PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 123/2001 - 22 November 2001
=================================


"Tom Yuran recovered two rocks, one of which he had to pull out of
the ground, the newspaper said. The rocks, which are rust-colored on
one side and silvery on the other, weigh a total of about two ounces.
Jim Seevers, an astronomer from Chicago's Adler Planetarium, said
the rocks are likely meteorites from the Leonids. The rust color is "the
fusion crust," he said, which results when the rock is seared by the earth's
atmosphere. "The rock probably chipped off and the shiny silver they see
is the inside," Seevers told The Times. "It's most likely iron and
nickel."
--Associated Press, 20 November 2001


"The chances these pieces are from the Leonid meteor shower are
essentially zero," said Adler Planetarium astronomer Mark Hammergren
Tuesday... Several factors make it unlikely that the rocks the Yurans
found are meteorites, said Hammergren. "Meteors that come from comets are
composed of very fragile dust," he said and the rocks found by the Yurans
are far too large to have come from a comet. "Further," he said, "no
meteorites have ever been recovered from a meteor shower, ever, and no
meteorites have ever been tied to comets as their point of origin."
--Chicago Tribune, 21 November 2001


(1) ANOTHER FALSE ALARM? SPECTATORS NEARLY HIT BY METEOR SHOWER
    The Associated Press, 20 November 2001

(2) SPACE ROCKS SLAM INTO INDIANA
    Chicago Sun Times, 21 November 2001

(3) METEORITE CLAIM CALLED ROCKY: EXPERTS DISPUTE FIND IN INDIANA
    Chicago Tribune, 21 November 2001

(4) SOHO'S LATEST SURPRISE: GAS NEAR THE SUN HEADING THE WRONG WAY
    Paal Brekke <pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov>

(5) WAS A COMET THE CHICXULUB DINO KILLER?
    S.V. Jeffers  et al.

(6) POLLEN SUPPORTS DINOSAUR-ASTEROID THEORY
    Ananova, 21 November 2001

(7) NASA PROBE TO BLAST INTO COMET
    Discovery News, 20 November 2001

(8) FORGET CHAOS THEORY: TEST TUBE HOLDS A TRILLION COMPUTERS
    BBC News Online, 22 November 2001 

(9) METEORITE CLAIM FROM LEONIDS?
    Phil Plait <badastro@badastronomy.com>

(10) HOW TO CONVINCE POLITICIANS?
     Jens Kieffer-Olsen <dstdba@post4.tele.dk>

==================
(1) ANOTHER FALSE ALARM? SPECTATORS NEARLY HIT BY METEOR SHOWER

>From The Associated Press, 20 November 2001
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-meteor.story?coll=sns%2Dnewsnation%2Dheadlines
 
HIGHLAND, Ind. -- Laura Yuran and her son Jonathon got a closer look at the
Leonid meteor shower than they bargained for. Yuran and her 11-year-old son
believe they were nearly hit by chunks of the space rocks early Sunday
morning.

The two were watching the meteor shower outside their northwestern Indiana
home about 4 a.m. when hail-like objects began pelting them, The Times of
Munster reported today.
 
As Laura walked toward the house to get her husband, Tom, a chunk of rock
slammed to the ground near where she had been standing just moments before.

"It went, 'Boom!' and I screamed," Laura said. "Part of it hit the driveway
and the second part was embedded in the ground. I was afraid to touch it."

Tom Yuran recovered two rocks, one of which he had to pull out of the
ground, the newspaper said. The rocks, which are rust-colored on one side
and silvery on the other, weigh a total of about two ounces.

Jim Seevers, an astronomer from Chicago's Adler Planetarium, said the rocks
are likely meteorites from the Leonids. The rust color is "the fusion
crust," he said, which results when the rock is seared by the earth's
atmosphere.

"The rock probably chipped off and the shiny silver they see is the inside,"
Seevers told The Times. "It's most likely iron and nickel."

The Yurans contacted Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, whose
curator, Dr. Menache Wadhwa, asked them to bring one of the rocks for
geologists to examine.

"She said we're the only ones anywhere who have reported falling meteorites
from the Leonid meteor shower," Tom said.

