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NHNE News Brief 57
Friday, April 18, 1997
"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."
988 days until January 1, 2000
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A Billion Coca-Colas Ago
Discoveries in Whale Communication
"Mouse" Inventor Finally Recognized
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
Visionary Eats His Words
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
The Circle of Atonement
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Tree of Life
I Want to Empower You
Shroud Narrowly Misses Fire -- Again!
Alien Interview a Bust
Alien Insurance No Longer Available
Preparing for the "Big One"
Life on Europa?
Arctic Ozone Hole Worsens
The Cost of Clean Air
Nuclear Radiation a Good Thing?
Dying for Proof
A Legacy for the Future
Plan Your Party Now
Careers for the New Millennium
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US
A BILLION COCA-COLAS AGO
"A billion hours ago, human life appeared on Earth.
A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged.
A billion seconds ago, the Beatles changed music forever.
A billion Coca-Colas ago was yesterday morning."
---Robert C. Goizueta, Chairman of COCA-COLA
(Source: Melissa Sander, CNN ONLINE, 4/9/97)
Computers are helping to create an even more accurate image of dinosaurs that walked the earth millions of years ago. Working with computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan technology, Carl Diegert, a scientist at Albuquerque's SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORY has revealed details that paleontologists could not uncover by hacking fossils apart. At a local hospital, Diegert made CAT scans on a fossil of the 4-foot-long crest of a Parasaurolophus and then converted the images into three-dimensional computer models, using some of the same software that helped create the beasts in "Jurassic Park." Much to the surprise of his skeptical colleagues, he found a labyrinth of previously-unknown breathing tubes and passages inside the crest. Based on these new revelations, scientists now speculate, that to breathe, the animal drew air through this configuration of tubes and sinuses, through the skull roof and down its windpipe. Paleontologists also think the partially-hollow crest may have helped regulate the dinosaur's body temperature and served as a resonating chamber for producing sound. (JG)
DISCOVERIES IN WHALE COMMUNICATION
(Source: Don Knapp, CNN ONLINE, 4/10/97)
It is commonly known that whales communicate with each other through a series of squeaks and moans, but researchers now suspect that whales have dialects that reflect the part of the world where they live. David Bain, who studies the underwater utterings of two killer whales at MARINE WORLD in Vallejo, California, says the sounds they make are so different that the two had to learn to communicate with each other. They did so by mimicking the sounds the other whale made, and then colored those sounds with inflection, just as humans do. Researchers hesitate to call the sounds that whales make language, but it is clear that they do help whales communicate with each other. Other evidence suggests that dolphins can pick up on and use those same sounds. "The ability of whales and dolphins to imitate sounds helps develop something of a cross-species language," Bain says. "When the dolphin, Bayou, was separated from the orca, Yaka, Bayou began uttering orca-like sounds, presumably to get the whale's attention." (JG)
"MOUSE" INVENTOR FINALLY RECOGNIZED
(Source: Brian Jenkins, CNN ONLINE, 4/9,97)
Hundreds of millions of computer "mice" have been made since Doug Engelbart invented and patented what he called the "X-Y position indicator" in the 1960s. Engelbart only received $10,000 for his invention, but now, as the recent winner of the third annual Lemelson-Mit Prize for American Innovation, he's picking up an additional $500,000. Engelbart was working at the STANFORD RESEARCH INSTITUTE during the 1960s, when the vision of people sitting in front of a video screen interacting with a computer came to him. At a 1968 computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart spelled out his vision. "If, in your office, you were supplied with a computer display that was alive for you all day and was instantly responsive to every action you have, how much value could you derive from that?" None of the makers of mainframe computers listening to his presentation responded or showed any interest in his ideas, with one computer company executive claiming, "I don't want to get tied with other people, because they'll usurp resources and it'll get complicated." But Engelbart persisted. In addition to inventing the mouse, he came up with concepts that led to windows on the computer screen, online publishing, video-conferencing, e-mail and software that allowed several people in different locations to work on one document at the same time. Now, Engelbart runs the BOOTSTRAP INSTITUTE, helping companies and organizations build doorways to others in their fields. His $500,000 prize, he says, will help him bring people together in the new millennium. (JG)
