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Bob Hope Hits 100!
Jesse James, Quickie Planets,
Ancient VR, Martian Aircraft,

Asteroid Collides in 2880 & More!
Hope Springs Eternal!
By FLAtRich

Hollywood May 27, 2003 (eXoNews) - "I was lucky, you know. I always had a beautiful girl and the money was good. Although I would have done the whole thing over for, oh, perhaps half." - Bob Hope

As everyone on the planet should know by now, Bob Hope turns 100 on Thursday May 29, 2003. That's a lotta jokes, folks.

I only have one Bob Hope story and it isn't very good. I was living in Hollywood years ago and Hope was scheduled to be the Grand Master of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. This event is thrown yearly by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the same people who present those famous gold stars on Hollywood Boulevard.

I trotted down to stand in the crowd, usually estimated at about a million residents and tourists, and Mr. Hope and his wife came by in a sparkling convertible. He turned to face the other side of the boulevard as the car passed me. For a moment I thought I'd miss my chance, but then I shouted out "Hey, Robert!" as loud as I could and Mr. Hope spun around and waved right at me with a big Bob Hope smile.

He didn't know me, of course, but I knew him. Everybody does.

It is probably hard to be Bob Hope right now, a living legend and secluded away from show business. He was lucky, though, because his wife Dolores is still with him and his kids.

Many of his co-stars are gone, but they live on through his works.

I don't remember the first time I saw a Bob Hope TV Show or a Bob Hope movie or read a Bob Hope Comic (I used to have all of them until they got tossed by my Mom along with Batman and Mighty Mouse in 3D.)

I missed the Bob Hope radio days and I wasn't around when the best Hope films premiered, so it took me a while to discover The Big Broadcast of 1938 and the many others that he did with and without Bing.

I found out that Mr. Hope was one of the funniest guys who ever graced the silver screen, despite the critical pans then and now. He had a company of writers and idea men working for him who knew what made people laugh without resorting to the kind of crude insults and scatology that permeates current stand up routines and sitcoms.

There was a genius to his films too. Hope was the first comic adventure hero of the sound era, following the silent footsteps of Buster Keaton and Chaplin.

Beginning with the mystery-comedies The Cat and The Canary (1939) and The Ghost Breakers (1940), Hope's swaggering coward heroes rescued Hollywood's top beautiful leading ladies from the clutches of all the classic Big Bads.

His largely unintentional defeat of Nazis and gangsters and evil politicians and zombies usually won him the lady, unless Crosby was there to grab her and leave Bob telling the audience to stay in their seats. It ain't over yet, folks!

Hope took an active role creating the characters he portrayed in his forties films and the genre. They say that when Mr. Hope saw Madeleine Carroll in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps he demanded a film be written with Carroll as his co-star.
The result was My Favorite Blonde (1942).

Larry Haines, the character Hope played opposite Miss Carroll in My Favorite Blonde, was reborn again as Robert Kittredge in They Got Me Covered (1943) with his Road picture co-star Dorothy Lamour. It was honed to perfection as baby photographer turned private eye Ronnie Jackson in My Favorite Brunette (1947), also co-starring Dorothy Lamour.

The following year, Mr. Hope tried a western comedy with Jane Russell called The Paleface which was funny enough to spawn the memorable Son of Paleface in 1952, a musical sequel with Miss Russell and Roy Rogers.

Hope repeated the favorite formula a fourth time with Hedy Lamarr in My Favorite Spy (1951) and hammed his way through Casanova's Big Night (1954), but the bumbling innocent persona seemed to fade after he made a more serious musical in 1955 about real-life Vaudeville actor Eddie Foy and his act the Seven Little Foys.

Hope continued to make comedies in the fifties and sixties, notably several with Lucille Ball.
Lucy was first cast as his co-star in the 1949 Damon Runyon tale Sorrowful Jones, then Fancy Pants (1950), The Facts of Life (1960), and Critic's Choice (1963).

When the golden years of Hollywood were over, Hope transitioned to television and the rest is history.

Mr. Hope has won five honorary Oscars, two Emmys (and two Emmy nominations), two Golden Globes, and a SAG Life Achievement Award among his other statues and medals.

The centennial celebration of Mr. Hope's birth will be felt across the world.

On May 27th the Los Angeles County board of Supervisors proclaimed Bob Hope "Citizen of the Century". On the 29th, Hollywood will host the dedication of "Bob Hope Square" at Hollywood and Vine.

May 29th will be proclaimed as Bob Hope Day in 35 states.

According to the Bob Hope website, the Hope family will celebrate his 100th at home in Toluca Lake, where Mr. and Mrs. Hope  have lived since 1937.

"Yes, there will be birthday cake with 100 candles," Dolores Hope says. "With a fireman standing by with a fire extinguisher."

It may be a hard act to follow, but I wouldn't bet against a sequel next year. Happy Birthday, Mr. Hope!

Bob Hope official site -

Jesse James: The Search Goes On
Kearney MO May 12, 2003 (AP) - Bank robber Jesse James eluded lawmen for most of his natural life. Being dead hasn't made him any easier to pin down.

Over the next few weeks, anthropologists and historians will try to determine whether Jeremiah James, who died in 1935, could have been the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Jeremiah James' corpse was exhumed Saturday in Neodesha, Kan.

This latest effort comes a few years after a 1995 study in which researchers declared they had found the criminal celebrity's remains in Kearney, Mo.

But Ron Pastore, director of the Jesse James Museum in Wichita, derided the Kearney expedition, calling it "sleight of hand." His research listed more than 30 reasons why the body of Jeremiah Woodson James, who was exhumed at Kearney, could not be the James of legend. He also faulted the DNA study done at the time.

