PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 136/2000 - 20 December 2000
--------------------------------


"On any given day there are probably 25 volcanoes erupting around
the world. There are volcanic crises every day, there are not meteorite
crises every day."
   --William Rose, Michigan Technological University, 18 December
2000


"We need to protect civilization (some part of it or in whole). It's
worth the effort. And the price of such protection is not too high but the
price of neglect is much higher. So, we should work for the
Protection of the Earth and People. There is also an extremely valuable
set-off for such a program. It helps people to develop mutual understanding
and respect, to join their efforts facing challenging problems. [...]
Our ancestors invented and implemented a lot to provide survival of their
families, homes and tribes. We are obliged to them by our existence.
And it is our obligation to our descendents to protect our common home and
family for them."
    --Vadim A. Simonenko, Space Shield Foundation, 19 December 2000



(1) DISASTER ENVY: SCIENTISTS SAY VOLCANOES BIGGER THREAT THAN ASTEROIDS
    American Institute of Physics, 18 December 2000

(2) SWEDES SEARCH FOR GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN IMPACT CRATER
    Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

(3) SIPI STUDENTS TO HELP ID METEORITES
    Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

(4) ASTEROID 2000 YA
    Space Weather News for Dec. 19, 2000

(5) IMPACT SCARES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
    Astronomy Now, January 2000

(6) SOME COMMENTS FROM THE SPACE SHIELD FOUNDATION
    Vadim A. Simonenko <sva@sva.ch70.chel.su>

(7) MOSCOW PRESS CONFERENCE
    Anatoly Zaitsev <zav@berc.rssi.ru>

(8) NOTHING WRONG WITH RUSSIAN ASTEROID ALERT
    David J. Johnson <starman@inct.net>

(9) RUSSIAN ASTEROID ALERT RUMBLES ON
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(10) PANSPERMIA AND SCIENCE: THE LANGUAGE OF THE DEBATE
     Andrew Glikson <geospectral@spirit.com.au>

(11) THE SOLAR FORCING OF GLOBAL WARMING AND COOLING
     Timo Niroma <timo.niroma@tilmari.pp.fi>

==============
(1) DISASTER ENVY: SCIENTISTS SAY VOLCANOES BIGGER THREAT THAN ASTEROIDS

From American Institute of Physics, 18 December 2000

Contact: Rory McGee
Rmcgee@aip.org
301-209-3088
American Institute of Physics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 18 DECEMBER 2000

Scientists say volcanoes bigger threat than asteroids

San Francisco, CA (December 18, 2000) - While a giant asteroid may have
wiped out the dinosaurs, modern Earth is at much greater risk from a threat
closer to home, said volcanologists this
weekend at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San
Francisco. "On any given day there are probably 25 volcanoes erupting around
the world," says William Rose, a professor of
Geological Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Technological University.
Rose says volcanoes pose a bigger threat than asteroids for people around
the world, "there are volcanic crises every day, there are not meteorite
crises every day."

Rose, who presented new research at the meeting, says people need to be more
aware that they are living near active volcanic systems. Rose points out
that in addition to volcanoes like Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, places
like Yellowstone, Valles Caldera in New Mexico, and Long Valley Caldera in
California are still active systems that could pose a threat at some point
in the future. "A volcano is like an animal that sleeps almost all the
time," says Rose, "but it's still alive."

And just as planetary scientists are working on ways to predict and mitigate
the threat of asteroid impacts, Rose and other geophysicists are working to
determine what kinds of risks volcanoes pose. In order to predict future
activity, scientists study past eruptions, try to date them, and look for
patterns that can tell them how long some of these volcanoes sleep. Rose
hopes that eventually geophysicists will be able to predict the likelihood
of activity, "we hope that we can see much longer into the future." Rose
says eventually that prediction time could be measured in years. "We are
trying," Rose says, "to convert risk from a vague concept into a meaningful
number."

For more information:
Rory McGee
Inside Science News Service
(301) 209-3088
Rmcgee@aip.org

Expert:
William Rose
Volcanologist
Professor, Dept. of Geological Engineering and Sciences
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI
(906) 487-2367
raman@mtu.edu

==============
(2) SWEDES SEARCH FOR GEOTHERMAL ENERGY IN IMPACT CRATER

From Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

http://ens.lycos.com/ens/dec2000/2000L-12-18-01.html

ESKILSTUNA, Sweden, December 18, 2000 (ENS) - Sweden will spend at least
$777,000 to investigate the possibility that an old meteorite crater
contains enough energy to heat the city of Stockholm.

