PLEASE NOTE:


*
Date sent:        Fri, 14 Nov 1997 11:24:11 -0500 (EST)
From:             Benny J Peiser <B.J.PEISER@livjm.ac.uk
Subject:          CC-DIGEST 14 November 1997
To:               cambridge-conference@livjm.ac.uk
Priority:         NORMAL

CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE DIGEST 14 November 1997

Shortly before leaving for Washington, I have attached a number of
new stories, articles and developments which might be of interest
to list members. Should you be interested in a copy of the
forthcoming Channel 4 TUNGUSKA documentary, please feel free to
contact me.

Benny J Peiser
===========================================================================

(1) THE DAY THE EARTH GOT HIT

(2) THE THREAT TO CIVILISATION DUE TO COMETS AND ASTEROIDS AND WHY
    WE NEED TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF NATURE

(3) NEAR EARTH ASTEROID PROSPECTOR FLYING HIGH

(4) BIG IMPACT CRATER ON MARS?

(5) NEWLY DISCOVERED WOODHENGE RIVALS STONEHENGE

========================================================================

(1) THE DAY THE EARTH GOT HIT

(TV Documentary)
Channel 4 (UK)
Monday 17 November, 9.00PM

[With many interviews shot during the 2nd SIS Cambridge Conference
this summer.]

At 7.16am on 30 June 1908 in the skies above Tunguska in remotest
Siberia, a gigantic fireball exploded, setting fire to 2000 square
kilometres of forest, toppling the trees like matchsticks and
sending a pressure-wave twice around the world. Scientists didn't
visit the site until 19 years later and when they finally did they
found utter devastation.

Astonishingly, one eyewitness to the cataclysm still survives.
GRIGORY VERKHOTUROV, now 96, remembers the day that the fire came
by. "Everything shook. There was a flash, a roar. The sun went in.
We ran to a neighbour's house. Everyone was just sitting there.
People came round to ask what had happened. Where had it come
from? No one knew."

Today, the scientists know a little more about The Day The Earth
Got Hit. They believe an object penetrated the Earth's atmosphere
from outer space, blowing up about 6 kilometres above the ground
with a force of 15 megatons, many times greater than the nuclear
bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But what that object was exactly
remains a mystery.

Now every summer a team of Russian scientists struggles to reach
Tunguska, one of the remotest places on earth, in the hope of
solving that mystery. Their mission is vital and urgent - for any
information on cosmic impact could help save this planet from
destruction. The expedition's goal lies deep in the trackless
forests of Siberia, on the banks of the Tunguska River, 2000 miles
from Moscow and two-and-a-half days' walk from the nearest settlement, the
tiny trading post of Vanovara. Equinox joined the scientists on their latest
trek - the first western documentary team allowed into one of the former
Soviet Union's most secret areas.

Countless questions remain about the impact and there are many rival
theories about what the object from outer space consisted of. What
was it? The stone or iron core from an asteroid? The nucleus of a
comet? Or something in between, perhaps a stray fragment from a
meteorite shower that regularly orbits the earth?

The race is now on to find the answers. Scientists  have realised
that the Tunguska explosion is the latest of a series of
collisions between the Earth and objects from outer space. "It's
the only thing we can point to and say directly where a large
object struck the Earth," says Dr DAVID MORRISON of NASA. "Indeed,
if it hadn't been for Tunguska, we might not be aware today that
there's an impact hazard at all."

Astronomer DUNCAN STEEL believes knowing exactly what happened at
Tunguska will help mankind decide what to do when - as it inevitably
will, perhaps today, perhaps in 300 years time - another object
takes aim at our planet.

"We need to understand what happened there," he says. "Was it an
asteroid? Was it a comet? How fast was it coming in? How did it
detonate? What debris did it leave behind if any? And we need to do
that in order to build up a total understanding of the cosmic shooting
gallery which the earth happens to move through."

At Tunguska itself, Equinox follows an investigation that began as long ago
as 1927, when a pioneering meteorite expert, LEONID KULIK, first reached the
area. His expedition, brought to life in the programme through archive film,
searched for fragments of the object but found nothing. Today, the hunt
continues, with the Russian scientists meticulously combing through samples
of peat from the bog at the explosion's epicentre. Others continue to map
the strange butterfly-shaped pattern of the fallen trees in the hope of
establishing the size of the explosion with greater precision. And a
geneticist is examining strange anomalies in the plant life of the blast
area.

In the West, astronomers and NASA experts have begun their own Tunguska
research programmes, among them ballistics expert MARK BOSLOUGH of Sandia
Laboratories in New Mexico. Using one of the world's most powerful
computers, he has simulated this extraordinary event with surprising
results. The scientists, he suggests, have been searching for the fragments
of the cosmic invader in the wrong place. The answer may lie hundreds of
miles away beneath the waters of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest freshwater
lake.

