Buffy and Roswell,
Jack Kerouac,
Brain Shrinkage,
Global Warming!
The Buffy-Roswell X-File
Note from the Editor (June 14, 2001). Data in this story concerning the acquisition of UPN by News Corporation was not entirely accurate. We apologize for not getting these details right (we read about the acquisition on various fan sites, which may explain everything if you are a rabid fan). Here's what E-Online said about the corporate shuffle, in an article by Mark Armstrong April 20, 2001 (http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,8150,00.htm). We hope it will clear up any misconceptions :o)>

"The WB also claims 20th Century Fox had other, non-monetary motives for jumping to UPN. In a statement released Friday, the WB said it was no coincidence that UPN's Buffy announcement came just a day after the FCC loosened restrictions on network ownership, which would allow Fox (which has a pending merger with former UPN co-owner Chris-Craft) to merge with UPN.

"Twentieth Television has made an inauspicious decision for the television industry by taking one of their own programs off of a non-affiliated network and placing it on a network in which they have a large vested interested, through their acquisition of Chris-Craft and public comments that Fox and UPN are discussing ways to merge," the WB's statement reads. "The WB will continue to develop successful, innovative programming that delivers a high concentration of young adults and teens. We wish Sarah, Joss and [co-executive producer] David Greenwalt well."

by Huntley Haverstock
eXoNews Associate Guy

Hollywood, CA May 24, 2001 (eXoNews) - I have noticed that one of the leading fansites for genre TV, namely The 11th Hour, has gone dormant of late. It's too bad, really,  because nobody does genre TV like
The 11th Hour, and I'm sure they would have covered all this, but, well, it's important, so I guess I'll have to do it. It's about Buffy and Roswell...

For those of you who believe the much touted big network hype that "reality shows" are the future of TV, well, don't believe it! TV is actually deep in a golden era of science fiction and fantasy that makes Survivors look like an outdated Pepsi Generation commercial, and there is no end in sight. The fact is that the "major" networks have repeatedly failed in their attempts to jump on the sci-fi bus and now they've got their heads stuck deep in the sand, hoping that it'll all go away.

But it hasn't, and the proof is in the recent x-file of how Buffy and Roswell were both renewed for the 2001-2002 TV season (and Buffy for a year after that) in an unprecedented shuffling of the so-called "independent" networks. (Why the old big three are any less independent has never been made clear to me, BTW.)

Even Agent Doggett would have to admit that the shuffling was strange. Dedicated fans followed Buffy's potential network jump from the very first rumors, and the original grapevine opinion was that the Scoobies (Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Anya, Dawn, Tara, and Spike) would go to ABC. Michelle Geller verbalized the implications of such a move when she made her famous and later retracted statement that she'd quit rather than leave the hip, young WB (aka, the Warners Brothers Network).

We may never know whether or not Geller's words came because she and the rest of her wondrous crew worried that the delicate genius of Buffy creator Joss Whedon's vision for Buffy The Vampire Slayer would be repackaged, and possibly thereby destroyed, by ABC, known to fandom as the dumb bunnies who cancelled Twin Peaks and Max Headroom. The bigger, badder Disney-owned network was certainly no place for The Slayer!

Then the News Corporation (aka, Rupert Murdoch), who happen to own 20th Century Fox (aka, Fox), who jealously produced Buffy for Warners (aka, the WB), swooped down out of the threatening dark skies and bought the United Paramount Network (aka, UPN), which had been further rumored to be on the verge of giving up the TV ghost, so to speak. Shortly after the News Corporation acquisition, UPN picked up Buffy for two years. (The current official fansite is www.buffy.com, but that may change too.)

All of this has made Buffy a very powerful slayer indeed, and Michelle Geller arguably the most powerful girl in Hollywoodland. (Buffy is currently dead, however, residing under a tombstone inscribed: She saved the world - a lot.)

It certainly brought UPN back to life for at least another couple of seasons. UPN will also host Enterprise, the new Star Trek series starring Scott Bakula, which will begin in August.

