Space Balloons!
Asteroid Annefrank, 3D Mummy,
Amalthea Flyby, Winnie the Pooh,

Gravity Waves & Lonnie Donegan
 Space Balloons!
Global Aerospace Corporation Press Release

ALTADENA, CA November 5, 2002 – Balloons outfitted with innovative steering devices and robot probes could be the future of planetary exploration. Dr. Alexey Pankine, a fellow at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), presented an analysis of balloon applications for planetary science at the World Space Congress in Houston, Texas last month.

His study, entitled Directed Aerial Robot Explorers or DARE, is funded by NIAC. At the center of the DARE concept are balloons that can float in planetary atmospheres for many days.

Balloons have long been recognized as low-cost observational platforms and are routinely used in observations of the Earth’s atmosphere.

In 1984, two balloons were successfully deployed in the atmosphere of Venus for a short mission.

However, what has restrained the wider use of balloons in planetary exploration was the inability to control their paths in strong atmospheric winds. Attaching an engine to a balloon would convert it into an airship and make it too heavy, too power dependent and too expensive to send to another planet or high into the atmosphere.

Faced with this problem, Global Aerospace Corporation has proposed to use an innovative device called the StratoSail® that allows the user to control the path of a planetary balloon.

The device is essentially a wing that hangs on a long tether (several kilometers) below the balloon. Strong winds and denser atmosphere at the wing altitude create a sideways lifting force that pulls the entire system across the winds.

The DARE concept analyzes the use of the StratoSail® device on several planets in our Solar System that have atmosphere – Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Titan (a satellite of Saturn). Dr. Pankine reports that a small, light wing will pull the balloon with a velocity of about 1 m/s across the winds on those planets.

This may not seem much, but applied constantly (without consuming any power!) for the duration of a long mission (100 days) it would allow for pole-to-pole exploration of the atmospheres of Venus and Titan, and targeted observations of Mars and the vast Great Red Spot of Jupiter.

DARE platforms would carry high-resolution cameras and other instruments to study surfaces and atmospheres of the planets. Dr. Pankine envisions small probes being deployed from DARE platforms over a site of interest. These robot-probes would, for example, analyze atmosphere during their descent on Venus and Jupiter or crawl around after soft landing on the surfaces of Mars and Titan.

“The ability to alter the flight path in the atmosphere and to deploy the probes would vastly expand the capabilities of planetary balloons and make possible breakthrough observations that are not feasible with any other platform,” says Dr. Pankine. The figure illustrates a DARE platform operating at Venus.

Global Aerospace Corporation - 

Smart Paint For Chameleon Tanks
New Jersey November 4, 2002 (BBC) - Tanks that can repair themselves and change color on the battlefield are being developed in the US. A team of researchers based at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, along with the US Army's Armament Research and Development Center are working on the smart machines. 

Military vehicles including tanks, trucks helicopters and weapon systems will be covered with a coating that has been embedded with nanotechnology. The microscopic electromechanical machines - known as nanomachines - will send signals to Army personnel, alerting them if the coating is impaired. 

If tanks are corroded or scratched, the vehicles will be able to detect it and heal themselves. The coatings could also reduce the sensitivity of explosives, making them safer for soldiers to handle. Perhaps most importantly, tanks would turn chameleon, creating instant camouflage and making themselves virtually invisible on the battlefield. 

"Smart coatings technology will make our armed forces more hi-tech and more effective," said New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. 

The US army is keen on the idea of smart coatings because the paints used now are expensive and labor-intensive to apply. Army leaders estimate that the cost of repairing vehicles' surfaces amounts to $10 billion each year, $2 billion of which is related to painting and scraping.
Stardust Images of Asteroid Annefrank
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE November 4, 2002 - All systems on NASA's Stardust spacecraft performed successfully when tested in a flyby of asteroid Annefrank on Friday, heightening anticipation for Stardust's encounter with its primary target, comet Wild 2, 14 months from now. 

As a bonus, Stardust discovered that Annefrank is about twice the size anticipated, but with a dimmer surface. The dimmer surface increased the challenge of sighting the object as the spacecraft approached. 

The Annefrank flyby offered a unique opportunity to thoroughly test all the operations planned for the encounter at Wild 2, where Stardust will collect samples from the cloud of dust around the comet for return to Earth. "We performed a full dress rehearsal with the cometary dust collector deployed, the spacecraft poised in its flyby attitude and with all science instruments on," said Stardust's principal investigator, Prof. Donald Brownlee of the University of Washington, Seattle. 

The spacecraft passed within about 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) of Annefrank at 0450 GMT Nov. 2 (11:50 p.m. EST Nov. 1). Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems- Astronautics, Denver, Colo., ran the operation through the hours before and after the closest approach. The approach geometry was more difficult than it will be at Wild 2 because of the angles toward the Sun and Earth relative to the angle toward the asteroid. "The spacecraft performed every command perfectly," said Allan Cheuvront, Stardust spacecraft systems engineer at Lockheed. "Its performance under these severe conditions was outstanding." 

"It was a challenge for the navigation camera to see Annefrank during approach," said JPL's Ray Newburn, lead scientist for the camera. The predicted brightness of Annefrank was near the lower limit of what the camera can detect. Engineers tried techniques such as taking multiple long exposures and adding them together, said Dr. T. S. Mike Wang, optical navigation specialist at JPL. "Annefrank was not cooperating," Wang said. "It was just too dim." 

The spacecraft still had not sighted Annefrank 12 hours before the closest approach, but the flyby had been designed to be successful without needing to see the target until 20 minutes before the encounter. "The flyby distance was chosen as one far enough away so there would be no risk to the spacecraft, but close enough for Annefrank to be in camera view at the start of the encounter sequence," said Ed Hirst, mission design manager at JPL.

When Annefrank could not be seen during earlier approach, the flight team concluded the asteroid might be dimmer than anticipated, so it sent up commands for the camera to use longer exposures during the early stages of the encounter. "NASA's Deep Space Network gave us highest priority, allowing us to play back earlier images that were not received well, as well as sending our encounter commands up," said Robert Ryan, mission manager at JPL.

