|The Mummy's Hand! |
Nuclear Waste Threat, Cosmic Rays,
Galactic News! Shrinking Ice Fields!
Spielberg's Close Encounter & More!
|The Mummy's Hand! |
BROOKVILLE NY October 22, 2002 (AP) - When a severed human hand arrived in his mailbox, Bob Brier wasn't horrified or shocked. He thought it might be something cool to bring to work.
Brier is a professor of Egyptology and a renowned mummy expert, and the hand was a gift from a woman whose father had purchased it in 1926 in Egypt from locals touting it as an ancient mummified hand.
On Monday, Brier and his students at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University took the hand to the school's radiologic technology lab to determine whether the hand was real or fake.
The verdict? Brier has a hand between 2,000 and 3,000 years old on his hands.
But that wasn't all he was able to determine.
Due to the lack of growth plates, or growing tissue near the ends of the bones, Brier said the hand belonged to an adult -- not a child as he'd originally suspected. It was probably a woman, due to the hand's small size. The woman was well fed, since the bones showed no signs of malnutrition. And she was wealthy: The fingernails had the ancient version of a manicure -- painted with henna.
"You can learn a lot from a mummy," Brier said.
The hand was one of two bought by an American student, Merrill S. Tope, near the Valley of the Kings for what would be about 7 cents in today's currency.
Tope's daughter, Marilyn Tope Doolen, found one of the hands last year. She was a fan of Brier from his work on The Learning Channel and sent it to him when he expressed interest.
Mummy Hides Greek Poetry
The scroll also provides documentation about art history. The statue section makes references to Polycleitus, Myron and Lysippus, three of the best-known Greek sculptors.
Here is an example of one of the epigrams:
The book, which won an award from the American Philological Association, argued that Greek epigrams had been placed in "collections" or scrolls of poetry as far back as the third century B.C.
|Humans Fill 83 Per Cent of the Planet!|
|NEW YORK October 22, 2002 (Wildlife Conservation Society) - Human beings now directly influence more than three quarters of the earth's landmass, according to a state-of-the-art map of the world produced by a team of scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). |
Published in the latest issue of the scientific journal BioScience, the map should serve as a wake-up call that humans are stewards of the natural world, whether we like it or not – something that should be viewed as an opportunity, the authors say.
The map adds together influences from population density, access from roads and waterways, electrical power infrastructure, and land transformation such as urbanization and agricultural use. It reveals that 83 percent of the land's surface is under human influence, while a staggering 98 percent of the area where it is possible to grow rice, wheat or maize is directly influenced by human beings. At the same time, wide swaths of land still remain wild, including: the northern forests of Alaska, Canada and Russia; the high plateaus of Tibet and Mongolia; and much of the Amazon River Basin.
According to WCS and CIESIN, wild areas can still be found in all the ecosystems on the land's surface, though some on a much smaller scale. Called the "last of the wild," the authors look at these less-influenced areas as opportunities for conservation of wild places all over the world.
"The map of the human footprint is a clear-eyed view of our influence on the Earth. It provides a way to find opportunities to save wildlife and wild lands in pristine areas, and also to understand how conservation in wilderness, countryside, suburbs, and cities are all related," said the paper's lead author Dr. Eric Sanderson, a landscape ecologist with WCS. "The map should be looked at as a blueprint for individuals, institutions and governments to understand our current influence on the planet and figure out ways to lessen the negative impacts, while enhancing the positive ways that people interact with the environment."
This work was only possible because of increased access to global datasets on roads, land use, and human population density in recent years.
|Nuclear Waste Could Be Bomb Threat!|
|By Dan Vergano |
Los Alamos October 21, 2002 (USA Today) - Weapons scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory say the amount of a common nuclear waste, the radioactive element neptunium, needed to create atomic bombs is significantly less than expected.
Coming amid last week's disclosure of a North Korean nuclear weapons program and fears of nuclear terrorism worldwide, the find raises concerns about reactor waste being fashioned into bombs. "There's plenty of it out there," Los Alamos spokesman Kevin Roark says.
Found inside spent nuclear reactor fuel rods, neptunium lies between uranium and plutonium on chemistry's periodic table. The Los Alamos researchers found that the amount of the material needed to reach "critical mass," the point just before a nuclear chain reaction occurs, is about 25% less than believed.
