to 12/19, 2001
Someone has suggested that the "Terrorism" section isn't of as much
value as the other sections, and also, that there is, perhaps, a little more
than the optimum amount of environmental news. If no shrieks and screams of
anguish assail my receptive ears, I'll drop the "Terrorism" section,
and select only more pertinent environmental news. .-----Yours
Truly, Dear Old Dad
To every stage, there's
a season, and to every beginning an end.
I began the "Science News" feature on the new website
on March 13, 2000, posting
one news article per day until October
12, 2000, when I upped the number of articles to four a day. In
December, 2000, I increased
the article count to anywhere from 5 to 20 articles a day. On January
7th, 2001, I settled upon a steady 8 articles a day. By February,
I had expanded this bill of lading to 25 news articles a day. For the week
of March 22-28, I added 3
pictures to the week's articles. For March
29 to April 4, I added 15 photos. For the week of April
5 to April 11, I lost count. Then I realized how long it would
take anyone without a wideband connection to download my photo gallery,
and I backed off.
I had enlarged the daily science news to encompass 50 news articles a day.
By September, that
had mushroomed to 75 or 80 a day. On
October 15th, I added a section on Terrorism which has gradually
grown to 70 to 90 items a day. It now totals 150 articles a day, and up.
I have also kept up the pace through the weekends, when
most news feeds chill out.
The result is one of the larger, if not, perhaps, the
largest science news sites in the world.
The problem is that it's more than this man can handle.
It's taking all my free time, and then, I'm having trouble catching the
errors. Embarrassing as it is, I'm essentially unable to anseer e-mail.
I've been loath to dismantle this science news program because I think
there might be possibilities for income generation and reputation-building
for someone or someones. I never intended it be a one-man show, but that's
This page may not show up well
in search engines because it doesn't have "Science News" as a main URL
address. Tonight, I have set up a cloned website on Freeservers that includes
the words "science-news" in the website address. (Uploading doesn't work,
so I'll have to ask for help, but I don't have time tonight.) But it should
be possible to greatly increase the circulation for this news service.
Two solutions to this problem
come to mind. One is to seek help with this operation, and the other is
to trim it back. (I would welcome any suggestions for improving this news
site. It has just grown like Topsy, and I haven't had inspiration or feedback
with ideas for altering it.) This does not mean that the website won't
continue to be updated! Right now, I lack time for anything but
the mechanical aspects of updating the news, with little time for editorials
or other discussions, such as Green Power
or the Colonization of Mars. If I reduce the
numbers of daily articles, I will spend more time upon other topics, as
I was doing before I upped the number of daily articles from one a day
to 150+ a day
The job consists of:
As you can see, the most time-consuming,
but also the most interesting task is that of skimming the articles, and
updating the science news page. The site could certainly warrant a number
of editors in individual subject areas. Even without pay, it could make
an instantly available showcase of one's prior work.
Updating the Science News master template (2 to 3 minutes)
Locating three articles with suitable images, and pasting
some of the accompanying text into the three tables at the top of the page
(20 to 30 minutes)
Reviewing the literature and copying links to science
news articles (3 to 4 hours)
Updating the indices and words-of-the-day, updating
the main pages for both websites (20 to 30 minutes)
Two gentlemen (and I do mean
"gentlemen") have graciously volunteered to help with this project. In
the meantime, as Christmas approaches, I'm going to have back away at least
temporarily from my day-and-night web site lucubrations. (The past few
days, I've been able to update the website in a matter of a few hours,
which would be a sustainable burden to bear .But other days, when other
responsibilities have interfered or when some unexplainable glitch causes
something that's been working to quit working, it's taken all my available
I'd welcome any ideas you might have on this situation.
I had thought that I might cut the news on terrorism first, since that's
the most recent addition to the workload.
12/15/2001:: Tonight's Science News reports preliminary results
obtained by the Mars Odyssey that show "large amounts of
hydrogen---possibly water---near the Red Planet's poles". Given the growing
consensus of large deposits of ice on Mars, this fits in perfectly. Mars may be
sufficiently congenial for Terrestrial plant life that we'll have to be careful
about contaminating Mars. But what a wonderful development! This hydrogen that
has been detected (probably in the form of water) has to lie within three feet
of the surface to have been detected by "Odyssey". Incidentally,
(a) The coldest temperatures on Mars aren't much below the coldest
temperatures in Antarctica.
(b) Although the Martian atmosphere is very dry, with only 0.016%
moisture content, It wouldn't be materially different than the humidity (0.019%)
in winter at the Earth's poles. Also, water settles as frost on the struts of
(c) Water plays a central role in chemical processing--e. g., with
the manufacture of concrete. Massive supplies of water-ice would be extremely
good news in terms of colonizing Mars.
12/13/2001:: We interrupt this program to bring you an important
The American Taliban, John Walker Lindt, has advised his
interrogators that Sunday, the end of Ramadan, is a target date for the second
phase of the Al Qaeda attack on the United States: to wit, a biological attack.
How would Al Qaeda launch a bioweapons attack upon the U. S.? Several infectious
diseases are candidates, including smallpox, tularemia, severe hemorrhagic
fever, botulism, ricin, and camelpox (Full Coverage- Anthrax, Bioweapons,
October 20, 2001).
Four weeks ago, on November 15th, the Mullah Omar predicted the
destruction of the United States.(Konduz battle continues as Omar issues threat).
"The plan is going ahead and God willing it is being implemented, but it is
a huge task beyond the will and comprehension of human beings. If God's help is
with us this will happen within a short period of time." John Walker says
that the fulfillment of this prophecy of total destruction is to be the third
and final phase of Al Qaeda's Attack. How could Al Qaeda destrioy the U. S.?
Sunday will be the 16th of December. Smallpox has an
incubation period of 12 days, so the first warning of a smallpox attack could
come on or around December 28th. Problems would arise because of the silent
spread of the disease prior to December 28th. There is a lot of socializing
during the holidays, so there would be unusual potential at this time of year
for a rapid spread of this or any other contagious disease. What to do? It might
be desirable to minimize contacts and public outings to no more than is
necessary until New Year's Eve. By that time, we'll probably know whether or not
a bioweapons attack is in progress in the United States. I would also advise
having food and bottled water on hand in the event of quarantine, and having the
car gassed up and an emergency kit stored in the garage in case an emergency
evacuation were necessary.
U. S. officials are taking this news with more than a little
salt, because 20-year-old John Walker wouldn't have been high on the list of the
cognoscenti among the Al Qaeda sachems. However, there are independent
suggestions of a terrorist assault at the end of Ramadan. (Such an assault
probably wouldn't occur during Ramadan.) It probably wouldn't hurt to make sure
that individually, we've taken the precautions that have been suggested to help
protect us from chemical, radiological, and biological warfare attacks