v17 # 8, Fall 1995

  • We're back - and we've missed you: some notes on our change in format - Omni magazine
    by Keith Ferrell
  • A well-tuned room - creating acoustically sound architectural designs
    by Byron Poole
  • The Last Three Minutes. - book reviews
    by Richard Farr
  • Beyond death and dying - results of a survey on reader's attitudes towards the afterlife
    by Melanie Menagh
  • Three portraits from Heisenberg - short story
    by Kathe Koja
  • You talking to me? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year - satirical look at talk shows - Column
    by Bob Quinn
  • Twenty-first century jet: the advanced 777 is designed to please pilots and passengers alike - Boeing 777
    by Denny Atkin
  • Trek tech: a tech manual that virtually beams you onto the Enterprise - Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual - Evaluation
    by Gregg Keizer
  • The Origin of Humankind. - book reviews
    by Richard Farr
  • Resurrecting dinosaurs - possibility of cloning dinosaurs
    by Charles Pellegrino
  • The truth about Roswell - alleged crash of a UFO near Roswell, NM, on Jun 25, 1947
    by Dava Sobel
  • Educating guesswork: fuzzy logic and the body - using fuzzy logic in medical diagnostics
    by Steve Nadis
  • Ninth rock from the sun: researchers want to send spacecraft to Pluto - before it's too late
    by Bill Lawren
  • Poetry for chemists
    by Steve Nadis
  • Chung Kuo. - book reviews
    by Keith Ferrell
  • Star witness: the mortician of Roswell breaks his code of silence - Glenn Dennis, a key witness in the alleged 1947 crash of a UFO near Roswell, NM - Interview
    by Karl T. Pflock
  • Networking the brain: tomorrow's computers in a lab dish today - research on neural networks
    by Bennett Daviss
  • Digging up dinosaurs: a family vacation
    by Chris Krejlgaard
  • The science of Star Trek - includes related articles
    by Denny Atkin
  • Some like it cold - short story
    by John Kessel
  • The case of the vanishing nurses - six US Army nurses who witnessed the alleged corpses of aliens who crashed near Roswell, NM, in 1947 - includes a related article with brief biographies of the nurses
    by Paul McCarthy
  • A UFO foundation: working together to find answers - cooperation between scientists and UFO enthusiasts - Column
    by Gregory Benford
  • Cyber navigator: GPS and CD-ROM work together to help you get where you're going - Global Positioning System in automobile navigation
    by Denny Atkin
  • The Origin of the Universe. - book reviews
    by Richard Farr
  • Looking for the sweet spot in N-dimensional space - research in design of experiments
    by Kathleen Stein
  • Once more legato - short story
    by Ray Bradbury
  • Daniel C. Dennett - materialist philosopher - Interview
    by Robert K.J. Killheffer

We're back - and we've missed you: some notes on our change in format - Omni magazine

by Keith Ferrell

A few months ago Omni changed. Evolved might be a more appropriate word. We discontinued monthly publication and delivery of the magazine by subscription, shifting our focus to electronic venues and quarterly superissues, of which this is the first.

These decisions were not made lightly, nor, for all the excitement our new ventures carry, were the changes accomplished without pain. But change is always accompanied by disruption, and evolution never occurs without some displacement. To those of you who find a void in the continuum where once you held your monthly Omni, I can only thank you for your patience, which I think you will find rewarded within these pages.

And to those of you who sent messages of support, who understood what we're seeking to accomplish with Omni in its new and various incarnations, I send our grateful appreciation. Your confidence in us means a lot.

You see, we miss our monthly paper presence, too. But Omni, more than any other magazine, has always had its eye on the future, and for once the future really is now. The nature of information-exchange is itself evolving and we would not be Omni if we did not embrace that evolution, swim in its currents, confront its challenges head-on.

That's what we do, that's what we've always done. That's what we've been doing, in fact, pretty constantly since we were last together in paper format. We've been designing, building, and refining our presence in cyberspace. By now many of you will have visited our site on the World Wide Web. If not, drop by our location at and take a look. It's Omni: There's nothing else quite like it.

We wanted to use our site as an opportunity to create a real Omni continuum, an interactive electronic universe where fact and fiction, speculation and commentary, dreams and realities, science and history, paintings and prose, matter and antimatter could come together, collide, coalesce. We wanted to give you a time machine of sorts, a vehicle for exploring all of the areas and ideas, past, present, and future that have made Omni unique for 18 years.

We think we've succeeded, but that judgment finally rests with you. Your participation in our electronic ventures, as with the paper magazine, is vital. We look forward to your comments and suggestions, your insights and criticisms, and assure you that they will be taken seriously. This is your site as well as ours, so dive in.

Nor have we ceased to develop and expand our presence in other online areas. By now, Omni Online on America Online is among the best-established of the electronic magazines, growing daily larger and more rich. We remain committed to that presence, a commitment made possible by your enthusiasm and participation.

And look for other electronic versions of Omni on other online services in the months ahead. Online, on CD-ROM, and in media yet to be developed Omni will continue to lead the way.

Which brings me to the issue at hand. Our enthusiasm for electronic publication has in no way dimmed our determination to produce the best paper magazine in the world. Indeed, by moving from monthly publication we are able to deliver a larger Omni than has been possible on paper for some time, with more articles and columns, more fiction and illustration. We'll be on your newsstands four times a year in this format, bigger and better than ever.

For Omni is not, l think, a single thing, and never has been. Our very name bespeaks our willingness to look at all of the universe and the ideas it contains. If I were pressed, though to identify a single hero for Omni, it would be the human imagination and its willingness--its need to confront that universe and seek to unlock its mysteries without flinching. Pressed again for a single theme that exemplifies the magazine I would say that is evolution--that ongoing dance of change and adaptation, as true of ideas and magazines as of species and individuals.

Imaginative evolution, then: An Omni for the twenty-first century--and beyond.

Welcome back. Its good to have you here.

The Winter 1995 issue of Omni will be available on newsstands by December 5.

A well-tuned room - creating acoustically sound architectural designs

by Byron Poole

When the German government moved to the new parliament building in Bonn, officials found themselves in the middle of an embarrassing and costly mistake: The acoustics were so poor, with announcements so garbled, they were forced to move out the next day. Millions of dollars were directed into renovations before legislators would return.

Such sonic fiascos aren't uncommon. New York City's Avery Fisher Hall suffered from poor acoustics for years before being rebuilt in 1976.

Designing sound for public venues carries one intrinsic handicap: You don't know how a building will sound until it's built. By then, fixing what would be minor problems in the planning phase often becomes a major financial undertaking. With a finger on today's architectural pulse, a handful of companies is developing tools to help builders prevent these acoustic disasters. For example, coming from the field of high-end audio, Bose Corporation has recently introduced the Auditioner system, which allows engineers to hear inside a building before it is erected.

"This new technology seemed impossible five years ago," says Dr. Amar G. Bose, chairman of the board for Bose and a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. Bose first approached this handicap over a decade ago with a computer-based design program called Modeler. Only recently, however, has the technology surfaced to reach the Modeler's initial goal.

With the Modeler program, an engineer constructs a computerized room model from architectural plans by inputting a room's acoustically relevant surfaces (any surface greater than one meter), and designating a specific building material for each. Next, a sound system is designed using a database of different sound sources, such as a loudspeaker.

These parameters set, the resulting data from Modeler can be used to see if the chosen sound system satisfies the conditions for a well-tuned room. Is everyone in the audience covered with sound? Is it loud enough for its function? And most obviously, is the speech coming from the speakers intelligible and echo-free?

But Modeler and competing systems didn't allow the engineer and potential client to hear what a given environment would sound like. Auditioner takes the next step, enabling both client and engineer to "walk inside" a computer model, choose a seat anywhere within, and listen to how sound reaches it.

Creating realistic sound directly from a computer model clearly presented some complications. Predicting the path sound will travel through a room and into a listener's ears required elaborate new experimental algorithms to extend Modeler's calculating ability New sound-filtering techniques were also required to produce a room's full sound, along with a playback system to deliver the processed audio signals directly into the ears.

Remarkably, Auditioner can create an acoustical model of a room in five minutes, and an auditorium in one day. The accuracy between the real environment and the modeled environment is high, reportedly within five percent. In A/B authentication experiments, listeners, myself included, sometimes noticed faint differences between the environments, but were unable to determine which was the real room. Try putting a visual virtual world to such a test.

Among the first public buildings with sound systems designed by Auditioner for public scrutiny will be the 60,000-seat Ullevi Stadium in Goteborg, Sweden. As more companies come forward with other approaches for purging public buildings of poor sound, the range of excuses for missing trains, planes, and court pagings should be, for better or worse, greatly lessened.

The Last Three Minutes. - book reviews

by Richard Farr

Write a nontechnical introduction to your field in fewer than 200 pages. That's the brief for an impressive list of authors in Basic Books, new Science Masters series. Minsky on artificial intelligence, Gould on paleontology, Smoot on cosmology, Dennett on cognitive science, Dawkins on gene evolution . . . you get the picture. So far, 22 titles have already been commissioned. Just in case that doesn't impress you, the series will be published simultaneously by 16 publishers from Sweden to Korea, in languages which include Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, Norwegian, and Slovene.

In any language, the first three volumes--The Origin of the Universe by John D. Barrow, The Last Three Minutes by Paul Davies, and The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakey-give a fascinating glimpse of what's to come. The outlook: variable, with brilliant sunshine and an occasional cloud.

By far the best of the three titles under review is Leakey's. It's a fine little introduction to paleoanthropology which explains and guides while giving a rich sense of what it's like to work in a living discipline. Leakey will always stop long enough to define a technical term, but his style is so economical that he fits a huge story into the allotted space, from the origins of bipedalism to the origins of art. Above all, he doesn't fall into the popularizer's trap of cheerleading the field and leaving you with an exaggerated view of its coherence. He conveys his love for anthropology while admitting both that it is blotchy with irrationalities (for instance the racism which prevented European scientists from believing that humanity originated In Africa) and that it is full of fierce, often angry dispute (Was Ramapithecus an ape or a hominid? How many species in the Hadar fossils? Have we really proved the mitochondrial Eve hypothesis?). He even charms you by cataloging his own doubts and mistakes and changes of mind. No cheerleading here: just an infectious delight in the business of inquiry

John D. Barrow accepted a difficult assignment. The material he covers was also recently covered in a book written by Steven Weinberg (The First Three Minutes, 1977, revised 1988). Barrow explains some issues particularly well--such as why the steadystate theory died, why cosmological predictions help theory-building in particle physics and vice versa, why the COBE satellite was a big deal, and so on--but in other areas he is much less successful. In the best tradition of physics books which don't quite work, his material on Hawking's no boundary condition and wormholes lunges from oversimplification to total opacity and back again in the space of a paragraph. The inevitable comparison is Weinberg's book, which has the same subject, the same audience, and even the same publisher. In a close call, I'd say Weinberg's book is better.

Davies, tribulations have a different source. These books are meant to be guides to established fields; as he sheepishly admits, a book on the destruction of the universe has to be either unscientific crystal-balling or at best a rag-bag of unrelated science lessons. Davies gives us a bit of both: Nothing if not a good teacher, he-manages to fit in simple but elegant discussions of Olber's starlight paradox, the quantum vacuum, and what we learned from the Sanduleak supernova. But the more he runs out of any science which is even half-way related to his theme, the more pseudophilosophical he becomes, and the last few chapters tend more toward musings, rather than a structured area of inquiry. It's a shame, not because these reflections are not interesting, but because Davies is such a lucid writer and is so capable of translating difficult theory into ordinary language.

Other authors in the Basic pipeline include linguist Steven Pinker, mathematician lan Stewart, particle physicist Murray Gell-Mann, paleobiologist Lynn Margulis, and physicist Freeman Dyson. No series on this scale can hope for uniformity; but, it's a great idea, the author list is so prestigious it glows in the dark, and if some of the volumes are at times uneven, it's certain that the series will provide a valuable resource for all of us.

Beyond death and dying - results of a survey on reader's attitudes towards the afterlife

by Melanie Menagh

Some months back, Omni published a survey, "Visions of the Afterdeath," polling readers about their own beliefs regarding the subject. The survey was part of a larger project conducted for the Institute for the Study of the Afterdeath (ISA) by director Sukie Miller, Ph.D., who has crisscrossed the globe in order to study different cultures and their beliefs about what happens after the body dies. The Omni survey is an extension of Miller's work and will be used as a point of comparison for American attitudes on the subject. Our readers' responses will be comapred, for instance, with the beliefs of the Sikhs from India, the Guarani from Brazil, and the Yoruba from Nigeria.

The results are in: Close to 6,000 questionnaires were returned from all 50 states and several foreign countries, making it one of the most successful surveys in Omni history. Some questionnaires were copied and passed around at church groups or in classrooms. Seventeen percent of our readers attached poetry, artwork, quotations; 43 percent wrote additional comments on their questionnaires.

So, who were the Omni readers who participated in the survey? Not surprisingly, the group was quite diverse: men, 43.5 percent; women, 56.5 percent; median income, $25,000 to $45,000; median education, four years of college; professions, a wide range including computer graphic artists, homemakers, lawyers, geologists/ prisoners, students, airplane pilots, psychics, veterans, and healthcare professionals.

Statistics show broad agreement among Omni readers on the basic tenet that the afterlife is a place of light, joy, and bliss. Geography, income level, religious education, and current religious belief were not strong determining factors for disagreement; differences in age and sex, however, were. The older the person, the less optimistic he or she was about the hereafter. Older people are more likely to believe that the afterdeath is not blissful, and that there is no communication between the afterdeath traveler and the still-living. Women are more likely to believe that the afterdeath is flexible, not rigid, and to believe in reincarnation. Men are more likely to be persuaded of the existence of life after death through technological evidence, and are also more likely to feel that they will be emotionally alone in the afterdeath.

The Omni readers, opinions on the afterlife were very different from those of tribal peoples. For instance, most other groups in Miller's research believe that there is some type of despair in the afterlife, whereas 64 percent of the Omni readers do not anticipate any despair in the afterlife. Similarly, other groups tend to put a great deal of importance on the physical state of the body, such as age or psychological condition, at the time of death as a factor in the afterdeath experience. However, 77 percent of the Omni readers disagreed with this assertion. Also, responding to the reincarnation belief, prominert in other cultures, that one's family and country are predetermined before rebirth, 69 percent of the Omni survey responses show that our readers do not believe these factors contribute to a soul's return to life.

It is clear from the statistics that the Omni sample was pretty sanguine about the afterlife. Omni readers tend to feel that life after death will be a feast for the senses, a wondrous expedition. A 33-year-old newspaper editor from Plymouth, New Hampshire, in offering his vision fairly well summarizes the beliefs of the majority of those surveyed. He writes, "The journey is one of spiritual progression toward a redeeming goal . . . reaching ultimate union with the universe."

While Miller's research provides a context for understanding the survey results in relation to other countries, we thought it would be interesting to try to situate the survey results within the context of historical and contemporary American thought. We asked a group of experts, representing various faiths and disciplines, to help. While cultural historians found that our survey exemplified the plurality--and equivocality--of the American conscience, theologians pointed out the constantly evolving nature of the American religious experiment. Social scientists discussed the striking dissimilarities between the Omni reader's outlook and that of preindustrial cultures.

Intimations or what will happen in the afterlife are among the most human and intimate sentiments, plumbing the depths of the psyche, confronting the profoundest of fears and challenging the strongest of faiths. So, too, examining the collective consciousness as it grapples with these vital questions offers a window on the soul of a people. What do the Omni sample's opinions say about the state of the nation? How has our afterdeath credo evolved from the American experience? Is it a refutation or a reaffirmation of Judeo-Christian teaching? How does our optimistic view square with other traditions? Unlike other societies, the United States does not have a monolithic orthodoxy defined and refined through many centuries. The modern American ideal is informed by hundreds of different religious traditions, as well as by scientific explorations and New Age mysticism.

Much to the chagrin of the religious right and such pundits as Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, the United States has become a secular society with as much faith in science as it has in religion. As Sukie Miller explains, "People in America seem to have lost a strong connection to their religious roots. Some grow up in households where there is no emphasis placed on going to church; others abandon whatever church they did grow up with. It is increasingly difficult for these people to relate to their dying grandmother who says she is going home to Jesus."

The American experience represents an unusual departure from cultures where ideas about death and the afterlife are more easily woven into the cyclical patterns of life. "In the United States, death is not a part of everyday life," says Miller. "It's a religious question we address on Sunday, codified and organized by the church." Miller goes on to explain that in other cultures she has studied, "death is not hidden behind closed doors, it's a part of life; the atmosphere is crowded with spirits."

It is, in fact, only recently that Americans seem to express a renewed interest in questions concerning the death and the afterlife experience. For Miller, this interest is a direct manifestation of the cultural conditions of late-modern life. "We now have a young generation," she explains, "dying of a plague that moves these questions to the foreground. AIDS, cancer--these are not immediate deaths; they're drawn-out illness. People have time to think, to question, to go raging into death." It is only natural, then, that there is a new interest in what happens after death.

Throughout history, as a matter of fact, there have been major upticks of interest in the afterlife during times of fear about the stability of this life. Lawrence S. Cunningham, chair of the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame draws the obvious comparison of the AIDS crisis to the fourteenth-century plagues. "During the late Middle Ages," he says, "around the fourteenth century there was a tremendous boom in religious discussion of death and the afterlife. Very much like today, it was an era beset by plague when millions died in their prime."

Cunningham also notes that the changes in American attitudes about the afterlife have changed radically even in his own lifetime. "When I was a kid, the old funeral liturgy was preoccupied with sin, death, and punishment. Part of the funeral service was the Dies Irae--a medieval hymn about the wrath of God on Judgment Day. Today, even the last rites have become the anointing of the sick; there is emphasis on the hope of the resurrection. Funerals used to be all in black; now the pall of the coffin and priestly vestments are white, an aesthetic shift which marks a cultural shift." The how and why of such shifts is a cipher of cause and effect. Does the church's new found focus on hope encourage the citizenry to feel better about the life after death? Or has the increasing optimism of the flock necessitated an evolution in the clergy's approach? No doubt the answer is that this latest shift is a reflection of a little bit of both. One thing, however, is certain. Americans are no longer content to be spoonfed some scriptural exegesis of paradise. Hardline Judeo-Christian orthodoxy has been infiltrated by many extraneous influences, including testimony from people who've had neardeath experiences (NDEs)--many of whom describe a vision that bears striking similarities to the promises of celestial bliss advocated by the church.

One of the central issues in discussing afterlife experiences is the extent to which the deceased changes (or remains the same) during the afterdeath journey. A letter submitted by a survey respondent, a 22-year-old college student from Torrance, California, expresses the interest in maintaining a sense of the integrity of the individual common to Western religions. "The nature of a person does not change because of death," the respondent writes. "Death merely frees the soul from the narrow limits of our reality." Personal responsibility and the hope of salvation are issues that are applicable for life and the afterlife as well. As Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, author of Beyond Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust explains, "Jewish tradition teaches that each individual life is valuable and important in itself. Therefore, one must retain one's identity after death. Free will continues through eternity, as the soul continues to grow."

Eastern religions, on the other hand take a different tack. "The afterlife traveler seeks to relinquish the will, to become unattached from the idea of the individual," says Kenneth Kramer, professor of comparative religious studies at San Jose State University in California "That's what's keeping you from being a whole person, from fusion with higher consciousness. The goal of the journey is to let go of everything that keeps us separate from everything else." Kramer goes on to explain that in Tibetan society, for instance, there is a belief that "immediately after death, one has the opportunity to cast off one's will, but most souls are pulled by their will--a sort of karmic residue of earthly life--away from this goal and are therefore fated to reincarnation."

Personal initiative is a cornerstone of the American ethos, so it is not surprising that Americans find it difficult to picture an afterlife bereft of free will. "In the West, we place a premium on our individuality, and the will is associated with identity and consciousness," says Kramer, author of Death Dreams and The Sacred Art of Dying.

In fact, Western religion suggests that paradise is a realm of heightened consciousness. "The traveler does not hear/ see/ touch, as in the human form," writes a 46-year-old vice president of a design and marketing firm in Thousand Oaks, California/ "rather he exists in a higher state of the creative, and ,knows, on a higher plane." People who've had NDEs concur. According to Kenneth Ring, professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, and author of The Omega Project, neardeath survivors report that their senses are more acute. "Colors are living and vivid beyond description. Beautiful/ transcendental music is sometimes heard. The blind--even those blind from birth--report seeing/" says Ring.

This exultation of the senses is a phenomenon common to both Eastern and Western traditions. Lawrence E. Sullivan, director of Harvard University's Center for Study of World Religions and author of Icanchu's Drum, points out that in Western thought/ "paradise is portrayed as a ceaseless feast and festival." Heaven is a place in which the soul will live before the face of God bathed in perfect love and peace. People who have had NDEs confirm this. "They describe their condition as extremely blissful, happiness beyond happiness," says Ring. "As one survivor said, `If you take the thousand best things that ever happened to you, and multiply that times a million you get close to this feeling.'"

The unquenchable confidence in a joyous afterlife is embedded deep in our history and psyche. According to Sukie Miller/ "Americans believe it's our birthright to be happy. We guaranteed it in the Declaration of Independence. We feel we're entitled to it, and we'll sue somebody if we don't get it." Andrew Greeley/ professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and a renowned author, supports the idea that Americans are increasingly optimistic about the afterlife. "Belief in hell has decreased," he says. "But belief in heaven has not. People have a conviction that God wouldn't do that to them."

The optimism which characterizes recent trends in the Judeo-Christian tradition in America stands in marked contrast to other cultures where death begins a long and often arduous and painful journey. Miller explains that among the Yoruba Hunter Guild in Nigeria, there is an understanding that just as life comes with both pleasure and pain, so, too, death must also have its share of pain. "They worship a god who supervises the success of the hunt," Miller explains. "When they die/ their journey mirrors the trials and dangers they faced on the hunt--including feelings of pain, terror/ and despair."

Lawrence Sullivan agrees. "By most reckonings, the journey is arduous," he says. "The dead person must endure a test and make it through. In the Zoroastrian religion/ which arose out of Iran/ the dead face the prospect of complete, agonizing annihilation. In order to reach paradise, the soul must cross the Chin Vat, a bridge of fire, without being consumed or falling into the abyss." Sullivan also tells of the tradition in the highlands of New Guinea where the dead follow a feathered mammal to a dark and dour land/ and of the Icelandic sagas which describe a world after death that's a frozen wasteland.

Though not without exceptions, there is a general consensus in world religions that the nature of the afterlife experience can be mitigated by one's earthly behavior. According to Michael Grosso, professor of philosophy at Jersey City State College, and author of The Millennium Myth, "Somehow what we experience in the afterlife will be a result of how we've lived our lives. In the East, it's karma. In the West, it's the moral consequences of our deeds. Either way makes it imperative to live a good life." The same holds true in preindustrial societies according to Sullivan. "The Warao Indians in Venezuela believe there are many paths leading out of their village to the end of the world," he says. "After death, people head out on a particular path determined by the choices they made in life. They make their way to a place in the heavenly realms consonant with what they did during their lifetime." Once again, this pattern is also a pattern in NDEs. One of our respondents, a 59-year-old orchid grower from Hanapepe, Hawaii who had an NDE at age 14/ offers this insight into the relationship between life experiences and their afterlife counterparts. "Each person has his own experience arising from one's level of enlightenment or lack of it. In pitiful cases, it can be a very sad and confused state of existence." Kenneth Ring offers an even more desolate picture. "You experience all the effects of your bad deeds on others/" he says/ "as if you felt them yourself. The Golden Rule isn't just a precept for moral conduct/" he continues/ "it's the way it works--what you do unto others/ you really do do unto yourself." The proceedings take the form of a kind of spiritual self-litigation. According to Ring, it is not so much a question of having someone sit in judgment on one's soul, but rather the soul must judge itself. The process seems to be a cathartic one. "You're not condemned, and you don't come away with a sense of guilt or shame. The self-judgment is experienced in the presence of overwhelming acceptance and love."

It would seem, then/ that most of us have a happy ending awaiting us. At any rate/ most of us would like to think so. But is this optimism based on the evolution of creeds through the centuries, or is it a reflection of the shallowness of our thinking? Do we have a rosy view of the afterlife because of our inability to come to terms with tough choices/ bad news/ complicated concepts? Just as Americans are strongly attached to notions of individual worth and afterlife opportunity/ we also have a strong aversion to questions that do not or will never have definitive/ concrete answers.

Once again, Sukie Miller offers a constructive way to situate Americans within the context of a national character which is reflected by our attitudes toward the afterlife. "We are not good with the unknowable in this country/" she says. "We are materialistic/ and we're interested in material evidence. In the United States/ we think if it's not matter, it's not real." Michael Grosso sees the issue in a slightly different way. "The average person has probably not thought about what it means to leave the bodily apparatus and the familiar world of earthly existence," he says. "It's difficult to have faith, to imagine how the soul survives. People think, `How can I be me without my body?! They have to relinquish the idea of the physical body and accept the idea of an astral, mental, spiritual body."

Another issue of concern in trying to envision the reality of an afterlife is that of communication/ specifically the ways in which the material world of the living communicates with the spirit world. There are numerous ways in which such communication may take place/ but most/ if not all, lack the means of presenting their cases in terms of hard empirical evidence. A letter from a 35-year-old English teacher from Des Moines/ Washington, demonstrates the problem of trying to research this issue scientifically. "If we are open to it," the survey respondent writes, "we can communicate with spirits of people who were close to us in this life. I've had spirits of dead relatives talk to me in dreams and while l was awake. They have no physical body, I sense them." Miller points out the same problem. "In Mexico on the Day of the Dead/ people leave candles and sweets on the graves for dead children. When the candles flicker/ it is taken as a sign that the children have come and taken the essence of the sweets. While we might call this idea poetic and talk about metaphor/ for those lighting the candles in Mexico, the experiences are real; the children really did return, and so communicated with the living."

Kenneth Kramer notes that keeping in touch with one's deceased ancestors is a very important aspect of the Chinese cultural tradition. "In China," he explains, "there is a veneration of ancestors. There are elaborate ceremonies to contact them. The ancestors are consulted when making major decisions." Miller also points to African tribespeople who similarly believe that ancestral communication is imperative. "In these systems/ you have to take care of your dead grandparents, feed them, offer them gifts. If you don't/ they get very nasty and all hell breaks loose." Miller contrasts this behavior with the prevailing reality of contemporary American society. "Here/ we don't even take care of our living old people, much less honor our ancestors."

Americans seem to have mixed feelings about communicating with the dead. According to Andrew Greeley about 40 percent have had a visitation from a person who's passed on. The figure goes up to 60 percent among widows and widowers.

When it comes to contact, the religious community sends mixed signals. "Communicating with the dead is too close to necromancy/ traditionally considered one of the black arts by the church/" explains Cunningham. "Don't try to call them back/ no seances/" agrees Gershom/ although he adds that communication through dreams or vision is all right. The rule seems to be: Don't call them, let them call you.

And they do. Greeley recalls/ "A man once told me the story of driving home from work one evening. His father was sitting in the front seat next to him/ giving him advice about how to run the company. The man didn't even remember until he got out of the car that his father had been dead for 20 years." While stories such as this may not be the norm, they are certainly common.

One reason that people find comfort in these supranatural communications is that it blurs the hard distinction between life and death, and suggests that the finality of death may be overcome--the potent promise that has long inspired and plagued Judeo-Christian theology.

For some time eternal life seemed to be solely a concern for religion; however, science and pseudoscience is beginning to assert its own bid for immortality. As Grosso explains, "Cryonics and bioengineering are exploring ways to extend life, to eliminate death. It's a logical extension of the Christian hope of resurrection."

Some, however, question the American obsession with prolonging life. According to Kramer, "We are in denial about death. Americans are extreme in their masking and disguising anything that has to do with death. This is characteristic of industrial cultures obsessed with material belongings. We feel we have a lot to lose." Grosso, on the other hand, feels that Americans simply choose a form of ignorance. "The majority of Americans have a vague positive image, but they do not have a clear picture of what they think the afterlife will be like. They just don't give it much thought." Miller has reached similar conclusions in her research. "We are young and naive. We are not long-range thinkers. Here we have change every 20 minutes. It is difficult for us to consider something as profound as eternity."

Nevertheless, as the Omni survey demonstrates, there is increasing interest in the subject of the afterlife. Numerous books about NDES, visions, angels, and journeys have been published in the past few years. As Greeley notes, "The only way to prepare for the afterlife is to have a great capacity for surprise." When asked about his own sense of what it will be like, Greeley says, "My sense of it is that it is not necessarily a place where we've come from, but it will be going home to a place to which we've been destined all along." In this same spirit, a 71-year-old retiree from Fort Erie, Ontario, wrote to us with some pretty good advice. "There is no fear. I'm looking forward to the adventure!"

So may we all.

The original survey appeared, in the November 1992 issue of Omni.

Three portraits from Heisenberg - short story

by Kathe Koja, Barry N. Malzberg

George: dumped now, on his way and six months too late but THREE better out of it at any cost; George like a spectroscope, that device PORTRAITS of many colors at last spun from her life and here is Karen, FROM bone-dry for now, dry bones in a dry season and stripped of all HEISENBERG but the wire strength of self-interest, spun by the enormities of her choice. Karen the plasma physicist: coat across her shoulders, brown wool winking and tickling against her bare neck, pretty girl, lost girl now, snow in her hair like a fine decoration as she crossed the uneven landscape of the parking lot, as she put her ungloved fingers to the metal handle. of the glass doors, as she entered the. scents and silences of the building, then her office, sideways to the lab. Her smell here and George's too like an animal, like the scent of an empty den: once they had screwed themselves tight against the model of the particle accelerator and committed heavy thunder, lost vibrations and their odor still enveloping this place without conscious recognition, without the application of thought. The beige plain of her workstation, the swivel chair that did not move; her phone, her books, that one window turned to face darkness all through the day, the brick edge of the building beyond which she could see nothing: she had no view at all. Like the galaxies before time, like the blind, bare animals of her breasts sinking underneath his grunts.

In the window then Karen's face: skin on glass on brick. Forty-two years in that face. revolving suns and the motion of planets, the thin imponderable distances between the stars and the holes of the quasars, oh the idiot dance of knowledge gained, knowledge lost. You can do a lot in forty-two years, she supposed, and she had done if not all then much of it in this office, humped George, plotted-coefficients: brick on brick on glass on stone. On bone. Oh the bones of her lost face, each year passing showing the world that elision of gathered beauty and strength: and cunning: and quietude and solitude and force. Karen's pressure building; like the oceans between the stars, the sea-lapping of space that forces further motion, the stars locked like stones in that sea: the pulsing tide of the universe. Certainties and uncertainties, theory and proof. Her face in the window looking inward and out, both and neither, eyes open and closing

then upon

that other face

before her in the glass, behind her in the room.

No more hallucination than the last time, no sundering of self in the George-cast refraction of this room, no, there were the faces again, her own and twice and a third time: she had not moved, three faces and then six, twelve of Karen, the closure of exponential drift as the faces bunched like flowers, skin and eyes in bouquet to stare at her. Blink. Close and open the eyes, brown eyes in their etched netting, slow deliberate open and close: now you see them, now you see them still. Faces all over the glass, emergent, hovering like succubi and dreams. She blinked her eyes again, dry staring eyes which had glimpsed the galaxies and the moles on George's familiar, unloved neck as he had rolled over her in glum ejaculation, forced motion and then the room was empty again, workstation and telephone, machinery and iron swivel chair and the doorway through which she had entered, rectangular and stolid, filled with nothing but the endless drift of all the things she had never seen.

Ache in Karen's neck; she had been working all day, now with George and his grunts evicted she worked every day, she did not accept or need the idea of time to herself. Time to herself was the custodian of all loss; she was alone here anyway, wasn't she? and where else would she prefer to be? The sound from the daytime corridor of movement: people, papers and bodies, the soundless drift of separation, particles of thought. Somewhere at the heart of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle dwelt the explosion and reformation of the galaxies and she sought this with the same drab insistence with which George had hustled himself to a kind of consummation: big bang works two ways, sonny boy. Looking up at the window again and there were the faces, the anti-, the proto-Karens, her own face thrown back at her replicated in a hundred near-guises, yes but no, part but not part, some trick not of sight but sightlessness, there were nothing but reflections now. Empty glass, brick walls and the cold noontime dark of promised snow for this conglomeration of Karens, the bright and the dull, the nascent and the aged, the air color without' substance, all Karens now: the seven ages of Karen pinned against substanceless color, the frantic departure of those galaxies and formations, exeunt in the aftermath of that terminal, original explosion and Karen saw them again, there they were

there they were

smiling at her this time, all of them smiling. The multifarious Karens, far too many to count now, hair and eyes, brick and glass and she did not move, did not this time blink or rub her eyes or play the games of cognition to prove the lie of dreaming: faces and faces, the wonderful multiplicity of self, their mouths in motion but not in unison as their smiles had bloomed, a thousand time-lapse flowers but now as they moved their lips to whisper in confidence of the thunder amongst the suns she strained to hear: to somehow merge with them, these Karens who were trying to tell her something: to grow wiser with proximity: to turn as quickly as one rounds on a burglar, on a lying, prevaricating lover, to turn in that wheeling confrontation that would at last lock circumstance: to see nothing behind her but her office, papers, devices, machines: to turn again, herself like clockwork to watch them frowning in the glass and without volition her fingers moved to her own pretty, lost, riven face and touched it: her muscles knew that frown, her bones and skin mimicking in memory. Follow the leader. One of the faces in the glass seemed to grow larger without moving, to confront her not as her Own aspect, eyes in a mirror but in a harsh and open fashion as something not of herself at all. Heisenberg is incomplete, the face said. Observation does not of itself change circumstance. Observation is circumstance and is factored into the phenomena. If chronology is-shattered then all is encountered.

I don't understand, she said. I'm a plasma physicist, I study consequence, not origin. I don't know-

--If chronology is shattered, the face said, then causality is no longer a concern, becomes merely another consequence. Develop your premise properly or face disaster again, Karen, disaster far beyond a worthless faithless lover who you knew from the beginning was a disaster, a subatomic particle of a man, your own quark of collision, that's all he was. You were not only the observer, you were the moving particle, don't you understand that now? There are disasters of time and space and they are wholly interchangeable.

No, she said, go away. Get out of my window. Get out of my off ice.

I'm not an observer, the face said, you're the observer. I'm the particle in remission at the heart of the neutron star whose reaction is your anti-reaction. I am the George of your circumstance, that's all.

Oh my, Karen said, oh my you're a very poor metaphysicist and did not know if she was saying this to the face or herself, mouth open again to say more and the ringing of the phone startling her so hugely that it might have been the music before time, arranged to form the syllables of her name. She nearly fell from her swivelless chair, stripped of balance and the necessity of the moment by the faces as they aligned and then diminished, faded from perspective and view. She picked up the phone and said no and put it down, two tries to replace it, the word gigantic in its constriction. No. No. They had been all around her, those faces, but the one had been the speaker for them all, Why me though? Why them? Why now? Sitting there in the ungiving curve of plastic and metal she felt the active, darting movement of the atoms of self, each of them in direct, pendant counterreaction to profound and critical musings on the other side of the galaxies, before the origin of time.

Later: in the Georgeless apartment. with the four windows and single mirror and the uneven Stains of his advent planted here and there upon the mattress she tried to discover the meaning of the faces, the other, drifting, whispering Karens but found nothing: no Karens: no whisperings, no one but herself alone beside windows matte with winter light and here the view improved but her mood did not, infused with the glare of galaxies and the iron law of Heisenberg, adrift without prospect of redemption. Redemption? is that what had chased her into Boolean algebra and then graduate physics years ago, to somehow by becoming a physicist atone for that glimpse of lost selves which she had last retrieved? No. No, Abandoned lover's gloom, the panic of the impermanently devastated, the not-entirely broken. I don't need this, she said aloud, I don't want this and that if nothing else seemed true: theories were to be unified, order culled or coaxed or battered from chaos, uncertainties grasped only until their quarks and demons could be excised and examined; there was no need for metaphysics, no need for the search of that point where faith, prayer, nonsense and the dark collided, no sense to any of this unless as imposed sense but still, this certainty of being watched, of being seen from everywhere, one monster nexus shared by thousands of observer-Karens, compound gaze drifting toward that locus of self and she the reluctant queen by observation. If each shred of the hologram contains the image entire does it then follow that the image entire, that Karen herself could be considered as a container, could be image and scatterings both?

