|Lines of Nasca! |
Beyond Pluto - 2004 DW!
Salt? Naachtún, Killing Coral,
The Star Ripper & More!
|Lines of Nasca!|
European Space Agency Press Release
They were made simply enough, by moving dark surface stones to expose pale sand beneath. However their intended purpose remains a mystery. It has variously been proposed they were created as pathways for religious processions and ceremonies, an astronomical observatory or a guide to underground water resources.
In the image to the upper right, acquired by the Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (CHRIS) instrument aboard Proba on 26 September 2003, the 18.6 meter resolution is too low to make out the animal figures although the straight Nasca Lines can be seen faintly.
Clearest of the straight markings is actually the Pan-American Highway, built right through the region – seen as a dark marking starting at the irrigated fields beside the Ingenio River, running from near the image top to the bottom right hand corner.
Associated dirt track roads are also visible amidst the Nasca Lines. Clearly shown in the Proba image is another cause of damage to the Lines: deposits left by mudslides after heavy rains in the Andean Mountains.
These events are believed to be connected to the El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean – first named by Peruvian fishermen hundreds of years ago – and one concern is they are becoming more frequent due to climate change.
A team from Edinburgh University and remote sensing company Vexcel UK has been using data from another ESA spacecraft to measure damage to the Nasca Lines, with their results due to be published in the May Issue of the International Journal of Remote Sensing. Their work involves combining radar images from the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument aboard ERS-2. Instead of measuring reflected light, SAR makes images from backscattered radar signals that chart surface roughness.
Nicholas Walker of Vexcel UK explained: "Although the instrument lacks sufficient resolution to unambiguously distinguish individual lines and shapes, by combining two satellite images using a technique known as SAR interferometric coherence it is possible to detect erosion and changes to the surface at the scale of centimeters".
"Some de-correlation comes simply from the geometry of the area as seen by the instrument in space, with low coherence around areas overshadowed by Andean foothills to the east of the Nasca plain," said Iain Woodhouse of Edinburgh University. "The second major loss is seen in the river valleys, due primarily to agricultural activity taking place during the two-year period.
|Beyond Pluto - 2004 DW!|
LOS ANGELES February 20, 2004 (AP) - Astronomers think they have found a frozen object 4.4 billion miles from Earth that appears to be more than half the size of Pluto and larger than the planet's moon. If confirmed, the so-called planetoid would become the largest object found in our solar system since the ninth planet was first spied in 1930.
Comparing the trio of images reveals the presence of a distant object in orbit, since they change position from picture to picture and clearly stand out against the static backdrop of distant stars.
It takes the object an estimated 252 years to complete one orbit of the sun.
|Torn Fabric Puzzle on Mars|
Pasadena February 21, 2004 (Ananova) - Scientists have called for caution after microscopic images of Martian soil taken by NASA's Opportunity rover showed puzzling threadlike features.
Additional information is available from JPL at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html
Click here for the eXoNews Mars Update Page!
|Universe Not Dying!|
By Maggie Fox
One hope is that it is the explanation for Einstein's theoretical cosmological constant, a number that will predict whether the universe will collapse in a "big crunch," be completely blown apart in a "big rip" or just drift steadily until the galaxies are so far apart they cannot be seen - in effect taking the stars from the sky.
Not that this will matter to humans, as it is an estimated 55 billion years off.
Save the Hubble! Sign an online petition here: http://www.savethehubble.com
By Ibon Villelabeitia
In 1991, following a new constitution which recognized indigenous rights in Colombia, the government and the Wayuu reached an agreement over the exploitation of the salt mines.
|Lost World Under North Sea|
|Birmingham UK February 15, 2004 (BBC) - A prehistoric lost world under the North Sea has been mapped by scientists from the University of Birmingham. The team used earthquake data to devise a 3D reconstruction of the 10,000-year-old plain. |
The area, part of a land mass that once joined Britain to northern Europe, disappeared about 8,000 years ago. The virtual features they have developed include a river the length of the Thames which disappeared when its valley flooded due to glaciers melting.