Stardust executed the encounter commands without missing a beat -- no surprise to Joe Vellinga, flight system manager at Lockheed. "We have built up over three years of flight experience a tremendous amount of confidence for our spacecraft to perform such operations routinely," he said.

The main function tested during the flyby was a flight computer program that took control of the spacecraft to keep the camera view locked on Annefrank during a 25-minute period around its closest encounter. Dr. Shyam Bhasharan developed it based on software that NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft used for successfully tracking a comet nucleus during a flyby of comet Borrelly last year.

Lockheed's David Gingerich, a flight software specialist who tested the tracking software, said, "Its performance was executed just like the coach drew it on the blackboard." The encounter images show Annefrank to be irregularly shaped, cratered, and about 8 kilometers (5 miles) in diameter.

Stardust's dust instruments were on for the encounter, although no dust was anticipated. Scientists are still checking data to see if, by chance, the instruments may have seen a dust particle. "The dust flux measurement instrument ran for at least 27 minutes and performed all expected functions," said Dr. Tom Economou of the University of Chicago, lead scientist for that instrument.

The lead scientist for Stardust's interstellar dust analyzer, Dr. Jochen Kissel of Max Planck Institute, Garching, Germany, said the Annefrank experience will enable him to put the German instrument into an even better configuration at Wild 2. 

"Performing such flight testing before the primary encounter is a critical part of reducing risks and significantly increasing the probability of success at the primary target, Wild 2" said JPL's Thomas Duxbury, Stardust project manager.

"We learned at lot that will improve our operations at Wild 2 based upon the lessons learned at Annefrank, but the bottom line is that if Annefrank had been Wild 2, we would have succeeded."

Stardust, a part of NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, highly focused science missions, was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems- Astronautics Operations, Denver, Colo., and is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Stardust mission home page - 

Everyone's Gone To The Moon - Right?
By Deborah Zabarenko 

WASHINGTON November 5, 2002 (Reuters) - Moon rocks weren't enough. Neither was testimony from astronauts or even photographic evidence. So NASA has commissioned a mini-book to show that yes, indeed, Americans did land on the Moon. 

Most humans on Earth accept that U.S. astronauts first got to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. But those who don't believe have created a sort of cottage industry of doubt, and that is what NASA wants to combat. 

"I'd been concerned for some time that there was this story that's circulating about how we never landed on the Moon and we would get, periodically, calls from people about how to respond to that, especially from teachers," said Roger Launius, NASA's former chief historian. 

Launius had long wanted to put together an educational aid for teachers and others who wanted to counter the doubters, and in September, NASA agreed to pay aeronautics engineer James Oberg $15,000 to write a monograph gathering up materials answering the skeptics, point by point. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has dealt with the controversy for decades, without much fanfare, but Launius said the questioning intensified in 2001 after the Fox television network aired "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?" 

This program gave another voice to the doubters, whose arguments are scattered broadly over the Internet and have even spawned a backlash from scientists who view the doubters' contentions as simply ridiculous. 

Those who doubt the Apollo moon landings maintained the United States lacked the technology to send humans to the Moon and was so desperate to appear to win the space race against the Soviet Union that it faked the moon mission on movie sets. 

The doubters said the fake was done so poorly that there is ample evidence of fraud, including a picture of astronauts planting the American flag that allegedly shows the flag rippling in the wind. The skeptics contended there can be no breeze on the moon, so the picture must have been faked. 

On its own Web page debunking the Apollo doubters -- http:/ -- NASA agreed that there is no Earth-type breeze on the moon, and there is no atmosphere either. 


But when the astronauts struggled to plant the U.S. flag in the lunar surface, they twisted it around a bit before it stuck, and that naturally created ripples in the flag. The ripples would have dissipated within seconds on Earth, where the atmosphere would have stopped them. But on the Moon, the rippling went unchecked, making it look as if it were being carried by the wind. 

There are other sites, including, that take aim at the substance of the doubters' claims. The site's creator, astronomer Phil Plait, was blunt in his condemnation of the doubters, whom he calls conspiracy theorists. 

"The craziness involves people who think that the NASA Apollo Moon missions were faked," Plait said on the site. "There are lots of rumors spreading around about this, and rest assured they are all completely false. The claims made by these conspiracy theorists are actually all wrong, sometimes laughably so." 

The controversy recently emerged from cyberspace in the person of Bart Sibrel, who has made a film questioning the Apollo Moon missions and who confronted astronaut Buzz Aldrin at a Beverly Hills hotel on Sept. 9 and demanded that Aldrin swear on a Bible that he had in fact walked on the moon. 

The 72-year-old Aldrin, the second man ever to touch the lunar surface, punched the 37-year-old Sibrel in the face. Sibrel asked that assault charges be filed, but Los Angeles County prosecutors declined. A videotape of the incident showed Sibrel following Aldrin on the street with a Bible and calling him a "thief, liar and coward," one prosecutor said. 

Launius, who recently moved from NASA headquarters to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, said he has no illusions about whether the upcoming monograph, which he describes as a short book, will change every doubter's mind. 

"We know that there are groups of people out there, individuals out there, that you're never going to convince of something like this," Launius said. "That's not the audience. The audience are those who are basically coming to NASA, looking for information, and obviously they'll make up their own minds, but we'll try to put the best possible information in their hands," Launius said.

If you really think everything is fake, you might want to check out NASA news at 

3D Mummy Online!
MAYNARD, MA November 4, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) - Starting today Internet users can get a sneak peek at the ancient Egyptian mummy that will be part of "The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt" Exhibit - opening November 20 at the Museum of Science, Boston. A 3D image of the mummy created by Kaon Interactive Inc. appears on the Museum's web site. The site has been produced in anticipation of the international "Quest" Egyptian Exhibition--on display at the Museum from November 20, 2002 through March 30, 2003. 

"The Museum of Science is pleased to offer this unique online experience," said Sonja Hyde-Moyer, Manager of Web and New Media for the Museum of Science. "The technology used by Kaon Interactive Inc. to create 3-D imagery will intrigue people of all ages and we hope it inspires them to visit "The Quest for Immortality" Exhibit at the Museum for a close-up view of the mummy." 

