NTS LogoSkeptical News for 13 June 2002

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, June 13, 2002

Real-Life Miracles and Unexplained Events

http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0206/11/lkl.00.html

CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Aired June 11, 2002 - 21:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: One boy's faith helps his brother survive a coma.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, I can see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A blind man is shocked into seeing.

A would-be suicide marries the friend who saved her life.

And a son finds the father he never knew.

Emotional stories from PAX-TV's "It's a Miracle."

Joining us: the program's host, Emmy-winner Richard Thomas, plus people who'll share their incredible experiences all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE takes a look at an extraordinary television show on PAX-TV; it's in its fourth season. It's called "It's a Miracle," airing every Thursday night at 8:00. It's hosted by the Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas.

Why do you do this?

RICHARD THOMAS, HOST, "IT'S A MIRACLE": Because it's good news. It makes me happy.

KING: How did they get you for this?

THOMAS: Well they -- about four years ago they called and said, we want to do a show kind of like, you know, unexplained mysteries and unsolved crimes. But these are good news stories; and these can be stories about wonderful, sort of miraculous events that have happened to change people's lives.

And I thought, well, that's great, good news -- but does anybody want to see that? And it's been four years.

KING: And you have the real people on, as well as do re- enactments of...

THOMAS: Yes, I just host the show and narrate, which is something I've never done before. It's a whole different kind of job for me.

And then we have the real people come in, and we talk to them, and they give interviews. And then there are re-enactments, which sometimes involve them more and more, which is -- which I enjoy.

KING: Because we're going to show this tonight.

It basically says it encounters stories of healing, intervention mysterious, uplifting phenomena that often defy plausible explanation.

THOMAS: That's absolutely right. Everything from...

KING: It's a stretch to say "miracle" sometimes.

THOMAS: Well, it is a stretch sometimes. But for me, what I do is I just -- I think it's up to the people whose stories these are. When they feel, they know, they feel that something miraculous has happened to change their lives, that's the word they use, and that's a word I respect.

KING: Do you ever find the stories unbelievable to you?

THOMAS: Very hard; very hard to believe some of them. I mean, sometimes you just want to call it -- it's a coincidence. But, then I don't really believe in coincidences.

KING: You don't? You believe...

THOMAS: No, I think all these...

KING: ... something is out there.

THOMAS: Well, I think all these things come together. And...

KING: Where do they find them?

THOMAS: From all over. We check -- there are the newspapers. I don't pick the stories, I just host them, you know.

But they find them in the newspapers. They find them in magazines, and in the news. People write in. Hundreds and hundreds of people write in.

KING: Because they want to get on?

THOMAS: Oh, yes, they have -- you know, I'll be walking across the driveway in my grocery store and people will come up and tell me stories. They come up with miracles everywhere.

KING: All right, Richard Thomas will be with us the full program. We're going to take you to some of these people. We're going to begin in Dallas with Bo Carver and Katzi Carver. And let's watch this little re-enactment, the synopsis of their story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

BO CARVER: When I went in, I saw her laying on the bed, and a lot of pill bottles were laying to the side.

Come on, wake up, wake up! Wake up!

THOMAS (voice-over): While the night manager ran for help, Bo tried desperately to awaken Katzi, but there was no response.

B. CARVER: Many, many emotions were passing through me at that time. I felt like that I might have been too late.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's meet the real, live Bo Carver and Katzi Carver. They are Mr. and Mrs. Carver.

And now on this night, Katzi, you were -- why did you want to kill yourself?

KATZI CARVER, TRIED SUICIDE, MARRIED MAN WHO SAVED HER: I think that it was a culmination of a lot of stresses in my life. And it was just the evening that the straw broke the camel's back. So I...

KING: So you took some pills.

K. CARVER: Right.

KING: And you were in a hotel room, not known to anyone that you'd be there?

K. CARVER: Right. I didn't leave any note or any -- even a bobby pin anywhere for anyone to know where I might be.

KING: Was Bo your boyfriend?

K. CARVER: He was a friend at the time; a good friend.

KING: Now what happened to you, Bo? How did you pick up -- how did you find -- what happened?

B. CARVER: That's the nature of the show, isn't it? It's a miracle. And that's what I call it. It's...

KING: What happened? Were you sleeping?

B. CARVER: I was sleeping. It was 3:00 a.m. And I'm a real heavy sleeper. And all of a sudden, I just rose straight out of the bed, just like somebody had prodded me up.

And as soon as I woke, raised up from the bed, I looked at the clock and it showed 3:00 in the morning. And immediately Katzi was on my mind. And I didn't have a good feeling about her. And -- but I didn't know what to do at that point. It was just a heavy, heavy feeling.

And I immediately called the house, and her son answered the phone -- which was also a miracle, because she's usually gone over that -- the weekend time. And he answered the phone. And he didn't have any idea where she was, where she had gone -- didn't leave a note. Nothing.

And so I said, well maybe I'll just come over your way, and maybe we can game plan, maybe she'll show up shortly, maybe she went out with a friend. I don't know. But maybe I'll come over there, we'll game plan and see what we can do and go from there.

And as I began to head that direction, it was about an hour away, too. From my apartment to their house. I just began to say short little prayers like, guide me and protect Katzi. And as I was making...

KING: Did you have reason to believe she was in trouble?

B. CARVER: There was a heavy sense of that. Being 3:00 in the morning, she wasn't home -- that wasn't like her to be gone.

KING: So how did you find her?

B. CARVER: As I was saying, I was headed that way, to their house. And about three-quarters of the way there -- and during this time I was saying these little prayers, I came to a red light. And while I was there, I looked up and there was a Ramada Inn sign.

And just a real impression -- crazy as it may be -- I had this thought to pull in through that parking lot. And I said to myself then, I won't never tell anybody about this because it's odd. But I did, I pulled through the parking lot and I made the three turns. And on the third turn I saw her car there.

And I didn't have a real good feeling. I knew there was problems at that point.

KING: How did you get into her room?

B. CARVER: That's another miracle. That's part of the miracle story. As I came into the hotel, and the night manager was there. And he was, for quite some time, was uncooperative in helping me.

And finally I looked him right in the eye, Larry, and I said, if you've ever believed anything in your life, you need to trust this situation, that there's a possibility of a major problem.

KING: All right, you break into the room and you save her life?

B. CARVER: Yes sir, that's correct.

KING: Katzi?

K. CARVER: Yes sir?

KING: What do you make of this?

K. CARVER: I think that it was wonderful that he was willing to go beyond the five senses and just get into the world of a little bit of spirit to feel that it was all right to be crazy and to take chances and to step out there.

KING: And then you wind up falling in love and getting married?

K. CARVER: I know. It's unbelievable, isn't it? But it really is.

KING: How did you get over your depression?

K. CARVER: Well, you know, that was a long journey. A long journey of trying to get outside myself and look outward. A lot of times that can help. We've started a foundation called The Feather of Hope Tree about looking out -- helping people in just minute ways and how it can make a big difference.

KING: I salute you both.

What a story, Richard.

THOMAS: It's great how -- what does it take to follow that little voice inside? How many of us don't do it?

KING: Those were the Carvers. We've got more coming.

We're saluting "It's a Miracle." It's seen on PAX-TV.

Back with more. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

K. CARVER: I realized what an incredible miracle it was. So many things had to come together to make this happen. Jason had to come home at the right time. A very sound sleeper rising out of a bed -- Bo had to wake up.

It was almost like, this can't be real. If Bo Carver had not listened and followed his instincts and felt that it was all right to feel crazy, or all right to feel all those things that he went through, there is no way that I would still be alive today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back on LARRY KING LIVE. With me is the Emmy award- winning actor Richard Thomas, who is the host of "It's a Miracle" on PAX-TV.

Our next story will center in Atlanta, Georgia, where we'll meet Esther Green, whose car was carjacked with her young daughter in the backseat. Holly Hill, the 911 operator who saved Green from the carjacker. We'll going to show you a re-enactment now of the scene inside the car just after Esther realizes she's been car jacked. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

THOMAS (voice-over): Inside the Mercedes, the nightmare is just beginning.

ESTHER GREEN, CARJACKING SURVIVOR (voice-over): I grabbed the steering wheel and pulled it and was blowing the horn at the same time, hoping to draw attention or to get him to stop.

THOMAS: But she only managed to make him angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lady, if you don't sit back, I'm going to shoot you!

THOMAS: The threat of violence stopped Esther in her tracks.

GREEN: I stopped fighting and I sat back, and he took off out of the parking lot.

GREEN (on camera): What do you want? I'll give you anything you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up!

GREEN (voice-over): I just had my head down because I was like, how did I get my daughter into this? And looking down at the floor was my diaper bag, and in the side pocket was my cell phone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And so, Esther, you took your cell phone, dialed 911, and put it next to the baby.

GREEN: Actually, I put it in my diaper bag and left the receiver facing out.

KING: And what you had to do was hope that 911 would hear what was going on in the car, right?

GREEN: Exactly. I could not tell if the call had gone through, if I had gotten the proper signal for the call to go through. I just prayed that someone had answered on the other end.

KING: And how would you let them know where you are?

GREEN: Immediately I began to scream, "I have a baby. Please stop the car. Let me out of the car."

And I started to pray out loud, and I just became immediately calm. And from there is when I just decided to pinpoint my location and as we were traveling, and using it as a question to the carjacker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

GREEN: Oh my God, please help me. Somebody help me. Please stop the car. You can have the car. I don't care. You can have the car. Please. Where are you going to take us? Where are we going to go? You're headed down 314? Why are we headed down this way to the airport?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the airport.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now Holly, you take this call. What's your first reaction? What do you hear?

HOLLY HILL, 911 OPERATOR: The first thing I hear is just somebody screaming and yelling, saying, "I have a baby. Please stop the car."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

GREEN: Please, I have a baby!

HILL: Ma'am, ma'am...

GREEN: Oh, my God! Stop the car! Stop the car!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: I first thought it was going to be a domestic fight in the car between two people. So I first tried to get her attention. That's what we usually try to do in a domestic fight, keep them from talking to each other and to talk to me.

Then she started talking about locations, you know, why are you passing Belles & Beaus? Why are you passing Tinseltown now? So I knew what direction she was going.

KING: Did you then realize she was being carjacked?

HILL: Yes, one of her friends had called in, which another operator took that call, and she said my friend just drove off and I don't know why. That's when we realized that it was going to be a carjacking that we had going on.

KING: Holly, did you have high hopes this would work?

HILL: You know, you don't think about it. You just do your job. You don't think about that it may not -- everybody may not make it home safely. You just do your job and you do your best to make sure that they do.

KING: And Esther, what are you thinking as you're going along? Are you thinking they're hearing me? They're going to get some attention, or are you pessimistic?

GREEN: I was actually very hopeful. As I said, when I began to pray, I received an overwhelming sense of calm, and I felt that we were going to get out of this situation. And I just was praying at the same time that someone was hearing me and understood what I was trying to do by giving them the location of where the carjacker was taking us. I also mentioned it's a brand new Mercedes, just take the car. And I was just plotting my locations as we went along.

KING: Did you say it's a brand new green Mercedes, my license plate is 2XY3 ...

GREEN: Believe me, believe me, it did run in my mind how I can throw that in. I had just gotten new tags and I knew the license plate number. But I tried to keep it where it was still believable to the carjacker that I was speaking with him.

KING: And then what -- you contacted the police, Holly, and gave them location?

HILL: Right. I work in there where we dispatch the officers. So automatically we notified the Fayette Police Department and the Fayette County Sheriff's Department. Well, then when she was giving locations, we knew she was going to be going into different jurisdictions because the county lines were real close there.

KING: This is unbelievable. And what happened, the police came, Esther? The police ran him down?

GREEN: Yes, it seems quite a while, I was in the backseat with the carjacker. He was threatening me to be quiet, but I knew talking was my only way out, and he had no idea what I was doing. He then pulled behind a farmer's market and an accomplice got in the back seat with me and my daughter. It wasn't until shortly after that I started to lose faith. And two police cars zoomed right past us.

And I knew that my call had gone through and that everything was going to be fine as long as the police could pull us over to safety. So it was definitely an amazing, miraculous experience.

KING: They arrested both people right at the scene?