The research, a 12-year effort, was conducted as part of the Energy Department's nuclear security program.
In the experiment led by Rene Sanchez and David Loazia of the lab's Advanced Nuclear Technology group, scientists remotely brought two halves of a neptunium sphere closer together over four days to learn at what point a reaction would begin.
Overall radioactivity was limited, and atomic fission, the chain reaction that occurs in atomic bombs, did not occur during the experiment.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) instituted a voluntary monitoring system for neptunium in 1999 after public disclosure of its potential as a bomb material. Americium, another reactor waste product, also could serve as weapons material and is monitored by the same voluntary system, although the agency views it as less of a threat.
|Watchdog Slams Ottawa Toxic Sites|
|OTTAWA October 22, 2002 (CP) — Federal officials are all but ignoring ticking environmental time bombs at more than 3,600 toxic sites and 17 abandoned mines under their care, warns Canada's environment watchdog. |
The government is also failing to monitor toxic chemicals in the blood, breast milk and urine of Canadians, says Environment Commissioner Johanne Gelinas. Nor is it adequately screening the estimated 25,000 industrial chemicals and 6,000 pesticides being used in Canada, Gelinas says in a scathing report today.
Untallied health and environmental costs are racking up across Canada as neglected waste leaches arsenic, cyanide and other noxious brews into soil and groundwater, the report says.
Ottawa is saddling future generations with the fallout "by failing to deal in a timely manner with contaminated sites in its own backyard," Gelinas says.
Thirteen years after the state of federal sites was red-flagged, Ottawa still can't say exactly how many are contaminated. There is also no ranking of the worst cases according to risk; no long-term, stable funds have been earmarked for cleanups; and the government has no action plan.
Ottawa spends just $3 per Canadian each year, about $100 million, to clean up and manage contaminated sites under its care, the report says. The environment commissioner, who has no legal power to order government action, urges Ottawa to take leadership, draft an action plan and commit the funds required. That bill will cost billions, Gelinas says.
A key recommendation — that Environment Canada should develop a clear requirement for federal agencies to clean up or contain their toxic sites — was rejected by the department.
|Bush's Anti-clean Water Administration|
|WASHINGTON DC October 18, 2002 (Earthjustice) - Since taking office, the Bush administration has already weakened or is in the process of weakening several key regulations designed to protect and clean up the nation’s waters. These anti-clean water policies threaten the health of families, communities, and wildlife said a spokesperson for the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice. Today, October 18, is the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. |
"The Bush administration is pursuing plans to dismantle significant portions of the Clean Water Act just as the law turns 30," said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel for Earthjustice. "From gutting the program that guides the cleanup of polluted waters, to eliminating a 25-year old ban on dumping mining and other industrial wastes into wetlands and streams, to abandoning the national ‘no net loss of wetlands’ goal, this administration’s actions pose the greatest threat to the nation’s waters in three decades."
"The Clean Water Act has had many successes, but 30 years after embarking on this program to make all of the country’s waters clean enough to swim and fish in, a whopping 45 percent of waters are still too dirty to comply," said Mulhern. "Congress and the public need to tell the Bush administration to cleanup these polluted waters instead of redesigning new rules that will make the other 55 percent dirtier."
Their latest and perhaps most far reaching proposal to date, said Mulhern, was announced on September 19 when EPA and Army Corps of Engineer officials testified before a House committee that they have decided to reconsider what waters should be protected under the Clean Water Act at all. The agencies said they now question whether tributaries of navigable waters, streams that periodically dry up, and wetlands next to these waters should receive Clean Water Act protections. Such waters have been covered by the Clean Water Act since 1972 and by the law’s implementing regulations since 1975.
Administration officials claim that the new rulemaking is a response to a January, 2001 Supreme Court decision concerning "isolated" wetlands and subsequent lower court rulings concerning streams and wetlands. "Neither the Supreme Court ruling nor the majority of lower court rulings have suggested that any such weakening of Clean Water Act authority is warranted, let alone the sweeping proposal announced by the Bush administration," said Mulhern. "The Court’s decision opened a crack in the door, but the Bush administration is kicking the door down."