Last month, the mummy, on loan from the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston for a CT scan to unveil some of the mysteries behind its identity. When it returned to the Museum, a team from Kaon started the process of creating a 3D image of the mummy. 

Thanks to Kaon's unique no plug-in viewer technology, virtually everyone can see the 3D mummy, spin it around to view it from any angle, zoom in for a closer look, and even 'peer through' the mummy's wrappings to see what's inside using images from the CT scan. By interacting with the 3D mummy, site visitors can gain a more complete understanding of what life was like for ancient Egyptians. 

"We are thrilled that the Museum of Science chose Kaon's 3D no plug-in imaging technologies to provide everyone with a truly interactive educational experience. People learn more quickly and easily when three-dimensional objects are displayed in 3D, especially when the experience is enhanced with special images and animations as in the case of the mummy," said Tim Palmer, Vice President of Marketing at Kaon.

About Kaon Interactive Inc. Kaon is changing the way blue chip companies use images to launch new products. With ultra-high resolution and geometric precision, Kaon's 3D product models can be used to create product tours, training modules and online self-help applications for the Internet or PowerPoint (R).

Kaon customers include Cisco, Dell, Hitachi, Nokia, Panasonic and Sony.

About the Museum of Science, Boston One of the world's largest science centers, the Museum of Science takes a hands-on approach to science, attracting approximately 1.6 million visitors a year through its vibrant programs and over 550 interactive exhibits. Other features include the Thomson Theater of Electricity, home of the world's largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator; the Charles Hayden Planetarium; the Gilliland Observatory; and the Mugar Omni Theater.

Founded in 1830, the Museum was first to embrace all the sciences under one roof. Its exhibit plan, Science Is an Activity, encourages visitors to learn science by practicing scientific thinking skills. It has been awarded several National Science Foundation grants and has profoundly influenced exhibit development at other major science centers. 

"The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt" is organized by the United Exhibits (TM) Group, Copenhagen, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Cairo.

See the mummy here! - 

For additional information about the Museum of Science visit

Kaon Interactive Inc. - 

Pre-Inca Ruins Found Beneath Lake Titicaca
By Monica Vargas 

LIMA Peru October 31, 2002 (Reuters) - Peruvian divers have found pre-Inca stairways, ramps and walls beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca, but experts said on Wednesday the discoveries were not the remains of a legendary lost city. 

"The remains were found at a depth of between 6.5 and 26 feet on the eastern side of the lake. ... They are built with interlocking stones," oceanic engineer and expedition member Gustavo Villavicencio told Reuters. 

Lake Titicaca, a sweeping expanse of brilliant blue water high in the Andes at an altitude of 12,540 feet, is shared by Peru and Bolivia. The world's highest navigable lake, it attracts flocks of visitors a year to see its floating reed islands, Aymara-speaking Indians and Inca ruins. 

According to tradition, the Inca sun god, Manco Capac and his sister, Mama Ocllo, sprang from Lake Titicaca to found the city of Cusco and the Inca dynasty that held sway over a swathe of Latin America from Colombia to Chile for more than three centuries until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. 

But Villavicencio said the discoveries -- made in the past two weeks by a team of navy divers and oceanographic experts -- were not the vestiges of a lost underwater world. 

"There are studies that show that the lake used to be ... around 66 to 98 feet lower, and that was where ancient Peruvians built," he said. In addition to the algae-covered pre-Inca ruins, the divers also found a stone platform on which fragments of ceramics and bits of llama bones were recovered. 

"Everything suggests it was a place where offerings were made, a sacred site," Villavicencio said. 

Archeologists consulted by the expedition said they could be remains of the Tiahuanaco culture, which flourished in the ninth and tenth centuries, and was known for its stone work. Poking 10 feet out of the middle of the lake, the team also found what they dubbed the "mystery rock" that measures 66 feet across. 

A stone statue in the shape of a llama was found on the rock, which divers nicknamed after seeing how lightning always struck it during storms, Villavicencio said. 

The expedition also located the remains of the first iron-hulled ship that sailed on Lake Titicaca in the 19th century and which sank beneath its icy waters in 1876 near the tourist islands of Taquile and Amantani.
Nessie-Like Creature Found!
Leicester UK October 31, 2002 (Discovery) — A long-necked sea dragon not unlike the Loch Ness monster swam in the waters off the coast of Northern England about 132 million years ago, according to British scientists. 

Remains of ancient marine reptiles called plesiosaurs have been found in the region, some from 200 million years ago and some 90 million years old, reported Thursday's Independent newspaper. But until now, no creatures have been uncovered from the 100 million years in between, making the newest sea dragon a new species. 

Mark Evans, the curator of geology at Leicester Museum in the U.K., told the paper that the discovery was "a world first" and plugged a big gap in knowledge.

"It dates from a time when we have only had a few glimpses of their evolution," he said.

The 100-million-year gap of plesiosaur fossils along one of the most important geological coastlines in the world has puzzled scientists, the paper said, since in the mid and late Jurassic, oceans were likely full of the animals with their four diamond-shaped flippers. 

Plesiosaurs swam like turtles through coastal and inshore waters, probably, also like turtles, laying their eggs on sandbars or beaches. They vanished at the end of the Cretaceous period along with dinosaurs. 

To extract the skeleton, scientists dug out a one-and-a-half ton block of clay and slid it down the 50-foot cliffs at Filey, near Scarborough, with ropes. Paleontologists hope to have the reassembled in about a year. 

Will Watts, Scarborough's Dinosaur Coast project officer, said though he doesn't believe in the Loch Ness monster, the new plesiosaur species looks like most people's idea of Nessie. 

"If it was swimming with its head out of the water it would look just like that Nessie photograph which proved to be a fake," he told the Independent.

Our Galaxy's Oldest Star
By Dr David Whitehouse 
BBC News Science Editor 

Hamburg October 31, 2002 (BBC) - This is the oldest star in our Milky Way yet observed by astronomers. It could date back to the beginning of the Universe, about 14 billion years ago. 

