible source for the water).

The thing is that albatrosses require a reasonably large, flattish,
temperate and predator-free island to breed, and when Bermuda was flooded
there simply wasn't any other suitable breeding site in the North Atlantic,
so the population went extinct.

This sort of thing has probably happened often enough in the past. For
example there is evidence that a duck  and a shearwater went extinct on
Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean for similar reasons during the latest
(Eeemian) interglacial. The sea only rose a few meters higher than at
present during Eem, but Aldabra is a very low island.

Tommy Tyrberg


David E. Fisher <>

Dear Benny,

Even if it were indeed proven that the past century's rise in temperature is totally due to increased solar activity, that would not - repeat, not - negate the necessity to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, for at least three reasons:

1. The greenhouse effect is real, and increases in CO2 have the effect of piling blankets - or, if you will, thin sheets - on a sleeping body. If the increase continues indefinitely, a warming effect must necessarily follow. And if the sun is already changing our climate, we would be foolish indeed to exacerbate the result with greenhouse warming.

2. Fossil fuels are the most deadly form of energy production one can possibly imagine using.  The health effects, both in the developed and undeveloped countries, are truly horrible, with myriad unnecessary deaths every year.

3. Fossil fuels are finite and nonrenewable.  We must eventually go on to other forms of energy.  "If not now, when?  And if not us, then who [will lead the way]?"

Your humble servant,
David E. Fisher


E.P. Grondine  <>

Hello Benny -

It is often said that fools rush in where wise men fear to tread. I suppose
that given that I have been researching historical impact events for some
five years now, I may be excused for just beginning with an examination of
Egyptian mythological records relating to impact events. In other words,
this is my first shot at Egyptian myth materials, as my commentary on the
Egyptian historical records relating to Joshua impact event of 1588 BCE
under Thutmose I
dealt solely with Egyptian historical records, and not their myth materials.

As a further sign of my growing folly, I now wish to share with those CCNet
participants so inclined a previously un-noted ancient Egyptian document
"The Book of the Celestial Cow", apparently a record of the cometary
encounter and impact ca. 3114 BCE.  Although one copy of this text was found
in one of the shrines discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun the solar
monotheist heretic (ruled ca. 1370 BCE), and another copy of it was found on
the walls of a small chamber in the tomb of Seti I (ca. 1300 BCE), from the
contents of the book itself it can be shown to have been composed quite
early indeed, and this will be demonstrated immediately below.



The Hindu, 21 October 2003

It was a tranquil sunset at the Kovalam beach here on Sunday - until a `spout' of water sprang a surprise for those on the beach.

Around 5-45 p.m. a quantity of water shot up from the sea and whirled its way towards a huge cloud hovering in the sky, to the accompaniment of what looked like smoke and sparks. `Was it a meteorite?' asked one beach-goer. `Did a jet crash into the sea?' ventured another. One person who had her wits about her at that moment was Samriti Goyal, a dentist from England, who was waiting to capture the sunset on her digital camera. She took three snaps of `what looked like a tornado' (see picture and then ran for cover when it started raining heavily. By then, the funnel of water had moved across the horizon and had begun to `fade away'.

An official of the India Meteorological Department, who witnessed the phenomenon, recognised it for what it was and got word to his department that the `strange phenomenon' was a `water spout' or a tornado over water, caused by an unusually large cumulonimbus cloud. According to Met officials, the funnel starts at the sea level and is drawn upwards; quite akin to the little `dust devils' or little swirls of air kicking up debris from the ground.

`Fair weather water spouts', as these are known, usually form when the sea temperature is at its highest. They have five stages of formation and it is in the third stage that the funnel becomes visible. Funnels as long as 2,000 feet have been recorded. Considered less dangerous than tornados, these spouts can prove hazardous for small craft. The last recorded episode of a spout occurring here was a decade ago.

Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved.

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