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Earth Happenings Archive
March, 1997
Indonesia To Probe Gold Find (Washington Post/AP 3/31/97)
"Indonesia has asked a team of experts to examine the gold deposits of Borneo, where miners now say they may have greatly overstated their announcement of a huge gold find."
Hale-Bopp: solar sight of a lifetime (MSNBC 3/30/97)
"Hale-Bopp is the largest, brightest observable comet in modern times not to mention one of the largest keyholes into the makeup of comets and origins of the solar system."
$50 Million Planned for Miners (Washington Post/AP 3/29/97)
"About 600 former miners or their families could share $50 million in government compensation because the miners became ill after exposure to radiation while mining uranium used in nuclear weapons."
Comet erupting with 'building blocks for life' (CNN/AP 3/27/97)
"The Hale-Bopp comet, now putting on a spectacular celestial show as it hurtles away from the sun, is spewing tons of organic chemicals of the type scientists say could have been the building blocks of life."
Hale-Bopp's Mysterious Cargo (Science Now 3/27/97)
Scientists "detected olivine--a silicate crystal formed at high temperatures--in the gas jets" from Hale-Bopp comet.
Ice age earth froze for 200 million years (Nature Science Updates 3/27/97)
"Evidence of an ice age that turned the Earth into a 'giant snowball' for up to 200 million years has been unearthed by scientists from the United States and South Africa. The ice age - or glaciation - is believed to have taken place around 2.2 billion years ago, and could have led to a drop in sea levels of 300 metres. It was probably the most widespread and brutal so far recorded in the 4.6 billion-year history of the Earth. "
Report Jolts Japan's Earthquake Program (ScienceNow 3/25/97)
"Japan's 32-year-old earthquake-prediction research program has failed to meet its goal of warning the public of impending earthquakes and has overstated the chances of developing accurate forecasts. So says a draft report from a government panel in what is the sharpest official criticism to date of the centerpiece of the country's $147 million a year earthquake research effort."
Comet providing spectacular insights. (Science Daily 3/23/97)
"Comet Hale-Bopp is everything astronomers hoped: its brightness and size allow detailed observations which may change the way we understand comets."
Bacterial Muck on Mars? (ScienceNow 3/20/97)
"The authors of the life-on-Mars paper that rocked the world last summer say they have found further evidence of past life in the famed meteorite: residue from bacterial secretions"
Global cooling evidence 'spurious' (Nature Science Updates 3/20/97)
"A weather satellite that showed average air temperatures to be falling since 1979 was sending out "spurious" data, according to an analysis of the satellite's performance by scientists from Colorado in the United States."
Ancient Earth once a big iceball(CNN/Reuters 3/19/97)
Glaciers in the Tropics (Science Now 3/19/97)
"In tomorrow's Nature, U.S. and South African geologists report that 2.2 billion years ago, glaciers turned parts of the balmy tropics into a frozen wasteland--extreme conditions that puzzle climate researchers."
Life-on-Mars Battle Continues (Washington Post/AP 3/19/97)
"After seven months of considering the bold claim that a brick-sized rock from Mars contains signs of ancient life on the red planet, the only thing scientists can agree on is that it's too early to tell."
China warns of cyanide poisoning in some rivers (Nando Times 3/19/97)
"Authorities in southern China warned Wednesday of cyanide poisoning in rivers after a truck carrying the chemical plunged into a tributary of the Pearl River, which flows into the South China Sea. Potassium cyanide - used in the electroplating industry and in the extraction of gold and silver - dissolves in water and is toxic, a chemist at a Hong Kong government laboratory said."
Mars Life Theory Gets a Boost (Washington Post/AP 3/13/97)
Mars Rock Cools Down, Life Debate Heats Up (Science Now 3/13/97)
"After NASA scientists claimed last August to have found evidence of past life in carbonate intrusions in the rock, skeptics argued that the chemical composition of the carbonate could only have formed at temperatures of 650 degrees Celsius or above--too high for life. But in tomorrow's Science, two papers fuel the argument with new evidence that the rock formed at comfortably low temperatures."
Scientists Clash Over Global Warming--or Cooling? (Science Now 3/12/97)
"The world should be warming, if climate models predicting the effects of rising levels of greenhouse gases are to be believed. But satellite data seemed to throw cold water on these predictions, suggesting that the atmosphere has in fact become slightly cooler over the last 2 decades. Now two scientists, in a report in tomorrow's issue of Nature, challenge the satellite measurements, suggesting that they actually reveal a slight warming trend."