Roswell Returns

As a side note to some, but a lead story to millions of romantic souls who faithfully followed their exploits, UPN transported Max, Liz, Maria, Michael, Isobel, Kyle, and Tess along with their various moms, dads and or alien progenitors and offspring from the WB for 22 further episodes of Roswell. No big Buffy-like network dance accompanied Roswell's acquisition, but it should be noted that one of Roswell's Executive Producers is Jonathan Frakes, a Star Trek actor and director, who has spent a lot of quality airtime on UPN over the years, and Ron Moore, also a Trek and UPN alumnae, was a prime mover in Roswell's second season. Roswell fan(atic)s appear to have saved the show twice now - via petitions and bottles of tabasco sauce mailed to The Powers That Be. (See the show to understand about the sauce!)

Roswell is a teen-sci-fi-romance kind of show - if you haven't seen it yet - based on a series of books by Melinda Metz. Romantic sci-fi is a relatively new genre for TV, and Roswell is certainly the first show to have any success pulling it off. Sure you'll have to suspend disbelief - this is a sci-fi story, after all - but if you can allow yourself to accept the idea of teen-sci-fi-romance, you won't have any problem enjoying the series.

The entire cast of Roswell is simply great - and their fan base knows it. Roswell wanders through alien threats and miracles into great humor and more youthful innocence and teen angst than Buffy's gang is ever allowed. The result is charmingly uneven, but not to be missed.

Maria (Majandra Delfino) and Michael (Brendan Fehr) also win as the current cutest couple on any show, BTW.

The Adventure Continues, With Some Casualties

The mystery of how all this came to pass will probably remain as unknown as the father of Scully's baby. Maybe Rupert Murdoch is as glued to these shows as we are, who knows?

Unfortunately, Fox cancelled Chris Carter's The Lone Gunmen and there is still Angel to worry about over there at the WB. Angel's gang of good guys (David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Alexis Denisof, J. August Richards and Elisabeth Rohm) are way toughened up from all that demon-vanquishing stuff, so I guess they'll be OK, but we'll have to tune in next season to be sure.

Other new and returning network genre shows include WB's Charmed, Sabrina, and Smallville - we heard it is about Clark Kent "before he was Superman" - which Superman purists will note is not possible as Superboy became Clark Kent, not visa versa; Wolf Lake on CBS -  sounds interesting but is currently scheduled opposite West Wing so no one will ever watch it - and maybe The Agency; X-Files, Dark Angel, and The Tick on Fox - and maybe 24; NBC's West Wing, which is more and more fantasy every day of the Bush administration; and the returning X-Files clone Special Unit 2 on UPN - good cast, bad writing so far. Catch our own rendering of next season's network schedule here.

Not to mention Farscape, Andromeda, The Invisible Man, Stargate, Earth Final Conflict, and other cool returning syndicated shows.

Hey! Now that all this is said and done, sounds like it won't be a bad season after all!

On the Net -

Dark Boswell at http://www.flatdisk.net/darkboswell

Ethnic Groups Condemn TV Networks
By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES May 24, 2001 (AP) — A coalition of ethnic groups condemned the major television networks on Thursday for failing to achieve diversity in programming and said a boycott or other measures may be needed.

"The time for talking is fast coming to an end,'' attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. told a news conference by phone.

More than a year ago, the coalition secured agreements from the four major networks to increase both the number of minorities on-screen as well as development deals with writers and producers.

The coalition released a "report card'' Thursday grading the networks' efforts. The lowest overall mark was a D-minus for ABC.

"It seems ABC has actually gone in the wrong direction,'' said Esteban Torres, chairman of the coalition that's been pressing to improve the TV picture.

Other overall grades: D-plus for CBS, C-minus for Fox and C for NBC. In the coalition's first report card last November, the networks received mostly Ds.

Network executives didn't attend the news conference at the offices of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

Afterward, CBS said its on-air representation of minorities in leading or recurring roles has nearly doubled between 1999 and 2001. Josie Thomas, the network's senior vice president for diversity, said CBS prime-time dramas, comedies, news and reality programming this fall is slated to include 53 minorities compared to 29 in the fall of 1999.