Professor Bob Stone, head of the Department of Engineering's Human Interface Technology Team, said they were working to ensure the visual accuracy of the environment.
"This is the most exciting and challenging virtual reality project since Virtual Stonehenge in 1996. We are basing the computer-generated flora on pollen and plant traces extracted from geological core samples retrieved from the sea bed."
Dr Vincent Gaffney, director of the University's Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity and lead investigator on the project said they still had a lot of work to do.
"We intend to extend the project to visualize the whole of the now submerged land bridge that previously joined Britain to northern Europe as one land mass, providing scientists with a new insight into the previous human occupation of the North Sea."
By Frank Jack Daniel
The last serious exploration attempt at Naachtún was a three-week visit by the Carnegie Institution in Washington in 1933 that produced the only map of the site.
|Stonehenge Tunnel Debate Continues|
Stonehenge UK February 17, 2004 (IC WALES) - A row over government plans to tunnel beneath the World Heritage site of Stonehenge is set to erupt at the opening of a public inquiry.
SYDNEY February 21, 2004 (AFP) - The brightly-colored corals that make Australia's Great Barrier Reef one of the world's natural wonders will be largely dead by 2050 because of rising sea temperatures, according to a report released Saturday.
Organisms reliant on coral would become rare or even face extinction, the report said.
|St Louis February 11, 2004 (BBC) - Up to 500 dinosaur groups may remain undiscovered, yet our knowledge of the creatures and how they were related is relatively complete, a scientist says. The figure of 500 may seem a lot, but this is a maximum possible value. |
The expert behind the study actually thinks the dinosaur fossil record is between one-half and two-thirds complete, which is comparatively good. The data comes from an analysis of more than 250 dinosaur groups and their family tree branches.
Julia Heathcote, a graduate student at Washington University in St Louis, US, used statistical analysis to determine how much missing data there might be on dinosaur groups to how much researchers actually have.
She also calculated how well proposed splits in the dinosaur family tree matched the fossil evidence over time. The research was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Natural History Museum in London.
"The whole Dinosauria fossil record I would say is moderately good, which was a surprise, because I thought it would be much worse," said Ms Heathcote.
Although there had been previous attempts to analyze evolutionary patterns with the dinosaur fossil record, she added, these patterns could only be interpreted in a useful way when the ages of fossils were taken into account. Ms Heathcote claimed that her work could be added to by other researchers as new dinosaur specimens are discovered and see where the new discovery fits in with previous ones.
Another calculation gave how much missing data there is to the minimum missing data possible if all dinosaur groups were arranged in a family tree in order of age.
"[The analysis] draws together all of the data of the past 150 years," said Ms Heathcote. "You can see how far back these dinosaurs go, see their relationships with each other."
Previous studies have attempted to provide complete dinosaur family trees. Researchers at the University of Bristol have combined 150 previously published evolutionary trees to form one supertree of 277 dinosaur groups.
|The Star Ripper!|
European Space Agency Press Release
The astronomers estimated that about one hundredth of the mass of the star was ultimately consumed, or accreted, by the black hole. This small amount is consistent with predictions that the momentum and energy of the accretion process will cause most of the destroyed star's gas to be flung away from the black hole.
ESA website - http://www.esa.int
|Genre News: Saving Angel, Time Machine, Green Hornet, Teri Hatcher, William Gibson, Spike Lee & More!|
Saving Angel: Online Petitions
Sci Fi is an unlikely target as well. Sci Fi got a windfall with Stargate because it was originally on pay cable and only in light distribution when Sci Fi picked up the whole Stargate enchilada.
Secondly, while this week's viewer online petition response is admirable (over 50,000 people have signed the first petition so far), fan response via email and the web has never really saved anything in recent memory. It is a nice thank you to show stars and production people, but remember Farscape and Firefly before you get your hopes up. (Not to mention John Doe, The Lone Gunmen and all the others.)