Karen in a quandary; linked to neither history nor circumstance, a body alone in a room; observed and unobserved and now she picks up the telephone, that instrument of demonology and summons from all the power of her conviction one face, one voice: George, calls to him across the singing wire and suspension of space and at last his voice can be heard stammering through the thickets of deceit which had been their portion, lost and lonely and deceived and: They're watching us, George, she says with a doomed and gleeful certainty, they really are and "Karen?" that separated voice, "Karen is that you? You sound so strange, what do you want?" and she stared through the holes in the mouthpiece like the empty, pitted shell of the neutron star into which she is fast descending, blind pilot, shielded capsule like a pill down a hungry throat and: They're watching us, George, all of us are being watched by the selves we might have been, we are overwhelmed by what we have not been and by the power of disassociation, our disassociation. Do you see? she says and it all seems so clear, to her at least how clear it seems. Lady physicist, lady of lightning and collision and the empty cold spite of the diminished heavens, imploding toward that point of shrinkage in the neutron star. Gather round, George, gather round, we are watching you, all of us are watching you. As you humped so frantic and juiceless in the wretched bed, so the stars and planets tumble haplessly toward final implosion. in their gathering so we are driven apart; as they bind to one another, so George, we explode. We explode. George, Karen says and in the expenditure of this final insight laughs and laughs, laughs at her bone-dead lover over the wire of their connection while outside, at the farthest spaces of the further stars those calamitous Karens of all lost and simple nights patiently continue to observe. They are not frightened of changing the outcome. They know that they have been factored in. She could not, she could not come and finally that heaving and consequential fall: then she expelled him like a burnt and deadened star; falling and falling. Like priests on the mountains, the Karens gather and whisper over her new dreams, her old dreams, in the falling and fallen light, in the light that spills and tumbles, falls forever down the emptied panes of glass into the core of the irretrievable stars.

You talking to me? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year - satirical look at talk shows - Column

by Bob Quinn

They have landed. They're out of this world. Communication has it that there are more on their way They are everywhere, all the time, and they've been with us for years. They come as our sister, mother, brother, father, cousin, next-door neighbor Ordinary beings--with a twist. They coo at us, scream at us, stomp, suffer, and cry for us. They read our minds, pierce our hearts, and sell our souls. It's an invasion. The invasion of the talk shows.

There are morning talk shows, daytime talk shows, nighttime talk shows, and late-night talk shows. There is a talk show about the talk shows. Soon there may even be a whole magazine dedicated to covering the talk shows. K-III, which also publishes Soap Digest, recently tested a new magazine on newsstands called All Talk. And why not? Most of us are on a first-name basis with at least one of them. There's Oprah, of course, who seems to be on a first-name basis with just about everyone. There's Phil, Sally, Montel, and Maury, Regis and Kathy Lee, Beatrice, Leeza, Jerry and Jane. There's Ricki, and there used to be Vicki, Geraldo. And these are just some of the daytimers--those well-groomed solid-state friends who always seem to have plenty of tissue and a knowing nod, followed by expressions such as "You'd better believe it, girlfriend," or "So, you really do enjoy decapitating dolly heads."

In the darker hours, late-night hosts charm their audiences with, dazzling array of celebrities, orchestrated music, elaborate skits, and stupid pet tricks. It's supposed to be a way of funning yourself to sleep. But it's more. The late-night circuit is a deadly game, a joke-to-the-death battle. Dave and Jay dancing on the graves of Arsenio, Chevy, and Joan.

What has happened here? is this invasion of talk shows just alien to me? Or do other inhabitants feel the same way? It seems that anybody or, may I say, any being can have a talk show. From television stars who no longer have a television show to Dionne with her psychic friends. And all with topics as far flung as the galaxy itself. A woman sleeps with her husband's boss in order to get her man a raise. A heterosexual man who is married to a lesbian who is having an affair with a transsexual. And what about the children who hate dogs, and the dogs who love them.

Why are they here? What do they seek? What is their mission? Is it to educate? Is it to inform? Is it to entertain? Are they here to show us what we are, or what we are becoming?

The word dysfunctional comes uncomfortably to mind.

Does misery really love so much company? We just can't seem to get enough of other people's misery, Why is it that we love to see families fall apart on the airwaves? Husbands screaming at their wives, daughters yelling at their mothers, and mothers crying for their sons. At each commercial break, I swear I can hear the host say, "We'll be back with more misery, right after this."

Do we watch because it makes our lives seem less miserable, somehow better in comparison? What is it that we are thinking? Something like: My husband goes out and drinks, and I know he's cheating on me, but thank God he doesn't come home and hit me. Ah, my life is better than hers. Oh my God, look at the time. I'd better start dinner, or he'll kill me.

The invasion has been taking on a new form while we weren't looking, maybe out watering the grass or something. What looks like a talk show, sounds like a talk show, but isn't? An infomercial--half-hour and hour-long commercials built around a product or service using a talk-show format. Like the one about how to make a million dollars doing anything with no money down. Another: Now you can eat, eat, eat, and You won't get fat, fat, fat. Unbelievable! Not only do we watch, we sometimes actually buy!

They invade our homes, our lives, our privacy, and our pocketbooks, but we never seem to get enough. And now there's going to be a new 24-hour talk show channel. Maybe in a year or two they will even have talk show award shows. In America, nothing succeeds like excess. I guess I should have seen it coming the first time I heard Ed roll out "Heeere's Johnny." In the United States of Television, one good thing leads inevitably to a cable channel full of more of the same.

Twenty-first century jet: the advanced 777 is designed to please pilots and passengers alike - Boeing 777

by Denny Atkin

The last all-new airliner design of the twentieth century began life not on a sophisticated computer-aided design terminal in some Skunk Works engineering department, but on a yellow notepad in an office at United Airlines, headquarters in Elk Grove, Illinois.

Executives from Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, and United sat down on October 15, 1990 and sketched out simple goals for what they hoped would become the crowning achievement of airliner technology in this century The resulting Boeing 777 is definitely advanced: It's the largest twin-engined aircraft in the world, powered by the biggest engines ever fitted to an airliner.

"Working together" became the motto of the teams from all the companies involved in the design and manufacture of the 777. Talking to your customers may seem a rather logical philosophy, but previous airliner designs came from an "engineering first" standpoint. From inception to the on-time delivery of the first 777 to United in May 1995, Boeing and United resolved more than 1,250 design issues. "This is exactly the plane we wanted, not the one we had to settle for," says United's Airframe and Systems Development Manager, Brandon Maus.

Some of the design changes were major, such as relocation of the fueling panel so it could be reached by standard hydrant trucks. Even seemingly minor changes, such as easily replaceable passenger reading lights (an operation that requires a mechanic on other airliners, meaning there's no way to fix a bulb in-flight), make for fewer passenger frustrations.

Overhead storage bins, the arch-nemeses of the heads of anyone over five feet in height, have been designed to retract up and away from passengers, allowing a full six feet, four inches of headroom for center-cabin passengers. The sides of the fuselage are nearly vertical at passenger level, giving more shoulder room than on smaller aircraft. Even the toilet seats have been redesigned to prevent them from banging: A unique system lets the seat come down slowly and keeps it from bouncing, even during turbulence.

Passengers will find more to do at 35,000 feet thanks to United's Interactive Video System (IVS). Color LCD screens are mounted on the armrests (in the expensive seats) or on the back of the seat in front of you (in coach class). Using a controller stored in each seat's armrest, passengers will have access to six channels of video, 19 channels of CD-quality audio, and videogames. The controller also doubles as an air phone, and can be used for voice or modem calls. Planned upgrades will allow shopping from a video catalog and access to flight and gate information.

Advanced technology extends into the realm of flight control. The 777 does away with traditional cable and hydraulic controls and uses fly-by-wire (FBW) technology, where signals are transmitted electronically to the various control surfaces and other systems. The use of FBW in airliners has been the subject of some controversy, as some systems allow the flight computer to override pilot inputs when a commanded maneuver would take the plane out of its normal flight envelope. Boeing's control system always leaves the pilot with final authority. As with similar systems, if the pilot attempts to bring the plane into a stall or overspeed condition, or to bank at a severe angle, the system will warn of the danger and try to compensate. However, if there's an emergency and the pilot needs to override that protection, he or she can do so by using extra force on the control column.

To deter abrupt maneuvering the FBW flight control system provides the same force feedback on the control column as the pilot would encounter in a conventional aircraft. Also, both sets of controls physically move when adjusted by one pilot or the autopilot.

The first 777s went into service with United in June, other domestic carriers won't start flying the planes until 1997.

Trek tech: a tech manual that virtually beams you onto the Enterprise - Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual - Evaluation

by Gregg Keizer

Next to some snippets of Roosevelt, Kennedy, King, or Armstrong, I'm betting that the words most likely to come up in the trowel of a future audio archaeologist studying this century are Star and Trek. If there's a TV show with legs--and the lifespan of a vampire--it's Star Trek and its generational cousins.

The franchise has already spawned a full shelf of computer and video entertainment, from the excellent computer-based Star Trek: 25th Anniversary to the so-so Star Trek: The Next Generation videogame, Futures Past. But nothing compares with the experience you'll have exploring the best Star Trek title so far: Simon & Schuster Interactive's Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual.

A dry-as-Bones name like that probably fills your head with images of blueprints, exploded views, and jargon-filled descriptions. Wrong, Number One. Those things are in this Windows and Macintosh CD-ROM, but they're far from its focus.

Using some ultra-cool technology out of Apple's R&D labs, ITM puts you on the deck of a galaxy-class starship, the Enterprise NCC-1701D. Once there, you can rubberneck as if you were a guest who'd just beamed aboard. Though parts of the Enterprise are off-limits (or seemingly so, since they're not accessible), you can visit the bridge, main engine room, sick bay, transporter room, Ten-Forward, the captain's ready room, the observation lounge, holodeck, and the cabins of Picard, Troi, Data and Worf. You can also take a jaunt outside the ship's hull to get a shuttlecraft-eye view of the exterior from every angle.

And these views aren't just static, as if some old admiral with a bad toupee was boring you with a slide show. ITM uses QuickTime VR, a technology that seamlessly melds photos in a 360-degree panorama. The makers of this CD went on the show's set, took scads of pictures, then used QuickTime VR to piece together the scenery in wraparound images. You can pan around in a complete circle and zoom in for close looks. Even more impressive, you can pick up many objects and examine. them, rotating them in any direction. Throughout, the images show little distortion. On a machine with enough memory, they shift quickly, and even when you stop the shot at an angle, the edges are relatively smooth.

Here's how it works. You're standing on the bridge. In fact, you can stand in any of 14 spots on the bridge. Grab the mouse, then move it side to side, up or down in the window. Your view changes accordingly. Want to stand at the tactical station, right behind the captain's chair? Fine. Look around, as if you were twisting your head or spinning in place. You can even look up. Notice the circular skylight showing stars? I didn't know that was there--did you? Or head to Picard's quarters, and look closely at the flute that arrived in the Kataan probe in the episode, "The Inner Light."

The effect is as if you'd stepped aboard the ship--or at least the set. The place is eerily empty, since there's no one there but you and the sounds of the ship. Actually, you're not quite alone, since the Enterprise's computer is there to explain everything from the abandonship protocol to the configuration of the captain's yacht. As in the series, Majel Barrett Roddenberry does the voice for the computer. Other company comes in the form of text, short animation sequences, and blueprint-like diagrams of the ship. You can even move between parts of the ship by zipping I through the corridors and turbolifts. Very cool.

You can't just go wandering wherever you want--you're restricted to specific locales and within them, the spots from which the panoramas were shot--but the trip is still awesome for anyone who's logged hours watching the show. If you're even an occasional Star Trek fan, you must get this CD-ROM.

You say 600 megabytes of Star Trek info isn't enough for you? Hit the Internet and check out the World Wide Web page at (you'll need a Web browser like Mosaic or Netscape). This page holds links to all kinds of nifty Trekker stuff, from pictures and sound bites to episode summaries and the ever-fun-to-read Star Trek-related newsgroups.

The Origin of Humankind. - book reviews

by Richard Farr

Write a nontechnical introduction to your field in fewer than 200 pages. That's the brief for an impressive list of authors in Basic Books, new Science Masters series. Minsky on artificial intelligence, Gould on paleontology, Smoot on cosmology, Dennett on cognitive science, Dawkins on gene evolution . . . you get the picture. So far, 22 titles have already been commissioned. Just in case that doesn't impress you, the series will be published simultaneously by 16 publishers from Sweden to Korea, in languages which include Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, Norwegian, and Slovene.

In any language, the first three volumes--The Origin of the Universe by John D. Barrow, The Last Three Minutes by Paul Davies, and The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakey-give a fascinating glimpse of what's to come. The outlook: variable, with brilliant sunshine and an occasional cloud.

By far the best of the three titles under review is Leakey's. It's a fine little introduction to paleoanthropology which explains and guides while giving a rich sense of what it's like to work in a living discipline. Leakey will always stop long enough to define a technical term, but his style is so economical that he fits a huge story into the allotted space, from the origins of bipedalism to the origins of art. Above all, he doesn't fall into the popularizer's trap of cheerleading the field and leaving you with an exaggerated view of its coherence. He conveys his love for anthropology while admitting both that it is blotchy with irrationalities (for instance the racism which prevented European scientists from believing that humanity originated In Africa) and that it is full of fierce, often angry dispute (Was Ramapithecus an ape or a hominid? How many species in the Hadar fossils? Have we really proved the mitochondrial Eve hypothesis?). He even charms you by cataloging his own doubts and mistakes and changes of mind. No cheerleading here: just an infectious delight in the business of inquiry

John D. Barrow accepted a difficult assignment. The material he covers was also recently covered in a book written by Steven Weinberg (The First Three Minutes, 1977, revised 1988). Barrow explains some issues particularly well--such as why the steadystate theory died, why cosmological predictions help theory-building in particle physics and vice versa, why the COBE satellite was a big deal, and so on--but in other areas he is much less successful. In the best tradition of physics books which don't quite work, his material on Hawking's no boundary condition and wormholes lunges from oversimplification to total opacity and back again in the space of a paragraph. The inevitable comparison is Weinberg's book, which has the same subject, the same audience, and even the same publisher. In a close call, I'd say Weinberg's book is better.

Davies, tribulations have a different source. These books are meant to be guides to established fields; as he sheepishly admits, a book on the destruction of the universe has to be either unscientific crystal-balling or at best a rag-bag of unrelated science lessons. Davies gives us a bit of both: Nothing if not a good teacher, he-manages to fit in simple but elegant discussions of Olber's starlight paradox, the quantum vacuum, and what we learned from the Sanduleak supernova. But the more he runs out of any science which is even half-way related to his theme, the more pseudophilosophical he becomes, and the last few chapters tend more toward musings, rather than a structured area of inquiry. It's a shame, not because these reflections are not interesting, but because Davies is such a lucid writer and is so capable of translating difficult theory into ordinary language.

Other authors in the Basic pipeline include linguist Steven Pinker, mathematician lan Stewart, particle physicist Murray Gell-Mann, paleobiologist Lynn Margulis, and physicist Freeman Dyson. No series on this scale can hope for uniformity; but, it's a great idea, the author list is so prestigious it glows in the dark, and if some of the volumes are at times uneven, it's certain that the series will provide a valuable resource for all of us.

Resurrecting dinosaurs - possibility of cloning dinosaurs

by Charles Pellegrino

Jurassic Park could be open for business in 20 years. So says the man who first proposed cloning dinosaurs from ancient insects in amber.

There was a time, about 15 years ago, when I needed at least a half-hour of back-and-forth questions and answers just to convey the barest essentials of how it might be possible to derive from a fly in amber a living, breathing dinosaur hatchling. And yet, as I write, I have just heard Jay Leno ask, "How in the world did we get all these dinosaurs in Congress?"

"I get it," he says, after a pause. "Some scientist found a piece of amber with a mosquito in it . . ." and the audience bursts into immediate laughter.

They got it, every one of them. Thanks to Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg, every eight-year-old child with a love of dinosaurs (which is to say, every eight-year-old child) now knows the dinosaur-cloning recipe inside and out.

I would never have believed this possible, back when lengthy explanations left colleagues at Victoria University, Berkeley, and the Smithsonian exhausted and confused by what was to even the most open-minded of them "a totally bizarre thought," if not "downright crazy." Perhaps my explanations were part of the problem; brevity was never one of my virtues. Indeed, after watching me go on about amber, carbonaceous meteorites, and resurrecting the dinosaurs (sometimes in the same sentence), science-fiction writer and then-omni editor Ben Bova agreed with one of my Jesuit teachers that "going to Charlie and asking a question can be like going to a fire hydrant for a sip of water."

And so it turned out that, by 1981, I had managed to utterly confound a great many of my colleagues. About that time, a Berkeley team had begun to send me electron micrographs showing strands of what appeared to be ancient mitochondrial DNA preserved in an amberized insect (hints of a dinosaur starter kit, if you. will). But members of that same Berkeley team originally held such jaundiced opinions of the feasibility of dinosaur cloning that, for more than two years, they blocked the recipe's publication in Smithsonian. They had themselves produced micrographs of what may yet prove to be one of the biological discoveries of the century--evidence that whole libraries of ancient DNA may lie dormant within the earth--but they refused to see it.

In frustration, I eventually brought my paper to more forward-looking people at Omni, who published it in the January 1985 issue. Unlike a lot of my other works, the "Dinosaur Capsule" article seemed to produce almost no response at all. I guess 'it was just the sort of thing you didn't discuss in polite scientific circles in those days. Looking back, I wonder if anyone except Michael Crichton ever read it. But does it matter? He was enough.

With Crichton's novel, Jurassic Park, and Spielberg's subsequent phenomenally successful film adaptation, science fiction once again made complex scientific ideas respectable. What Jules Verne did for submarines, what Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke did for translunar flight, Crichton and Spielberg did for the emerging science of paleogenetics. All that remains now is for the realities of scientific achievement to once again catch up with the fiction.

In my article of 10 years ago, I predicted that the technology necessary to make the cloning of dinosaurs at least thinkable was about 30 years away. Looking at the advances in genetic and computer technology that have taken place since, I'd say we are right on schedule, with 20 years still to go.

Perhaps the most important genetic advance we've seen so far, in terms of paleontology, is a little tongue-twister called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It works somewhat like a DNA photocopier, making it possible to amplify, millions of times, a faint signal consisting of only a few fragments of DNA. Using PCR, a team of paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City became the first to identify replicable pieces of DNA in an amber-embedded termite from the Dominican Republic dating back to 25 to 30 million B.C. If portions of a genetic coding system can survive that long, it's not much of a leap from 25 or 30 million years ago to, say, 70 or 90 million years ago--the time of dinosaurs.

Following the termite discovery, paleontologist Gerard Case--who took me to the New Jersey amber beds in 1978 and whose discovery of 95-million-year-old biting flies at about the same time I began finding intact muscle fibers in amberized bees actually triggered the Jurassic Park recipe--led entomologist David Grimaldi, whose team had identified the termite DNA, to a new amber deposit in New Jersey. The discovery greatly expanded the world's supply of Cretaceous-period biting pests, which had both motive and opportunity for biting dinosaurs. During the summer of 1993, Case and Grimaldi mined out a Cretaceous vein that produced 60 pounds of amber containing scores of biting flies and other insects.

Excavated from a tomb 24,000 times older than any pharaoh's, the little handful of flesh-feeding creatures is as priceless as the golden death mask of Tutankhamen. We would all love to get into any saurian cells clinging to their mandibles, but paleontologists are by nature a rather patient lot, so the organic gemstones must ideally remain under refrigeration (to stop the amber itself from evaporating its oils and cracking now that it has been exposed to air), waiting for technology to catch up with the dream. PCR may be advanced technology by today's standards, but compared to the microsurgical techniques that we will need to ferret out dinosaur DNA, it is like trying to figure out how an antique watch worked by smashing it open with a sledgehammer.

If we are lucky enough to find a mite or a horsefly that blundered into a pool of sun-warmed or very fluid tree sap after biting a dinosaur, then the resin might have preserved in that insect thousands of dinosaur cells, each containing in its nucleus a copy of the genetic blueprints necessary for building a dinosaur. My colleagues and I are drawing up plans for microscanners that--when we have the technology to build them, in about 15 years--will allow us to probe those ancient cells and build copies of their genetic blueprints in a computer. The trick lies in removing the nucleus of an individual cell in about 10 pieces, without disturbing any of its neighboring--and equally precious--cells, and then preserving the pieces so that we can scan them as often as we like, as easily as one scans a laser-engraved compact disk. In this manner, we can build complete copies of dinosaur chromosomes by sampling as few as a dozen amberized cells--and, as I have said, a single bite from a fly probably contains thousands of cells.

Considering the value-both scientific and monetary--of each of those cells, we cannot afford to sacrifice more than a dozen cells to come up with dinosaur genetic blueprints. Translation: Searching for dinosaur genes with present-day technology is out of the question. PCR would require cracking open a piece of amberized flesh and using up every one of the thousands of cells within. The process is somewhat like burning a book as you read it, capturing only a sentence here and there. None of my colleagues want to vandalize ancient treasures simply to enter the record books as the first to recover dinosaur genes from amber. The saurian tissue, if such is preserved, has already waited 95 million years. Surely we sapient newcomers can wait 15 or 20 years more.

On another front, there may exist on the horizon a newer and much more expendable source of dinosaur DNA. During the summer of 1993, a remarkably well-preserved Allosaurus femur of Jurassic age was smashed in half during shipping to fossil hunter Mark Newman, who noticed something he'd never seen before spilling out of its center: a reddish-brown substance that looked for all the world like intact bone marrow.

I know someone who may be interested in this, Newman thought, and a week later, physicist Jim Powell and I were looking through an electron microscope at the impossible. The bone must have baked under the sun for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years before water got anywhere near it, until it somehow mummified. We beheld a strange landscape of marrow vesicles studded with objects that looked like blood cells with a histology suggestive of ... ostrich!

We had heard rumors of a similar discovery at John Horner's lab at the Museum of the Rockies. I made a call to Horner--the paleontologist upon whom Sam Neill's character in the film version of Jurassic Park was based--and he immediately referred me to Mary Schweitzer, who had found equally strange structures in a T. rex bone. A quick comparison showed that our Jurassic material looked chillingly like what she was pulling out of the Cretaceous Period.

Schweitzer speculates that many ancient bones contain some of their original organic material intact. Ever since she brought up this possibility, I've been unable to force out of my mind some 15-million-year-old crabs I found with what appeared to be original pigment in their claws, displaying the same distinctive pattern I had found on the claws of their present-living relatives. I remember making excuses for the fossil record, suggesting that organic pigments had somehow affected the process of mineralization, so that darker minerals settled into the same black spots seen on the claws of the crabs' descendants, thus producing the illusion that a petrified crab could still display its original colors after millions of years. But now such oddities begin to make perfect sense. Having looked at what the rest of us have seen for decades and thought what none of us had dared think, Schweitzer is turning much of what we thought we knew about the process of fossilization upside down.

Every new class of paleontology students learns from textbooks that fossils are more or less mere 3-D images of once-living matter, with none of the living matter still existing. American Museum of Natural History entomologist Paul Wygodzinski and I discovered in 1978 that preserved muscle fibers in amberized insects presented an astonishing exception to this rule, but with the Schweitzer revelations the importance of my amber studies diminishes. This is no cause for despair, only applause, When a pet theory is altered or diminished under the weight of new evidence, the new theory that rises on its foundations (or sometimes on its grave) may be even more exciting. The sort of preservation hinted at in amber, offering the best known protection against the ravages of time, might actually be more the rule than the exception. Thus, the "exception" that Wygodzinski and I found may well be no exception at all but evidence of a new rule.

And the evidence mounts. We already have in hand amino acids, porphyrin molecules, and other ringshaped organic compounds that have survived more than four billion years of cosmic-ray exposure inside certain carbon-rich, stony rrieteorites. As above, so below. Organic compounds can be startlingly resilient. Allosaur marrow is only a few tens of millions of years old, and it may be time to begin looking for dinsaur DNA in places we never imagined it to exist.

Allosaurus: best described as a leaner, meaner version of T rex. Just imagine a velociraptor 18 feet tall. When Powell and I first began probing the allosaur marrow, we considered our initial observation too crazy: Certain structures in the marrow looked a little too much like they belonged to birds.

I used to believe that paleontologist Robert Bakker had gotten a bit too carried away with birds. A Bakker lecture typically goes something like this: "Bird ... dinosaur ... dinosaur ... bird!" At this writing, the first attempt to extract DNA from T rex bones has been unsuccessful, but certainly there will be further attempts using better tools. In the meantime, there are tantalizing hints, in the impossibly preserved fine structures of the bones themselves, that Bakker has been on the right track all along: Some of the large, predatory dinosaurs resembled birds more than I thought possible. After all is said and done, tyrannosaurs and allosaurs begin to look like parakeets designed by Stephen King.

Ultimately, our breaking of the saurian genetic code will make use of several simplifications that I have made in the dinosaur cloning recipe, including a "match and patch" approach that will eventually allow us to line up copies of DNA segments from as few as 10 cells on a computer screen, somewhat like markers on a spectrum. All of these segments will no doubt have been damaged by the decay of carbon 14, potassium 40, and the occasional cosmic ray, but this problem is not much different from the one encountered by archaeologists now dealing with multiple copies of the Book of Isaiah, every one of them scattered in pieces and mostly missing, among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In both cases, a program for "matching and patching" missing segments--for building a single composite "text" from partly damaged copies--solves the problem. For dinosaurs, "match and patch" means we won't have to make a "best guess"--as I had proposed in the original recipe and as bioengineers did in Jurassic Park--requiring us to borrow missing bits of genetic code from frogs, reptiles, and/or birds.

Match-and-patch technology will work best with DNA embedded in amber, where we have already found insect cells so perfectly intact as to rival the level of preservation achieved when Canadian Balsam, also a form of tree sap, is smeared over cells during the preparation of a microscope slide. If a cosmic ray disintegrates a small portion of DNA, the adjacent sections will be held in place by the surrounding resin, as if in glue. Still, with an estimated 100,000 genes needed to build a dinosaur, each cell nucleus can be compared to a partly intact jigsaw puzzle the size of a small parking lot. For my allosaur femur and Schweitzer's T rex bone, ih which DNA fragments (if such exist) were free to migrate, we have much more material to work with--but it exists as a hodgepodge of multiple copies of the jigsaw puzzle thrown up in the air and mixed together. Though not impossible to solve, the bone puzzle will require at least 20,000 times more effort to assemble than one found in amber.

There may exist, however, a third path to the dinosaur genome, one that in terms of difficulty and availability of material lies somewhere between amber and bones. Using high-resolution machines that were still at an experimental stage, Powell and I made the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of T rex eggs in 1993. We did not find embryonic bones inside those eggs, but we did behold a paleontological tale in which a 20-inch-long egg looked as if it was stepped on shortly after being laid.

MRI enables us to see into dinosaur eggs without having to etch their mineral casings away with acids, which are notoriously unfriendly to DNA. Linking MRI scanners to computers, we hope to reconstruct skeletal dinosaur embryos as on-screen 3-D images. Although some of the bones nestled within dinosaur eggs are literally paper-thin, the level of preservation is many orders of magnitude above our childsize, more easily preserved allosaur femur. If Powell and I are right, then DNA residing in embryonic bones will tend to be far more intact than anything we are likely to find in the adult femur.

Now that amber and soon perhaps fragments of bone may yield up dinosaur DNA, we paleontologists are emerging into a strange new world in which assumptions about air, water, and sunlight breaking down and eliminating all old DNA are wrong. I used to believe, not very long ago, that diamonds were the world's most resilient and valuable form of carbon. Now I see diamonds about to be dethroned by DNA--by little snippets of ancient genetic code, passed across oceans of time like bits of gossip over a backyard fence.

You cannot look at the surreal developments of the past decade and a half without beginning to wonder what nature has really been up to all these hundreds of millions of years. Even without assistance from tree sap-turned-to amber, DNA is the ultimate survivor, and perhaps even the ultimate parasite. For billions of years, it has managed to preserve its same, essential structure, residing for a little while in you, or me, or a dinosaur, or a bacterium, and then moving on, fully intact, to the next generation. You may like to think that your genes serve your best interests, but in a very real sense, it is quite the other way around. They simply orchestrate the construction of our bodies, then occupy us for a few decades, with no purpose other than producing or maintaining reproductive systems, so they can carry on in fresh young bodies just as ours begin to wear out. Every breath you take, every sip of water, every bite of food immortalizes your genetic code, not you.

Commenting on this, the philosopher-science fiction writer George Zebrowski observed, "We, then, are just one of the many masks that DNA will wear," So, too, were the dinosaurs. We are learning now that occupying or renting our bodies is not the only way that DNA survives. So long as the carriers of chromosomes managed to cover the earth thickly enough, infecting every nook and cranny with bits of living tissue, some small amount of DNA was bound to take up permanent residence wherever it found an environment capable of preserving it. At least in an analogous sense, the giants do indeed appear merely to have been sleeping in the earth, waiting for the planet to evolve brains capable of resurrecting their genetic blueprints. If this is so, do we then define life as simply a property of the carbon atom, as an information-storage system written on nucleic acid and read by protein? And if the answer is yes, should strands of DNA embedded in amber or bone still be considered alive after tens of millions of years?

Can it be that we are on the verge of redefining not only the word "extinct" but our notions of life and death as well? If so, and if we begin to view DNA as something that merely borrows our bodies for a while only to move on with contemptuous indifference, then in the end it is DNA that rules humanity and the earth. Everything else is hubris.

Which brings us to the notion that, for better or for worse, we will soon have the ability to take charge not only of our own evolutionary destiny but that of the entire planet.

Yet--and perhaps reassuringly--technological hurdles remain. Presently we can print copies of the genetic code, but we can actually read and understand just a few fragments of the book of life. We are in a position much like that of the Egyptologists who came upon hauntingly beautiful hieroglyphs but couldn't read them until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. With an effort to catalog and translate the entire human genome already in the works, science has just begun to carve the genetic Rosetta Stone. It may turn out that I'm a little optimistic in believing that dinosaur cloning lies only 20 years away. It could be 50 years, but I agree with Spielberg that we are looking at science eventuality, not science fiction.

So while I wait here at the midpoint of the last decade of the second millennium, with both amber and dinosaur marrow under refrigeration, I rejoice to see how closely science and science fiction have dovetailed. But it is also impossible for me to forget the warning spoken by Jeff Goldblum's character in the film: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should." A few people have suggested that I should be offended by such statements, that the film is "antitechnology," and that it "trashes" my ideas. Not at all. Jurassic Park does what good science fiction is supposed to do: It looks ahead to what bridges we may soon be building and asks us to consider very carefully what trolls may be hiding under those bridges. Crichton and Spielberg challenge us to start thinking about the trolls before we arrive at the bridge, before we have to deal with them.

I don't really believe that the formerly extinct will ever get loose, eat our lawyers, and threaten to take over the world. But I do see more subtle dangers on the road ahead. Consider recent proposals to sample all the plants and insects of the Amazon and to preserve their tissues in liquid nitrogen. Already, because of my recipe, it is becoming increasingly fashionable in certain industrial circles to stop worrying about felling the forests, because with care the extinct can be brought back again. So here we sit, you and 1, on the brink of a genetic frontier in which our hopes of resurrecting extinct life forms may actually encourage the very behaviors that cause extinction.

A fanciful hope--that is how it began, as a hope to invent the ultimate paleontological tool that would allow me to study my favorite creatures face to face. But what did the Greeks name the last demon to escape Pandora's box; the one Pandora almost managed to slam the lid on; the most horrible of them all, because it came disguised as a blessing? Did they not call it Hope?

The truth about Roswell - alleged crash of a UFO near Roswell, NM, on Jun 25, 1947

by Dava Sobel

Flying saucers made their first official appearance in the summer of 1947. On June 25, Kenneth Arnold, a Boise, Idaho, rescue pilot working for the U.S. Forest Service, flew over the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, searching for a missing plane. He spotted nine disc-shaped craft, which he guessed to be moving at a speed of 1,200 miles an hour and at an altitude of 10,000 feet. When Arnold described their motion as resembling "a saucer skipping over water," a newspaper headline dubbed them "flying saucers." Almost instantly, believable witnesses from other states and several foreign countries reported similar sightings--enlivening wire-service dispatches for days.

Within two weeks, on July 8, 1947, the United States Army announced that it had recovered a flying saucer from the New Mexican desert, near a town called Roswell. The morning after, the Army corrected itself: The "saucer" had been a misidentified weather balloon.

Thus began the infamous "Roswell Incident," the mother of all UFO scenarios. At first, it seemed to be a burst of excitement over nothing--a story of "Man Bites Dog" that quickly faded into "Dog Bites Man." But over decades, the event at Roswell has been repeatedly remembered, reevaluated, and retold, so that it now boasts seminal importance in the annals of contacts with extraterrestrial civilizations.

According to several residents of Roswell who claim to be eyewitnesses, at least one alien craft crashed there that summer of 1947. However, they say, military and government parties--including the Air Force, the FBI, and the White House--intentionally covered up the facts. As a former employee of the local funeral parlor recalls, the humanoid bodies of the saucer's crew were autopsied at the Roswell Army Air Field Hospital immediately after the crash. Then their remains were flown to Dayton, Ohio, to the site of what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where they were frozen for future study.

Rumors circulated that one of the creatures had even survived the accident. It lived for over a year, sequestered and cared for in a specially built top-secret facility, before succumbing to an Earth-acquired infection.

Now, nearly half a century after the precipitating event, New Mexico Congressman Stephen H. Schiff has asked the General Accounting Office (GAO), which is the investigative arm of Congress, to investigate the incident.

Did the military act appropriately at the time--or did it move to suppress information, spread lies, and silence the residents of Roswell, some of whom claim they received death threats warning them never to reveal what went on there in July 1947?

GAO spokesman Cleve Corlett insists his agency is not investigating Roswell, as many students of the case contend. "We don't talk about our work till it's finished," Corlett said. But whatever the truth, thanks to publicity from Schiff and others, Roswell has spawned interest from many quarters indeed.

For example, a recent Showtime movie called Roswell, based on the book UFO Crash at Roswell, paints a vivid picture of charred aliens on operating tables, amid a Watergate-style cover-up masterminded by four- and five-star generals, scientists, super-spies, and Cabinet members. The film celebrates the twin themes of the Roswell Incident--the arrival of extraterrestrial visitors and the paranoia regarding government conspiracy. With documentary verisimilitude, Roswell depicts UFOs as the vehicles that ferry aliens to Earth, and the governments of the world as the powers that conceal the alien presence.

At the opposite extreme, the U.S. Air Force has completed its own internal review of the events and allegations. Its "Report on Roswell," which was released in September 1994, identifies the so-called "weather balloon" as part of a once-top-secret experimental program, "Project Mogul," for monitoring Russian nuclear bomb tests. A page-one story in the New York Times of September 18, 1994, heralded this explanation as the long-awaited denouement of the Roswell Incident. Project Mogul, the Air Force and the Times agreed, dismissed the alien-spaceship tale as a modern myth. Proponents of the alleged saucer crash and subsequent cover-up, however, remain unconvinced by the Air Force account.

How good is the evidence on each side of the Roswell Incident? What really happened there? And if all that landed was a glorified weather balloon, why won't the legend die?

I came to this story prejudiced, as all journalists are, with my own preconceived notions. As the co-author of a book about the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) through radio astronomy, I firmly believe that other civilizations share our galaxy, and may even be trying to contact us. But I do not think that flying saucers are landing here. The alien presence would have to be ubiquitous to explain all the claims of contact I have heard. Nevertheless, the Roswell incident intrigued me because it was born practically at the moment of my birth, in June of 1947. Maybe Roswell was as real as I am. I mean, if the entire universe could happen once--rise whole cloth out of one Big Bang--why not admit the arrival on Earth of a lone flying saucer?