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
VISIONARY EATS HIS WORDS
(Source: REUTERS, 4/14/97)
In 1995, Bob Metcalfe, networking pioneer turned computer industry columnist, warned of a "catastrophic collapse" of the Internet in 1996 (News Brief 28). The inventor of Ethernet technology and founder of 3COM, even went so far as to pledge he would eat the words from his December 1995 INFOWORLD column if the dramatic debacle did not come to pass as predicted. In a keynote address at the recent Sixth International World Wide Web Conference, Metcalfe was called upon to assess his accuracy. While he noted that outages at NETCOM ON-LINE COMMUNICATIONS, AMERICA ONLINE and BBN represented millions of lost service hours, he acknowledged the "gigalapse" catastrophe he'd projected had not happened. Metcalfe pleaded that the ink of his magazine article could make him fatally ill, and offered instead to eat a piece of giant cake, decorated to look like his column. The crowd, packed with Internet partisans and experts with a stake the Web's continued growth, would have none of it. Metcalfe was forced to rip up a copy of the offensive column, turn it to slush in an electric blender along with a little juice, and slurp down the mess to the cheers of the crowd. (JG)
NEWS BRIEF SPONSOR:
THE CIRCLE OF ATONEMENT:
TEACHING & HEALING CENTER
The Circle is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching "A Course In Miracles." Staff writers and teachers are Robert Perry and Allen Watson. The Circle publishes newsletters & booklets, offers weekly classes, quarterly intensives, correspondence courses and Sedona-based workshops. If you are interested, you can contact The Circle at:
P.O. Box 4238
West Sedona, AZ, USA 86340
Phone: (520) 282-0790
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
TREE OF LIFE
"I just finished watching your video, something I've wanted to do for the longest time. I had to write to tell you how inspiring it was. The very fact that it is not a professional product says so much about the potential and the intimacy that is possible among like-minded 'simple folk' such as we, anywhere in the world! In fact, it makes us neighbors and perhaps friends. Seeing you both (and Lance and Linda, to whom I have also written) in person makes your weekly reports seem more like conversations. I feel really blessed to have stumbled across your site about two years ago when I was still struggling with the concept of whether or not the Net was a good development. Better still, is the fact that I have been able to share valuable insights with my own small, but rapidly growing, circle of 'New Age' aware friends. This is definitely an exciting time! Quite recently, our small group has started to branch out in many related directions. I can visualize the branches becoming a veritable 'Tree of Life' for our community. If this happens in enough communities, we could grow a new spiritual forest ecosystem that could truly nourish the planet. NHNE may have a big part in sowing the seeds to make us a homogeneous energy system for healing the Earth and really instill in us all the concept that we are One."
---Tyna Silver, Temiskaming, Ontario, Canada
I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU
"I want to thank you for producing this educational News Brief. I was wondering how you make a living. With only 123 [128 now] paid subscribers, you must have another way of making money. Keep up the good work. I believe that it's not about money. I just want to empower you to receive."
---Cheryl, San Francisco, California
[Thank you for your kind words of support. NewHeavenNewEarth has a paid staff of two (Publisher, David Sunfellow and Editor, James Gregory) and a volunteer staff of 11 SwiftWing reporters. Our only sources of income are News Brief subscriptions, advertiser fees, donations, and what we receive from the sale of earth changes maps and NHNE videos. An average of 5,000 people a month visit our Web site. JG]
SHROUD NARROWLY ESCAPES FIRE -- AGAIN!
(Source: REUTERS, 4/12/97, Barrie M. Schwortz, Shroud of Turin Web Site, 4/18/97)
[The following is a summary of an NHNE News Flash sent to subscribers on April 12, 1997, plus additional late-breaking details.]
THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST in Turin, Italy, repository of the world-famous Shroud, was badly damaged by fire on Friday, April 11. The Shroud, which is stored in a flat silver casket, was rescued from the flames by firemen who had to batter down a shield of bulletproof glass to get at it. It appears that the fire began in the Dome of the Chapel, which was undergoing renovations. Fortunately, the Shroud had been previously moved from the altar of the Chapel to a safer place inside the Cathedral itself while the renovations were taking place. Authorities agree that if it had been in its normal resting place, it would have been completely consumed by the flames.
