|Light Speed Surfing! |
First Native American In Space,
Nazca Revealed, Ancient Dogs,
The Roswell Report & More!
|Light Speed Surfing!|
|European Space Agency Press Release |
November 26, 2002 (ESA) - Internet traffic jams may become history if ESA succeeds in developing new technology to see nearby Earth-sized planets. Why? In looking for new ways to detect planets ESA is thinking that, instead of bulky mirrors and lenses in space, one can build miniaturized optical systems that fit onto a microchip.
Such ‘integrated optics’ would also allow earthly computer networks to use high-speed routing of data streams as a natural spin-off.
When the data arrives at computers, known as servers, the servers redirect them to their final destinations. Presently, you need to convert the light signals into electricity, and that slows everything down.
Scientists call this area integrated optics, referring to the integrated circuit board on which chips are mounted. Instead of miniaturized electronics, however, miniaturized optics are placed on a microchip.
Desirable certainly, but also difficult.
At present, integrated optics is a science that is far behind integrated circuit technology. For this reason, ESA is funding two studies. Astrium has been asked to study a traditional optics approach and Alcatel is investigating an integrated-optics solution.
"We shall take the decision on whether GENIE will use integrated optics in just over one year," says Fridlund.
"What I'm reading in those proposals is making me highly optimistic," says Fridlund, "I don’t yet know whether mid-infrared integrated optics will have any commercial application, but until we develop them, we’ll never know."
Here on Earth, for all home-computer users, for example, it could speed up the Internet by 100–1000 times.
The consequences of surfing the Web at such speeds would be amazing.
European Space Agency home page - http://www.esa.int
|Bush Considers New Nuke Tests|
|By Brad Knickerbocker |
Christian Science Monitor
Washington November 26, 2002 (CSM) - As United Nations inspectors fan out across Iraq - looking for evidence of Saddam Hussein's secret arsenal - the United States is rethinking the future of its own weapons of mass destruction.
Among the issues being discussed by US officials and the experts who advise them in this era of stateless terrorism and other forms of "unconventional warfare" are these: The resumption of nuclear weapons testing; ambivalence over controlling chemical and biological weapons at a time when advancing technology offers new opportunities to control the battlefield; and the possible development of tactical nuclear bombs to go after the kind of hardened targets that more than 70 countries - especially Iraq - now use to hide their most threatening weapons.
All of this would be happening even if the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had not occurred, even if war with Iraq were not as close as it is today. But the earthshaking events that have marked the beginning of the 21st century focus attention on the most intimidating military assets belonging to the world's lone superpower.
The US hasn't test-fired any nuclear devices since 1992. Officials figure it would take two to three years to be ready to resume testing. The administration wants to reduce that to a shorter period - not only to ensure that its aging stockpile of warheads is dependable, but also to allow the testing of any newly designed weapons.
The Pentagon's congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review calls for a "revitalized nuclear weapons complex that will ... be able, if directed, to design, develop, manufacture, and certify new warheads in response to new national requirements; and maintain readiness to resume underground nuclear testing if required."
The difficulty here is that even preparing to defend against such weapons requires research on the weapons themselves. In its examination of biomedical sciences and the pharmaceutical industry - both involved in Pentagon projects - the Federation of American Scientists reports that "an immense amount of time and money [is] being invested" in new technologies that could "significantly complicate the control of chemical and biological weapons."
|First Native American Astronaut In Space|
|By Philip Chien |
Indian Country Today
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER November 25, 2002 (ICT) - With an earth-rumbling roar, the space shuttle Endeavour took off at 7:50 pm (EST), Nov. 23, carrying astronaut John Herrington, the first enrolled American Indian to fly in space.
Eight and a half minutes after launch the main engines shut off and Herrington became weightless.
The shuttle SST 113 carried a seven-man crew toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station.
But somehow it seems appropriate that the mission’s delays caused it to coincide with Native American month.
That trio forms the "Expedition 6" crew, which Herrington's crew is flying to the International Space Station Alpha.
NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe said, "On the original announced launch effort there was a tremendous contingent here from the Chickasaw nation as well as so many other Native Americans. I met the governor and lieutenant governor of the Chickasaw nation and they were just the most excited and delighted by the whole opportunity to see a member of their nation."
|Nigerian Governor Calls for Death of Writer|
|By GLENN McKENZIE |
Associated Press Writer
LAGOS, Nigeria November 26, 2002 (AP) — The deputy governor of a largely Islamic state in northern Nigeria has called on Muslims to kill the Nigerian woman who wrote a newspaper article about the Miss World beauty pageant that sparked deadly religious riots.
"Just like the blasphemous Indian writer Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed," Zamfara Deputy Governor Mahamoud Shinkafi told a gathering of Muslim groups in the state capital, Gusau, on Monday.
Rushdie, an Indian-born Briton, went into hiding after Iran's late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a 1989 fatwa — or religious edict — against him for allegedly insulting Islam in his best-selling novel, "The Satanic Verses." In 1998, the Iranian government declared it would not support the fatwa, but said it could not rescind the edict since, under Islamic law, that could be done only by the person who issued it. Khomeini died in 1989.
While state officials in Nigeria cannot issue fatwas, the deputy governor, "like all Muslims," considers the death sentence against Daniel as "a reality based on the teachings of the Quran," Zamfara state Information Commissioner Tukur Umar Dangaladima said Tuesday.
Islam's holy book "states that whoever accuses or insults any prophet of Allah ... should be killed," Dangaladima told The Associated Press. "If she (Daniel) is Muslim, she has no option except to die. But if she is a non-Muslim, the only way out for her is to convert to Islam."
Daniel, a Lagos-based fashion writer with ThisDay, reportedly went into hiding after being interrogated by police last week in connection with the article, which suggested Islam's founding prophet Muhammed would have approved of Miss World and might have wanted to marry one of the contestants. Her religion is unknown.
The newspaper has issued repeated apologies for the article, saying the offending portions were published by mistake after earlier being deleted by a supervising editor.
President Olusegun Obasanjo did not immediately respond to the deputy governor's call. But an Information Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obasanjo's government would not permit any Islamic group or individual to carry out the death order.
Obasanjo's 3-year-old administration has repeatedly stated it will overrule inhumane punishments imposed by Islamic courts, such as recent death-by-stoning sentences against women convicted of having sex outside of wedlock. But the federal government has so far refused to intervene directly in the Shariah legal system, in effect in some of the country's predominantly Muslim northern states.
ThisDay officials were not immediately available for comment Tuesday. But one of the paper's columnists, Amanze Obi, suggested Daniel "may have been a victim of excitement."
"I imagine that she may have written that line without knowing it," Obi wrote in Tuesday's edition. "The line was innocuous."
Dangaladima said other ThisDay employees had been spared from the fatwa, which "applies only to the offending pen."
Zamfara was the first of 12 states to adopt Islamic law, or Shariah, after Nigerian military rule gave way to elected government in 1999. Religious clashes since then have killed thousands across the country.
The latest rioting began last Wednesday when Muslims burned down a ThisDay office in the northern city of Kaduna. More than 200 people were killed in the city and rioting also briefly spread to the capital, Abuja.
The violence caused Miss World organizers to abandon plans to hold the pageant in Nigeria and evacuate more than 80 participants to London, where the show will go ahead Dec. 7.
|Pirates Threaten Titanic Salvagers|
|By MARC DAVIS |
NORFOLK November 26, 2002 (Virginian-Pilot) - Rumors of a feeding frenzy among salvagers rushing to the Titanic shipwreck dominated a federal court hearing Monday.
Divers from England and Russia may be planning rival salvage expeditions to the world's most famous shipwreck, according to testimony. So far, though, that is merely unconfirmed rumor.
In response, two judges reminded the president of R.M.S. Titanic Inc. that his company must protect the shipwreck from potential pirates until the court tells it otherwise.