One billion years ago, a meteorite hit the earth on the southern part of the
island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren. The crater is 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) in
diameter. The impact of a meteorite can cause fragments in the bedrock,
resulting in porosity that is up to 10 times greater than normal. In such
volume, the rock contains water where the temperature rises 15ºC for every
kilometre of depth, which corresponds to an energy potential of 4,000
terrawatts.

Scientists estimate that the Björkö structure contains a heat volume which
could provide 70 percent of the energy needs to heat the city of Stockholm
on a sustainable basis. The crater is situated between eight and 13
kilometres from three of the city's existing district heating power plants:
Hässelby, Fittja and Igelsta.

The Swedish National Energy Administration (STEM), following a decision by
the Energy Development Board, has granted funding of up to 7,515,000 kroner
(US$777,214) to the Björkö Energiprojekt.

The funding will allow a closer study of the structure of the crater and the
potential for geothermal energy recovery, as well as the structure's
suitability as a heat exchanger. The study involves drilling three
exploratory holes in the crater.

"The Björkö energy project entails a not inconsiderable economic risk which
the business community is scarcely in a position to take on at this point in
time," says Thomas Korsfeldt, director generation of STEM. "However, the
potential of the project is great enough that it justifies taking the risk,
especially in light of the Energy Administration's commission to support the
transition to a sustainable energy system."

The project is being conducted under the auspices of the Department of
Geodesy & Photogrammetry at the Royal Technical Institute in Stockholm.

The endeavor is headed by a team of researchers from the Royal Technical
Institute, Stockholm University and the Scandinavian Water Environment
Council.

A critical path of filing reports will allow the project to be abandoned if
the results are negative.

"By providing funding, the National Energy Administration can pave the way
to an interesting use of energy that is sustainable in the very long term if
the results are positive," adds Korsfeldt. "If this phase is successful, I
assume that the business community will be willing to take on primary
responsibility for continuing the project."

Assistance is being provided by a reference group representatives of Birka
Energi, Sydkraft, Svensk Geofysik, the Chalmers Institute of Technology, the
Lund Institute of Technology and the Stockholm County Administrative Board.

Studded with more than 1000 islands, Lake Mälaren is a popular resort area.
On the shores of the lake are a number of cities, including Stockholm. The
Viking city of Birka, the first big town in Sweden, was founded on the
island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren. It dates orginally from about A.D. 750 and
was abandoned shortly before 1000. Birka is included in the UNESCO list of
World Heritage sites.

© Environment News Service (ENS) 2000. All Rights Reserved. 

==============
(3) SIPI STUDENTS TO HELP ID METEORITES

From Ron Baalke <baalke@jpl.nasa.gov>

http://www.abqjournal.com/scitech/203865news12-19-00.htm

SIPI Students to Help ID Meteorites
By John Fleck
Albuquerque Journal
December 19, 2000

With the help of some money from NASA, University of New Mexico scientists
plan to enlist students at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in the
search for meteorites.

UNM's Institute of Meteoritics gets some 200 rocks a year from members of
the public who bring them in for analysis, thinking they might be
meteorites, according to institute scientist Horton Newsom.

Most aren't, but the process of telling the good from the bad will offer
SIPI students a lesson in geology and the chance to help make the occasional
rare find, Newsom said.

Full story here: http://www.abqjournal.com/scitech/203865news12-19-00.htm

===========
(4) ASTEROID 2000 YA

From Space Weather News for Dec. 19, 2000
http://www.spaceweather.com

ASTEROID ALERT: On Dec. 22nd a newly-discovered near-Earth asteroid, 2000
YA, will fly past our planet only two times farther away than the Moon. It's
the 13th-closest approach to Earth by any known minor planet. The 50-meter
space rock --about half the size of a football field-- will likely brighten
to 15th magnitude late Thursday as it races through the constellation
Andromeda at several degrees per hour.

===========
(5) IMPACT SCARES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

From Astronomy Now, January 2000

Another asteroid impact scare - another retraction. As the media hype that
surrounded asteroid 2000 SG344 subsides, Benny Peiser looks at how future
false alarms might be avoided.