"Clearly, there is much work to be done to better reflect our nation's many cultures, particularly that of Latinos,'' Thomas said. "But in the 18 months since we began our dialogue with the coalition, our commitment to diversity is both quantifiable and significant.''

ABC spokeswoman Zenia Mucha said her network is increasing ethnic representation in prime time by 39 percent and in its overall schedule by 18 percent next season, with changes planned in new series that will further boost diversity.

"We are disappointed that the coalition has misrepresented ABC's record,'' she said.

"ABC has ethnically diverse lead characters that are portrayed as positive role models, which we consider critical toward promoting true diversity,'' Mucha added, pointing to such examples as "NYPD Blue's'' new Hispanic police lieutenant (played by Esai Morales).

The coalition includes groups representing blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and American Indians. In compiling the report, it examined shows that aired during the past season and series planned for fall.

"It's even worse than any of us thought,'' said Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Each network also received grades in specific areas from individual groups.

The American Indians in Film & Television gave ABC an F for its effort to include that ethnic group in programming. CBS was lauded for an upcoming series, "Wolf Lake,'' which features American Indian actor Graham Greene, but still received only a D-plus from the Indian group.

The NAACP, which is part of the coalition, and other members said they will consider stronger steps to prod the networks to make progress.

"A boycott? A legal action? Maybe both?'' said Torres, adding: "We are going to talk tactics.''

An announcement could be made during the NAACP's national convention in July, he said.

While releasing its first report last November, the coalition said major broadcast networks had included more blacks in their shows but otherwise failed to live up to agreements to provide more ethnically diverse programming.

The networks first opened negotiations with civil rights groups after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People floated the threat of a TV boycott or legal action because of the lack of minority actors on the fall 1999 schedule of new shows.

According to a survey released earlier this month by the advocacy group Children Now, the number of black characters in network series increased from the 1999-2000 TV season to the 2000-01 from 13 percent to 17 percent; Hispanics dropped from 3 percent to 2 percent; Asian-American characters increased from 2 percent to 3 percent.

By comparison, blacks and Hispanics each make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population and Asian-Americans 9 percent, according to 2000 census figures.
15-Year-Old Sherpa Conquers Mount Everest

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal May 24, 2001 (AP) - A 15-year-old Sherpa who lost five fingers to frostbite just last year has become the youngest person to top Mount Everest - one of more than 50 climbers to summit the world's highest peak this week, Nepalese officials said Thursday.

An Austrian climber fell to his death Wednesday just 165 feet from the summit, the Tourism Ministry said. Peter Gerfried Banner, 55, a broadcast engineer from Klusterneuburg, Austria, slipped and fell from an altitude of 28,880 feet, it said, quoting reports from expedition members.

A flurry of expeditions - among them five American climbers - scaled the 29,035-foot summit of the world's highest mountain from Tuesday to Thursday, taking advantage of a break in high winds and heavy snow that for days had forced climbers to postpone their bid for the top. Eighth-grade student Temba Tsheri reached the summit on Tuesday morning, said Sonam, the director of Thamserku Trekking, which equipped and sponsored Tsheri's expedition. Sonam uses one name.

Tsheri broke the record set in 1973 by another Nepalese climber, Shambu Tamang, who climbed Mount Everest at age 17.

Last year, Tsheri was forced to turn back just 160 feet from Everest's summit due to frostbite, exhaustion and deteriorating weather. Before making his final attempt at the summit, he said he had opened his gloves for about 45 minutes to tie his shoes. When he returned from the mountain, doctors amputated five of his fingers.

On Thursday, American climber Jason Edwards, 43, of Lakewood, Wash., along with Canadians Francois Langlois, 35, David Rodney, 35, and Deryl Kelly, 28, and Peruvian Maxino Zambrano, 44, reached the summit. They were assisted by nine Sherpas.