GREEN: Yes, they did.

KING: Holly, how did you get together to know Esther?

HILL: When they called me about a week later and -- close to a week later -- and said that we were going to be reunited, because after it happened I thought about her so often and just wanted to just call her and tell her what a good job she did, how amazing she was and what strength she had to protect her daughter.

KING: Wow, you are both heroines. I salute you both. Richard, that's an amazing story.

THOMAS: An amazing story. The resourcefulness of people working together, the presence of mind, and the sense of hopefulness in the middle of all of that danger.

KING: A lot of these stories have that, right? Hope and optimism.

THOMAS: And optimism. And people reaching out to each other.

KING: That guy in the first part, feeling he'd find something.

Back with more. We're saluting "It's a Miracle." It's on PAX- TV. Richard Thomas is its host. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

HILL (voice-over): It's a miracle that they were able to pick up on what was going on with her call. It's a miracle that these guys didn't harm her, that they didn't hurt the baby. I truly believe that God was just looking down on them.

GREEN: I just looked over at my daughter. Here she was, 10 months old. She had just taken her first steps the night before, and how bad of a mother was I to allow this to happen to her? And I just knew right then that I had to do something to get out of the situation. I know that this situation was guided by the angels, because miracles happened every step of the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now on LARRY KING LIVE with my co-host tonight and the host of "It's a Miracle," Richard Thomas.

We go to Sacramento, California, where we're joined by David Brinsley who found the father he had never known. And Maria Lee, David's long-lost half-sister.

To lead this in we're going to show you a clip of David and Maria's highly improbable meeting in church, and then we'll get the story. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

DAVID BRINSLEY, REUNITED WITH FATHER HE NEVER KNEW (voice-over): After service had ended and everybody was leaving, I grabbed her arm. And I said:

(on camera): I notice the name on your Bible is Maria Lampert.

MARIA LEE: And he said, "I know you'll find this odd but..."

BRINSLEY: My biological father's name is Lampert.

LEE: I never met him, and I'd been looking for him recently.

BRINSLEY: I was just wondering if you happen to know anybody named Larry Lampert?

LEE: Oh my gosh.

My heart started to race, my hands started to sweat.

Are you serious? Larry Lampert is my dad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Unbelievable. All right David, give this to me. You were looking for a father you had never known. What were the circumstances? Why had you never known him?

BRINSLEY: Well, just due to some circumstances between my biological father and my mother, there were some communication problems, I guess you could say.

KING: So you never met him.

BRINSLEY: I had never met him, yes.

KING: And when did you start a search for him?

BRINSLEY: Well, I had looked -- I knew his name all my life. So I had been looking kind of off and on. When I'd go places I'd look in the phone book for Lampert's last name, just to see if I could see a Larry Lampert in a phone book anywhere.

But I hadn't done a really solid search until I met my wife, and she convinced me to really look for him.

KING: Now Maria Lee, Larry Lampert was what to you?

LEE: He's my father.

KING: You father. You grew up with him. You knew him all your childhood?

LEE: Yes, he's my biological father. He was living in Missouri, which is probably another reason why Dave couldn't find him.

KING: All right Dave, so you're in church one day, and what?

BRINSLEY: Well, we're in church and my wife taps me on the arm and points down at the pew in front of us, to the Bible that was laying face up in front of us that said "Maria Lampert." And I had -- like I said, I had known his name, but I had never seen the name before in the phone books or anywhere I'd looked. So I was just very shocked that that name was sitting in front of me.

So after service is when I grabbed her and I started asking her questions about if she knew a Larry Lampert.

LEE: What you have to understand, too, the Bible that I had that day was actually given to me by my grandmother when I was 13. And it's not a Bible that I normally bring to church. I had a study Bible because I went every Sunday to the singles group there. And we also sat way on the other side of the church.

I mean, there's anywhere from 4,000 and 6,000 people there. And for whatever reason this day I came in with a group and said, "I am so tired of sitting in the same place every single day." So I went way on the other side of the church to sit.

And like I said, I normally bring this other Bible, but I was rushed out of the house this particular morning, getting my two little ones out. So I just grabbed the one on that's on the mantle, that I never use, which just happened to have my maiden name on it.

KING: It's a miracle?

LEE: It's more than a miracle.

KING: So now this is your half-sister, right David?

BRINSLEY: Yes, that's correct, yes.

KING: Did you meet your dad?

BRINSLEY: Yes, I did meet him. He came out several months later after the church reunion, or the church meeting, which was the segment. So we have met, yes.

KING: Did that go well?

BRINSLEY: It did. It went well. He was very receptive to me, and was excited to meet me. I mean, all I ever wanted was to just meet him and for him to know who I am, because I didn't know if he knew who I was or anything like that.

And the fact that he was receptive to meet me was wonderful. But the greatest part for me is now having a relationship with my sister because, I mean, she's one of the best things that's ever happened to me.

LEE: We live about five miles from each other, and our families have become the best of friends.

KING: Is it true, David, rather that Larry, your father, didn't know you were born?

LEE: He had no knowledge of him.

KING: He didn't know there was a you?

BRINSLEY: Yes, he says that he didn't know that there was a me.

But I'd like to set the record straight that there is two sides to this story as far as whether...

KING: Your mother's side and your father's side.

BRINSLEY: Right. And as far as I'm concerned, I don't really care, because I don't want to take away from the miracle because I found my dad and I found my sister, and I have a great relationship. And the rest of that is just -- is really unimportant to me.

KING: And everybody gets along, your wife and your husband, right? Everybody, you're now friends?

LEE: His wife is my very best friend. And I will tell you that I've had a personal hardship in the last couple of years; I lost my daughter. And I can honestly tell you that my brother and his wife Terri (ph) are -- played a very instrumental part in keeping me sane during the recovery of that process.

We are the best of friends. We go to church together. We live really close to each other. It's a miracle.

KING: What a story. Thank you both very much. And David -- Richard, I can see where you really enjoy this.

THOMAS: Oh I love it, you know.

KING: It's only uplifting.

THOMAS: The stories are extraordinary, they're uplifting. And just because this one man had a sense that his life wasn't whole until he could find that one missing piece. And he had a wife who encouraged him. And his sister becomes his friend, he gets a whole family.

KING: We're just halfway through. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

BRINSLEY (voice-over): The only way that I can explain what happened is to say it's a God thing. I asked him to help me, and he did. And now I have a relationship with my biological father who now I get to be close to. And all the rest of the details, they're unimportant.

The important part is that now I have a full family who loves me, and who I love dearly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

THOMAS (voice-over): Janet was flying to New Orleans to donate one of her own kidneys to buy her sister some time. But ultimately Deborah would need a new liver to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to Paducah, Kentucky because my nephew just accidentally shot himself. And his condition is looking real bad. They don't think he's going to live.

THOMAS: Because of Michael's hopeless condition, Allen (ph) had helped convince his sister to donate the young man's organs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tapped her on the shoulder and I said, how about Michael's liver -- we use it for your sister, like that. And she looked at me like I was a nut.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, looking at the program "It's a Miracle," which airs Thursdays on PAX-TV. Richard Thomas, the Emmy Award-winning actor is its co-host. And he's with us with these incredible stories.

And we go to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Deborah White is standing by, looking very healthy, perky and beautiful.

But Deborah White needed a new liver, maybe a new kidney.

Here's a clip. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

THOMAS (voice-over): After learning that Allen's nephew and Debbie shared the same blood type, Janet got through to Memorial Medical Midcity campus in New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's brain dead. They've got him on life support. And what we want to know is if we can get his nephew's liver for my sister. Is that possible?

And she said, is he the same blood type? And I said, yes, ma'am, I've already checked on that. And she said, yes you can. Just like that. It was so powerful. And I said: Tell me what to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right Deborah, what is this story? What happened? You needed a liver?

DEBORAH WHITE, LIFE SAVED BY LIVER TRANSPLANT: Yes sir. I had had a previous liver transplant, but unfortunately my body rejected it. So I had to take numerous anti-rejection drugs, and they were tearing up my kidneys.

So they thought I was going to have to have a kidney before they could find me a liver. And my sister stepped up and offered me her kidney. And she went through all the tests and everything. And she just had one last test to do. And she got on the plane to fly to me, to go to New Orleans to see which kidney they were going to take because that was going to buy me time until they found me a liver.

And I tried to book her a flight. All the books -- all the flights were booked. I found the second-to-last seat on the very last flight. And Mr. Van Meader (ph) happened to get the seat next to her. The very next seat.

KING: So just by coincidence, this man -- Allen Van Meader -- he sits next to Janet Larson (ph), your sister, on this plane. They begin to talk, and Janet tells him the story, right?

WHITE: Right. She was studying a diagram of a kidney, trying to educate herself to ask intelligent questions of the doctors. And he looked over and tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if she was a doctor. And she said no. So she explained why she was coming to meet me, to donate a kidney for me.

And he said, well I'm going to see my sister (sic) too, but for a very different reason: he's brain dead.

KING: His nephew, her son -- his sister's son.

WHITE: Correct. Yes sir.

KING: So did it work out, now -- this has got to be unbelievable -- that that kid's liver is in you?

WHITE: Right. At first my sister said, well -- because he said he felt a sudden sense of urgency that he says came from God. And he said that encouraged him to push this thing on and to pick up that phone right on the airplane and to try and get in touch with the hospitals to see if this was actually possible.

THOMAS: She was saying, you know, thank you very much, that's so thoughtful of you but, you know, I don't think that will work out. I don't think it will work out.

And he said, no, no; we've got to see this through. We've got to try this.

And he was just overtaken with this sense of possibility.

KING: Wow. So then what happened, Deborah?

WHITE: Well, Jan said, you know, I appreciate it but, you know, it's really not that easy because there's tons of red tape. I mean, you have to be the same blood type, same tissue type. You have to almost be the same size.

Well, they phoned my hospital and Allen told my sister that Michael, my donor's blood type, was O-positive, and so is mine. And so she called my hospital, which I had spent most of the previous three years, you know, at. So my nurses were very familiar with my case. And they said, are you the same -- is she the same blood type? And Jan says, yes ma'am, they sure are. And the lady, the head nurse, Wanda (ph), she said, yes, you can. It's totally possible.

KING: So then the liver was shipped to the hospital?

WHITE: Well, there was other stop signs along the way. He was 150 pounds, 50 pounds heavier than me. And he was like 6-2. So they were worried about the size proportion and all that kind of stuff. And then the last thing -- the last stop sign we got was the commercial airline refused to wait 15 minutes to transport the organ.

So all day we were like -- had such high hopes. We had everyone praying and everything. And then we got this huge stop sign that said, it's not going to be possible. So then an anonymous donor stepped up and chartered a jet plane.

KING: Well first, that airline should be whacked.

WHITE: Absolutely.

KING: That donor should be saluted.

The plane gets to you in time. And so on this chance meeting in an airplane...

WHITE: Correct.

KING: ... and a man and a woman, strangers to each other, the woman going to get you a kidney, your sister; the man has a nephew who's just died. They turned off the machine keeping him alive.

WHITE: Yes, they had actually told Mr. Van Meader on the airplane phone that it was too late, they had already started the procedure of procuring his organs.

And he said, no, it's not too late. This is of God. And the nurse dropped the phone and ran down the hall, and he said she was gone for, you know, maybe five minutes. And then she picked the phone back up, and he said no -- she said no, Mr. Van Meader, it's not too late. I just stopped it.

KING: Do you know Mr. Van Meader well now?

WHITE: I do. I do, and I love him to death.

KING: I would if I were you, too. Thank you so much Deborah.

WHITE: Thank you. Thank you.

KING: What a story.

THOMAS: What a great story. And how many different people of goodwill does it take to come together to make something like that happen?

KING: It's a miracle.

Back with more after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

THOMAS (voice-over): Even in their great joy, Janet and Deborah will never forget the sacrifice made by Michael Gibson (ph).

WHITE: I mourn Michael's death. But in a way, he lives on. He saved my life. He lives on within me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This miracle, if you will, happened because someone in their moment of tragedy decided to do something for the greater good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Two more miracles to go. The first is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Renay Poirier joins us. This incredible story is of a man who regained his sight after a headache.