On November 3, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and NASA released
a statement which announced that the Earth might face a small risk of being
hit by a near-Earth object (NEO) in 2030. The next day, NASA and the IAU had
to retract their initial announcement. Within hours of their statement,
observational data of the object taken more than 18 months earlier had
neutralised the initial impact risk calculations. Yet despite this new data,
many of the world's news outlets continued to publish apocalyptic-sounding
headlines throughout the following week. The events surrounding this latest
asteroid scare raise important questions about the communications problems
and the handling of asteroid alerts within the scientific community.

The SG344 debacle

On September 29, a small near-Earth object, designated 2000 SG344, was
discovered by David Tholen and Robert Whiteley using a telescope on Mauna
Kea, in Hawaii. The unusual nature of its orbit suggested that it is a
man-made rocket booster from the Apollo era. It could also be a small
asteroid measuring between 30 and 70 metres. When, one month later,
pre-discovery observations of this object were identified, it soon became
clear to a number of orbit calculators that this unidentified object may
pose a remote but non-zero chance of colliding with earth in 30 years time.
Paul Chodas of the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory estimated a one in 500 chance of the object hitting the Earth on
September 21, 2030.

Double checking

These calculations were verified by a Technical Review Team of the
International Astronomical Union. Three days later, this information about a
possible Earth impact in 2030 was published by the IAU and NASA. The
unnecessary and rushed announcement was due to IAU guidelines, which request
that the calculations of a "significant impact risk" (i.e. NEOs that score
level 1 or higher on the Torino Scale) should be made public after 72 hours
if verified. These guidelines, however, rush the IAU into making premature
announcements. Although the statement made clear
that additional data would, most likely, "show with certainty that it will
miss the Earth entirely," the announcement was published despite the
knowledge that observers were still searching their files for pre-discovery
data. To make matters worse, some rather alarmist comments made by NASA
officials about the potential damage that such an impact would cause
triggered yet another global asteroid scare.

Ever since the controversial announcement of a small but non-zero impact
possibility of asteroid 1997 XF11 back in March 1998, the problem of how to
handle these exceptional objects that are, briefly, on a potential collision
course with Earth has tormented the NEO research community.
Despite all debates, suggestions and IAU guidelines, the problem has
returned to haunt the community time and again.

The handling of the latest asteroid scare has made clear, once more, that
there is still a major problem with regard to the dissemination of
information about such near-Earth objects. Clearly, the important thing is
to ensure that the information is available to astronomers who are in a
position to confirm or deny the calculation - by means of new,
post-announcement observations, through the recognition of images on
archival photographs, or both. The question is how this can be best
achieved.

What went wrong?

The main mistake - with the SG344 announcement and with the five other
asteroid scares that there have been so far - was in the way information
about essentially correct computations was either inappropriately worded, or
wrongly circulated or both. This failure in properly communicating
with astronomers has caused unnecessary distress to the public. The crux of
the problem was the failure to wait for additional data to arrive, either in
the form of new observations or pre-discovery data, the latter of which was
predicted to exist in the files of the Catalina Sky Survey. In four of the
six asteroid scares, the potential hazard was eliminated from the list of
worries within days, if not hours, of the announcements.

On a positive note, one could argue that the past mistakes have helped to
educate and enlighten astronomers, science journalists and the interested
public about the problems of dealing with such objects. But what have we
learned? What can we do to avoid another unnecessary asteroid scare? And how
might observers be alerted to the need for observations and archival
searches without the transmission of undue alarms to the press and public?

As far as astronomers are concerned, the information about "virtual
impactors" should be peer reviewed and then posted on scientific websites so
that those who can confirm the calculations and those observers who can do
something about the object can monitor it for as long as possible. This
would be much more appropriate than issuing a public false alarm. Whenever
an impact prediction is available and the object is still observable, no
public announcements are necessary because additional data will, in almost
all cases, eliminate the initial impact risk.

Given the very short arcs across the sky subtended by the thousands of
main-belt asteroids that are detected each lunation, possible Earth-impact
trajectories could be drawn through many of them. Yet it would definitely
not be appropriate to send out any sort of announcement every time we
calculate such a remote impact risk as this.