"No other president in the last 30 years – Republican or Democrat – has ever proposed such a significant cutback to Clean Water Act protections," Mulhern added. "The goal of the Act – to make all of the nation’s waters safe for fishing, swimming, and other uses – cannot be met if the majority of waters are cut out of the law’s scope."
"Polluting industries are circling Clean Water Act like sharks, each taking a few bites," said Mulhern. "Unfortunately, the Bush administration is all too eager to feed the frenzy by giving them whatever they want. At this rate, soon there may not be enough left of the Clean Water Act to save the nation’s precious and irreplaceable water resources."o
|Cosmic Rays Linked to Clouds|
|By Alex Kirby |
BBC News Environment Correspondent
Germany October 19, 2002 (BBC) - German scientists have found a significant piece of evidence linking cosmic rays to climate change. They have detected charged particle clusters in the lower atmosphere that were probably caused by the space radiation.
They say the clusters can lead to the condensed nuclei which form into dense clouds.
Clouds play a major, but as yet not fully understood, role in the dynamics of the climate, with some types acting to cool the planet and others warming it up. The amount of cosmic rays reaching Earth is largely controlled by the Sun, and many solar scientists believe the star's indirect influence on Earth's global climate has been underestimated.
Some think a significant part of the global warming recorded in 20th Century may in fact have its origin in changes in solar activity - not just in the increase in fossil-fuel-produced greenhouse gases.
The German team, from the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, used a large ion mass spectrometer mounted on an aircraft. They say their measurements "have for the first time detected in the upper troposphere large positive ions with mass numbers up to 2500".
They conclude: "Our observations provide strong evidence for the ion-mediated formation and growth of aerosol particles in the upper troposphere."
The scientists report their findings in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. They support the theory that cosmic rays can influence climate change and affect cloud albedo - the ability of clouds to reflect light.
The importance of clouds in the climate system is described by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, at the UK's University of East Anglia (UEA). It says: "Clouds strongly influence the passage of radiation through the Earth's atmosphere. They reflect some incoming short-wave solar radiation back into space and absorb some outgoing long-wave terrestrial radiation: producing cooling and warming effects, respectively."
And UEA's Climatic Research Unit spells out the complexity of clouds' role in climate change. It says: "The cloud feedback may be large, yet not even its sign is known. Low clouds tend to cool, high clouds tend to warm. High clouds tend to have lower albedo and reflect less sunlight back to space than low clouds. Clouds are generally good absorbers of infrared, but high clouds have colder tops than low clouds, so they emit less infrared spacewards.
"To further complicate matters, cloud properties may change with a changing climate, and human-made aerosols may confound the effect of greenhouse gas forcing on clouds. Depending on whether and how cloud cover changes, the cloud feedback could almost halve or almost double the warming."
|Genre News: Buffy, Brothers Grimm, Spiderman, Superman, Drew in Oz & More!|
|Fans Find Buffy Stealth Site |
Hollywood October 22, 2002 (Sci Fi Wire) - Christopher Buchanan—president of Mutant Enemy, the production company behind UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer—told SCI FI Wire that alert fans quickly discovered a sly Web site connected with last week's seventh-season episode, "Help." In the episode, a Sunnydale High student, Cassie Newton (Azura Skye), put up a Web site with her poetry and artwork.
Producers of the show, at the urging of creator Joss Whedon, actually created Newton's site and posted it without fanfare on the Web, where it remains. The episode's writer, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, composed the poetry and created the art that appears on the site, based on her own teenage journals.
"Joss said, 'Well, could we put up a site, not affiliated with the official Buffy site or anything, but just, like, this is a teenage girl's site that she put up on Geocities. Very simple,'" Buchanan said in an interview. "And we didn't really publicize it. There was no link on the Buffy site. It was just kind of something we did for fun. Three of the writers were having a chat on one of the fan sites and mentioned just to check it out. ... By the time the show aired, ... some of the fans already knew about it. But 5 million people saw it, and all of a sudden, it just went crazy. We've had almost 200,000 hits. ... I get with alarming frequency things saying, 'You've exceeded your data transfer limits. For $5, you can have another 500 megabytes.' But it's been a lot of fun. The thing that's been amazing to me is, we put a basic guest book on there. ... I think it allows 50 entries. It has filled up 30 times. ... And we have so many e-mails, ... we've been returning the e-mails in Cassie's voice, and we're 100 behind. ... It's just been a blast."