Third, and saddest of all, the overnight Nielsen ratings for Angel have not gone up significantly as of this week.
Yes, the numbers for the absolutely delightful "Smile Time" episode did improve over the miserable viewer response to Cordelia's final appearance, but Angel's numbers are still not close enough to its lead-in Smallville to give The WB any reason to recant their decision.
All of you who love the show and are currently signing petitions and joining online Save Angel sites and firing off dead bats to The Frog may have been watching Angel all along, but the truth is you didn't get enough of your friends to watch from the beginning of this season. If you had been insistent and helped elevate Angel's ratings this year, the current tenants of Wolfram & Hart wouldn't be facing that guy with the black hood.
Smallville is still weird and doing OK, but the Superman fanbase is as big as you can get. Their numbers are great for The WB, by the way, but Smallville would never have lasted one season on a "major" network.
What else is dead or dying?
Tru Calling, for one. This show had such a limited premise that I doubted it would run four weeks on Fox, but the writing and cast turned out to be superb and Tru gets better every episode. Fox must have had some sort of iron contract with its star because they ordered a full season despite bargain basement numbers. I wouldn't count on Tru returning, though.
They got twice the numbers Angel did, but it's different axes for different networks.
Read this interview with J. August Richards (Gunn) on the cancellation - http://www.jaugustrichards.com./specialinterview.htm
Joss Whedon's post to the Bronze Beta board was in last week's Genre News.
Angel's Season 3 DVD Box arrived on February 10th from Fox Home Entertainment. Order it direct at http://www2.foxstore.com/detail.html?item=1040&u=1074165608
Television Academy Shakes Up Emmy Rules
"This gives the approximately 12,000 academy members a chance to expand the field of nominees," she said.
Time Machine Mini-Series
Directed by Wells' great-grandson Simon Wells, The Time Machine starred Guy Pearce and Samantha Mumba.
[And it sadly lacked the mainspring of the George Pal version. Ed.]
"Long-time comics geek gets to make comic book movie?" Smith said, speculating about a possible newspaper headline. "This is a dream come true."
The Adventure of the Missing Vampire Diaries
Hampton states in notes, "As Shaw would say, 'It was too true to be good.' When I began looking into this mystery, I saw the pieces fall together. All the famous people knew each other and had reasons to be involved in the murder."
Teri Hatcher, Selma Blair, Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Goldblum Joining TV Pilots
Hatcher most recently starred in the Sci Fi Channel telefilm "Momentum." Her credits also include the features "Spy Kids" and "Tomorrow Never Dies" and the ABC series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."
Gibson Recognizes Pattern
Spike Talks Oscar
But that doesn't mean he's waiting around for a golden statue to fall into his lap.
And Lee, 46, is finishing his new feature film, "She Hate Me," about a man who starts a business impregnating lesbians.
AP: Personally impregnating them?
Lee: We always earmark two or three spots to give someone really talented a platform to shine, a jump-off.
Lee: What we were showing was that the relationship between Wesley's character and Annabella Sciorra's character, it wasn't built on a foundation. It was built on myths. She was with him because she heard about the prowess of the sexual black man. He bought into the myth that the white woman is the epitome of beauty.
Lee: I vote, but I take it with a grain of salt. Not just for African Americans, but just in general. You give an organization, some group, the power to validate your work of art — that can be paralyzing. ... "Malcolm X" was bigger than the Academy Awards. "Do the Right Thing" was bigger than the awards. We got two nominations for "Do the Right Thing." I got a best original screenplay nomination. Danny Aiello got best supporting actor, and he lost to Denzel (Washington) in "Glory." But you know what got best picture that year?
Lee: "Driving Miss Daisy." "Do the Right Thing," there are classes on that in universities all across the country. That film is still being watched. Every year it's growing in stature. No one talks about "Driving Miss Daisy." There's nothing there.
|Click here for last week's Genre News!|