The team behind the Kearney study could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

In Neodesha on Saturday, samples of hair, bones and teeth were obtained for DNA analysis. Historians think it is possible that the real Jesse James faked his own death in 1882.

Pastore hopes this exhumation will answer his questions.

"I'm wanting to know: Did Jesse James fake his own death? If he did, who did he then become, and if this is him, who was killed in St. Joe?" he said.

Bill Kurtis, who is documenting the exhumation and DNA analysis for the History Channel, said the story is good even if Jeremiah James does not turn out to be Jesse James. That, he said, is because more than 120 years after Jesse James' death, family and historians still can't agree on how and when the notorious outlaw actually died.

"So, was Jesse James shot in the back of the head by the cowardly Bob Ford, as conventional wisdom has led us to believe?" he asked. "The truth is, we still don't know for sure, which leads us to explore other theories as they emerge."

James Body Exhumed - Again?

Neodesha, Kansas May 12, 2003 (AP) - Anthropologists say they may have finally caught up to legendary outlaw Jesse James.

About two dozen people watched yesterday as the body said to be Jeremiah James was exhumed in southeastern Kansas. Jeremiah James reportedly died of a broken heart in 1935.

But some historians think it's really Jesse James. Researchers will use DNA analysis to test hair, bones and teeth to see if the hunch is correct.

Descendants of Jeremiah James are skeptical. One 99-year-old descendant remembers Jeremiah James for his brown eyes, while Jesse James had blue eyes. She says Jeremiah was born in 1847, lived into his late 80s and died less than two months after his wife passed away.

Historians think Jesse James may have faked his death in 1882.

The outlaw is supposed to be buried in St. Joseph, Missouri. Recent attempts to find his real burial site have been made in Kearney (KAHR'-nee), Missouri and Granbury, Texas.
Deadly Toxin Threatens Dolphins and Seals
By Deena Beasley

LOS ANGELES May 27, 2003 (Reuters) — A naturally occurring but deadly toxin produced by sea algae is killing record numbers of dolphins and sea lions along sections of California's southern coast, the state's wildlife agency said recently.
The animals are being poisoned by domoic acid, a nerve toxin produced by a certain species of microscopic algae, said the California Department of Fish and Game.

The exact cause is a mystery, but scientists speculate that the algae may be thriving on nutrients from agricultural runoff or sewage, said Chamois Anderson, a spokeswoman for the department. Weather patterns could also play a role.

Since April, five dolphins and 148 California sea lions have been found stranded on beaches from Santa Barbara County south through Orange County.

All of the dolphins died and many of the sea lions, most of them large adult pregnant females, are being treated at marine mammal rehabilitation centers. Pelicans have also been taken to shelters for care, the state agency said.

Marine animals and seabirds can be poisoned by eating small fish that have ingested the toxin. Filter-feeding animals like mussels and small fish like sardines feed on the toxin-laced algae.

Last year, according to the California wildlife agency, more than 1,000 marine mammals were found stranded or dead on state beaches. Hundreds of seabirds, including endangered brown pelicans, grebes, and loons, were also affected by that outbreak.

Domoic acid can cause human illness or even death, and the California Department of Health Services warns each year not to eat self-harvested mussels or shellfish between May 1 and Oct. 31.

The health agency also advises Californians to eat only the white meat of sport-harvested, bivalve clams or scallops and said elevated levels of domoic acid have been detected in mussels, oysters, sardines, and anchovies from Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties. So far, there have been no reported cases of human poisoning from domoic acid in the state.

Officials said people should not try to help beached animals or birds because domoic acid poisoning can provoke aggressive behavior and the animals are too sick to go back in the water.
Loose The Bugs of War
By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON May 19, 2003 (Reuters) - Technology advances will turn future battlefields into a mass of sensors giving troops up-to-the-minute information on the enemy, experts said Monday.

"We are talking about a battlefield that literally talks to the soldiers, within the next 20 years," said Maj. Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies.

Heyman, a soldier for 23 years and now a military analyst, was speaking at the Future Weaponry Conference at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think-tank. He said the problem for both front-line troops and army commanders throughout the ages had been getting accurate and timely information about the enemy.

Even in the latest war in Iraq, when American commanders had been able to track their forces with pinpoint accuracy and had Predator drones in the sky, they had in many cases been ignorant of what lay in front.

"I am hearing reports from Iraq saying that knowing what was happening six hours ago was interesting, but what forward commanders really need is information about what the enemy is actually doing now," Heyman said.

The answer, he said, lay in spreading hundreds of tiny sensors across the enemy's positions that would send out constant sound, visual and electronic intelligence. The sensors, which need be no bigger than a matchbox and can be disguised to resemble small rocks, can operate for a long time using digital communications in bursts to make them impossible to detect, Heyman added.

Some might even be able to fly short distances to visually verify information picked up from other bugs.

Others took a different view.

"This is the tail wagging the dog," said Wing Commander Rich Luck of the UK Ministry of Defense. "You need to completely rethink command and control then develop the technology, not let the technology drive the change."

Defense analyst David Stuples observed that forward units could not possibly digest all the raw information and would in effect be turned into little freelance armies operating alone.

But all agreed that the technology was coming and noted its potential use in monitoring sensitive border areas such as between India and Pakistan or tracking terror groups.
Quickie Planets in Just 3 Million Years
By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON May 26, 2003 (Reuters) - Recipe for an "instant" Earth-like planet: scrape up cosmic dust swirling around a newborn star and wait a mere three million years.