Part of me was wide open to that possibility when I started exhuming the incident's history. I read six books about it, along with miscellaneous reports on Roswell published by the Mutual UFO Network (an international contingent of UFOlogists). I read the Air Force report, of course, with all its supporting documentation, as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles, plus back issues of newsletters devoted both to promulgating and debunking UFO sightings. I also viewed several hours of videotapes on the Roswell Incident, reviewed selected Internet files, and interviewed a dozen individuals on the telephone. Then I went to Roswell to meet some of the witnesses face to face and to see the place where the saucer is said to have landed.

To begin at the beginning, the Roswell of 1947 was a small town in a big desert, surrounded by acres of undeveloped land and sheep ranches stretching over the mostly flat terrain as far as the eye could see. At the south end of the business district stood the Roswell Army Air Field, home base for the fighting 509th--the world's only combat unit trained to handle and drop nuclear bombs. About 100 miles west of Roswell, at Alamogordo, the first atomic bomb explosion had shot up its mushroom cloud just two years prior to the Roswell Incident. And although secrecy shrouded the activities at nearby White Sands Proving Ground, Roswell residents were aware that captured German V-2 rockets routinely penetrated the arid sky. What's more, Robert H. Goddard, the father of American rocketry, had moved to Roswell from Massachusetts, and launched 56 flight tests there from 1930 until shortly before his death in 1943. You could say that Roswell stood closer to outer space than any other town in the world.

The stories of flying discs that spread across the country in the summer of 1947 fell on receptive ears in New Mexico. Sheep rancher W. W. ("Mac") Brazel overheard the talk in a Corona bar on Saturday night, July 5. According to his own later account in the local press, he wondered if the strange debris he'd found on the ground during his ranch rounds might be part of some such flying disc. He hoped it was. A prize of $3,000 had been promised by a national news outfit to anybody who recovered one. Brazel drove some of the shiny litter into Roswell and showed it to the county sheriff, who showed it to the Army base's intelligence officer, who retrieved the rest of the pieces back at the ranch.

That Army intelligence officer, Major Jesse Marcel, had never seen anything quite like the debris that lay in scattered scraps and tatters over an area some 200 yards wide. Though plentiful, it was so lightweight that Marcel and a helper could pick it all up and load it in the backs of their cars. Brazel, the rancher, estimated in a newspaper interview that the whole lot couldn't have weighed much more than five pounds. Although Marcel's description of what he had found did not appear in any press reports published at the time, he later recalled that the material bore no resemblance to any aircraft he had been trained to recognize.

"I saw ... small bits of metal," Marcel told a reporter years after the fact, "but mostly we found some material that's hard to describe." Some of it was porous, he remembered. He also mentioned "stuff that looked very much like parchment," as well as long, slender solid members--like square sticks, the largest of which was between three and four feet long. These pieces resembled wood, felt as light as balsa, and carried undecipherable markings that Marcel called "hieroglyphics."

On Tuesday, July 8, 1947, a press release announcing Marcel's catch was distributed to the local newspapers and radio stations by Walter G. Haut, then-public relations officer at the base. The Roswell Daily Record spread the word under a banner headline: "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region."

The story began, "The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer." It is not clear from the article who termed the debris a flying saucer. The words do not appear in quotes, and they are not attributed to either Marcel or to the base commander, Colonel William H. Blanchard. They are used matter-of-factly, as though such things would be well known to readers of the Record--and indeed they were.

"After the intelligence office here had inspected the instrument," the article went on to say, "it was flown to 'higher headquarters."' Indeed, Marcel took the debris on a plane to Fort Worth, where General Roger M. Ramey identified it to Marcel and the press as the remains of a downed weather balloon carrying a radar target. The next day, in an even larger headline than it had used to announce the find, the Record reported, "Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer."

The Army's announcement of the "weather balloon" explanation ended the flying saucer excitement. All mention of the craft dropped from the newspapers, from military records, from the national consciousness, and even from the talk of the town in Roswell.

Thirty years passed with no further mention of the Roswell incident.

Then, Stanton T. Friedman of Fredericton, New Brunswick, in Canada, rediscovered Roswell. Friedman had been working as a nuclear physicist (although he does not hold a doctoral degree in that discipline) for General Electric, Westinghouse, and other companies. He devoted his spare time to reading widely about flying saucers, including the reports of Project Bluebook--the Air Force's official investigation, from 1952 to 1969, into UFO sightings.

"In the 1970s, when the bottom fell out of the nuclear physics business," Friedman told me in a telephone interview, "I went full time as a lecturer."

Friedman has delivered his lecture, "Flying Saucers ARE Real!," at some 600 college campuses and to many professional meetings. Although Friedman never saw a flying saucer himself, his work made him a lightning rod for people with their own UFO stories to tell. They would seek him out after his talks and share bits of information. Over the past 17 years, by following leads from such sources, Friedman has become the self-styled impresario of the Roswell Incident. He has ferreted out several self-professed witnesses, and he believes that the cover-up of the crash continues today at the highest levels of secrecy within the federal government, although his evidence for this claim is hotly contested.

Friedman received his first important Roswell tip in 1978 while appearing on a news program in Baton Rouge. The station manager mentioned that his ham radio buddy--a fellow named Jesse Marcel--had once handled the wreckage of a flying saucer.

Intrigued, Friedman called Marcel the very next day. The former major had retired from the Army and was working as a television repairman in Houma, Louisiana. Friedman ascribes great weight to that initial conversation. Writing about the encounter, and describing himself in the third person, he gauged its import as follows:

"Marcel described the material to Friedman over the phone, giving the veteran UFO investigator the first indication of the nature of what could possibly turn out to be the most important discovery of the millennium."

Friedman used his contacts to set up an interview for Marcel with the National Enquirer. In that 1979 interview, 32 years after the original discovery, Marcel said of the debris, "I'd never seen anything like that. I didn't know what we were picking up. I still believe it was nothing that came from Earth. It came to Earth but not from Earth."

Marcel continued to express puzzlement about the Roswell debris till his dying day in 1986, But he never called it a flying saucer. And he certainly never mentioned any bodies lying in or near what he had found. Nor did the original discoverer of the debris, Mac Brazel, ever claim that he had seen extraterrestrial aliens, dead or alive.

Friedman added that part--the corpus delicti. The crashed saucer and its alien crew were the gifts of Vern and Jean Maltais, who attended a Friedman lecture, and stayed late to tell him a flying saucer story related by their late friend, Grady ("Barney") Barnett. Barnett said he had seen a saucer wreck near Socorro, New Mexico, where he worked in the 1940s as a government engineer. The Maltais couple couldn't remember what year the crash might have taken place, and Barney was long dead, so there was no way to find out. But they assured Friedman that Barney was much too upstanding a citizen to have fabricated such a tale--complete with sunlight glinting off a great, metallic disc, some 25 or 30 feet in diameter. That was enough for Friedman to go on--in his preliminary reconstruction of the events, the 1947 craft dropped some of its pieces on the sheep ranch near Roswell, then continued flying in a northwesterly direction before it crashed. Friedman contributed these insights to the first volume in the Roswell literature--the Roswell Incident (Grosset & Dunlap), by Charles Berlitz and William Moore.

With the book's publication in 1980, the Roswell Incident took on new proportions. First it spread from the debris field on the sheep ranch to a site far away where Friedman thought the rest of the saucer must have landed. He put this "crash site" at Corona, about 90 miles northwest of Roswell. Since Brazel's ranch sprawled over desert that lay between the two towns, the "Roswell Incident" might just as well be called "The Crash at Corona." Indeed, Friedman later took this title for his own book, Crash at Corona, co-authored with Don Berliner and published by Paragon House in 1992. Friedman didn't stop at Corona, however, but continued westward, straight across central New Mexico for another 150 miles--to a second crashed saucer site on the Plains of San Augustin. Here, just past Socorro, was where Friedman figured Barney Barnett's craft must have touched down.

Struggling to understand the connection between the two sites, Friedman pondered various possibilities: There might have been several craft in the area. Two could have collided in midair, sprinkling debris, saucers, and bodies in a wide swath. Or one craft could have crashed at Roswell/Corona, while another got shot down over the Plains of San Augustin by military fire from the White Sands Missile, Range. There seemed to be enough room in the desert for almost anything to have occurred.

Friedman eventually found a live eyewitness who could corroborate his second site on the Plains of San Augustin. This was Gerald F. Anderson, a mere boy of five in 1947, who saw Friedman on a 1990 national television program called Unsolved Mysteries. Right after the show, Anderson phoned the network's toll-free number from his home in Missouri. He said he remembered coming upon the very craft that Friedman had mentioned, with its alien corpses ejected onto the sand, while out rock-hunting with his family.

"We headed straight toward it," Anderson later told Friedman in person. "There was a big gouge mark where it had cut a furrow across the arroyo. It tore up a lot of the sagebrush and there were fires smoldering here and there. "That's when my brother said, That's a goddamn spaceship! Them's Martians!'"

Anderson's vivid memories of the hot, humid morning are stunning in their detail. Likewise his estimates of the distances between objects on the ground, and his total recall of the dialogue that engaged his father, his brother, his Uncle Ted, and his Cousin Victor. In all, Anderson's account, which fills six pages in Friedman's book, strains my belief to the breaking point. And I say this even though I know that Friedman had Anderson take a polygraph test (a de rigueur step in serious UFO investigations), and Anderson passed it.

Friedman, ever on the case, continued to look for another eyewitness to back up Anderson's outstanding memory. He never found one. Thus, Anderson stands alone against the attacks from other Roswell researchers, all of whom seek to discredit his testimony.

For example, Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt, authors of two books published by Avon--UFO Crash at Roswell and its sequel, The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell (in which the date of the crucial crash is corrected from July 2 to July 4)--denounce Anderson's story. They summoned a forensic scientist to examine the 1947 diary purportedly kept by Anderson's Uncle Ted. This document, which supported Gerald Anderson's oral history, was duly found to be written on bona fide 1947-vintage paper. However, the ink upon that paper had not become available until 1974.

"Clearly this was not a document written by Anderson's Uncle Ted," Randle and Schmitt conclude triumphantly in their new book. "Ted Anderson could not be reached for comment. He had died several years prior to 1974."

This is a recurrent theme in Roswell research--the unfortunate disappearance of firsthand witnesses due to natural attrition. As the years go by, those who devote themselves to seeking the truth about Roswell face ever greater challenges from fading memories and failing hearts.

The Randle-Schmitt duo took on the Roswell Incident in 1988, thinking they could expose it as a hoax, or at least a harmless flap over something that never happened. Now, after six years and 25 trips to the town, they believe the claims that first struck them as extraordinary. As Randle told me early in our talks, "No mundane explanation fits.

"I'd be extremely disappointed if it turned out to be terrestrial," Randle later said of the Roswell debris, "but I'd accept definitive proof." Since no one saved any of the original debris--at least so far as anyone knows--Randle is unlikely to encounter enough evidence to make him deviate from his current career path.

A resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Randle is a former Army helicopter pilot who flew over Vietnam. He has demonstrated a flair for fiction by writing some 70 novels (mostly science-fiction and men's adventure) in addition to his two Roswell texts and consultation on the screenplay for Showtime's Roswell movie. Randle looked briefly into cattle mutilations before finding his metier in Roswell. Now he also hosts a weekly two-hour radio program out of El Paso, "The Randle Report," which covers the full gamut of paranormal subjects from past lives regression to the Bermuda Triangle.

When Randle and I met for lunch in Roswell, he chose the restaurant. And when we paid our separate bills at the cash register, he presented a special card that procured him free food from the establishment, in any amount, at any time. This hospitality, like his free room at the motel he recommended to me, is the way the townspeople thank him for his efforts on their behalf. Stanton Friedman may have put Roswell on the map, but Kevin Randle put it in the movies.

Randle's co-author, Don Schmitt of Hubertus, Wisconsin, once served as an assistant to the late J. Allen Hynek, founder of the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago (the first UFO group dedicated to scientific analysis of the phenomenon). Schmitt, who describes himself as a medical illustrator, actually works as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Milwaukee, a position he has held since 1974. (This came as a surprise to many of his fellow UFO researchers, who simply were not aware of his "day job."

Like Friedman, neither Randle nor Schmitt has ever seen a UFO.

Having dismissed Gerald Anderson as "a hoax," Randle and Schmitt originally put their faith in the eyewitness testimony of their own Jim Ragsdale of Carlsbad, whom they found around Roswell on one of their research trips. Ragsdale said he was camping north of Roswell on the night of July 2, 1947 with a female companion, Trudy Truelove, when a bright object roared overhead and hit the ground. The couple hunted down the wreck that night and identified it in a flashlight's dim beam as a flying saucer, with alien corpses nearby. They returned the next morning, Ragsdale claimed, but couldn't get close because the place was crawling with military police who had cordoned off the area.

This scenario, presented early in The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, includes an asterisk next to Trudy Truelove's name. I glanced at the bottom of the page, expecting to find the usual disclaimer about aliases made up to protect the identity of actual individuals. Instead, I read:

"The story told by Jim Ragsdale has been well corroborated by various family members, including Clint Brazeal, Wendelle and Willard Ragsdale, his wife Mary, and his mother-in-law, `Grandma Lucky.'" Now I was not only being asked to accept the existence of Trudy Truelove, but also Grandma Lucky, who was soon joined on following pages by a matriarch called "Big Mom."

Randle rues the fact that Ragsdale has now aggrandized his story and has thus discredited his own testimony. As Randle explained at last October's UFO conference in Pensacola, "The story he [Ragsdale] tells now is much more exciting than just seeing the bodies in the distance. He's now talking about going down and trying to pull the helmet off one of the dead aliens and seeing big black eyes, which is not consistent with what we have learned about what the aliens look like."

I asked Randle if he could get me an interview with Ragsdale, but he pooh-poohed the idea. "Jim, last we heard," Randle said, "was living in a trailer near Carlsbad. He's from there. He's an irascible old man."

Meanwhile, another witness has come forward to fill the gap, adding a weight of new evidence to Randle and Schmitt's new book. His name is Frank J. Kaufmann, although he is called "Steve MacKenzie" in the book. Kaufmann served in the Army in Roswell until 1945, and then stayed on in some paramilitary capacity. He saw the craft firsthand, he says, when he took part in a secret search for it, accompanied by high-ranking officers on a reconnaissance mission through the desert. His name withheld and his face blurred for his first television appearance, Kaufmann pointed out the actual impact site during a Roswell segment of 48 Hours aired on April 3, 1994.

Secrecy, or shyness--or both--still characterizes Kaufmann, who parcels out his story in installments, like a staged rocket. Nonetheless, he invited me to interview him in his Roswell home. Surrounded by his oil paintings of landscapes, he described the spaceship he saw as being shaped like a wingless airplane, not a round saucer. It was stuck at an angle in a sandy hill. Though still intact, it had popped a side seam, and through this portal he could see the bodies.

"I did everything in the world to try to block it out of my mind," Kaufmann said of the image that still haunts him. "I kept that secret till a few years ago, when Randle and Schmitt came to me. I made them wait a year before I gave them anything. I just told them a little even now. I just told them the outside version." I understood him to mean that he had more to reveal, but could not risk the consequences of telling all, and also feared being branded a kook.

Since Kaufmann offered no documentation for the secret group he said he'd belonged to, or of the debriefing where he was sworn to secrecy--and how could he be expected to produce evidence of such things?--I had to rely on my instincts to judge him credible or otherwise. As I listened to his account of the quickly deteriorating alien bodies, I believed his anguish to be real, though the story did not convince me the event had taken place. When he mentioned that he had personally spoken to Wernher von Braun (the Nazi German rocket whiz who brought the V-2 to White Sands) about the events at Roswell, he tipped the balance for me. I could not follow him that far.

Kaufmann is to Randle and Schmitt what Gerald Anderson is to Stanton Friedman. Strong ties bind each Roswell researcher to his star witness, forsaking all others. I have even heard the researchers attack each other's witnesses--and one another--with insults the likes of "flaming ass," clown," and "liar." Within the community of Roswell researchers, angry contention surrounds the discussion of conflicting crash sites, the descriptions of saucers, as well as the number, condition, and appearance of recovered aliens. Try as Randle does to portray the dispute as a scientific debate--on a par with paleontologists wrangling over the precise shape of a Brontosaurus head--the rancor weakens the arguments on all sides.

The sole witness who remains everyone's darling is Glenn Dennis, a mortician at a Roswell funeral parlor during the late 1940s. Since Dennis never claimed to see the crashed craft, his story meshes well with all other accounts.

Dennis remembered that fateful July 4 weekend (now changed to the middle of the following week, according to his most recent recollections) as the time he received several unusual phone calls from the base mortuary officer. One inquiry concerned the availability of child-size caskets. (The aliens, all witnesses agree, were as short as ten-year-old children. In another call, Dennis said he was asked about preservation techniques for deteriorated bodies, and also about the effects of embalming fluids on bodily fluids such as blood and stomach contents. Even more startling, Dennis recalled, an Army nurse at the base told him tearfully how she had been ordered by visiting doctors to assist at the autopsy of three mangled aliens. The nurse had been sworn to secrecy, and she made Dennis give her an oath that he would never reveal her identity.

Dennis, now vice president of the two-year-old International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, no longer grants interviews with the news media. These days he speaks only to Karl T. Pflock of Placitas, New Mexico, who has interviewed him for Omni beginning on page 119.

Pflock is a former employee of the CIA. While living in Washington in the 1960s, he became active in NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena)--an early pro-UFO study group founded in 1956. Before moving to New Mexico, Pflock worked as a congressional staff member, and served four years, from 1985 to 1989, as a deputy assistant secretary of defense. He traces his lifelong interest in UFOs back to his own childhood sighting of one. He is married to Mary Martinek, a senior staffer in the Albuquerque office of Congressman Schiff--the same U.S. representative who requested the GAO study of the Roswell Incident.

Pflock believes Dennis's testimony is the key to the conundrum in Roswell.

"I'm firmly convinced Glenn is telling the absolute truth as he remembers it," Pflock told me, after making short shrift of the testimony of other witnesses. (Pflock on Kaufmann: "His story has evolved over the years. How could anyone be comfortable accepting it?" Pflock on Ragsdale: "Ragsdale claims he and his friend saw the flamihg craft drop out of the sky during a violent thunderstorm, yet local newspaper weather forecasts and reports for July 4 say nothing about significant lightning or thunderstorm activity in the Roswell vicinity."

The key to the Dennis testimony, as revealed in his Omni interview, is the long-lost nurse--how he met up with her on base while aliens were being autopsied; how he met with this same nurse the following day over lunch at the Officers' Club on the base; and finally, how she vanished, never to be heard from again.

Indeed, Roswell researchers have claimed that five other nurses at the base also vanished--hinting foul play or destruction of military records. However, all have since been tracked down by Omni reporter Paul McCarthy (see story beginning on page 106), and shown to have led eventful lives after the Roswel Incident. All except Dennis's nurse, who remains at large.

Dennis gave her name to Pflock as Naomi Maria Selff. But Pflock concedes that he has been unable to find any records of her presence at Roswell Army Air Field in July 1947-or anywhere else, for that matter.

"Similarly," writes Pflock, "no record of her family has been located. The search continues, but so far, she seems to have disappeared without a trace."

Another possibility is that all efforts to find her have failed because she does not exist. Or she goes by a different name. Los Angeles obstetrician Richard Neal, who investigates UFO events for a hobby, has been hot on Naomi's trail since 1990, when he learned her name from Friedman. In a recent conversation with Dennis, Neal told me, the mortician hinted that Naomi's last name wasn't really Selff.

"From what I gather," said Neal, "Selff was just a name to throw off the researchers." if so, the ploy has certainly succeeded.

Naomi by any other name aside, Dennis's version of the Roswell Incident is singular in regard to the atmosphere at the scene of the action. As he tells it, the Army base was jumping that July afternoon he first sensed something out of the ordinary. Dennis saw Army ambulances parked outside the hospital, chock-a-block full of strange purplish debris, and MPs milling about, even before he encountered the hubbub inside the hospital. But former public relations officer Walter Haut, Dennis's friend of 40 years, who was at his desk on the base that day, recalls no unusual activity whatsoever--except for Colonel Blanchard's asking him to issue a press release about a flying saucer.

As soon as I got to Roswel I visited Walter Haut, now 72, and to appearances extremely robust, clear-headed, and affable. I met him at the new International UFO Museum and Research Center, of which Haut is president--and, as I mentioned earlier, Dennis is vice president. This museum, right across from the courthouse on Main Street, opened its doors in October 1992. It is the second such institution to take advantage of tourist interest in the Roswell Incident. The older (by six months) UFO Enigma Museum, on the outskirts of town, features a life-size diorama of the crashed saucer, complete with flashing lights, soft-sculpture alien figures in the sand, and a rifle-toting store mannequin in an MP uniform;

I was pleased that Haut spent two hours talking to me, since he is about as busy as he can be making television and radio appearances, granting press interviews, presenting after-dinner talks, and running the new museum, which is open every afternoon, and has already welcomed more than 44,000 visitors from all 50 states and 54 foreign countries. On broadcasts, he said with a weary sigh, he has been asked everything "except whether I wear boxer shorts or jockey shorts." On occasion, the local police dispatcher awakens him in the night to check out a reported sighting by a concerned citizen.

"I think 99.9 percent of the time such things are explainable," said Haut, who recently had to convince a young policeman that what he identified as a UFO was actually the bright star Sirius--and that it appeared to be moving across the sky because the earth was turning.

I asked the obvious question: "Is Roswell the .1 percent?"

Long pause. I thought I saw Haut torn between his down-to-earth training as a navigator and bombardier, and his public duty as museum president.

"I would guess so," he conceded at length. "Maybe .005 percent."

On a Haut-guided tour of the premises, I was surprised to find two dozen copies of my book on radio astronomy, Is Anyone Out There?, prominently displayed in the gift shop, cheek by jowl with titles such as UFO Crash at Roswell, not to mention souvenir Frisbees, hats, T-shirts, key chains, string ties, earrings, and even guitar picks emblazoned with the features of dark-eyed aliens. (I bought three of these for my son, the gilt flying-saucer earrings for my daughter.

"Walter, do you recognize my name?" I asked him, pointing proudly to the book's cover.

"Well, I'll be," he replied. "I don't think we sell too many of those."

Undaunted, I asked Haut about the original press release, without which there would be no Roswell Incident even now--no matter how hard Stanton Friedman tried to breathe life into the event. The press release had generated the newspaper articles and wire stories that linked the U.S. Army Intelligence Office of the 509th to a flying saucer crash near Roswell. Those reports had given the Roswell Incident a greater reality than any other sighting report. Haut seemed to know this, too, for he had souvenir copies of the front pages of the Roswell Daily Record f rom July 8 and 9, 1947 on sale in the gift shop. They were the only genuine relics in the whole museum.

"All my information came from Colonel Blanchard," Haut reiterated.

"When Blanchard talked to you about what to say, did he use the words' flying saucer?'" I asked. "Did he seem to be frightened?"

"I've got an experience coming up in the latter part of March," Haut said by way of reply. "They're going to hypnotize me."

"They" turn out to be Randle and Schmitt--with help from the Center for UFO Studies, eager to plumb Haut's memory on the chance that anything else of note actually occurred.

"I do not remember the minute details," Haut told me, "I feel that I've had a pretty full life, and how the colonel passed that information on to me I cannot honestly tell you. I don't know whether he called me on the phone and said, `Haut, I want you to put out a press release and hand deliver it to the local news media. Here's what I want in it.'

"Or," Haut continued, "the adjutant might have called and said, `Haut, the old man's got a press release he wants you to pick up and take it around town.'"

When I"pressed Haut about the authorship of the release, he answered frankly: "I cannot honestly remember whether I wrote it, whether he had given me the information and told me `This is what I want in it.' It was not that big a production at that time, in my mind."

I couldn't believe that. Wouldn't a flying saucer have been a pretty spectacular find?

"Well, there were quite a few reports of flying saucers at that time," Haut reminded me. "I had a multitude of hats I wore. I had all kinds of things to do. I asked my wife, when all this [the renewed interest in Roswell in the mid 1980s] started, `Do you remember me coming home and saying anything about it?'"

Her reply, he recalled, was simply no.

Haut's spin on the events seems to take the wind out of the cover-up theory. In and around Roswell, however, people now believe in the cover-up conspiracy as much as any other part of the incident, sometimes mentioning "the government" and "the military" with rolling eyes and in hushed tones, as though they were the KGB. The clerk at the hotel where I stayed while in Roswell gave voice to this comparison: "We talk about the Russians," she said. "People should know the things that go on in our own country."

In books and on television specials, when the usual Roswell suspects are rounded up and trotted out, the likes of Lydia Sleppy and Frankie Rowe recite the threats they received from the FBI and the military police. Sleppy was trying to send a teletyped news report from the local radio station when the bureau interrupted her transmission and signaled her not to complete it. She obeyed and never complained till Friedman found her years later. Rowe tells how her father had been summoned to the crash site with other members of the Roswell Fire Department, and later told her he saw two body bags and one live very small being" near the wreckage of some kind of flying craft. She subsequently heard rumors that the being was being taken to the base hospital, and that it walked in on its own. She couldn't divulge any of this, however, she told Randle and Schmitt, because "The Air Force or the Army or the military came up to our house and told us we could never talk about this. As far as we were concerned, the whole incident never happened."

These were two of the "witnesses" the Air Force and I chose not to interview. The reason: Neither one had seen anything firsthand. In the annals of Roswell research, however, a person who has heard a rumor about the incident may attain the status of "witness."

A deft step in the cover-up purportedly occurred at Fort Worth Army Field, soon after Marcel landed there on July 8. According to Randle and Schmitt, Marcel spread out the debris on the floor of General Ramey's off ice, the better to see it all. Then Marcel and Ramey left the room briefly. By the time they reentered, accompanied by press photographers, the strange material had disappeared. In its place was a shredded weather balloon. Ramey, who has been accused of ordering this quick switch, summoned his weather officer, Irving Newton, to identify the weather balloon as a weather balloon. Then Ramey fielded all the reporters' questions so that Marcel didn't get to say a word.

In a telephone interview with Newton, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, General Ramey's weatherman assured me that nobody had pulled a fast one on Marcel.

"I remember Marcel chased me all around that room," Newton said. "He kept saying things like, `Look at how tough the metal is,' `Look at the strange markings on it.' He wouldn't have made such a big effort to convince me the thing was extraterrestrial if he thought we were looking at a weather balloon."

"But you knew it was a weather balloon with a radar wind target--a Rawin--no question?" I asked.

"I was adamant," Newton concurred. "I said I'd eat it with salt or pepper if it wasn't a Rawin."

Newton added that Marcel should never have been faulted for failing to recognize the balloon and its attachments, since he would not have come in contact with meteorological apparatus.

"There was nothing to it," Newton concluded of the debris. "I went back to work and forgot about it."

Something of a small cover-up seems to have taken place, however, sanctioned by the Air Force, in order to disguise the military purpose of the balloon.

On July 10, 1947, the day after the "emptying" of the Roswell saucer, a full explanation of the "flying disc" appeared in the Alamogordo News. It described a press briefing that had helped reporters understand what all the fuss was about in Roswell. The story included an elaborate description, plus photo, of the balloon-borne corner radar reflector that the Army believed had crashed on the sheep ranch. Elements of the description published in this article matched key points in the accounts of both Marcel and the rancher Brazel. To wit: The balloons trailed "paper triangles covered with tinfoil and held rigidly by small wooden strips."

Marcel had said the longest pieces of woodlike material were about three or four feet. The article said, "These corner reflectors . . . are about 48 inches across." Marcel had found something porous on the debris field, and everything lightweight. "It is very light and is towed by a synthetic rubber balloon made of neoprene," the article offered.

Such devices were being launched at Alamogordo and all over the nation, the article continued, for radar target practice. Thus the article gave the impression that the balloons were as common as kites.

In reality, however, the particular balloon equipment the Air Force now says landed at Roswell as part of the top-secret Project Mogul was not at all common. It was a train of 23 meteorological balloons in two 650-foot-high strings that were, in essence, a forerunner of today's spy satellites. It belonged to an experimental effort to monitor nuclear bomb tests from the air. Everything about Project Mogul, the Air Force said in its recent report, was classified top secret with the highest priority--Priority 1A, on a par with the ultimate hush-hushedness of the Manhattan Project. And although Project Mogul ceased in 1950, after just four years of operation, it retained its top-secret status until the early 1970s. Even its name was a secret.

"I didn't know till three years ago it was called Mogul," confessed Charles B. Moore, professor emeritus of atmospheric physics at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, who served in the New York University part of the project as its engineer. Whatever the name. of the project, its raison d'etre, according to Moore, was the "tremendous concern" on the part of the United States that the Soviets were developing nuclear weapons for use against us, much like the ones that had ended the war with Japan in just eight days. Mindful of that danger, scientists in the Long Range Detection Program eventually known as Project Mogul), tried to eavesdrop on the world for the telltale sounds of clandestine bomb tests.

Moore believes that both Blanchard and Ramey were ignorant of the program when they made their public comments about the weather balloonal--though they were probably informed after the fact. For this reason, Moore said, neither one of them should be accused of participation in a cover-up.

"If you see a bus and you say it's a bus," Moore explained to me, "it's still a bus--even if it's being used to haul concrete."

The particular piece of Project Mogul that sparked the Roswell Incident, Moore thinks, was a test flight launched from Alamogordo on June 4, 1947. History of the project goes like this: The NYU group had tried to monitor an explosion at Helgoland, an island off the German coast, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. But when high winds prevented the launch of the monitoring balloon from Bethlehem, the Army Air Force scientists moved the operation to Alamogordo Where they planned to track the balloons using the radar. To aid in the tracking, the NYU group took with them some special radar targets that had never been used before in New Mexico. One of the interesting features of these new targets is that they were reinforced with Scotch tape on which a pinkish-purple abstract flower design had been printed. Reportedly, the first targets with the new design had failed when they were flight-tested near the end of WWII, so a quick fix was devised for the later targets, using the only tape immediately available.

The first balloon train launched from Alamogordo was NYU Flight #4. Apparently, according to radar signals, it was lost over the town of Arabela, New Mexico, about 70 miles northeast of Alamogordo. Flight 5, launched on June 5, 1947, was tracked as well. Military records show that this flight ascended to 60,000 feet and--then landed 26 miles east of Roswell.

The runic designs on the tape seem to answer the longstanding question about the pastel-colored markings on the original debris--Marcel's hieroglyphics, which had been described by other witnesses as "Chinese writing," "figures," "numbers in a column that didn't look like the numbers we use at all," and "different geometric shapes, leaves, and circles."

Credit for first tying the latter-day Roswell Incident to Project Mogul goes to independent researcher Robert Todd of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Todd, originally a believer in UFOs, has abandoned 20 years' work as a Urologist in the wake of his discovery

"I'm satisfied with Mogul as the solution," Todd told me. "I don't think Jesse Marcel had ever seen a radar target."

The Air Force, giving first credit where it's due to Todd, also acknowledges that Glenn Dennis confidante Karl Pflock, much to his credit as a researcher, independently came to the same Mogul-Roswell conclusion. Let the flowered tape fall where it may, Pflock still thinks Glenn Dennis is the real glue holding the incident together. Because in Pflock's scenario, the UFO that crashed and killed its alien crew may have collided with the ill-fated Mogul balloon--or went out of control while trying to avoid a collision.

"Whatever the exact circumstances," Pflock concludes in his report, "an encounter between some sort of crewed vehicle and one of Charlie Moore's unwieldy monsters may have brought both down."

In other words, Mogul is not enough to account for the full-blown Roswell Incident. Thus the Air Force report, and the Times page-one story that announced it, have already been dismissed out of hand as "garbage" (Friedman's word) by aficionados of Roswell.

"I just have one comment about it," said Walter Haut, repeating to me what he'd already told the Times: "All they've done is given us a new balloon."

But I had a higher opinion of the Air Force investigation. It was clearly written and internally consistent. And when I questioned Lieutenant James McAndrew, the historian whose research supports the findings, he was more forthcoming than I could have hoped, and had more knowledge at his military fingertips than in all the books by Friedman, Randle, and Schmitt.

"About Frank Kaufmann," McAndrew interjected as politely as he could. "He has no records at St. Louis." McAndrew was referring to the National Personnel Records Center, the repository of all past and present military personnel records (the place where Omni ultimately tracked down the five "missing" Roswell nurses). If Kaufmann wasn't on file there, then either his records had been destroyed in a fire that ravaged the place 22 years ago--or he never really served in the Army. The fact is," Kaufmann declares, "I did serve and was honorably discharged in October of 1945."

It didn't matter to me any more whether Kaufmann had ever worn a uniform. All I wanted was to see his alleged crash site out near the new Trans-Western natural gas pipeline. Kaufmann had warned me I'd never find it myself, and never make it without four-wheel drive. All I had was an economy-class rental car and a broken tape recorder. So I was very happy to discover a flyer on the bulletin board in my motel, announcing that the impact site near Roswell, "Home of the UFO Incident of 1947," was available for viewing. The pink paper showed a picture of a flying saucer with a phone number to call for information and reservations.

I met Herbert "Hub" Corn the next morning, as arranged, at a mile marker on the highway leading north out of Roswell. Corn, a cordial young sheep rancher driving a workhorse pickup truck with two herding dogs in its bay, had agreed to chauffeur me to the spot for $15. He asked me to sign a release, drawn up for him by a lawyer, agreeing that I would not hold him responsible for injuries I might incur from, among other things, "snakes, scorpions, cactus, lizards, and other wild animals" on the Hub Corn Ranch or crash site.

"You're joking about the scorpions, right?" I asked him.

"They're not a problem this time of year," Hub replied, smiling. "And my dogs'll take care of the rattlesnakes."

As we bumped slowly over the not-quite-road to the site, Hub told me he hadn't realized he owned the spot where the saucer had landed until he met Randle and Schmitt, who took Kaufmann's word that this must be the place. He seemed interested but removed from the event. It had happened long before he was even born. And he struck me as too savvy a rancher, too close to his land, to think that a tourist attraction--even one of this magnitude--would ever replace his real work of raising lambs for market and shearing sheep of their wool. Still, he's been improving the road in anticipation of the tour buses that will no doubt come this summer, especially during the first week of July, which Roswell Mayor Tom Jennings has proclaimed "UFO Awareness Week." In another two years, when the fiftieth anniversary of the Roswell Incident rolls around, who knows what the traffic will bear?

Hub stopped on a flat stretch, as close as he could get to the hill where "it" had happened. Unlike the great mesas that poke their flat heads far above the desert floor, this elevation was not at all outstanding. It looked too low to get in any low-flying aircraft's way, so far as I could tell, although it might break the fall of a crashing one.

We walked through the chayote and prickly pear, talking about sheep prices and flying saucers, until we reached the dried-out stream bed at the foot of the hill.

"What we really need is some rain," said Hub.

I stared up and down Roswell's field of dreams. I let myself imagine the storied scene in all its glory. With pleasure, I found that in that spot, the incident raised a few goosebumps on my flesh, sent a shiver or two down my spine. Predictably, I didn't see anything to set this spit of sand apart from the rest of the desert-no vestige of wreckage, no markers where the bodies might have lain or the MPs could have thrown up their barricades. Yet, I felt happy and somehow privileged to be there, close to the heart of the mystery. "Even if this didn't happen," I remembered an author saying in the introduction to a novel, "it's true anyway."

Educating guesswork: fuzzy logic and the body - using fuzzy logic in medical diagnostics

by Steve Nadis

Computers have done marvels for accountants and bankers, architects and engineers. But can machines designed to calculate in the black-and-white language of numbers help physicians negotiate the decidedly gray world of medical diagnostics? They just might, some researchers hope, with the aid of some fuzzy logic.

Fuzzy logic is by no means brand new. Since its formal inception in the 1960s, fuzzy logic has been used to calculate everything from dirty laundry to subway braking systems. Lotfi Zadeh, the founding father of fuzzy logic, points out, however that "in its current practical applications, fuzzy logic serves to provide methodology for computing with words."

Computing images, such as mammograms, is the challenge now facing researchers who hope to harness the diagnostic potential of fuzzy logic. As Jim Keller, a computer engineer at the University of Missouri notes, "Interpreting images is a lot harder than controlling a valve."

Yet that is exactly what Keller and his colleagues are trying to do. Before turning to medical applications, he had spent 12 years writing fuzzy "target recognition" algorithms for the Air Force. To a computer, he says, spotting tanks among trees, buildings, and other obstacles is not that different from finding tumors or chromosome defects.

