News Notes

Zip Dobyns

The June 18, 1994 issue of Science News describes the “great” quake in Bolivia on June 8, 1994 as “ringing” the earth like a bell. The quake packed more power than any other jolt in the last five years and it was the biggest deep-focus quake in this century, 600 kilometers below Bolivia. Seismologists had been waiting for over 20 years for the event. The last great, deep earthquake occurred below Colombia in 1970 and provided unprecedented information about earth’s interior. Soon after it, Scientists set up networks of seismometers capable of detecting the long-period vibrations classed as “normal” in the earth. One of these “normal” modes is an expansion and contraction every 20 minutes. Thanks to the recent “big” one, scientists will be studying earth’s normal modes and its rare overtones which are only detectable after a deep quake, hoping to learn more about the inner regions of earth.

The September 1994 issue of Earth magazine arrived in June as this issue of The Mutable Dilemma was being written. The magazine has three different articles on quakes in the L.A. area. Keay Davidson discusses the new geological information that has been developed since the Northridge quake in January 1994. Davidson writes that until recent years, the thrust faults which produce more vertical motion were mostly ignored as geologists focused on strike-slip faults whose motion is largely horizontal. The Northridge quake, which was caused by an unknown thrust fault, got the attention of the seismologists. They now think that a network of these faults may lie under the Los Angeles basin, and that they can be even more destructive to buildings than quakes of the same magnitude on strike-slip faults. One expert suggests that even some of the modern, high-rise, “built-to-code” buildings in downtown L.A. might be at risk of collapsing. John Hall of Caltech suggests that 20-story buildings are in more danger than the really tall ones of +/- 50 stories because of the way they sway.

Oil geologists Davis and Namson were among the first to point out the dangers of thrust faults which are hidden because they do not break the surface. The Coalinga quake was the first real “wake-up” call to such faults, and Northridge reinforced it. The race is now on to locate as many of such unknown, buried faults as possible, but local experts suggest the whole area should be considered at risk and buildings should be reinforced. Many of the damaged buildings in Santa Monica, which was hit hard despite being 15 miles from the epicenter of the Northridge quake, were of a type called “dingbat.” They are balanced on slender pipes to leave space underneath for a ground-level garage. Editor Tom Yulsman suggests, ironically, that another quake similar to or stronger than Northridge might end up damaging many more buildings and injuring many more people, but the retrofitted L.A. freeways are likely to survive.

The June 25, 1994 issue of Science News also has an article about a “new” type of L.A. quake being theorized by seismologist Thomas H Heaton of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, CA. The Earth article described its “new” phenomenon as “thrust” quakes while the Science News article calls them “seismic flings.” Where the thrust faults were described as producing a vertical motion, the “fling” which Heaton prefers to call a “displacement pulse,” generates a sharp, fast movement to one side and then back again. Yet both articles mention that the recently recognized type of quake could threaten a 20 story building, and both articles say that the L.A. area probably has many of the faults and that they are hard to discover. Are both types of faults part of the picture? Which was Northridge?

Cycles, published by the Foundation for the Study of Cycles, always offers interesting articles on the use of cycles in timing many different phenomena. The January-February 1994 issue of Cycles includes an article by Martin Armstrong which suggests that “cyclical wave motion is the method through which all things are perpetuated by providing a means for energy to be transferred from one region to another.” An article by Richard Mogey in the same issue describes cycles in interest rates as a “tale of usury, monetary crises, inflation, debt, and the purchasing power of the dollar.”

Also in the same issue and of more interest to Californians is an article by Bryan Walsh on cycles of enhanced seismic activity in California. Walsh cites a previous article by Romanowicz (mentioned in a previous Mutable Dilemma) which describes a 20 to 30 year alternation between great subduction and strike-slip earthquakes. The increased number of sizable quakes in California since 1985 supports this theory and suggests that they may continue into the early years of the next century. Walsh evaluates several potential earthquake precursor indicators and tries to identify future periods of enhanced seismicity in California.