The giant star, HE0107-5240, is a rarity because unlike younger stars it is virtually metal-free. It is from the first generation of stars made from the simple elements left over from the Big Bang. 

Writing in the journal Nature researchers say, "these old stars provide crucial clues to the star formation history and the synthesis of chemical elements in the early Universe. If totally metal-free stars could be found, this would allow the direct study of the pristine gas from the Big Bang." 

After the Big Bang, the Universe consisted of mostly hydrogen, some helium and a little lithium, so the first stars to form would have contained only these elements. It was the first generation of stars that converted these lighter elements into heavier ones like carbon, phosphorous, iron and lead - collectively known to astronomers as metals. 

When those stars exploded they "polluted" the cosmos with these heavier elements, which themselves went into a later generation of stars - like our Sun. 

The existence of stars with zero or very low metal content has been predicted for decades, but none has ever been found, leading some to suspect they never existed - until the discovery of HE0107-5240. 

The star was spotted in the outer reaches of our galaxy by Norbert Christlieb, at the University of Hamburg in Germany, and colleagues. It lies in the direction of the southern constellation Phoenix, at a distance of about 36,000 light-years. The star has just 1/200,000th of the metal content of our Sun. 

It was initially discovered at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. High precision follow-on observations were made at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, using one of the huge, new units of the Very Large Telescope (VLT). 

The discovery of HE0107-5240 fills an important gap in theories about how elements form in star, but it also raises some questions. 

Why have no stars been found between 1/10,000 and 1/200,000 of the Sun's metal abundance? 

"Only time, and the extension of new surveys to even fainter stars will tell," says Catherine Pilachowski, an astronomer at Indiana University in Bloomington, US.
Galileo Buzzes Amalthea in Risky Flyby
By Richard Stenger

Pasadena November 5, 2002 (CNN) - The Galileo spacecraft dove within 100 miles (160 km) of a tiny jovian moon on Tuesday, shortly before making its deepest penetration into the dangerous radiation belts near Jupiter.

The daring dive kicked off a final scientific mission before the aging NASA probe prepares for a suicide plunge into the gas giant. Galileo flew near the satellite Amalthea so scientists could monitor the gravitational influence of the oddly shaped moon, which could determine its density, mass and composition.

"We know what Amalthea looks like, but we don't know what it's made of," said Torrence Johnson, a Galileo scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

If the computations indicate the satellite is mostly rock, they could shed light on parallels between the emergence of the planets around the sun and the moons around Jupiter. In both instances, dense, rocky worlds tended to have formed close to the parent object while more diffuse siblings of ice or gas formed further out, NASA scientists think.

Amalthea, some 155 miles (250 kilometers) long, is one of four miniature satellites near Jupiter's powerful radiation belts, which have damaged Galileo on earlier flybys.

Since this mission is Galileo's last hurrah, NASA engineers pushed the $1.4 billion craft much further than before. About one hour after the Amalthea encounter, it passed about 44,500 miles [71,500 km] above Jupiter's visible cloud tops.

"This is three times closer than the previous Galileo record in 1995, which was set as we first entered Jupiter orbit," said JPL scientist Ron Baalke.

The trip into the depths of the turbulent, highly radioactive sea of charged particles swirling around Jupiter could provide scientists some interesting surprises.

"As you get closer to Jupiter, many of the processes resemble what we think happens close to a star," JPL's Claudia Alexander said. "Jupiter is a massive planet that didn't quite make it to the size of a star. It's exciting that we'll be able to take exploratory measurements of this inner region."

The adventure comes with considerable risk. Galileo has already survived about four times the radiation it was designed to endure during its seven-year stay around Jupiter. But previous flybys have damaged onboard equipment and instruments, including a camera, which remained shuttered on the flyby. And the current dip near Jupiter will subject the probe to twice as much radiation as any previous descent.

The dangerous dash will help NASA aim Galileo for one more trajectory, which will take it right into Jupiter's crushing atmosphere in September 2003. The death dive will ensure that Galileo does not strike and contaminate Europa, which scientists think could harbor microbial life.

Galileo Home Page - 
Poor Countries Refuse Global Targets
Delhi November 1, 2002 (BBC) - Delegates from developing countries have rejected Western demands to set themselves targets to reduce pollution that could cause global warming. 

At the end of a 10-day meeting in the Indian capital Delhi, representatives from 185 countries signed the "Delhi Declaration" - but the document failed to compel poor countries to cut greenhouse gases.

Speaking for the Group of 77 (G-77) poor countries, India said the economic advancement of developing countries should not be checked in order to prevent global warming. 

The European Union expressed disappointment. The meeting was supposed to thrash out details of the 1997 Kyoto protocol coming into force next year. 

A total of 96 countries have ratified the treaty, but the United States and Australia have not, saying it will harm their economies. The BBC's Adam Mynott in Delhi says although this meeting was not expected to take far-reaching decisions, it still exposed deep divisions between rich and poor countries.

Rich countries were demanding that poor countries begin negotiations on restricting greenhouse gas emissions to be effective for them only after 2012. Poor countries led by India and China refused to make any commitments that could even indirectly limit their industrial development.

At one stage, India's Environment Minister TR Baalu, who chaired the conference, had threatened to end the meeting without tabling a resolution at all if consensus did not emerge. Mr Baalu said the compromise document provided "a new direction to our common approach to combat climate change". 

But EU delegate Steen Gade said "it is clear to everybody in this room, and for the outside world, that the European Union is disappointed with the end result of the Delhi Declaration". The Declaration stressed that the Kyoto provisions should be implemented by all signatories. 

"Parties that have recognized the Kyoto Protocol strongly urge parties that have not already done so to ratify the protocol," it said. 

The document urges rich countries to help poor ones alleviate poverty, and offer both investments and technology to sectors like energy, transport, industry, health, agriculture, biodiversity, forestry and waste management. 

It recognized Africa as the region suffering the most from the impact of climate change.