Observations taken during one night - as those that led to the SG344
announcement were - don't produce any sort of certainty in an orbit
prediction. It has also become obvious that the existence of the Torino
Scale, flawed as it is in several aspects, has been quite ineffective in
terms of its main aim of enlightening the public. In fact, we could in the
future have cases of objects reaching Torino level 6 or 7 (presumably with
the associated worry to the public), before plummeting to zero as soon as
extra data allow the object's orbit to be calculated more precisely.

The SG344 asteroid scare, based on a highly vague set of observations taken
during one single night, and its retraction less than 24 hours later,
demonstrates that we have still not learned our lessons from past mistakes
and embarrassments. It is important that these blunders are not repeated
again. Each of the six asteroid scares of the past 2.5 years has been
interesting and has contributed to a learning process for us all. If we can
really make progress, now, on the matter of alerting observers but not
distressing the public unduly, I would regard that as a fine achievement.

Dr Benny Peiser is a member of Spaceguard UK and a Fellow of the Royal
Astronomical Society. He is the moderator of the Cambridge-Conference Network (CCNet).

Copyight 2000, Astronomy Now.

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

(6) SOME COMMENTS FROM THE SPACE SHIELD FOUNDATION

From Vadim A. Simonenko <sva@sva.ch70.chel.su>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

There was published in CCNet some information about a press conference which
took place in Moscow on December 14. Unfortunately, there are too many
distortions in these publications to correct them. It looks easier to write
something from the beginning.

Beside that, I see some confirmation of another rather bad tradition to show
Russians as a brutal creatures and to fight them. So, I would like to give
just some short general or may be conceptual notions on the topics.

1. Moscow press conference was convened on initiative of Russian popular
magazine Khimia I Zhyzn' (Chemistry and Life) in the wake of the SPE-2000,
which was held at Emporia last September. Their representative attended the
Conference. However there were no representatives of central Russian media.
So, it was proposed to have some meeting with media in Moscow.

2. As for me, the main goal of this press conference was to extend some
education among media representatives. Frankly saying, I did not meet even a
single correct thought among those, which were cited as mine. In particular,
I told about 2000 NEAs of 1 km but found in information just half of them.
Yes, I've mentioned 1000, but saying that they should be discovered. There
are even more exaggerated distortions of thoughts of my colleagues. Nobody
told about Sikhe-Alyn event as of million-people-loss potential one, but it
was written... My opinion, we should have many meetings with our media to
educate them and make them professionals in NEA area.

3. It seems that you recommend to start with accurate information presented
to the public rather than this kind of ridiculous hotchpotch of misleading scare stories.
Thank you for the recommendation, we have started so in 1994 and continue to
do as we can now. It was published in many popular articles, in the SSF
web-site, in Proceedings of the SPE conferences. We shall continue this
mission in spite on any wrong presentation of the topics either in media,
CCNet, or in scientific articles.

4. We have very limited opportunity to work on the problems of Space
Protection of the Earth as we realize them. We cannot have in this country
so extended observational program as in the US. However, our astronomers
have some programs (not only follow-up, but it is also very important). And
we are trying to help them. Unfortunately, there is extremely low state
support for such program in this country now.

5. At the same time we have some unique experience in space mission
programs, in understanding impact events and in impact mitigation
technologies. I cannot realize why it irritates some people. In particular,
many peculiarities (a lot of rocks on the surface, square craters, grows),
which were mentioned as strange for NEAR Eros data, are just simple
consequences of impact mechanics, which are well known for our specialists.
I guess, if we have better opportunities for communications there would be
benefit for both Russian and Western scientists.

6. We are interested in SPE technology development. We are working in this
area as professionals. This problem is much more complicated than
non-specialists think usually. Unfortunately non-specialists write more
often and easier that professionals. Even there will be ten year warning
time for rather simple case of 1 km asteroid it is very short time to
provide acceptable and reliable mitigation program. But what can be done if
the threaten object will be a comet even with several years warning time?
Nothing now. However there are technical opportunities (not too complicated)
but they should be studied and developed.