Among the possible factors which help to produce quakes, Walsh lists variations in the earth’s rotation, some of which are credited to the Moon’s location over the ecliptic and the equator, to changes in the “moment of inertia” created by shifts between lunar perigee and apogee, and to variations in the distance between the earth and the Sun. (from articles by Yoder et al.) Other cited authors suggest that variations in earth’s length of day (rotation) are due to El Niño activity and seasonal shifts which affect the atmospheric angular momentum. Cycles of 9+ years have been noted in volcanic activity which affects earth’s rotation rate. Solar maximums and minimums have also been implicated. Variations in solar cycles may also be connected as they affect temperature, wind velocity, convection, and atmospheric density which, in turn, affect earth’s rotation.

Walsh includes several graphs which correlate California quakes with sunspot numbers, lunar latitude, Jupiter’s latitude, and the angle between the Sun and Moon. Large California quakes were three times more likely to occur between the new and full Moon than between the full and new Moon. Quakes also tended to follow periods of excessive rainfall according to Chinese research. Walsh’s list of possible quakes was submitted to Cycles in October 1993. It included January 13-22 with a probability of 5.7%. Future dates on the list are July 10-18, 1994 with a probability of 10.3% and July 23-26, 1994 with a probability of 6.4%.

By now, I suspect that almost every science or news magazine has carried an article on the coming collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter. Omni has an extensive article by James Oberg in their July 1994 issue. Astronomers are eagerly speculating about the potential consequences, offering theories which range from almost nothing perceptible to a major eruption which will create a second cyclonic storm like Jupiter’s already existent “Great Red Spot.” The collision also might create a new ring for Jupiter. The Voyager space probes found that most of the current ring particles are uniform in size, about a micron in diameter. They may be the dust forced off of earlier disintegrated heavenly wanderers who got too close to Jupiter. Oberg suggests that the force of the blast may be equivalent to the asteroid which theoretically hit the earth about 65 million years ago and helped to kill off the dinosaurs. He also compares it to setting off one Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb for every human on earth.

A more detailed discussion of the vortices of Jupiter, offered in anticipation of the coming crash of the comet, is provided in the February 19, 1994 issue of Science News. Though the “Great Red Spot” is the largest and most long-lived of Jupiter’s vortices, hundreds of others of various sizes have been observed as they were born, merged, and died. Among the questions which the comet’s impact may help to answer are the source of energy which keeps the long-lasting vortices spinning and the reason that more of them rotate in the opposite direction from the planet’s rotation. Vortices are common in the atmosphere and oceans of earth and smaller ones form temporarily in running water from rivers to bathtub drains. But several competing theories about Jupiter’s “big” one can only be settled by more detailed knowledge about the different layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere—knowledge which may be provided by Shoemaker-Levy-9’s plunge into the atmosphere of the giant planet.

The June 1994 issue of the University of Chicago Magazine suggests a potentially useful bit of knowledge which might come from the impact. Mac Low and Zahnle have designed a computer model of the impact results which they suggest could be useful in making predictions about any comet or asteroid heading toward Earth, telling us “how big a rock has to be before we have to worry about it.”

Of course, astrologers have ideas which transcend the materialistic belief system of astronomers. Regardless of physical consequences, a major and rare event involving Jupiter tells us that the religions of the world are going to be even more high-lighted in the near future. Not only do we have the message from the basic meaning of Jupiter; we have it from the names of the comet’s discoverers. Shoemakers make shoes for feet which are ruled by Pisces, Jupiter’s “other” sign. As our readers know, Sagittarius symbolizes our more “conscious” belief system while Pisces symbolizes our more “subconscious” beliefs, values, etc. The Hebrew tribe of Levi was the one assigned to assist the priests, continuing the religious association with the event. Even the letter “9” in numerology marks ultimate values and the danger of escapism when one’s faith is not handled effectively.

When we add the movement of Pluto into Sagittarius in 1995, it is obvious that our “clock in the sky” is signaling the importance of spiritual issues. Religious wars are nothing new. We already have Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Sudan, Kashmir, Rwanda, etc. Are Jupiter and Pluto just repeating the message? Or are we coming closer to a real spiritual revolution like the death of materialism? In recent years, we have had the evidence of near-death-experiences (NDEs), crop circles, and now the blitz of publicity about UFO abductions. I will be doing a major discussion of the latter which I think are mostly psychic experiences, (multi-dimensional to use the “scientific” term). I am collecting birth data of individuals who think they have been abducted by aliens, and would appreciate more data from our readers. Don’t send names unless the subject approves. No names will be mentioned in the forthcoming article.