Survival Plans Needed for Threatened Species
Santiago Chile November 4, 2002 (Greenpeace) - Theories abound for dinosaurs' dramatic exit from the planet millions of years ago. Now another mass extinction is underway on Earth, but this time the cause is amply clear: humans. It's time to stop trading Earth's biodiversity for profits, and put preservation first at UN negotiations now underway in Santiago, Chile. 

"When the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again." - Twentieth century naturalist and explorer William Beebe

Each year billions of dollars worth of international wildlife trade is done. Larger numbers of at-risk species would end their days as musical instruments, coats, jewelry or gourmet treats if it weren't for the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). With 160 members, CITES boasts that not one of the 30,000 species it controls, from elephants to frogs to orchids, has become extinct as a result of trade since the Convention entered into force in 1975.

Will this positive record continue? There are 54 proposals on the table at this CITES meeting, but not all of them push for more protection. In fact, some highly controversial proposals concerning whales and elephants would actually undermine species conservation.

Greenpeace vigorously opposes a proposal from the Japanese government to "downlist" stocks of minke and Bryde's whales. Right now, CITES lists whales under Appendix I, which excludes them from international commercial trade except in very special circumstances. By proposing to downlist these whale species to CITES Appendix II, whales would be open to commercial trade on the basis of CITES permits or certificates. 

Re-opening this international trade in any form would be disastrous for whales. The commercial harvest of whales proved utterly impossible to manage in the past. The CITES Secretariat has recommended that member nations oppose the Japanese proposals because they are contrary to CITES own rules, and to its long-standing agreement to harmonize CITES whales regulation with the International Whaling Commission's ban on harvesting whales.

Five proposals to trade in ivory from African elephants must also be opposed. Southern African countries have accumulated ivory stockpiles which cannot be traded. Yet even this international ban has not stopped the destruction. Poaching of elephants continues in both Africa and Asia and ivory exports have been seized. Greenpeace believes five proposals from African countries to trade their ivory stockpiles would be a big mistake. Experience shows the legal trade would fuel the illegal - an increase in poaching and expanded illegal trade across borders.

Unlike these proposals for elephants and whales, there are some very important CITES proposals for protection which must receive support in Santiago. 

The thirst for profits drives an international trade in mahogany, a trade fuelling broader rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon. Even Brazil's moratorium on harvesting and exporting mahogany has failed to stop the crime, and this "green gold" continues flow out of protected Indian lands and into prestigious northern showrooms. The proposal to list mahogany under Appendix II must be strongly supported by CITES members, because it would help eliminate this illegal harvest and trade.

Another key proposal would address the grave problem of rampant and illegal overfishing of Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish in the remote Southern Ocean. Without effective protection, these fish stocks could collapse as soon as eight years from now. This fishery also results in a tragic bycatch of rare and endangered sea birds, like the highly-endangered Amsterdam albatross. If successful, the proposal to list toothfish under CITES Appendix II would support existing conservation efforts and stave off the toothfish's current slide toward extinction.

Greenpeace - 
Branding Pooh Bear
By Gideon Long 

LONDON November 5, 2002 (Reuters) - A woman whose grandfather gave the world Winnie the Pooh is seeking to claw back U.S. commercial control of the honey-loving bear who has enchanted children across the globe for three-quarters of a century. 

Clare Milne's move is the latest in a long legal battle over the rights to merchandise Pooh, the docile "bear of very little brain" created by British author A. A. Milne in the 1920s. Lawyers confirmed Tuesday Claire Milne aims to reclaim the U.S. rights to Pooh merchandise from Stephen Slesinger Inc. (SSI), the American firm which has held them since the 1930s. 

"Clare has exercised a termination right which is granted under U.S. copyright law," a lawyer representing Clare Milne told Reuters. 

The lawyer, from British law firm Brown Cooper Monier Williams, declined to give further details. 

Slesinger leased the rights to Pooh to Walt Disney Co. in 1961, but later said the media giant shortchanged it on royalties and started legal action against it in 1991. Disney, which reaps around $1.0 billion each year in worldwide revenues from Winnie the Pooh merchandise, denies the charges. It says it is currently paying Slesinger $230,000 a week in Pooh-related royalties.

Monday, Disney said that if Clare Milne succeeded in her bid to wrest the rights to Pooh from Slesinger, she would then lease them to Disney.

"She is recapturing her rights from SSI and she is regranting them to the Walt Disney Co.," U.S.-based Disney spokesman John Spelich said. However, Slesinger said it was unaware of the move. 

"We don't know what Disney is talking about," Slesinger lawyer Bonnie Eskenazi said. "The Slesingers bought the rights from the Milnes, and the Milnes have no right to divest the Slesingers of those rights." 

Clare Milne's lawyers in London declined an immediate comment on the conflicting claims of the two companies. Disney said Minette Hunt, granddaughter of original Winnie the Pooh illustrator E. H. Shepard, was also seeking to wrest control of merchandising rights from Slesinger. The Hunt family's lawyers in London declined to comment. 

Pooh was born in the late 1920s when A. A. Milne, a former British army officer who served in World War One, found inspiration in the stuffed toys of his son Christopher Robin. He created a menagerie of other characters including Pooh's diminutive best friend Piglet, Eeyore the melancholy donkey and Tigger, a hyperactive tiger. 

Milne's books have been a staple for British children for generations and have found a world audience thanks in large part to Disney's blockbuster Winnie the Pooh films.

Magnetism Shapes The Heavens
Jodrell Bank Observatory Press Release

November 1, 2002 - Using a technique based on the work of the 1902 Nobel Prizewinner, Pieter Zeeman, an international team of astronomers have, for the first time, provided conclusive proof that the magnetic field close to a number of aging stars is 10 to 100 times stronger than that of our own Sun. These observations suggest a solution to the long outstanding problem as to how, at the end of their lives, a perfectly spherical star can give rise to the complex and often far from spherical structure seen in the resulting planetary nebula - some of the most beautiful objects in our heavens. 