After the scientists are done examining the possible meteorites, Laura said
she hopes to put them in a display case and give it to her son for his rock
collection.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press

==============
(2) SPACE ROCKS SLAM INTO INDIANA

>From Chicago Sun Times, 21 November 2001
http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-meteor21.html

BY ART GOLAB, STAFF REPORTER

Watching the Leonid meteor shower early Sunday, Laura and Tom Yuran got a
big surprise: Chunks of space rocks nearly hit them.

"Go get your dad--it's hitting us!" Laura Yuran shouted to her 11-year-old
son, Jonathan, as she ran for cover. Then a small chunk of rock slammed into
the driveway near where she'd been standing.

''It went, 'Boom!' and I screamed,'' the Highland, Ind., woman said. ''Part
of it hit the driveway, and the second part was embedded in the ground. I
was afraid to touch it.''

Tom Yuran found his wife and son huddled under an awning on the steps of the
back porch. He gingerly approached the larger of the two objects.

"I touched it with my finger, thinking it was going to be hot," he said. "It
was actually cold."

One piece seemed to have broken off from the other. Both pieces were a rusty
brownish-orange on the outside, and silvery on the inside, where they had
apparently split.

The Yurans have an appointment today with Meenakshi Wadhwa, a Field Museum
expert who will examine one of the objects. Wadhwa, curator of meteorites in
the museum's geology department, said the rust color could be the "fusion
crust," which results when the atmosphere sears the rock.

But she added that if it is a meteorite, it's unlikely to be associated with
the Leonid shower, which occurs once a year when the earth passes through
the orbit of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Despite the term "meteor shower,"
Wadhwa said no actual meteorites have ever been found in conjunction with a
shower caused by a comet.

"It could, however, be a coincidental meteor fall," she said. "Meteors fall
everywhere at random. . . . Every day, 50 tons of meteor fragments hit the
earth, though most never make it to the surface."

But some do. And collectors pay up to $25 a gram for meteorites, but the
Yuran family doesn't plan on selling theirs. "I don't know if it has any
monetary value," said Tom Yuran, 51. "But, for me, it definitely has a lot
of sentimental value."

Copyright 2001, Chicago Sun Times

=============
(3) METEORITE CLAIM CALLED ROCKY: EXPERTS DISPUTE FIND IN INDIANA

>From Chicago Tribune, 21 November 2001
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/chi-0111210078nov21.story?coll=chi%2Dprintmetro%2Dhed
   
By William Mullen
Tribune staff reporter

Two rocks that Highland, Ind., family members said fell into their yard
early Sunday as they watched the spectacular Leonid meteor shower will be
examined by meteorite experts Wednesday at the Field Museum.

Tom and Laura Yuran are convinced the rocks are meteorites that rained down
on their yard from outer space during the meteor shower. Chicago area
astronomers and geologists, however, are not convinced, at all.

Laura Yuran said the larger of the two rocks, measuring about 2 by 1 1/2
inches, slammed into a sidewalk about 4:30 a.m. Sunday. Later they found
another, similar rock, with a crusty, rust-colored exterior and shiny
metallic interior, measuring about 1 3/4 by 1 inches, in their lawn.

"The chances these pieces are from the Leonid meteor shower are essentially
zero," said Adler Planetarium astronomer Mark Hammergren Tuesday.

The Leonid meteor shower is a predictable phenomenon in which the Earth
plows through trails of tiny debris left behind by the comet Tempel-Tuttle,
which passes near the Earth every 33 years.

The debris, usually no larger than a grain of sand, burns intensely when it
strikes the atmosphere 60 to 70 miles above Earth, streaking visibly across
the night sky as shooting stars.

Meteorites are meteors so big that they do not burn up entirely in the
atmosphere and fall to earth.

Laura Yuran said her son, Jonathon, 11, woke her up at 4 a.m. Sunday to go
outside with him to watch the well-publicized meteor shower.

"The sky looked like a beautiful light show festival," she said, "with
beautiful streaks of light. It sounded like little pebbles were hitting the
ground all around us, like a hail storm.

"I started walking to the house to get my husband to come out and look when
this thing fell like, Boom! It hit the sidewalk right by where I had just
been standing. I screamed and my husband came running with a flashlight."