Earlier in the day, a member of an Indian army expedition reached the summit with four Sherpas. Seven Indians from the expedition reached the top with three Sherpas on Wednesday.

Also Wednesday Paul Giorgio, 36, an investor from Auburn, Mass., and Richard Paul O'Bryan, 47, of Ohio, scaled the summit with Canadian Grant Maclaren, 32, and Tuno Findik, 29, of Turkey, assisted by four Sherpas.

Another team was led by Guillermo Benegas, 32, of Berkeley, Calif., and included James Sparks, 55, of Lyons, Colo., and Alexander Allan, 45, from Scotland. They were assisted by four Sherpas.

The Chilean expedition put three women and two men - all from Santiago - and four Sherpas on the summit.

The mountaineering season in Nepal ends May 31, when climbers must return from the mountains before monsoon rains in the region bring heavy snow.

Since the season began on March 1, teams have set up their base camp at 17,500 feet, acclimatizing and preparing for the climb. Climbers usually spend the first few weeks setting up higher camps, opening the route and getting ready for the final climb.

Everest has been climbed more than 800 times since the first documented climb by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. More than 180 people have been killed on its unpredictable slopes.

Ministry officials said the remaining half a dozen teams were expected to push for the summit in the next few days.

Young Inventor's Future Looks Electric

By ELLEN MILLER
Scripps Howard News Service

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. May 22, 2001 (Scripps Howard) - Who wouldn't want to be Ryan Patterson? He's won a roomful of science awards, $192,000 in scholarships, $15,750 in cash, two laptop computers and two trips to Stockholm, Sweden for the Nobel Prize ceremonies.

And he's only 17.

Ryan's latest achievement was winning the top award in the recent International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, Calif., a coveted distinction that netted him a $50,000 Young Scientist Scholarship, a laptop computer from Intel and a trip to Sweden like one he won in the science competition last year.

The project that brought him all this attention is a glove he made that translates American Sign Language into digital information that can be read on a portable screen resembling a long, skinny cell phone.

"I was getting some fast food one day and saw somebody who couldn't talk try to order through an interpreter," says Ryan, a student at Grand Junction Central High School.

"They can wear (the glove) and use ASL and it'll come up on the screen," he said. "There's a girl in school that the district has to hire a translator to follow her around. This will make it cost less money and make people independent."

The device is called a Sign Translater - it's a golf glove into which are sewn finger and wrist sensors and a circuit board. Tests of the device were promising enough that Patterson is seeking a patent and says he hopes to manufacture it.

For now, the simple life remains: at home with his parents, Randy and Sherry Patterson, and with his 19-year-old sister, Kim, who is studying music and biology at Mesa State College.

Ryan's father works as a fabricator at a welding shop and his mother is a kindergarten aide.

"I've always known he was not a typical child," said his mother. "He's a real typical teenager in a lot of respects except for his passion for electronics. He's been very interesting to raise."

At home, Ryan tinkers in a second-story workshop outfitted with a workbench, electronics tools, a computer and a wall of books. Award certificates and plaques dominate another wall.

Prominent in the family archives is a photo of Ryan as a toddler carrying an extension cord.

"That's what I carried instead of a blanket," he said.

Ryan says he owes much of his success to John McConnell, a retired physicist who has been his mentor for more than eight years.

"I pretty much went to his house every Saturday for eight years," Ryan said. "Now with computer electronics I pretty much teach myself with books off the Internet."

McConnell has accompanied Ryan to a number of science fairs, including the International in San Jose.

"For me, it's been an incredible journey," said McConnell, who is a volunteer with the school district's math and science center. "I'm 70 years old and he's one of the greatest joys of my life."

Ellen Miller writes for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver.

Cow News

Cow Gets Rough With Golf

STOCKHOLM May 23, 2001 (Reuters) - An escaped cow stormed onto a Swedish golf course and charged a player and its two pursuing owners, the TT news agency reported.

A vet called to the scene in Uddevalla, southwest Sweden, managed to inject the cow with a tranquilizer but the animal, although slightly under par, still rampaged around the fairways for more than an hour before disappearing into a nearby forest.