Even the building blocks for giant gas planets like Jupiter might form just as quickly, about three times faster than many scientists believe, a team of astronomers reported on Monday.

Three million years may sound like a long time when set against the human life span, but it is a relative blink of the eye in cosmic time. Earth is considered a middle-aged planet at about 4.5 billion years or so, and compared to Earth, these theoretical 3-million-year-old planets would be formed when the star they orbit is the equivalent of a 1-week-old baby.

Astronomers Elizabeth Lada of the University of Florida in Gainesville and Karl Haisch of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor concluded that the beginnings of planets might form about three million years after stars are born by studying the dusty disks that form around the infant stars.

These disks are made of cosmic dust and gas that can either be absorbed into the still-forming star or spun out into clumps of material that can become planets. But without a disk, it is unlikely that planets will form around a star.

The team found that while disks surrounded many star babies as they clustered together in stellar nurseries at about 1 million years of age, there were relatively few by the time the stars were 3 million years old and none by the time they were 6 million years old.

"For the very youngest (star) clusters, 80 (percent) to 90 percent of stars in the cluster have a disk," Lada said in a telephone interview. "But when we looked toward older clusters, the number of stars that had an indicator of a disk decreased with age until we got out to five or six million years, when the dust that we're sensitive to is gone."

The astronomers looked at four prime star-forming regions located in the constellations Orion and Perseus, located some 1,000 light-years from Earth. A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year.

To detect potentially planet-forming disks around the young clustered stars, the scientists monitored infrared light. They found the dusty disks took infrared light from the central star and gave off infrared light of their own, so when Lada and her colleagues found excess infrared emissions, they presumed the presence of a dust disk.

Because they found that in most cases, the dust disk dissipates in three million years or less, they figured that terrestrial, rocky planets like Earth -- which are made from such dust -- must at least start to form in that time.

They figured the gas in the disks must dissipate just as quickly, which would mean that gassy giants like Jupiter would begin forming at about the same point in time.

These findings were reported at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Nashville, Tennessee.

Astronomers had previously figured that planets could form in as little as 10 million years or so after star birth.

However, supercomputer simulations reported last year in the journal Science suggested an even quicker path to planetary formation, with calculations indicating that big Jupiter-type planets might form in as little as hundreds of years, instead of millions.
800 Grouchos!
East Lansing May 27, 2003 (AP) - High school pupil Joe Kavanagh wanted to break a world record, so he gathered 800 sets of black glasses with fuzzy eyebrows and moustaches.

About 800 pupils and faculty members at East Lansing High School donned the disguises on Thursday in an effort to break the Guinness world record for the most people in one place at one time wearing Groucho Marx glasses.

The previous mark was 522 people.

Participants at the school had to wear the glasses made famous by the zany comedian for 20 minutes to break the record.

"I didn't think that many people would actually do it," Kavanagh said. "I'm relieved and excited."

He compiled signatures and photographs of the event, which he will send to Guinness World Records representatives in the hope of making the record official.

Ancient Roman VR Recreated
Coventry UK May 21, 2003 (BBC) - The Romans invented many things but it may come as a surprise to some that they could also be responsible for a rudimentary version of virtual reality.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have uncovered 3D paintings in the ancient villas of Pompeii which used tricks similar to virtual reality to impress guests.

The researchers have recreated the extravagant 3D wall paintings of theatre scenes to allow 21st century viewers to tread the boards of the long-lost Roman theatres.

The project, carried out by the University of Warwick's e-lab in conjunction with the School of Theatre Studies, combines the Roman wall paintings with state-of-the-art computer modeling to study the paintings in detail.

It has emerged that the frescoes used a technique called perspective scenic painting to suggest 3D architectural structures on 2D surfaces.

Used first in 5th century BC Greek theatre, the technique was later taken up by the Romans to decorate their lavish homes.

"We've created the world's first computer generated 3D models of early temporary wooden sets from paintings," said Professor Richard Beacham. These sets can be used to recreate virtual performances and virtual actors can be put on stage so viewers can see what it would have been like to be a member of the audience.

"The reconstructions enable viewers to step into and navigate ancient stages," said Professor Beacham. The reconstructed wall paintings offer academics more than just a view of how theatres would have looked.

"Theatre was an integral part of Roman culture and the wall paintings enable us to understand theatre, politics and culture during the transition from Republic to Empire," said Drew Baker from the University of Warwick's e-lab.

Warwick site -

Sarandon Attacks Oscar
By Tom Leonard
Telegraph Media Editor

Hollywood May 27, 2003 (Telegraph UK) - The Hollywood star Susan Sarandon has attacked the Oscars, accusing organizers of trying to "control" the event right down to what winners do with their awards.

Sarandon, 56, one of Hollywood's most committed activists and a Left-leaning liberal, also condemned media coverage of the Iraq war. Broadcasters treated it like a "reality TV show" and should be ashamed, she told Radio Times magazine.

Sarandon, who won a best actress Oscar for Dead Man Walking and who has been nominated four other times, was temporarily banned from the Academy Awards ceremony after she and her longtime boyfriend, the actor Tim Robbins, protested at the event in 1993 over the treatment of Haitian immigrants.

In the magazine interview she said she resented the way the organizers "make you sign a piece of paper saying you'll never sell the statuette, except back to them for $1.

"I changed that to 'market value'. It's only an Oscar, not sperm."

Martian Aircraft!
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Science Editor

Virginia May 16, 2003 (BBC) - Soon, a small aircraft laden with sensors and a high-speed datalink could be flying over the mountains of Mars - the first aircraft to fly over the terrain of another world.