R.M.S. Titanic, which has been salvaging the shipwreck since 1987, was awarded sole salvage rights in 1994 by federal judges in Norfolk. The court has supervised all salvage since then. The company recently announced plans to give up those rights.
"This court has not released (R.M.S. Titanic) of its responsibility as sole salvor in possession," U.S. District Judge J. Calvitt Clarke Jr. told company officials Monday.
"We do understand the court's concern," company attorney Mark S. Davis of Portsmouth replied. "We have the same concern."
Davis said the company will investigate rumors of other companies trying to salvage artifacts from the wreck site. But he said R.M.S. Titanic is skeptical that anyone is now at the historic shipwreck, as was rumored recently on an Internet site.
The Titanic sits on the Atlantic Ocean floor, 2 1/2 miles under the surface, about 400 miles from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Because of rough seas and occasional icebergs, the wreck is considered unreachable except in June, July and August. R.M.S. Titanic has spent more than $10 million raising about 6,000 artifacts from the Titanic during six expeditions. Those artifacts -- possessions of passengers and crew, as well as parts of the ship itself -- are thought to be worth many millions of dollars.
The company makes money showing the artifacts in public exhibitions around the world, including one now at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. The company cannot sell the artifacts except as a single collection with the court's permission. Two new exhibitions in Paris and London in 2003 were announced Monday.
Last month, a Titanic enthusiast in England posted rumors on an Internet site that a salvage expedition left Hull, England, on Oct. 2. Few other details were given. Also, two letter-writers warned Norfolk's federal judges last week that other divers may be ready to salvage the wreck without the court's permission. One letter was anonymous; one was written by a lawyer representing an R.M.S. Titanic stockholder.
Based on those letters and the Internet post, two judges in Norfolk's federal court -- Clarke and Rebecca Beach Smith -- questioned company president Arnie Geller on Monday about his knowledge of and connections to the rumored expeditions.
One company rumored to be hunting the Titanic is led by two men who were high-level leaders in Geller's company until earlier this year. If R.M.S. Titanic gives up its salvage rights, any other company could salvage the wreck without repercussion and without court restrictions on selling the artifacts. Smith said R.M.S. Titanic must investigate rumors of unauthorized salvage and report them to the court. If not, "that could be a problem," Smith said.
Davis replied: "It is a source of some irritation to the company, too."
Geller testified that he knew nothing about other plans and had no connection with planned dives. He said he has heard rumors of a Florida man raising money for a Titanic expedition, and of Russians planning an expedition, but he could not confirm either.
Meanwhile, the company announced Monday that it will hold a shareholders' meeting Feb. 5 to decide whether to give up its salvage rights. The vote is required by law in Florida, where R.M.S. Titanic is incorporated. The company announced earlier this month that a majority of its stockholders approve of that move, but there was no formal vote.
The company faces another court hearing in Norfolk on Dec. 6. A dissident stockholder wants to block R.M.S. Titanic from giving up its salvage rights. Smith will hear that case, too.
|Peru November 25, 2002 (Reuters) - It's a question that has puzzled Peruvians for centuries: |
Why did ancient civilizations bother to etch elaborate shapes into the desert south of Lima some 2,000 years ago, especially when most can be seen only by air?
According to one of the archaeologists, Johny Isla, the famous Nazca lines (often spelled Nasca) and less well-known Palpa lines nearby, were all about water in one of the world's driest deserts.
He said it was often dubbed the sun dial but was in fact a sign linked with water.
Isla, who has been studying and excavating around Palpa with his German colleague Markus Reindel since 1997, noted that the giant "geoglyphs" - including birds, figures, trapezoids and spirals - lie on a plain cut by three rivers, something that would have made it a very fertile "privileged site."
"Who did this is something that has never been known. It has always been said that they (the Palpa lines) belonged to the Nazca (period) because a lot of figures are reproduced (in the Nazca lines)," Isla said.
The excavations were the first conducted of Palpa or Nazca lines.