How he lost his sight, we'll show you now in this clip: watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

THOMAS (voice-over): In an instant, 100,000 volts of electricity would change Renay's life forever. Steve (ph) was working 300 feet away away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): All of a sudden, I heard a loud cracking and popping sound. Immediately I knew something horrible had happened. I was very afraid going up there. I had butterflies in my stomach. I mean, my stomach sunk. I asked him immediately, you are OK? And he indicated then he could not see.

THOMAS: The world was disappearing for Renay Poirier. He was going blind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was in 1990. How long, Renay, were you blind?

RENAY POIRIER, FORMER BLIND MAN: Almost 10 years, Larry.

KING: Wow. Had you learned to adapt as a blind man. Did you read braille? What did you do?

POIRIER: Well, I started to learn how to do braille, but it wasn't too easy for me to do. I learned mostly from audible information.

KING: You wound up as a blind man, you went to college, became a physical therapist, blind physical therapist, right?

POIRIER: Yes, sir.

KING: And then in May, two years ago, you get a headache, as I'm told, and when it went away, you saw. What happened?

POIRIER: Yes. Describing it like that is about right. It felt like somebody hit me over the head with a lead pipe. And I thought I was having a stroke. I started going numb. And my eyes were flooded with a bright light, and I instantly felt comfortable. When the bright light was gone, I could see. It has been a beautiful world ever since.

KING: You see perfectly?

POIRIER: Yes, sir.

KING: How did the doctors explain this?

POIRIER: They can't explain it. Nor can I, other than it was given to me, a gift from God.

KING: Because you were blind in both eyes, right? And this is a high voltage electrical accident.

POIRIER: Yes, sir.

KING: You were blind for 10 years. You had given up hope of seeing?

POIRIER: Yes, I had. And I had put my trust completely in God and decided that life was going to be OK anyway. I have a beautiful wife that stayed with me through the whole time and two beautiful little girls. And things were going to be OK. I learned to use the abilities I had and didn't leave the disabilities get me down.

KING: Another amazing story. Renay Poirier. What a story, Richard.

THOMAS: Yes. And not to see your kids for ten years, and then all of a sudden, there they are.

KING: Now we go to Molton, Alabama, where we're going to meet Regina Pullum. She's the mother of Dallas Pullum. Wayne Pullum is Dallas Pullum's brother. And Dallas himself. Dallas fell into a coma at age 16 after a terrible car accident. He was going to die. Watch this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

REGINA PULLUM, MOTHER OF DALLAS (voice-over): I went into his room. And I could hear the machines, see the heart monitor. And then I went up and I held his hand. And I told him, I said, "Dallas, mama's here. I love you. You'll always be with my heart."

To cut the machine off that was keeping Dallas alive was the hardest thing in life I have ever had to do. We just told God, you can give him more than we can, just take him home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next day we was going to take him off machines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: OK. Regina, you were going to pull the plug because the doctors had said there was no hope.

R. PULLUM: Yes, sir.

KING: Wayne, why did you say, as I understand it, give it one more day?

WAYNE PULLUM, BROTHER OF DALLAS: I just felt like deep down inside that he hadn't left yet. I mean, I felt like he still had a lot to accomplish in life.

KING: So Regina, you agreed, and it was going to be like 24 hours?

R. PULLUM: Yes, sir. At the time, I felt deep down that Dallas was gone. But that was my way of helping Wayne, was he -- I felt he needed one more day with his brother. And I couldn't deny him of that. So I assured Wayne that one more day with his brother, but he needed to accept what the doctors had said.

KING: Dallas, do you remember the accident?

DALLAS PULLUM, RECOVERED FROM COMA: No, sir.

KING: You don't remember anything?

D. PULLUM: I remember getting on the floor (ph) that day. I don't remember nothing from that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): I really don't remember nothing except seeing the headlights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Wayne, how long was Dallas in a coma?

W. PULLUM: He was in a coma for six days.

KING: What happened on that extra day, Regina, when you decided to give him that extra day to be with his brother?

R. PULLUM: Well, when Wayne asked me for more time for his brother, I told Wayne I would give him another day, but he had to come home, that I needed Wayne the come home. Just get away from everybody, the influence of everybody. Just me and him and his daddy and his sister. And he did.

He come home, and then at 12:00 a.m. that night he told me he had to go back. And I said, well, you told me you would come home. He said he had to go back and be with his brother. So I couldn't deny him of that. And he went back that night.

KING: What happened, Wayne?

W. PULLUM: I got there -- I guess I got back to the hospital about 1:30 a.m. in the morning. And about 2:00 a.m., 2:15 a.m. that morning I was in there talking to him, and he squeezed my hand and they got the doctors in there and they said that he had woke up.

KING: Good grief. And Dallas now is perfectly OK, Regina?

R. PULLUM: Yes, sir.

KING: Amazing story. Another amazing story.

THOMAS: It is. And Wayne, you made a promise, didn't you? W. PULLUM: Well, when I went and seen him at Decatur General, he asked me how was he. And I told him he was going to be OK. And he looked at me straight in the eyes and asked me, did I promise. And I told him, yes, I promise you, buddy, you'll be okay.

KING: We'll be right back with more on this "It's a Miracle" night. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

R. PULLUM (voice-over): Dallas amazes me. Some days I catch myself just staring at him. He says, "What are you looking at, mama?" I say, "Nothing, son."

THOMAS (voice-over): Perhaps most of all, Dallas is grateful to his brother Wayne, whose love and faith literally saved his life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Our next miracle story on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Richard Thomas, the Emmy award-winning actor who hosts the program, is the story of Carly Boohm. Carly joins us from Olympia, Washington.

This beautiful young lady nearly drowned. Well, this was some harrowing story. Here's a clip to lead us in. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we hit the pillar, I tried to push off, thinking we'd just bounce off. As soon as I touched it, I just heard a big bang. The canoe just collapsed and wrapped around the pillar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone (ph) got sucked out the sides. But since Carly was right there, the pylon had just trapped her in there.

THOMAS (voice-over): In the next instant, the tremendous force of the river wrapped the canoe around the bridge pylon and pulled the young girl under.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's Carly? Where's Carly? She's still trapped in the canoe!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This happened two years ago. Carly was underwater. The pylon -- the canoe upturns.

And you were down there how long, Carly?

CARLY BOOHM, SURVIVED 45 MINUTES UNDERWATER: Forty-five minutes. KING: How are you alive?

BOOHM: I actually died, but -- and then they restarted my heart.

KING: All right, now what do you remember most about -- do you remember -- do you have a clear memory of being down there that long?

BOOHM: I don't remember it at all.

KING: All right, so you had to learn the story afterward?

BOOHM: Yes.

KING: Do you remember going in the water?

BOOHM: No.

KING: What's the last thing you do remember?

BOOHM: Probably like the day before or something.

KING: Oh, so you don't even remember going out canoeing?

BOOHM: No.

KING: SO here's what happened: you go for 25 minutes; rescuers are trying to free you. A paramedic shows up who is an expert on cold-water drowning. He estimates they've still got 15 minutes left to save your life. You were pulled from the river after 45 minutes. They started CPR. Pulse wasn't detected until you got to the hospital. Had to spend two-and-a-half months in the hospital, intensive rehabilitation.

You go back to high school, graduate at the top of your class.

Did you get to meet that paramedic?

BOOHM: Yes, I did meet Shawn Ballard (ph).

KING: What do you make of this, Richard?

THOMAS: Well...

KING: She should not be here.

THOMAS: No, she shouldn't. But, you know something, life wants to hang on. People -- a human life is a hard thing to snuff out when there's, deep down inside, a will to survive, even if it's just the will of the body.

But what does it take for one person to drive up who happens to be an expert in that particular kind of catastrophe?

KING: We're going to close tonight with another wonderful story. They're here in the studios with us. Otto and Betty Sloan, the long- lost lovers who found each other again. They fell in love during the Depression, planned to marry, and got separated by -- well, watch the reunion here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "It's a Miracle")

THOMAS (voice-over): In the summer of 1999, after not seeing one another for 58 years, Otto and Betty Jean (ph) were reunited.

BETTY SLOAN, WED LONG-LOST LOVER: My heart was pounding so hard that I just couldn't hardly keep it in its place. He took my hand and hung onto it just for dear life. And I whispered to him, I said, don't ever let go of me again.

And he says, don't worry, I won't.

THOMAS: And Otto kept his promise when four weeks later he pledged to take Betty Jean as his lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, so long as they both should live.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, as I get this, Betty, you fell in love during the Depression, planned to get married, and Otto goes off to war, right?

B. SLOAN: We really hadn't planned to get married at that point. But we had written back and forth, and we had dated. You know, we were quite young then.

But then he went to war and was at Pearl. And we were separated then. The war separated us for a long period of time.

KING: You thought he had died?

B. SLOAN: We thought -- I thought he was killed in action.

KING: Why didn't you write home, Otto?

OTTO SLOAN, WED LONG-LOST LOVER: I didn't find her -- I didn't know where she was at, because I tried to write, and tried to find her.

KING: So this was a case of disconnected love?

O. SLOAN: Yes, right.

KING: Then you marry someone else?

B. SLOAN: Yes.

KING: Did you get married?

O. SLOAN: Yes, I did.

KING: And how many years were you married?

B. SLOAN: I was married 51-and-a-half years.

KING: And became a widow?

B. SLOAN: Yes.

KING: And how long were you married?

O. SLOAN: Fifty years; near 51.

KING: Did your wife die?

O. SLOAN: Yes.

KING: How did you get reunited?

B. SLOAN: Well, I had inquired about his whereabouts for a number of years.

KING: Ah, you still loved him.

B. SLOAN: Uh-huh. And no one seemed to know what happened. No one seemed to know where he was or where he was. And so after his wife died he went to visit his cousin back in Colorado and asked her if she had my address. And of course she didn't, because my husband had died and I had moved in with my daughter.

KING: So how did you find him?

B. SLOAN: And it was through a picture that she sent to my sister in Oregon that had my four -- my three sisters and myself in it. It was taken in 1938, a school picture.

So I wrote her and thanked her for it, told her what it meant to me, and asked her again: Have you ever heard from your cousin Otto? And she fired a letter right back to me and said that he had been there after his wife passed away.

KING: Did you contact him, or you contact her?

O. SLOAN: Well, she called the following morning. She had my phone number. That was on a Saturday. I had tried the following morning. And she called me...

KING: When did you meet?

B. SLOAN: Well, that was in April, wasn't it, that we called -- we met over the phone, or found out about each other.

KING: And when did you see each other again?

B. SLOAN: In July -- no, in June.

KING: Did you know you were going to get married?

B. SLOAN: Oh, we knew we were going to get married before I even came down. I was living in Oregon.

O. SLOAN: Well, she -- that's the funny part of it, is that we talked about it and everything else, and made plans for it. But I never did propose to her. That's the funny part of it, is I never did.

KING: Still haven't.

B. SLOAN: No. On "It's a Miracle" program he did.

KING: Finally, on the show he proposed?

B. SLOAN: Yes.

KING: So you've been married how long now?

O. SLOAN: It will be three years...

B. SLOAN: In August.

O. SLOAN: In August, yes.

KING: What a great story. Otto, congratulations. Betty, you'll get your pair of braces.

B. SLOAN: Thank you Larry.

KING: Richard, I'd like to thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you. Thanks for having us on.

KING: "It's a Miracle." It airs Thursday on PAX.

I hope you enjoyed the show tonight. I sure did. A show about uplifting. You know, someone said the definition -- there are many definitions of "miracle." One of them is from wordnet at Princeton University: "An amazing or wonderful occurrence. A marvelous event."

It's a miracle.

NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown is next. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

New entry for SKEPTIC Bibliography (Gardner)

From: Taner Edis edis1@llnl.gov

http://www.csicop.org/bib/627

Did Adam And Eve Have Navels? Discourses on Reflexology, Numerology,
Urine Therapy, and Other Dubious Subjects
   Martin Gardner
   http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall00/004963.htm
   2000, W.W. Norton; 320p.
   critical-thinking, newage, numerology, quackery, skepticism

Martin Gardner does a fine job in helping the novice learn how to spot and debunk "bad science." Many of the revered individuals of science-past are put in the light of scrutiny only to be shown in their truest humanity -- they are subject to the fads of their times. Gardner also discusses many popular paranormal beliefs, including New Age religions like Scientology. Many of our youngest and most impressionable minds, especially in a university setting, should read this book before enrolling in courses. This book is a good example of the kind of critical thinking that the university graduate should aspire to.