The family soon found the two pieces of rock.

"They are silver and gold and a rusted color," said Laura Yuran, a school
maintenance worker, "that shine real prettylike, turned in a certain way,
like little diamonds."

Several factors make it unlikely that the rocks the Yurans found are
meteorites, said Hammergren.

"Meteors that come from comets are composed of very fragile dust," he said
and the rocks found by the Yurans are far too large to have come from a
comet.

"Further," he said, "no meteorites have ever been recovered from a meteor
shower, ever, and no meteorites have ever been tied to comets as their point
of origin."

Most meteorites are pieces of asteroids crashing through the Earth's
atmosphere, he said. A very rare few are pieces of rock that exploded off
the surface of Mars or the moon from the impact of striking asteroids,
sending them flying to Earth.

Meenakshi Wadhwa, a Field Museum geologist who has recovered Mars meteorites
from expeditions to snowfields in Antarctica, said she will examine the
Yurans' rocks when they bring them to her laboratory at the museum
Wednesday.

"It seems improbable that they could be meteorites," she said, "but it is
impossible to say until I can see them.

"Certainly it seems impossible that they could be associated with the Leonid
meteors. The chance that they are meteorites that fell coincidentally from
another source during the meteor shower seems very unlikely too."

As word of the falling rocks spread Tuesday, the Yurans said they were
inundated by requests for media interviews, including scheduled appearances
Wednesday via remote hookups with three national morning television news
shows.

"Some people have asked if we were being hoaxed by some jokers throwing
rocks into our yard," said Laura Yuran, "but that couldn't be. We got up on
the spur of the moment, so nobody could have known we were going to be
there.

"My God, if one of those things had hit one of us in the head, we wouldn't
be here now."

Copyright 2001, Chicago Tribune

==============
(4) SOHO'S LATEST SURPRISE: GAS NEAR THE SUN HEADING THE WRONG WAY

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

Mysterious clouds of gas falling towards the Sun have been spotted with the
ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft. They go against the fast-moving streams of gas
that pour out continuously into space, in the solar wind. This discovery
promises a better understanding of the sources of the solar magnetism that
envelops the Earth, quarrels with our own planet's field, and to some extent
protects us from cosmic rays coming from the stars.

Read more about this at (also images and movies):
http://sci.esa.int/content/news/index.cfm?aid=1&cid=1&oid=28996

Regards

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/
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
-

=============
(5) WAS A COMET THE CHICXULUB DINO KILLER?

Jeffers SV, Manley JP, Bailey ME, Asher DJ: Near-Earth object velocity
distributions and consequences for the Chicxulub impactor. MONTHLY NOTICES
OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 327 (1): 126-132 OCT 11 2001

An Opik-based geometric algorithm is used to compute impact probabilities
and velocity distributions for various near-Earth object (NEO) populations.
The resulting crater size distributions for the Earth and Moon are
calculated by combining these distributions with assumed NEO size
distributions and a selection of crater scaling laws. This crater
probability distribution indicates, that the largest craters on both the
Earth and the Moon are dominated by comets. However, from a calculation of
the fractional probabilities of iridium deposition, and the velocity
distributions at impact of each NEO population, the only realistic
possibilities, for the Chicxulub impactor are a short-period comet (possibly
inactive) or a near-Earth asteroid. For these classes of object,
sufficiently large impacts have mean intervals of 100 and 300 Myr
respectively, slightly favouring the cometary hypothesis.

Addresses:
Jeffers SV, Armagh Observ, Coll Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, North Ireland
Armagh Observ, Armagh BT61 9DG, North Ireland
Univ St Andrews, Sch Phys & Astron, St Andrews KY16 9SS, Fife, Scotland

Copyright 2001 Institute for Scientific Information

==============
(6) POLLEN SUPPORTS DINOSAUR-ASTEROID THEORY
 
>From Ananova, 21 November 2001
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_455244.html?menu=news.scienceanddiscovery 
 
Experts say tiny grains of pollen discovered in New Zealand prove dinosaurs
were killed by an asteroid.

The pollen was found in coal in the remote West Coast of New Zealand's South
Island.

It shows evidence of the sudden death of a mixed forest.