Some destruction is more recent - the result of peasants trailing their animals across them or more willful destruction. Next to the sun dial Isla showed where locals had cleared an area, destroying part of a geoglyph, to make a soccer field, until they were stopped.
|The Face of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo'|
|Tegucigalpa Honduras November 25, 2002 (EFE via COMTEX) - A group of scientists will attempt to reconstruct the facial features of the founder and first ruler of the great Mayan city of Copan, in western Honduras. |
Forensic archaeologists and anthropologists plan to use X-rays and other tools to reconstruct the facial features of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' (Quetzal Guacamayo), whose remains were discovered in 1992, Honduran archaeologist Ricardo Agurcia said.
Agurcia, president of the privately-owned Copan Association, and a lead project researcher, did not reveal additional details about the project to the La Prensa newspaper.
The remains of K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' were discovered in the acropolis of the Ruins of Copan Park, some 408 kilometers (254 miles) west of Tegucigalpa, and were surrounded by many offerings and ornaments, including two pectorals. Nearby, researchers discovered the remains of a woman believed to have been the ruler's wife, whose tomb was looted in 1998.
Originally from Mexico, K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo' founded the Copan dynasty and is believed to have ruled between 426 and 435 A.D.
Copan had 16 rulers - the last one Yax Pasah (Madrugada or Dawn) - beginning in A.D. 763 - and how and why the city disappeared remains a mystery.
The Copan ruins in the west and the Bay Islands in the Caribbean are Honduras' main tourist attractions.
Researchers also uncovered stelae, or carved upright stone slabs, pyramids, altars, squares and hieroglyphic stairs containing the most extensive collection of pre-Columbian writing in the Americas.
The Rosalila Temple and a tomb believed to be that of another Mayan ruler have also been discovered in the past few years.
The Ruins of Copan Park were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
|Buried Clues Link Ancient Cultures|
|By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD |
Mexico City November 19, 2002 (NY Times) - In excavations at the Pyramid of the Moon near Mexico City, archaeologists think they have found an answer to a perplexing question about two of the Western Hemisphere's greatest ancient cultures: what links, if any, existed between the people of Teotihuacan, in central Mexico, and the Maya civilization mainly in southern Mexico and Guatemala?
An international team of archaeologists reported last week the discovery of buried jade objects and three skeletons in a tomb in the pyramid ruins of Teotihuacan. The team said this revealed for the first time a Maya influence at Teotihuacan, suggesting some close interaction between the ruling elites of the two cultures 1,700 years ago.
The jade apparently came from Guatemala, in Maya country, and was carved in Maya style. A jade statuette bears the image of a man with fairly realistic features and big eyes. The skeletons were found in cross-legged, seated positions, a practice more familiar at Maya sites than in Teotihuacan.
Dr. Saburo Sugiyama, an archaeologist at Aichi Prefectural University in Japan and the co-director of the excavations, said the jade objects were intriguing because they were like those that were often used as symbols of rulers or royal family members in Maya societies.
"We have to study the objects and bones further, but the offerings strongly suggest a direct relation between the Teotihuacan ruling group and the Maya royal families," Dr. Sugiyama said.
The discovery was announced by Arizona State University in Tempe, where Dr. Sugiyama also holds a position as research professor. The other leader of the project is Dr. Ruben Cabrera of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City. Excavations at the pyramid are to resume next summer.
Considered the first great city of the Western Hemisphere, Teotihuacan was built to a master-planned grid pattern with broad avenues and imposing pyramids. It was the center of a distinct culture, which at its peak was contemporary with the early stages of Maya cities far to the south. The two seemed very different cultures, with only occasional traces of interaction, notably by noble Teotihuacan visitors at a number of Maya cities.
The three skeletons were of men who were about 50 years old. They were buried amid lavish goods in a tomb at the top of the fifth of the pyramid's seven layered stages.
The skeletons did not have their hands tied, as they do in many such burials, but the archaeologists said this did not necessarily rule out death of the men as sacrifices. The burial site has been dated at about A.D. 350, near the zenith of Teotihuacan's power.