Mongolian Cows Suffer Three-Year Drought

Mongolia May 18, 2001 (AP) - A cow skeleton mirrors the remains of a car at a dump site in Altanbulag, Tuv Province in Mongolia on Friday, May 18, 2001. After three years of drought and harsh winters, Altanbulag like other rural areas in Mongolia has suffered severe losses in its livestock.

Kerouac Manuscript Bought for $2.2 Million

By RICHARD PYLE
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK May 23, 2001 (AP) — The original manuscript of Jack Kerouac's "On The Road,'' the book that defined the restless Beat Generation that came of age in the mid-1950s, may soon embark on a road trip of its own after fetching a record $2.43 million at auction.

The manuscript, a 120-foot-long scroll filled with single-spaced type, was purchased Tuesday by James Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team.

Irsay said he hoped to display it in an Indiana museum and perhaps take it on a national tour that would duplicate the wanderings of the author and his friends half a century ago.

Christie's auctioneer Francis Wahlgren said the price — $2.2 million plus a buyer's premium of $226,000 — was "a new world record for a literary manuscript at auction.''

The previous champ is believed to be a 1920 copy of Franz Kafka's "The Trial,'' which sold for $1.98 million in 1988.

Irsay, 41, said he was honored to acquire the manuscript of "On The Road,'' which he first read as a teen-ager in Chicago.

"I look on it as a stewardship,'' said Irsay. "I don't believe you own anything. In this world, it's dust to dust.''

He also said he would like to display the manuscript next to a Lombardi Trophy, given to the Super Bowl champion. "Maybe that will happen next January,'' he said.

Kerouac wrote the novel in a 20-day typewriter marathon in a friend's Manhattan loft after moving from his mother's house in Queens in 1951. When finally published six years later, it won critical acclaim as an unconventional masterpiece, chronicling an aimless, Bohemian odyssey by intellectual outlaws across the American landscape.

The text was written on a 119-foot, 4-inch roll of paper, variously described as 12-foot strips of onionskin taped together, or a continuous roll of paper given to Kerouac by a reporter friend.

There are no paragraph marks in the cramped typescript, its edges now eaten by time, paper deterioration and a hungry dog that once consumed several sentences.

While Beat poet Allen Ginsberg praised it as "a magnificent single paragraph, several blocks long, rolling, like the road itself,'' author Truman Capote disparaged it as "typing, not writing.''

Douglas Brinkley, an author and history professor at the University of New Orleans, said the original manuscript was especially important because it contains the real names of Kerouac's road companions, not the pseudonyms that were used in the final version of the book.

Joy Johnson, a former companion of Kerouac who attended the auction, said the author "would find it ironic that a manuscript that nobody wanted for six years'' would sell for such a price. Even after he wrote the book, she said, "he was a homeless man for about seven years and could hardly afford to eat. Most of the attention he got in his own life was abusive and humiliating.''

Kerouac died of liver failure in 1969, at age 47.

Christie's said the manuscript was offered for sale by Anthony Sampatacacus, the brother of Kerouac's third wife, Stella Sampas.

The record sale price of a nonliterary manuscript was $30.8 million that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates paid for Leonardo da Vinci's 16th-century scientific tract, the Codex Leicester, in 1994.

Lesbian Elected As Prom King
FERNDALE, Wash. May 20, 2001 (AP) - The election of a lesbian as Ferndale High's prom king has prompted dismay among adults and a change in school policy - future prom kings must be boys.

Prom attendees were given a ballot and told to write in their choices for king and queen. Senior Krystal Bennett says she voted for herself as king partly as a lark and partly because she wanted the title. Friends voted for her, too - and she won.

The election "imposes something on society that, if truth be known, our society is not yet ready to accept," said parent Tina Mauler. "These types of things ultimately will lead to chaos."

The prom queen, whose boyfriend was runner-up for king, has a more laid-back take on the April 28 election.