Global Warming Under Way (Washington Post/AP 3/11/97)
"Satellite temperature measurements bolster the conclusion that global warming is already under way, two Colorado scientists say. The readings support last year's conclusion by an international scientific panel that 'the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on climate.'"
China mine blast kills 86 (CNN/AP 3/11/97)
"Pent-up gas exploded in a privately run coal mine in central Henan province, killing 86 people and injuring 12. The explosion was caused by an accumulation of gases inside the mine over the long Chinese New Year holiday."
Meteorologists now can predict El Nino up to a year in advance (Nando Times 3/11/97)
"For the first time in the history of their science, meteorologists now can predict a major climatic effect - namely, El Nino - up to a year in advance. This unprecedented ability already is paying off for Australia, Brazil and Peru. Devastating droughts or floods in those countries are linked directly to the state of the tropical eastern Pacific."
Gigantic star discovered with diameter 370 times that of the sun (Nando Times 3/11/97)
"Observatories in Chile and Australia have found a star so immense that as viewed from Earth, it looks larger than any other star except the Sun. If it occupied the place of the Sun within the solar system, this huge red star would extend past Earth to beyond the orbit of Mars."
U.N. Addresses Global Warming(Washington Post/AP 3/7/97)
"Delegates at a weeklong U.N. conference on global warming that ended Friday made slight progress toward establishing targets for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. However, the delegates remained far apart on just how much to cut emissions."
Global warming a recipe for disease(MSNBC 3/7/97)
"If you thought rising oceans, heavier rains and worsening droughts were the only things to fear from global warming, try new epidemics of malaria and cholera. According to researchers at a Bethesda, Md., conference on climate and health this week, even a slight warming of global temperatures will likely be accompanied by tens of millions of additional cases of hot-weather illnesses in regions previously unaffected by them. "
DNA links teacher to 9,000-year-old skeleton(CNN/AP 3/7/97)
"Using DNA from a tooth, scientist have established a blood tie between a 9,000-year-old skeleton known as "Cheddar Man" and an English schoolteacher. It is the longest human lineage ever traced, the team of scientists from the university's Institute of Molecular Medicine said."
Infinitesimal percentage of world's water supply said usable by humans (Nando Times 3/6/97)
"Water, water everywhere, but only about 0.007 percent of it is readily accessible for human use, according to a new U.N. report on that vital but fast depleting resource."
If there's live on Mars, could it contaminate Earth? (CNN/AP 3/6/97)
"It's come to this: A panel of scientists is warning NASA to be careful about contaminating Earth with hostile bugs when robots go to Mars to bring back soil samples. The risk is small, they say, but "not zero.""
How Reptiles Took Wing (ScienceNow 3/6/97)
"The oldest-known flying vertebrate glided on a bizarre pair of wings, according to a study of exquisitely preserved fossils published in tomorrow's issue of Science. All other known flying animals, such as gliding lizards and birds and bats, have wings adapted from ribs or forelimbs. But those of 250-million-year old Coelurosauavus jaekeli were supported by new bones that formed directly in the skin."
The Mystery of the Singing Sands (Nature Science Updates 3/13/97)
The Song of the Sand (ScienceNow 3/6/97)
"You may imagine the desert as quiet rows of drifting dunes. But under the right conditions some dunes can emit a thunderous boom, and smaller volumes of sand from these noisy dunes can squeak."
Book review: T. Rex and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez (Nature Science Updates 3/6/97)
"Don't be put off by lurid title, or the 1950's-style B-feature cover picture. This is a serious book by one of the most significant researchers of the age, and an important testament to a fundamental, catastrophic shift in scientific understanding -- the acceptance of catastrophes as forces for change in geology and evolution. "
No fix in sight for global warming (Nando Times 3/3/97)
"Many scientists who analyze climate change say that even the most ambitious program with any chance of adoption won't be enough to stop the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide, which is believed to be causing temperatures to rise."
Tanker grounds off Venezuela; 20,000 barrels of crude oil spilled (CNN/Reuter 3/3/97)
"A Greek tanker ran aground off western Venezuela, spilling about 20,000 barrels of crude oil into the sea and threatening the shoreline, authorities said Sunday. An oil slick about 4 miles (7 km) long formed in the Gulf of Venezuela, near San Carlos island, following the grounding late Friday night of the Nissos Amorgos."
Humans in Siberia 300,000 years ago (MSNBC 3/2/97)
Early Humans Braved Siberia? (ScienceNow 2/27/97)
"Stone Age humans were clever enough to survive in frigid northern Siberia - one of the most severe climates on Earth - as early as 300,000 years ago, long before most experts thought possible, researchers say."

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