And in California, perhaps the greatest of all explosion experts
keenly awaits results, in the hope that news from this remotest of
places on the surface of the Earth may help avert a far greater
cataclysm in a more populated place sometime in the future. DR
EDWARD TELLER, 'father' of the H bomb, hopes that mankind will be
better prepared the next time the planet is hit:

"And I think that whenever it should occur," he says, "whether it is ten
people in the middle of Siberia or a hundred thousand people in a city or a
hundred million people on a continent or the whole human race, we should do
what we can to prevent it."

Prod/Dir: Stephen White
Prod: Armorer Wason
Exec Prod: Simon Welfare
Prod Co: Granite Produtions

======================================================================

(2) THE THREAT TO CIVILISATION DUE TO COMETS AND ASTEROIDS AND WHY
WE NEED TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF NATURE

Invited Talk at the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, WASHINGTON DC

20 November 1997, 3.00 pm

Benny J Peiser (Liverpool John Moores University)

COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS: THE THREAT TO CIVILISATION DUE TO COMETS AND
ASTEROIDS AND WHY WE NEED TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF NATURE (AND THAT OF
SOME NEOs)

The crash of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter in July of 1994 proved
to be a watershed in the development of mankind's cosmic
consciousness. The dramatic changes in the understanding and
perception of our cosmic environment, initially triggered by the
Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) boundary controversy during the early
1980s, appear to have gradually shifted from the geological to the
historical time-frame.

During the last decade, most scientists have accepted the idea of
global catastrophes caused by the impact of extraterrestrial bodies.
Until fairly recently, their acceptance depended on the assumption
that cosmic disasters were restricted to primordial times, millions
of years before the origin of homo sapiens. This picture has changed
significantly over the last couple of years. One of the most
noticeable changes to the 1980s, which focused primarily on the
demise of the dinosaurs and other mass extinctions, is the growing
concern and risk assessment of the celestial threat to civilisation.

Scholars have now started to investigate the implications of
catastrophic events on societal evolution, cultural anthropology,
human social behaviour and the development of religion. Some of
Britain's leading astronomers argue that both the emergence and the
collapse of civilisations might be associated with episodes of
increased meteoric activity, multiple impacts and related climate
change. Such episodes punctuating the evolution of human cultures
are now looked upon as a primary agency determining the rise and
fall of ancient civilisations.

The emerging paradigm of historical catastrophism also stems from
the awareness that the celestial hazard is not limited to the odd
giant asteroid which hits the Earth every 100,000 or 1,000,000 years.
In contrast to the traditional risk assessment - based on a
statistical analysis of the number of known impact craters on the
Moon and Earth in addition to the currently known asteroidal flux -
it has become evident that super-Tunguskas (i.e. multimegaton
atmospheric or oceanic impacts) are also capable of triggering
ecological and climatical downturns which, if severe enough, may
result in civilisation collapse.

In spite of mankind's rude awakening, there is no need for
desperation or apocalyptic fatalism. Terrestrial life has now, for
the first time ever, developed the intelligence and technology to
discern the mortal dangers from space. It has also evolved to such
a level that effective strategies of planetary defense can be
devised and implemented. By turning away Near Earth Objects (NEOs)
and the threat they pose to civilisation, man has acquired the
capability of changing the course of nature and halting the
vicious cycle of cosmic cataclysms. Scientists have the
responsibility to meet this challenge head-on and to ensure that
mankind takes its fate into its own hands. This would certainly
mark the start of a new turning point in the development of cosmic
consciousness and auto-evolution.

===================================================================

(3) NEAR EARTH ASTEROID PROSPECTOR FLYING HIGH

From: Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov

Media Information: Gretchen Jaspering 314.477.8400
Investment Information:  Jamie Driscoll  617.695.6360

NEAR EARTH ASTEROID PROSPECTOR ANNOUNCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITY RELEASED

November 11, 1997, Steamboat Springs, CO -For the first time in the
history of space exploration, a private company is offering the
scientific community, governments and companies a ride aboard a
spacecraft for their experiments or instruments at insured,
published, fixed prices.

SpaceDev, (www.SpaceDev.Com) the world's first commercial space
exploration company, intends to launch the first private spacecraft
to land on a near earth asteroid for the purpose of collecting
scientific data and to stake a claim to establish private property
rights in space.

The spacecraft, Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP), first in a
series of SpaceDev Space Prospectors, will carry three of its own
instruments to analyze its asteroids size, and determine its
composition and value. In addition to these, space is available for
up to seven additional experiments or instruments of which four are
canisters for instruments or experiments to be deployed into sun
orbit during the mission or to the surface of the SpaceDev asteroid.
On the first mission, one canister will contain the NEAP alpha proton
X-ray spectrometer which will be used to determine the elemental
composition of the asteroid surface, leaving three canisters
available to carry customer experiments or nano-rovers.