"It's high school," Kara Johnson said. "Let it go."

It's not clear whether the vote was intended as a joke or a political statement.

"I guarantee the vast majority of our school thinks there is something a little bit disgusting or very wrong about homosexuality," said student body president Landin Fusman. "(But) if you think it's wrong, try to change them in a loving fashion."

Bennett, the school's only openly gay student, has endured her share of name-calling in the wake of the vote.

She's chosen an activist role - lobbying to increase the number of books in the school library that deal with homosexuality and criticizing the school's annual Peace Week for failing to address discrimination against gays.

"To me, it's the same kind of thing as the civil-rights movement," she said.

Still, the fuss over her election has caused Bennett to reconsider staying in Ferndale, population 8,000, in northwestern Washington.

"I'm not sure if I want to surround myself with that negativity," she said.
NASA Releases New Mars Face Image

PASADENA, Calif. May 24, 2001 (AP) — Nearly 25 years after an orbiting spacecraft caught the Red Planet "mugging'' for the camera, NASA released the highest-resolution image yet of the so-called "Face on Mars.''

The new picture, taken by the camera aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft April 8 and released Thursday, shows the area in far sharper detail, but reduces any resemblance to a humanlike extraterrestrial.

Since the Viking 1 orbiter first photographed the hill on Mars in July 1976, its facelike features have stirred the imagination of those who believe it was carved by an alien civilization. The face even played a minor role in the movie "Mission to Mars.''

National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists say the interplay of light and shadow gave the hill the brooding anthropomorphic features that stood out in the Viking pictures.

Michael Malin, principal investigator of the Global Surveyor camera, said the new images show the area to be nothing more than a hill.

"I have no desire to discuss it with the true believers. They can't be convinced, they don't want to be convinced,'' Malin said.

NASA's Global Surveyor last turned to photograph the face in April 1998. The spacecraft arrived in orbit around Mars in 1997 and began its extended mission in February.

———

On the Net:

http://www.msss.com/mars—images/moc/extended—may2001/face/index.html

UN program Seeks To Save Apes

NAIROBI, Kenya May 21, 2001 (AP) - The U.N. Environment Program launched a campaign Monday to protect the world's great apes from extinction and seeks at least $1 million to get started.

Great apes - gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and gibbons - are listed as endangered by international trade conventions and are at risk of extinction in some areas.

Experts say many could be extinct in five to 10 years if nothing is done to stop the destruction of their habitats and their slaughter for meat.

"Each one is a loss to humanity, a loss to a local community and a hole torn in the ecology of our planet," program Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said.

"We can no longer stand by and watch these wondrous creatures, some of whom share more than 98 percent of the DNA found in humans, die out," he said.

Toepfer said the U.N. program was contributing $150,000 to launch the Great Apes Survival Project, or GRASP, and called for donations from the private sector.

The program has so far focused on five potential projects that officials said need urgent support, but it would eventually be extended to all 23 countries where great apes still live.

Three of the projects would protect Cross River gorillas in the Afi Mountains of southern Nigeria, chimpanzees in the Ivory Coast and orangutans in Indonesia's Tanjung Putting National Park.

The programs would involve supplying rangers with equipment to keep tabs on the animals, construction of wildlife corridors to link fragmented habitats and populations, and educating local residents about the value of the great apes for tourism.

Organizations involved in the effort include the Ape Alliance, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Born Free Foundation, Fauna and Flora International, the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Researcher Says Jet Lag Causes Brain Shrinkage
By Katherine Hunt

WASHINGTON May 20, 2001 (Reuters) - Chronic jet lag causes a part of the brain to shrink and impairs mental functions including memory, researchers said on Sunday.

The study compared the size of the brain's temporal lobes of two groups of flight attendants who had different amounts of time to recover from jet lag. Using MRI scans, researchers found the group who had less time between flights had smaller right temporal lobes.

The findings appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

"I found there was no deficit of language, but certain short-term objective memory and very simple abstract cognition was quite bad," said study author Dr. Kwangwook Cho of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Bristol in Britain.