For now, University of Missouri investigators are applying fuzzy logic to two medical tasks: the examination of mammograms (breast x-rays) and genetic screening for cancer. The goal is to develop computer programs that can provide the blend of intuition and common sense that humans rely on to solve difficult problems. "Traditional algorithms force you to make decisions at each stage of processing, before all the evidence is available," Keller says. "Fuzzy algorithms allow you to carry the uncertainty longer It gives you a way of delaying decisions until you have more information." This approach makes sense to Bill Caldwell, laboratory director at the university's Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, because it approximates the way doctors make decisions: "We tend to evaluate various factors, trying to defer final judgment until all the facts are in."

Caldwell believes that computers should be able to evaluate mammograms more objectively, and perhaps more thoroughly, than humans. The first step is to digitize the image. The computer then calculates the size, shape, density, and border contrast of a mass--factors which can indicate whether it is malignant or benign. Everything is a matter of degree, which is where fuzzy logic comes in. Tumors, for instance, are not perfectly jagged or perfectly smooth. "You can calculate deviations from a smooth line and put a number on it," Caldwell says. "The ultimate hope is that a computer might be able to spot signs that are too subtle for the human eye to detect. This is important, because the sooner you catch breast cancer, the greater your chance of curing the patient."

He and Keller are also trying to automate genetic screening processes that are now extremely tedious. Technicians today have to spend hours peering through microscopes, trying to spot abnormalities on specific genes of specific chromosomes that could lead to cancer. In particular, they look for amplifications (extra copies of genes) and deletions (missing copies of genes). These defects become apparent by staining the chromosome with colors. An excess of red, for example, may suggest an amplification of a tumor gene. The magnitude of the amplification is gauged by the amount of color, which is exactly the kind of problem fuzzy logic is designed to address. "Human experts rely on intuition, but fuzzy algorithms may provide more quantitative measures," Keller notes.

Jim Bezdek, a computer scientist at the University of West Florida, has no doubt that computers will become increasingly valuable clinical tools. "That doesn't mean doctors will turn control of their jobs over to computers," he says. Assuming he's right, computers will not be making medical decisions anytime soon. But given their ability to process vast amounts of data in an instant, these machines could fulfill a more modest objective: Fuzzy-logic computers may help doctors make more educated guesses--guesses that just might save more lives.

Ninth rock from the sun: researchers want to send spacecraft to Pluto - before it's too late

by Bill Lawren

It was both a death and a resurrection: In June 1993, astronomers finally ruled out the existence of Planet X--the ephemeral, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't "tenth planet." With the demise of Planet X, that old favorite Pluto regained its claim as the most distant of our neighborhood planets. Yet despite its now thoroughly established place in the solar pantheon, in many ways Pluto remains the most mysterious of the sun's children.

Hoping to unravel some of those mysteries, scientists are now mapping an ambitious plan to get an up-close look at Pluto and its moon, Charon. The mission--known as the Pluto Express--would entail sending a pair of spacecraft on an eight- to ten-year journey across the solar system, climaxing with an exquisitely organized frenzy of observation, measurement, and picture-taking as the two spacecraft whiz by Pluto at 12 miles per second.

The payoff from this first close encounter with Pluto could come in the form of answers to a number of questions that have been nagging scientists since the planet's discovery in 1930. First of all, they want to know where Pluto and Charon came from. The planet and its satellite don't look much like anything else in the solar system except Neptune's moon, Triton. Close-up measurements of their surface composition might provide valuable clues to their origins.

Flyby observation would also aid immeasurably in mapping Pluto's icy surface, providing clues to her geology and temperature. Scientists hope it will perhaps even reveal the presence of previously undiscovered satellites or a planetary ring system.

Equally important, flyby observation could also help determine the exact composition of Pluto's off-again, on-again atmosphere. As the planet moves away from the sun on its 248year journey around that star, its atmosphere freezes and, in effect, disappears. Then as it approaches the sun and warms up, the atmosphere emerges anew.

Therein lies the rub. Pluto is now moving away from the sun, so that by 2020 its atmosphere will most likely have virtually vanished. Among the information-hungry scientists planning the flyby, this creates a sense of urgency--a sort of cosmic deadline. "If we could send a spacecraft now," says astronomer Marc Buie of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, "we'd learn a tremendous amount about Pluto. But if we wait 20 or 30 years, we may find that the party's over. It'll be 150 years before there's an atmosphere again."

With this window of opportunity in mind, scientists planning the mission would like to see it launched by 1998. The problem, of course, is money. NASA administrators have let project leaders know that the original budget of $2 billion to $3 billion must be trimmed enormously. Now, says Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Rob Staehle, who is the preproject manager for the flyby, "we're thinking in the neighborhood of $300 million."

Staehle and his colleagues have scrambled to slash the mission's costs. They've brought in college students to do a significant portion of the hands-on work and are trying to enlist the aid of European countries in building some of the spacecraft instrumentation. And talk of a collaboration with the Russians, who might contribute at least one of the launch rockets, has grown increasingly serious.

The Russians might then piggy-back an instrument-laden "daughter" probe to be dropped off on an impact trajectory with Pluto, snapping pictures during its kamikaze dive to the surface.

But perhaps the most impressive cost-cutting effort lies in the ingenious microminiaturization of the spacecraft's scientific instruments. In fact, the biggest component--the radio dish antenna-measures only about 1.5 meters across, leading JPL scientists to liken the vehicles to "nuclear-powered woks." Researchers expect the total instrument package to weigh in at less than 20 pounds, unbelievably light compared to the half-ton and up heft of instruments on other planetary missions.

Still, given budget constraints and a space program badly tarnished by the Mars Observer failure, can the Pluto Express really get airborne? "I think so," Staehle says. "All the motions are in that direction."

After all, he asks, "what could be more challenging than going to the farthest, coldest, darkest planet in the solar system?"

Poetry for chemists

by Steve Nadis

"I wish to propose the following educational technique which should prove equally effective for Harvard [University] and Shreveport High School," Walker Percy wrote in his book, The Message in the Bottle. "I propose that English poetry and biology should be taught as usual, but that at irregular intervals, poetry students should find dogfishes on their desks and biology students should find Shakespeare sonnets on their dissection boards."

For the past 15 years, Dudley Herschbach has done something very similar in the basic chemistry classes he teaches at Harvard. Twice a year, he gives his students an unusual assignment, asking them to write a poem meditating on some of the big ideas--such as thermodynamics or quantum mechanics--introduced during the term. Herschbach offers the assignment partly out of a love for poetry and partly as a way to help students unwind. But there is a more serious agenda: Through poetry, he hopes to change people's attitudes about science itself.

"Students get the impression that they're learning a frozen body of dogma which allows little leeway for their own thinking," says Herschbach, co-recipient of the 1986 Nobel prize in chemistry. "This is sad because the actual doing of science is entirely different. Initially, you're not much concerned about getting. it right. When you're working on the frontiers of science, nobody knows what's right or wrong. You can keep getting it wrong, over and over again, and it's perfectly okay, because the truth waits patiently for you. It does not change. If you are persistent, you may eventually get there."

The most important thing, in both poetry and science, is not whether you're right or wrong, but whether you're asking an interesting question." The ultimate goal, he says, is to find something that gives us a new perspective and changes the way we look at the world.

Roald Hoffmann of Cornell University--another Nobel laureate in chemistry, as well as the author of two poetry collections--is driven by similar motives. "Poetry helps me understand the world in a way that's complementary to science," Hoffmann says. "It's just another way of getting at the essence of things." Although he cannot recall any instances where poetry directly influenced his scientific work, he has noticed striking parallels: "At a certain point, a poem seems to take on an existence of its own. Sometimes when I,m working on a theoretical problem, I get that very same feeling."

Herschbach, too, finds much in common between the two disciplines. "Poetry is close to science when you're launching something new," he says. "I always feel that when I'm struggling with the words and finally get something I like, I realize that it's been there all the time. There's this moment of recognition, the sense that this feels right."

He hopes that his chemistry students experience something like that while writing a poem. That experience, in turn, may give them a better feel for the practice of science. The fact is that many of his students have never tried to write a poem before and, therefore, have no idea how to go about it. "In science, too, we often don't know how to proceed at first," Herschbach says. "We grope along, run into dead ends, back up. and slowly find our way."

In all likelihood, he says, writing a poem comes closer to real science than anything these students have done before in science classes. "These students have to get beyond the idea that the subject is something that belongs to the authorities, the `establishment.' Unless they can get beyond that and begin to play around with ideas, rather than just memorizing formulas, they'll never make the transition to becoming a scientist who does interesting, original work." Science, he adds, requires a playful attitude--a mind open to all kinds of possibilities. "That's what poetry is all about--something vivid, unexpected, offering little delights and surprises along the way."

Chung Kuo. - book reviews

by Keith Ferrell

The construction of believable worlds is one of the particular challenges that science fiction offers writers. Not simply worlds that suspend our disbelief, but worlds that are also consistent to the very smallest of details.

In what may turn out to be the largest science-fiction series of all, David Wingrove has created an earth transformed--an earth become in many ways Chung Kuo, the Middle Kingdom (Chung Kuo is the ancient name for China.) In Wingrove's hands Chung Kuo has indeed come to cover the earth of the late twenty-second and early twenty-third centuries. The planet is dominated by China, and has been divided into seven regions, each ruled by a T'ang, or lord, whose power is inherited, and whose power is huge. Li Yuan, T'ang of Europe, is at the heart of the series.

Series may be a misnomer. Chung Kuo is more of a cycle of novels than a discrete series of adventures. Indeed, Wingrove's accomplishment may have more in common with, say, C. P. Snow's Strangers and Brothers than, say, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. This is not to say that Chung Kuo isn't SF. It most definitely is. But Wingrove's approach, his concerns, his narrative, and his narrative voice all draw as much upon the realistic tradition as upon the fantastic.

Chung Kuo thus far consists of five huge novels, with at least two more to come. Beginning with the unexpected ascent of Li Yuan to power, Wingrove guides his story--and his readers--through every level of his world. The sheer number of characters in the saga is staggering, and readers will come to appreciate the dramatis personae listing, as well as the glossary of Chinese words and phrases. A formal chronology would be helpful.

Wingrove nevertheless manages to make his characters distinct and memorable. Even minor figures have a past, have memories, dreams, ambitions. Their actions and interactions have ramifications that ripple and run throughout subsequent actions and interactions. They fall in love, have children who grow and become characters themselves. They rise from the depths of society--the Clay, in Chung Kuo's idiom--and they fall back. They live and die. Their deaths hurt. Perhaps Chung Kuo's closest analog is Le Comedie Humane rather than C. P. Snow.

Only occasionally does Wingrove's inventiveness let him down or the requirements of his plot force him into unfortunate corners. There have been perhaps one too many wild assassination scenes with narrow escapes. More rare are the moments when the cycle risks assuming the feel of a comic operetta conspiracy plot. These are blips, understand, in the overall pattern of Chung Kuo. The vast majority of the cycle's scenes and incidents, its motivating plots, are beautifully realized, and occasionally brilliantly so. Wingrove possesses a superb sense of the almost Brownian currents which drive slow political change from within, the speed with which those currents can be altered by chaos from without.

Like much science fiction, the series is about Change. On the largest level, Chung Kuo deals with the changes sweeping over the world. An Old Way is dying, with reformers, radicals, and conspirators vying to control the nature of the New. But Chung Kuo is equally concerned with the ways in which people change--and are changed--by events both beyond and within their control. Wingrove's world is memorable, but some of his characters are unforgettable.

And the novelistic building of the worlds of the human heart is an accomplishment vaster even than the construction of one of SF's most believable worlds. On every imaginable level, Chung Kuo is the achievement of a master world-builder.

Star witness: the mortician of Roswell breaks his code of silence - Glenn Dennis, a key witness in the alleged 1947 crash of a UFO near Roswell, NM - Interview

by Karl T. Pflock

It was back in junior high school in the small desert town of Roswell, New Mexico, that Glenn Dennis got his unusual start. "The teacher was going around the room asking us what we wanted to do for a living," Dennis recalls, "and I will never know why, but I said, `I want to be an undertaker.'" He got what he thought he wanted: All the girls laughed. But little did Dennis realize that this flip remark would seal his fate, determining his career (mortician) and thrusting him into national prominence as the key witness to the most notorious UFO case the world has ever known.

Indeed, teachers being what they were, Dennis was asked to write a report on undertaking. To his surprise, he found the subject fascinating. And soon after, in 1940, he began working part time at the Ballard Funeral Home while attending Roswell High School. After graduation, excluded from World War 11 military service because of a hearing loss, Dennis apprenticed as an embalmer at Ballard, working to put his twin sister through nursing school and to save enough money to attend the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, from which he graduated on December 22, 1946.

Shortly after returning to New Mexico and his job at Ballard, Dennis married and set up housekeeping in a cottage behind the funeral parlor. There, the 22-year-old Dennis was put in charge of the company's military contract work--ambulance and mortuary service for the Roswell Army Air Field (AAF), nearby.

Dennis was settling into his life as a "country funeral director" when, during the first week of July 1947, cowboy William W. ("Mac") Brazel moseyed into the Roswell office of Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox. He announced he had found a large amount of unusual debris on the ranch he managed about 75 miles northwest of town. The sheriff contacted authorities at Roswell AAF, and by noon of Tuesday, July 8, the base public relations department had rolled into high gear: The U.S. Army Air Force had recovered one of the mysterious "flying discs," the press release declared. The implication, bandied about in headlines around the world, was that military officers had recovered an extraterrestrial vehicle, "a flying saucer," to be exact. But hours later, at his Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters, Eighth Air Force commander Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey deflated the excitement: The alleged saucer was nothing more than the misidentified remains of a weather balloon and its radar target.

There the matter rested until the late 1970s, when UFO researchers Stanton T. Friedman and William L. Moore decided to take another look at the Roswell case, Their conclusion: The official denial was a cover-up. The Army Air Force had indeed recovered the remains of a flying saucer, just as originally announced. Even more startling was their claim that bodies of the craft's alien crew had been discovered and somehow spirited away by the military. This last, extraordinary claim gets its strongest backing from the testimony of Glenn Dennis, who, back in 1947, was the young mortician on call.

At the center of what is now considered the most controversial UFO story ever told, Dennis says that back in 1947 he was an innocent and reluctant player. He relates a story replete with the trappings of second-rate film noir: mysterious telephone calls, military strong-arm tactics, a secret autopsy of aliens, and a missing nurse who knew too much. In brief, he claims, after driving an injured airman to the base as part of his job as ambulance driver, he wandered into a top-secret military operation in which Air Force doctors were examining humanoids, or so it seemed. In fact, it became hard for him to escape that conclusion, he states, when an Air Force nurse, also unwittingly swept up in the covert operation, told all (to him), drew some pictures of the alien creatures, and then promptly disappeared.

Always gracious, Dennis until recently has tried to accommodate virtually everyone. Now, however, tired of the intrusions, frustrated by what he says are published distortions of his recollections, and angered by the attacks and ridicule of skeptics, he avoids the media and most UFO investigators.

Dennis has agreed to break his silence of recent years at last, however, in an interview for Omni with writer and UFO researcher Karl T. Pflock, who is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and intelligence officer. For those fascinated by the Roswell case, it is possible to read the testimony of the star witness for the first time here, without benefit of anyone else's spin, pro or con.

Omni: How did you first become involved in the events now known as the Roswell incident?

Dennis: I received a phone call from the Roswell Army Air Field mortuary officer on July 7 sometime after lunch, around one-thirty. I have no idea who it was, but he asked if we had any baby caskets, three foot six or four foot, hermetically sealed. I told him we kept a four foot. Then he asked how many we had in stock. I told him we had two, He asked how long it would take to get more. I told him, if we called Texas Coffin Company in Amarillo by three o'clock, we could have them by Hill Truck Line at six the next Morning.

Omni: Did he tell you how many he wanted?

Dennis: No. I just said, "Hey, what's going on?" And he said, "We're just having a conference here about the future. In case something happens, we may need a lot of them."

Omni: Did the call seem unusual to you?

Dennis: No, I didn't think anything about it until later. We got that kind of inquiry all the time.

Omni: But then you got another call.

Dennis: About forty-five minutes later the same man called back. He wanted to know about embalming fluid: what chemicals it contained, what it would do to bodies that had been lying out in the open. Would it change the stomach contents? Would it change the tissue, the blood? He also wanted to know about our-procedures for removing bodies from a site and for preparation of bodies that had been lying out in the elements and might have been shredded by predators.

Omni: Did he say they had bodies in that condition?

Dennis: No, just that the information was for future reference. He also wanted to know, if they transported a body under those conditions and without embalming, how they should do it. Back in those days, we didn't have air-conditioned hearses or a pathologist in Roswell. So I told him I would go to Sunset Creamery or Clardy's Dairy and buy all the dry ice I could and pack them in it. I also told him, if he had a "hot one"--that is, if he didn't know the cause of death--they'd better contact a pathologist and damn sure do what he told them. I think I suggested they try Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC, because I remembered bodies of local boys who died in the service coming to us through there. I also remember telling him very politely, "You give us the specifications, you tell us how you want the bodies prepared, and we'll prepare them according to your specifications, not ours."

Omni: What happened next?

Dennis: A good forty-five minutes to an hour later, we got an ambulance call for an airman hurt on a motorcycle, He had a bad laceration on his forehead, and I think he had a fractured nose. I put a tourniquet on his forehead, put him in the front seat of the combination hearse-ambulance with me, and drove him to the base. In emergencies like that, we turned the red light on about a block from the gate, and they waved us through.

Omni: After you got on the base, what did you do?

Dennis: I went directly to the infirmary. When I swung into the driveway, there were three old Army field ambulances backed up at an angle at the ramp where I usually parked, and two MPs were standing in between. So I drove around to the end and parked, and the airman and I got out and walked up the ramp behind the ambulances.

Omni: What did you see as you walked up the ramp?

Dennis: When we got to the first ambulance, one of the rear doors was open--and when you're in the business, naturally you're going to look. I saw something in there that looked like half of a canoe, leaning up against the side near the open door. It was standing on end, and I was very close to it. It was about three, three and a half, maybe four feet high. All around the bottom of this thing, all over the floor, was a lot of wreckage. It was all sharp, and as best I can remember, it was like broken glass. Some of the pieces and the "canoe" looked like stainless steel that had been put in high heat. It shaded from very shiny to pink, to red, to brown, then black.

Omni: Were there any markings?

Dennis: I remember markings on the canoe-shaped thing, around the outer edge, along the curve, and down one side. They were about four inches high, darker than the background, and clearly were deliberately put there.

Omni: You have said the symbols reminded you of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Dennis: When I was in mortuary school, we studied Egyptian mummification and burial practices and customs. The bodies they'd pick up off the streets went on a funeral barge, which was pushed out to sea and set afire. There was always a decoration on the barge's side, a white swan or a panther. After I had a chance to think, I realized what I saw resembled the decorations they put around the necks of those animal figures.

Omni: Did you see anything in the other ambulances?

Dennis: I saw the same kind of wreckage in the second one. The doors were closed on the third ambulance, so I couldn't see what was in it.

Omni: Did the injured soldier see the material, too, and did the MPs do anything about your snooping?

Dennis: The MPs didn't even look at me, as far as I know. They may even have been gone by then. It wasn't like they were there guarding it. The airman saw the wreckage, too, but he was more concerned with his injuries. I followed him into the infirmary.

Omni: Didn't you have to sign him in, do some paperwork to get paid?

Dennis: To get paid, you had to get a voucher signed by whoever was on the front desk, but they took him away, and I never did get his name down or anything signed. It wasn't a big deal because the ambulance business was so minor, more of a goodwill kind of thing.

Omni: After he was whisked away, what did you do?

Dennis: I started down the hall to the lounge area to get a Coke. There was a lot of commotion, a lot of officers--two or three of them women--buzzing up and down the hall, but I didn't know any of them. There was an officer, a captain--I remember seeing his bars--leaning next to an open side door I think he was talking to someone through the door. I went up to him and said, "Sir?" He turned around, and I said, "It looks like we had a plane crash. Do I need to go in and get ready for it?"

Omni: The captain was not someone you knew.

Dennis: I'd never seen him before. He looked at me and said, "Who in the hell are you?" I remember that real well. He was real snotty. I told him I was from the funeral home, that we had a contract with the base, and said again, "Looks like you had a crash." He said, "Don't move from here, don't take one step," then walked away. After a few minutes he came back with two MPs, strangers to me. He told them, "Get this man off the base. He's off limits. You drive him back to town, make sure he gets back there." So they started to walk me back down the hall.

Omni: Did they physically manhandle you as has been reported?

Dennis: Oh, no. They weren't roughing me up or anything. They were real nice. But then we'd only gone a few feet when a voice said, "Bring that SOB back here." We turned around and there was this big, redheaded captain, about six three or four, with a real short crew cut and the meanest eyes I'd ever seen, like the devil himself looking at me. He had with him a black sergeant who was holding a clipboard.

Omni: Where did they come from?

Dennis: Somebody went and got them, I guess. Anyway, the captain came up to me and poked a finger in my chest and said, "Look, mister, you don't go into Roswell and start a bunch of rumors that there's been a crash. Nothing has happened here, you understand?" And he kept poking me. Of course, I was getting a little upset. I said, "I'm a civilian and you can't do anything to me. You can go to hell!" That's when he jabbed me again and said, "Somebody will be picking your bones out of the sand." Then the sergeant said, "Sir, he would make better dog food." So I popped off at him, too. Then the captain said, "Get the son of a bitch out of here," and the MPs started taking me back down the hall again. That's when I saw the nurse.

Omni: This was your friend, an Army nurse assigned to the base infirmary?

Dennis: Right. She came out of a supply room to our left, right in front of us, and there were two men who came out behind her. She had a towel over her face. She looked up and saw me, and she screamed, "Glenn! Get out of here as fast as you can!" She was sobbing, gasping for air, and she went on across the hall, through another door, The two men followed her. They Were gulping for air, too, and looked like they were about to vomit.

Omni: Did you smell or see anything that might have made them sick?

Dennis: I don't remember smelling or seeing anything strange. When the MPs got outside with me, one of them turned around and said, "What the hell was that all about?" We went right back to the funeral home, and they warned me to stay away from the base for the rest of the day.

Omni: What did you do then?

Dennis: I picked up the phone and tried to call back out to the infirmary and the nurses' quarters to find out what was going on, but I couldn't get through. Nobody answered,

Omni: When you went home, did you say anything to your wife about this?

Dennis: No, I didn't talk about it to anybody, until my dad gave me no choice. Let me tell you something. I never mixed my family or my home with the funeral business. I never discussed a body, a funeral, names, anything. When I left the funeral home, I had a different life. But the next morning, around six o'clock, Sheriff George Wilcox, a good friend of my dad's, went to my folks' house with one of his deputies. George said he thought I was in a lot of trouble out at the base. He said, "You tell Glenn, if he knows anything, to keep his mouth shut. They want all your kids' names, they want to know when they were born, and they want to know where they are now." Dad said Wilcox was really shaken up, a basket of eggs. My dad got in his car and came to our house by the funeral home as fast as he could. He almost knocked our door down and bounced me out of bed. It wasn't very much after 6:00 a.m. I got up and Dad and I went outside and I finally told him what happened, just like it happened. At first he said our government wouldn't do a thing like that. Then he got to thinking about it. He said I'd never lied to him--but twice when I was a kid, and he about killed me--so it must be true. Then he got very angry. But he said he wouldn't talk about it because he didn't want me to get killed.

Omni: Did you continue to try to contact the nurse?

Dennis: I called out there and finally got through, but didn't get her. They said she wasn't on duty. Later that morning she called me, about ten-thirty or so. She said she knew I'd been trying to reach her, but that she'd been very sick. Then she said, "But I have to talk to you." She was crying.

Omni: Why do you think she came to you instead of someone else?

Dennis: Because she'd seen me at the hospital and thought I knew something, I suppose. Anyway, I suggested the officers' club, which was only about a block from her quarters. She agreed, and I drove straight out there. She was standing outside waiting for me, and we walked in and went to the bar because the dining room was closed. The place wasn't busy, but we took a table in a back corner. I asked her if she wanted anything to eat, and she said she didn't. She was crying, almost hysterical, and sick to her stomach and ash white. She was in uniform, but really disheveled. She wanted to know what happened to me. I told her what they did to me, but I didn't know why. She said, "Well, I'll tell you why." She said she found out later that all the regular infirmary staff wasn't supposed to report for duty. Somehow she didn't get the order, so she went to work as usual and went into the supply room to get her day's supplies. When she did, there were the two men, doctors, in surgical masks and everything. There were two gurneys, and there was a body bag on each one. Both were unzipped. The doctors were at one gurney, with the bag folded back. There were two small, mangled bodies in the bag. She said the smell was the most horrible, most gruesome smell she'd ever smelled in her life. The doctors said something about it being toxic, but I can't say what that means.

Omni: Did the nurse try to leave?

Dennis: She didn't get a chance. She said they ordered her to come over and told her, "We have to have some help. Lieutenant, you have to take notes for us, write down what we're jooking at, what we tell you." She wrote down everything they said as they examined the bodies.

Omni: Did the nurse know who the doctors were or where they were from?

Dennis: I asked her, and she said she'd never seen them before. She told me she heard one say to the other that they'd have to do something when they got back to Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Omni: Did she describe the bodies?

Dennis: She said a hand was severed from one of the mangled bodies, and they turned it over on a long forceps. There were only four fingers. They had little pads on the tips with what looked like tiny suction cups. Their mouths were only slits, one inch wide. There were no teeth, only a firm piece of tissue like cartilage. One thing that caught her attention was where we had only one ear canal, they had two, but they had no earlobes. The nose was concave, with two orifices, but no bridge. The eyes were very, very large and sunken so far back in you couldn't tell what they looked like. If the bodies had lain out for some time, the eyes probably ruptured, but she said the bone structure showed they were large. She said the heads were disproportionately large, and the doctors noted the skull structure was like a newborn baby's: flexible. She also said the bone from the shoulder to the elbow was much shorter than the one from the elbow to the wrist.

Omni: Did she say anything about the more intact body.

Dennis: She said that, as the doctors examined the mangled ones, they would go over and look at the other body, comparing things. It was about three and a half to four feet tall. She said she looked at it, and it was horrible, and she remembered one of the doctors said the features reminded him of those of a 100-year-old ancient Chinese. Then they all got sick and had to leave the room. That's when we met.

Omni: She took notes during the examination. Did she also make drawings?

Dennis: No. She did that that night. She went home and took a shower, and some other nurse helped her, washed her hair and everything. Evidently, the smell was so strong on her they couldn't stand it, either.

Omni: Why did she decide to make the drawings?

Dennis: She made the drawings for me--but only after I'd made a solemn oath I'd never reveal her connection to them. She wanted to know if I saw the same things she saw. She asked me if they brought the--I think she called them "creatures"--to the funeral home. I told her I hadn't seen the bodies, that they hadn't been taken to Ballard's.

Omni: What did she make the drawings on and with what? Were there any notations?

Dennis: They were in pencil, and she did them on the back of a prescription pad. She said she didn't have anything else to write on.

Omni: What did she do with the drawings after she showed them to you?

Dennis: She gave them to me. She said she wanted me to have them. I think maybe it was for her protection. She said, "Guard them with your life."

Omni: Did she have any information about what became of the bodies?

Dennis: She said there was a rumor they had been moved to a hangar, where the autopsies had been finished that night. The head nurse, I think it was a Captain Wilson, told her they were flown out to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Omni: Do you remember anything else she told you that seemed important?

Dennis: The doctors said there was nothing in the medical textbooks to cover what they had. She also overheard them saying the bodies were found with or in some wreckage two or three miles from where everything else was located.

Omni: How did your meeting end?

Dennis: She began to feel much worse. I drove her back to the nurses' quarters about noon, and that was it.

Omni: You left the base with her drawings and notes. What did you do with them then, and what became of them?

Dennis: Well, I hid them for a long, long time, then put them in my personal and legal files in the funeral home basement. When I finally left Ballard's in 1962, I left my files behind--shouldn't have, but I did. When UFO researcher Stan Friedman and I went to Ballard's to look for them a few years ago, the cabinets were still there, but empty. All my files were missing. The manager there now told us that he and another man, Joe Lucas, cleaned out everything; he said Lucas hauled it all to the town dump.

Omni: Returning to 1947, after meeting with the nurse, you had no doubt there was something very much out of line going on. When did you see the newspaper with the captured saucer story?

Dennis: About six or seven that night I went in to write an obituary, and the paper was lying on the desk at Ballard's. I picked it up, saw the headline, and thought, "Maybe that's what she's gotten into!"

Omni: Did you discuss the meeting and what the nurse told you with your father or anyone else?

Dennis: I never mentioned her, period.

Omni: When did you try to contact her?

Dennis: I kept trying to get ahold of her. I tried for two or three days, and they said she wasn't there; then I went out to the base on call, maybe a week or so later, and Captain Wilson told me she had been shipped out the same afternoon I last saw her.

Omni: July 8. Did you hear from the nurse later?

Dennis: About six weeks, maybe two months later I got a typed letter. The envelope was addressed to Ballard Funeral Home, not me personally. The letter was to "Dear Glenn" and had no signature, just her typed name. It gave a New York APO number [overseas military mailing address] where I could write her. It said she was in England, didn't have time to write, but that we'd correspond and she wanted to know what happened to me. To tell you the truth, I don't think it came from her. It didn't sound like her. I think somebody wrote it to try to find out what I knew.

Omni: Did you respond?

Dennis: I wrote saying I was glad to hear she was okay and, when she was ready, to write back. Another six weeks or two months later that letter came back. Stamped on the front was "Return to Sender," and down at the bottom, stamped in red, was the word "Deceased."

Omni: What did you do with the letters?

Dennis: I kept them in the same file as the drawings and notes I made on what she told me, in a big envelope marked "Personal." A long time later, I told Captain Wilson about the returned letter and asked her if anybody ever heard what happened to the nurse. She said the rumor was she had gone down on a plane on a training mission and was killed with some other nurses, but you researchers say there's no record of such an accident.

Omni: Right, several careful investigations have turned up nothing. And now even you seem to think the nurse didn't die in 1947. When and why did you change your mind, and have you tried to locate her since?

Dennis: It was just a few years ago. I'd always hoped she was alive, but it wasn't until I learned from [UFO researchers] Don Berliner, Kevin Randle, and Don Schmitt that there was no record of a plane crash like the one she was supposed to have been in, that I really thought she might still be alive. I haven't tried to contact her because the way we left it the last time we talked was she'd contact me when she was ready. Of course, I don't know where to find her anyway.

Omni: Many questions have been raised about your relationship with the nurse, even that you and she considered marriage.

Dennis: That's bull! I was married, and she and I were just friendly acquaintances, nothing else. I wasn't after her or anything. When all this happened, she'd been at the base only about three months, in the service about seven. She was about 23 and real cute-like a small Audrey Hepburn, with short black hair, dark eyes, and olive skin-but kind of a loner, shy, didn't fit in. But I talked with her whenever I saw her at the infirmary, so I got to know a little about her.

Omni: Why do you think the nurse and everything about her seem to have vanished?

Dennis: This is just my surmise, but I think when she was transferred, they discharged her and arranged for her to join an order, enter a convent. Everything was covered up with the church's help.

Omni: What do you think really was behind what happened to you in July 1947? What was really going on?

Dennis: Like I've said all along, I have no idea. All I know is what happened to me and what the nurse told me. The whole thing is weird. If someone else were telling my story, I wouldn't believe it.

Omni: If you really wanted to keep this story under wraps, why did you start talking to UFO investigators in the first place? How did they even know you existed?

Dennis: I told you about Joe Lucas tossing out my files. I've heard he told someone about a Ballard's co-worker of his being involved, without mentioning a name. This was about 1985, I think, and he's dead now. Anyway, if this is true, then maybe he found my file with the nurse's drawings when he was throwing things out. Maybe this is how my story started to leak out and Friedman eventually found me. I really don't know. Anyway, he did find me, and I agreed to talk with him because Unsolved Mysteries was using him as a technical adviser, so I thought he knew what he was doing. I wanted to have some verification of my story, but without any publicity or problems for the nurse, and I thought it might be important.

Omni: Some of those skeptical of your story have pointed out inconsistencies in the various tellings.

Dennis: When I talked to Friedman, that was the first time I'd tried to recall the whole experience in 40 years or more. I was remembering out loud, and I made some mistakes. It's hard to get such old memories straight. Things got mixed up in later interviews, too. Interviews still make me nervous, and reporters are always getting things down wrong. What i've told you here is my story, take it or leave it,

Omni: You have provided some researchers with what you say is the nurse's name. Why?

Dennis: I would like to know what happened to her and have someone verify my story.

Omni: It has been alleged you made up the name you gave researchers.

Dennis: No, no way. I've never done that.

Omni: Others have suggested that you provided the wrong name, or possibly, a misspelled name, due to imperfect memory. Is this possible?

Dennis: Yes, I guess it's possible I don't have her name quite right.

Omni: Several researchers are attempting to locate the nurse under the name Naomi Maria Selff, which has been published by UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass. is this her true name?

Dennis: I promised her I would never reveal her real name, so I can't confirm or deny. If she's still alive, I don't want her to get in any more trouble. I don't want her or her family to be bothered, either.

Omni: Anyone who could conceivably confirm your story seems to be dead. Obviously, as long as you refuse to provide the nurse's name so it can be fully and openly checked out, people will continue to consider your story suspect. Doesn't this concern you?

Dennis: It doesn't make a damn bit of difference to me. They can believe it or not.

Omni: Would you be willing to give Omni the nurse's true name so the magazine can attempt to locate her?

Dennis: To answer the first question: definitely not, and I've already said why If I ever got proof she was dead, I probably would make her name known or confirm it.

Omni: If you could do anything over again with respect to your involvement in this incident, what would you do?

Dennis: I would never tell anybody anything about it! I'd just keep quiet and go about my business. I resent being put on the defensive, ridiculed, and called a liar for telling the truth about what happened-especially by people who just take potshots with no facts to back them up.

Omni: If the nurse or some member of her family or someone who knows her is reading this, what would you like to say to her or them?

Dennis: Whenever she is ready to contact me, I would like to hear from her. I really hope she's okay.

Networking the brain: tomorrow's computers in a lab dish today - research on neural networks

by Bennett Daviss

Into a small recording chamber, Guenter Gross slips a glass plate etched with microcircuits and randomly seeded with a few hundred neurons from a mouse embryo brain. In the chamber, 64 tiny electrodes register electrical blips; spontaneously, the cells begin to communicate with each other. "And now," says the German-born neuroscientist, "we listen."

As the director of the Center for Network Neuroscience at the University of North Texas, Gross has been eavesdropping on these interchanges since 1987. "The whole area of network research is still a black void of neuroscience," he points out. "We have much information about the whole brain, thanks to MRI and PET devices, and decades of psychology. We also have increasing data about the individual cell. But in between, on the network level--where small groups of neurons actually make things happen--we still know relatively little." Plying a favorite analogy, he adds: "An insect with a neural volume no larger than a pinhead can outclass digital computers in sensorimotor integration and pattern recognition. The exploitation of this biological mystery is not just a scientific exercise, but is of crucial importance to our entire technological infrastructure"--from computer design to medical therapies--and ultimately might well lead to an understanding of the mechanisms of intelligence.

Gross and nine fellow CNNS researchers have learned to keep cells alive in culture for up to 10 months, entrain them to a stimulus, and even predict which electrical patterns will develop among them by reading random signals from individual cells. The investigators study everything from how networks organize themselves to what Gross euphemistically calls "fault tolerance"--killing a network one neuron at a time to learn what proportion of the group's cells must die before the network ceases to function. They test the effects of drugs or microsurgical techniques on network performance; and they constantly devise more sensitive and accurate ways to assess networks, subtle dynamic electrical activity.

But further, the lab team seeks to penetrate the fundamental secrets of the tiny cell clusters. "We're seeing major behaviors unique to small networks and not to single cells," Gross adds. "That's critical, because everything we are--the A to Z of all intelligence, and even of all sensorimotor processing above the jellyfish level--is locked up in spatiotemporal patterns that originate with and are sustained by these small groups of neurons. We are moving farther away from the old engineering models that say if you connect a wire from A to B, it means something, and if you connect it from A to C you get a completely different result. The neural system is not that deterministic. There's a tremendous amount of redundancy built in, probabilistic interactions, and switching of interconnections. It's a very plastic system with microcircuitry that's constantly changing, right under your nose."