Dr. George Cowgill, another archaeologist at Arizona State, who recently visited the site, said these were "the richest undisturbed burials yet found in Teotihuacan," including new evidence of Maya contacts there and "what looks like elite gift-giving at the highest levels of Teotihuacan society."
|BY ALEXANDRA WITZE |
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS November 21, 2002 (KRT) - Forget about your prize-winning dog's pedigree: Scientists have found that all pooches, from Maltese to mastiffs to mutts, trace their ancestry to a group of wolves that once lived in East Asia.
Three new studies, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, may put to bed some evolutionary questions that have long dogged researchers.
The discoveries include where and when dogs were first domesticated; how they spread into the New World; and why they so successfully bonded with humans in the first place.
About 15,000 years ago in East Asia, one study says, some wandering wolves hooked up with humans and became the first domesticated dogs.
Dogs soon spread across the globe, accompanying their new masters into the Americas, the second paper concludes.
"It also tells us something about ourselves," said Jennifer Leonard of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., lead author of one of the studies. "It tells us that our ancestors from the Stone Age had already domesticated dogs … People were living as hunter-gatherers, with no metal tools … and yet they bothered to maintain domestic dogs."
Savolainen started his work by visiting dog shows and gathering hair from different breeds. Eventually, his team compiled DNA from more than 650 dogs worldwide, then compared it with wolf DNA.
The dogs fell into five or possibly six major genetic groups, each of which traces back to a single wolf matriarch.
For instance, dogs may not have immediately accompanied their masters into the New World, she said. The oldest dog fossils in the Americas are 9,000-year-old bones from Utah - which is several thousand years after humans arrived. "We've got a ways to go yet before we have anything like a final answer," she said.
Domestication may have naturally selected for dogs that could better understand human communication, he suggested.
|Genre News: Angel, Firefly, Farscape, Buffy, Charmed, Star Trek XI, Jerry Lewis and The Roswell Report!|
|Angel Wings To Birds' Spot |
Hollywood November 26, 2002 (eXoNews) - Joss Whedon's "Angel" will move to Wednesdays at 9 PM to replace "Birds of Prey."
Birds began well but lost half of its initial audience after several episodes. In a post-pilot omen, actress Sherilyn Fenn dropped out as the Birds arch-villain before the premiere episode aired. Actress Mia Sara replaced Fenn, but the show lacked chemistry. WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin blamed the cancellation on the show's poor execution.
"We believe 'Birds' proved that there was a fantasy audience and a male audience there," Levin told Variety. "Over the course of 'Birds" run that audience eroded, but those audiences came at first. 'Birds' was not moving in the right way creatively and it didn't have the auspices (to continue)."
A limited reality series, "High School Reunion", about a group of young adults celebrating their 10th high school reunion, will take over Angel's Sunday time slot and repeat Thursdays. "Black Sash", an action show, is a potential candidate for Sundays at 9 when "High School Reunion" completes a six-episode run.
The Gotham Clock Tower Web site also reported that the WB will air a two-hour finale to wrap up Birds of Prey.
City of Angel Fansite - http://www.cityofangel.com
Gotham Clock Tower Fansite - http://www.gothamclocktower.com
Hollywood November 28, 2002 (eXoNews) - Zap2it.com confirms that the Fox Network is putting Joss Whedon's space western Firefly on hiatus for now.
Firefly fan response to the threat of cancellation may have played an important role in keeping the show alive.
The Firefly: Immediate Assistance site reports that their efforts to support Firefly and bring in new viewers have raised $4500. Fox recently purchased additional episodes of Firefly despite poor ratings in the show's Friday 8 PM timeslot.
Vote for Firefly at SaveMyShow.com - http://www.savemyshow.com/shows/firefly.htm
Firefly Fan Site - http://www.fireflyfans.net
Save Farscape Fans Run TV Ad
Farscape was recently cancelled by Sci Fi Channel, but fans responded immediately and began a campaign to save the show.
For more info, go to the Save Farscape site - http://www.savefarscape.com
Academics Gather to Discuss 'Buffy'
LOS ANGELES November 25, 2002 (Zap2it.com) - Professorial types don't typically come together to discuss a TV show. Then again, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" isn't a typical TV show.