Buchanan said that the site will remain live as long as possible. "The thing about it I loved was, we did things like, when we registered the domain, we registered it as Cassie Newton, and ... of course, the fans are like, 'We notice that she lives on 13 Shadow Lane [in Sunnydale].'"
Buchanan added that Whedon et al may employ similar sites in the future. "I think we will do it where need be," he said. "It's been a great experience. It's just been a lot of fun. And the fans really, really love it. And that's what Joss cares about. ... We've been talking about doing it for, maybe, who knows, maybe Dawn [Michelle Trachtenberg] has her own Web site. Or we do something with [Whedon's new Fox SF show] Firefly in a slightly different kind of vibe." Buffy airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
[In case fans were worried, Sci Fi also reports that Firefly is still in production. According to Sci Fi: "Joss Whedon, creator of Fox's new SF series Firefly, will direct the 11th episode, which goes into production the week of Nov. 4, a production spokesman told SCI FI Wire. " The cast wasn't working Wednesday, though. Captain Mal Reynolds gave fans a v-sign from the stands during game three of the World Series in San Francisco. Firefly airs on Fox, Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Ed.]
www.cassienewton.com - http://www.geocities.com/newcassie
Official Buffy Site - http://www.buffy.com
Official Firefly site - http://www.fox.com/firefly
Terry Gilliam Gets Grimm
The project is described as mixing the adventure of the Indiana Jones films with the humor of "Shrek."
Is Your Name Peter Parker? Get a Free Spiderman DVD!
HALF.COM - http://half.ebay.com
Hopkins Succeeds Brando As Jor-El
As for the script, which is being blasted on the Internet, Ratner said:
"I trust my instincts. ... A script is a script. It's not a movie. It's my interpretation of it, and I think they're reading like old drafts or something. I just got the new draft yesterday. That was hand-delivered by, like, a guy with a gun."
Dead Zone's Flanery in ABC Western
Drew Returns to Oz as Dorothy
No star has been attached.
Cartoon Network Expands 'Adult Swim'
|Clouds Found Above Milky Way |
NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY NEWS RELEASE
October 20, 2002 - New studies with the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have revealed a previously unknown population of discrete hydrogen clouds in the gaseous halo that surrounds the Milky Way Galaxy. These clouds were discovered in the transition zone between the Milky Way and intergalactic space, and provide tantalizing evidence that supernova-powered "galactic fountains" continually blast superheated hydrogen gas into our galactic suburbs.
Extending far above the star-filled disk of the Milky Way is an atmosphere, or halo, of hydrogen gas. "By studying this halo, we can learn a great deal about the processes that are going on inside our Galaxy as well as beyond its borders," said Jay Lockman, an astronomer with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia. "It has remained a mystery, however, how this halo formed and what has prevented gravitational forces from collapsing the gas into a thin layer long ago."
Some astronomers have speculated that this gas is distributed as a diffuse mist held up by either magnetic fields or cosmic rays streaming out of the plane of the Milky Way. Others believed that it is made of innumerable long-lived hydrogen clouds bobbing up and down like balls tossed by a juggler.
Early observations with other telescopes discovered that there was some neutral hydrogen gas floating far above the Galaxy's plane, but these instruments were not sensitive enough to reveal any structure or resolve questions about its origin.
Lockman's studies for the first time show a clear picture of the structure of the gas. Rather than a mist, the halo is in fact full of discrete clouds, each containing 50-to-100 solar masses of hydrogen and averaging about 100 light-years in diameter. "These objects were just below the ability of the older telescopes to detect," said Lockman, "but I looked with the GBT, and they popped right out." Lockman's results will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The clouds were discovered about 15,000 light-years from Earth toward the center of our Galaxy, and about 5,000 light-years above the Galaxy's plane.
One of the most compelling facts revealed by the GBT is that the clouds are coupled dynamically to the disk of the Galaxy; that is, they follow along with the rotation of the rest of the Milky Way. Material from other sources crashing into the Milky Way would have different velocities and also appear quite different. "These are home grown objects, and not interlopers from outside our own Galaxy," said Lockman.