Computer engineers are paying close attention. "In designing neural networks, they had only the single-cell model," Gross says. "Now their work has slowed because their model is incomplete. They know how to mimic a neuron, but not the system." Gross collaborates with several software and computer designers. "Within a few years, the emergent properties could easily be applied to computer design," Gross says, "leading to very plastic computers--and to an understanding of the mechanisms of human intelligence."

Gross's experiments in "fault tolerance" may lead to new ways to protect people. "We know little about the effects of cumulative insults to the brain. A doctor might say, 'this pilot took a hit in the head yesterday, but his neurological tests are normal, so we'll let him fly, However, there's no way to know how much of a second insult is necessary to bring that neural system to catastrophic failure. That's another part of what we're working on."

Digging up dinosaurs: a family vacation

by Chris Krejlgaard

Hop in the car, strap on your seat belt, and brush up on your prehistoric reptile names. This is one family vacation you'll never forget. It's a dinosaur hunt. All you'll need is a little time, a road map, and a bit of imagination. Dinosaur fossils are scattered all over North America, and if you're willing to get your hands dirty you might just dig up some bones.

The first stop takes you off Interstate 91 in Connecticut, where hundreds of dinosaur footprints have been found. Some prints found at Dinosaur State Park may have belonged to Coelophysis, a long-necked carnivorous dinosaur which hunted in packs like wolves. Other tracks may have belonged to the mysterious Eubrontes, a track species similar to Dilophosaurus, a carnivorous, ornamental crested dinosaur usually found in Arizona. When the exhibit center's 122-foot geodesic dome reopens in November, you can see a full-size reconstruction of a Dilophosaurus, as well as segments of the trackway and a number of other fossils. Remind your parents to pack cooking oil, paper towels, 10 pounds of plaster of Paris, and a bucket, and you can make a cast of a Eubrontes track to take home as a souvenir

The open road beckons as you head 2,000 miles west to the outdoor museum at Dinosaur Ridge in Denver In 1877 the dinosaur rush west started here with the discovery of the first Stegosaurus fossils. Stegosaurus was an armor-plated herbivorous dinosaur which weighed over five tons and was from 20 to over 30 feet long. You can also see fossils of Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, and tracks of Iguanodons. After looking at the fossils and casts of over 350 tracks, you can walk in the 100-million-year-old footprints of the dinosaurs.

Less than an hour away from Dinosaur Ridge is the Morrison Natural History Museum. It features a display of dinosaur eggs, models, and footprints, as well as a digging pit where you can unearth fossils and identify what you've found. Unfortunately, you have to leave the specimens in the pit for future diggers. You can even help local fossil hunters remove Stegosaurus bones from sandstone blocks taken from Dinosaur Ridge.

Turn on the heater and bundle up because the next leg of the trip takes you across the border into Canada. Since its discovery more than a century ago, over 300 dinosaur remains have been removed, and 150 complete skeletons have been found in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. In fact, the entire area proved so rich in fossils that the park was declared a World Heritage Site-meaning it has universal value. Of the 35 different species found in the park, the most common are the duck-billed and the horned dinosaurs. Tour the park via bus or, if you need to stretch your legs, hike into the natural preserve or along the trackways.

Two hours north you'll find the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, named for Joseph Burr Tyrrell, who discovered the first dinosaur fossils here in 1884. For a hands-on adventure, roll up your sleeves and step into the museum's Nova Discovery Room. It features a simulated bone bed where you can dress like a paleontologist and chip away at fossils, or view smaller specimens through a microscope. During July and August, you can take part in Day Digs at a nearby dinosaur quarry The museum provides the equipment and lunch, you provide the enthusiasm.

Take a break from hiking and digging and stop by Science North in Ontario. Built with kids in mind, their recently expanded fossil laboratory contains a number of 430-million-year-old fossils of coral, braciopods, and nautiloids. Learn how to uncover fossils through acid etching, and prepare and identify them after they've been uncovered. The center also features two examples of living fossils: the fire salamander and the leopard gecko. These animals have been around since the days of the dinosaurs. After working with fossils, explore the rest of the science center. There are exhibits on everything from the biosphere to the infosphere.

The great thing about dinohunting vacations is that everyone wins. Your parents will love the educational value, and the fact that they'll be able to set their own itinerary. You'll love the recreational value, and the fact that you'll be able to dig all day and not get yelled at. For information on museums and fossil sites in your area contact your state's department of conservation or the Dinosaur Society at 800-346-6366. This nonprofit group publishes the First Annual Guide to Vacationing with the Dinosaurs, which is available for a $5 donation.

The science of Star Trek - includes related articles

by Denny Atkin

There's an area of science that's studied enthusiastically by people the world over. Kids research it on their own with no prodding from teachers. Adults gather in groups to discuss recent developments. Hundreds of messages are posted daily to the Internet and online networks talking about the latest discoveries publicized on national television. Books dealing with this science and its history have solve over a million copies in recent years. Articles have appeared in scholarly journals discussing it, and science conferences have devoted entire session tracts to it.

Yet this science didn't exist until the mid 1960s, and it's not taught along with chemistry, physics, and the other classic sciences. The vast majority of the theories underlying this science have never been proven--or even tested. And while you can buy technical manuals and blueprints describing many of the technologies created using this science, if you tried to build them they wouldn't work.

This is the science of Star Trek. No other fictional science has so thoroughly weaved its way into the fibers of our culture. If you express frustration by saying "beam me up, Scotty," chances are darned good that the person you're talking to will know exactly what you're talking about. People flip open their Motorola cellular telephones around the country with the same "Kirk to Enterprise" communicator joke. When IBM wanted to imply their new release of the OS/2 operating system for personal computers was blazing fast and at the forefront of technology, they named it Warp.

The science of Star Trek is a fascinating mixture of real science, extrapolations of current scientific theories, pseudoscience, and pure fantasy. It seems wildly optimistic to imagine that we'll have some of the technologies portrayed in the show within 300 to 400 years, while other Trek inventions--especially some from the original series--don't seem far off at all.

There's no denying that the technology is part of what gives the Star Trek shows their appeal--space ships and ray guns have been attention-getters for decades. But the creative forces behind the scenes consider the technology more a storytelling element than a central focus.

"Star Trek is first and foremost about the people and about the situation, and not about the technology," says Rick Sternbach, senior illustrator and technical consultant for the Trek shows. "But it is about people using the technology, being affected by it--being affected by certain scientific phenomena that the audience is exposed to on a weekly basis."

Fantasy Begets Reality

The best-known technologies in the Star Trek universe came about not because writers were trying to create some fantastic scenario to impress a television audience, but because they were necessary if Gene Roddenberry and company were going to be able to produce a weekly television series on a limited budget, using 1960s special-effects techniques.

Some leaps were needed just to allow the story to be told. If the U.S.S. Enterprise was going to visit strange new worlds on a weekly basis, it would need a way to zoom around the galaxy at an amazing pace. Einstein pretty much ruled out traveling faster than the speed of light using conventional methods, so the warp drive--which warps the space around the ship to allow FTL travel--was developed. This begat subspace radio, since our intrepid explorers would be out of touch if they were flying around at speeds hundreds of times faster than their calls home.

Other technologies came about because of budgetary constraints. Showing a ship the size of the Enterprise landing on a different planet each week would be expensive; even a shuttlecraft landing effect would make a dent in the show's budget. The solution was the transporter, which could beam a character from one place to another with no landing or docking needed--a high-tech concept that was inexpensive to show on film.

While the transporter and warp drive concepts pioneered by the original Trek still seem pretty far out today, other equipment on that first Enterprise doesn't seem that far off. In fact, some of it is old hat. Dr. McCoy's hypospray, which used a jet of high-pressure gas to inject drugs without a needle, has been in use in hospitals for years. The monitoring displays in some modern emergency rooms rival those of the biobeds in the Enterprise's sick bay, and remote scanners that will be able to examine your vital signs without intrusive cuffs, stethoscopes, or EKG leads are in the works. Even the hospital entrance features once-futuristic automatic sliding doors (although they lack that satisfying "whoosh").

Other technologies haven't quite reached Trek level, but they're on the way. We're not carrying phasers yet, and even laser weapons are still the domain of Pentagon research programs, but we do have hand-held stun guns. And with pensize laser pointers in boardrooms across America, small laser weapons don't seem a distant dream anymore. Many of us carry communicators in the form of cellular phones. Motorola's flip-phone even looks and works like a Star Trek communicator, although it doesn't reach into orbit. Yet.

"Ten years ago, most people would have said it's unlikely that you would have the cell-phone concept where you've got a telephone with a relatively small antenna, and it allows you to talk to a satellite up in orbit somewhere," says Andre Bormanis, science adviser for Deep Space Nine and Voyager. "You typically put satellites up in geosynchronous orbit, and for something that has a relatively small antenna and is hand-held like a phone unit, you'd need a satellite with a very large antenna up in geosynchronous orbit. But now people are saying you can put a bunch of these things up in low-earth orbit and have a relay system that can pass signals from one to the other. You can always have one above your horizon, so you can use a smaller satellite and a much smaller antenna on the telephone handset.

"There are certainly a lot of developments in technology that have proceeded much more rapidly than people imagined in the middle to late 1960s, and the computer field is probably the best example of that," Bormanis says. "That's largely a function of the microelectronics revolution. Nobody really anticipated that. Nobody figured that by the mid 1980s desktop computers would be commonplace." But they are, and some of the newest models even feature Trek-like voice recognition, albeit not as sophisticated as that employed by the Enterprise's computers. "Those things took us by surprise, and we're very conscious of that today on the current show. We want to try to stay ahead, obviously, of the rapid pace of development of contemporary technologies."

Technology can advance with surprising swiftness, though, and at least one device created for Star Trek: The Next Generation has shown up about 400 years early. "Rick Sternbach designed a device called the Personal Access Display Device (PADD), which is a little hand-held information-access device," explains Mike Okuda, Star Trek's senior art supervisor and technical consultant. "About a year ago Apple Computer came out with a gizmo called a Newton, which they call a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). For all intents and purposes, it's the same device. That's a little weird.

"I'm sure Starfleet's version has a few more of the bugs worked out," Okuda adds. "Nevertheless, at the time we first started using those on the show, that seemed to be pretty comfortably far into the future. But nope, you can now go to your friendly neighborhood computer store, and you can get one for a couple hundred bucks."

For the most part, though, the newer Trek series have managed to keep a futuristic feel. Still, even some of the newer technologies introduced on the shows don't seem 400 years off. Current virtual reality simulation centers aren't as flexible or realistic as a holodeck. But with work being done on 3-D laser projection, the holodeck may not be that far off. And while they're not as versatile or anthropomorphized as the Voyager's holo-doctor, computer-based expert systems do help doctors with patient diagnoses today.

Sometimes the show takes a conservative technological approach so as not to interfere with storytelling. Bormanis notes that starship computers "have extraordinarily limited artificial intelligence or expert systems compared to what we think will be the case even 40 or 50 years from now.

"I can imagine the computers 15 or 20 years from now will be more intelligent in some sense than the way we've represented the computers on the Enterprise. (With the exception of Data, if you think of him as a computer.)" But if computers could solve all the crew's problems, where would the adventure and challenge come from? "We didn't want to get into an area where we've got superintelligent computers running the Enterprise, because then humans aren't the smartest things around, and it's kind of a pointless exercise," Bormanis explains.

Keepers of the TECH

Star Trek technology has its origins in many places. Much of it is a legacy of the original 1960s series. New concepts are often introduced by the shows, producers during the inception of a new Trek series, while others are developed by the shows, writers as the season progresses. But the triumvirate of Bormanis, Okuda, and Sternbach is responsible for making sure that Trek technology is believable, consistent, and plausible.

Andre Bormanis has been science consultant for the Trek shows for the past couple of years. He came to the programs not only with experience in general science, computer science, and screenwriting, but also having dealt with the real space program--Bormanis spent two years in Washington, DC, on a NASA fellowship studying policy issues for the space program at the Space Policy Institute. "What I do is read scripts through the various stages of development and help them out with technical language, primarily, but also with the science concept in a show if there is a strong science element," he says. For one Deep Space Nine episode this season, the writers approached him for details on comets. They understood the basics, but Bormanis filled them in on the details and dynamics of comet behavior.

"Once I get the script, I'll look over the passages that contain technical language and refine those," Bormanis adds. "Sometimes there'll be a place in the dialogue where I just see the word `TECH.' They'll say `We need to adjust the TECH on the TECH,' or something to that effect. That's my cue to fill in the blank and fill in some appropriate dialogue."

Bormanis is backed up in the TECH department by Okuda and Sternbach. "Since the second or third season of Next Generation, both Mike Okuda and I had technical consultant added to our credits," Sternbach says. The pair would be given early copies of scripts in order to facilitate art design, and they began offering technical notes to the writers and producers as the scripts passed their desks. "Mike and I gave the writers some notes during the first season of Next Generation, and they began to trust the things that we had offered them, because we both had some grounding in the space sciences. It wasn't very long before we were `TECHing, every script that came up," Sternbach remembers.

Exactly what kind of TECH is used depends on whether an existing Trek device or technology satisfies the needs of the story. If it does, Okuda or Sternbach will likely suggest something like a plasma conduit or EPS power tap for the TECH reference. Or the writers can check the show's TECH bible, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual. Published by Pocket Books, this detailed tome discusses the mechanical and scientific theories behind twenty-fourth-century starship operation in amazing detail. The book is based on "a big pile of memos we'd written over the years for the writing staff," Okuda says. Sternbach and Okuda noticed that their notes were getting out and being pirated at conventions, so they decided that, if there was that kind of interest, they should go ahead and make all the information available in book form. Okuda also helped with two other books, The Star Trek Encyclopedia and The Star Trek Chronology.

If the script calls for a new technology, or goes into more detail about a component than the documentation supports, it's time to get creative. If the item is a futuristic version of something that exists today, Bormanis will simply extrapolate from current terminology. "If we're dealing with a communicator, I feel fairly comfortable using a term like oscillator," he says. "You figure that a communications device in the future is probably going to have some kind of an oscillator. It may be made out of some very exotic material, it may be very different from the kinds of oscillators that are used in communications devices today, but there will probably be something that will serve that function.

"I'll invent a term if we want something that's really kind of different--I something that performs a function in the device that probably couldn't be performed by contemporary electronic components. So I've come up with things like an anodyne relay, dyne being a unit of force in physics. I just take that and add something to it, some Latin term that has a specific meaning that could describe in a functional sense some kind of a device that would make sense in that kind of a system," Bormanis says. "I tend to think that with an exotic, far-future sort of technology, it's probably better to invent some terms than it is to try to take something that's established in contemporary electronics."

Sometimes the terminology is purposefully vague. "One of the clever solutions that Okuda and Sternbach came up with for dealing with the computer terminology is, instead of using as a fundamental unit of memory the byte, they came up with the term quad," Bormanis says. "One of the first things that I asked them when I got this job was how many bytes were in a quad. They said `we don't define that, and we're never going to define that.' Because if we say, okay there are four bytes to a quad, then when we say the storage capacity or the main memory capacity of the Enterprise computer is 20 gigaquad, people will say `wait a minute, that's 80 gigabytes, and 80 gigabytes is nothing., Ten years from now that may be the case, so that's the way we stay ahead on that issue."

Between Okuda, Sternbach, Bormanis, and the wealth of technical documentation available, Star Trek has remained remarkably consistent in its portrayal of real and imagined technologies. Occasionally an error or inconsistency does creep in, though. In "All Good Things," the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a scene set in the crew's future has Riker calling for a speed of warp 13. Yet both show dialogue and the Technical Manual indicate that the warp scale runs from 0 to 10, with 10 being infinite velocity. So what happened?

"That's a writer question--you should take it up with them," Sternbach says. "The writers and producers are very good listeners, and they have their reasons for doing what they're doing."

Mike Okuda speculates on those reasons: "I think that was a deliberate effort to take something that all the Star Trek fans knew--that is, that Warp 10 is the absolute limit--and deliberately break it and not explain it, so that you know something has changed. You don't know what has changed: They might have developed the new super-ultra warp, or they might have recalibrated the warp drive. You don't know what it was, but with one little word you know that something fundamental has changed. I think that was a very clever idea--with one word you go `Oh! Yeah!'"

Bormanis has the scoop. "I raised that question in a tech note. Basically, the idea there was that they recalibrated the warp scale. I don't think that ended up in the final draft teleplay, but the idea there was that if you've got ships that can routinely travel at speeds in excess of warp 9, then maybe it makes sense to recalibrate your speed scale so that warp 10 is no longer infinite velocity. Maybe warp 15 will be the ultimate speed limit, and warp 13 in that scale will be the equivalent of warp 9.95 or something like that."

Building the Fantasy

For Star Trek science to be believable, it needs to look, as well as sound, consistent and convincing. And while he and Okuda do help with the scripts, Sternbach says, "our job responsibilities are primarily in the art field, with technical consultant as the secondary role.

"In terms of the art responsibilities that I have, if there are new props that have to be fabricated, I'll go through the script, I'll talk it over with our property master, and I'll begin drawing whatever new equipment needs to be fabricated. I'll do the same thing with spaceships, including Voyager. That was a four- or five-month process all by itself, to come up with a smaller starship that had a distinctive look to it."

And distinctive looks are part of what has made the Star Trek franchise stick out. "If you neglect style and color, you will be doomed to become Space Rangers," Sternbach says, referring to a short-lived network series. "Star Trek, we believe, is as successful as it is partly because visually we stick to some very established styles. If you're channel-surfing and you come across Voyager or Deep Space Nine, you know it's Star Trek.

"There are very specific shapes and colors that we work from. If I,m going to come up with a new Romulan hand prop, I'll start with a certain set of design conventions, and ultimately it will turn out to be Romulan," Sternbach explains. "You will not be able to confuse a Romulan phaser with a Klingon phaser."

As with the original series, some of those designs are constrained by the realities of producing a weekly television show. "Budget limitations put some restraint on us in terms of what we can visualize from week to week," Bormanis says. "It would be nice to have full 3-D holographic displays every time we see the main viewscreen on the Voyager, but that's too expensive an effect to do. We're kind of stuck with a 2-D display, even though 30 years from now 3-D displays may be commonplace."

Advances in twentieth-century technology have helped make the twenty-fourth century look more convincing. Voyager has added computer-generated effects to complement the model-and video-based effects brought forward from TNG and DS9. What's most impressive is that many of these effects are created using off-the-shelf consumer computers and software.

Grant Boucher, supervising animator at Amblin Imaging, says that the 3D effects his team creates for Voyager are done on a Commodore Amiga system equipped with a NewTek Video Toaster, as well as a DEC Aloha workstation. Animation is created on both systems using NewTek's LightWave 3D "The Star Trek: Voyager effects team usually calls on us when a shot cannot be created using traditional means," Boucher says.

"A good example of this is the episode called `Phage' where the Voyager chases an alien ship into a hall of mirrors within an asteroid. The completed shots we affordably provided would have cost a fortune in motion control and paintbox work through traditional means, and would not have been nearly as effective as true ray-traced reflections," Boucher says. "Even the phasers reflect realistically in the mirrors. Previously, the costs involved with such effects would have caused the delay or even cancellation of an otherwise first-rate script."

And how does scientific accuracy figure into such effects? "We have an excellent research department at Universal and the Star Trek: Voyager effects team has all of Paramount's research facilities and decades of special effects experience behind them," Boucher explains. "For the episode titled `Emanations,' for example, we had stacks of material on planetary ring systems and asteroids at our disposal. However, if pure science gets in the way of the story or the entertainment value of the shot, excitement wins."

Sternbach says he still does much of his illustration work with a felt pen and marker, but sometimes computers do help him visualize objects. "I've done a lot of three-dimensional modeling to see how certain shapes work out for various props and spacecraft," he says. "I can get a pretty good idea what something's going to look like as a solid object by whipping it out on the Mac in 3-D. We did some modeling of the inside of one of the engine nacelles, just to show Visual Effects what it would look like. They went and had a miniature built based on the color output we gave them."

The Star Trek creative team has to satisfy a very demanding audience. If a science glitch does make it through, they can count on it being discussed at conventions and club meetings across the country, and in countless Internet newsgroups such as rec.arts.startrek tech. But even die-hard Trekkers may not be the show's most demanding watchers.

"We have respectable scientists as part of our core audience," says Sternbach. Some members of this audience might even be tempted to start yelling helpful advice at the screen when the chief engineer tries to fix the warp drive. "We have a couple of friends who, during the first season, were working at Los Alamos labs on projects involving antimatter."

But even this toughest crowd seems pleased with Star Trek's vision, Sternbach says. "When The Next Generation was premiered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the minute that Picard said `Let's see what's out there,' the room went crazy."


You walk up to a display terminal and say "Computer, tell me about the holodeck."

"Accessing," a feminine voice responds. A video appears explaining the operation of the holodeck. The example features a holodeck program created by the Enterprise's Commander Riker, and you interrupt the display. "Computer, display Riker's background." The computer responds with a short biography and video of the officer in action.

This scenario certainly seems the stuff of science fiction, but it's actually something you'll be able to do on your very on multimedia-equipped Macintosh or PC, using Simon & Schuster Interactive's Star Trek Omnipedia. Keith Halper, executive producer of the company's Star Trek products, says the CD-ROM reference work will feature all the information from The Star Trek Encyclopedia and Star Trek Chronology books, mapped against an on-screen timeline. "We add to that all kinds of video clips from all the series, plus several thousand photos that are part if our archive, including really great never-before-seen photographs."

While you'll be able to navigate the program using the mouse and keyboard, the software's voice-recognition features should make you fee as if you're using one of the Enterprise's library computer terminals. "You're able to talk to the thing and browse naturally through the material in very much the same way as Picard would," Halper says.

The company's previous CD-ROM reference, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual, features all the information from the paper Technical Manual, along with a guided tour of the Enterprise narrated by Jonathan Frakes (Riker). The product uses Apple's QuickTime VR technology to give you free movement around various parts of the ship. "Rick [Sternbach] and I served as consultants on that project," says Mike Okuda. "One of the really wonderful aspects of the Star Trek sets is that a lot of them are contiguous. You really can walk through the corridors, and that sense of `I'm really on a starship' is very powerful when you're on the set. The Interactive Technical Manual, through QuickTimeVR, captures quite a bit of that."

The product also serves as a historical document of sorts. "We're thrilled that it's a very thorough document of that spaceship--of those sets, as we remember them," says Okuda. "Shortly after we finished the series, we went on to do the movie, and in the movie we trashed the sets. Many of the sets have been rebuilt or redressed to become the Voyager. A lot of the physical pieces may still remain, but the Enterprise as such no longer exists. So to have this thorough a document that's readily available to anyone with a personal computer--that's really cool."

Coming in Spring 1996 is the ultimate educational CD-ROM for the galactic tourist: Star Trek: Klingon. Halper says that the best way to learn about a culture is to totally immerse yourself in it. If that technique works for learning about the French, then why not the Klingons? "Through holodeck technology, you live the life of a Klingon," says Halper. Although his company has produced a successful series of Klingon-language dictionaries and audio-cassettes, "our focus here isn't the language, but rather on the mythology and history of the Klingons." The goal is to interact with other Klingons and learn enough about the culture, Halper says, so that eventually you'll be able to "emanate Klin"--that fundamental essence present in all things Klingon.

With technologies like voice recognition and QuickTimeVR, these products are on the cutting edge of multimedia. Halper feels that's only logical. "Working in the communications field, trying to bring this new technology to light," he says, "it only makes sense that we'd be doing this in the Star Trek framework. After all, it is the ultimate interactive fantasy."

For some of us, learning how things work in the Star Trek universe isn't enough. We want to actually live in it. The closest you can come at this point is probably with Spectrum Holobyte's Star Trek: The Next Generation "A Final Unity" CD-ROM. This interactive adventure game pulls you into an episode by giving you complete control over the Enterprise's crew. You'll send the ship on missions to strange new worlds, maneuver the Enterprise through space, and beam down away teams to try to solve a galactic mystery. The disk features 3-D spaceships, high-resolution graphics, and the voices of all seven principal cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spectrum estimates that, with all the branching possibilities available in an adventure game, there's close to an entire season's worth of dialogue on the disk--for each character.

Along with adventure game-style character interaction, you also get to take the helm of the Enterprise in strategy-oriented 3-D battle sequences against Romulan warbirds.

"Many of us have been following the journey of the Enterprise for nearly 30 years," says Spectrum Holobyte chairman Gilman Louie. "It's our intent to make A Final Unity the next great step in that adventure. Hopefully, the people who play the game will have as much luck saving the galaxy as the Enterprise crew has had all these years."


You ponder the role antimatter plays in the ship's warp drive, and you'd like to know why the dilithium crystals don't fail every other week on the new ships, like they did in the good old days. While Starfleet Academy won't be enrolling engineering students for a couple hundred years yet, you can still pick up some detailed material and start studying for the entrance exam.

For a good grounding on the details of the Star Trek universe, from A&A Officer to Zytchin III, check out The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, by Mike Okuda, Denise Okuda (his wife, a graphic designer, and video playback coordinator on Deep Space Nine), and Debbie Mirek. This 396-page reference is a complete guide to all the characters, species, ships, and technologies mentioned on Trek shows from the 1960s through mid 1994.

There's also a timeline of Star Trek's future. "My wife, Denise, and I wrote for Pocket Books The Star Trek Chronology, which was our attempt to codify all the many timelines and past references of the various shows and put them in a coherent whole," says Mike Okuda. "I think that's helped not just the writers but the fans keep track of all of this." This comprehensive future history includes events from all the Trek episodes in existence at the time of its publication, including the animated series.

The must-have reference for understanding Trek tech, though, is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, by Sternbach and Okuda. This book doesn't stop at listing the various technologies used by Starfleet crews: It also attempts to explain, in such detail you'd think that transporters really exist, how they work.

All of these books are used by the shows' writing, art, and production staffs as references. Rick Sternbach is happy that the Technical Manual has proved useful as a reference, but he warns potential Trek readers not to be overwhelmed--or limited--by its content. "It certainly doesn't include every possible twenty-fourth century phenomenon or device," he says. "We even warn readers and potential writers for the show: Don't try to absorb all of this stuff, and don't try using it all in a script. You'll fail miserably, because Star Trek is first and foremost about the people and about the situation, not about the technology."

Fans can continue to look forward to a growing base of Trek reference materials. "Rick Sternbach is presently working on a new project for Pocket Books," says Okuda, "that's going to be a set of blueprints of the Next Generation's Enterprise."

Sternbach's involvement with Trek publications goes way back. He did the illustrations for Stan and Fred Goldstein's Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology, a 1980 Pocket release. "When they did that book, there was essentially the original series and one movie," reflects Okuda. "The number of data points available was very small, so to build a book they had to come up with a lot of original material. When we did the Star Trek Chronology, it was amazing how much more Star Trek there was. There were probably ten times as many data points."

Some like it cold - short story

by John Kessel

Her heroes were Abraham Lincoln and, Albert Einstein. Lincoln was out of the question, but with a little work I could look Einsteinesque. I grew a dark mustache. adopted wild graying hair. From wardrobe I requisitioned a pair of wool slacks, a white cotton shirt, a gabardine jacket with narrow lapels. The shoes were my own, my prized possession--genuine leather, Australian copies of mid twentieth-century brogues, comfortable, well broken in. The prep-room mirror reflected back a handsomer, taller, younger relative of old Albert, a cross between Einstein and her psychiatrist Dr. Greenson.

The moment-universes surrounding the evening of Saturday, August 4 were so thoroughly burned-tourists, biographers, conspiracy hunters, masturbators--that there was no sense arriving then. Besides, I wanted to get a taste of the old LA, before the quake. So I selected the Friday evening 18:00 PDT moment-universe. I materialized in a stall in the men's room at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. Some aim for deserted places; I like airports, train stations, bus terminals. Lots of strangers if you've missed some detail of costume. Public transport easily available. Crowds to lose oneself in. The portable unit, disguised as an overnight bag, never looks out of place. I stopped in a shop and bought a couple of packs of Luckies. At the Hertz counter I rented a navy blue Plymouth with push-button transmission, threw my canvas camera bag and overnight case into the back and, checking the map, puzzled out the motel address on Wilshire Boulevard that Research had found for me.

The hotel was ersatz Spanish, pink stucco and a red tile roof, a colonnade around a courtyard pool where a teenage boy in white T-shirt and DA haircut leaned on a cleaning net and flirted with a couple of fifteen-year-old girl in the shadowed doorway of my room, smooked a Lucky and watched until a fat woman in a caftan came out and yelled at the boy to get back to work. The girls giggled.

The early evening I spent driving around. In Santa Monica I saw the pre-tsunami pier, the one she would tell Greenson she was going to visit Saturday night before she changed her mind and stayed home. I ate at the Dancers: a slab of prime rib, a baked potato the size of a football, a bottle of zinfandel. Afterward I drove my Plymouth along the Miracle Mile. I rolled down the windows and let the warm air wash over me, inspecting the strip theaters, bars, and hookers. A number of the women, looking like her in cotton-candy hair and tight dresses, gave me the eye as I cruised by.

I pulled into the lot beside a club called the Blue Note. Over the door a blue neon martini glass swamped a green neon olive in gold neon gin. Inside I ordered a scotch and listened to a trio play jazz. A thin white guy with a goatee strangled his saxophone: somewhere in there might be a melody. These cutting-edge late-moderns thought they had the future augured. The future would be cool and atonal, they thought. No squares allowed. They didn't understand that the future, like the present, would be dominated by saps, and the big rush of 2043 would be barbershop quartets.

I sipped scotch. A brutal high, alcohol, like putting your head in a vise. I liked it. I smoked a couple more Luckies, layering a nicotine buzz over the alcohol. I watched couples in the dim corners of booths talk about their pasts and their futures, all those words prelude to going to bed. Back in Brentwood she was spending another sleepless night harassed by calls telling her to leave Bobby Kennedy alone.

A woman with dark Jackie hair, black gloves, and a very low-cut dress sat down on the stool next to me. The song expired and there was a smattering of applause. "I hate this modern crap, don't you?" the woman said.

"It's emblematic of the times," I said.

She gave me a look, decided to laugh. "You can have the times."

"I've seen worse," I said.

"You're not American, are you? The accent."

"I was born in Germany."

"Ah. go you've seen bad times?"

I sipped my scotch. "You could say so." Her eyelids were heavy with shadow, eyelashes a centimeter long. Pale pink lipstick made her thin lips look cool; I wondered if they really were. "Let me buy you a drink."

"Thanks." She watched me fumble with the queer, nineteenth-century style currency. Pyramids with eyes on them, redeemable in silver on demand. I bought her a gin and tonic. "My name's Carol," she told me. "I am Detlev." "Detleff? Funny name." "Not so common, even in Germany." "So Detleff, what brings you to LA? You come over the Berlin Wall?" "I'm here to see a movie star." She snorted. "Won't find any in here." "I think you could be a movie star, Carol." "You're not going to believe this, Detleff, but I've heard that line before." "You'll have to offer me another then." We flirted through three drinks. She told me she was lonely, I told her I was a stranger. We fell toward a typical liaison of the Penicillin Era: we learned enough about each other (who knew how much of it true?) not to let what we didn't know come between us and what we wanted. Her image of me was compounded by her own fantasies. I didn't have so many illusions. Or maybe mine were larger still, since I knew next-to-nothing about these people other than what I'd gleaned from images projected on various screens. An image had brought me here; images were my job. They had something to do with reality, but more to do with desire.

I studied the cleavage displayed by Carol's dress, she leaned against my shoulder, and from this we generated a lust we imagined would turn to sweet compassion, make up for our losses, and leave us blissfully complete in the same place. We would clutch each other's bodies until we were spent, lie holding each other close, our souls commingled, the first moment of a perfect marriage that would extend forward from this night in an endless string of equally fulfilling nights. Then we'd part in the morning and never see each other again. That was the dream. I followed her back to her apartment and we did our best to produce it. Afterward I lay awake thinking of Gabrielle, just after we'd married, sunbathing on the screened beach at Nice. I'd watched her, as had the men who passed by. How much of her wanted us to look at her? Was there any difference, in her mind' between my regard and theirs?

I left Carol asleep with the dawn coming up through the window, made my way back to the pink hotel, and got some sleep of my own.

Saturday I spent touring pre-quake LA. I indulged vices I could not indulge in Munich in 2043. I smoked many cigarettes. I walked outside in direct sunlight. I bought a copy of the Wilhelm edition of the Ching, printed on real paper. At midafternoon I stepped into a diner and ordered a bacon cheeseburger, rare, with lettuce and tomato and a side of fries. My mouth watered as the waitress set it in front of me, but after two bites I felt overcome by a wave of nausea. Hands sticky with blood and mayonnaise, I watched the, grease congeal in the corner of the plate.

So far, so good. I was a fan of the dirty pleasures of the twentieth century. Things were so much more complicated then. People walked the streets under the shadow of the bomb. They all knew,. at some almost biological level, that they might be vaporized at any second. Their blood vibrated with angst. Even the blonde ones. I imagined my ancestors half a world away in a country they expected momentarily to turn into a radioactive battleground, carrying their burden of guilt through the Englischer Garten. Sober Adenauer, struggling to stitch together half a nation. None of them fat, bored, or decadent.

And Marilyn, the world over, was their goddess. That improbable female body, that infantile voice, that oblivious demeanor.

Architecturally, LA 1962 was a disappointment. There was the appropriate amount of kitsch, hot-dog stands shaped like hot dogs and chiropractors' offices like flying saticers, but the really big skyscrapers that would come down in the quake hadn't been built yet. Maybe some of them wouldn't be built in this time-line anymore, thanks to me. By now my presence, through the butterfly effect, had already set this history off down another path from the one of my home. Anything I did toppled dominoes. Perhaps Carol's life would be ruined by the memory of our night of perfect love. Perhaps the cigarettes I bought saved crucial lives. Perhaps the breeze of my Plymouth's passing brought rain to Beigrade, drought to India. For better or worse, who could say?

I killed time into the early evening. By now she was going through the two-hour session with Greenson trying to shore up her personality against that night's depression.

At 9:00 I took my camera bag and the portable unit and got into the rental car. It was still too early, but I was so keyed up I couldn't sit still. I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway, walked along the beach at Malibu, then turned around and headed back. Sunset Boulevard twisted through the hills. The lights of the houses flickered between trees. In Brentwood I had some trouble finding Carmelina, drove past, then doubled back. Marilyn's house was on Fifth Helena, a short street off Carmelina ending in a cul-de-sac. I parked at the end, slung my bags over my shoulder, and walked back.

A brick and stucco wall shielded the house from the street. I circle round through the neighbor's yard, pushed through the bougainvillea and approached from the back. It was a modest hacienda-style ranch, a couple of bedrooms, tile roof. The patio lights were off and the water in the pool lay smooth as dark glass. Lights shone from the end bedroom to the far left.

First problem would be to get rid of Eunice Murray, her companion and housekeeper. If what had happened in our history was true in this one, she'd gone to sleep at midevening. I stepped quietly through the back door, found her in her bedroom and slapped a sedative patch onto her forearm, holding my hand across her mouth against her struggling until she was out.

A long phone cord snaked down the hall from the living room and under the other bedroom door. The door was locked. Outside, I pushed through the shrubs, mucking up my shoes in the soft soil, reached in through the bars over the opened window; and pushed aside the blackout curtains. Marilyn sprawled face down across the bed, right arm dangling off the side, receiver clutched in her hand. I found the unbarred casement window on the adjacent side of the house, broke it open, then climbed inside. Her breathing was deep and irregular. Her skin was clammy. Only the faintest pulse at her neck.

I rolled her onto her back, got my bag, pried back her eyelid and shone a light into her eye. Her pupil barely contracted. I had come late on purpose, but this was not good.

I gave her a shot of apomorphine, lifted her off the bed and shouldered her toward the bathroom. She was surprisingly light--gaunt, even. I could feel her ribs. In the bathroom, full of plaster and junk from the remodelers, I held her over the toilet until she vomited. No food, but some undigested capsules. That would have been a good sign, except she habitually pierced them with a pin so they'd work faster. There was no way of telling how much Nembutal she had in her bloodstream.