7. We have a completely other attitude in this country to the impacts of
Tunguska class bodies. We regard that they should be watched and neutralized
on their last way. For the current world such an impact happens once per one
or two centuries and will be an awful event. So, it is necessary to develop
short-time-observation ability and an alert system (more probably with
space-based telescopes and radio telescopes). It is necessary to develop the
space ready-for-interception system with means of dispersion of similar
small bodies. Such system will not be too simple, but it is still affordable
now and will be rather reliable efficient 10-20 years later.

8. There is no direct governmental support for research like mentioned in
this country now. There is some very small non-direct support. In
particular, SPE-2000 was supported partly (25%) by Minatom. However, there
are no official objections against such studies. So, we have rather extended
group of skilled specialists who work on different aspects in the extended
area of SPE. We try to develop some efficient mechanisms for co ordination
of our efforts. In particular, it is the mission of Space Shield Foundation.
I guess that there is similar activity in the US and European countries may
be with more efficient governmental support. I hope that the efforts can be
and will be combined.

9. I have some personal experience. Shortly it sounds like this: All the
wrong that can happen will happen. The worst things you can imagine are not
too wrong if you are prepared to them. When Nature sends the challenge it
gives the way to solve it. Better to start now than to delay to the last
day. Even not being used for the purpose the good job can be used for the
benefit of people (in the NEA case for civilian colonization of the space).
And the last point. While I meet really difficult problem I am trying to
solve it from the end. Usually it helps to find the best way for the
solution of the whole problem.

10. We need to protect civilization (some part of it or in whole). It's
worth the effort. And the price of such protection is not too high but the
price of neglect is much higher. So, we should work for the Pprotection of
the Earth and People. There is also an extremely valuable set-off for such a
program. It helps people to develop mutual understanding and respect, to
join their efforts facing challenging problems.

I beg your pardon for some sharpness. I appreciate highly the CCNet mission.
It is extremely valuable for me personally. I really regard that CCNet plays
very important and even unique role in education of scientists and other
people interested and involved in NEA problems.

My final point is (and I told something similar on the mentioned press
conference)

Our ancestors invented and implemented a lot to provide a survival of their
families, homes and tribes. We are obliged to them by our existence. And it
is our obligation to our descendents to protect our common home and family
for them.

I wish the success to CCNet. I hope to have better mutual understanding in
future. I believe there will be international collaboration on Space
Protection of the Earth and we can joint our efforts to correspond the
unique challenge of the problem.

With great respect,

Vadim A. Simonenko

=============
(7) MOSCOW PRESS CONFERENCE
 
From Anatoly Zaitsev <zav@berc.rssi.ru>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

I wish to express my sincere congratulation with Christmas and the New Year
and Millenium.
I wish you further success in your work and personal happiness.

Some words about the article published in The Moscow Times, 16 December 2000
(CCNet 18 December 2000). It is written very incorrectly.

I send to you two articles written in 1996, in which some problems are
stated about which there was a speech at a Moscow press conference [the
papers will be posted on CCNet tomorrow, BJP]. I shall send you my last
article, "Conceptual Project of the Planetary Defence System", after its
translation into English in January.

With kind regards

Anatoly Zaitsev
Project Manager
Lavochkin Association
mailto:zav@berc.rssi.ru

=============
(8) NOTHING WRONG WITH RUSSIAN ASTEROID ALERT

From David J. Johnson <starman@inct.net>

Dear Benny,

I find nothing wrong in the Russian's statements, they are merely what we
have all echoed in the past few years. I may not agree with moving to the
moon, but this was a mere analogy, but also in reality that too may be a necessity
at some point in time.

Here in the United States a great deal of effort has been spent in this Star
Wars idea, which for the most part appears to be a dismal failure. Such
effort should be better spent in Planetary Defense development rather than
its original intent, for it is this effort in which every
nation would benefit. It may be a two edged sword in its development, but it
is worth the hassle.

During the Apollo missions the U.S. had a surplus of expendable rockets
which were specific for space flight, the U.S. no longer has such an
inventory, where in the Russian
Space effort has. The Russian research on Deflection and mitigation of a
asteroid or comet targeting Earth should not be dismissed or taken lightly,
as they are viable plans, of which are part of the subject which Andy Smith
has referenced, and I plan to attend that conference.

The Space Shield Foundation is similar to the Spaceguard Foundation in many
ways, yet Funding for the Russian program is nearly non existent, and sorely
needs a number of tools and equipment, yet there ideas and what they have
achieved in absence of some things is impressive.