Called Ares (Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey of Mars), it could, if all goes well, be flying over the Red Planet's southern uplands in just five years' time.

After a successful series of half-scale tests, the US space agency (NASA) has ordered a full-scale prototype to be built.

Ares is in competition with three other Mars exploration proposals for a NASA launch in 2007. The final selection of one, or possibly two, missions will be made later this year.

Ares represents a dramatic leap in the exploration of Mars, as it combines many of the best aspects of an orbiter and a lander.

Landers make detailed measurements of a small area, orbiters make cruder measurements over great swathes of terrain. An autonomous flyer bridges the gap between the two.

The current mission profile calls for an 850-kilometre (528 miles) flight over the rugged southern uplands of the Red Planet at an altitude of 1.5 km (0.9 miles), making measurements of geological formations spanning four and a half billion years of Martian history.

Ares would follow a predetermined trajectory over selected mountains, canyons and plains, sending its data back real-time to the Earth via a mother satellite relay.

In addition to a surface survey, it would also sample the atmosphere and make magnetic measurements with unprecedented accuracy. Last year, a half-scale model was carried by a high-altitude balloon to an altitude of 31,546 meters (103,500 ft) above the Earth for a drop test.

Once released from the balloon, the scale model automatically unfolded its wings and tail and completed a 90-minute return to the surface with a perfect runway landing.

The new plane, to be built by Aurora Flight Sciences of Virginia, is to be a full-scale version, designed to demonstrate and test actual components and aerodynamics.

The full-size prototype is scheduled to make its first flight later this year, with a similar deployment test in the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere.

"This demonstration is another important step on the road to flying the first airplane in another planetary atmosphere," says Aurora's President John Langford.

Ares is one of four Mars exploration concepts selected for a Phase A study as part of NASA's Mars Scout program.

The first Mars Scout mission is planned for launch in 2007 with arrival at Mars in 2008.

NASA Ares site -

400,000 Year Old Sculpture Found
By Paul Rincon
BBC Science

Morocco May 23, 2003 (BBC) - A 400,000-year-old stone object unearthed in Morocco could be the world's oldest attempt at sculpture.

That is the claim of a prehistoric art specialist who says the ancient rock bears clear signs of modification by humans.

The object, which is around six centimeters in length, is shaped like a human figure, with grooves that suggest a neck, arms and legs. On its surface are flakes of a red substance that could be remnants of paint.

The object was found 15 meters below the eroded surface of a terrace on the north bank of the River Draa near the town of Tan-Tan. It was reportedly lying just a few centimeters away from stone handaxes in ground layers dating to the Middle Acheulian period, which lasted from 500,000 to 300,000 years ago.

The find is likely to further fuel a vociferous debate over the timing of humanity's discovery of symbolism. Hominids such as Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, that were alive during the Acheulian period, are not thought to have been capable of the symbolic thought needed to create art.

Writing in the journal Current Anthropology, Robert Bednarik, president of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), suggests that the overall shape of the Tan-Tan object was fashioned by natural processes.

But he argues that conspicuous grooves on the surface of the stone, which appear to emphasize its humanlike appearance, are partially man-made. Mr Bednarik claims that some of these grooves were made by repeated battering with a stone tool to connect up natural depressions in the rock.

"What we've got is a piece of stone that is largely naturally shaped.

"It has some modifications, but they are more than modifications," Mr Bednarik told BBC News Online.

Mr Bednarik tried to replicate the markings on a similar piece of rock by hitting a stone flake with a "hammerstone" in the manner of a punch. He then compared the microscopic structure of the fractures with those of the Tan-Tan object.

However, Professor Stanley Ambrose of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, US, said he saw no evidence for tool marks and that, although the figure was evocative, it was most likely the result of "fortuitous natural weathering".

"[Mr Bednarik] has effectively presented all the information necessary to show this is a naturally weathered rock," Professor Ambrose told BBC News Online.

Professor Ambrose points to Mr Bednarik's observation that some rocks in the vicinity of the figure were weathered and even rounded from transport by water. Professor Ambrose believes that rocks and artifacts found at the site could have been disturbed by flowing water in the past.

Mr Bednarik also observes that flecks of a greasy substance containing iron and manganese on the surface of the stone could be red ochre, a substance used as paint by later humans.

"They [the specks] do not resemble corroded natural iron deposits, nor has any trace of this pigment been detected on any of the other objects I have examined from Tan-Tan," writes Mr Bednarik in his paper.

A 200,000-300,000-year-old stone object found at Berekhat Ram in Israel in 1986 has also been the subject of claims that it is a figurine. However, several other researchers later presented evidence to show that it was probably shaped by geological processes.

The Tan-Tan object was discovered in 1999, during a dig directed by Lutz Fiedler, the state archaeologist of Hesse in Germany.
Asteroid Collision Due in 2880!
University of California - Santa Cruz Press Release

SANTA CRUZ, CA May 26, 2003 - If an asteroid crashes into the Earth, it is likely to splash down somewhere in the oceans that cover 70 percent of the planet's surface. Huge tsunami waves, spreading out from the impact site like the ripples from a rock tossed into a pond, would inundate heavily populated coastal areas.

A computer simulation of an asteroid impact tsunami developed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows waves as high as 400 feet sweeping onto the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

The researchers based their simulation on a real asteroid known to be on course for a close encounter with Earth eight centuries from now.

Steven Ward, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCSC, and Erik Asphaug, an associate professor of Earth sciences, report their findings in the June issue of the Geophysical Journal International.