[ Reviewed by John Jaksich, jaksich1@cwnet.com ]

Visit the full bibliography at http://www.csicop.org/bibliography/
Please consider submitting an entry yourself.

  Taner Edis, SKEPTIC bibliographer

Tapeworm evolution revealed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2040000/2040756.stm

Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Humans gave tapeworms to cows, pigs and dogs - not the other way around as was thought.

This conclusion is based on a new study of the characteristics, lifestyle and genetic evolution of tapeworms.

The research reveals that the three species of tapeworm that infect humans have been bothering us for millions of years. When modern man emigrated from Africa in the past million years or so, he took the tapeworm with him.

Researchers believe that an improved understanding of the origins of tapeworms will help them combat the diseases the parasites cause.

Commandments Poster Barred in Court

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-judge-commandments0612jun12.story

By Associated Press
June 12, 2002, 12:42 PM EDT

CLEVELAND -- A federal judge ruled that a poster showing the Ten Commandments should not be displayed in a county courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley ruled Tuesday that Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese's purpose for posting the commandments was "generally laudable" but "constitutionally deficient, because the debate he seeks to foster is inherently religious in character."

Revealing close-ups of the sun

http://www.iht.com/articles/61214.htm

John Noble Wilford The New York Times
Thursday, June 13, 2002

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico For reasons as obvious as daylight and its nurturing warmth, no single star commanded more attention at the 200th meeting of the American Astronomical Society here last week than the nearest and most familiar one: the sun.

There were things said, as usual, about the mystery and power of black holes and quasars. The flamboyant Betelgeuse, a star about 40,000 times as luminous as the sun, had its moments. And the astronomers were overjoyed to see the first pictures from the revived infrared camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, images of stellar nurseries and of galaxies in collision that promised new discoveries.

But several research teams reported observations by satellites in high Earth orbit that are producing new insights into solar behavior, and thus perhaps the dynamics of other typical stars. Their research is focusing on the incessant eruptions on the solar surface and the detailed and unexpected weather systems that produce hurricanes that would swallow up 18 Earths and long-term climate patterns not unlike El Niño.

Internet Myth Links 9/11 to The $20 Bill

http://www.kyw1060.com/news_story_detail.cfm?newsitemid=21886

Another September 11th conspiracy theory has been debunked. This one involved the new $20 bill.

If you fold a new style $20 bill a certain way, some say, the White House and shrubbery on the back look like the Pentagon burning on one side, and the smoldering Twin Towers on the other.

Before you go thinking there's some grand conspiracy, however, check out the web site snopes.com, which is known for debunking urban myths.

It points out that the Treasury Department came up with the design for the new 20s a full three years before the terrorist attacks.

And, it says, since all US currency higher than the two-dollar bill features an engraving of a building and shrubbery, virtually any bill can be folded to create something that appears to be a burning building.

http://www.snopes.com


Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – June 12, 2002

TRIALS AND ERRORS: STRICTER RULES FOR CLINICAL STUDIES SOUGHT TO PROTECT PATIENTS
from The Boston Globe

TORONTO - Jesse Gelsinger was 18 when he volunteered to be part of a clinical trial for gene therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. Within hours of the treatment, his organs began to fail, and three days later he was dead. An investigation later revealed that the university and lead researcher in the trial stood to gain millions from the drug being tested and had ignored early warning signs.

The 1999 case shocked the public and the research community, and along with a handful of other highly publicized deaths in clinical trials, it cast grave doubt on the ability of the existing system to protect patients. As a result, federal legislators and regulators are considering stricter regulation of clinical trials. And in a somewhat surprising twist, the pharmaceutical industry - the chief sponsor of such research - also is calling for tougher rules.

''Patients are our business,'' Heidi Wagner, head of government affairs for California biotechnology giant Genentech Inc., said during a panel discussion this week on protecting people in clinical trials, at the annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization here. ''We wouldn't be anywhere without the patients who volunteer for these trials.''

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/163/business/Trials_and_errors+.shtml

U.S. TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR GLOBAL CLIMATE MONITORS
from The Associated Press

GENEVA, Switzerland - The Bush administration announced new policy and funding initiatives Tuesday to advance the development of a single integrated global climate observing system to collect and share data on climate, including placement of thousands of high-tech buoys to monitor the oceans.

"We have the technology to wire the world, we have the technology and the understanding to take the pulse of mother earth," vice admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, told a news conference. He said the data on oceans are particularly weak and, at present, the world only has "rudimentary elements" of an observing system in the oceans.

Toward that end, Lautenbacher said, the Bush administration will increase its share of funding for the buoys from one-third of the total costs to one- half.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/431380p-3449282c.html

CELERA TO CUT 132 JOBS, REFOCUS
from The Washington Post

Celera Genomics, the Rockville company famous for compiling a map of the human genome, said yesterday that it will cut 132 jobs, or 16 percent of its workforce, as it shifts its business from marketing genetic data to developing new drugs.

Celera, one of the nation's wealthiest biotech companies with more than $900 million in cash, said the cuts will cost it $2.8 million in severance and buyouts this quarter but are expected to save the company about $15 million annually in salaries and benefits.

"We did not do this to take out costs," said Robert Bennett, Celera's director of investor and media relations. "It's good that we have taken some costs out, but this is about realigning the company towards drugmaking."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34593-2002Jun11.html

DEPARTING SPACE STATION ASTRONAUTS BREAK NASA'S ENDURANCE RECORD ON ENDEAVOUR
from The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) Two American astronauts who have been in orbit for six months cheerfully broke NASA's space endurance record, but said they have no intentions of going after the world record of more than a year.

Former space station residents Daniel Bursch and Carl Walz, living now aboard the docked shuttle Endeavour, sailed into the history books late Tuesday night.

They were asleep at the time. Shortly before bedtime, though, Mission Control reminded them that they soon would be breaking the 188-day, four- hour mark set by astronaut Shannon Lucid in 1996 aboard Russia's old Mir space station.

http://www.boston.com/dailynews/163/nation/Departing_space_station_astron:.shtml

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO WOLFRAM
from American Scientist

(Yesterday, "Science In the News" linked to a New York Times article on physicist and computer scientist Stephen Wolfram's new book, which promises to deliver A New Kind of Science. For a scientist's take on Wolfram's tome, we turn to Brian Hayes's "Computing Science" column in the latest issue (July/August) of American Scientist, produced by Sigma Xi.)

Arthur C. Clarke wrote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." In the same vein, perhaps any sufficiently advanced science risks being mistaken for the raving of a crackpot.

This uncomfortable thought is prompted by a book that has landed on my desk with a five-pound thud. The title promises A New Kind of Science, and inside are claims no less extravagant. "I have discovered vastly more than I ever thought possible," the author's preface boasts, "and in fact what I have done now touches almost every existing area of science, and quite a bit besides." In 1,200 pages, this one volume—the work of one person— undertakes to explain the structure of space and time at the deepest level, clears up the mysteries of entropy and randomness, and elbows aside mathematics and statistics as central tools of scientific analysis. Along the way, the book also corrects the errors of Darwinism, shows where chaos theory went wrong, explains the forms of seashells, tree leaves and snowflakes, and puts human free will on a proper philosophical footing.

http://www.sigmaxi.org/amsci/Issues/Comsci02/02-07Hayes.html

RESTORING AN ECOSYSTEM TORN ASUNDER BY A DAM
from The New York Times

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Forty years after one generation dammed the Colorado River at the upper end of the Grand Canyon, a new generation of engineers and scientists is struggling to deal with the consequences: colossal loss of sand, shrinking beaches, an invasion of outside fish and plants, the extinction of native species, erosion of archaeological sites and the sudden appearance of an Asian tapeworm, to name a few.

To solve such problems, the engineers and scientists charged with managing the river have evolved a new approach: instead of trying to conquer nature, they are bold enough to think they can outfox it. Using a process called adaptive management, they hope to stave off or reverse damage done to the river and its life forms by manipulating flows from the dam.

Adaptive management, they say, rests on two core principles. First, complex systems are inherently unpredictable; it is impossible to know the consequences of various human actions. Second, the only way to manage complex problems is through a collaborative process in which everyone with a stake agrees to try new measures. When experiments fail, as some do, these stakeholders must stand ready to try something else based on common interests.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/11/science/earth/11RIVE.html

MYSTERIOUS, ALARMING DECLINE IN OTTER POPULATION
from The San Francisco Chronicle

No one is exactly sure why, but the California sea otter population is continuing to decline, confounding researchers who had hoped their numbers would be strongly rebounding by now.

For the sixth year out of the last seven, the population along the coast from Half Moon Bay to Santa Barbara has declined, according to an annual survey by the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1995, the rate has declined by an average of about 1 to 2 percent a year.

The number of otters counted in the recently completed spring survey was 2, 139, down from 2,161 in 2001.

The California sea otter, considered by many to be the icon of the California coast, was listed in 1977 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists want to see the population rise to at least 2,650 before considering whether to take it off the threatened list.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/12/MN76553.DTL

STEROIDS PLAY GAMES WITH VITAL HORMONES
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Recent revelations by star baseball players Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti that steroid use is rampant in the game has reignited an age-old debate about the health consequences of the drugs.

Doctors warn about the dangers of steroids, citing reported health risks from heart disease and cancer to shrinking of the testicles. Athletes, meanwhile, say their predecessors going back to the 1950s used steroids without serious health consequences.

Now, once again, athletes are demanding, "Show me the science."

Indeed, there has been little research to determine what the long-term effects of steroid use might be. Most of what's known comes from animal studies and case studies. But the kind of human trials that might provide a more definitive answer are unlikely anytime soon, researchers say.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/06/10/MN4391.DTL&type=science

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In the Eyes of the Beholder: On Kreskin's UFO Prediction

From The Anomalist at http://www.anomalist.com/reports/kreskin.html

By Angela Thompson Smith

Last evening, around 8:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6th, 2002, people gathered at the Silverton Hotel, just south of Las Vegas to attend an event in which the mentalist Kreskin promised a sighting of UFOs in the Nevada night sky. Kreskin had first pronounced this "prediction" at a show in Canada and had been interviewed in Las Vegas during the past couple of days. There was some confusion about exactly where we were to meet: some said under the marquee and others said at the entrance to the casino. In the parking lot we met a fella dressed up as Ja Ja Binks and folks were having their photograph taken with him. Inside the casino, gamblers were walking around with green balloons, in the shape of aliens, perched on their heads.We groaned and hoped this wasn't going to set the tone for the evening. The media has a ball interviewing the weird and wonderful people that attend these events. Eventually Silverton buses came and ferried us to a desert area behind the casino. There was a general air of merriment and a party atmosphere.

Opinions, as to what was going to happen ranged from the belief that UFOs would actually appear (a minority of folks held this opinion) to the belief that this was a staged event by Kreskin either as a publicity stunt or to provide unpaid "extras" for some upcoming movie. Far-out opinions covered the belief that another, more important event, was to take place at an undisclosed location, and that the UFO "believers" had all been gathered in this one place so that the other event could go on undisturbed. Another opinion was that cameras would film whoever attended the Kreskin event for "control" purposes. The majority of the attendees realized that this was a publicity stunt by Kreskin, they were there to party, and have a fun night-out, but, like me, harbored a small hope that UFOs would make an appearance. Some folks traveled to the event from as far away as Utah and Kentucky!

Basically, Kreskin had wagered $50,000, that he would donate to charity if the predicted event did not happen. The predicted event being the sighting of three or four UFOs in the night sky. While being interviewed for Channel 8, in the days preceding the event, he assured the interviewer that satellites and other noctural activities would not be misinterpreted as UFOs. However, he was vague on a lot of other questions about what was really going to happen.

Rods Sequence Pictures

http://www.opendb.com/sol/seq.htm

These pictures were take from Jose Escamilla's Rods Web site. I believe these are all of the pictures on Escamilla's site that show a flight sequence well enough to compare the "rod's" location in each frame. For each, the flight sequence has been composited into a single picture by cutting and pasting the "rods" onto one frame. (Enough detail from each frame was cut to allow proper alignment.)