This is the third time that the Shroud has faced a dangerous trial by fire and survived. "It's intact, it's a miracle," said Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini, Archbishop of Turin and Custodian of the Shroud, after the shroud was turned over to him for safekeeping. But not everyone shared the Cardinal's joy. "It would have been better if the shroud had been burnt," said Vittorio Sgarbi, a high-profile Italian art historian and member of parliament. "There's never been any doubt that it is a fraud," he added. Millions of faithful would violently dispute Sgarbi's assertion, and rever the relic as Christ's burial cloth. When asked where he found the strength to break the bulletproof glass, fireman Mario Trematore replied, "Bulletproof glass can stop bullets, but it cannot stop the strength of values represented by the symbol inside it. With only a hammer and our hands (still bleeding), we broke the glass. This is extraordinary!" As the Shroud was carried from the Cathedral by the team of fireman, hundreds of onlookers applauded the rescue effort while many others wept at the sight of the seriously damaged dome. 200 firemen continued to fight the blaze for more than four hours. The Pope has announced that he will be conferring a Papal Honor on the firemen who risked their lives in heroically rescuing the Shroud.
The Shroud was unfolded and examined on April 14, in the presence of Cardinal Archbishop Giovanni Saldarini. An official press release stated: "The results of the inspection realized on the relic have shown a situation completely regular and in conformity with that verified in the previous exhibitions, from the 1978 on. Harmful effects of any kind are excluded."
While the Cathedral was saved from the flames, the Chapel and the Royal Palace adjoining it were badly damaged. With the ashes of the fire barely cool, plans have already been set into motion on many levels to fund and complete repairs to the damaged Chapel, Royal Palace and Cathedral. Regional leaders earmarked ten billion lire (5.9 million dollars) to repair the damage caused by the fire. The European Parliament is expected to meet in Brussels to decide how much it would set aside for the restoration effort. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Walter Veltroni said the government has appropriated 12 billion liras for the urgent temporary covering to the damaged premises and has set aside an additional 100 billion liras for the reconstruction of the Shroud Chapel. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying he was "struck and sorrowful," promised he would ask UNESCO to help Turin financially. Public fund raising has begin as well, raising 632 million liras in the first 48 hours.
In spite of this near tragedy, it seems that once again, the Shroud of Turin will endure. The Shroud has had previous "trials by fire." The most significant was on December 4, 1532. While stored in the Sainte Chapelle in Chambery, France, the cloth itself was damaged when that cathedral also caught fire, causing such extreme heat that the silver casket or reliquary in which it was stored began to melt. When this was discovered, water was poured over the reliquary, quenching the fire, but not before hot, molten silver dropped onto the folded cloth inside, damaging it and causing the now familiar pattern of burns extending along both sides of the image. In 1534 these burn holes were repaired by the Poor Clare Nuns, who sewed patches into the largest holes and attached a full size backing cloth to the Shroud (known as the Holland Cloth) to strengthen it. Also apparent on the Shroud are four sets of four burn holes in an "L" shape. Historians generally agree these were not caused by the 1532 fire but by an earlier undocumented event. An illuminated Hungarian text from 1204, called the Pray Manuscript, includes an illustration of the Shroud and shows these unique burn holes.
In the anticipation of the Great Jubilee of the Third Millennium, the Shroud was scheduled to be put on rare public display between April and June in 1998. Cardinal Saldarini has vowed to stick to that plan, saying, "The 1998 exhibit of the Shroud would go on as planned," although no immediate announcement was made of a possible location.