When stars like our Sun reach the end of their lives, they eject a large amount of material into the space around them. This material, produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the star, forms a thick dust shell which eventually evolves into a planetary nebula - so called because they appear rather like planetary discs. Due to turbulent gas flows around the star the strong magnetic fields that have been discovered will have very different shapes. The material which is ejected from the star "feels" this strong magnetic field and so, as a result, the planetary nebula can have a very complicated structure. The ejected material, containing elements such as carbon and oxygen, in eventually recycled into new stars and planets and the building blocks of life itself. 

The group, lead by Wouter Vlemmings of Leiden Observatory, observed 4 old stars with the U.S. National Science Foundation's VLBA, a network of 10 radio telescopes operated by the American National Radio Astronomy Observatory. They detected radio emission which originates from clouds of water vapor ejected by the stars. In some circumstances, such a cloud can become a maser: the equivalent of a laser for radiation with longer wavelengths. One specific frequency of the emitted radiation, which is characteristic for the H2O molecule, is amplified enormously, resulting in a bright, clear signal. In this signal, the group was able to detect the Zeeman-effect for the first time: subtle changes in the spectrum of the emission that can only be caused by a strong magnetic field at the location of the maser. 

The magnetic fields measured are as strong as the magnetic field at the Earth's surface, between 0.5 and 1 Gauss. As observations have shown that the water masers occur at a large distance from the star (at about twice the distance between the furthest planet in our solar system, Pluto, and the Sun), the magnetic field strength at the surface of the star will be much higher, approximately 50 to 500 Gauss, which is 10 to 100 times the magnetic field strength of the Sun. This is sufficiently strong that the magnetic field can play an important role in the formation of aspherical planetary nebulae and in the process of mass-loss which creates the dusty circumstellar envelopes. 

The Zeeman-effect, which has enabled these observations to be made, was named after the Leiden physicist Pieter Zeeman, who discovered the effect of a magnetic field on the spectrum of a light source in 1896. As this effect is extremely small in water molecules, the observations for the research by Vlemmings had to be extremely precise. Because of this, the data of the different telescopes of the VLBI-network were specially processed in the correlator at Socorro, New Mexico, USA to give the highest possible accuracy. 

The astronomers, whose work has just been published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, were Wouter Vlemmings of Leiden Observatory, Philip Diamond of the University of Manchester and Huib Jan van Langevelde of the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE).

Jodrell Bank Observatory - 
Gravity Waves

November 4, 2002 - Sometime within the next two years, researchers will detect the first signals of gravity waves -- those weak blips from the far edges of the universe passing through our bodies every second. Predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, gravity waves are expected to reveal, ultimately, previously unattainable mysteries of the universe. 

Wai-Mo Suen, Ph.D., professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis is collaborating with researchers nationwide to develop waveform templates to comprehend the signals to be analyzed. In this manner, researchers will be able to determine what the data represent -- a neutron star collapsing, for instance, or black holes colliding. 

"In the past, whenever we expanded our band width to a different wavelength region of electromagnetic waves, we found a very different universe," said Suen. "But now we have a completely new kind of wave. It's like we have been used to experiencing the world with our eyes and ears and now we are opening up a completely new sense." 

Suen discussed the observational and theoretical efforts behind this new branch of astronomy at the 40th annual New Horizons in Science Briefing, Oct. 27, 2002, at Washington University in St. Louis. The gathering of national and international science writers is a function of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. 

Gravity waves will provide information about our universe that is either difficult or impossible to obtain by traditional means. Our present understanding of the cosmos is based on the observations of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by individual electrons, atoms, or molecules, and are easily absorbed, scattered, and dispersed. Gravitational waves are produced by the coherent bulk motion of matter, traveling nearly unscathed through space and time, and carrying the information of the strong field space-time regions where they were originally generated, be it the birth of a black hole or the universe as a whole. 

This new branch of astronomy was born this year. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) at Livingston, Louisiana, was on air for the first time last March. LIGO, together with its European counterparts, VIRGO and GEO600, and the outer-space gravitational wave observatories, LISA and LAGOS, will open in the next few years a completely new window to the universe. 

Supercomputer runs Einstein equation to get templates
Suen and his collaborators are using supercomputing power from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to do numerical simulations of Einstein's equations to simulate what happens when, say, a neutron star plunges into a black hole. From these simulations, they get waveform templates. The templates can be superimposed on actual gravity wave signals to see if the signal has coincidences with the waveform. 

"When we get a signal, we want to know what is generating that signal," Suen explained. "To determine that, we do a numerical simulation of a system, perhaps a neutron star collapsing, in a certain configuration, get the waveform and compare it to what we observe. If it's not a match, we change the configuration a little bit, do the comparison again and repeat the process until we can identify which configuration is responsible for the signal that we observe." 

Suen said that intrigue about gravity waves is sky-high in the astronomy community. 

"Think of it: Gravity waves come to us from the edge of the universe, from the beginning of time, unchanged," he said. "They carry completely different information than electromagnetic waves. Perhaps the most exciting thing about them is that we may well not know what it is we're going to observe. We think black holes, for sure. But who knows what else we might find?"
Genre News: Buffy Or Angel, Firefly, James Bond, Solaris, John Lennon Dead Zone, Farscape & More!
Buffy Or Angel?
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - According to Sci Fi Wire, creator Joss Whedon told TV Guide Online that if this is Buffy's last season, some Buffy characters may move to Angel. "Until I know what's happening with Buffy and Angel, I don't know who will go where," Whedon told the site.

Couldn't find any hint of this article or quote at myself, BTW. But that's why Sci Fi rumor mongers get the big bucks.

One bright bit of fallout from this rumor: it seems to indicate that there is at least some expectation that Angel will be back next season! Let's hope so, because Angel has really hit its stride this year and if Buffy quits and Firefly gets snuffed, Angel will be all we have between us and Network Hell!

Official Buffy -

Unofficial Angel -

Firefly Immediate Assistance News
by FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - The Firefly Immediate Assistance campaign plans to put a full page ad in Variety to help convince Fox to keep Joss Whedon's Friday night space western on the air.