For all except two pictures, a very interesting pattern emerges: The "rods" all appear to be moving at a rate of about twice their own length per video frame! Thus, successive images are about one rod-length apart, despite the different conditions and (presumably) different distances and different sizes of the "rods".

When Peer Review Yields Unsound Science

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/11/health/policy/11DOC.html?pagewanted=print&position=top

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D.

Medical journals are the prime source of information about scientific advances that can change how doctors treat patients in offices and in hospitals. And to ensure the quality of what journals publish, their editors, beginning 200 years ago, have increasingly called on scientific peers to review new findings from research in test tubes and on animals and humans.

The system, known as peer review, is now considered a linchpin of science. Editors of the journals and many scientists consider the system's expense and time consumption worthwhile in the belief that it weeds out shoddy work and methodological errors and blunts possible biases by scientific investigators. Another main aim is to prevent authors from making claims that cannot be supported by the evidence they report.


Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

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IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – June 11, 2002

ARREST SHIFTS FOCUS TO U.S. SOURCES OF ATOMIC ISOTOPES
from The Washington Post

Long before the May 8 arrest of Abdullah al Muhajir, the U.S. government concluded that Osama bin Laden controls enough cesium, strontium or cobalt to mount a radiological attack in the United States. The problem for al Qaeda, analysts believed, was reaching America with the required crude device.

Yesterday's disclosures about al Muhajir, accused of conspiracy to build and detonate such a "dirty bomb," came amid a shift in thinking about the locus of greatest risk. Instead of smuggling in radioactive contaminants, counterterrorist sources said, al Qaeda may be planning to buy or steal them here.

The U.S. intelligence community, knowledgeable officials said, believes that bin Laden's modest cache of radioactive metals almost certainly remains in south and central Asia. No sign of the nuclear materials has been found by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and analysts lean increasingly toward the view that bin Laden is unlikely to risk transporting such a scarce and valuable resource across U.S. borders.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28585-2002Jun10.html

(Head's up: The Post's "Dirty Bomb Primer" can be accessed through a link on the right-hand side of the preceding page.)

WEAPON'S POISON IS THE CHAOS IT WOULD SOW
from The Boston Globe

NEW YORK - If a terrorist exploded a ''dirty bomb,'' it would probably kill only a few more people than an ordinary bomb, but it could set off waves of panic and severely disrupt the economy, according to several scientists.

A so-called dirty bomb would be an explosive device, made of C-4 or TNT, laced with radioactive material. When the bomb went off, the blast would spew radiation into the air.

Such a bomb would be nothing like a nuclear weapon, in which the collision of neutrons triggers an enormous explosion - far more powerful than the size of the bomb itself - and unfurls a radioactive mushroom cloud.

The explosive power of even a small nuclear weapon is measured in thousands of tons. The blast of a dirty bomb would amount to dozens or hundreds of pounds.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/162/nation/Weapon_s_poison_is_the_chaos_it_would_sow+.shtml

LIVERMORE LAB PLAN: $1 BILLION MISPRINT?
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Washington -- In an arrangement that still has top officials at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scratching their heads, President Bush plans to send 80 percent of the lab's budget to his new Department of Homeland Security and as few as 4 percent of its employees.

Nearly a week after Bush proposed the most comprehensive reform of the federal bureaucracy in half a century, it was evident that not all the details had been worked out -- or fully understood by senior White House aides.

Tom Ridge, the president's director of homeland security, said that, contrary to the suggestion of a report issued by the White House last week, the overwhelming majority of the lab's 7,500 employees would not be transferred to the proposed Cabinet department, and the lab's long-standing relationship with the Department of Energy would remain largely intact.

However, neither Ridge nor other White House aides could explain why the plan's fine print calls for the new department to employ just a fraction of the lab's workers while consuming $1.2 billion of its $1.5 billion budget.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/06/11/MN170910.DTL

DID THIS MAN JUST REWRITE SCIENCE?
from The New York Times

You can try this at home.

Take a sheet of graph paper that has been divided into grids. Color a square in the middle of the top row black. Drop down to the next row. Now invent a rule that will decide if a square should be black or white, based on the square above it and that square's neighbors — for example, that a square should be the same color as the one above it unless that square has a black neighbor. Go across the second row filling in squares accordingly, then repeat the process, following the same rule, for the third row, the fourth row, and so on.

There are 256 rules you can concoct to play this simple game. Most will create a boring or repetitive pattern. But at least one rule will cause the page to explode into complex, ever-shifting patterns. You will have created a so-called universal computer, equal in its computational sophistication to Apple's jazziest laptop. Given the right starting pattern, and the right rule, according to Dr. Stephen Wolfram, a former teenage particle physicist and software entrepreneur who has been doing this at home for the last 10 years, those lines and shapes cascading downward can be made to pick out the prime numbers, compute pi, calculate your income tax, or model the evolution of a star — anything a real computer can do.

This insight is the jumping-off point of Dr. Wolfram's glossy 1,263-page book, "A New Kind of Science," published a month ago by Dr. Wolfram himself to the accompaniment of articles comparing Dr. Wolfram to Isaac Newton. The book holds a No. 2 Amazon.com ranking. It returns to the arena a prodigy who published his first physics paper at 15, earned his Ph.D. from Caltech at 20 and two years later, in 1981, became the youngest MacArthur "genius" fellow. In 1988 he founded Wolfram Research Inc. to market his program, Mathematica.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/11/science/11WOLF.html

You can find more, including links on cellular automata and Mathematica, which provide the foundations for "A New Kind of Science," at Wolfram's two separate Web sites, one corporate, the other slightly less so:

http://www.wolfram.com/

http://www.stephenwolfram.com/

CLOSE-UP VIEWS OF SUN GIVE ASTRONOMERS MORE TO THINK ABOUT
from The New York Times

ALBUQUERQUE, June 7 — For reasons as obvious as daylight and its nurturing warmth, no single star commanded more attention at the 200th meeting of the American Astronomical Society here this week than the nearest and most familiar one: the Sun.

There were things said, as usual, about the mystery and power of black holes and quasars. The flamboyant Betelgeuse, a star some 40,000 times as luminous as the Sun, had its moments. And the astronomers were overjoyed to see the first pictures from the revived infrared camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, images of stellar nurseries and of galaxies in collision that promised new discoveries.

But appropriately in a city where the Sun seems unfailing and unrelenting, several research teams reported observations by satellites in high Earth orbit that are producing new insights into solar behavior, and thus perhaps the dynamics of other typical stars. Their research is focusing on the incessant eruptions on the solar surface and the detailed and unexpected weather systems that produce hurricanes that would swallow up 18 Earths and long-term climate patterns not unlike El Niño.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/11/science/space/11ASTR.html

BIOTECH GROUP CONSIDERS POLICY FOR POOR NATIONS
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Toronto -- Biotech leaders are considering whether to create an industry "foreign policy" that would foster the development of medicines for the world's poorest people, as well as enable Third World nations to profit when foreign scientists use folk remedies as the starting point for new drugs.

Those were among the ideas discussed Monday as scientists and financiers from North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim gathered in Toronto for the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference.

"Our industry needs to formulate its first foreign policy, one which is cognizant of the miserable judgments and mistakes of other industries and avoids them," BIO President Carl Feldbaum said in a luncheon address.

Drug and biotech firms have come under increasing criticism for their failure to develop new treatments for diseases common in developing countries, such as malaria and tuberculosis, and for pricing AIDS drugs beyond the reach of the poor.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/11/BU215098.DTL

STATES, CITIES TRY TO LURE BIOTECHNOLOGY COMPANIES
from The Wall Street Journal

TORONTO (Wall Street Journal) -- Winston-Salem, N.C., is serving homegrown Krispy Kreme doughnuts with napkins pitching the dozen colleges in its region. Scotland is sponsoring a malt-whiskey tasting. Wisconsin offers chats with Olympic speed skater and native son Casey FitzRandolph. And "Jeddah BioCity" from Saudi Arabia is sponsoring a session on "Bioethics from an Islamic perspective."

Development officials from about 130 states, cities, regions and countries have come this week to BIO 2002, the annual meeting of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, in hopes of one prize: luring biotechnology businesses.

These officials want to stimulate their economies with a "knowledge-based" industry to help replace fading jobs in cars, corn and computer chips. At least 41 states have hatched biotech strategies in the last few years, with some 16 of them partially funding the efforts with money from their multibillion-dollar settlement of suits against the tobacco industry.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/06/11/financial0903EDT0034.DTL

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Jubilee baton searching for Nessie 'detects something weird'

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_604511.html?menu=news.quirkies

Organisers of the Queen's Jubilee baton relay claim to have seen "something pretty weird" in Loch Ness.

The baton was used to search for Nessie on the second day of its five-day tour north of the border.

It contains a device that can detect a pulse rate and was lowered 220 metres to the bottom of the loch on a cable from a deep scan vessel.

Pictures from it were beamed onto a screen on a boat which was carrying about 100 guests.

Event director Di Henry said: "As the baton got near the top of the water there was a strange interruption. There was a thing in front of the camera. It looked pretty wooden. It could have been wood or sea weed or it could have been Nessie.

"It definitely looked brown and it almost looked organic. Anyway, it slipped by and then the pictures cut out and soon after the baton broke the surface."

She said: "I'm not so sure we didn't see something. It was pretty weird what we saw but I wouldn't want to overstate it, but it wasn't something I expected myself."

Organisers had decided to use the baton to hunt for Nessie in a bid to stimulate interest in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

The relay is due to conclude next month when it enters Manchester for the opening ceremony of the games.

Story filed: 10:01 Monday 10th June 2002

Hunt begins for Norwegian 'Nessie'

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_604690.html?menu=news.quirkies

An underwater search team is aiming to discover whether Norway has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster.

The Global Underwater Search Team will be investigating sightings of a serpent in the Roemsjoeen lake near the border with Sweden.

Reported sightings of some sort of sea monster in the lake date back to the 1700s.

Locals have passed on stories of strange incidents, from huge dark figures to sudden waves and turbulence in the water that disappear just as suddenly.

Espen Samuelsen, who's 20, is leading the search team.

Aftenposten reports he told Oslo's Dagsavisen newspaper: "We believe there is something in the lake that should be investigated.

"There's a lot of skepticism about our work but we're not paying attention to that."

A sighting in September 1976 involved a busload of people being driven along the shore. Driver Asbjørn Holmedahl said he saw something unusual swimming in the water and thought it was a moose. He stopped the bus so his passengers could watch it come up on land.

Nothing emerged from the water so he started driving again, until several passengers started shouting and telling him to stop. "I saw big waves, maybe 50 centimetres high, and something dark swimming, maybe 10 metres long," Mr Holmedahl said. "It looked like it had humps."

Mr Samuelsen says his group will use "advanced search methods", including an underwater microphone once used to track Soviet submarines.

Nigeria 'hire witchdoctors to defeat England'

From Ananova at

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_604351.html?menu=news.quirkies

Nigeria is reportedly drafting in witchdoctors to help its football team beat England on Wednesday.

It's believed they've brought tickets for strategically positioned seats at the Osaka Stadium.

It's hoped they'll then be in the best positions to curse England and make their own players stronger.

But a spokesman for the English FA denies Sven Goran Eriksson is concerned by the threat.

He said: "This is not something the squad is too worried about. The team does not expect to be distracted by anything off the pitch when they play Nigeria."

Nairobi-based football writer Juma Kwayera, who has investigated the use of the witchdoctors known as ju-ju men, said: "The witchdoctors would be strategically placed in the stadium to spread ju-ju. This is how they believe they can win the game."

The Daily Record says the witchdoctors are rumoured to control Nigerian football by using a range of spells.

African football chiefs reportedly banned witchdoctors from accompanying squads to this year's African Nations Cup.

HOMAGE TO A SALESMAN

http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/49914.htm

By JAMES GARDNER

June 10, 2002 -- ON an assignment from my editor, I went to see "L. Ron Hubbard, Images of a Lifetime," devoted to the controversial founder of the Church of Scientology.