Personally I welcome the Russians, as I would any other Nation to join in
this quest, to which we all realize is of paramount of importance, as the
Survival of Mankind actually does depend on what we do now and in the near
future. Remember, "United we Stand, Divided We Fall",  in
short we have a better chance of survival if we work together, instead of
some of the petty arguments I have viewed on the CCNet in the past few
months. An impact may not occur in our life times, but it will in our
children's, and it is for those children and the future that allot of our
work is dedicated too. 

Thus an International Cooperative between All Nations  is an important
issue. There have also been discussions earlier this year that the United
Nations should be included in this effort, as they are the Diplomats, we are
scientist, I can talk with Dr. Simonenko, and understand him as we speak the
language of science as well as being a human being with the same concerns. I
am not a politician or a diplomat, and I do not seek to be one, especially
after the last fiasco we called an election. 

The Russians are also correct in the area that we may have only 48-72 hours
notice that were about to die, as the number of  observatories looking, as
well as doing Follow up work in
tracking are all still to few in number, and historically, the ones which
may be the most dangerous are the ones we never see coming till they have
already passed the Earth. Were then left to just scratch our heads and ask,
where did that come from.

To often in this venue things are chastised or dismissed to quickly or made
fun of, which is not very scientific at all, the last time it was NASA, this
time our Russian Colleagues. CCNet provides a good sounding board, however
Dr. Peiser is at times selective on what he publish, which is not really a
bad idea, as he does a pretty good job at keeping questionable remarks from
the net. We often do not agree on the content, and we have each had our
moments of arguments, but on the question of impacts, we need to put aside
some of the reteric, and get the show on the move, we all know what is
needed,  and our biggest opponents are not each other, but the politicians
whom we seek to educate and support these efforts.

One must remind themselves periodically what the bottom line is, and that is
Mankind's Survival, for with out the efforts of Spaceguard or Space Shield,
Saving the Whale is a mute subject, if that whale has no ocean or Earth to
reside on.  As for the SSF and SPE, I am proud to assist in this effort.

Regards,

Dr. David James Johnson

==========
(9) RUSSIAN ASTEROID ALERT RUMBLES ON

From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

Dear Benny,

RUSSIAN ASTEROID ALERT RUMBLES ON is an appropriate title for that item on
CCNet 19 Dec. Of course the article lost all credibility when I got to the
last paragraph:

"With asteroids measuring up to 10 kilometers in diameter and
traveling at speeds of up to 20,000 kilometers an hour, Earth would stand
little chance if it was hit by a big one."

That's 5.5km/s - about half of the Earth's escape velocity - the theoretical
lower limit for asteroid impact speeds. 55km/s is more like it (getting
close to a head-on collision). In any case "Earth" would hardly notice a
10km impact - it is the fragile creatures crawling over its surface that
would be in trouble.

cheers
Michael Paine

===============
(10) PANSPERMIA AND SCIENCE: THE LANGUAGE OF THE DEBATE

From Andrew Glikson <geospectral@spirit.com.au>

Dear Benny,

Further to my statement (CCNet 12.12.00) "Last but not least, the propensity
of panspermia advocates to use rather derogatory expressions in their
communications, for example accusing critics of panspermia of "loose
terminology" (Max Wallis, CCNet 11.12.00), or "crazy interpretation of
quantum physics" (Max Wallis, CCNet 11.12.00), or "unfortunate ignorance"
(C. Wickramasinghe and F. Hoyle, CCNet, 20.11.98), only serves to create a
suspicion they regard their idea as beyond scientific debate." - the pattern
continues.  Thus, Max Wallis' comments (CCNet, 18.12.00) contains dismissive
expressions such as "For all his divertionary points, Andrew Glikson can not
deny that panspermia is accepted as a working hypothesis...".

I suggest that references to whether scientific notions are "accepted" or
"unaccepted" hardly carry a greater validity than, say, the fact that a very
large proportion of US citizens "believe" in the reality of UFOs. Technical
arguments stand or fall on their own merit rather than on "science by
consensus".