The pollen was examined on a hunch by Institute of Geological and Nuclear
Sciences paleontologist Ian Raine, accompanied by workmate Chris Hollis and
Swedish researcher Vivi Vadja.

The trio found evidence of the sudden death of a mixed forest and rapid
recolonisation by ferns in New Zealand - the opposite side of the Earth to
the impact site - leading them to believe the asteroid impact caused the
sudden destruction of terrestrial plants the world over.

Until now scientists believed that destruction of forests were due to an
"impact winter" or impact-ignited wildfires largely confined to the American
continent, within a radius of several thousand kilometres of the inferred
impact site on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

The study has been published in the latest issue of international magazine
Science, reports the Stuff website.

Copyright 2001, Ananova

=============
(7) NASA PROBE TO BLAST INTO COMET

>From Discovery News, 20 November 2001
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20011119/asteroid.html

By Irene Brown, Discovery News

Nov. 20 - Robotic probes have flown by asteroids and comets, collected
samples for return to Earth and even landed on one of the small primordial
worlds, but a new mission under development by NASA takes solar system
exploration a step farther: into a comet's heart.
 
Called Deep Impact, the spacecraft is designed to slam into the surface of
comet Tempel 1, creating a crater larger than a football field and deeper
than a seven-story building. Its primary scientific theme is to understand
the differences between the interior of a comet's nucleus and its surface.

Comets are interesting to scientists because they contain material, often
ice and dust, from the original formation of the solar system. As comets
near the sun, the ice melts and releases dust particles: the comet's tail.
Many comets far from the sun are hard to tell apart from asteroids, which
are made of rock, and there's currently no way to properly identify the
imposters.

The information is important for several reasons, including the practical
though improbable scenario that at some time in the future, we will need to
deflect a comet or asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Knowing what's
inside the threatening comet or asteroid will be crucial to developing
technologies to alter its path.

The idea to probe beneath a comet's icy surface dates back more than 20
years. Data from a European probe dispatched to Halley's Comet revealed a
mysterious black core, which puzzled researchers.

"We became increasingly curious as to just how this black layer
accumulated," said Alan Delamere, who is overseeing development of Deep
Impact's instruments and systems for Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.,
which is building the spacecraft for NASA. "We suspect that as the comet's
ice dissipates, dust is left, which becomes a loose, outer crust insulating
the trapped, inner comet."

The probe is scheduled for launch in January 2004 and hit the comet on July
4, 2005. With a variety of science instruments and imagers, the spacecraft
will study how the crater is formed and what lies beneath its outer surface.


"The mission is completely different, " said astronomer Michael A'Hearn,
with the University of Maryland. "It is a real experiment in which we do
something to another body in the solar system and see how it reacts."

NASA approved the $280 million mission in May following an 18-month
preliminary design review.

Deep Impact will be equipped with a 770-pound copper impactor that will
separate from the spacecraft a day before pounding into the comet. A camera
on the impactor is expected to relay close-up images of the comet's surface
until the crash. Cameras on the mother ship itself will then record the
impact and image the interior of the comet.

"The biggest challenge of the mission is making sure we have a very stable
flyby spacecraft that is able to track the event as the impactor reaches the
comet," said Delamere.

"We'll have 800 seconds or so to gather images and data. All this makes the
flyby spacecraft critical because it will be traveling through a hazardous
area filled with cometary material - and fragments that could destroy the
spacecraft."

NASA's last close encounter with a comet was Deep Space 1's flyby of Comet
Borrelly in September. In February, the NEAR science probe successfully
landed on an asteroid.

In addition to Deep Impact, NASA is planning to launch the Contour mission
to study at least two comets close-up, while the European Space Agency is
gearing up for its Rosetta mission to land on a comet and scratch its
surface. Already en route to a comet is NASA's Stardust mission, which is to
pluck samples of comet dust and return them to Earth.

Copyright 2001 Discovery Communications Inc.

===========
(8) FORGET CHAOS THEORY: TEST TUBE HOLDS A TRILLION COMPUTERS
 
>From the BBC News Online, 22 November 2001 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1668000/1668415.stm

By BBC News Online's Ivan Noble
 
A computer so small that a trillion of its kind fit into a test tube has
been developed by researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel.