Although the origin of these newly discovered clouds is not yet known, one mechanism to explain how this gas could be lifted into the halo is through supernova explosions. When a massive star reaches the end of its life it erupts in a cataclysm that produces a burst of cosmic rays and an enormous expanding bubble of gas at a temperature of several million degrees Celsius. Over time, this hot gas can flow outward into the Milky Way's halo.
The question remains, however, what happens to this gas once it's ejected into the halo. One possibility is that it leaves the Galaxy as a wind, never to return. Some astronomers predict, however, that as the gas slowly cools it would condense into hydrogen clouds, eventually falling like raindrops back into the Milky Way, and forming what is referred to as a galactic fountain.
"If the clouds were formed by material ejected from the Galactic plane into the halo," Lockman said, "then it's possible that they are now falling back onto the Galaxy. This would then require a continuing flow of new material from supernova explosions into the halo to replenish the hydrogen gas that has rained back into the disk."
When the electron eventually moves back to its lower energy -- or resting state, it gives up a small amount of electromagnetic radiation at radio frequencies.
The individual energy of a single atom is very weak, but the accumulated signal from vast clouds of hydrogen is strong enough to be detected by sensitive radio telescopes on Earth.
The GBT is completing its commissioning and early science program and will be moving into full time operation.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement with Associated Universities, Inc.
Black Hole in the Milky Way
Karl Gebhardt, an astronomy professor at the University of Texas, agrees that the only compelling explanation for the star's orbit is the existence of a gigantic black hole. He was not part of the team that made the discovery, but wrote a commentary about it for Nature.
They may start as a "seed black hole," formed when a star like our sun runs out of fuel and collapses. The hole may then grow bigger as it swallows dust and gas. The discovery announced today could lead to a clearer and more detailed picture of the universe, and our galaxy in particular. While black holes do absorb matter that comes too close, it is a mistake to imagine them as the vacuum cleaners of the universe, Prof. Gebhardt said.
|Shrinking Ice Fields and Global Warming|
|Ohio State University News Release |
Columbus OH October 17, 2002 - A detailed analysis of six cores retrieved from the rapidly shrinking ice fields atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro shows that those tropical glaciers began to form about 11,700 years ago.
The cores also yielded remarkable evidence of three catastrophic droughts that plagued the tropics 8,300, 5,200 and 4,000 years ago.
Lastly, the analysis also supports Ohio State University researchers’ prediction that these unique bodies of ice will disappear in the next two decades, the victims of global warming. These findings were published today in the journal Science.
Lonnie Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State and leader of an expedition in 2000 to retrieve these cores, called Kilimanjaro’s ice fields "stagnant" and said they are "wasting away."
Thompson and his colleagues retrieved six cores from the mountain two years ago after his team spent more than a month camped at a drill site above 19,300 feet. After a logistical nightmare requiring the hiring of 92 porters and obtaining 25 official permits, the team returned 215 meters (705 feet) of frozen ice core to the freezers at the university’s Byrd Polar Research Center.
One key to dating the core came with the finding of a chemical marker in the ice -- a spike of the isotope chlorine-36, a radioactive remnant of nuclear bomb testing in 1951-52. The same spike appears in cores the team had retrieved from both South America and China, and this allows them to calibrate the historic records trapped in the ice.
Clues from the cores suggest a much different, far wetter landscape near Kilimanjaro 9,500 years ago than exists there today. Thompson said that at that time, Lake Chad, now the fourth-largest body of water on the African continent with an area of about 17,000 square kilometers today, covered some 350,000 square kilometers – an area larger than the Caspian Sea.
The analysis of the core showed a 500-year period beginning around 8,300 years ago when methane levels preserved in polar ice cores dropped dramatically. "We believe that this represents a time when the lakes of Africa were drying up," Thompson said, adding that the methane levels would register the extent of the wetlands thriving in the tropics.
Until this time, Thompson said, people had been able to survive in areas that are now just barren Sahara Desert.
"We found that the summit of the ice fields has lowered by at least 17 meters (nearly 56 feet) since 1962," Thompson said. "That's an average loss of about a half-meter in height each year."