For more information, consult the Shroud of Turin Web Site:
ALIEN INTERVIEW A BUST
(Source: CNI NEWS, 4/16/97)
On April 14, the TV show, "Strange Universe," aired a 30-minute segment describing new footage of an "alien interview" supposedly spirited out of Area 51 by a man known only as Victor. In the opinion of CNI NEWS, everything about this production was suspicious. "Strange Universe" was only permitted to air a few seconds of the alleged footage, which is the property of ROCKET PICTURES. Those few seconds showed an apparent "alien" of the "gray" variety, with only the head and right shoulder visible. A small green light moved up and down in the lower right corner of the screen. That was it. At least five people -- researcher Robert O. Dean, abductee Jesse Long, special effects artist/abductee Steve Neill, MUFON investigator/abductee Alice Leavy, and author/abductee Whitley Strieber -- had been shown the entire several minutes of footage and were asked to comment on camera. "Strange Universe" edited their remarks to remove nearly all indications that the footage might be regarded as fake, while playing and replaying several remarks by Whitley Strieber and Bob Dean, both of whom were clearly moved by some elements of the footage. Only one negative opinion by Jesse Long was aired during the broadcast. CNI NEWS talked afterwards with Steve Neill, who surmised that the alien was a puppet: "I could recreate that in my garage over the weekend." CNI NEWS believes this "Strange Universe" segment should be considered nothing more than a 30-minute infomercial for the "alien interview" video soon to be released by ROCKET PICTURES. (JG)
ALIEN INSURANCE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
(Sources: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 4/2/97; PALO ALTO DAILY NEWS, 3/31/97 via Steve Haag)
GOODFELLOW, REBECCA, INGRAMS, AND PEARSON, the London brokerage firm that offered insurance against abduction by aliens has stopped offering the policy after the Heaven's Gate mass suicide. The cult members had bought one of the policies over the Internet last October for $1,000, which covered up to 50 members and would pay $1 million per person for abduction, impregnation or death caused by aliens. The beneficiary of the policy was the SOCIETY OF HEAVEN'S GATE. The brokerage house added alien insurance to its list of policies last summer and Heaven's Gate was one of 4,000 to sign up. Said Managing Director Simon Burgess, "I am deeply shocked and saddened, and that's why we're withdrawing from the market. We don't wish to contribute to a repetition of the Heaven's Gate deaths." While the alien abduction policies will not be renewed, the company continues to offer other unusual policies, which account for about 10 percent of its business, insuring: virgins against immaculate conception; prostitutes against loss of earnings from headache and backache; conversion to a werewolf or vampire; death or serious injury through paranormal activity. (JG)
(Source: Mary Roach, DISCOVER, 5/97)
Of the thousands of meteors that streak across the sky each day, only one every second day or so hits the surface of the planet. Of those, most are lost forever as they fall into the sea or are swallowed up by a tangle of vegetation. One of the few areas of the world where it is relatively easy to find meteorites (meteors that fall to earth) are the icefields of Antarctica. There, the relentless Antarctic wind exposes them and it is just a matter of finding them and picking them up. Meteorites are easy to spot. There is absolutely nothing else on the ice.
This is exactly how the ANTARCTIC SEARCH FOR METEORITES TEAM (ANSMET) found ALH84001 -- the "Life on Mars" meteorite -- in 1984. Weather permitting, each day of the short Antarctic summer for the last 20 years, ANSMET members ride on snowmobiles 50 feet apart following a regular grid search pattern while scanning the ice ahead of them. When they reach the perimeter of their search area, they turn around, line up on the next strip of ice and go back the other way. The skidoos are equipped with Global Positioning Satellite feeds which calculate the latitude and longitude of each meteorite. The finds are bagged and sealed, and at the end of the season are shipped to the meteorite processing lab at NASA's JOHNSON SPACE CENTER in Houston. A catalog describing the available specimens is sent to researchers, who may then request a slice of the rock. More than 60 research groups have pieces of ALH84001. In a typical season, the team will find 1,000 meteorites.