I dug my thumb into the crook of her elbow, forcing the tendon. Did she inhale more strongly? "Wake up, Norma Jeane," I said. "Time to wake up." No reaction.

I took her back to the bed and got the blood filter out of my camera bag. The studio'd had me practicing on indigents hired from the state. I wiped a pharmacy's worth of pill bottles from the flimsy table next to the bed and set up the machine. The shunt slipped easily into the artery in her arm, and I fiddled with the flow until the readout went green. What with one thing and another I had a busy half hour before she was resting in bed, bundled up, feet elevated, asleep but breathing normally, God in his heaven, and her blood circulating merrily through the filter like money through my bank account.

I went outside and smoked al cigarette. The stars were out and a breeze had kicked up. On the tile threshold outside the front door words were emblazoned: "Cursum Perficio." I am finishing my journey. I looked in on Mrs. Murray. Still out. I went back and sat in the bedroom. The place was a mess. Forests of pill bottles covered every horizontal surface. A stack of Sinktra records sat on the record player. On top: "High Hopes." Loose-leaf binders lay scattered all over the floor. I picked one up. It was a script for Something's Got to Give.

I read through the script. It wasn't very good. About 2:00 a.m. she moaned and started to move. I slapped a clarifier patch onto her arm. It wouldn't push the pentobarbital out of her system any faster, but when it began to take hold it would make her feel better.

About 3:00 the blood filter beeped. I removed the shunt, sat her up, made her drink a liter of electrolyte. It took her a while to get it all down. She looked at me through fogged eyes. She smelled sour and did not look like the most beautiful woman in the world. "What happened?" she mumbled.

"You took too many pills. You're going to be all right."

I helped her into a robe, then walked her down the hallway and around the living room until she began to take some of the weight herself. At one end of the room hung a couple of lurid Mexican Day of the Dead masks, at the other a framed portrait of Lincoln. When I got tired of facing down the leering ghouls and honest Abe, I took her outside and we marched around the pool in the darkness. The breeze wrote cat's paws on the surface of the water. After a while she began to come around. She tried to pull away but was weak as a baby. "Let me go," she mumbled.

"You want to stop walking?"

"I want to sleep," she said.

"Keep walking." We circled the pool for another quarter hour. In the distance I heard sparse traffic on Sunset; nearer the breeze rustled the fan palms. I was sweaty, she was cold.

"Please," she whined. "Let's stop."

I let her down onto a patio chair, went inside, found some coffee and set a pot brewing. I brought a blanket out, wrapped her in it, poked her to keep her awake until the coffee was ready. Eventually she sat there sipping coffee, holding the cup in both hands to warm them, hair down in her eyes and eyelashes gummed together. She looked tired. "How are you?" I asked.

"Alive. Bad luck." She started to cry. "Cruel, all of them, all those bastards. Oh, Jesus . . ."

I let her go on for a while. I gave her a handkerchief and she dried her eyes, blew her nose. The most beautiful woman in the world. "Who are you?" she asked.

"My name is Detlev Gruber. Call me Det."

"What are you doing here? Where's Mrs. Murray?"

"You don't remember? You sent her home."

She took a sip of coffee, watching me over the rim of the cup.

"I'm here to help you, Marilyn. To rescue you."

"Rescue me?"

"I know how hard things are, how lonely you've been. I knew that you would try to kill yourself."

"I was just trying to get some sleep."

"Do you really think that's all there is to it?"

"Listen, mister, I don't know who you are but I don't need your help and if you don't get out of here pretty soon I'm going to call the police." Her voice trailed off pitifully at the end. "I'm sorry," she said.

"Don't be sorry. I'm here to save you from all this."

Hands shaking, she put down the cup. I had never seen a face more vulnerable. She tried to hide it, but her expression was full of need. I felt an urge to protect her that, despite the fact she was a wreck, was pure sex. "I'm cold," she said. "Can we go inside?"

We went inside. We sat in the living room, she on the sofa and I in an uncomfortable Spanish chair, and I told her things about her life that nobody should have known but her. The abortions. The suicide attempts. The Kennedy affairs. The way Sinatra treated her. More than, that, the fear of loneliness, the fear of insanity, the fear of aging. I found myself warming to the role of rescuer. I really did want to hold her, for more than one reason. She was not able to keep up her hostility in the face of the knowledge that I was telling her the simple truth. Miller had written how grateful she was every time he'd saved her life, and it looked like that reaction was coming through for me now. She'd always liked being rescued, and the men who rescued her.

The clarifier might have had something to do with it, too. Finally she protested, "How do you know all this?"

"This is going to be the hardest part, Marilyn. I know because I'm from the future. If I had not shown up here, you would have died tonight. It's recorded history."

She laughed. "From the future?"



"I'm not lying to you, Marilyn. If I didn't care, would you be alive now?"

She pulled the blanket tighter around her. "What does the future want with me?"

"You're the most famous actress of your era. Your death would be a great tragedy, and we want to prevent that."

"What good does this do me? I'm still stuck in the same shit."

"You don't have to be." She tried to look skeptical but hope was written in every tremble of her body. It was frightening. "I want you to come with me back to the future, Marilyn."

She stared at me. "You must be crazy. I wouldn't know anybody. No friends, no family."

"You don't have any family. Your mother is in an institution. And where were your friends tonight?"

She put her hand to her head, rubbed her forehead, a gesture so full of troubled intelligence that I had a sudden sense of her as a real person, a grown woman in a lot of trouble. "You don't want to mess with me," she said. "I'm not worth it. I'm nothing but trouble."

"I can cure your trouble. In the future we have ways. No one here really cares for you, Marilyn, no one truly understands you. That dark pit of despair that opens up inside you--we can fill it. We can heal the wounds you've had since you were a little girl, make up for all the neglect you've suffered, keep you young forever. We have these powers. It's my job to correct the mistakes of the past, for special people. You're one of them. I have a team of caregivers waiting for you, a home, emotional support, understanding."

"Yeah. Another institution. I can't take it." I came over, sat beside her, lowered my voice, looked her in the eyes. Time for the closer. "You know that poem--that Yeats poem?"

"What poem?"

"`Never Give All the Heart."' Research had made me memorize it. It was one of her favorites.

"Never give all the heart, for love,

Will hardly seem worth thinking of

To passionate women if it seem

Certain, and they never dream

That it fades out from kiss to kiss

For everything that's lovely is

But a brief, dreamy, kind delight. .

She stopped me. "What about it?" Her voice was edgy.

"Just that life doesn't have to be like the poem, brief, and you don't have to suffer. You don't have to give all the heart, and lose."

She sat there, wound in the blanket. Clearly I had touched something in her.

"Think about it," I said. I went outside and smoked another Lucky. When I'd started working for DAA I'd considered this a glamour job. Exotic times, famous people. And I was good at it. A quick study, smart, adaptable. Sincere. I was so good that Gabrielle came to hate me, and left.

After a considerable while Marilyn came outside, the blanket over her head and shoulders like an Indian.

"Well, kemosabe?" I asked.

Despite herself, she smiled. Although the light was dim, the crow's feet at the corners of her eyes were visible. "If I don't like it, will you bring me back?"

"You'll like it. But if you don't I promise I'll bring you back."

"Okay. What do I have to do?"

"Just pack a few things to take with you--the most important ones."

I waited while she threw some clothes into a suitcase. She took the Lincoln portrait off the wall and put it in on top. I bagged the blood filter and set up the portable unit in the living room.

"Maf!" she said.


"My dog!" She looked crushed, as if she were about to collapse. "Who'll take care of Maf?"

"Mrs. Murray will."

"She hates him! I can't trust her." She was disintegrating. "I can't go. This isn't a good idea."

"Where is Maf? We'll take him."

We went out to the guest house. The place stunk. The dog, sleeping on an old fur coat, launched himself at me, yapping, as soon as we opened the door. It was one of those inbred over-groomed toy poodles that you want to drop kick into the next universe. She picked him up, cooed over him, made me get a bag of dog food and his water dish. I gritted my teeth.

In the living room I moved the chair aside and made her stand in the center of the room while I laid the wire circle around us to outline the field. She was nervous. I held her hand, she held the dog. "Here we go, Marilyn."

I touched the switch on the case. Marilyn's living room receded from us in all directions, we fell like pebbles into a dark well, and from infinitely far away the transit stage at DAA rushed forward to surround us. The dog growled. Marilyn swayed, put a hand to her head. I held her arm to steady her.

From the control booth Scoville and a nurse came up to us. The nurse took Marilyn's other side. "Marilyn, this is a nurse who's going to help you get some rest. And this is Derek Scoville, who's running this operation."

We got her into the suite and the doctors shot her full of metabolic cleansers. I promised her I'd take care of Maf, then pawned the dog off on the staff. I held her hand, smiled reassuringly, sat with her until she went to sleep. Lying there she looked calm, confident. She liked being cared for; she was used to it. Now she had a whole new world waiting to take care of her. She thought.

It was all up to me.

I went to the prep room, showered, and switched to street clothes: an onyx Singapore silk shirt, cotton baggies, spex. The weather report said it was a bad UV day: I selected a broad-brimmed hat. I was inspecting my shoes, which looked ruined from the muck from Marilyn's garden, when a summons from Scoville showed in the corner of my spex; meet them in the conference room. Levine and Sally House were there, and the doctor, and Jason Cryer from publicity. "So, what do you think?" Levine asked me.

"She's in pretty rough shape. Physically she can probably take it, but emotionally she's a wreck."

"Tomorrow we'll inject her with nanorepair devices," the doctor said. "She's probably had some degree of renal damage, if not worse."

"Christ, have you seen her scars?" Levine said. "How many operations has she had? Did they just take a cleaver to them back then?"

"They took a cleaver first, then an airbrush," Sally said.

"We'll fix the scars," said Cryer. Legend had it the most dangerous place in Hollywood was between Cryer and a news camera. "And Detlev here will be her protector, right Det? After all, you saved her life. You're her friend. Her dad. Her lover, if it comes to that."

"Right," I said. I thought about Marilyn, asleep at last. What expectations did she have?

Scoville spoke for the first time. "I want us into production within three weeks. We've got eighty million already invested in this. Sally, you can crank publicity up to full gain. We're going to succeed where all the others have failed. We're going to put the first viable Marilyn on the wire. She may be a wreck, but she wants to be here. Not like Paramount's version."

"That's where we're smart," Cryer said. "We take into account the psychological factors."

I couldn't stand much more. After the meeting I rode down to the lobby and checked out of the building, As I approached the front doors I could see a crowd of people had gathered outside in the bright sunlight. Faces slick with factor 400 sunscreen, they shouted and carried picket signs. "End Time Exploitation." "Information, not People." "Hands off the Past."

Not one gram of evidence existed that a change in a past moment-universe had ever affected our own time. They were as separate as two sides of a coin. Of course it was true that once you burned a particular universe you could never go back. But with an eternity of moment-universes to exploit, who cared?

The chronological protection fanatics would be better off taking care of the historicals who were coming to litter up the present, the ones who couldn't adjust, or outlasted their momentary celebrity, Or turned out not to be as interesting to the present as their sponsors had imagined. A lot of money had been squandered on bad risks. Who really wanted to listen to new compositions by Gershwin? How was Shakespeare even going to understand the twenty-first century, let alone write VR scripts that anybody would want to experience?

I sneaked out the side door and caught the metro down at the corner. Rode the train through Hollywood and up to my arcology.

In the newsstand I uploaded the latest trades into my spex, then stopped into the men's room to get my shoes polished. While the valet worked I smoked the last of my Luckies and checked the news. Jesus, still hotter than a pistol, was the lead on Variety. He smiled, new teeth, clean shaven, homely little Jew, but even through the holo he projected a lethal charisma. That one was making Universal rich. Who would have thought that a religious mystic with an Aramaic accent would become such a talk-show shark, his virtual image the number one teleromantics dream date? "Jesus' Laying on of Hands is the most spiritual experience I've ever had over fiberoptic VR," gushed worldwide recording megastar Daphne Overdone.

On Hollywood Grapevine, gossip maven Hedley O'Connor reported Elisenbrunnen GMBH, which owned DAA, was unhappy with third-quarter earnings. If Scoville went down, the new boss would pull the plug on all his projects. My contractual responsibilities would then, as they say, be at an end. "What a mess you made of these shoes, Herr Gruber," the valet muttered in German. I switched off my spex and watched him finish. The arco hired a lot of indigents. It was cheap, and good PR, but the valet was my personal reclamation project. His unruly head of hair danced as he buffed my shoes to a high luster. He looked up at me. "How is that?"

"Looks fine." I fished out a twenty-dollar piece. He watched me with his watery, sad, intelligent eyes. His brown hair was going gray.

"I see you got a mustache, like mine," he said.

"Only for work. For a while I need to look like you, Albert."

I gave him the twenty and went up to my room.

The case of the vanishing nurses - six US Army nurses who witnessed the alleged corpses of aliens who crashed near Roswell, NM, in 1947 - includes a related article with brief biographies of the nurses

by Paul McCarthy

It was July 5, 1947. A day seemingly like any other in the sleepy, desert town of Roswell, New Mexico. A nurse who worked at the Roswell Army Air Field hospital, a base with about 5,000 military personnel, was going about her usual routine over the long July Fourth weekend, when she stumbled onto a scene that shook her to the core, In search of supplies, she opened the door to an examination room and watched two strange doctors bent over the bodies of three small humanlike creatures. Oh, they resembled humans, all right, but there was a difference: Their bodies were too small, their arms too spindly, and their heads too bald and big.

Two were badly mangled and decomposed. while a third appeared relatively intact. A stench permeated the air. The physicians quickly enlisted the nurse's help and the autopsies continued until all concerned were overwhelmed by the smell from the rotting bodies.

At least this is what happened if you believe a story long held true by those who say a UFO crashed into the desert near Roswell, New Mexico, one summer night long ago, spitting five extraterrestrials into the arms of U.S. Army medics, who autopsied the shattered remains. According to the legend--because by now, in UFO circles, it has become that--one lone nurse, referred to by pundits as Nurse X, decided to tell all. The recipient of this extraordinary confidence: 22-year-old Glenn Dennis, the town mortician. But Dennis would be privy to the strange revelations on one condition: He would, forever, keep the identity of Nurse X under wraps.

Dennis, who this month talks to Omni in the interview beginning on page 100, said he knew Nurse X because of his second job--driver of the town ambulance. As such, he was on the base frequently to drop off injury victims. The day of the alleged ET incident, Dennis says that he drove an injured man to the hospital and then was rudely ushered out and even threatened by Army officers who he had never seen be re.

"All of these people came in from out of town," Dennis told Omni, "and just kind of took over. They were in the halls and everywhere. I didn't see the regular doctors or anybody. The only familiar person that I saw was her."

Naturally, Dennis wondered what was going on and a few days later set up a luncheon date with Nurse X to find out. Afterward, Dennis claims, return d to the base, never to be heard from again. Dennis tried to contact her but was told she had been transferred. And still later "the rumor was," says Dennis, "that she went down in a plane that was on a training mission."

After six months the incident died away, according to Dennis, and wasn't raised again until the 1980s when UFO investigators descended on Roswell. "I just didn't want to be bothered," say Dennis. "I never told my wife or anyone else. My father is the only one I ever talked to. It was never brought up, you know. It never was."

There is much more to the alleged 1947 UFO crash near Roswell than the recollections of Glenn Dennis, of course, and throughout the 1980s a swarm of investigators pieced a story together through the accounts of many other people.

Even so, Dennis's part is an important one and central to the event. So I was all ears one day last year when, while interviewing Don Schmitt, one of the two major researchers on the Roswell case, the topic of missing nurses came up. Schmitt, who with Kevin Randle wrote The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, said there were no official records to show that Glenn Dennis's nurse, or five other nurses who appeared in photos in the Roswell base yearbook, ever served in the military.

"Once again it appears as if they really covered their tracks," said Schmitt, referring to what he says is a government cover-up of the evidence of the crash. And, he went on to tell me, since 1989 he and Randle had looked. They had scoured the planet up, down, and sideways for those nurses, he told me, to no avail. The suggestion: The government had willfully purged the nurses from the record, and, possibly, the earth, in its effort to hide the alien crash at Roswell. After all, the assumption went, dead women tell no tales.

Schmitt said he had worked with the Army Nurse Corps Historian's Office at the Department of Defense in an attempt to track the five yearbook nurses who, it was assumed, might have talked to Nurse X, heard something, or participated in some way in the Roswell incident. He had also checked with such organizations as the VVWII Flight Nurses Association, the Military Reference Branch of the National Archives, and Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper in Washington DC, for some sign that the nurses had served. No luck.

Even the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation in Washington, DC, had never heard of them, Schmitt told me, adding, "We are working now with some Pentagon officials who are more than a bit fascinated by the fact that even though we have photographs of these nurses from the yearbook, there are no records on these people."

Randle had also tried to uncover the trail of the Glenn Dennis nurse--the infamous Nurse X. He had, he told me, looked through the unit history of the 509th Atomic Bomb Wing that was stationed at Roswell, as well as the unit's transfer orders. He said he'd scoured the base phonebook and the town newspaper, which frequently welcomed newcomers to the base. He also did credit searches on the woman--whose name, he says, Glenn Dennis had divulged to him--and her alleged brother, but came up empty. Then Schmitt tried birth certificates and baptismal records, based on hometown information supplied by Glenn Dennis, with equally dismal results.

The Schmitt-Randle conclusion, communicated emphatically, was plenty clear: Either Glenn Dennis had fabricated Nurse X, they said, or the government had eliminated all vestiges of actual, and documented, life.

The Challenge

When I told my editors at Omni this intriguing tale, I proposed writing it up as an example of investigatory diligence and the lengths to which UFO researchers would go to uncover witnesses. To my surprise, Omni saw something entirely different. It was an opportunity to doublecheck Randle and Schmitt's claims--a situation that does not arise that often in UFOlogy. Had they exercised due diligence? Could I find the nurses' records? And, my editors asked cagily--the expense budget being small--could I do so from my desk in Hawaii, without leaving home?

The task was especially important since the missing nurses pointed to sinister government activity--in other words, the presence of an official, high-level conspiracy to cover up the events at Roswell, as Randle and Schmitt claimed. If the nurses had been wiped off the face of the earth, as the researchers insisted, that would mean someone had gone to great lengths to "erase them." But if the nurses could be found, if there had been no effort to purge them from the databank of life, that would deal the conspiracy theory a notable blow.

I halfheartedly agreed to look for the nurses myself, but didn't have high hopes. Hadn't these guys been at it for five years? This was their life. What chance did I have, given my limited travel budget and my time frame--a few mere weeks?

The Search

I had the names of the six nurses--five from the Roswell Army Air Field yearbook for 1947, previously supplied by Randle, and Nurse X, given to me by Randle as well. (For more on the true identity of Nurse X, held by some to be Naomi Maria Selff, see "The Truth about Roswell," which begins on page 90.) So I began by digging in the mid 1940s volumes of the Army Register in the Federal Government Document Depository of the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii. The Air Force was part of the Army until they went their separate ways in 1947, and the Register purportedly listed the dates of enlistment, promotion, death, and retirement for all personnel. There was even a section devoted to the Army Nurse Corps--column upon column of names and serial numbers, but no Roswell nurses.

Next I tried Lieutenant Colonel Carolyn Feller at the Army Nurse Corps Historian's Office in Washington, DC. She couldn't help me but suggested Bill Heimdahl at the Air Force Historian's Office, also in Washington. Heimdahl put me on to the World-wide Air Force Locator at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. A Captain Tom Gilroy found a listing for one of the nurses, Major Claudia Uebele, and her retirement date, 1965. 1 checked the Air Force Register for 1965, found her, and jotted down her serial number.

With that in hand, I again called Lieutenant Colonel Feller, thinking that with a serial number, she might be able to get me an address or phone number, assuming Uebele was still alive.

No luck. But this time she recommended Bill Siebert, archivist at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which purportedly has records for all past and present military personnel. Bingo. Siebert had records for the five nurses but nothing for Nurse X. Records were complete for Majors Joyce Godard and Claudia Uebele and partial, reconstructed records existed, because of a 1973 fire, for Captain Adeline Fanton, First Lieutenant Angele LaRue, and Lieutenant Colonel Rosemary McManus. To access these, all I had to do was make a formal request using the Freedom of Information Act, which enables citizens like me to ask the government for information and, provided it isn't classified, have some realistic expectation of receiving it.

Amazingly, I had located the records in three days flat, something the Roswell researchers told me they'd been unable to do in five arduous years. But could I find the nurses themselves?

Finding a Nurse

Three weeks later, the records arrived in the mail. Fanton had died in 1975 and Godard in 1981. Then, one of LaRue's relatives told me she had been dead for three or four years. That left Uebele and McManus. The records only gave the city of last-known residence. That was Phoenix in 1978 for McManus and Seal Beach, California, in 1971 for Uebele. But the Personnel Records Center would forward letters to the exact addresses. After calls to directory assistance in both cities turned up nothing, I decided to write letters and send them through the Personnel Records Center.

To do this, I began working with Charles Pelligrini, a management analyst at the center. Two months later the letters were returned-addressee unknown. Pelligrini suggested I try the Veterans Administration (VA). If the women had collected disability benefits, they would be in the VA files, and I could at least find out if they were dead or alive. The VA had nothing on McManus, but found that Uebele had died just three months earlier in May 1994.

Pelligrini then suggested the Defense Finance and Accounting Office in Cleveland, which cuts pension checks. They had nothing under Rosemary A. McManus, the name on her personnel records. This led to another chat with Pelligrini. McManus had been married twice and had thus also been known as Rosemary M. Jentsch and Rosemary J. Brown. "Try Rosemary J. Brown," said Pelligrini. He was right. And to my surprise, a clerk in Cleveland not only pulled up her name, but gave me her city of residence, too. Directory assistance even supplied a phone number.

Brown was 78 and in a nursing home, but alert. She had already been approached by two other investigators, possibly Schmitt and an associate, but the names escaped her. Yes, she had been stationed at Roswell in July 1947. She remembered the other four yearbook nurses, but not Nurse X, and not Glenn Dennis himself.

What's more, she told me, she had witnessed nothing to suggest a crash at Roswell or any unusual goings-on at the base hospital. "I had no sense of anything weird happening at all," stated Rosemary Brown, formerly McManus.

Finding a Nurse

Three weeks later, the records arrived in the mail. Fanton had died in 1975 and Godard in 1981. Then, one of LaRue's relatives told me she had been dead for three or four years. That left Uebele and McManus. The records only gave the city of last-known residence. That was Phoenix in 1978 for McManus and Seal Beach, California, in 1971 for Uebele. But the Personnel Records Center would forward letters to the exact addresses. After calls to directory assistance in both cities turned up nothing, I decided to write letters and send them through the Personnel Records Center.

To do this, I began working with Charles Pelligrini, a management analyst at the center. Two months later the letters were returned-addressee unknown. Pelligrini suggested I try the Veterans Administration (VA). If the women had collected disability benefits, they would be in the VA files, and I could at least find out if they were dead or alive. The VA had nothing on McManus, but found that Uebele had died just three months earlier in May 1994.

Pelligrini then suggested the Defense Finance and Accounting Office in Cleveland, which cuts pension checks. They had nothing under Rosemary A. McManus, the name on her personnel records. This led to another chat with Pelligrini. McManus had been married twice and had thus also been known as Rosemary M. Jentsch and Rosemary J. Brown. "Try Rosemary J. Brown," said Pelligrini. He was right. And to my surprise, a clerk in Cleveland not only pulled up her name, but gave me her city of residence, too. Directory assistance even supplied a phone number.

Brown was 78 and in a nursing home, but alert. She had already been approached by two other investigators, possibly Schmitt and an associate, but the names escaped her. Yes, she had been stationed at Roswell in July 1947. She remembered the other four yearbook nurses, but not Nurse X, and not Glenn Dennis himself.

What's more, she told me, she had witnessed nothing to suggest a crash at Roswell or any unusual goings-on at the base hospital. "I had no sense of anything weird happening at all," stated Rosemary Brown, formerly McManus.

Interestingly enough, based on readings in recent years, she felt the crash scenario along with the recovery of bodies was plausible. "I know that something went on, and I know it was very hush-hush. And I know I didn't know anything about it (at the time). It was closed up tight as a drum, you know, by the base officials."

She didn't hear any scuttlebutt about it from base personnel, either. "I can tell you that people who I knew, who were on active duty at that time, if they knew anything, they kept their mouths shut--you know, the pilots and others. I heard nothing directly."

And she says she wasn't told to keep quiet. "We were in the medics. We were not involved in anything like that. If anybody was, it might have been one of the doctors on duty."

She had not kept up with the other nurses. But through the grapevine, she knew that Angele LaRue had married, had had twins, and had moved to Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. She also knew that Joyce Godard had died, but was surprised to learn that Adeline Fanton and Claudia Uebele had passed on as well.

The Roswell Researchers React

What would Schmitt and Randle say to all this? Schmitt wasn't returning my calls, so I gave Randle a ring. He was surprised that I had found the records and asked how I had done it. When I explained that I had gone through the St. Louis Records Center and that I was amazed Schmitt hadn't done the same thing, he agreed. "Surprises the hell out of me, too. I thought that would be the first thing Don would do."

Although Randle had located some witnesses through St. Louis, he was also astonished that they would send out records on living people, particularly when I didn't have serial numbers. "It sounds as if there were two ways to get there," said Randle. "One was the interstate highway system, and the other was the back gravel roads. And Don took the back gravel roads."

My take on that: Don had tried to use some special connections, possibly through his secret government contacts or the Internet, instead of asking right out. I also began to feel that though billed as a team, Randle and Schmitt actually worked independently. When the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing, what kind of investigation is that?

Randle said he was impressed with my straightforward approach. In the future, he told me, he would follow my lead in seeking other military witnesses who had seemingly disappeared. He also said he would have Schmitt give me a call.

Weeks passed, and finally Schmitt left an enigmatic message on my machine. I tried to call him to talk directly, but he did not return my calls.

Frustrated, I finally called Randle again. He was incredulous that Schmitt had not gotten back to me. "I told Don it was imperative to get back to you," he explained. "I don't want you to say something in your article that is not true, just because we have not made proper connections."

He also said that Schmitt would send me documentation showing he had tried St. Louis in 1990, but had been told that there were no records. Schmitt would definitely call me, said Randle, "so we don't look like clowns bumbling around out here."

He had cause for concern. My investigation was coming at the same time as the Air Force's attempt to discredit their Roswell research with its own Roswell report ("Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident"). In the major thrust of this new, 1994 report, the Air Force contended that the object found at Roswell was actually a high-tech weather balloon, part of the Air Force's once-top-secret Project Mogul.

But the Air Force report also contained other information of special interest to me. One of the Roswell books, apparently the Randle/Schmitt volume, had claimed there were no records on file with the Veterans Administration or the Department of Defense for eleven servicemen stationed at Roswell in 1947. The Air Force went on to say, "That claim sounded serious, so investigators checked these eleven names in the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Using only the names (since the authors did not list the serial numbers) the researcher quickly found records readily identifiable for eight of them. The other three had such common names that there could have been multiple possibilities." Still, Randle seemed unphased by this discovery.

To Randle, the explanation was simple: Because he and Schmitt had raised a stink about the disappearing records, someone was returning them to the St. Louis files. Randle said this wouldn't harm their reputation, however, because Schmitt had the documentation to prove that the records were unavailable when he had requested them in 1990.

It wasn't necessarily an Air Force plot, either. Randle was willing to entertain possibility that the records were misfiled or in use by other researchers when Schmitt asked for them. He offered as evidence the fact that the records of some military personnel critical to the Roswell story were easily located, while others less central to the reported events of July 1947 had seemed to evaporate. "This would suggest that there was another reason why those records were missing," according to Randle, "and it had nothing to do with Roswell."

Dodging Disinformation

What about the nurses? To my amazement, Schmitt, who had finally reached me, did an about face: In a total reversal of his position, he told me he'd known about the St. Louis records and had documentation of his search. In fact, he said, he'd even found and interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Rosemary J. Brown.

I was incredulous. Here I'd been about to base a national magazine story on Schmitt's fruitless search for the missing nurses, and he says he's been pulling my leg. "It is not that we were putting out misinformation," he said, "it is just that we were denying that we found anything." He also expressed surprise that four of the five yearbook nurses were dead.

Why the initial claim of the vanishing records, which is what resulted in my investigation? His explanation goes something like this: Schmitt believes that Brown may actually be Glenn Dennis's nurse--the woman who allegedly was present at the alien autopsy--even though her name is not the same as the one Dennis gave him "because she is about one and a half hours from Minneapolis-St. Paul, which Glenn was under the impression was Nurse X's home town." Granted, Brown does not admit to any knowledge of the alleged crash, but Schmitt still hopes that she might be won over and persuaded to talk. "She may or may not know something, but she is the closest thing that we have. That is why we have treated her with kid gloves," says Schmitt, "and why I haven't publicized the fact that we have found her."

I later confronted Randle, and he agreed Schmitt's current claim was true as well: "What we found in the past," said Randle, "is that when we have let stuff slip out early that it has come back to haunt us in some fashion." So now they kept information quiet until it was thoroughly researched. They even knew about the death of Major Joyce Godard, another one of the Roswell nurses, but didn't reveal it, because they wanted to talk to her surviving relatives, said Randle, before other researchers got to them.

All well and good, but then why make an issue of the missing nurses in the first place, as if their very absence were proof of a government attempt to perpetrate conspiracy, erase information (and even people), and be sinister in the extreme?

The Slippery Sands

I was now deep in the heart of conspiracy country, and I had to watch my step if I wanted to get at the truth, because these were slippery sands. Here's how my logic went: On the one hand, it was possible that Randle and Schmitt had, as they now claimed, known about the nurses from the gitgo, deciding to feed Omni erroneous information on some lark. It could be that when I contacted them they said, "Ah, there's our stooge!" On the other hand, perhaps they hadn't found the nurses--perhaps their original story, the one they wanted me to write for Omni initially, had been delivered straight. Could they have been embarrassed that their five-year search, including private detectives, elaborate inside connections, and computer expertise, had been largely unsuccessful, while I'd come up with the goods in three short days? Might they have invented their latest story just recently to save face?

Like the nurses themselves, I reasoned, I could find the truth in documentation. I would press Randle and Schmitt to show me proof. And the evidence I'd ask for would be specific. I myself, after all, had found the nurses through St. Louis. I had documents to that effect, including the papers received by way of the Freedom of Information Act. Randle and Schmitt claimed they had traveled that route--the superhighway for information in this case--as well. If so, they should have papers, too.

Again I left my messages on answering machines and waited weeks for my calls to be returned. I'd just about given up hope of ever hearing from them again when, one day, Schmitt called. He had been in Roswell, he said, had returned, and was, as usual, ready to help me in any way that he could.

To get the documentation on the St. Louis searches he told me to contact his assistant, Brad Radcliffe, a Wisconsin therapist, who had done the work. But when I called Radcliffe at his place of employment, using the number Schmitt had given me, Radcliffe didn't know who I was or what I wanted. In fact, in keeping with his practice of not mixing UFO work with his day job, he asked that I fax my request for the documentation.

The next day I got even more "help" from Schmitt. Sarah Gillmore, another assistant, called to say that several months earlier she had talked to Lieutenant Colonel Brown and that she would answer any questions that I had. Even though I had not asked Schmitt for any information on Brown, Gillmore and I had a pleasant chat, and I eventually discovered that Gillmore didn't know anything about the St. Louis records search or its documentation. I reiterated my request for documentation, and assumed that it would get back to Schmitt--again.

My take was this: Schmitt wanted to show me he could be helpful, even if he didn't have any documentation showing that he had queried St. Louis.

The following day my fax cranked out five pages from Radcliffe. Unfortunately, it was all about his attempts to get confirmation from the Pentagon, various retired nurses groups, and other organizations that the nurses had served in the military--information I had not asked for--while my request for St. Louis documentation was completely ignored, except to say that St. Louis had no listing for the women. The next day I left a message with his wife indicating that what I really needed was the St. Louis material. She said her husband would get back to me.

When I hadn't heard from Radcliffe in four days, I gave him a ring just to make sure that he knew what I wanted. He was confrontational and disdainful of my efforts, even though he wouldn't let me tell him what I was doing. "I really don't have time now," he said. Nor did he offer to make it. He again told me to follow up with the Pentagon and the nurses organizations and didn't want to hear anything about St. Louis. The message I got was that if the women weren't on file with the places he had checked, then it was unimportant that I had found their records at the St. Louis center.

"I could have my twelve-year-old go to St. Louis and get records," said Radcliffe, as if to offer the ease of getting information there as his reason for not pursuing that avenue first, if at all.

I was beginning to think Radcliffe was the end of the chain. The nurses had been his responsibility, and he had not tried the obvious--St. Louis. On top of that, could the airmen, whose records the Air Force so easily unearthed for their Roswell rebuttal, also have been his responsibility? No wonder he didn't want to talk to me.

Even so, I decided to take Radcliffe's advice and touch base with his sources. I would redo Radcliffe's search and see what he had found. If Schmitt was correct and the Air Force was now covering its tracks, the evidence, after all, would be here.

I started with Stars and Stripes. I was told they had back issues of their newspaper but no records for the Roswell nurses or any other nurses. I was referred to Stars and Stripes, Pacific and European, housed at the Pentagon. They didn't keep records of nurses, either, but suggested the Women in Military Service Memorial Foundation, also in Washington, a source Radcliffe had not cited, but which Schmitt had mentioned.

At the foundation, Lieutenant General Wilma Vaught, Retired, entered all the names into her database, but couldn't find a match. Still, there was a rub. Vaught pointed out that someone had to submit the names of the women in order for them to get into the database. It is something anyone can do, but "there's a potential of 1.6 to 1.7 million names and we've only got about 150,000, so there are all kinds that have never been entered," she said. It's not surprising, then, that the Roswell nurses weren't there.

Following Radcliffe's lead, I also contacted Captain Ethel Cerasale, Retired, a Floridian and past president of the World War II Flight Nurses Association, who has been active in the group since 1960. She didn't check her records because she has been involved with the organization for so long that she has the members' names in her head. "As far as my records go, I've had them around for a long time, and I am very familiar with them. And I don't recognize any of the names," she said. But she also said that there was no reason to assume that there was something strange or suspect about a woman not being on file with her organization. "It was a very small group who were Air Evacuation Nurses," said Cerasale, "and we only have about 500 members now."

Undeterred, I called Colonel Ruth Fussell, Retired, another Radcliffe source in Florida, who I assumed was the head of, or an officer in, the Society of Retired Air Force Nurses. To my surprise, she was not an officer in the organization and never had been. "I don't even go to the meetings anymore," she said. She didn't have any records, but did check her membership directory--the sort of booklet all members receive--which didn't list any of the Roswell nurses. But that didn't surprise Fussell since the society is a voluntary organization. "People don't have to belong," said Fussell. Why had Radcliffe approached her? "I don't know," said Fussell.

Maybe I did: Perhaps Radcliffe didn't know how to do this sort of research. In any event, I slogged on.

But the story was the same at the National Archives and at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, both in Washington, DC. Experts in both places directed me, specifically and emphatically, to the records center in St. Louis.

"The St. Louis Records Center has the personnel files, which are proof that someone served," said Archivist Deanne Blanton of the Military Reference Branch of the National Archives.

"This is only a small office," said the Nurse Corps Historian, Major Connie Moore. "The people who keep personnel records are in St. Louis."

It was uncanny. Even when I replicated Radcliffe's search, all roads led to St. Louis. Even if I'd done it his way, I would have gotten to the Roswell nurses in three days tops.

Radcliffe, on the other hand, had asked these organizations for the records, and when they couldn't comply, concluded he'd come up against a plot to hide the fact that these women had ever served in the Army Nurse Corps at all. In his fax to me he even cited the records of the Society of Retired Air Force Nurses and the WWII Flight Nurses Association and wrote, "They claim to have everyone who was ever a nurse." Right.