The May-June 1994 issue of Yoga Journal has several excellent articles on spiritual-mental-emotional healing, including a lengthy interview with Dr. Larry Dossey, whose latest book describes the power of prayer. One of Dossey’s favorite research projects was conducted in the 1980s by a San Francisco cardiologist named Randolph Byrd. The experiment included 393 patients admitted to the coronary care unit at San Francisco General Hospital over a 10-month period. A computer randomly assigned 192 patients to a group that was prayed for while 210 patients were not prayed for. No one, doctors, nurses, or patients, knew who was in which group. The names and medical histories of sets of 5 to 7 patients in the computer-selected prayer group were given to religious groups around the U.S. The religious participants included Catholics and Protestants. They were not told how often or how long to pray, what images to hold in mind, or what goals to seek, etc.

At the end of the study, Byrd found that the prayed-for patients were less likely than the other group to require antibiotics and less likely to develop pulmonary edema. None in the prayed-for group required endotracheal intubation (an artificial airway in the throat attached to a ventilatory support), while 12 did in the other group. Fewer patients in the prayed-for group died though the number was not significant.

Dossey adds that if these results had come from a new drug or surgical procedure, they would be hailed as a breakthrough. Since they came from prayer, they were ignored.

The July 1994 issue of Discovery magazine offers two hopeful little items in their “Breakthrough” section. Two industries which produce a great deal of waste that has required expensive disposal in the past have discovered each other. Computer chip manufacturers generate wastewater contaminated with toxic metals, especially mercury and lead. Breweries generate “spent” yeast which is actually excess yeast resulting from the organism’s capacity to reproduce furiously as it converts carbohydrates into alcohol. Shmuel Yannai and colleagues in Haifa, Israel discovered that the beer waste and the chip waste make a perfect match. Waste water from chip production is poured through a column containing yeast cell walls which carry a negative electric charge that grabs the positively charged metallic ions. The metals can then be extracted, separated, and recycled while the yeast cell walls can be used again.

Another potentially great match was found by Warren Dick and colleagues at Ohio State University. Prior to a law in 1977, coal companies were allowed to strip-mine land by removing the top soil to reach coal which was near the surface. Once the coal was also removed, the land was abandoned, left in such an acidic state that nothing would grow on it. It is estimated that about a million acres of such desolate wastelands remain in the U.S. The Clean Air Act requires power plants burning high-sulfur coal to remove (scrub) sulfur dioxide, the main source of acid rain, from the gases they send up their chimneys. The resultant gypsum plus the fly ash left over from burning the coal is a major waste problem. One large power plant can produce 22 tons of waste an hour! This waste is highly alkaline—perfect for neutralizing the acid land left after strip mining. Dick and his colleagues have demonstrated that plants grow well on strip-mine soil treated with scrubber waste in greenhouses. They are now expanding their experiment to a 13-acre “moonscape” in eastern Ohio. By next spring, Dick hopes, the land will be covered with a carpet of green grasses, fescue, timothy, alfalfa, and clover.

The June 1994 issue of Alternatives, my favorite alternative health newsletter, offers an update on the use of grapefruit pectin to stop and even reverse the formation of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries). Dr. James Cerda of the University of Florida has tested the pectin on swine, feeding them a high cholesterol diet and adding 3% pectin to the food of half of the animals. Though the blood cholesterol levels were not reduced, the average narrowing of the coronary arteries was 45% without the pectin and 24% with it, and the aorta surface area covered by atherosclerosis averaged 13.6% in the non-pectin group versus 5.3% in the pectin group. Grapefruit pectin is a safe and inexpensive by-product of the citrus industry while coronary bypass surgeries cost up to $10 billion a year and often have to be repeated. Dr. Cerda has developed a product called “Profibe” which includes pectin and guar gum and which is available from Cer-Burg Enterprises, P.O. Box 245, Hawthorne, FL 32640. Apple pectin may offer similar protection. Linoleic acid and lecithin have been described in past issues of Alternatives as other ways to clear arteries.

Copyright © 1994 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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