The most commonly found (90 percent) type of meteorite is the chondrite -- pieces of asteroid. At 4.5 billion years old, they are the most ancient things on Earth. The rest are achondrites -- volcanic rocks from planets, or asteroids large enough to have a molten core, such as Vesta. Before 1980, it was thought to be impossible that a colliding meteor could knock off a piece of planet into space. That was the year the first meteorite from the Moon was found by the ANSMET team, followed a few years later by the first Martian meteorite. To date, a total of 12 Martian meteorites have been recovered. Scientists feel it is just a matter of time before they find meteorites from Mercury and Venus as well. (JG)
PREPARING FOR THE "BIG ONE"
(Source: Adam Rogers, NEWSWEEK, 3/24/97)
With the Hale-Bopp Comet apparently heading peacefully out of the neighborhood, many are breathing a sigh of relief that the mega-comet whose core measured some 25 miles across (normal comets are about thee miles wide), didn't cause any mega-problems. But what if the "next big one" is headed on a collision course for Earth? What can we do from going the same way as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago when a comet or asteroid estimated at five miles in diameter smashed into the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico causing global disruption and mass extinction of life (News Brief 49)?
A rudimentary early-warning system called NEAR EARTH ASTEROID TRACKING (NEAT) in Maui, Hawaii has already been developed, and in 1991, NASA recommended to U.S. Congress that an array of six tracking telescopes be set up around the world at a cost of $10 million -- about ten times the yearly budget for NEAT. Although the program was not funded, tracking telescopes in Italy and China are about to come online and may stimulate more action.
But such an alarm system would only sound a warning of an approaching calamity, and in no way deals with the problem itself. Despite the lack of success of avoiding disaster in the recent mini-series "Asteroid," real-life scientists are confident that, given a little notice, they could knock the intruder out of the sky, or at least alter its path enough to create a near miss.
There are a number of alternatives:
-- Kinetic Blast: rockets with heavy payloads would hit the object with enough energy to divert or pulverize it.
-- Solar Sail: a giant sail would be attached to the object and the solar wind would carry it away from Earth.
-- Laser: Moon or Earth-based lasers would boil off layers of the object, generating momentum in a new direction.
-- Nuclear Explosion: a nuclear weapon detonated near the surface might blow the object off course.
-- Redirection: a rocket would land on the object and push it into a new orbit.
There also some considerations. If the object is blown up into smaller pieces, the danger (as "Asteroid" graphically demonstrated) is that you would create multiple impacts on Earth instead of one. An object would have to be smaller than 65 feet in diameter to burn up harmlessly as it entered the atmosphere. If you go the gentler and safer route of redirecting the object, then the more lead time the less you would have to nudge the object in order for it to miss the Earth.
"During the Cold War, I was always hoping we would find an incoming threat," says Tom Gehrels of SPACEWATCH in Arizona. "Then we could have all gone after a common enemy." Today, even fewer obstacles stand in the way of a united front. "The biggest problem in this whole field," says Greg Canavan, an expert in near Earth object interception at LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY, "has just been getting anybody to take this seriously." It may take a threat from without to unite us.
LIFE ON EUROPA?
(Sources: CNN ONLINE, 4/9/97; AUFORA News Update, 4/9/97; Kathy A. Svitil, DISCOVER, 5/97)
Chunky ice rafts and relatively smooth, crater-free patches on the surface of Jupiter's frozen moon Europa have renewed speculation of the existence of life, according to new images captured during Galileo's closest flyby of Europa on Feb. 20, 1997, when the spacecraft came within 363 miles of the Jovian moon. Dr. Ronald Greeley, an ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY geologist and Galileo imaging team member, said the ice rafts reveal that Europa may have a very thin ice crust covering either liquid water or slush. The ice is probably much thinner than the six miles originally estimated by Gene Shoemaker at the LOWELL OBSERVATORY in Flagstaff, Arizona based upon information gathered by earlier flybys. "These rafts appear to be floating and may be comparable to icebergs here on Earth," said Galileo imaging team member, Dr. Michael Carr, a geologist with the U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY. "The puzzle is what causes the rafts to rotate. The implication is that they are being churned by convection." The oceans are estimated to be 60 miles deep. UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA scientist Paul Geissler said Galileo provided researchers with "strong indirect" evidence that water and volcanic activity are present. Researchers have found primitive life forms on Earth inside geothermal vents deep in the ocean and scientists theorize that a similar type of life form could exist on Europa, despite the fact that the surface temperature of the moon is -230 degrees. Europa's next flyby will be on November 6, and eight more Europa flybys are planned as part of Galileo's two-year extended mission, which will also include encounters with two other Jovian moons, Callisto and Io. (JG)