Wallis refers to panspermia as a testable hypothesis in contrast to the
Drake equation. Panspermia is certainly testable, but while a suspicion (if
not proof) of fossil micro-organism in Martian meteorites has been raised
and interplanetary bio-debris transport is possible in principle, no single
microbe or virus have to date been detected in meteorites or cosmic dust.
Claims of "discovery" of microbes at 16 km altitude by weather balloon
(CCNet, ) - a level contaminated by terrestrial components - only serve to
emphasize this point.  A radio search for intelligent extraterrestrial
civilizations has been conducted for many years.  Todate neither panspermia
nor the drake equation can claim any direct observational breakthroughs,
thus remaining in the realm of the philosophy of science and statistical
predictability, respectively.

Regarding Paul Davies' concepts on a possible relationships between the
principles of quantum mathematics (including the "Grover formula", 1999,
which corresponds to the quantitative DNA/RNA/amino acids relationships),
the computer-like behaviour of nucleic acids as hardware/software systems
which allow fast "decision tree" evolution of molecular replicators, and the
emergence of the "RNA world" - I am not in the position of responding to
these points and refer readers to Paul Davies' book "The Fifth Miracle"
(1998) and to subsequent essays.

Wallis states (CCNet 18.12.00) "So spontaneous generation on earth is no
longer a very healthy hypothesis.".  While the concept of "spontaneous
generation" is best left to the pre-Louis Pasteur history, does this
statement imply he believes that life has more likely originated within a
cometary environment than on planetary surfaces?  If so, how does this
accord with Ockham's razor principle, where planetary life is favoured by
(1) the fact we know it exists on Earth (so far) but todate have not found
any in meteorites, and (2) the physical and chemical conditions for life on
Earth, which are only slightly more favourable for life than on comets - to
say the least ...

The onus of proof is clearly on those who propose panspermia, a fact which
no amount of downputting of those who question their hypothesis can deny.

Andrew Glikson
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT, Australia
20.12.00

===================
(11) THE SOLAR FORCING OF GLOBAL WARMING AND COOLING

From Timo Niroma <timo.niroma@tilmari.pp.fi>

Dear Benny,

It seems that at least the late Holocene has a weather cycle of 1065 years
and that the cycle is solar driven. The sun's activity, its varying
magnetosphere intensity, causes global warming and global cooling with some
25-30 year's delay with accompanying wet and dry spells. The intervening
variable is the galactic cosmic-ray flux, which intensifies during quiet
sun.

According to the research led by Bas van Geel of the University of
Amsterdam, there occurred around 850 BC a sharp rise in the 14C-content of
the atmosphere. Soon there followed an abrupt climate change from relatively
warm to cooler and wetter conditions.

According to Bas van Geel and his co-researchers Oleg Raspopov, Johannes van
der Plicht and Hans Renssen this 14C rise was caused by reduced solar
activity. Besides 14C there is a sharp rise in 10Be at the same time, a sure
sign of intensified galactic cosmic-ray flux. This results in increased
cloudiness and precipitation, which cause a reduction in solar energy
reaching the earth surface. According C. J. E. Schuurmans the direct
reaction to Sun's changing activity is observed at altitudes between 5.5 to
12 km.

This rised 14C condition lasted 90 years until 760 BC. This process was
repeated in minor amount from 400 BC to 310 BC. From about 620 BC to 400 BC
the 14C content was low which should mean a warming time. Again this
condition prevailed from 200 BC. The following 415-year warm phase was a
clear precondition for the prosperity of the Great Roman Empire.

According to Justin Schove (Sunspot cycles, 1983) there was a maximum
(Gleissberg) cycle in sunspots from 192 AD to 302 AD. I interpret this to
mean a real super-Maunder containing of 7 Jovian year length spot cycles
plus a 27 year spotless period. There was an unparalleled crisis in Roman
Empire from 235 to 284 AD. Barbarian incursions were frequent and ruinous
between 248 and 268. The political and economical ground of the mighty Roman
Empire began to collapse. Roman Empire survived a few centuries still but
200 years later, after Valentinian III in 455, the mighty Roman Army
dwindled in 20 years to nothing. According to Mike Baillie (pers. comm.) the
century beginning in 200 AD was very cold based on his dendrochronological
studies.