About 160 people gathered last month at the University of East Anglia in England to attend "Blood, Text and Fears," what was billed as the first-ever academic conference devoted to "Buffy." Sixty of those people presented papers about the show, with titles like "Yeats's Entropic Gyre and Season Six of BtVS."
Buffy's Official Site - http://www.buffy.com
Hollywood November 25, 2002 (Sci Fi) - Julian McMahon, who has played Phoebe's husband, Cole, on The WB's Charmed, is leaving the series, TV Guide Online reported. "The 100th episode [airing Jan. 19, 2003,] is Julian's last episode," executive producer Brad Kern told the site. "It's time to free up Alyssa Milano's [Phoebe] character, and Julian has expressed interest in exploring other creative opportunities. I'll miss him terribly, personally and professionally."
Official Charmed Site - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0%2C7353%2C||156%2C00.html
Hollywood November 25, 2002 (eXoNews) - Star Trek producer Rick Berman told Cinescape that Nemesis is not the final voyage and that fans can be sure there will be a Star Trek 11. Star Trek 10 (AKA Star Trek: Nemesis) opens on December 13th.
"Colm Meaney is a remarkable actor. Rene Auberjonois is a remarkable actor. Jeri Ryan, I can’t imagine people would not love to see her on the big screen. So there are possibilities of combining other actors. But then again, I’m not suggesting that we’re going to do that. It’s just a possibility. It’s even a possibility that we would include characters from ENTERPRISE even though they’re 200 years earlier. Anything’s possible with STAR TREK."
Stepford Wives Return
Hollywood November 26, 2002 (eXoNews) - Hollywood Reporter says Joan Cusack will join Nicole Kidman in a Paramount Pictures remake of the 1975 thriller The Stepford Wives. This time Stepford will be played as a black comedy with Frank Oz directing.
Cusack will play Bobbie Markowitz, a hostile, sarcastic, cranky woman who is out of shape and enjoys drinking but ends up being transformed into a robot."
Jerry Loves That Kid!
"Sean Hayes is as good as anyone I've ever seen in my life," the 76-year-old comedian told AP Radio in a recent interview.
One has to wonder if Spielberg ever watched Chris Carter's X-Files. Even if Taken is (supposedly) based on real UFO incidents, CC pretty much covered every possible UFO variation in grand style over the nine years of his show.
Except for the Star Trek: Nemesis trailers shown during commercial breaks, Sci Fi's expose of the Roswell cover-up was not startling at all. The so-called "new" evidence had nothing to do with the archeologists and basically boiled down to a single photograph. You've probably seen the photo. It was published in newspapers in 1947 after the Roswell "incident", showing a general and pieces of a weather balloon.
In the only sentence in the memo that refers to a wreck or crash, one word looks like VI_I_S, so Rudiak assumed VICTIMS, as in VICTIMS OF THE WRECK (see above.)
Other possible words for VI_I_S were presented, but I noticed that Rudiak didn't list the word VISIONS. VISIONS OF THE WRECK instead of VICTIMS OF THE WRECK would throw Rudiak's whole revelation out the window.
The tools you have on your PC today were not around in the early 90s. Even the Pentagon had to wait for Adobe Photoshop.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we still have our crack team of archeologists wandering around in the desert (and Bryant Gumbel is still in the Jersey Piper Cub hanger.)
The archeologists dug up and sifted the suspect areas and put the dirt in 60 bags and locked them in a safe at Wells Fargo Bank in Roswell for later analysis. Bryant Gumbel referred to the bags as "debris" from the UFO crash, which was the most laughable line in the show because nobody analyzed the dirt.
Sci Fi interviewed some surviving witnesses, people who had been there at the time (but no eye witnesses to the crash) and one of them was an old Sgt. from the Roswell Air Force Base with two hearing aids who had a great story about being told not to reveal anything. I forget his name, but he was great and they could have done the whole two hours with just him.