ARCTIC OZONE HOLE WORSENS
(Source: NASA Press Release, 4/8/97)
Unusually low levels of ozone over the Arctic were measured during March by satellite-based monitoring instruments operated by NASA and THE NATIONAL OCEANIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA). "These are the lowest ozone values ever measured in the Arctic during late-March and early-April," said Dr. Pawan K. Bhartia, of NASA's GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER (GSFC), in Greenbelt, Maryland. Centered in a stable, nearly circular region over the North Pole, the average March 1997 ozone amounts were 40 percent lower than the average March amounts observed between 1979 and 1982. This follows ozone amounts in March 1996 that were 24 percent lower than the 1979-82 average. As low as these ozone levels are, they are still nearly twice as high as the lowest values seen in the Antarctic during Southern Hemisphere spring. "Unusual meteorological conditions played a significant role in the March ozone lows," according to Paul A. Newman of the GSFC. The 1996/1997 winter polar vortex has been unusually strong and persistent into March. Data from NOAA's CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER show cold temperatures low enough to form polar stratospheric clouds during late March. These clouds, common in January and February but rare in late March, helped convert certain forms of stratospheric chlorine into forms which are highly reactive to ozone destruction. At polar latitudes, the combination of reactive chlorine compounds and sunlight from the intensifying March sunshine leads to destruction of ozone. (JG)
THE COST OF CLEAN AIR
(Source: NATIONAL WILDLIFE via NEXUS, Mar-Apr/97)
The direct legacy of the U.S. 1970 Clean Air Act has been reduced levels of carbon monoxide, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate emissions. But at what cost? At the time the law was being considered, big business complained that the cost of lowering pollution levels was too great a price to pay for the benefits gained. The same arguments are again being made today, as further improvements in environmental protection are being considered. To help bring some clarification to the issue, the U.S. Congress directed the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY to evaluate costs and benefits. According to a preliminary study, the total savings from the Clean Air Act from 1970 to 1990 amounted to approximately $6.4 trillion, while the total cost for air pollution controls was an estimated $436 billion. This works out to about $20 saved in reduced risks of death, illness and other adverse effects for every $1 spent on limiting air pollution. Clean air and clean water are the extra bonuses. (JG)
NUCLEAR RADIATION A GOOD THING?
(Source: Joby Warrick, WASHINGTON POST via JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/14/97)
The statistics seem clear and compelling, and completely at odds with common sense: in Japan, site of the world's only nuclear attacks, radiation victims are outliving their peers. As expected, the people closest to Ground Zero have died in high numbers of cancers that began in a white-hot flash of nuclear radiation, but as one moves farther from the blast site, the death rate plunges until it actually dips below the baseline.
The discrepancy has several possible explanations, but none of them has quelled the growing debate over what the data seem to suggest: could low-level radiation -- regulated in this country and elsewhere as a powerful carcinogen -- be less dangerous than commonly believed? The question, which has divided scientists and academicians for years, has flared again because a number of provocative new studies seem to refute prevailing views about the relatively low-grade radiation such as that found in medical waste and in the natural radon gas in many homes.
The issue has broad implications, not just for nuclear workers but also for ordinary consumers and taxpayers. If the government relaxed radiation exposure standards, by even a small degree, it could result in enormous savings for utilities, hospitals and other businesses that use radioactive materials. Taxpayers could save billions of dollars if cleanup standards were eased for the dozens of lightly-contaminated sites around the country.
Radiation is energy in movement and can take the form of high-speed particles or electromagnetic waves. The weaker, or "non-ionizing," forms of radiation include visible light and radio and television waves. Considerably more powerful is "ionizing" radiation, so named because it packs enough energy to strip electrons from atoms. At high levels, ionizing radiation can do serious damage to the genetic material within cells.
Here are a few of the recent findings which are challenging the conventional wisdom:
-- Tens of thousands of Navy shipyard workers were exposed to radiation in the '60s and '70s. Yet, in carefully controlled epidemiological studies by JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, the irradiated workers appear to have suffered no ill effects. In fact, they have fewer cancers than workers who were not exposed.