The group is asking fans to donate $3000 by December 2, 2002. Anyone who donates $5 or more towards the purchase of the Variety ad will be entered into a drawing for special prizes.

Firefly Immediate Assistance will begin an auction on Ebay next week featuring collectible items from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. 

Check out the Immediate Assistance site for information on where to contribute and how to send postcards to Fox and Firefly sponsors to support the show.

Save Firefly from cancellation -

Hey, you! Watch Firefly on Fox Friday at 8PM / 7C - 

Firefly Fan site - 

Read our previous article on the Save Firefly fan initiative here.

Bond Never Says Never
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - Variety's Army Archerd reports that Pierce Brosnan has agreed to return as James Bond for a fifth outing just as his current Bond film "Die Another Day" is about to open.

The next Bond film will not start production until 2005.

"The invitation has been accepted," Brosnan said.

The star did not elaborate on Army's question of a raise in salary, but expected "fairness and good spirit" on the part of producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson.

Brosnan's first three Bond films grossed more than a billion dollars world-wide. "Die Another Day" opens in the USA on November 22nd, following a royal premiere in London for Queen Elizabeth November 18th.

The Official Bond Web Site is, of course -

Click here to listen to Madonna sing Die Another Day!

Solaris Web Site Opens
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - Fox has launched a new website promoting the release of the new version of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. It's a pretty impressive site, so you may want to take a look.

The original 1972 version of the film by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky was good and often imitated later in a thousand B-movies, so what more can be added by director Steven Soderbergh remains to be seen, but this time we have George Clooney trying to solve the mystery behind the suicidal crew exploring the living planet. Natasha McElhone is The Girl and James Cameron is The Producer.

Soderbergh and Cameron worked closely on the new version, trying to keep the production faithful to Lem.

"Jim Cameron knows narrative backwards and forwards," Soderbergh notes on the web site. "He really understands how to set up and pay off a story. I would meet with him about SOLARIS and we would have three-hour conversations about the story, about technology, about what the future is going to be like, about space travel, and issues like isolation and sensory deprivation, because he's studied all of it."

"This was Steven's ballgame from the get-go," says Cameron. "I felt I've learned more from Steven than he's learned from me on this film. He went off and wrote the script, essentially in a vacuum. We didn't tell him what we thought it should be. We didn't sit down and talk about whether it should be an effects film, or not. We just waited to see what he came back with. His initial script blew us away."

On the other hand, TV Guide reports this week: "The Motion Picture Assn. of America has slapped Steven Soderbergh's upcoming sci-fi romance Solaris with an R rating allegedly because two scenes feature George Clooney's bare rump. Soderbergh — who plans to appeal the ruling — insists he will not cut the film. Glad someone's thinking about the bottom line"

[The word "romance" is the real problem here, not George's butt. Lem did not write romances! Ed.]

George Clooney and Natasha McElhone in Solaris starting November 27th - 

UPN Ghosts Haunted
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - In what is probably the least surprising cancellation in modern television history, UPN has pulled the plug on Haunted, the fledgling show fated to follow Buffy this year into the Tuesday competitive ratings wars.

Haunted has consistently scored less than 2.0 in overnights against the WB's superstar Smallville and the gang-up of big network Tuesday regulars. With the return of 24 on Fox Tuesdays at 9 PM, UPN apparently decided to give up the ghost.

Described as MillenniuM with ghosts, Haunted has aired seven of it's expected 13 episodes. According to Variety, UPN has not officially cancelled the show, but won't order more episodes. Repeats and wrestling will sub for Haunted after November 5th.

Pac-Man As A Feature Film 
By Chris Gardner

Hollywood November 5, 2002 (Hollywood Reporter) - "Pac-Man," the quintessential '80s video game, might find its way to the big screen -- no doubt with Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde in hot pursuit.

International production and distribution outfit Crystal Sky has struck a deal with "Pac-Man" developer Namco and Japanese distributor Gaga for feature film rights to the legendary arcade game. Crystal Sky is developing the video game into a live-action fantasy adventure. No writer or director is on board.

"There is no other game title bigger than 'Pac-Man.' From children to their parents, 'Pac-Man' is a name everyone knows and loves," Crystal Sky president Steven Paul.

[Give me a break! What's next? Donkey Kong, the Movie? Ed.]

John Lennon Auction

LONDON November 4, 2002 (Reuters) - Rare items of memorabilia of Beatles legend John Lennon are to go on sale at auction house Cooper Owen in London later this month. 

Centerpieces of the November 19 sale are two rare recordings of Lennon talking to his stepdaughter Kyoko -- his wife Yoko's Ono's daughter from her earlier marriage to American artist Tony Cox -- at a farm in Denmark where Cox was living at the time.

A private collector Chris Lopez, a friend of Cox, is the seller of the recordings, with each tape estimated to sell for between 60,000 ($93,340) and 80,000 pounds. 

"Lopez bought the tapes when Cox was clearly hurting for cash and sold them out of the back of his battered VW," said a spokesman for the auction house on Monday. 

The spokesman added that one of the bidders at the sale is expected to be Ono, who is also featured on the previously unheard recording. Last May, two other similar Lennon tape recordings fetched 134,000 pounds at a Christie's auction. 

Lennon's "Magic Eye" swimming pool mosaic from when he lived at Kenwood in Surrey will also to go under the hammer and is expected to sell for between 150,000 and 250,000 pounds. Designed by Lennon, the two-ton mosaic comprises 17,000 tiles and was the biggest artistic project the musician was involved with during his career. 

Another eye-catching lot is the world's first-ever Phantom Vox organ guitar -- an instrument that looks like a guitar but makes an organ sound -- which was given to Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1964. Owned by Beatles roadie Mal Evans and now in the possession of the roadie's widow Lil, the instrument is likely to fetch between 130,000 and 140,000 pounds. 

"It was one of Lennon's favorite instruments, though it didn't work very well as the electrics made it too hot to play," said the spokesman. 

Other lots include Lennon's drugs box, drawings by the musician, a Christmas card drawn by his son Sean and sent days before he was killed by Mark Chapman in 1980, as well as rare Beatles autographs.