End Game

Where does this leave us? If we can believe the records, and I suppose if we are entertaining conspiracies, we have to enter the caveat that maybe we can't, the mystery is solved. The records have been found and the whereabouts of all the nurses--except for the elusive Nurse X--have been determined. And remember: We have little more than the word of Glenn Dennis that this woman ever existed because like 10 or 15 percent of Roswell personnel, her photo was not in the yearbook. In any event, it can no longer be claimed that the women vanished, if it ever could.

As to the second mystery--the mystery of Randle and Schmitt--that remains unsolved. Were they feeding me misinformation from the start? Did they know, all along, that Captain Joyce Godard was dead and Lieutenant Colonel Rosemary Brown was still alive? If so, why did they lead me on, deliberately encouraging a national magazine to publish a story they knew was a lie?

Or, on the other hand, was their research just unforgivably sloppy? Did they delegate so much responsibility to untrained help that they lost oversight and ultimate control? Did they really think the nurses had vanished off the face of the earth after service at Roswell, only to learn otherwise in the face of Omni's investigation and then, in a panic, try to hide their mistake?

Their explanations aside, I don't think I'll ever really know.

Anyone who has read the books of Randle and Schmitt knows they have put in a lot of work over the years. Here are a couple of guys trying to reconstruct an event that occurred almost 50 years ago. No easy task. And if they are right, they are also butting heads with elements of the federal government. But they have been caught with their pants down on this one. Not only do they now say they fabricated their "vanishing nurses" claim, which they hoped would be published in Omni, they also cited evidence that just didn't stand up to inspection. It seems to me that in Urology, more than in fields where follow-up and replication are common, researchers have a special obligation to get it right and not inflate their claims. To paraphrase astronomer J. Allen Hynek, one of the scientific fathers of the field, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Randle and Schmitt have not produced the latter here.


Who were the Roswell nurses? it has been 47 years since the Roswell incident, but through military records and talks with family members, we have been able to piece together some facts about each woman. One thing is certain: They didn't vanish. They went on to have families, military careers, and more.

First Lieutenant Angele A. LaRue. According to her son Fred Thessing, Angele LaRue was born in Montreal, Canada, on May 26, 1922. She went to nursing school in Waterbury, Connecticut, and then entered the Army-Air Force Nurse Corps on April 9, 1945. LaRue served at Roswell and after that, with the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. She married Frederick Thessing, an Air Force pilot, in 1948 and left active duty in 1949. She went on to raise four sons. Like many military families, the Thessings moved a lot, living in Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Connecticut. LaRue was an ardent spelunker, coin collector, and enjoyed traveling. She was diabetic and eventually developed heart disease. She died in 1986 in Conway, Arkansas.

Captain Adeline M. Fanton. Adeline Fanton was born March 16, 1916 'in Louisville, Kentucky. She attended nursing school at Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, according to Mary Fanton, a distant relative. Fanton entered the Army-Air Force on April 19, 1945. She never married, but served in the Corps in various capacities for 13 years. After her Roswell tour, for example, she was a general duty nurse at arch Field, California, and then moved on to the 5001st Medical Group at Ladd Air Force Base in Alaska. She served at a number of base hospitals until her retirement in 1958. In 1951 she received the American Campaign Medal, and in 1953 she was awarded the National Defense Service Medal. After retirement in 1958, Fanton moved back to the Louisville area and died there in 1975.

Captain Joyce Godard. Born in Milledgeville, Georgia, April 8, 1912, Goddard attended Georgia College for Women for one year in 1929 and received her RN degree at Milledgeville State Hospital in 1932. From 1932 through 1938 she worked as a nurse at the Aiken County Hospital in Aiken, South Carolina. Godard entered the Army-Air Force Nurse Corps on March 11, 1942 did her basic training at Barksdale Field in Louisiana. She served at Roswell from August 1946 through August 1947. Her work involved service as a general duty nurse, an administrative nurse, a flight nurse, and at the close of her career (August 1959-May 1962), as chief of nursing services, 2796th U.S. Air Force Hospital, Norton Air Force Base, California, where she received the Air Force Commendation Medal, According to her cousin Mark, who is the last of the Godard clan, she returned to Milledgeville after retiring in 1962 and worked at the local hospital. She died on Christmas Day 1981.

Major Claudia Uebele. Born February 20,1905, Uebele received her RN in nursing at Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1930. On March 15, 1945 she joined the Nurse Corps and did her basic training at Billings General Hospital in Indiana. Uebele served at Roswell in 1947 and went on to practice general duty nursing at places like Marks Air Force Base in Alaska and MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. She finished out her career with a three-year stint with the 801st Medical Group at Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio. Uebele received the American Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal, among others. She retired in 1965 and died in Seal Beach, California, on May 17, 1994.

Lieutenant Colonel Rosemary J. Brown, The only surviving Roswell nurse is Rosemary J. Brown, the former Rosemary A. McManus, who was born January 11, 1915. She received her nurse's training at St. Mary's Hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 1942. Brown entered the Nurse Corps on April 6, 1944. After serving at Roswell in 1947, she was stationed at various bases in the southwestern United States as a general duty nurse and a surgical nurse. She also spent 18 months in French Morocco. Brown married twice and enjoyed traveling. "One of the most fascinating places I went was Alaska," says Brown, who spent a two-week vacation there. She received various military commendations, including the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Air Force Longevity Service Award with one bronze oak leaf cluster. After her retirement in 1975 she worked eight years for the state of Wisconsin as an inspector for the Medicare/Medicaid Program. She resides in a nursing home now, and when it comes to her views on UFOs, she says she has none, "other than I am sure that there is something there but I haven't any idea what."

A UFO foundation: working together to find answers - cooperation between scientists and UFO enthusiasts - Column

by Gregory Benford

UFO fans hate scientists, and vice versa. Or so it seems, reading their mutually acrimonious exchange. in person and online alike. I get the definite impression of angry people shouting past each other to little effect.

There are good reasons for this, not the least of which is simple scientific skepticism. As a physicist, I'm sympathetic to the argument that nearly half a century after the first "flying sauccer scare," we have no solid, physical, generally agreed upon evidence Studies of ghosts have the same trouble. No data, no science.

Personally, I think the extraterrestrial visitor explanation of the widespread reported sightings is quite unlikely--but not disproved or impossible, and there's the rub. In science, hypotheses must be checked and rechecked. Scientists speak of falsifying theories, not proving them, for no proof is ever final. A theory is only as good as its latest rub against reality.

The alien visitor theory of UFOs has not been falsified, but it has few advocates, perhaps none, among scientists--and they do no research into it. So the subject is mired in coverage via media such as The X-Files and the National Enquirer.

Instead of the high-decibel cat fight we now witness, how about some serious study?

If the alien visitor explanation holds water, then their frequent visits imply a base somewhere in our solar system. (I assume they don't have faster-than-light travel so convenient that zipping across the galaxy for dinner is fashionable.) Obviously, they're making it tough for scientists to get any physical proof of them. Why? We can't say--aliens are tricky.

But they can't brush away all their footprints, and a serious UFO enthusiast should be willing to track them down. That's where the scientists come in.

To be taken seriously by scientists, I think UFO fans should support--obviously including funding--research which could uncover convincing evidence. UFOlogists would gain both credibility and, perhaps, some solid arguing points.

They should try thinking like scientists, too. Aliens might do anything, but they need a place to sleep, regroup, refuel. Where?

There are several likely spots where UFOs could conveniently base. Obviously, the moon-probably on the other side, to be secretive. Searching for them there implies a careful analysis of the high-resolution mapping data acquired in 1994 by the Clementine spacecraft. Such scrutiny is going on right now, but not with an agenda of searching for a UFO base. For quite small sums, a single data processor could cast a fresh eye at the data and report oddities. There are certain to be some.

Think further. There are convenient places to park a spaceship nearby. The lunar Lagrangian points are stable zones, leading and trailing the moon in its orbit. A base left there would not drift from tidal tugs. Are there UFOs lurking there?

In the early 1980s two astronomers looked for shiny objects reflecting sunlight at the Lagrangian points and found nothing down to their resolving limit of a few meters. (See Icarus, Volume 55, page 453.) They did this without UFO ideas in mind. If the UFO community had supplied the few thousands of dollars their work cost, they would at least have gained some respect.

How about searching further afield? Throughout the 1980s Michael Papagiannis of Boston University argued in scientific journals that starfaring aliens might well use the asteroid belt as an easy residential zone and source of raw materials.

He proposed looking for them by tracking their waste heat; anything using energy eventually generates an infrared glow. Most asteroids are 200 degrees Celsius colder than freezing, so heat stands out. The proposal was technically sound. Still, Papagiannis could not get NASA or NSF funding.

Enter the UFOlogists. A foundation dedicated to real, objective research which bears upon UFOs could fund Papagiannis's infrared search, or other such ideas. The foundation would further true scientific research, be cited in publications, and build bridges to a vastly skeptical scientific community

Odds are they'll find nothing, of course. That happens all the time to scientists. But the art of searching itself is noble, progressive, and might just surprise everyone. I urge the UFO community to consider reaching out in this way. A serious institution would be greeted by far more respect than is the shouting match going on now.

Cyber navigator: GPS and CD-ROM work together to help you get where you're going - Global Positioning System in automobile navigation

by Denny Atkin

It's been used to navigate the high seas, locate lost hikers, coordinate balloon races, plan pesticide application, guide airplanes in for safe landings, and target precision bombs. Now the Global Positioning System (GPS) can help you track down the airport in a strange city, find your way around Wine Country, or just locate the nearest pizza place.

Pioneer's $2,850 GPS-X77 system gives your car a precision moving map display similar to the ones that guide jet fighters to their targets. The four-piece system includes a low-profile GPS antenna, a wireless remote control, a color LCD monitor, and a control unit containing a GPS receiver, microprocessor, and CD-ROM drive.

The car's position is continuously updated using the GPS network, which consists of 24 satellites, a control center, and a portable receiver. Each satellite contains a very accurate atomic clock, as well as a computer and radio. The GPS control center calculates the orbit of each satellite a week or so into the future, as well as ionospheric conditions (which affect the permeability of the atmosphere to GPS radio waves) at that time, and uploads this information to the satellite's computer. The satellite can tell where it is in the sky at any given microsecond by cross-referencing this data with the time indicated by its atomic clock. Each satellite continuously transmits its position and the current time.

A GPS receiver works by listening for satellites that are scheduled to be above the horizon, comparing the satellite location and time of transmission with its own internal clock. By comparing multiple signals, the GPS receiver can triangulate its own location (three satellite signals are needed to determine latitude and longitude, while four are needed if you also need a precise altitude reading).

Most portable GPS receivers simply provide you with your location using latitude and longitude, or using the Universal Transverse Mercator grid system. Once you have the data, you pull out a map and manually determine your location.

Pioneer's GPS-X77 system does away with the need to deal with the raw numbers. It takes the GPS data and cross-references it with a database stored on CD-ROM. It then displays the car's approximate location--accurate to within about 100 meters--on its five-inch LCD monitor. The GPS system itself is capable of much more precise positioning, but the precision data is only available to approved (mostly government and allied military) users. The precision data is encrypted to prevent its use as a targeting system by hostile military powers.

As the car moves, the GPSX77 tracks the vehicle's direction, latitude, longitude, altitude, and speed in real time, updating its moving map once a second. The map display can be switched between showing the direction the vehicle s heading at the top of the screen, or with North always at the top

The system doesn't just show you where you are--it tells you how to get where you're going. Select a location or enter a destination address and the GPS-X77 will plot a route; you can also manually enter arrows on the screen to indicate turns. As you drive, the system provides instructions such as "left turn ahead" or "final destination ahead." Routes can be stored and recalled for later use.

CD-ROM map databases are available for Southern California, Northern California, and the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and Tacoma metro areas, plus major freeways); each costs $150. A Midwest U.S. data disk is also in the works. If you move out of the database area, the system will still display location data such as latitude and longitude.

Each CD also includes listings for tens of thousands of locations in 90 categories, including lodging, shopping, entertainment, medical, and food. Many of these are further broken down, so it's possible, for example, to search for Italian restaurants in the immediate area. Address and phone information is provided for each listing.

And the GPS-X77 is only first-generation technology. As with all electronics, Pioneer's Mark Epstein says, the GPS navigation systems will likely get more powerful and less expensive in time. One possible enhancement is the integration of real-time data transmission with the system, giving instant access to travel conditions. "We may eventually see true route guidance and nationwide coverage, as well as traffic and road-condition reports," Epstein says.

The Origin of the Universe. - book reviews

by Richard Farr

Write a nontechnical introduction to your field in fewer than 200 pages. That's the brief for an impressive list of authors in Basic Books, new Science Masters series. Minsky on artificial intelligence, Gould on paleontology, Smoot on cosmology, Dennett on cognitive science, Dawkins on gene evolution . . . you get the picture. So far, 22 titles have already been commissioned. Just in case that doesn't impress you, the series will be published simultaneously by 16 publishers from Sweden to Korea, in languages which include Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, Norwegian, and Slovene.

In any language, the first three volumes--The Origin of the Universe by John D. Barrow, The Last Three Minutes by Paul Davies, and The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakey-give a fascinating glimpse of what's to come. The outlook: variable, with brilliant sunshine and an occasional cloud.

By far the best of the three titles under review is Leakey's. It's a fine little introduction to paleoanthropology which explains and guides while giving a rich sense of what it's like to work in a living discipline. Leakey will always stop long enough to define a technical term, but his style is so economical that he fits a huge story into the allotted space, from the origins of bipedalism to the origins of art. Above all, he doesn't fall into the popularizer's trap of cheerleading the field and leaving you with an exaggerated view of its coherence. He conveys his love for anthropology while admitting both that it is blotchy with irrationalities (for instance the racism which prevented European scientists from believing that humanity originated In Africa) and that it is full of fierce, often angry dispute (Was Ramapithecus an ape or a hominid? How many species in the Hadar fossils? Have we really proved the mitochondrial Eve hypothesis?). He even charms you by cataloging his own doubts and mistakes and changes of mind. No cheerleading here: just an infectious delight in the business of inquiry

John D. Barrow accepted a difficult assignment. The material he covers was also recently covered in a book written by Steven Weinberg (The First Three Minutes, 1977, revised 1988). Barrow explains some issues particularly well--such as why the steadystate theory died, why cosmological predictions help theory-building in particle physics and vice versa, why the COBE satellite was a big deal, and so on--but in other areas he is much less successful. In the best tradition of physics books which don't quite work, his material on Hawking's no boundary condition and wormholes lunges from oversimplification to total opacity and back again in the space of a paragraph. The inevitable comparison is Weinberg's book, which has the same subject, the same audience, and even the same publisher. In a close call, I'd say Weinberg's book is better.

Davies, tribulations have a different source. These books are meant to be guides to established fields; as he sheepishly admits, a book on the destruction of the universe has to be either unscientific crystal-balling or at best a rag-bag of unrelated science lessons. Davies gives us a bit of both: Nothing if not a good teacher, he-manages to fit in simple but elegant discussions of Olber's starlight paradox, the quantum vacuum, and what we learned from the Sanduleak supernova. But the more he runs out of any science which is even half-way related to his theme, the more pseudophilosophical he becomes, and the last few chapters tend more toward musings, rather than a structured area of inquiry. It's a shame, not because these reflections are not interesting, but because Davies is such a lucid writer and is so capable of translating difficult theory into ordinary language.

Other authors in the Basic pipeline include linguist Steven Pinker, mathematician lan Stewart, particle physicist Murray Gell-Mann, paleobiologist Lynn Margulis, and physicist Freeman Dyson. No series on this scale can hope for uniformity; but, it's a great idea, the author list is so prestigious it glows in the dark, and if some of the volumes are at times uneven, it's certain that the series will provide a valuable resource for all of us.

Looking for the sweet spot in N-dimensional space - research in design of experiments

by Kathleen Stein


Finishing four days of work at Corning Incorporated in New York State--"helping to design better optical wave guides, ceramics, and catalytic converters"--statistician David Doehlert was heading home. Restless on the flight to Washington State, he browsed through a magazine and, beginning a piece about someone named Neil Sloane who works in high-dimensional mathematics, his boredom vanished. Doehlert knew instantly, "without the slightest hesitation, that in his work in geometry, Sloane was onto something hot." In fact, Sloane was the person Doehlert had been seeking for decades. Back in his Seattle office in the fall of 1990, the director of the Experiment Strategies Foundation dashed off a letter to Sloane at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey. In it Doehlert described his plan of incorporating Sloane's explorations of "n-dimensional sphere packing," the mathematics of hyperspace, into a new program for design of experiments.

Design of experiments (DOE) is a statistical virtual reality. In making anything new--from aircraft to new genetic material--DOEs are the crucibles of abstraction and concreteness where the ideal elements of that product are combined, tested, and retested before engineers spend a dime on prototypes. Since the quality of the design of the experiment may spell success or failure of the product, DOE is the sine qua non of current manufacturing in just about every industry. DOE is the cornerstone of Total Quality Management (TQM), the overarching corporate concept that, originating in Japan, has swept through American industry--as an idea anyway.

And until now, DOE was not quite up to snuff.

Would Sloane, Doehlert wrote, be gram that would raise efficiency of DOE to a dominating new level?

Sloane is by nature a denizen of theoretical math, roaming the ethereal planes of 24-D lattice structures and other purely abstract places. Indeed, few if any other mathematicians know their way around the higher dimensions as well as Sloane. Yet he caught on immediately to the statistician's out-of-nowhere challenge for this earthly application, and called Doehlert on Christmas Eve 1990. Gosset, the world's first DOE program incorporating higher-dimensional packing code was conceived then and in the first days of 1991, and born a year later.

As a reporter and friend I have tracked rock-climber Sloane's progress from the ground, so to speak. But when Neil told me that he was doing some exciting work with statistics, I wondered what the excitement had to do with it. A definition of statistics I'd heard was: If there are five dogs, three will be sleeping--or something like that. But the more the story about Gosset unfolded, the more I grew to appreciate the statistician's art and to see what an unsung role design of experiments plays in the making of things. There was something strangely exciting about this hidden part of industrial life, this mathematical prelude to the reality of factories and machines, inventories and quarterly profits. And there was something satisfying about this fortuitous meeting of the rarefied world of Sloane and the nitty-gritty of laser welding runs, gas-flow rates, and pressure gradients.

With Gosset, Doehlert said gleefully, "It's as if Neil and I found a way to drive the automobile 3,000 miles an hour with protection against accidents. And you can drive the car at any altitude, on or under the ocean." Doehlert, at 65, a leading DOE expert, whom one engineer described as "a walking genius," calls the result of this collaboration "the gift of a lifetime."

I don't know whether Gosset will radically raise the quality of American manufactured goods, boost efficiency, erase the trade deficit, or make anyone happier, but the story of Gosset, like the program itself, pulls together a multiplicity of points from several dimensions of men's lives into its narrative.

Capable of handling thousands of equations at once, Gosset s statistical programs could be giving engineers and designers who use them the big edge in their corporate forever-wars. Says Bob Jordan, a project engineer at AlliedSignal Aerospace in Redmond, Washington: "Time is money in the aerospace industry. We've had a lot of layoffs and cutbacks. Those of us still left need to do more with less. Our competitors are attempting to do that, too. So if we can develop a process, come up with a product design we can manufacture efficiently, if we can come upon the parameters for doing that efficiently, then that's the edge."

Research scientist Kelly Robinson of Eastman Kodak in Rochester. New York, offers: "Companies that use design of experiments like Gosset wisely will be efficient, effective, successful. Ones that don't will be left behind and go out of business." Gosset is being applied in Sloane's home base at AT&T, as well as at Genentech, Corning, Sandia National Labs, Polygram Records, Mobil, and many other organizations.

And for the rest of us, Gosset suggests that we are all creatures of hyperspace, and it may behoove us to think geometrically and be a bit more aware of multidimensionality--the complex decision-making going on in our brains all the time, neuronal firings as points in space. It's not just NBA or MBA stars who must simultaneously assess a lot of variables and act quickly. It's the way life really is, and will become more so. It's a matter, you might say, of finding the Gosset within.

Why did Doehlert want a better DOE mousetrap? The larger answer is TQM. Total Quality Management grew from a curious collusion: Japanese industry rising from the ashes of World War II and an unknown American statistician, W. Edwards Deming. Long before his death at 94 in 1994, Deming was a legend in Japan and to the relatively few in the United States who knew how he'd recalibrated Japanese manufacturing. The irony in the Deming legend is that while the Japanese listened intently and acted upon his theories, Deming was a prophet scorned in his own land.

Deming developed a strategy for improving quality in industry by means of continuous statistical analysis of all aspects of the manufacturing process-SPC, statistical process control--that aimed for constant improvement in the interaction of designs, people, machines, material, and working environment. In the late Forties he'd offered his plan to Detroit, but the automakers could have cared less about statistics and all that. There were no contenders against U.S. industry then, and manufacturers couldn't pop their products off the assembly line fast enough. Quality was not an operant concept. American industry was the only game in town. And American industry told Deming to get lost.

So he took his idea to Japan. By the mid Fifties, the chieftains of Japanese industry had embraced "Demingism" as the model for achieving higher precision by continuous improvement throughout the corporation. In 1951, the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers created the Deming Prize, awarded to companies for the quality of their shop and products. Today the Deming Prize is the most prestigious award in Japanese industry, and its winners include Toshiba, Matsushita Electric, Ricoh copiers, Komatsu, makers of construction equipment, and so on. You get the picture.

But American industry didn't have a clue until the 1970s, when they began to wonder why people were buying Japanese. By then the Japanese had become TQM adepts, expanding and refining quality controls to almost mystical levels. Finally the trauma of continuous loss to foreign competitors spurred American manufacturers to try some Japanese-style TQM. But they lagged far behind, and some analysts say the United States still hasn't gotten the hang of SPC, TQM's basic tenet.

With TQM in Japan came new gurus, senseis of statistical management. Best known is still probably Genichi Taguchi, who created mathematical programs to test quality. To find better and more efficient ways to design and make things, Taguchi exhorted, companies must seek the highest level of quality from the outset. This optimum quality, rather than continuous improvement, was Taguchi's style. Zero defects. Better to dump all within-the range-of-standard-deviations goods than make and sell something less than optimum.

Taguchi's first rule is that quality is a virtue of design. DOE, statistical analysis, was the first weapon in Taguchi's arsenal. By the Eighties Japanese industry conducted thousands of DOEs to make products more "robust" before they manufactured them. And some of American industry began to see his point, but the implementation was scattered. The American Supplier Institute, the U.S. center for the Taguchi Method, estimated that in 1990 approximately 5,000 Taguchi Method DOEs are completed here every year. In Japan the method's usage exceeds 100,000.

In 1984 Bob Jordan was working and going to college. "I had to take a class in statistical process control," he recalls. "I thought, this is going to be boring, worthless. But after two days all the lights were going on. Holy smokes! Why aren't we doing this? Most of the time in that class I was depressed. I'd see how we were throwing money down the tube, and when I'd try to talk to the managers about it, they didn't seem interested. My feeling was they should be fired for such a lousy attitude. They didn't give a rip. All of them are long gone now."

Since the mid Eighties, most American companies have tried some kind of DOE in designing products. Yet to develop an efficient experimental strategy that doesn't drain resources and also works to create prototypes is no mean feat. Taguchi's and other methods are complex, expensive, time-consuming, and statistically flawed. American companies wanted a DOE program that wasn't clunky. And they didn't have it. The situation was stagnating. "It wasn't until Neil Sloane and his Bell Labs colleague Ron Hardin developed Gosset," Doehlert claims, "that we can actually generate optimal designs quickly and easily. Now we can do it overnight."

The Cartoon Guide to Statistics says all the big questions are about relationships and tinkering with relationships. What will it do to A if we change B? is "something humans can't avoid asking," says Doehlert. But the mathematical insight concerning quantifiable interactions began in the Twenties, with Sir Ronald Fisher, a geneticist often called the founder of modern statistics. At Britain's Rothamstead Experimental Station he made exacting experiments on growing things: how much fertilizer, water, tillage, how close together to grow plants. (Realizing that even minor errors in sampling, measurement, and data recording could wreak havoc on analysis, he not only designed and analyzed animal breeding experiments, but also took care of the farm animals and cleaned their cages.) Fisher saw that changing the level of one factor changes the effect of another; that for better or worse things work with or against each other. It was he beginning of factorial analysis.

Fisher created a geometric analytical space, cubical space, arrangements of elements along x, y, and z axes, Cartesian coordinates. He and statisticians conceptualized these axes as a continum of experimental elements--water, fertilizer, light, and so forth--comprising the corners of this hypothetical cube. They plugged as many as five actors simultaneously into their cube, looking for the convergence of the right combination of elements. This optimal coming together came to be known in industrial design circles as "the sweet spot." The sweet spot is design nirvana. In design engineers, drive to extract maximum information from the least trials, factorial analysis became a geometric switching system into which many different design elements and levels of change could be fitted.

What Fisher et al did was transform common human thought process into sophisticated tool. Most people think terms of cubes at least in everyday life, and some people think in even higher-dimensional spaces. Doehlert likes to guide the initiate through cubical hyperspace thinking with a multidimensional cake. "It's not a trivial experiment," he says. "Baking a cake is the essence of much chemical experimentation, not to mention that of Betty Crocker and the rest of the food industry."

We begin with a one-dimensional cake question: How much sugar is best? Draw a line with, say, 1/2 cup sugar at the left starting point and 5 cups at the right endpoint. The line represents all possible amounts of sugar from 1/2 to 5 cups. Experimenting with sugar variations along that one line, we'll get to the best point, Doehlert assures us. Running all possible experiments is absurd; run a few and predict the rest. "Maybe 3 1/2 cups and after that it's sickly sweet."

Add flour, and the cake becomes a two-dimensional, two-factor, cake question. So perpendicular to the sugar line, we draw a flour line whose points represent quantities of flour ranging from 1 to, say, 6 cups. Every point on the square is a possible combination of flour and sugar. "We'll run a few of those and predict the rest to find the best combination of sugar and flour, to find the sweet spot--sweet in the sense of good for the sale of cake mixes."

A 3--D cake question concerns the optimal amount of vanilla. The square becomes a cube as you draw a line (the Z axis) representing vanilla possibilities: 1/4 to 4 teaspoons. Our cake becomes four-dimensional with an abstract line representing a range of possible stirs of the batter: Should the recipe call for 45 stirs or 300 or something in between? The cake becomes five-dimensional when we add a temperature line: 250 to, say, 500 degrees Fahrenheit. When you factor in baking time your cake grows to six dimensions; seven dimensions when you consider the baking container--glass, steel, aluminum, and so on. So a cake in seven-space contains a set of factorial points (for sugar, flour, vanilla, stirs, baking container, time, and temperature) that is a specification for all possible cakes within the constraints of this cake genre. Somewhere within that seven-dimensional, hypothetical, geometrical figure lies the sweet spot, the one best cake recipe.

You plug the 7-D cube of cake mix possibilities into your algorithmic design program and run the actual bakings experiments to see which combination of factors works best. "Say we're at the point where it calls for 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flourl 3 teaspoons vanilla, 60 stirs, at a temperature of 285 degrees in a glass dish, for 50 minutes," says Doehlert. "If we move to another point in the space of possibilities in the cube, we have: 1/2 cup sugar, 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 95 stirs at 320 degrees temperature, steel pan. We've just made a move in seven-space."

Two decades after Fisher's work, statisticians noticed that when there are many factors, you can cut some corners. Instead of using all the corners of a cube, they could get away with only a fraction of them, say 1/2 or 3/8. Another British statistician, George Box, introduced the idea of overlaying topographic "maps" on the cubes to discover the shape of the "complete hill." Box worked in the Fifties, and radar, rockets, and satellites inspired the looking-down-from-space perspective. He conceived of finding the sweet spot not by painfully working up to it east-west/ north-south, east-west/north-south, but by pointing radar from a satellite at selected spots on the terrain and reading the altitude. "Box drew lines between the dots sticking up from the surface of the cube to show where it peaks out at maximum quality," says Doehlert.

In the Sixties and Seventies, designs of experiments began to proliferate into catalogs of experiments, pages and pages of "number matrices. Multifactorial experiments did indeed get better results, higher hilltops, but the number of experiments needed was getting out of hand. Industry balked at doing 40 or more to get better results.

More geometrically flexible, Gosset broke away from the limitations of the cube to function also in spherical or polygonal space. "Instead of sticking to the corners, or centers of faces or edges of cubes, we can move the points around anywhere and let them find the right place to be in this space. It doesn't look right to some people," Doehlert laughs. "They think it's some kind of cheating. They've been brought up working with corners of cubes and other simple things. We can now work with a definition of the volume of the space of interest and various numbers of factors or dimensions. With Gosset," he says, "we can produce minimal designs with the fewest possible number of experiments to explore space or we can go for more than minimal. We're free to move around points in optimal placement and choose numbers of points. There are features we haven't used yet. We're 20, 50, 100 years ahead of the times. We can take off like never before." It is due to the mathematics of sphere packing.

In Neil Sloane's office at Bell Labs on a sunny spring day, Sloane and his colleague Ron Hardin, who among his many other talents, according to Sloane, is one of the world's great programmers, are modeling their "Codemart" T-shirts with a "best 8192-point packing" sphere on the back. Both mathematicians, in their early 50s, are slim and muscular. Sloane bounces around on his toes as if his sinews were made of taut springs. As he moves, the best-packing sphere (2 to the 13th power points) on his T-shirt looks like a fractionated kaleidoscope or the multi-faceted faceted eye of an insect.

Doehlert's letter had come to the right place. For decades Sloane and Hardin with Warren D. Smith had been building up tables of "nice arrangements" of points on spheres, placing N points on a sphere so as to maximize the distance between these points. Thus they dubbed themselves the Codemart Team, and the T-shirts carry the Codemart logo and some spectacular examples of their packings.

Sphere packing: How closely can you put spheres together without any overlapping? The classic problem--looking for the number of points, the "kissing number," of the pile of oranges at the market--is used to answer questions about packing more and more information into conduits such as optical fibers; the applications that control the flow of info on infohighways; CDs; modems with more baud power.

Sphere packing explores the organization of imaginary spheres into high-dimensional lattices. Crystals such as quartz are three-dimensional lattices. The pattern of tiles on your bathroom floor forms a two-dimensional lattice. Electronic signals can be points on a higher-dimensional lattice; information can be conveyed by points on a lattice. Mathematical lattices, periodic arrangements of points, regular spaced points, can theoretically extend forever in all directions and in any dimension.

Sphere packing in higher dimensions is the essence of Gosset. An experiment design prepared on Gosset can be diagramed as a Codemart-type arrangement of data points on a sphere, as a kaleidoscope design.

"Our original response to Doehlert's letter," says Sloane, "was to extract an appropriate collection of packings from our tables and send them to him." It was a collection of 14 to 20 points in four dimensions; some 20 to 25 points in five dimensions. Doehlert started using them right away in his consulting work, applied to statistical DOEs of things like the design of low-cost adhesives and glassware.

"Then he subsequently admitted he was not exactly interested in packing problems," Sloane continued, "but in finding optimal experiment designs." More faxes followed, asking about optimal placements of points in a cube, the simplest and most complex regions, and for various models. Over the next three years, they built up an ever more complicated program that would find optimal designs for a wide range of problems.

Written in C and running on a UNIX platform, the program is named after two Gossets: Thorold, one of the first to study polyhedra, regular solids in higher dimensions, and his contemporary, William Seally, one of the first to use statistical methods. "Although from our geometric viewpoint their work is related," says Sloane, "we don't know if the paths of Thorold and William Seally ever crossed." William Seally Gosset, an eminent statistician, worked for the Guinness brewery in Dublin. Under the pseudonym "Student," he surreptitiously published papers on the testing of a variety of cereals, quality of milk, and so on, in some of the first experiment designs.

Clearly Thorold, the precocious nineteenth-century discoverer of lattice sphere packings in six, seven, and eight dimensions, is Sloane's favorite Gosset. "These are probably the densest ways you can pack spheres in those dimensions," he says. Gosset was called to the bar in 1895, Sloane recounts, "and got himself a law degree the following year. But having no clients he amused himself trying to figure out what regular figures might exist in n dimensions. Recording the results, in 1897 he sent the essay to Major J. W. L. Glaisher, a famous mathematician in British circles. Glaisher showed Gosset's work with `E 8 lattices, to William Burnside, an even more famous mathematician, who said he couldn't get past the first half of the proof. Gosset's sort of geometrical intuition didn't appeal to him, Burnside admitted, and his ideas seemed `fanciful.' Gosset therefore published only the barest outline of his work, which was ignored for many years. This probably discouraged Gosset, for he never published anything else on the subject, dying in 1962. There was just the one very short paper in the 1900 volume of the Messenger of Mathematics. But," Sloane concluded, "if you had wanted an experiment design with about 240 tests in seven or eight dimensions and had asked Gosset about setting it up, he would have known how. But of course nobody did because they didn't think geometrically about statistical problems in those days."

Sloane and Hardin's first Gosset experiment design was for an optimal mix of meat, bread, and cardboard for a simulated McDonald's meatloaf. "Price is a factor for the company," says Hardin with a straight face. "And so is customer satisfaction."

"Remember the famous Air Force story," Sloane adds, "where they were trying to find the optimal diet for pilots. So they plugged in all the variables and it came out with carrots--a 100 percent carrot diet!"

One of the ingredients of the Gosset program is a "slightly secret" optimization algorithm that somehow Sloane and Hardin never get around to talking about. But they do want to demonstrate its flexibility, so Sloane and Hardin set up a whimsical test run, a "friendly little fake experiment," on the office terminal. They postulate a product, Omni-1, that contains not only continuous variables but also a discrete factor: to sacrifice or not to sacrifice a goat.

(Where Gosset is much better than other design programs, says Kodak's Kelly Robinson, is when a design also involves discrete factors: "It's either there or not there. For example to put a flash on a camera or not. It doesn't make sense to, say, put on a dim flash") Experiments with both continuous and discrete variables require much more complex math.

Sloane sets up the constraints, the endpoints in either direction to which each factor can conceivably go. Suppose Omni-1 seeks an optimum amount of temperature, water, flow, and sodium. These are continuous variables. But Omni-1's designers also need to know what to do about that goat: a discrete variable. "So we specify a model to include water plus flow plus temperature plus sodium plus goat." This model which is to be used to interpolate between data points has 20 terms. So 20 runs are needed in the minimal design.

In this case Gosset made eight attempts with 20 runs to get a good design. "Eight is not many," Sloane continues while the computer generates the design. "Last night I ran 2,000 attempts for an integrated circuit design for my colleagues down the hall, just to see if I could. The six-hundredth set a new record but it was not appreciably better than the fourth, maybe just a half a percentage point better"

In five minutes the design is finished. "One hundred thousand attempts," Sloane mutters. "We've noticed that the best design is often the first or second attempt and we don't know why." He mulls over this phenomenon again. Here too the first design was the best; it had the minimum variance. "Under the best possible combination it says," Sloane reads off the screen, "(1) you don't sacrifice the goat; (2) three grams sodium; (3) flow is -0.13; (4) five grams water; and (5) temperature is 156 degrees. So you print this out, give it to the factory operator and say, `Run these things.' Hence the best Omni-1 product."

Ron Hardin adds: "You can put additional constraints into the program, say, that temperature plus goat has to be less than 110 degrees. Can't have high temperature plus goat--that's really risky."

How does the program choose a design? Starting from some random design settings it optimizes them (using the not quite secret algorithm). Then it repeats this process some prescribed numbers of times; then the program picks the best. "What's remarkable," Sloane says, "is that the program automatically tells itself to make repeated measurements at some points. We didn't program it to do this."

What the program is really doing, he adds, boils down to minimizing the trace of the points, coefficients--which equals moments of space--on the geometrical figure. This minimization, then, approaches the region of the optimal design. Doehlert had in effect challenged Sloane in 1990: Tell me how I can choose the best points among uncountable possibilities? Gosset now does that on cubes, spheres, finite sets--any polynomial, any model.

Using eight high-speed Silicon Graphics parallel processors, Sloane and Hardin also began building up their library of previously existing designs. "This is stuff we're running on background night and day looking for the best designs that can be applied to anything. When we find one we store it. We can tell the library to search for a design. We're making these tables so people can use them without having to run the programs. For example," Sloane says, "if you want 120 points in 14 dimensions--with 14 coordinates, that is, 1,500-dimensional space-we've worked in 1,500 space. But this software allows it. Nobody has done that before."