They were also able to show that the margin of the Northern ice field had retreated more than 2 meters since 2000. "That's more than 2 meter's worth of ice lost from a wall 50 meters (164 feet) high –- that’s an enormous amount of ice."
|Ancient DNA Still Protects Us|
|By Dr David Whitehouse |
BBC News Science Editor
Baltimore October 22,2002 (BBC) - A complex DNA protection system that evolved hundreds of millions of years ago so that the first primitive organisms could protect themselves is still at work today, according to American researchers. This ancient self-defense mechanism turned primeval genetic invaders' tricks against them and incorporated them into useful cell functions.
The repair mechanism ensures that any foreign genetic material that has been inserted into the cell's DNA by a virus is neutralized before being passed on to the next generation. Scientists believe that a similar mechanism inspects and protects the DNA of higher animals such as humans and that the details of the process may be useful in fighting viruses.
"This is exciting research that provides new understanding of how cells control the activity of their genes," says Joseph Gall, a cell biologist at the Carnegie Institution in Baltimore. "This work shows once again that basic research on a seemingly obscure topic - how a minute pond organism reproduces - can throw light on important medical issues such as viral infection."
Professor Martin Gorovsky of the University of Rochester discovered the DNA repair mechanism while looking at a single-celled organism called Tetrahymena, which contains two nuclei, the region of a cell where DNA is stored. The researchers looked at how the cell transfers its genetic code from one of its nuclei to one in its offspring monitoring each step as the cell inspected its DNA and passed it on.
They discovered a hitherto unrecognized system of checks used to ensure the organisms DNA has not become contaminated before it goes to the next generation.
Tetrahymena houses different versions of its DNA in each of its two nuclei. The smaller nucleus (called the micronucleus) does nothing more than keep the cell's full genome safe. It seems that Tetrahymena uses the smaller of its two nuclei as a master record of its DNA so that it always has a safe set of genes for the cell's offspring.
The other nucleus, called the macronucleus, uses "working" DNA to regulate the cell's life functions.
Gorovsky's team believes that in evolutionarily ancient times, cells had to fight against a variety of assaults just as they must today: viruses attacked cells, injecting their DNA to disrupt normal cell functions; and transposons, bits of nomadic genetic material that insert themselves into the cell's DNA causing havoc. To survive, cells evolved a correction system that recognized the invading DNA and either eliminated or silenced it.
This new information could help scientists devise a way to develop drugs that would recognize invading viruses and neutralize their effects.
|Plane-sized Bird Spotted in Alaska?|
|ANCHORAGE, Alaska October 18, 2002 (Reuters) - A bird the size of a small airplane was recently spotted flying over southwest Alaska, puzzling scientists, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week. |
The newspaper quoted residents in the villages of Togiak and Manokotak as saying the creature, like something out of the movie "Jurassic Park," had a wingspan of 14 feet -- making it the size of a small airplane.
"At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes," the paper quoted Moses Coupchiak, 43, a heavy equipment operator from Togiak, as saying. "Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that's when I noticed it wasn't a plane."
The Daily News, the largest daily in Alaska, said scientists had no doubt that people in the region, west of Dillingham, had seen the winged creature but they were skeptical about its reported size.
"I'm certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that's been alive for the last 100,000 years," the paper quoted raptor specialist Phil Schemf as saying.
Coupchiak said the bird disappeared over the hill and he then radioed Togiak residents to tell them to keep their children in.
Another local resident, a pilot who had initially dismissed the reports, said he recently saw the bird from a distance of just 1,000 feet while flying his airplane.
"The people in the plane saw him," John Bouker was quoted as saying. "He's huge, he's huge, he's really, really big. You wouldn't want to have your children out."
Schemf and Rob Macdonald of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said there had been several sightings over the past year and a half of a Steller's eagle, a fish-eating bird that can weigh 20 pounds (10 kg) and have a wingspan of eight feet, the newspaper reported.
|Asteroid is Earth's Little Brother|
|By Dr David Whitehouse |
BBC News Science Editor
Canada October 21, 2002 (BBC) - Astronomers have discovered the first object ever that is in a companion orbit to the Earth. Asteroid 2002 AA29 is only about 100 metres wide and never comes closer than 3.6 million miles to our planet.
But it shares the Earth's orbit around the Sun, at first on one side of the Earth and then escaping to travel along our planet's path around the Sun until it encounters the Earth from the other side. Then it goes back again.
Researchers are speculating that 2002 AA29 could be visited by astronauts or used to understand the threat to our planet posed by such rocks from space.