Dead Zone Back on Track
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - Michael Pillar and the folks at The Dead Zone want you to know that the show is back in full production and you should visit the web site for new words from stars Anthony Michael Hall (Johnny) and John L. Adams (Bruce).

Adams keeps an online diary and Hall responds personally to viewers' email questions. He does get some interesting questions, too:

Q: Anthony, still got Molly Ringwald's underwear? 
AMH: I sold them on eBay.

Dead Zone makes its triumphant return to USA Network on January 5th. The show was the highest rated basic cable show in history when it wrapped up it's first 13 episode season last summer.

The two-hour pilot episode is now available to home collectors. The VHS version can be had at Amazon and you can get the DVD directly from Lion's Gate at: 

The Official Dead Zone site - 

Two Weeks Left for Farscape
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - The Farscape Video Contest, that is. Our friends at Creation Entertainment (they throw the big Fan Cons) wanted us to remind you and "thank everyone who entered the above contest so far! The entries have been truly fantastic (as you'll see at the conventions coming to Burbank and NYC starting in two weeks).

"All will be astounded by the tremendous creativity of the winners!

You can still get your entries in before the deadline. Check the details at the calendar listings for these two events at:

Opinionated Swill Dept. - Run for The Money
By FLAtRich

Hollywood November 6, 2002 (eXoNews) - Does this bother anybody else who watches Basic Cable? Isn't it bad enough that we have to suffer up to seven minutes in commercial "breaks" inserted into a classic Hitchcock film without Oxygen "extending" the film for 52 minutes of additional commercials?

Oxygen showed Torn Curtain last weekend in a 180 minute timeslot. The real running time of the film without commercials is 128 minutes.

It's not just Hitch, of course. TNT has literally stretched films for years to fill 2-hour timeslots. But now clever money hungry cable networks are following TNT's lead and lengthening the timeslot first, essentially dragging the audience along for more commercials.

Where's the FCC when this stuff happens? Who does control television? Certainly not the government! Certainly not the directors and other creative artists involved in the commercialization of their art!

Certainly not cable customers either. We are PAYING, folks, for cable. Cable used to be (more or less) COMMERCIAL FREE, because we were PAYING for cable.

That concept seems to have vanished away into clouds of dollar signs floating over the heads of greedy corporate network executives.

Here are some more numbers. TNT stretched Heat from it's original runtime of 171 minutes (in the USA it was 188 minutes in the original pre-aired NBC version) to 210 minutes! Do the math! That's a lot of car commercials kiddo!

Bravo showed the USA version of Excalibur this week, which was butchered by the studio against director John Boorman's wishes to 119 minutes when it was released here in 1981. Bravo bravely added a full hour and one minute to the timeslot when they showed the film. That's three hours to watch a two hour film, and it wasn't even the director's cut!

No surprise that NBC is about to buy Bravo. With that kind of bravado, Bravo is a cash cow.

Kill ugly television!

Agree? Disagree? Say something!


Sultan of Skiffle Lonnie Donegan Dies at 71
LONDON November 5, 2002 (Guardian UK) - Lonnie Donegan, father of skiffle, first global superstar of British pop and the first to popularize black music, has died on tour aged 71, it was announced yesterday.

His out-of-the blue hits in 1955 with versions of John Henry and Leadbelly's Rock Island Line at the age of 24 began a revolution in the charts and in the taste of the young. 

He remains admired by generations of younger artists, including Mark Knopfler, Brian May and Van Morrison. A spokeswoman for Donegan said: "In a career that covered over 50 years, he inspired nearly every major musician alive today." 

Donegan was due to sing in a tribute concert for George Harrison in London later this month. Paul McCartney once said of him: "When we were kids in Liverpool, the man who really started the craze for guitars was Lonnie Donegan. 

"We studied his records avidly. We all bought guitars to be in a skiffle group. He was the man." 

Donegan, who had a history of heart trouble, complained of feeling unwell after performing in Nottingham. He died in Peterborough at the home of friends. 

His death ends a career which started when he formed a band with the jazzman Chris Barber in the early 1950s. Barber, who is touring in Germany, could not be contacted. Last night his longstanding friend and associate Vic Gibbons said no one should be sad that Donegan was still in harness when he died. "He loved performing. It was not something he had to do financially." 

He added: "I think Chris will be particularly upset because their association has continued. There have been various anniversary concerts where they have reassembled the band complete with liniment and Zimmer frames". 

Donegan, who called himself Lonnie in homage to the black blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, was the son of a Glasgow classical violinist. His father, often unemployed, moved the family to east London in 1933 and discouraged his son from a musical career.

Donegan bought his first guitar at 14, learning from BBC radio to play songs like Frankie and Johnny and Puttin' on the Style. These led him to the music of Josh White, Bessie Smith and Leadbelly. 

In 1952 he formed a band with Barber and Ken Colyer, just deported from the US for playing with black musicians. "They did not think there could be money in it," Gibbons said. "The motive was commitment. They used to drive from London and Manchester and back the same day, for a £30 fee." 

Donegan took the word skiffle, meaning party, from a US record sleeve. In 1955 a BBC pop show host attacked an album by the band for jazzing up a number by Gracie Fields. 

Thanks to this the album sold well, prompting Decca to issue singles of Donegan's John Henry and Rock Island Line. These topped the British and US charts. 

"Because the music was so new, people could not get it into their heads that it would last a long time," Gibbons said. 

Donegan had a string of hits including novelty songs such as My Old Man's A Dustman, but by the mid-60s his glory days were over, and he retreated into comedy and cabaret. 

Elton John, Ringo Starr and Brian May paid tribute by playing on Donegan's 1978 album Puttin' on the Style, and Donegan teamed up with Van Morrison for a 1999 recording, Skiffle Sessions. 

In 1997 Donegan received a lifetime achievement award. In November 2000 he collected an MBE from Buckingham Palace. Donegan said: "When Prince Charles presented it to me, he said 'Not before time Lonnie, not before time'. And I said 'You're damn right, mate' - or words to that effect."

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