-- Thousands of soldiers took part in nuclear weapons tests early in the Cold War. In a recent analysis, researchers found no sign of unusual illnesses or higher death rates among these "atomic veterans."
-- A UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH researcher tracked cancer rates in American counties with the highest levels of radon, the naturally radioactive gas. His finding: lung cancers are lower where exposure is the highest.
Each case has been met with criticism over possible flaws that may have skewed the results. To help resolve the dispute, a committee of the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES gathered in Washington recently to launch a month-long project to decide whether the latest evidence on low-level radiation and health should be formally reviewed. A similar review is under way at the NATIONAL COUNCIL ON RADIATION PROTECTION AND MEASUREMENTS, the congressionally-chartered board that helps advise the government on radiation safety. (JG)
DYING FOR PROOF
(Source: Kenneth L. Woodward & Jerry Adler, NEWSWEEK, 3/31/97)
It is remarkable that in millennial America, where public cynicism seemingly has no bounds, trust in God still exists. How do the faithful know that God really answers prayers? More than any other issue in religion, the response depends on point of view. If you believe, no proof is necessary. If you don't, no proof is sufficient.
Last year Carl Sagan, scientist and author, died an untimely death leaving behind a wife, five children, much unfinished work, and a quest unresolved. What was not commonly known about the world-renowned astronomer, was that for most of the last decade of his life, Sagan had engaged in a wide-ranging dialogue with religious leaders about the existence of God.
Sagan was fascinated by the phenomenon that educated adults in the Age of Science would cling to beliefs based on the unverifiable testimony of observers dead for 2,000 years. He argued that God did not exist, while at the same time seeking out someone to prove him wrong. He challenged a wide variety of believers, such as: Rev. James Parks Morton, Dean of ST. JOHN THE DIVINE CATHEDRAL in New York, Joan Brown Campell, General Secretary of the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, Robert Seiple, head of WORLD VISION. Once he confronted Campbell with the question, "You're so smart, why do you believe in God?" To which she quickly answered, "You're so smart, why DON'T you believe in God." Later, her response to the question took a different tack, when she asked him after much thought, "Carl, do you believe in love?" He quickly answered, "Of course I do." (He was very much in love with his wife.) Campbell countered, "Can you prove that love exists?" Initially he said that he could, but after some introspection, admitted that love, like faith, had something unprovable at its core." It was something, but still a long way from accepting the claims of organized religion.
It wasn't always this way. In his correspondence he admitted, "I started out very much enjoying the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God, who, like a benign parent, was watching out for me. I was brought to the skepticism by the slow realization that the 'evidence' [for religion] is anecdotal."
Sagan reserved particular scorn for petitionary prayer, which, by its very utterance, rendered to God qualities of omnipotence, omniscience, benevolence that he found mutually contradictory -- does a God who knows everything need to be reminded that someone is sick? Or is it that he knows, but he won't do anything about it until someone one asks him? queried Sagan.
Nevertheless, in the winter of 1995, when Sagan was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a disease related to leukemia, Rev. Morton, along with many of Sagan's believer friends and supporters, began praying in earnest. One-and-half years and three bone-marrow transplants later, Sagan seemed to be on the road to recovery, prompting Campbell to comment, "I think you are going to make it." To which Sagan replied, "I'm praying I'm going to make it."
Then a sudden and unexpected attack of radiation-induced pneumonia struck him down. He never recovered. "There was no deathbed conversion," said his Ann Druyan, his wife of 20 years. Didn't he want to believe? she was asked. "Carl never wanted to believe," she replied. "He wanted to know."