2002 AA29 was discovered by the linear automated sky survey project on 9 January 2002. Martin Connors of Athabaseca University in Canada writes in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science that it, "moves in a very Earth-like orbit," and is the "first true co-orbital object of Earth."
General Simon Worden of the United States Space Command described it as a "near Earth object that is close to being trapped by the Earth as a second natural satellite".
According to Helena Morais of the University of Lisbon and Allesandro Morbidelli of the University of Nice, writing in a paper to be published in the journal, Icarus: "2002 AA29 seems to be in a temporary horseshoe-like orbit with the Earth."
This puts 2002 AA29 is in the same class as 3753 Cruithne, a similar rocky body in a horseshoe orbit around the Earth. But astronomers classify 2002 AA29 as the first real co-orbital body found associated with the Earth because it more completely shares the Earth's path around the Sun.
Co-orbiting asteroids have been found around other planets. Over 1,200 so called "Trojans" have been found moving either ahead or behind Jupiter. Eight such objects have been found associated with Mars. But despite detailed searches no one has yet found any Trojan objects near the Earth.
It is clear that 2002 AA29 was discovered by accident at a time when it was at one end of its horseshoe orbit and, being at its closest to the Earth, was bright enough to be detected in an automated sky survey.
Thereafter it will travel ahead of the Earth moving faster than our planet does, until after 95 years it will catch up with the other side of the Earth and then reverse its motion.
|Spielberg's Close Encounter|
|By Josh Grossberg |
Hollywood October 21, 2002 (E! Online) - File this one under close encounters of the wrong kind. Steven Spielberg asked for and received a restraining order last week against a California woman who not only was allegedly stalking the E.T. director, but also claimed the filmmaker implanted a mind-control device inside her brain.
Court papers filed by Spielberg's attorneys and obtained by People.com allege that 47-year-old Diana Louisa Napolis posed "a serious risk of violent confrontation" with the filmmaker, after the woman announced her intention to try and contact Spielberg at a movie premiere.
According to the legal documents, the Spielberg camp says Napolis suffers from a delusional disorder that necessitated the restraining order.
Spielberg's security staff said the woman penned a 13-page manifesto accusing the Oscar winner and wife Kate Capshaw of being members of a "satanic cult" who gathered in their basement lair to spy on Napolis' meet-and-greets with E.T.s. Napolis also reportedly complained that Spielberg put a microchip in her brain called a "soul catcher" designed to control her.
The New York Post reports that Napolis called Spielberg's office announcing plans to go public with her allegations. She also admitted passing out flyers at the September 19 premiere of The Tuxedo in Los Angeles and outside the Latin Grammy Awards stating Spielberg was acting like Big Brother and "monitoring a woman [Napolis] who had a devastating encounter with extraterrestrials."
Included in the court filing was a statement by Spielberg in which he said he viewed Napolis' bizarre behavior as "alarming and threatening."
"I am concerned for my safety and security and for the safety and security of my family and others around me," Spielberg said, adding that "to state the obvious, I am not involved with any form of manipulating Ms. Napolis' mind or body through remote technology or otherwise."
Through her attorneys, Napolis rejected claims that she wanted to hurt the director.
But she didn't convince the court. Considering Napolis had a prior record (a 2001 arrest in San Diego for unlawfully discharging a firearm and an alleged altercation involving another actress), a Los Angeles Superior Court judge agreed that she was a "credible threat" and granted the request of the 55-year-old director. The judge barred Napolis from coming within 150 yards of Spielberg, his family and his offices.
Spielberg is old hand at avoiding whackos. In February, Spielberg obtained a restraining order against 30-year-old Christopher Richard Hahn, who was arrested in January for allegedly sneaking onto the Universal Studios lot hoping to meet the movie mogul in his DreamWorks compound and get discovered as an actor. Instead, he got discovered by security guards and wound up behind bars.
In 1998, a judge sentenced a man named Jonathan Norman to 25 years to life in prison for devising a sick plan to rape the filmmaker and hold his family hostage.
Spielberg's reps refused to comment on this latest incident. When not dealing with crazies, the filmmaker's busy gearing up for the release of his latest flick, the Leonardo DiCaprio -Tom Hanks action-comedy Catch Me If You Can, due out this Christmas.