Jet lag is a condition suffered by many people who travel over time zones characterized by fatigue, disorientation and disrupted sleep.

The sample group was composed of 20 women, ages 22 to 28, who had five-year careers with international airlines and flew across at least seven time zones. Women appear to suffer more acute jet lag than men, Cho said, explaining why he left men out of the sample group.

The right temporal lobe is involved in visual recognition and spatial memory. The left is responsible for language. The study measured short-term memory and cognition, both functions of the right temporal lobe, and found significant deficits.

Cognition tests involved understanding and differentiating between simple symbols, like the design of the U.S. flag or the British flag. To measure memory, the women were asked to recall the location of dots on a computer screen after 20- to 50-minute intervals.

BROAD IMPLICATIONS

The findings could have broad implications for more than just flight attendants and other airline workers. Shift workers and parents of young children also experience disruptions in their circadian rhythms -- the cycle of waking and sleeping and of lightness and darkness.

"The implication (of the study) is that rapid circadian shifts have a damaging effect on the brain," said Dr. Robert Sack of the Sleep Disorders Medicine Clinic at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

"It's interesting because we think of jet lag as a kind of a nuisance ... but this study would suggest that it may have more serious consequences than previously thought," Sack said.

Further research needs to be conducted to determine how long the atrophy of this part of the brain lasts, Cho said, saying a follow-up examination after the women involved in the study retire is necessary .

In previous studies, Cho had found a link between chronic jet lag and high cortisol levels. Cortisol, measured in saliva samples, is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. The hormone rises in the morning and drops in the evening, in accordance with normal sleep patterns. It also rises in times of stress, such as an argument.

Cho and his colleagues found evidence that people who had been subjected to repeat jet lag had higher levels of cortisol and impaired cognitive abilities.

Higher cortisol levers were correlated with a greater reduction in temporal lobe volume.

The results are consistent with previous studies showing that high cortisol levels, such as those associated with severe depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome, are correlated with a smaller temporal lobe and memory impairment
Satellite with Laser Launched From Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. May 18, 2001 (Reuters) - A Delta 2 rocket carried a $130 million communications satellite with an experimental laser into orbit on Friday.

The rocket was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:45 p.m. EDT, according to Boeing Co., which manufactures and launches the Delta 2.

The satellite, known as GeoLITE, or the Geosynchronous Lightweight Technology Experiment, will be operated by the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates spy satellites and provides classified images for the Defense Department. The satellite carries a laser communications experiment as well as a conventional UHF communications package.

The $130 million price tag is relatively inexpensive, thanks to the laser communications, and the NRO will assess its performance for possible inclusion in a new generation of spy satellites, an NRO spokesman said.

The laser increases the amount of information that can be transmitted to Earth.

The 1,400 poundsatellite will fly to a point 22,300 miles over the equator, an area known as geosynchronous orbit, where satellites are always positioned over the same spot on Earth, their own orbits keeping pace with the planet's rotation.

Strippers Take It Off to Help Town
SPARTA, Ky. May 25, 2001 (Reuters) - Strippers are taking it off in the Kentucky community of Sparta to help buy a new fire engine and a bulletproof vest for its lone police dog, town officials said on Thursday.

The striptease dancers at Racers Nightclub in Sparta have raised roughly $300 in donations on consecutive weekends to be put toward the cost of a $180,000 fire truck and a dog vest.

Town clerk Jayne Smith said she believed the community of around 130 people southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, had no qualms about accepting the strippers' contributions. She noted a nearby auto racing track that draws 80,000 fans on race day produced no tax revenue for Sparta.

Mike Raportella, who manages the club owned by the town's unpaid city attorney, said the money was collected by uniformed firefighters following each benefit performance.

"To get with the spirit of the contributions, one of our dancers starts out her routine dressed up like a firefighter with a helmet and other accessories," Raportella said.