Yet, for many of the rest of us, the prayers keep coming -- for health, safety, love, money, and, to a remarkable degree, for the welfare of others -- as was found by a recent NEWSWEEK poll, where 49 percent of those polled said that they prayed at least once a day. One curious statistic was that 87 percent of Americans admitted that they believed that God answered prayers, meaning that a full one third of the population believed in the power of prayer, yet did not practice it themselves. Carl Sagan was one of these. Perhaps he has his answers now. (JG)
A LEGACY FOR THE FUTURE
(Source: Kendall Hamilton and Steve Rhodes, NEWSWEEK, 4/7/97)
Blame it on Pre-Millennium Fever, but time capsules are undergoing something of a boom at the moment. Sales at BARRTEK, which sells custom-engraved aluminum capsules, have tripled in the past year and the INTERNATIONAL TIME CAPSULE SOCIETY in Atlanta is selling up to a dozen a day. Co-founder Paul Hudson, calls it "instant archeology."
The trouble is that most of the capsules get lost long before it's time to dig them up. A capsule interred in the 20TH CENTURY FOX parking lot by the cast of MASH in 1983 now sits beneath the bulk of the new Marriott Hotel. In 1953, the State of Washington buried a two-ton capsule on the capital grounds in Olympia to celebrate its territorial centennial. Unfortunately, the location has been lost because the legislature failed to approve funds to mark the site.
So what do you put in a time capsule? Officials in Sandusky, Ohio, using a Faith Popcorn book to guide them, chose to be remembered for posterity by a purple WonderBra, a "Buns of Steel" video, Pop Tarts, a Twinkie, crayons and the May 29, 1995 issue of NEWSWEEK. Their capsule containing the "triumphs and tragedies of life in America in 1995" is slated to be opened in 2045. In 1940 at OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY, Thornton Jacobs loaded his swimming-pool-sized time capsule, which he called the Crypt of Civilization, with microfilms of books "on every subject of importance known to mankind," materials detailing 6,000 years of history, photos and recordings of contemporary world leaders, plus a can of BUDWEISER beer. The repository is due to be opened in the year 8113, by which time he figured everything would have changed, except beer. NATIONAL CAR RENTAL's time capsule containing 50 years of rental-counter memorabilia is scheduled to be opened in 2022. Says spokesman David Schoeneck, "You'll see pictures of uniforms from various decades and go, 'Oh, jeez, what were they thinking!" Exactly. (JG)
PLAN YOUR PARTY NOW
(Source: Kendall Hamilton & Patricia King, NEWSWEEK, 2/17/97)
Haven't finalized the arrangements for your millennium bash on December 31, 1999? Consider these options:
-- Times Square is planning a massive 24-hour bash, including live hookups to parties around the world.
-- For $5,210, ABERCROMBIE & KENT INTERNATIONAL will put you in a deck chair basking in the midnight Antarctica sun on the ship "Explorer".
-- The MILLENNIUM SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON, DC is planning a World Millennium Charity Ball to be held simultaneously at world-famous landmarks, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza.
-- British impresario, Bruno Peek, plans to illuminate the globe by networking individual communities around the world to simultaneously light up fireworks, lasers, bonfires -- anything to celebrate the dawn of a new millennium.
-- Donald Presner, a Florida lawyer, has hired a Concorde jet for the event and plans to fly a planeful of jetsetters to a "quadruple midnight" millennial celebration, first in Paris, then on to Gander, Newfoundland, next to Vancouver, British Columbia, and wrapping up in Kona, Hawaii. The experience will run $65,000 and is limited to 80 people.
Note, some of these events may already be sold out. (JG)
CAREERS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM
(Source: NEWSWEEK, 3/31/97)
Looking for a new career in the next millennium? With the Baby Boomer Generation moving into retirement, you might consider the home care industry. It shows the most promising growth prospects for the future with a predicted 119 percent increase in job openings. Here are some of the other more promising jobs (with the predicted percentage increase in placements by the year 2005 from what was available in 1994): occupational therapy assistants (82 percent), manicurists (70 percent) corrections officers (51 percent), pest controllers (36 percent). A world of manicurists, corrections officers and pest controllers does not evoke an image of a brave new world. Here are some fields to avoid for obvious reasons: bank tellers, typists and word processors, directory assistance operators. (JG)
David Sunfellow (DS)
James Gregory (JG)
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Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
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Mary Koch (MK)
Robert Perry (RP)
Steve Haag (SH)
Chris Czech (CC)
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Mark Nijenhuis (MN)
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