Between the cold spells of 850 BC and 400 BC there were about 450 years or
about 220+230 years. This is the maximum length I have counted for the so
called 200-year cycle.[1] Between the cold spell beginning in about 230 AD
and the cold spell whose deepness is clearly indicated by the freezing of
Euphrates in 608 AD there were some 380 years or if we take the Vandal
invasion's culmination in 439 as a breakpoint, cold times were there again
for a while, 210+170 years. 170 years is according to my calculations the
lower limit for the 200-year cycle. [1] Then we have again 220 years for the
next spell which culminated in Nile freezing in 829 AD. At this time
collapsed also the Lowland Maya society. According to Whitlock "there is no
trace of the large-scale destruction and fires which would have marked an
invasion or an earthquake".

After about 865 AD the climate began gradually warm up in a similar way it
did about 1065 years earlier in about 200 BC. This warm spell (the Medieval
Maximum) lasted for about 400 years. Between the cold third and fifth
century (the last blow to the Great Roman Empire), there had been a small
warmer period. It may be no coincidence that the Classic Maya blossom began
about 300 AD.

The third series of cold spells during the last 3,000 years began with sun's
activity going slowly down from about 1250, which eventually was seen as a
deteriorating wheather in about 1280, again 1065 years since the previous
global cooling. And again we have an oscillation of warmer and colder
spells. The Carbon 14 studies gives further cold periods beginning in 1450
(the Sporer minimum) and in 1645 (the Maunder minimum) both having their
minimum about 50 years after the beginning. After the Maunder minimum every
6th decade has been exceptional: 1810 (the Dalton minimum), 1870 (a shaky
decade beginning a slightly colder climate), 1930 (the warmest decade in
record since about 1100), 1990 (a decade of warm winters and warm nights).

With this we come right to the point of the debate that has raged all the
1990's and is still raging or amongst the ordinary people, most of the
decisionmakers and largely also the scientists has come a religion-like
dogma, which is not any more questioned. People believe that there is going
on a global warming, and partly have right, partly wrong. It's too
complicated here to go to the details. What matters is, that man has again
taken a role that does not belong to him. He is the generator for the
supposed global warming. And his vehicle is CO2. Pity. I would like all
these people to read as a beginning from Nature 7 December 2000 issue the
article "Past climate change. A reduced role for CO2?" by J. Veizer, Y.
Godderis & L. M. Francois. An important article also appeared in the
previous Nature of 30 November 2000: "Changes in deep-water formation during
the Younger Dryas event inferred from 10Be and 14C records." by Muscheler,
Beer, Wagner and Finkel.

One should ask has Earth cooled the last 15 million years without a
correlation with CO2? One should ask (assuming that the CO2 can reliably and
consistently with the Holocene conditions be measured during the last ice
age), could the causation between CO2 (and also methane) and general
temperature on Earth go to the other direction than generally assumed? If
it's true that the amount of the greenhouse gases was half or a third during
the Younger Dryas compared to preindustrial times in Holocene, could it be
possible that the rapidly increased biomass caused the amount of greenhouse
gases grew until a new equilibrium (the forests and oceans engulfing these
gases causing a negative feedback process) was achieved. Or was it the
hunter-gatherer's camp-fires? (The last question is a serious joke with
repercussions to today's hysteria.) Or what caused this very rapid positive
feedback process 11,600  years ago?

Similarly, if we now have increased the amount of CO2 in atmosphere by 10,
20, 30 per cent during the last century, why did the 1930's had the warmest
summers during the 20th century? What caused the cold years in 1960's? Why
has the height of the ocean surfaces not increased? Why are the changes in
temperatures smaller during the 20th century than let's say 1000 to 1500
years ago? See for example the Helsinki July temperatures during the past
160 years. [2]

This is not to say that we today live in general a warm period, in
particular the beginning of the 400-year warm period. Does it reach the
"Greenland warmth" in the middle of the Medieval Maximum from 950 to 1150,
approximately, but at least it is in agreement with the warm pulses of 200
BC to 200 AD and from 865 to 1265 AD. Beginning in about 1930 it should
reach to the year 2330 and then turn to a global cooling (unless Milankowicz
reasons don't interrupt it).

Regards
Timo Niroma

[1]   http://personal.inet.fi/tiede/tilmari/sunspots.html
http://personal.inet.fi/tiede/tilmari/sunspot5.html
[2] http://www.tilmari.pp.fi/tilmari5.htm

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