"As long as we can help out the town, we'll keep staging these dances," Raportella said. "Sparta sure needs the new fire engine. The old one was pretty run down."
Forests Will Not Thwart Global Warming

By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA
AP Science Writer

May 23, 2001 (AP) - Experiments conducted in a North Carolina pine forest show that after an initial growth spurt, trees grow more slowly and do not absorb as much excess carbon from the atmosphere as expected.

The results suggest that planting trees may not thwart global warming or serve as an adequate substitute for reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Forests typically grow in poor soils. Researchers said that once forests have initially capitalized on the extra carbon in the atmosphere, they quickly deplete nutrients in the soil. Their growth slows dramatically and their ability to store excess carbon is curtailed.

"The impact of existing forests on carbon in the atmosphere may not last very long and it might not be very significant,'' said Duke University ecologist Ram Oren, the lead researcher in one of the studies.

"The forests' impact on carbon dioxide may not materialize in any important way,'' he said.

Scientists who did not participate in the studies said results are "potentially very important'' in determining the role of forests play in regulating the changing climate.

"If this is true for forests in general, we may not be able to count on existing forests to maintain a high capacity to absorb carbon,'' said University of Illinois plant biologist Evan DeLucia, who conducted earlier experiments in the same plots.

"We cannot look to forests to eliminate the threat of global warming,'' DeLucia said.

As plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide in their tissues and emit oxygen.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been increasing for decades in conjunction with fossil fuel consumption, traffic and industrialization.

Many scientists believe the rising levels of CO2 and other emissions in the atmosphere are trapping more of the sun's heat, driving up temperatures and causing global warming. Some computer projections predict levels of these so-called greenhouse gases will rise 35 to 50 percent in the next 50 years, with temperatures increasing along with them.

Conservationists have advocated protecting existing forests and planting new ones so they can serve as "carbon sinks'' that would help to regulate the atmosphere and moderate global warming.

However, the pair of studies published in the latest issue of the journal Nature suggests those hopes are too optimistic.

The experiments were conducted on experimental rings of Loblolly pines near Duke University.

In one test plot, pipes steadily pumped an air mixture containing 560 parts per million of carbon dioxide into the tree canopy. It simulated what computer models predict atmospheric conditions will be in 2050.

In a control plot, pipes pumped conventional air with a carbon dioxide level of about 365 ppm.

For two years, the trees exposed to more carbon dioxide grew at a rate up to 25 percent faster. Those results were reported by DeLucia in 1999.

Since then, Oren said, growth in the tree rings fumigated with extra carbon dioxide slowed to about the same rate as the control trees. Expectations that the trees would continue to sequester large amounts of additional carbon were "unduly optimistic,'' he said.

Oren blames the trees' return to slow growth on a shortage of other nutrients, notably nitrogen. When the researchers added nitrogen to the test plots, those trees grew quickly again.

Farming, air pollution and other activities are increasing the levels of some forms of nitrogen in the environment. But those sources probably would not directly fertilize forests to a meaningful degree, the researchers said.

"Forests may slow down the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,'' Oren said. "But most forests exhaust soil nutrients very quickly. From that point on, the trees show no response.''

In the second study, researchers from Duke and Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, examined decomposing leaves and roots on the floor of the experimental forest plots.

They found the total amount of litter increases in a carbon-dioxide-enriched atmosphere, but so does the rate at which it is broken down.

The carbon returns to the atmosphere, rather than being incorporated into the soil, reported William Schlesinger and John Lichter. Once a leaf falls from the tree, its carbon is recycled back in the atmosphere in about three years, they said.

The new studies were conducted in forest plots that are comprised primarily of pine trees, although sweet gum and other native species are moving in.

Researchers disagreed whether the results can be applied to other regions, such as the tropics, where conditions and tree species are different.

DeLucia said tropical forests may show even less response to elevated carbon levels.

In a Nature commentary, Eric A. Davidson and Adam I. Hirsch of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts said the results "will be essential'' in improving computer models that predict global climate change.

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On the Net:

Nature - http://www.nature.com/nature

Woods Hole Research Center - http://www.whrc.org


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