March 16, 2880, is the day the asteroid known as 1950 DA, a huge rock two-thirds of a mile in diameter, is due to swing so close to Earth it could slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 38,000 miles per hour.

The probability of a direct hit is pretty small, but over the long timescales of Earth's history, asteroids this size and larger have periodically hammered the planet, sometimes with calamitous effects. The so-called K/T impact, for example, ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

"From a geologic perspective, events like this have happened many times in the past. Asteroids the size of 1950 DA have probably struck the Earth about 600 times since the age of the dinosaurs," Ward said.

Ward and Asphaug's study is part of a general effort to conduct a rational assessment of asteroid impact hazards. Asphaug, who organized a NASA-sponsored scientific workshop on asteroids last year, noted that asteroid risks are interesting because the probabilities are so small while the potential consequences are enormous.

Furthermore, the laws of orbital mechanics make it possible for scientists to predict an impact if they are able to detect the asteroid in advance.

"It's like knowing the exact time when Mount Shasta will erupt," Asphaug said. "The way to deal with any natural hazard is to improve our knowledge base, so we can turn the kind of human fear that gets played on in the movies into something that we have a handle on."

Although the probability of an impact from 1950 DA is only about 0.3 percent, it is the only asteroid yet detected that scientists cannot entirely dismiss as a threat.
A team of scientists led by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported on the probability of 1950 DA crossing paths with the Earth in the April 5, 2002, issue of the journal Science.

"It's a low threat, actually a bit lower than the threat of being hit by an as-yet-undiscovered asteroid in the same size range over the same period of time, but it provided a good representative scenario for us to analyze," Asphaug said.

For the simulation, the researchers chose an impact site consistent with the orientation of the Earth at the time of the predicted encounter: in the Atlantic Ocean about 360 miles from the U.S. coast. Ward summarized the results as follows:

The 60,000-megaton blast of the impact vaporizes the asteroid and blows a cavity in the ocean 11 miles across and all the way down to the seafloor, which is about 3 miles deep at that point. The blast even excavates some of the seafloor.

Water then rushes back in to fill the cavity, and a ring of waves spreads out in all directions. The impact creates tsunami waves of all frequencies and wavelengths, with a peak wavelength about the same as the diameter of the cavity. Because lower-frequency waves travel faster than waves with higher frequencies, the initial impulse spreads out into a series of waves.

"In the movies they show one big wave, but you actually end up with dozens of waves. The first ones to arrive are pretty small, and they gradually increase in height, arriving at intervals of 3 or 4 minutes," Ward said.

The waves propagate all through the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. The waves decay as they travel, so coastal areas closest to the impact get hit by the largest waves. Two hours after impact, 400-foot waves reach beaches from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and by four hours after impact the entire East Coast has experienced waves at least 200 feet high, Ward said. It takes 8 hours for the waves to reach Europe, where they come ashore at heights of about 30 to 50 feet.

Computer simulations not only give scientists a better handle on the potential hazards of asteroid impacts, they can also help researchers interpret the geologic evidence of past events, Ward said. Geologists have found evidence of past asteroid impact tsunamis in the form of inland sediment deposits and disturbed sediment layers in the seafloor that correlate with craters, meteorite fragments, and other impact evidence. An important feature of Ward's simulation is that it enabled him to calculate the speed of the water flows created by the tsunami at the bottom of the ocean--more than 3 feet per second out to distances of several hundred miles from the impact.

"That's like a raging river, so as these waves cross the ocean they're going to stir up the seafloor, eroding sediments on the slopes of seamounts, and we may be able to identify more places where this has happened," Ward said.

He added that the waves may also destabilize undersea slopes, causing landslides that could trigger secondary tsunamis. Ward has also done computer simulations of tsunamis generated by submarine landslides. He showed, for example, that the collapse of an unstable volcanic slope in the Canary Islands could send a massive tsunami toward the U.S. East Coast.

A tsunami warning system has been established for the Pacific Ocean involving an international effort to evaluate earthquakes for their potential to generate tsunamis. Ward said that asteroid impact tsunamis could also be incorporated into such a system.

"Tsunamis travel fast, but the ocean is very big, so even if a small or moderate-sized asteroid comes out of nowhere you could still have several hours of advance warning before the tsunami reaches land," he said. "We have a pretty good handle on the size of the waves that would be generated if we can estimate the size of the asteroid."

Planetary scientists, meanwhile, are getting a better handle on the risks of asteroid impacts. A NASA-led campaign to detect large asteroids in near-Earth orbits is about half way toward its goal of detecting 90 percent of those larger than 1 kilometer in diameter (the size of 1950 DA) by 2008.

"Until we detect all the big ones and can predict their orbits, we could be struck without warning," said Asphaug. "With the ongoing search campaigns, we'll probably be able to sound the 'all clear' by 2030 for 90 percent of the impacts that could trigger a global catastrophe."

Rogue comets visiting the inner solar system for the first time, however, may never be detected very long in advance. Smaller asteroids that can still cause major tsunami damage may also go undetected.

"Those are risks we may just have to live with," Asphaug said.

A QuickTime movie of the tsunami simulation can be viewed or downloaded at . (Large download.)

Genre News: Star Trek Nemesis DVD, New Movies, Enter the Matrix, The Triangle, Orlando Jones & More!
Star Trek: The Last Generation?
By FLAtRich

Hollywood May 26, 2003 (eXoNews) - The Star Trek: Nemesis DVD is in release and it may surprise you to learn that the disc proves that Richard Roeper and I were right.

Nemesis is an excellent movie!