It changed my mind. I now believe that L. Ron Hubbard is the greatest man who ever lived.

Just kidding! That breathless reverence, however, captures the glitzy, almost servile reverence of the show, which, through photos and hyperventilating captions, seeks to detail the life of Scientology's founder.


Monday, June 10, 2002

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

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IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – June 10, 2002

DEBATE OVER CLONING PUTS THE POLITICAL IN SCIENCE
from The Washington Post

With the Senate planning to vote within the next few weeks on the divisive issue of human embryo research and cloning, advocates on both sides of the debate are claiming the imprimatur of objective science to support their entrenched political positions.

Opponents of human cloning research, who believe it is wrong to grow human embryo clones as disposable sources of medically valuable stem cells, point to recent evidence that those cells' therapeutic potential may be unexpectedly difficult to harness. Other new studies, they say, indicate that cells from adults are more medically promising than embryo cells.

By contrast, supporters of cloning research have been highlighting other studies that seem to undermine the potential of adult cells. And they are turning to other arguments in favor of allowing human embryo cloning, warning that newly emerging avenues of medical research would be placed off- limits if opponents succeed on Capitol Hill.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22609-2002Jun9.html

SCIENCE NOTEBOOK
from The Washington Post

OIL SPILL CASUALTIES IN GALAPAGOS
Biologists were relieved last year when an oil spill near one of the famous Galapagos Islands dispersed quickly, apparently preventing any significant damage to the wide diversity of wildlife on the archipelago...

LAVA FLOW LINKED TO EXTINCTION
A gigantic flood of molten rock that gushed out of the Earth 250 million years ago appears to have gone on much longer than had been thought, and might have been responsible for the largest extinction of life that has ever occurred on the planet, according to new research...

VOCABULARY AND KIDS' 'AMNESIA'
Psychologists may have found a clue to why people tend to have a very hard time remembering things from very early childhood -- a phenomenon known as "childhood amnesia." New research suggests that children can only describe memories of events using words they knew when the experience occurred...

A CAUTION ON KISSING
Kissing can apparently be dangerous, at least for people who have food allergies...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22610-2002Jun9.html

SCIENTISTS FIND GENE CHANGES IN MELANOMA CASES
from The Associated Press

LONDON - Scientists have determined that a spontaneous change in a certain gene is involved in 70 percent of cases of melanoma. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills nearly 40,000 people a year worldwide.

Experts say the finding might lead to more effective drugs for melanoma, which accounts for just 11 percent of skin cancer, but is hard to treat once it has spread and accounts for almost all deaths from skin cancer.

Dr. Paul Meltzer, a senior cancer genetics investigator at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute called the finding the biggest breakthrough in melanoma research for many years.

The discovery, published Sunday in the online version of the journal Nature, is the first fruit of the Cancer Genome Project, a spin-off of the international Human Genome Project being run by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England.

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/429179p-3432458c.html

BIOTRENDS
Two Major Reports Highlight the Globalization of Biotechnology and the Battle Within the U.S. for Regional Supremacy from The San Francisco Chronicle

Two new reports paint the most detailed portraits yet of the increasing globalization of the biotech industry and the growing competition between U.S. metropolitan areas to become centers of bio-activity.

A global study produced by Ernst & Young and a metropolitan report from the Brookings Institution are being unveiled as thousands of biotech executives, scientists and financiers from around the world gather in Toronto for the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual convention through Wednesday.

As the industry's largest trade event, the BIO conference has also become a magnet for biotech critics, who rallied over the weekend to protest the genetic engineering of foods and animals, research that could lead to biological weapons, the high costs of patented medicines and other issues.

Inside the Toronto Convention center, however, the two reports catered to the notion that biotechnology is becoming the next big industrial thing.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/10/BU212502.DTL

GREENPEACE FOUNDER DEFENDS BIOTECH; FORMER ALLIES CALL HIM A TOOL OF INDUSTRY
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Toronto -- Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace activist turned industry booster, opened a biotechnology conference here Sunday by blasting his former colleagues, while one of Canada's most respected environmental figures retorted by calling Moore an "industry hack."

That war of words marked the opening of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference, which will bring more than 13,000 scientists, financiers and executives to this city through Wednesday.

In a sign of the industry's growing economic clout, Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker made an opening-morning pitch asking biotech firms to locate in the state that helped create the steel and petroleum industries.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/10/MN242638.DTL

FAINT HOPE FOR SURVIVAL OF A WOODPECKER FADES
from The New York Times

One more faint hope for the survival of the ivory-billed woodpecker has faded.

A team searching swampy Louisiana bottomland in January for the regal, perhaps extinct bird heard what they thought was a distinctive double-rap on a dead tree. But researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, who did a computer analysis of digital recordings of the sounds, said yesterday that the listeners actually heard distant gunshots.

The ivory-bill was, or still may be, the largest North American woodpecker, 20 inches tall, with a 30-inch wingspan. It once thrived in hardwood forests of the South, but with logging of the old trees and development, the birds disappeared.

For decades, however, the ivory-bill has been sighted almost as often as Elvis, and usually as reliably. But some sightings have been credible, including one in 1999 in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area near Slidell, La.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/10/science/10BIRD.html

FINDING THE BEAUTY IN VINTAGE TECH
from The New York Times

The good news," Conrad Milster boomed into the tour-bus microphone yesterday morning, "is that we have an extra site today. It wasn't listed on your brochure."

A brief pregnant pause filled the packed bus.

"It's an ammonia plant!"

Cheers echoed up the aisles.

There is nothing, apparently, like a visit to a compressed-ammonia refrigeration plant on a grimy side street under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to round out a whirlwind tour of Brooklyn power-generating facilities. The Society for Industrial Archeology's "Extreme Steam" tour, a highlight of the group's 31st annual conference, was off to a rousing start.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/08/nyregion/08INDU.html

U.S. SUMMONS EXPERTS TO DRAFT ASTEROID DEFENSE PLAN
from The Toledo Blade

The U.S. federal government is summoning the world's top scientists to an urgent conference this summer to plan defenses against an attack that could wipe out an American city or disrupt the whole country's infrastructure.

No, it's not global terrorism.

The scientists will map ways to combat an asteroid attack, a cosmic sucker punch like the collision that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and flattened a Siberian forest in 1908.

While the world's attention is focused on the real threat of terrorism, the theoretical asteroid menace has been garnering a surprising amount of behind-the-scenes attention.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/06/0607_020607_wirasteroid.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
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http://www.americanscientist.org

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'Science' blights U.S. exports

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020610-87343248.htm

By Carter Dougherty THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Red Delicious, Fuji and Granny Smith apples from orchards in the United States rarely show up on Japanese shelves, and American apple growers blame science. Pseudoscience, to be exact.


Sunday, June 09, 2002

National Science Foundation: Science Hard

http://www.theonion.com/onion3821/science_hard.html

INDIANAPOLIS—The National Science Foundation's annual symposium concluded Monday, with the 1,500 scientists in attendance reaching the consensus that science is hard.

"For centuries, we have embraced the pursuit of scientific knowledge as one of the noblest and worthiest of human endeavors, one leading to the enrichment of mankind both today and for future generations," said keynote speaker and NSF chairman Louis Farian. "However, a breakthrough discovery is challenging our long-held perceptions about our discipline—the discovery that science is really, really hard."

"My area of expertise is the totally impossible science of particle physics," Farian continued, "but, indeed, this newly discovered 'Law of Difficulty' holds true for all branches of science, from astronomy to molecular biology and everything in between."

The science-is-hard theorem, first posited by a team of MIT professors in 1990, was slow to gain acceptance within the science community. It gathered momentum following the 1997 publication of physicist Stephen Hawking's breakthrough paper, "Lorentz Variation And Gravitation Is Just About The Hardest Friggin' Thing In The Known Universe."

HoaxWatch Update & Scientific American Frontiers

From: Barry Karr SkeptInq@aol.com

1) HoaxWatch
See the newest update to CSICOP's HoaxWatch Web page dealing with the French bestseller, L'Effroyable Imposture, by Thierry Meyssan. The book which alleges that the real facts of 9/11 attacks--in particular, on the Pentagon--were covered up by the U.S. government and arms industry. An English-language edition of Meyssan's book is due out at the end of the month. http://www.csicop.org/hoaxwatch/

2) PBS: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS
PUTTING ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE TO THE TEST: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS PRESENTS "A DIFFERENT WAY TO HEAL?"
PBS Airdate: Tuesday, June 4, 2002, at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings)

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1210/index.html

"Today there's growing interest in a branch of medicine that many doctors don't consider medicine at all," says Alan Alda in "A Different Way to Heal?" The program, which airs Tuesday, June 4, 2002, 8-9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), puts "alternative" or "complementary" therapies to the test.

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, chiropractic and therapeutic touch are part of a booming, multi-billion dollar industry. But do they hold up under scientific examination? Retired Stanford Medical School oncologist Wally Sampson, editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, tells Alda that the scientific basis of healing is establishing cause and effect. Most people recover from illness spontaneously, yet people often incorrectly attribute their improved health to whatever therapy they tried just before getting better.

Sampson and Alda visit a Chinese herbal medicine shop and a health store selling hundreds of loosely-regulated "nutritional supplements." Sampson points out that traditional herbal remedies and popular supplements--like Echinacea for colds or IP-6 for cancer--have either never been scientifically studied, or have shown equivocal effects at best.

In the mid 1990's, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco attempted to conduct a clinical trial of PC-SPES, a nutritional supplement that became popular as a prostate cancer remedy. PC-SPES (PC stands for prostate cancer; SPES is Latin for "hope") is a mixture of eight traditional medicinal herbs--seven Chinese, one American. Initially, patients in the trial showed dramatic improvement, but suspicion grew that the remedy had been laced with DES, a synthetic hormone that is a standard prostate cancer therapy. Lab analyses revealed traces of DES, although the UCSF team was unable to say what medical effect, if any, it might have. Nevertheless the trial was halted, and PC-SPES is now off the market.

The PC-SPES story demonstrates the difficulty in getting scientifically rigorous results with herbal remedies. An herbal mixture may contain hundreds of different chemicals, and it's hard to know which ingredients might be active--or even what they are. Although PC-SPES might still be useful, we may never know for sure--and that's true of most herbal remedies.

A healthy dose of skepticism led John Badanes, a qualified and experienced chiropractor, to leave his field. Invented by Daniel Palmer in 1895, chiropractic aims to correct blocked nerves--what Palmer claimed were the cause of all disease--with "adjustments" to the spine. But, as Badanes tells Alda, chiropractic has no basis in anatomy. Conducting a typical examination, Badanes shows how a simple error can lead a chiropractor to assess that a patient's legs are different lengths, requiring chiropractic adjustment to bring them into line--even though that's anatomically impossible. Badanes explains how patients and chiropractors alike misinterpret the popping sound that accompanies spinal manipulation. Really it's dissolved gas being released in the joint fluid (the same thing that happens when you crack your knuckles) and not a sign that vertebrae are changing position--another anatomical impossiblility.

Like Badanes, physician Robert Baratz, executive director of the National Council Against Health Fraud, takes issue with chiropractic. Baratz is concerned about the risk of injury during neck manipulation, which can place severe strain on a vertebral artery, leading to blood clotting and stroke.

Although chiropractors maintain this type of injury is very rare, a recent Canadian study estimated that 20 percent of all strokes caused by artery damage could be a result of neck manipulation. That figure translates into more than 1,300 strokes a year in the United States. Perhaps the most widely accepted alternative therapy is the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture, although the scientific jury is still out on its efficacy.

In animal studies, John Longhurst, Chief of Cardiology at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, found a link between acupuncture and the release of natural opiates in the brain, which reduced the animals' reaction to stress, suppressing blood pressure. Now he's trying to find out if the same is true for humans, but results so far are hard to interpret.

Subjects pedal on an exercise bike until they're exhausted, when their blood pressure reaches its peak. Subjects who got acupuncture before exercising showed significantly lower peak blood pressure than those who did not--even though some of the acupuncture points used in the trials weren't supposed to affect the cardiovascular system. Longhurst believes that acupuncture--and most alternative therapies--works by turning on the body's own opiates.

At Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, researchers have studied therapeutic touch, an increasingly popular alternative therapy whose practitioners claim to remotely manipulate people's "energy fields." The study looked at patients recovering from heart bypass surgery. Some received treatment from therapeutic touch practitioners, some received a sham treatment and some received nothing. The same treatments were given to cancer cell cultures, but no identifiable effects were seen anywhere.

In 1996, a science project by 11-year-old Emily Rosa cast doubt on a fundamental principle of therapeutic touch--the ability to detect another person's energy field. With therapeutic touch practitioners unable to see what she was doing, Rosa placed one of her hands near one of the practitioner's hands--and asked them to state which of their hands she was near. Practitioners' success rates were no better than pure chance. Rosa's study was considered rigorous enough to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, making her the youngest author to appear in its august pages.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS is produced by The Chedd-Angier Production Company in association with Scientific American magazine. National corporate funding for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN FRONTIERS is provided by Agilent Technologies. Additional funding is provided by public television viewers. "A Different Way to Heal?" is written, produced and directed by John Angier and David Huntley. The series is presented on PBS by Connecticut Public Television.

Probability proves your horoscope correct

Paul Webster in Paris
Wednesday June 5, 2002
The Guardian

A Nobel prize may not be essential to becoming a modern mystic, but it helps. Georges Charpak, the physics prizewinner in 1992, has co-authored a rapid guide to becoming a fakir or astrologer and making a fortune by bamboozling a gullible public.

His co-author, Henri Broch, who runs a paranormal research unit at Nice University, went through sessions of firewalking and tongue-piercing to prove that all mystic arts were based on trickery, natural circumstances or mathematical probability.

Devenez Sorciers, Devenez Savants (Become Wizards and Wise Men) is a best seller because so many want to learn telepathy, levitation, horoscope- casting, water divining and metal-bending.

Mr Charpak said his attempt to debunk mysteries by applying the laws of probability had left many unconvinced.

"I have been inundated with letters saying I interviewed the wrong astrologers from people who claim their personal fortune tellers had been right."

Fooling people is easy, he said: just generalise. When a single astral chart was used to define the "individual characters" of students, 69% were convinced it was accurate: a better result than analyses by professional psychologists.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,727351,00.html

Lifespring
The Awareness Page

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/eldon.braun/awareness/

Taking a stand for speaking the possibility of making a difference for the informed consumer.

Why I have created this page

This page is created to help build awareness of the various types of self awareness programs that are out in the marketplace. This page is by no means a condemnation of these things. However, I take a stand that people should make conscious informed decisions about what programs and organizations they choose to associate with. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. Some of the information may be controversial and some of the organizations may not like it. All I can say is:

"What do they have to hide? Awareness includes it all"

NASA Takes a Flyer on Hydrinos

http://wired.com/news/print/0,1294,51792,00.html

By Erik Baard

11:00 a.m. June 7, 2002 PDT

If one of NASA's newest rocket concepts works, it wouldn't just get humans farther out into the universe, it would redefine the place.

The space agency is funding a study of an engine based on a novel conception of the structure of hydrogen, the central idea behind a maverick New Jersey researcher's Grand Unified Theory. This theory has been derided as a "crackpot idea" and "voodoo science" by respected experts in physics.

Anthony J. Marchese, a mechanical engineering professor specializing in propulsion at Rowan University, is getting modest funding ($75,000) from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts to build and test a BlackLight Rocket.

NIAC's mission is to take a flyer on wild ideas. "Don't let your preoccupation with reality stifle your imagination," is the catch phrase on the group's website, which defines its mission as finding "grand, revolutionary concepts for architectures and systems."

Randell Mills, a Harvard-trained medical doctor, has argued for over a decade that electrons aren't unpredictable "clouds" as seen in Quantum Theory, but rather defined, charged bubble-like formations, which he calls "orbitspheres," wrapped around nucleuses.

In a simple atom like hydrogen, with just one electron and a nucleus, this bubble can be catalyzed to shrink to lower than previously observed levels, Mills says, releasing copious energy in the extreme ultraviolet, or black light, spectrum. He calls the reduced energy hydrogen a "hydrino," and founded a company called BlackLight Power to develop the idea.

Silverton UFO sightings in the eyes of the beholders

http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/lv-other/2002/jun/07/513550514.html

June 07, 2002

By Mary Manning
manning@lasvegassun.com
LAS VEGAS SUN

John Darger and his family came all the way from Salt Lake City to catch a glimpse of a UFO predicted to appear in Las Vegas on Thursday.

"We're in Vegas," Darger said. "What are the odds? Not good."

Darger, a building contractor, is a skeptic and an amateur hypnotist and knows the tricks of the trade. But he said he was willing to give mentalist Kreskin a chance to pull a flying saucer out of the night sky.

The Amazing Kreskin, also known as George Joseph Kresge Jr., attracted about 300 people Thursday night to a dark desert lot behind the Silverton hotel at Interstate 15 and Blue Diamond Road.

The mentalist and entertainer had predicted that one of the largest UFO sightings in recorded history would take place in Nevada's desert in either May or June. Kreskin was so certain, he promised that if nothing was sighted, then he would donate $50,000 to charity.

But in the end Kreskin, who says he's not a psychic, never expected to see anything otherworldly himself. He planned to plant the idea in the minds of the audience to see alien objects in the sky.

Final looks at Jupiter's moonIo aid big-picture view

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0206/03galileoio/

NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: June 3, 2002

The final images are in, and the resulting portrait of Jupiter's moon Io, after a challenging series of observations by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, is a peppery world of even more plentiful and diverse volcanoes than scientists imagined before Galileo began orbiting Jupiter in 1995.


Saturday, June 08, 2002

Map of the creator

http://english.pravda.ru/chuvirov.html

PRAVDA.Ru will hold a press-conference on June 6 with Doctor of physics and mathematics, professor of the State University of Bashkiria, Alexander Chuvyrov. This scientist found the infallible proof about the existence of the ancient highly-developed civilization. He found a huge stone slab, which was 120 million years old, with a relief map of the Ural region on it.

PRAVDA.Ru, Moscow

Good afternoon, Alexandr Nikolaevich! We are glad to see you in our office. We would like to notice that the material about your find was read by at least 500 thousand readers of both English and Russian versions of our edition. Already before the conference, there were about 60 questions, so taking into account the time limits, you should manage to answer as more questions as possible. Let us begin.

Thank you for the possibility to tell about my find. I on myself could judge about the number of people who have read the publications. Just after they were published, correspondents of foreign TV channels and of different editions started to call me. And I am thankful for this, too, because you have drawn attention of world information agencies to my discovery. I would try to give short answers to answer to all readers. And afterwards, I would prepare more detailed answers.

16:37
Novosibirsk

Dear Professor, and what about the Charles Darwin theory? Or probably the age of anthropoid apes is in actual fact much older? Could, for example, a conclusion be made basing on your find that people lived already in the epoch of dinosaurs?

Unfortunately, I have never asked myself about the possible creator of the slab covered with the map. My task was simple: I had to investigate the found object and to describe it, to investigate materials of which the slab was made and to try to answer the question about the object's age. Some See UFO; Others Leave Disappointed http://www.klas-tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=811618&nav=168X9TvD

(June 6) -- The Amazing Kreskin's prediction of seeing a UFO may have been true for some Southern Nevadans -- but not many.

Thursday night, the famed mentalist claimed that between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight, UFOs could have been seen near the Silverton hotel. Hundreds of onlookers showed up for the sighting, but not everyone left convinced that there is life on other planets.

"I've seen many UFOs, but once you've seen one, you know you've seen it; there's no other way," one onlooker said.

But at least one viewer claimed to see something strange in the sky.

"It was a little, bitty blue thing, then came towards us and moved away again," the viewer said. "It came down and went right back up, down and right back up."

Kreskin promised that if there was no UFO sighting, he would donate $50,000 to charity. He'll hold a press conference Friday to discuss his prediction -- and its outcome.

Indian magician to create Pele and Platini out of nothing at World Cup final

From Ananova at:

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_603002.html?menu=news.quirkies

An Indian magician says he wil bewitch fans attending the World Cup final.

PC Sorcar the Younger says he will "create Pele and Platini out of nothing" and bring them face to face with Beckham, Ronaldo, Zidane and Figo before "making them vanish into thin air".

He said: "Through this optical illusion I hope to get old football legends to meet legends in the making."

Sorcar says he has been invited to perform at the final by the Nippon Art Society.

He said: "It's sad that India has never made it to the Football World Cup despite having a huge following for the game.

"One can however take comfort from the fact that the illusion created on the ground and seen by billions of people across the world on television sets will be credited to a member of India's first family of magic."

Sorcar the Younger is the son of one of India's most famous magicians, the late PC Sorcar Senior.

He is regarded as less accomplished than his brother, Sorcar Junior, who is credited with feats like making the Taj Mahal and a train full of passengers disappear.

Story filed: 08:22 Friday 7th June 2002


Friday, June 07, 2002

Amazing Kreskin: UFOs will land Thursday

http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/0605kreskin05-ON.html/

Associated Press
June 05, 2002 18:12:00

LAS VEGAS - The Amazing Kreskin says he can't say exactly how he knows.

But he's so sure Las Vegas is going to be visited by UFOs Thursday night that he's willing to bet $50,000. He's even narrowing his prediction down to a ti me: between about 10 p.m. and midnight.

Why Islam Hates Democracy

http://frontpagemag.com/columnists/glazov/2002/glazov06-06-02.htm

FrontPageMagazine.com | June 6, 2002

IN 1989, Iran's Islamic tyrant Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa – a compulsory religious decree in Islam – that condemned Salman Rushdie to death. Rushdie had committed the crime of writing his book The Satanic Verses, which was, in Khomeini's mind, slanderous to the Prophet Muhammad. In Islam, those who insult Allah or the Prophet are subject to the death penalty.

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – June 7, 2002

EL NINO MAY APPEAR AS EARLY AS JULY, SAYS U.S. EXPERT
from Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - El Nino, the weather phenomenon blamed for deadly droughts and floods, could officially arrive as early as July and reach its full devastating intensity by the end of the year, a U.S. government weather expert told Reuters Thursday.

Telltale signs of a nascent El Nino can already be seen in South America, where the worst storms in 100 years hit Chile this week, killing 11 and leaving thousands homeless.

Vernon Kousky, an El Nino expert for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the agency may announce El Nino's arrival if ocean temperatures in the Pacific continue to warm this month.

"Given the warming patterns recently, we may be ready to say El Nino is here by our next update in July," Kousky said in an interview.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=1059160

MONKEY THINK, MONKEY DO IN BRAIN EXPERIMENT
from Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Monkeys implanted with special electrodes moved a cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about it, and learned how to do it better with practice, scientists reported on Thursday.

The experiment could eventually lead to the development of better prosthetic limbs for amputees and might even offer a way for paralyzed patients to move again.

"They were able to move balls around, by thinking about it, in three- dimensional space," said Andrew Schwartz, a neural physiologist at Arizona State University who led the study.

The new field, called neuroprosthetics, is small but active. In March, a team at Brown University in Rhode Island reported similar research in the journal Nature.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=1059072

CRISIS IN KASHMIR: NUCLEAR THREAT HAS WORLD ON EDGE
from The San Francisco Chronicle

It is more than 50 years since India and Pakistan achieved independence from Britain, and since then the two South Asian nations have argued and squabbled -- incessantly and sometimes bloodily -- over the contested state of Kashmir.

The possibility that the conflict could go nuclear has haunted the region since 1974, when India first detonated an atomic bomb in response to China's development of nuclear weapons a decade earlier. In 1972, Pakistan began a nuclear weapons program shortly after its loss of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in a war with India.

If a nuclear war between the two countries broke out, millions of survivors might be disabled, blinded or deafened by the nuclear thunderclaps. Radioactive fallout might poison soil and rivers and crops across South Asia and points beyond. A new Dark Age of political chaos -- exploited by religious demagogues, high-tech warlords and neighboring powers with their own strategic ambitions -- might descend upon these impoverished lands.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/07/MN63495.DTL

CDC ADVISERS LOBBY FOR 'RING CONTAINMENT' SMALLPOX VACCINE STRATEGY
from The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Five doctors advising the federal government on its smallpox vaccination policy appear unanimous in their opposition to a mass inoculation of all Americans, arguing the chances of a terrorist smallpox attack are remote and the vaccine is harmful to many people.