The nanocomputer consists of DNA and DNA-processing enzymes, both dissolved
in a liquid held in a test tube.

The inventors believe it could ultimately lead to a device capable of
processing DNA inside the human body, finding abnormalities and creating
healing drugs.

In the medium term it could be turned into a tool capable of speeding up the
currently labour intensive job of DNA sequencing.

>From salesmen to genomes

DNA sequencing is part of the task of cracking the genetic code of
interesting organisms as diverse as the pneumonia bug, the tomato and the
human body to discover more about the way they function.

Professor Ehud Shapiro, head of the Weizmann team, says the DNA computer is
an automaton, completing its work without human intervention at each stage
of processing.

"Today it is limited to processing DNA which is synthetically designed. In
the future it could process any DNA molecules," he told BBC News Online.

The machine's input, output and software program are all DNA molecules.

The Israeli team reads the output of the computer by running the liquid
through an electrophoretic gel - the same process which produces the
characteristic black and white bands of a DNA fingerprint.

Previous efforts

DNA computing took a leap forwards in 1994 when Leonard Adleman of the
University of Southern California used DNA to solve a problem commonly known
as the travelling salesman problem.

This problem sets the goal of working out the fastest way of visiting a
given set of destinations.

Prof Adleman, co-inventor of the RSA encryption scheme which protects most
secure transactions on the internet today, was exploiting the advantages of
DNA computing over conventional silicon.

DNA stores a massive amount of data in a small space.

Its effective density is roughly 100,000 times greater than modern hard
disks.

And while a desktop PC concentrates on doing one task at a time very
quickly, billions of DNA molecules in a jar will attack the same problem
billions of times over.

Nanoscale approach

Prof Shapiro and his team have taken a different approach.

Their goal was not to harness the power of biological computing to solve
weighty mathematical problems, but to build a nanoscale computer which takes
naturally-occuring information-bearing biological molecules such as DNA as
an input.

Their success in creating a nanomachine that works on synthetically produced
short DNA strands is a huge step towards this goal.

Mathematical inspiration

DNA computing research was inspired by the similarity between the way DNA
works and the operation of a theoretical device known as a Turing machine
and named after the British mathematician Alan Turing.

"Turing machines process information and store them as a sequence, or list
of symbols, which is very naturally related to the way biological machinery
works," Prof Shapiro said.

The nanomachine devised by his team is a special case of the Turing machine:
a two-state, two-symbol automaton.

It distinguishes between two symbols, like the zeroes and ones of a
conventional electronic computer.

The Israeli team's DNA computer is described in more detail in the journal
Nature.

Copyright 2001, BBC

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

(9) METEORITE CLAIM FROM LEONIDS?

>From Phil Plait <badastro@badastronomy.com>

Benny-

While watching TV this morning, I caught the tail end of a report on NBC's
Today Show about a family who think some meteorites hit their house the
night of the Leonids peak. They even had samples they showed briefly (which
looked to me like sedimentary rocks, and not meteorites). They were from
Illinois, and said scientists from the Field museum would be looking at
their samples. I have not been able to find any more info on this, even on
the Today Show website. I was hoping
some of the people who read CCNet may know more. I suspect this will turn
out just like the case of a New Hampshire couple who thought they got hit
last December. That turned out to be fireworks or something similar. If
anyone has more info, please email me at badastro@badastronomy.com. Thanks!

-Phil Plait

*    *    *    *    *    The Bad Astronomer    *    *    *    *

Phil Plait                    badastro@badastronomy.com
The Bad Astronomy Web Page: http://www.badastronomy.com

==============
(10) HOW TO CONVINCE POLITICIANS?

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

Worth Crouch <doagain@jps.net> wrote:

Considering the limited impact data available, and the chaotic
condition of the orbits of Earth crossing objects, I see little reason
to delay the development of a comet/asteroid defense system. It would
save our planet from far greater distraction than has been documented
by all historic wars or worldly natural catastrophes. The evidence indicates
that scientists believing otherwise are just hiding their heads in the sand,
and doing a disservice to the human race by extrapolating nonsense
without adequate data.

Good point with which few on CCNet would disagree!