Few critics thought so when Nemesis hit the theaters. Mr. Roeper (of Ebert and Roeper) is quoted on the DVD box:
"Thumbs up! Stands alone as an engaging intergalactic thriller...", but most critics panned it.

Roeper's TV partner Roger Ebert who kept his thumb to himself and said, "Star Trek was kind of terrific once, but now it is a copy of a copy of a copy."

Since the DVD release, however, at least one DVD critic has reassessed Nemesis.

Peter M. Bracke of says, "Nemesis may not be the greatest Trek movie ever, but it is far better than its reputation may suggest."

Far, far better. And I think you might agree.

Nemesis the second time through was like a new movie. I have to wonder how I missed the rather intricate plot details when I first saw it at The Chinese in Hollywood back in 2002. Maybe I was just blinded by a reunion with some of my favorite sci-fi characters and the final battle scenes on the best screen in town. Or maybe I was influenced by the concussion of endless speculation on the Internet.

I liked Nemesis then, but I really never saw Jean-Luc Picard's familial reactions to the Romulan clone Shinzon (Tom Hardy) or how Picard felt about growing older without children. This is key to the plot of Nemesis. Granting some credence to the critics who claimed that Nemesis was a retread, Picard's regrets about his marriage to Starfleet were also integral to the plot of Star Trek: Generations, but Picard is an introspective man. Unlike Kirk, Picard ages gracefully but worries about it openly.

He has after all, seen himself become old in All Good Things and The Inner Light.

Picard is a man for whom personal sacrifice will always be outweighed by the needs of the many and a dedicated hero is not just a plot element in a Star Trek film; it is an immovable philosophical component. It is Picard's great strength in Nemesis, but also a weakness if you happen to be a Reman leader seeking revenge.

The Shinzon threat was what Paramount used to hawk the original release, but Shinzon's devastating weapon is only a plot device. In the grand Roddenberry tradition, championing personal sacrifice is the real central thread of Nemesis - a point comically echoed in Data's filial relationship with B-4, the android seeded by Shinzon in his attempt to waylay the Enterprise and Picard before marching on to destroy the Earth.

As always, expert handling of underlying themes is what sets Star Trek apart from other entries in the science fiction genre. Despite the speculation that director Stuart Baird was not the right man for the job, Nemesis has this and also a great bunch of our favorite actors obviously having a good time telling the story. I thought they looked older when I saw Nemesis at The Chinese, but Data, Riker, Troi, Worf, Crusher and Geordi were great on the DVD.

So why didn't Nemesis fly in the theaters?

Unfortunately, you can't sell an action movie without a Big Bad "harboring a diabolical plan of destruction" and December 13, 2002 wasn't the best day to go to a movie about a nut case threatening the home planet.

We had enough of that in real life on the day of Nemesis' release.

"Youngest sniper victim feeling 'great'" Associated Press reported on December 13, 2002 in the aftermath of the Washington-area sniper attacks by John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. The snipers were linked to 19 shootings in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama.

In other news that day, "FBI combs Maryland woods in anthrax probe", "Israel Says No Troop Pullout from Bethlehem Before Xmas", "Al-Qaeda allegedly training bombers", "Iraqi declaration missing key information, U.S. says", "North Korea playing its nuclear card", "What are Trent Lott's true thoughts on segregation?", and "Bush Announces Smallpox Vaccination Plan".

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released a week after Nemesis and currently boasts the seventh largest gross in movie history, but Rings is set in a distant past, safe from the Taliban and urban terrorists.

America was worried about the future the week of December 13, 2002 . They preferred J. Lo's romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan and Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can in the following weeks.
Although Nemesis has grossed $97,500,000 (as of March 2, 2003) against a budget of $70,000,000, the previous Star Trek: Insurrection did better with a lower budget ($58,000,000) and Patrick Stewart and Paramount were not pleased.

All good things may not be ready to come to an end, however. Nemesis revisited confirms that there is life in the Alpha Quadrant yet. It is everything the producers claimed it was in the initial publicity blitz and more. Definitely worth a second chance.

There are some missing scenes included on the Nemesis DVD, but this isn't a "director's cut" package.

Not yet, at least. Forty-five minutes were chopped from the first cut of the film, and in his comments about the seven scenes offered on the DVD, Nemesis director Stuart Baird seems to think some of them should have remained.

I would agree, especially the scene with Picard and Data discussing personal sacrifice right after the wedding scene.

There is also a scene where Shinzon attacks Troi mentally in a turboshaft that would have helped later in the finale, and there is a second ending where Picard and the Enterprise head off to a new adventure.

The added materials on the DVD include relaxed interviews with the stars and the amicable Stuart Baird that are fun for any Trek fan.

BTW, if fans thought Stuart Baird was the bad guy in the film's theatrical failure, they may think again after listening to him describe his work on the production.

So rent or buy Nemesis if you're ready for another look. The time is right.