The consensus of the panelists and the estimated 75 people attending Thursday's meeting -- including about a dozen who addressed the doctors during a public forum -- was that mass inoculation currently makes no sense.

"The small pox vaccine has significant side effects," Dr. Duc Vugia of the California Department of Health told the advisers. "We are concerned that use in the general population will cause more harm than good."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/06/07/state0306EDT0007.DTL

SENATORS' BILL DETAILS RULES ON CLONING RESEARCH
from The Washington Post

An intensive effort by a bipartisan group of senators to craft detailed rules governing research on cloned human embryos is nearly complete and could be ready for a floor debate and vote within one to two weeks, sources involved in the process said yesterday.

The new language spells out in unprecedented detail what scientists would -- and would not -- be allowed to do in the controversial field of human embryo cloning research. It is being written primarily by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) -- all of whom favor allowing the research to go forward -- and is to be added to a bill that they and others introduced last month.

By including a raft of specific scientific and ethical restrictions in the bill, the senators hope to garner the last votes they need to gain passage, Feinstein said in an interview. But opponents renewed their pledge yesterday to fight for an alternative bill, introduced by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), that would outlaw all research involving cloned human embryos.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2415-2002Jun5.html

EUROPE FINDS FRIED FOOD HAS PROBABLE CARCINOGEN
from The Washington Post

A third European government's food agency has found surprisingly high levels of the chemical acrylamide, a probable carcinogen, in fried and baked starchy foods. Unlike the other governments, Norway's National Food Authority yesterday recommended that people who eat a lot of potato chips -- the food with the highest levels of the substance -- should reduce their consumption to avoid possible harm.

"We have confirmed the earlier findings [from Sweden] that there is a high level of acrylamides in potato chips, a medium level in french fries, and a low level in breads," said Gunnar Jordfald, director of the Norwegian authority in Oslo. "We are saying that people who eat a lot of the potato chips in particular should consider to cut back for additional safety."

Acrylamides, which have been found to cause cancer in rodents but not specifically in humans, are produced during the frying or baking process. Jordfald said his agency was working with Norwegian food processors to find ways to reduce production of the chemical.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A9276-2002Jun6.html

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http://www.americanscientist.org

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Thursday, June 06, 2002

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.htm which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

IN THE NEWS

Today's Headlines – June 6, 2002

UC DAVIS RESEARCHER RELEASED
from The San Francisco Chronicle

A Chinese American lab worker was freed on his own recognizance Tuesday after the Yolo County district attorney dropped charges that he was preparing to flee to China with trade secrets belonging to UC Davis.

Bin Han must still return to court in July to answer charges that he embezzled 20 vials of experimental proteins from a UC Davis lab. Nevertheless, supporters of the 40-year-old researcher are comparing his case to that of Wen Ho Lee, a Chinese American scientist accused of spying only to plea bargain to a minor charge.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read between the lines here," said Richard Allaye Chan Jr., the Sacramento attorney representing Han.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/06/BU129230.DTL

COMPUTER GLITCH MAY MEAN LESS HEALTH RISK THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT FROM POLLUTION FROM DIESEL ENGINES, POWER PLANTS
from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists revising a study of tiny pollution particles from diesel engines and power plants found a computer glitch that might mean less health risk than previously thought and could delay new federal rules.

Research by investigators at Johns Hopkins University's biostatistics department indicates the software used for the study of 90 large American cities was overestimating the rise in the typical mortality rate.

The study is just one of more than 100 the Environmental Protection Agency is examining as it prepares to issue regulations next year. But the software in question could be a problem because it is used by many of the studies, agency spokesman Joe Martyak, said Wednesday.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2002/06/05/national1714EDT0818.DTL

REPAIRED HUBBLE TELESCOPE YIELDS BETTER LOOK AT THE STARS
from The New York Times

ALBUQUERQUE, June 5 — With one of its principal cameras revived after three years of inactivity, the Hubble Space Telescope has now resumed infrared observations of the universe with even greater sensitivity than before, peering deeply through obscuring dust into the hearts of galaxies.

The first three science pictures taken by the infrared camera were made public today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society here, and astronomers were relieved and awed by what they saw.

Two pictures parted the dusty veils of two galaxies to reveal turbulent regions of star formation at rates far greater than anywhere in the Milky Way, Earth's galaxy. The third and most notable picture shows the merging of at least four smaller galaxies, producing a brilliant infrared glow from the firestorm of star birth generated by the collisions.

"This is really fantastic," Dr. Anneila Sargent, the departing president of the astronomical society, said at a news conference.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/06/science/06ASTR.html

SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR FINALLY ABLE TO LAUNCH
from The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Endeavour blasted off Wednesday on a flight to deliver new residents to the international space station, following nearly a week's delay.

The launch had been postponed first by thunderstorms, then by a leaky valve. The weather finally cooperated Wednesday, and the shuttle climbed through a hazy late-afternoon sky on its way to orbit.

It was sure to be welcome news to the three space station men, in orbit for six long months. They were passing 240 miles above the Indian Ocean near Australia, and out of communication, when Endeavour and its crew of seven took off. The shuttle is due to arrive Friday.

"Sorry we had to keep you here for an additional six days, but everything's coming together now," launch director Mike Leinbach told the astronauts just before liftoff. "Good luck and have a great flight."

http://www.nando.net/healthscience/story/424694p-3391251c.html

THE MANY VARIABLES OF THE SMALLPOX DEBATE
from The Washington Post

Sometimes policymakers are forced to do what mathematicians would consider futile – solve an equation in which many of the key variables and terms are missing.

Over the next three weeks, a panel of medical experts will debate whether the federal government should make smallpox vaccine widely available for the first time in 31 years. The decision – one of many forced by last fall's episodes of biological terrorism – will require a tricky balancing of risks and benefits in a state of great uncertainty.

The chance of a smallpox outbreak is unknown – the disease was eradicated from the globe in 1980 – so the most important variable can't be calculated. The risks of smallpox vaccine are also murky, because the American population is biologically different from what it was in 1971, when the substance was last used routinely.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2516-2002Jun5.html

DNA TESTING MAY OFFER CLUES ABOUT MAN IN ICE
from The Washington Post

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory -- For some reason, he lay down and perhaps fell asleep. Snow fell. Ice formed. His body froze quickly, becoming part of a glacier. There he remained for 550 years, deep frozen in time. Then the glacier began to melt, shrinking, dripping, pulling back layers of ice that had covered him, revealing clues of a former life.

Three men hunting mountain sheep first noticed him, lying in a melting glacier high in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in British Columbia. Actually, they first noticed a walking stick. Wood this high in a glacier is uncommon. Then they saw something with fur and bits of bone.

"It was 50 feet away on a crest of ice. There was a big smear in the snow," said Bill Hanlon, who was hunting Dall sheep with fellow teachers Mike Roch and Warren Ward. "It looked like an animal had died."

But then they saw clothing, some of it stitched. "I looked about three feet away and there was a pelvic bone sticking up from the ice," Hanlon recalled. "I could see legs going down into the ice." A chill ran through the hunters. "A million things were going through our heads," Hanlon said. "Like: Is this really old? Is this someone who got lost?"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2443-2002Jun5.html

BUDDING SCIENTISTS, LET LOOSE IN A WORLD THEY CAN SAVE
from The New York Times

LATELY Chandreka Wright, 13, has been chatting with friends online while playing a computer game. This is not exactly atypical behavior for a seventh grader, except that she is chatting and playing during her science class at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Boston.

For the class, Chandreka and her classmates have been going online to visit River City, a three-dimensional virtual town, circa 1890, whose citizens are plagued by a mysterious illness. They meet up with the local citizenry and a dog or two and snoop around the houses, hotels and streets to figure out what is making the virtual denizens so sick. The students talk to one another in the virtual world with instant messaging.

"Class time moves fast — you want to do something, then all of a sudden you have to go somewhere else," Chandreka said.

She and her classmates are part of a research project designed by scientists at George Mason University and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education that relies on what they call multiple-user virtual environment experiential simulators, or Muvees. Players log in, adopt an identity and join up with other players to gather information and solve problems in a three-dimensional virtual world brimming with people, places and things.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/06/technology/circuits/06NEXT.html

Please follow these links for more information about Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society:

Sigma Xi Homepage
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'The Turk': The Automaton That Conquered Napoleon (at Chess)

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/02/books/review/02TERE.html

By DICK TERESI

The Amazing Kreskin had called, announcing that he would play chess with a grandmaster -- blindfolded! I was amazed. James (The Amazing) Randi was similarly amazed. Then Kreskin dropped the other shoe. He would play not just one grandmaster but two, simultaneously. At that, Randi's interest waned. Assuming one can see through the blindfold, he explained, the real problem is mounting a respectable game against a grandmaster. Against two? That's easy. The magician takes white in one room, black in the next, and plays the grandmasters against each other. Outcome: a win and a loss, or two draws. I did not attend the exhibition because I now knew the trick, and because Randi had thoughts of attending, and I make it a point not to occupy the same space with two Amazings.

''The Turk,'' by Tom Standage, a contributor to The Economist, is an amazing book. It is entertaining, yet it is not what it seems. It can be enjoyed with blindfold or without.

The Kizombe Correspondence

http://www.savannahsays.com/kizombe.htm

Preface: Have you heard of the "Nigerian Scam"? It's been going on for so long, it's practically a cottage industry in parts of Africa. The way it works is, some African sends you a letter telling you he needs your help transferring a large amount of money to a "secure account" in the United States. He needs your help because his country is at war and his money isn't safe there (or plug in any other heart-tugging reason here). Anyway, they tell you you're going to get a substantial portion of these millions of dollars, in return for your help. BUT, they just need you to first pony up several thousand of your own dollars in order to pay for various fees, bribes, etc.

Well, I recently received such a letter in my e-mail. Knowing about the scam (and inspired by the hilarious work at http://www.spamletters.com), I wrote the guy back, hoping to create a gigantic waste of his time (less time spent trying to scam others, I figured). To my surprise, he wrote back. So I wrote him again. And again. And again. Eventually, when he just wouldn't take the hint, I had to end it.

Here is the unedited transcript of our correspondence. I hope you enjoy it.

Strangers in a strained land

"...once Christ returns, Jews - at least those Jews who have not accepted Jesus as a personal savior - get a one-way ticket to hell."

http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?ItemId=13417&CFID=1717399&CFTOKEN=41832061

Working for Change
June 4, 2002
Bill Berkowitz - WorkingForChange

06.04.02 - Over the past two-plus decades, Christian-right organizations in the United States have become some of the most diehard stateside Israel supporters. In late May, Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein (president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) and Ralph Reed (former executive director of the Christian Coalition and current Republican Party chairman of Georgia) got together for a new project called "Stand for Israel." Eckstein also hopes to bring Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell on-board in an effort aimed at "institutionalizing evangelical support for Israel."

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz recently reported that "Stand for Israel" hopes to become a "Christian version of the pro-Israel lobby on Capitol Hill, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)." One of the group's primary activities will be to counter what they see as media bias against Israel - a long held belief shared by both Israelis and Christian-right activists.

Eckstein is an Orthodox rabbi from Chicago who moved to Israel about a year ago. For the past eight years, he has been running the Jerusalem Friendship Fund, which he claims has collected around $60 million from the US evangelical community in support of immigration and welfare projects in Israel.

Tracks from a primordial sea found in Canada

William J. Broad The New York Times
Thursday, June 6, 2002

http://www.iht.com/articles/60413.html

NEW YORK Scientists investigating an abandoned quarry in Canada have found what appear to be the oldest known footprints of terrestrial creatures - foot-long critters resembling modern bugs that crawled from the sea onto land and left tracks in sandy dunes.

The sandstone is 480 million to 500 million years old. Scientists believe the discovery region - just north of Lake Ontario outside Kingston, Ontario - was a sandy beach on a primordial sea.

The find, the scientists say, pushes back the colonization of land by about 40 million years and puts it in or near the late Cambrian period, when the seas were starting to boil with large creatures. The tracks were saved from oblivion when quarry crews shunned the sandstone as unsuitable for commercial use.


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