But I don't feel scientists are the ones to hide their heads in sand, rather
they face the uphill task of convincing politicians of the legitimacy of
spending billions of dollars in order to reduce - not even eliminate - the
grave risk.

Politicians used to calculate with rather short time horizons. Solon of
ancient Greece is held in high regard by historians for his visionary
conversion of agricultural lands to olive groves
over half a century. Cato and Winston Churchill were responding to security
threats decades before the ordinary man would have woken up.

Very recently the Kyoto agreement has fired up many politicians, notably
Auken the former minister of the Environment in my native Denmark, who
commented sarcastically in a newspaper that it would take the Atlantic Ocean
to wash up on the shores of Florida to alert George W. Bush to the severity
of global warming. (This was before 9/11 of course).

It's a brandnew thing for politicians to think centuries or even a
millennium ahead. But once they do, a set of disaster scenarios surface and
demand to be taken very seriously indeed.

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


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*

FIELD EXPERT ROCKS METEORITE THEORY

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

[ http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0111220283nov22.story ]

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Field expert rocks meteorite theory

Scientist decides Indiana objects from inside Earth

By William Mullen, Chicago Tribune staff reporter

The theory that meteorites had fallen into an Indiana back yard during the
Leonid meteor shower came crashing down Wednesday when a Field Museum expert
examined the suspicious objects.

"This is terrestrial rock. It is not a meteorite," Meenakshi Wadhwa said
after a brief but careful initial examination of the small rocks brought by
Thomas Yuran in two plastic bags.

Yuran picked them up from his Highland back yard about 4:30 a.m. Sunday,
shortly after his wife, Laura, said she heard them crash with a thud as she
and their son, Jonathon, 11, stood watching meteors streaking across the
night sky.

As word of the occurrence spread, the Yurans became minor media celebrities,
interviewed by local and national newspapers and television news shows. On
Wednesday, Yuran said, they were interviewed by remote hookup at their home
by Matt Lauer on the NBC network's "Today" show.

Several newspaper and television news crews were with Yuran later in the
morning when he met at the Field with Wadhwa, a renowned scientist who has
collected meteorites in Antarctica.

"I'm very glad you brought these here," she told Yuran, an electrician.
"It's important for science that people who believe they have found
meteorites to bring them to institutions like ours for verification. It's
one of the ways we find new materials."

Before Wadhwa met with Yuran, she arranged for him to see the Field's
impressive, permanent meteorite exhibit on the second floor of the museum.
She also laid out several meteorites in her office from the Field's
extensive collection for him to compare with the rocks he brought in.

None bore any resemblance to the small, shiny, flaky stones he recovered
from his yard during the meteor shower.

"It doesn't look like any meteorite that we know of," Wadhwa said as she
looked at the largest of Yuran's rocks, measuring about 2 inches by 1 1/2
inches.

"These are not very uncommon to find in many places," she said. "It's a
micaceous rock, metamorphic, formed in extreme pressure and heat deep in the
earth. How it happened to fall into your yard, I can't tell you."

Yuran, who came to the museum alone because his wife had to work and his son
was in school, accepted Wadhwa's verdict but still wondered if the rock
didn't somehow come from space.

"I still strongly believe that it is too coincidental that these rocks are
not strongly related to the meteor storm," Yuran said. "They did come from
outer space; I'm confident of that."

Wadwha agreed to take a small sample from one of Yuran's rocks and run a
more thorough analysis.

She assured him, however, that nothing of the size of those rocks has ever
been known to come from the debris of the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which is the
source of the Leonid meteors.

That debris rarely is larger than a grain of rice or sand, she said. When
they strike the Earth's atmosphere 70 to 80 miles up, they burn up with
extreme, bright intensity, the larger ones visible from the ground as
shooting stars.

Meteorites are meteors so big that they do not burn up entirely in the
atmosphere and fall to Earth. There is no known incident of comet debris
surviving the fiery plunge through the atmosphere and landing on the ground,
she said.

"You wouldn't expect to have something the size of [Yuran's] rocks coming
from a cometary shower," she said. "From my experience with meteorites, I'm
certain these did not come from space, but are simply mica."

Copyright 2001 Chicago Tribune

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Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational use
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DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the articles
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CCCMENU CCC for 2001

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