Official Star Trek -

New Movies in Production
By FLAtRich

Hollywood May 26, 2003 (eXoNews) - Last week we gave you a list of what to expect on TV in the fall. This week I decided to see what was coming on the silver screen. There are a lot more, of course, but these looked like fun. Some you probably already know about. All are currently in production or post-production.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS - Director: Frank Coraci
Remake of the Mike Todd 50's classic.
Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Jim Broadbent, Johnny Knoxville, Cecile de France, Kathy Bates, Sammo Hung, John Cleese, Arnold Schwarzenegger

CURSED - Director: Wes Craven
A werewolf movie?
Christina Ricci, Omar Epps, Scott Foley, Milo Ventimiglia, Judy Greer, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristina Anapau, James Brolin, Illeana Douglas, Robert Forster, Skeet Ulrich, Scott Baio, Corey Feldman, Shannon Elizabeth, Michelle Krusiec

GOTHIKA - Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
A ghost story.
Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz, Robert Downey Jr., Charles S. Dutton, John Carroll Lynch, Bernard Hill, Bronwen Mantel, Dorian Harewood

Yawn. Time to go bye-bye, Harry.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Gry Oldman, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall

HELLBOY - Director: Guillermo del Toro
A demon goodguy.
Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Jeffrey Tambor, Karel Roden, Biddy Hodson, Rupert Evans, Doug Jones, James Babson

I, ROBOT - Director: Alex Proyas
Feature based on the Isaac Asimov classic robot stories.
Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, Chi McBride

MADHOUSE - Director: William Butler
About a madhouse, obviously.
Joshua Leonard, Jordan Ladd, Lance Henriksen

SCARY MOVIE 3 - Director: David Zucker
Next sequel, please.
Anna Farris, Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, Eddie Griffin, Peter Boyle, William Forsythe, Camryn Manheim, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Simon Rex, Jeremy Piven, Tim Stack, Darryl Hammond, Drew Makuska, Fat Joe, Leslie Nielsen

OK. The Scoobies return.
Matthew Lillard, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Alicia Silverstone, Peter Boyle

SPARTAN - Director: David Mamet
Not a Gladiator rip-off. A detective thriller.
Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Clark Gregg, Johnny Messner, Alexandra Kerry, Tia Texada

SPIDER-MAN 2 - Director: Sam Raimi
Spidey returns. Yea!
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, Dylan Baker, Donna Murphy, Daniel Gillies, Lindsay Lohan, Cliff Robertson

STARSKY AND HUTCH - Director: Todd Phillips
Action-comedy based on the TV cop drama.
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson, Vince Vaughn, Daniel Dae Kim, Chris Penn, Terry Crews, Richard Edson, David Pressman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, Molly Sims, Juliette Lewis, Will Ferrell

TAKING LIVES - Director: D.J. Caruso
Thriller (cool casting!)
Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland, Gena Rowlands, Olivier Martinez, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Paul Dano

THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY - Director: Mary McGuckian
Second remake of the Thornton Wilder classic novel, the last in 1944.
Robert DeNiro, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Geraldine Chaplin, Pilar Lopez de Ayala, Mark Polish, Michael Polish

THE HAUNTED MANSION - Director: Rob Minkoff
The next Disneyland ride movie. Can The Mad Teacup be far behind?
Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Jennifer Tilly, Nathaniel Parker, Marsha Thomason, Wallace Shawn, Dina Waters, Aree Davis, Marc John Jefferies

THE MISSING - Director: Ron Howard
A western! At last!
Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Aaron Eckhart, Eric Schweig, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Jay Tavare, Val Kilmer

THUNDERBIRDS - Director: Jonathan Frakes
Based on the classic British marionette TV series.
Bill Paxton, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Edwards, Sophia Myles, Brady Corbet, Soren Fulton, Vanessa Hudgens, Ron Cook, Dominic Colenso, Lex Shrapnel, Ben Torgeson, Philip Winchester

TROY - Director: Wolfgang Petersen
As in Helen of Troy and pretty much already done as a good TV movie this year on USA.
Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Peter O’Toole, Julie Christie, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Saffron Burrows, Rose Byrne, Garrett Hedlund

UNDERTOW - David Gordon Green
Remake of the 1949 William Castle movie? (Shiri was in Roswell.)
Dermot Mulroney, Jamie Bell, Josh Lucas, Shiri Appleby

VAN HELSING - Director: Stephen Sommers
A comedy with Hugh against Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolfman!
Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Shuler Hensley, Will Kemp, Kevin J. O'Connor, Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca, Josie Maran

Moore DVD Includes Oscar Speech

Hollywood May 26, 2003 (Variety) - Michael Moore will respond to critics who blasted his Oscar slam of President Bush on the DVD of "Bowling for Columbine," to be released by MGM on Aug. 19.

Among several extras, the filmmaker is interviewed about his Oscar victory for documentary feature and his controversial acceptance speech.

A transcript of the speech and accompanying stills from the evening will also be included. MGM could not gain clearance from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to include video of the speech.

"Columbine" was scheduled for an April 22 release but was delayed to allow it to continue its strong performance in theaters and to allow more time to produce significant extras.

The $4 million docu has taken $21 million at the U.S. box office.

Atari Sells 1 Million Matrix Games in Week

PARIS May 24, 2003 (AP) - Atari Inc. Friday said it had sold more than 1 million copies of "Enter the Matrix" one week after the computer and video game hit shelves in the United States and Europe.

New York-based Atari shares closed Friday up 73 cents, or 17 percent, at $4.96 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The heavily indebted company, a subsidiary of Infogrames Entertainment SA of France, is counting on blockbuster games such as "Enter the Matrix" to revive its fortunes.

The game was released May 15, the same day as the movie it is tied to, "The Matrix Reloaded." The game includes additional footage and is one of the most expensive ever made.

In early May, the company said it expected to sell 4 million units of the game for a total of $160 million in revenue.

Infogrames had total sales of $770 million for the year ended in June and does about 65 percent of its sales in the United States.

Atari sales expectations, if reached, would put "Enter the Matrix" on track to be one of the best-selling games of all time.

Atari said the game will be released in Japan June 19.