"Until today, scientists, universities, companies and governments
have had one avenue to space-the government. NEAP is the new
spacecraft on the launchpad, and its science costs only one-fourth
what a recent government mission costs," said James W. Benson,
Chairman, SpaceDev.

"This unique opportunity to use a private spacecraft offers these
customers inexpensive access to space on short notice and also offers
quick turn around on experiment results-results in approximately half
the time of current missions. Furthermore, the mission represents
minimal risk to the customer, because customer's instruments are
fully insured against launch failure," said Benson.

NEAP intends to launch between mid 1999 and mid 2000, with flight
time estimated at between nine and fifteen months. Potential target
asteroids include 1993 BX3 and 1996 FO3.

Construction and testing of NEAP will begin during the first quarter
of 1998 and will take approximately 18 months to complete. SpaceDev
is a public company (OTC:PSDM) specializing in private space missions
and consulting.

Full details of the Announcement of Opportunity are available on the
SpaceDev website:

http://spacedev.com/SpaceDev/PriceLst.html

===========================================================================

(4) BIG IMPACT CRATER ON MARS?

From: E. Grondine <epgrondine@hotmail.com

For the last four months I have really enjoyed the postings on
Pathfinder. But there is one thing that seems strange: there has
been very little mention about effects observed at the Pathfinder
landing site from the impact that formed the Big Crater.

Nuclear "device" experts that I have talked to given me estimates
for the Big Crater impact explosion ranging from  35 megatons to 100
megatons.  Even at a mere 35 megatons, the effects of this explosion at the
Pathfinder landing site must have been immense.

I know Dan Goldin is running a tight ship, but I find it hard to
believe that he has laid off all the impact specialists there at JPL and cut
off the grants for the rest of them.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Ron Baalke <BAALKE@kelvin.jpl.nasa.gov

Pathfinder did see ejecta material from a nearby crater, which was
reported just 2 days after it had landed on July 6 (see below).
Also, the spacecraft wasn't in a crater, so the odds of finding
any effects from an impact drops off the farther away you are
from the crater. Pathfinder only observed surface rocks,
and did not dig down into the ground to find shatter cones, and
probably wasn't close enough to the crater anyway.
 

                        Mars Pathfinder Mission Status
                                 July 6, 1997
                         9 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time

    Scientists pointed out other interesting rocks, soil deposits and
features on the horizon in this evening's press briefing. A pair of
mountain peaks, nicknamed "Twin Peaks," revealed ribbons of different
colored rock. Scientists noted that the horizontal bands could be
sedimentary layers or terraces cut by erosion. Angular rocks
appearing in the foreground, all leaning in the same direction,
suggest they were ejected from a nearby impact crater. A variety of
smooth round rocks suggested that they were transported by water in
Mars' early evolution.

===========================================================================

(5) NEWLY DISCOVERED WOODHENGE RIVALS STONEHENGE

  From: THE TIMES, 11 November 1997

  Woodhenge find rivals stone circles

  By Nigel Hawkes, Science Editor

  ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered traces of a huge and
  elaborate wooden temple dating back 5,000 years. Evidence
  shows that it was once one of the most important ceremonial
  sites in England, comparable in significance to Stonehenge.

  Nine concentric rings of oak pillars once stood on the site at
  Stanton Drew in Somerset, surrounded by an enormous
  ditch. Each upright would have been up to a metre across
  and probably stood eight metres above the ground. All that
  can be seen today is a later stone circle. Such wooden
  henges are unique to Britain, and this one is twice as large as
  any of the other seven known.

  The traces were found by archaeologists from English
  Heritage while they were carrying out a routine survey, using
  instruments that can detect small magnetic anomalies in the
  soil without disturbing the surface.

  "To our surprise and delight what emerged was a timber
  temple of about 3000 BC," said Geoffrey Wainwright, chief
  archaeologist at English Heritage. "There is now no timber left
  &shy; it would have decayed long ago. But the disturbance of the
  soil when the pits were dug to take the uprights shows
  clearly."

  Andrew David, head of archaeometry at English Heritage,
  estimates that there would have been between 400 and 500
  oak uprights making up the nine rings. Each would have
  weighed five tons or so, nearly as much as the stones at
  Stonehenge.

  Some wooden henges had a roof, but Dr Wainwright said
  Stanton Drew was far too large to roof over. He sees it as a
  local centre where people would go ask the supernatural
  powers to provide them with plentiful crops, or healthy herds
  of animals.