Sci Fi Tackles The Triangle

NEW YORK May 21, 2003 (Variety) - Still basking in the glow of record cable ratings for the Steven Spielberg-produced 20-hour miniseries "Taken," the Sci Fi Channel has roped in two more Hollywood heavyweights, Bryan Singer and Dean Devlin, to create and produce "Triangle," an eight-hour mini about the Bermuda Triangle.

Sci Fi prexy Bonnie Hammer said the project will be "a character-driven, human story set in the present day that will focus on the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. There'll be special effects, but they'll be secondary to the emotion" generated by the characters.

Devlin ("Independence Day") said he and Singer (the "X-Men" pics) are working on the descriptive blueprint for "Triangle." "It will involve people who've gone through a number of different experiences with the Bermuda Triangle," Devlin said, "who come together and decide to confront the mystery."

"Brian and I originally started talking about the Triangle idea for a feature film," he continued, "but the outline became too broad to fit within the confines of a movie. We realized we'd need a longer format."

Devlin said he was impressed by "Taken" and Sci Fi's adaptation of Frank Herbert's series of "Dune" novels, giving a nod to the way the network "marketed and handled" the projects so that they reached the widest possible audience.

Devlin said Singer is between theatrical-movie projects so he's giving "Triangle" his full attention.

Sci Fi Channel commissions more miniseries than any other network, cable or broadcast. Net is developing miniseries adaptations of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" and Ursula Le Guin's "Earthsea" trilogy.

Devlin said the production cost of "Triangle" will determine whether his Electric Entertainment company is sole producer of the mini. If the budget migrates too far north, Devlin and Hammer said Sci Fi's sister company USA Cable Entertainment could step in as the co-production partner.

Sci Fi Channel -

Elvira Alive and Well

Cannes May 15, 2003 (Variety) - Spirit Entertainment, headed by husband and wife producing team Cassandra Peterson and Mark Pierson, has closed five international territorial deals for its gothic-horror comedy "Elvira's Haunted Hills."

Pic has been acquired by Classic 99 for Australia, Videosonic for Greece, Elysee for Benelux, Lizard for Russia and Mediapro for Romania.

Pic has its European premiere here on Saturday.

Elvira (the campy vamp portrayed by Peterson) has had a cult following in Europe, Japan and Australia since the 1989 release of "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark."

The new pic also stars Richard O'Brien (writer, creator and co-star of "Rocky Horror Picture Show").

Elvira's Official site -

Orlando Jones Takes on Late-Night TV
By Gail Mitchell

LOS ANGELES May 25, 2003 (Billboard) - Lenny Kravitz. The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

This eclectic lineup is not just the jump-start of the June 16 premiere of FX Network's "The Orlando Jones Show." It is also a portent of Jones' pledge to open the door to a multi-racial music world generally not seen -- or addressed -- on late-night TV.

"Many celebrities in music, spoken word, TV, and film don't have a place on Leno, Letterman, Conan, or Kimmel," the actor/comedian/writer says. "No one wants to sit on the sofa with Missy Elliott and talk. Where are Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Fishbone, or OutKast?

"Late-night TV and TV on the whole has skipped over those guys who can't get on MTV or aren't on BET yet. Younger musicians have no place. Until they sell 4 million albums, they can't go anywhere. I'm interested more in talent vs. record sales."

Jones' late-night vision draws inspiration from three predecessors: Playboy After Dark, The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, and The Arsenio Hall Show. Words and phrases like "sexy," "banging vibe," and "freaking it" punctuate Jones' description of his talk/variety series.

"This show is what late-night is supposed to be: like early Johnny Carson, introducing new guys to you," he says. "It wasn't so much about name recognition. It didn't have that MTV feel: bubble-gum, pressed, and packaged."

The half-hour weeknight series (11 p.m. ET/PT) is executive-produced by Eddie Feldmann and Erwin Stoff. Grammy Award-winning producer Dallas Austin (Pink, Usher, Madonna, TLC) is the music director. DJ Ruckus, who spins for clubs like Los Angeles' Deep and Miami's Cru, adds turntable accompaniment.

To better acquaint an audience with an act, the cable show will occasionally go backstage as the talent sets up or rehearses.

"Late-night TV has hit a plateau," Austin says. "People need more information about today's musical artists. We're just bringing our collective efforts together and being ourselves."

Jones and Austin have worked together before: Jones appeared in the 2002 Austin-inspired Fox film Drumline.

"Arsenio helped musical guests," Austin adds. "After a performance on his show, you'd see record sales increase the next day. We'll be doing the same thing but in a modern way. For example, every now and then we'll bring in a guest producer like Rodney Jerkins."

It's not just about music. The program will also feature a 90-second animated segment with two Latino kid characters. Instead of an opening monologue, Jones will portray a diverse range of characters either in sketches or interacting with people in the audience and on the street.

Underscoring the program's alternative take on talk, current on-air promos tout "no white guy, no desk, no band."

The in-the-round set will have video monitors positioned around its perimeter.

Jones envisions his audience as the 18-35 group that "has grown up with a wider breadth of influences." Feldmann, formerly co-executive producer and writer on HBO's Dennis Miller Live, cites Jones' appeal beyond that demo.

"[The show] transcends race and age," Feldmann says. "Today's urban audience is someone hip to new bands, new comedy. They want to be the first to see or hear something.

At the same time, there are 40-year-old guys who know Orlando from the films Evolution and Drumline."

Jones will tape the show live in Los Angeles in front of a studio audience. A former writer and member of Fox's parody series MAD TV, he is jazzed about launching what he calls the next generation of late-night TV.

"We may rock one night, do a back-in-the-day funk club, discuss politics, or talk trash. It's about creating a voice, vibe, and attitude in late-night that hasn't been there for a while."

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