  "By this period, a social structure was developing, with
  distinct tribal areas. The temples were focal points for these
  tribes, where they gathered and held feasts. Other wooden
  henges contain masses of pig bones, along with decorated
  fragments of pottery. It looks as if the people deliberately
  broke the pots and scattered them around."

  At the time, the population of Britain may have been as great
  as one million, according to Dr Wainwright. "It's a great
  mistake to think the people who built this place were rude,
  untutored, starving individuals. They were very sophisticated
  with successful agriculture and made beautiful items such as
  carved stone axes used for barter."

  The technique used to find the hidden rings makes use of the
  fact that any disturbance of soil tends to affect its magnetism.
  Until a few years ago, magnetometers sensitive enough to
  detect the anomalies at Stanton Drew did not exist. The
  existence of the post holes could have been found by
  conventional digging, but the site has not been dug in recent
  times.

  The ring shows no evidence of having been orientated with
  any astronomical purpose in mind. Nor is it known whether
  the uprights were carved or decorated, although Dr
  Wainwright believes that they were. "It is very hard to think
  of a structure like this with nine concentric circles not being
  carved in some way," he said.

  He suspects that the carving might have been like that on
  contemporary pottery, which carries geometrical patterns and
  spiral motifs. "The patterns are quite stylised and relate to
  tribal territories, we believe. It would be very surprising if
  these motifs were not replicated on the timber uprights."

  A complete excavation of the site is not planned, as it would
  be unlikely to provide much more information than the
  magnetic survey. A small dig may be conducted to confirm
  that the rings are indeed the remains of post holes, although
  there is little doubt that they are.

  Sir Jocelyn Stevens, chairman of English Heritage, said that
  Britain was apparently the only place in the ancient world
  where these extraordinary temples were built. "They were
  expressing their power by building these great rings, just as
  we are celebrating the Millennium by building a huge dome.
  This is clearly a very British habit, and it is 5,000 years old."
 
 

  Builders of the oak tree marvel beat Great
  Pyramid by four centuries

  The Great Pyramid at Giza was not even on the drawing
  board when the wooden henge at Stanton Drew was built.
  The building of the henge dates from about 3000 BC, while
  Cheops did not build the pyramid until 2590 BC.

  The builders of the henge were near-contemporaries of those
  who invented the wheel in Mesopotamia, and the sail in
  Egypt, both in about 3500 BC. Bronze casting and the
  plough were known in the Middle East, but not in Britain.
  Writing had just been invented in Sumer. Stonehenge itself
  existed, but like the temple at Stanton Drew it was made of
  wood, not stone. The Stonehenge we know today did not
  assume its final form until 2000 BC.

  The henge was built in much the same way as Stonehenge.
  Pits up to four metres deep were dug, and ramps arranged
  alongside them. The oak pillars were dragged and pushed
  until they overbalanced into the pits, and were then pulled
  upright. The wooden henges would have lasted for up 400
  years before needing replacement.
 

  Bride eager to dance had Devil to pay

  THE ancient mysteries of Stanton Drew are no secret to the
  landlord of the Druid's Arms. John Newcombe has three of
  the standing stones in his beer garden, the largest 12ft high.

  "The local legend is that they were the guests at a wedding
  party who were turned to stone," he said. "The ones in my
  back garden are the bride, bridegroom and best man."

  Every midsummer's eve, he says, a small group of strangely
  dressed people arrive to dance around the stones. "I don't
  know who they are but they aren't druids," he said. "They
  wear little capes and hats and carry things like Devil's forks.

  "As long as they don't scare away my regulars I don't care
  what they get up to. They have these little candles like
  night-lights and I go out in the morning to clear them away but
  they never make any other mess."

  According to Robin Bush, the Somerset historian and
  member of Channel 4's Time Team, Stanton Drew means
  "Drew's town near the stones" and is mentioned in the
  Domesday Book. One of the stones has a hole in it and was
  once much larger. Mr Bush said: "It was called Hautville's
  Quoit, after a medieval lord, Sir John Hautville, whose tomb
  is in a church near by.

  "The local legend was that he had thrown it there. It once
  stood in the middle of the road but over the years has been
  chipped away at, partly to get stone to put on the road itself."

  The stones at Stanton Drew were considered to be the third
  most important prehistoric monument in Wessex after
  Stonehenge and Avebury. The 17th-century antiquary John
  Aubrey recorded the legend of the wedding party in 1664.

  According to Aubrey, the fiddler went home before midnight
  to avoid playing on the Sabbath and the bride announced that
  she would "go to hell for another fiddler". Another fiddler
  appeared and played until dawn, when he revealed himself as
  the Devil and turned the assembled throng to stone.

  No one believes that story any longer. Except, of course, on
  midsummer's eve.



CCCMENU CCC for 1997

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