Sloane describes one spherical experiment "like an egg with its top cut off and we're looking up at its inside." "Having Neil figure out how to do what was needed using his math, and Ron's programming, is the perfect outcome of my work," exclaims the ebullient Doehlert. "Consider that before Gosset, a single experiment design preparation could commonly cost $1,500. Gosset can generate an optimal design on the spot for $300 to $800. And very fast. As a statistician, I used to work up to a couple of weeks trying to figure out a good design. And it would be nowhere near as good as Gosset. Now I have it in 24 hours or less, and it's better than we could have possibly done the old way. It's an astonishing leap!"

Doehlert, who has taught design of experiments concepts to engineers and scientists for decades, and still does, marvels at his rapport with Sloane. "Some people don't catch on no matter how I explain it," he says. "Others are quick and catch on well, but Sloane was the quickest. I characterize time with Neil as being like heat lightning in a summer thunderstorm, where the whole sky lights up from the lightning and goes out fast to the corners. An idea was like the beginning of a lightning strike, then the sheet of light where all the clouds are lit up across the sky. In moments we outlined how to help every single researcher in the world with every single project. It is the ultimate thrill to use the mind to cover huge amounts of territory with exceeding rapidity."

Back in the company lab, project engineer Bob Jordan at AlliedSignal used Gosset for determining the sweet spot for the operation of a thermal switch, factoring in variables as arcane to the nonengineer as a foreign tongue: variables specific to metallurgical, mechanical, and manufacturing considerations. Jordan's group also designs accelerometers for aircraft and flight-deck recorders, the so-called "black boxes" so crucial in determining causes of plane crashes. In the past Jordan says, he didn't much use heavy-duty design of experiments because they were difficult and cost-prohibitive, instead attempting to narrow down the list of factors. "That was always risky," he explains, "because you didn't know if you'd narrowed down that factor which in real life turned out to be very important." Today, the AlliedSignal plant in Redmond, he adds, "has a good lead on the local industry and aerospace in general. We're doing more statistical process control than the rest as reflected by our low scrap costs among other things. We're highly committed to the total quality mandate."

At Eastman Kodak, Kelly Robinson has used DOEs in film-related manufacturing. "I've worked in an electrostatic group. Electrostatic charges collecting on sheets of paper or film can cause jamming or other problems. We've tried to develop processes that aren't sensitive to that charge."

Do programs such as Gosset affect a company's TQ? "They have a huge effect," Robinson answers. "It gets to the heart of a revolution occurring at Kodak. We recently hired a new CEO, George Fisher. He's encouraged us along the path of reduced cycle times, getting more things done and faster. Gosset affects cycle time, efficiency. But," he warns, "Gosset will help find the sweet spot, but it won't help you understand what happened. I can run a large designed experiment, bring all the data back to my desk, throw up my hands and say, `Jeez, what in the world happened?, Gosset won't help explain what the molecules are doing. That's not what it's for. You still need to understand the chemistry and physics of what you're doing. Still need creativity and insight into the process."

But people will increasingly need to think this way, he continues. "Probably more than they realize. And there's little formal training in it. People get hung up trying to visualize what higher-dimensional space looks like. It's easy to talk about a 1-D point, or a line or a highway between here and New York. We were born and grew up in three-dimensional space. I've never visited four-dimensional space and am not sure what it looks like. But in terms of visualizing how a manufacturing process behaves when I change seven things at once, that I can think about, have a mental image of it. When I have seven directions of freedom, I'm in seven-space."

Meanwhile, back at Bell Labs, Sloane and Hardin are coming out with another Codemart T-shirt with the same sphere packing but a new motto: "You name it. We can maximize it."

Once more legato - short story

by Ray Bradbury

Fentriss sat up in his chair in the garden in the middle of a fine autumn and listened. The drink in his hand remained unsipped, his friend Black unspoken to, the fine house unnoticed, the very weather itself neglected, for there was a vertible fountain of sound in the air above them. * "My God," he said. "Do you hear?" * "What, the birds?" asked his friend Black, doing just the opposite: sipping his drink, noticing the weather, admiring the rich house and neglecting the birds entirely until this moment. * "Great God in heaven, listen to them! cried Fentriss. * Black listened. "Rather nice." * "Clean out your ears!" * Black made a half hearted gesture, symbolizing the cleaning out of ears. "Well?" * "Damn it, don't be funny. I mean really listen! They're singing a tune!" * "Birds usually do." * "No they don't; birds paste together bits and pieces maybe, five or six notes, eight at the most. Mockingbirds have repertoires that change, but not entire melodies. These birds are different. Now shut up and give over!" * Both men sat, enchanted. Black's expression melted. * "I'll be damned," he said, at last. "They do go on." He leaned forward and listened intently. * "Yes ..." murmured Fentriss, eyes shut, nodding to the rhythms that sprang like fresh rain from the tree just above their heads. "... ohmigod ... indeed." * Black rose as if to move under the tree and peer up. Fentriss protested with a fierce whisper: * "Don't spoil it. Sit. Be very still. Where's my pencil? Ah ..." * Half peering around, he found a pencil and notepad, shut his eyes and began to scribble, blindly. * The birds sang. * "You're not actually writing down their song?" said Black. * "What does it look like? Quiet." * And with eyes now open, now shut, Fentriss drew scales and jammed in the notes. * "I didn't know you read music," said Black, astonished. * "I played the violin until my father broke it. Please! There. There. Yes!" * "Slower," he whispered. "Wait for me." As if hearing, the birds adjusted their lilt, moving toward piano instead of bravado. * A breeze stirred the leaves like an invisible conductor, and the singing died. * Fentriss, perspiration beading his forehead, stopped scribbling and fell back.

"I'll be damned." Black gulped his drink. "What was that all about?" .

"Writing a song." Fentriss stared at the scales he had dashed on paper. "Or a tone poem."

"Let me see that! "

"Wait." The tree shook itself gently, but produced no further notes. "I want to be sure they're done."


Black seized the pages and let his eyes drift over the scales. "Jesus, Joseph and Mary," he said, aghast. "It works." He glanced up at the thick green of the tree, where no throat warbled, no wing stirred. "What kind of birds are those?"

"The birds of forever, the small beasts of an Immaculate Musical Conception. Something," said Fentriss, "has made them with child and its name is song--"


"Is it?! Something in the air, in the seeds they ate at dawn, some whim of climate and weather, God! But now, they're mine, it's mine. A fine tune."

"It is," said Black. "But' can't be!"

"Never question the miraculous when it happens. Good grief, maybe those damned wonderful creatures have been throw[ng up incredible song for months, years, but no one listened. Today, for the first time, someone did. Me! Now, what to do with the gift?"

"You don't seriously mean--"

"I've been out of work for a year. I quit my computers, retired early, I'm only 49, and have been threatening to knit macrame to give friends to spoil their walls, day after day. Which shall it be, friend, macrame or Mozart?"

"Are you Mozart?"

"Just his bastard son."

"Nonsense," cried Black, printing his face like a blunder-buss at the trees as if he might blast the choir. "That tree, those birds, are a Rorschach test. Your subconscious is picking and choosing notes from pure chaos. There is no discernible tune, no special rhythm. You had me fooled, but I see and hear it now, you've had a repressed desire since childhood to compose. And you've let a clutch of idiot birds grab you by the ears. Put down that pen!"

"Nonsense, right back at you." Fentriss laughed. "You're jealous that after twelve layabout years, thunderstruck with boredom, one of us has found an occupation. I shall follow it. Listen and write, write and listen. Sit down, you're obstructing the acoustics!"

"I'll sit," Black exclaimed, "but--" He his hands over his ears.

"Fair enough," said Fentriss. "Escape fantastic reality while I change a few notes and fin this unexpected birth."

Glancing up at the tree he whispered.

"Wait for me."

The tree rustled its leaves and fell quiet.

"Crazy," Muttered Black.

One, two, three hours later, entering the library quietly and then loudly, Black cried out: "What are you doing?"

Bent over his desk, his hand moving furiously, Fentriss said: "Finishing a symphony!"

"The same one you began in the garden?"

"No, the birds began, the birds!"

"The birds, then." Black edged closer to study the mad inscriptions. "How do you know what to do with that stuff?"

"They did most. I've added variations!"

"An arrogance the ornithologists will resent and attack. Have you composed before?"

"Not," Fentriss let his fingers roam, loop, and scratch, "until today!"

"You realize, of course, you're plagiarizing those songbirds?"

"Borrowing, Black, borrowing. If a milkmaid, singing at dawn, can have her hum borrowed by Berlibz, well! Or if Dvorak, hearing a Dixie banjo plucker pluck `Goin' Home' and steals the banjo to eke out his New World, why can't I weave a net to catch a tune? There! Finito. Done! Give us a title, Black!"

"I? Who sing off-key.?"

"What about The Emperor's Nightingale?"


"The Birds?"


"Damn. How's this: It's Only John Cage in a Gilded Bird?"

"Brilliant. But no one knows who John Cage was."

"Well, then, I've got it!

And he wrote: "Forty-seven Magpies Baked in a Pie."

"Blackbirds, you mean, go back to John Cage."

"Bosh!" Fentriss stabbed the phone. "Hello, Willie? Could you come over? Yes, a small job. Symphonic arrangement for a friend, or friends. What's your usual philharmonic fee? Eh? Good enough. Tonight!"

Fentriss disconnected and turned to gaze at the tree with wonders in it.

"What next?" he murmured.

Forty-seven Magpies, with title shortened, premiered at the Glendale Chamber Symphony a month later standing ovations, incredible reviews. Fentriss, outside his skin with joy, prepared to launch himself atop large, small, symphonic, operatic, whatever fell on his ears. He had listened to the strange choirs each day for weeks, but had noted nothing, waiting to see if the Magpie experiment was to be repeated. When the applause rose in storms and the critics hopped when they weren't skipping he knew he must strike again before the epilepsy ceased.

There followed: Wings, Flight, Night Chorus, The Fiedgling Madrigals, and Dawn Patrol, each greeted by new thunderstorms of acclamation and critics angry at excellence but forced to praise.

"By now," said Fentriss, "I should be unbearable to live with, but the birds caution modesty."

"Also," said Black, seated under the tree, waiting for a sprig of benison and the merest touch of symphonic manna, "shut up! if all those sly dimwit composers, who will soon be lurking in the bushes, cop your secret, you're a gone poacher."

"Poacher! By god, yes!" Fentriss laughed, "Poacher."

And damned if the first poacher didn't arrive! Glancing out at three in the morning, Fentriss witnessed a runty shadow stretching up, hand-held tape recorder poised, warbling and whistling softly at the tree. When this failed the half-seen poacher tried dovecoos and then orioles and roosters, half dancing in a circle.

"Damn it to hell!" Fentriss leaped out with a shotgun cry: "Is that Wolfgang Prouty poaching my garden? Out, Wolfgang! Go!"

Dropping his recorder, Prouty vaulted a bush, impaled himself on thorns, and vanished.

Fentriss, cursing, picked up an abandoned note pad. "Nightsong" it read. On the tape recorder he found a lovely Satie-like bird-choir.

After that more poachers arrived mid night to depart at dawn. Their spawn, Fentriss realized, would soon throttle his creativity and still his voice. He loitered full time in the garden now, not knowing what seed to give his beauties, and heavily watered the lawn to fetch up worms. Wearily he stood guard through sleepless nights nodding off only to find Wolfgang Prouty's evil minions astride the wall, prompting arias, and one night, by god, perched in the tree itself, humming in hopes of singalongs.

A shotgun was the final answer. After its first fiery roar, the garden was empty for a week. That is, until--Someone came very late indeed and committed mayhem.

As quietly as possible, they cut the branches and sawed the limbs.

"Oh, envious composers, dreadful murderers!" cried Fentriss.

And the birds were gone.

And the career of Amadeus Two with it.

"Black!" cried Fentriss.

"Yes, dear friend?" said Black, looking at the bleak sky where once green was.

"Is your car outside?"

"When last I looked."


But driving in search didn't do it. It wasn't like culling lost dogs or telephone-poled cats. They must find and cage an entire Mormon tabernacle team of soprano springtime-in-the-Rockies birdseed lovers to prove one in the hand is worth two in the bush.

But still they hastened from block to block, garden to garden, lurking and listening. Now their spirits soared with an echo of "Halielujah Chorus" oriole warbling but to sink in a drab sparrow twilight of despair.

Only when they had crossed and recrossed interminable mazes of asphalt and greens did one of them (Black) finally light his pipe and emit a theory.

"Did, you ever think to wonder," he mused behind a smoke-cloud, "what season of the year this is?

"Season of the year?" said Fentriss, exasperated.

"Well, coincidentally, wasn't the night the tree fell and the wee songsters blew town, was not that the first fall night of autumn?"

Fentriss clenched a fist and struck his brow. "You mean>'

"Your friends have flown the coop. Their migration must be above San Miguel Allende just now."

"If they are migratory birds!"

"Do you doubt it?"

Another pained silence, another blow to the head.


"Precisely," said Black.

"Friend," said Fentriss.


"Drive home."

It was a long year, it was a short year, it was a year of anticipation, it was the burgeoning of despair, it was the revival of inspiration, but at its heart Fentriss knew, just another Tale of Two Cities, but he did not know what the other city was!

How stupid of me, he thought, not to have guessed or imagined, that my songsters were wanderers who each autumn fled south and each springtime swarmed north in a cappella choirs of sound.

"The waiting," he told Black, "is madness. The phone never stops--"

The phone rang. He picked it up and addressed it like a child. "Yes. Yes. Of course. Soon. When? Very soon." And put the phone down. "You see? That was Philadelphia. They want another cantata as good as the first. At dawn today it was Boston. Yesterday the Vienna Philharmonic. Soon, I say. When? God knows. Lunacy! Where are those angels that once sang me to my rest?"

He threw down maps and weather charts of Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, and the Argentines.

"How far south? Do I scour Buenos Aires or Rio, Mazatlan or Cuernavaca? And then? Wander about with a tin ear, standing under trees waiting for bird-drops like a spotted owl? Will the Argentine critics trot by scoffing tb see me leaning on trees, eyes shut, waiting for the quasi-melody, the lost chord? I'd let no one know the cause of my journey, my search, otherwise pandemoniums of laughter. But in what city, under what kind of tree would I wander to stand? A tree like mine? Do they seek the same roosts? Or will anything do in Ecuador or Peru? God I could waste months guessing and come back with birdseed in my hair and bird bombs on my lapels. What to do, Black, speak!"

"Well, for one thing," Black stuffed and lit his pipe and ex haled his aromatic concepts, you might clear off this stump and plant a new tree."

They had been circling the stump and kicking it for inspiration. Fentriss froze with one foot raised. "Say that again?!

"I said--"

"Good grief, you genius! Let me kiss you!"

"Rather not. Hugs, maybe."

Fentriss hugged him, wildly Friend!"

"Always was."

"Let's get a shovel and spade."

"You get. I'll watch."

Fentriss ran back a minute later with a spade and pickax. "Sure you won't join me?"

Black sucked his pipe, blew smoke. Later."

How much would a full-grown tree cost?"

"Too much."

"Yes, but if it were here and the birds did return?"

Black let out more smoke. "Might be worth it. Opus Number Two: In the Beginning by Charles Fentriss, stuff like that."

"In the Beginning, or maybe The Return."

"One of those."

Or," Fentriss struck the stump with the pickax. "Rebirth," He struck again. "Ode to Joy" Another strike. "Spring Harvest." Another. "Let the Heavens Resound. How's that, Black?"

"I prefer the other," said Black. The stump was pulled and the new tree bought.

"Don't show me the bill," Fentriss told his accountant. "Pay it."

And the tallest tree they could find, of the same family as the one dead and gone, was planted.

"What if it dies before my choir returns?" said Fentriss.

"What if it lives," said Black, "and your choir goes elsewhere?"

The tree, planted, seemed in no immediate need to die. Neither did it look particularly vital and ready to welcome small singers from some far southern places.

Meanwhile the sky, like the tree, was empty. "Don't they know I'm waiting" said Fentriss.

"Not unless," offered Black, "you majored in crosscontinental telepathy."

"I've checked with Audubon. They say that while the swallows do come back to Capistrano on a special day, give or take a white lie, other migrating species are often one or two weeks late."

"If I were you," said Black, "I would plunge into an intense love affair to distract you while you wait."

"I am fresh out of love affairs.

"Well, then," said Black, "suffer."

The hours passed slower than the minutes, the days passed slower than the hours, the weeks passed slower than the days. Black called, "No birds?"

"No birds."

"Pity. I can't stand watching you lose weight." And Black disconnected.

On a final night, when Fentriss had almost yanked; the phone out of the wall, fearful of another call from the Boston Symphony, he leaned an ax against the trunk of the new tree and addressed it and the empty sky.

"Last chance," he said. If the dawn patrol doesn't show by 7:00 a.m., it's quits." And he touched ax-blade against the tree-bole, took two shots of vodka so swiftly that the spirits squirted out both eyes, and went to bed.

He awoke twice during the night to hear nothing but a soft breeze outside his window, stirring the leaves, with not a ghost of song.

And awoke at dawn with tear-filled eyes, having dreamed that the birds had returned but knew, in waking, it was only a dream. And yet...?

Hark, someone might have said in an old novel. List! as in an old play.

Eyes shut, he fine-tuned his ears ...

The tree outside, as he arose, looked fatter, as if it had taken on invisible ballasts in the night. There were. stirrings there, not of simple breeze or probing winds, but something in the very leaves that knitted and purled them in rhythms. He dared not look but lay back down to ache his senses and try to know

A single chirp hovered in the window.

He waited.


Go on, he thought.

Another chirp.

Don't breathe, he thought, don't let them know you're listening.


A fourth sound, then a fifth note, then a sixth and a seventh.

My God, he thought, is this a substitute orchestra, a replacement choir come to scare off my loves?

Another five notes.

Perhaps, he prayed, they're only tuning up! Another twelve notes, of no special timbre or pace, and as he was about to explode like a lunatic conductor and fire the bunch--

At happened.

Note after note, line after line, fluid melody following spring freshet melody, the whole choir exhaled to blossom the tree with joyous proclamations of return and welcome in chorus.

And as they sang, Fentriss snuck his hand to find pad and pen to hide under the covers so that its scratching might not disturb the choir that soared and dipped to soar again, firing the bright air that flowed from the tree to tune his soul with delight and move his hand to remember.

The phone rang. He picked it up swiftly to hear Black ask if the waiting was over. Without speaking, he held the receiver in the window.

"I'll be damned," said Black's voice.

"No anointed," whispered the composer, scribbling Cantata Number Two. Laughing, he called softly to the sky.

"Please. More slowly. Legato not agitato."

And the tree and the creatures within the tree obeyed.

Agitato ceased.

Legato prevailed.

Daniel C. Dennett - materialist philosopher - Interview

by Robert K.J. Killheffer

It's hard to reconcile what I know of Daniel Dennett--unflinching philosopher of mind, tenacious and learned reasoner, challenger of our comfortable illusions--with the man in knee-length shorts greeting me from the front step of his nineteenth-century farmhouse. A man who keeps two pigs, bottles homemade apple cider, and looks forward to raking up a good crop of blueberries later in the season. Before we start discussing the origins of life and the nature of consciousness, we fire up his old International Harvester tractor for a tour of the acreage. We talk about his distant relatives--the first exit on I-95 as you cross the Maine border is Dennett Road--and he teaches me a thing or two about farming that he's picked up over the 24 summers that he has spent here.

In fact it's no paradox. His very earthiness is a main reason Dennett has been able to reach so far beyond the tight circles of philosophical academia with books such as Consciousness Explained, and recently, Darwin's Dangerous Idea. The term "philosophy" might conjure images of impenetrable prose and irrelevant arguments, but Dennett's work avoids the dreary formal logic and technical jargon clogging other philosophical texts. He makes his abstract points about the nature of mind and processes of evolution vivid and accessible with real-life anecdotes and easy-to-try thought experiments. One need hardly hold a Ph.D. to appreciate his ideas. Although he's most concerned with his books' reception among colleagues, he has relished responses from high-school students, dentists, and used-car salesmen. An artist in Germany used one suggested experiment from Consciousness Explained to create a recent work. (The two may co-author a paper detailing the results for a psychological journal.)

Educated at Harvard and Oxford, Dennett, 53, heads the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, where he's taught since 1971. Over the years he has become perhaps the most uncompromising and outspoken proponent of a materialist philosophy of mind, According to Dennett and other materialists, the mind--everything that makes up you, your thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires--arises entirely from the brain's physical activity. There are no ethereal spirits or immortal soul, just the wet matter between our ears.

In explaining how selves need no souls, Dennett borrows the concept of memes from the British zoologist Richard Dawkins. Simply put, memes can be any sort of cultural unit, ideas transmittable from person to person--the idea of the wheel, wearing clothes, chess, basketball, catchy songs or jingles: Greensleeves is a meme. Comparable to genes in that they reproduce and mutate over time, memes make the elements of culture into an evolutionary system like biology. Those memes in our brains (you could say those memes "infecting" us), give us the makings of a self. The `I' is a cultural artifact, the product of the acquisition of memes. The very idea of self could well be considered a meme.

If that sounds rather hard-nosed and, well, materialist, it's no surprise. Calm, self-assured, and affable, Dennett nevertheless makes no bones about his convictions. In Darwin's Dangerous idea, he declares unequivocally that evolution "is as secure an example of a scientific fact as the roundness of the earth." He has no patience with adherents of what he calls a "mind-first" cosmology--where the material world arises out of "consciousness," ours, God's, or someone's, rather than the other way around--nor does he tolerate the illogical contortions underlying creationist beliefs. Paraphrasing Aristotle, he says, "If you can find someone who denies the law of noncontradiction, it's like talking to a cabbage."

In Darwin's Dangerous Idea, he takes to task evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, and linguist Noam Chomsky, as well as fellow philosophers. In some cases it's just polite professional disagreement, but in others there's a distinctly personal note to the criticism. "I have been harsh on a variety of people," Dennett admits, "but I think without exception the people I've gone after I might classify as bullies. If there's one thing I really don't like it's when a very influential, charismatic, and brilliant person engages in willful caricature of the opposition. When I see that I see red."

Not surprisingly, he's got enemies in the neurosciences, linguistics, biology, and elsewhere, as well as philosophy. Some of Dennett's critics consider his eclecticism an excuse to dismiss his arguments, claiming only a specialist could evaluate the research in any area well enough to comment on it. But to Dennett and others in his camp, the synthetic approach offers the only hope of addressing the big questions of the origins of life and consciousness. "You're going to have to be bold," he says. If any one word could sum up the man who would title his book Consciousness Explained, that's certainly it.--Robert K. J. Killheffer

Omni: How did your colleagues react to Consciousness Explained?

Dennett: In general I've been delighted, because certainly it's been taken very seriously--everybody seems to have to deal with it one way or another. At one extreme are people who, to my surprise and dismay, have been unable to take seriously the book's radical challenge. They think, Well, that just can't be. [Philosopher] Ned Block seems to be one of those who still hasn't come to grips with the real possibility I'm right. And lots of others just found the message too radical for them. One neat thing was that people in the neurosciences responded by saying, Well, I thought I was a good materialist until you showed me just how counterintuitive materialism really is. Now that I see what I have to jettison from my traditional worldview to be a good materialist, maybe dualism looks a bit better

This pleases me because I wanted to show that materialism isn't this simple, intuitive, "the mind is the brain" concept. They're facing the problems in some regard more forthrightly than materialists still trying to cling to what I call a Cartesian materialism. They threw away the interactionism [mindbody dualism] but kept the place where it all comes together, the Cartesian theater [control center in the brain]. My goodness, people have defended that view vigorously. That's been perhaps the most interesting aspect of the response. And some scientists have shown me that their own work could be reinterpreted to support and extend my views. Rod Brooks of MIT said, "We think you're right about consciousness and would like to try to model some of them in this robot." I thought, great! That's like being handed Aladdin's lamp!

Omni: What should be the relationship between philosophy and neuroscience?

Dennett: Most of what's done by philosophers of mind is really not of much help to cognitive and neuroscientists. It's infighting that has to go on but other disciplines can avert their eyes. It doesn't matter to them yet. But if you view philosophy of mind as a branch of philosophy of science, whose point is to clarify and alleviate conceptual problems arising in science, then the work is important to neuroscientists who now can see that arguments and analyses I give help them avoid going down mistaken avenues. Of course there's still a fairly overwhelming legacy of antitheoretical bias in the neurosciences. Even today neuroscientists who don't keep their fingers wet are in jeopardy of not being taken seriously.

Omni: Are Roger Penrose's objections to Al based on a similar bias?

Dennett: In his case it's a very specific mislocation of the issue. He gets it in his head that what a mathematician means by an algorithm is the same as what Al people have meant by algorithms, and that's really not true. Thinking the way mathematicians think, an algorithm is a terminating Turing machine that probably does a certain thing--[a series of instructions that] computes a specific function. Thinking that way, then Al has almost never been concerned with algorithms. [Al researchers take "algorithm" to mean a set of instructions that can be followed by rote, but need not have any goal, specific purpose, or end.] So the whole point of The Emperor's New Mind is sort of misbegotten. It's really a sort of stunning error on Penrose's part, because he quite innocently went ahead treating algorithms the wrong way. It's time for Emily Litella to come out and say, Nevermind!

We had a debate at Dartmouth last spring where he presented chapters of his new book, Shadows of the Mind, and I presented portions of my Penrose chapter from Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Although Penrose has now recognized that this is not a small loophole but a major gap in his argument, I don't think he's really confronted it properly. He still fails to make his case, but at least sees this is a bigger problem than he'd realized.

Omni: What about Penrose's notion that microtubules in neurons--so small that the behavior of single electrons can have a strong effect--are a likely brain site for significant quantum mechanical effects? And that these quantum effects, such as the simultaneous existence of several probability states for a single particle, somehow give rise to consciousness?

Dennett: The microtubules--Stuart Hameroff's ideas. I got a good introduction to that from Stuart and Roger at a workshop two years ago in Lapland, up with the reindeer and midnight sun. On the one hand, Penrose was right to recognize that the neuroscience in The Emperor's New Mind was woefully inadequate and sketchy and he had to find some base of operations if he was going to continue that argument. I think Hameroff's ideas are dubious at best, and this is not a good wagon for Penrose to hitch on to. But there it is; he's become enthusiasiic about it, If you're looking to find magnification of quantum effects in the nervous system, microtubules are as good a place as any to start. But Hameroff's claims strike me as confused.

Omni: You mean the inhibition of quantum effects in microtubules is what produces unconsciousness in anesthesia?

Dennett: I challenged Hameroff if as an anesthesiologist he'd ever assisted in an operation to reattach a severed limb. He said no. And I said, "If I understand you right, according to your theory of consciousness, you really ought to anesthetize the severed limb before it's reattached. Because after all, it's got a full dose of microtubules in it, and if consciousness depends on the operation of microtubules, then that arm is feeling pain before it's reattached." My impression then was that it had never occurred to him--he didn't have a good answer for it.

Omni: More basically, is some sort of magnification of quantum effects really vital to any scientific explanation of consciousness?

Dennett: In 1984 in Elbow Room, I discussed the question of whether quantum randomness is necessary to get free will. It's easy enough theoretically to install it, but, I argued, nobody had ever shown it was necessary. You could get pseudorandomness, as it were, much cheaper at a macroscopic level by just adding a sort of number generator providing you with a coin-flip, whenever you need one. Pseudorandomness apparently gives you all the power you'd ever get from quantum randomness. You want randomness, you can install it in the nervous system. What good does. it do you?

It's conceivable that computation at the molecular level matters, but nobody has given a good reason to think it does. Penrose imagines he has because he thinks he's shown that human mathematicians can do something no Turing machine can do, and that to him presents something of a dilemma to the materialist: Either we have to be frank dualists, or we'll have a revolution in physics. His argument is just broken-backed, so he hasn't found a reason for going quantum.

Omni: Penrose really can't swallow straight, unmitigated materialism?

Dennett: Penrose wants a skyhook, a deus ex machina, an exemption from mechanism, from algorithmic mindless processes. Darwin suggests all design in nature can be explained in terms of mechanisms--what I call "cranes"--of one Darwinian algorithmic process piled on top of another. To me this is the best, most beautiful idea I've ever encountered.

Omni: By cranes you mean more complex intermediary mechanisms-perfectly consistent with Darwinian process--that help promote evolutionary change?

Dennett: Right. But others find it oppressive, and for them the search has always been to find some gap that could not be leapt by cranes, mere mechanism, where you must have a skyhook to help you up to the next level. Noam Chomsky, when he resists evolutionary accounts of the creation of the language organ, would probably like it to be a skyhook, a sort of gift from God that sets us apart from the rest of mechanical creation and is inexplicable in terms of brute mechanism. Penrose is forthright in saying he finds the idea of Al offensive and wants to show artificial intelligence can't be right. At first, I blush to say, I didn't connect this desire to his openly expressed doubt about standard Darwinian theory of natural selection. Then I realized he's almost obliged to be a skeptic about evolution, because Al and evolution are just the same story on a different time scale. Natural selection says we're the descendants of robots, little tiny macromolecular robots, and we're composed of robots. And that's what Al says. To be a skeptic about strong Al and not be a skeptic about evolution, you'd have to maintain that, although we descend from a long line of robots, at some point shazam!--something marvelous happens so we cease to be just a collection of robots.

Omni: You take on another popular scientist, Stephen Jay Gould, in your new book. What's your objection to his views?

Dennett: Steve has been out to attack a notion of a global progress and goal-directedness in evolution. But that is not the view of evolutionists; it's a lay view of evolution, and a silly one. So if that's Gould's target, what's he going on about? Nobody in the field accepts that view.

Omni: So your argument is with Gould's rhetoric, when he makes it seem his view marks a revolution in science?

Dennett: He certainly presented Wonderful Life as a view supposed to upset the evolutionary establishment. If what he's saying is that many people outside biology continue to think because we're one of the end-products to date of evolution, this is a process destined and supposed to produce us--that's wrong. He's right; that's wrong. But gosh, I can't think of anybody in the sciences who's asserted that view since Darwin!

Omni: So a goal-directed view of evolution is incorrect?

Dennett: On a global scale, it's always a mistake to think about progress--after all, we may blow ourselves up next week, and then it won't have looked like progress, will it? But on shorter time scales, there is progress. Of course there's progress in evolution. There's hill-climbing going on on many scales in many dimensions all the time. And there is in culture, too. Some people have a hard time believing I'm not after Steve Gould the man. I'm really after an unfortunately effective myth he's put out there that I think has to be revised. I've tried to leave Steve as much room as possible to say, "Oh, thanks, Dan, I hadn't realized the rhetoric had some of these untoward effects." But that's not what he's said so far. A few years ago, my literary agent, John Brockman, arranged for us to have lunch with him and Danny Hills from Thinking Machines. It was terribly tense.

My effort there was to give Steve the skyhook/crane distinction, and define the difference between good reductionism and greedy reductionism. Good reductionists think it can all be done without skyhooks; greedy reductionists think it can all be done without even cranes. Then I proposed we were all in agreement about one thing, weren't we? We were all at least good reductionists. Danny said, "Yeah, sure." When I turned to Steve, he wouldn't agree. It [no skyhooks] was a mechanistic reductionism he really didn't like.

Omni: Why do scientists like Gould and Penrose find the Darwinian model so oppressive?

Dennett: One reason is built right into the scientific enterprise. When scientists experiment, they presuppose they are independent, outside of the phenomenon being studied. As Freeman Dyson points out in Disturbing the Universe, the scientist is disturbing the universe to see what happens. To do that you have to think of yourself as outside it. If the experimenter is part of the fabric of the universe, maybe it's an illusion that you can "objectively" disturb the universe--it's just one part of the universe disturbing another.

I don't see this as a formal contradiction. If so, science would fall apart. It's an approximation, idealization, but one built into the heart of the scientific method. The desire for that idealization to be the literal truth may be what fuels our unwillingness to be considered a mechanism. Many people are quite willing to play a geographical game. They've given up their toes, legs, immune system, metabolism, and retreated back into the brain--the only place that really matters. The rest can all be mechanism, but please let consciousness be exempt from that.

Omni: Why is Darwin's idea dangerous? For whom?

Dennett: It's dangerous to those who have staked everything on a mind-first vision of how the universe works. It's threatening to them because it's science--the very same science that builds the bridges they drive over and makes possible the television they watch. That very same science, just as objective and reliable, is showing all these processes they thought had to have divine explanation ultimately don't.

People who've mistakenly thought ethics and morality depend on this mind-first version will find the whole foundation of their sense of what life is about overturned. That's dangerous, because it's upsetting. There's a real conflict between that worldview and the Darwinian one. All I can say is most of what people hold dear in the traditional worldview--and, I'd argue, everything that really matters to that worldview--is preserved in the Darwinian view in adjusted form. There's plenty of meaning, morality, love, and hate--everything great and important to us has a version that survives healthier than ever.

Omni: What would be different about morality in Darwin's version?

Dennett: Let's take abortion. Everybody agrees you have to draw a line somewhere. It's not an ideological but a practical question. The traditionalist thinks or hopes there will be a joint at which nature is carved that will settle this issue, an essential divide. Darwin shows nature doesn't have that kind of joint. Whatever decision we make will be to some degree arbitrary. That doesn't mean we can't have reasons for it. It's like the law that says you can't get a driver's license till you're 16 or 18. Everybody knows it's arbitrary, but people don't lie awake at night worrying about the injustice of it, because they realize it's an arbitrary point. Good moral reasons exist for a dividing line and nobody should suppose some imaginably discoverable set of facts would do better. We'll have to do that with abortion and moral issues such as the medical definition of death. Darwinism shows that hope for a more principled dividing line on these issues is forlorn.

Omni: Is some resistance a kind of laziness, a not wanting to do the work of deciding for ourselves?

Dennett: I wouldn't label it laziness so much as a distaste for what seems an unprincipled decision. They don't want to give up a view that would rule from on high. The Ten Commandments, law of Islam, Talmud, or whatever, lay it on the line. People don't relish casting adrift from those traditional anchors. Real points of confrontation are often, and maybe in most regards for good reason, glossed over. People don't want to start fights. There's been a tendency to be too tolerant of woollyheaded compatiblist thinking about evolution. It's not such a hard pill to swallow, some say. Well, it is a hard pill to swallow, but swallow it.

Omni: Some would see your position as atheistic. Do you describe yourself as such?

Dennett: I'm actually closer to a pantheist. At the end of Darwins Dangerous Idea I say, look, the world itself, this unique, marvelous, fantastic thing sort of created itself ex nihilo, and that's what's sacred, right there. It isn't the atheism of "nothing's sacred;" it isn't nihilism, but by any other lights it's atheism.

Omni: What about some less admirable purposes to which people have put Darwin's ideas over the years-racial divisions, tascism?

Dennett: Social Darwinism, eugenics, Nazism . . . No question. Darwinism has inspired some pernicious, even obscene social movements and political doctrines. Then so has Platonism and Einsteinian relativity theory, though perhaps not as badly. Darwin's idea is so seductive. It's very easy to get a cheap version of it and then run off half-cocked, thinking you've got the blessings of science for one dismal misconstrued idea or another. I'm embarrassed to say I've fallen for some bad arguments, then woken up saying, My gosh, how could I have fallen for that? It's tricky stuff. These ideas seem tailor-made for enthusiasm of both the good and bad sort. People get a little Darwin under their belt, and they're off and running.

Omni: How can we avoid such pitfalls? Dennet: First, we have to think about what matters and why. Few would agree with B. F Skinner that the survival of culture in its present form is the end-all and be-all. Most of us would think we shouldn't even try to identify the summum bonum for all people and time. We should ask: What seems to matter the most and to go on mattering the most to most of us for as far as we can foresee? If it turns out that half a million years from now our descendants don't give a hoot for liberty, art, or love . . . well, it's good we didn't make horrendous sacrifices now that they might have liberty, art, and freedom then. It'd be hubris to suppose what matters most to us now is always going to matter most to everybody and should matter most forever.

Omni: Darwinian ideas don't specify values, then. It's what you do with them?

Dennett: Sure, and that's a message I'm sure Gould and I agree on. That's what made social Darwinism so pernicious, and what makes pop sociobiology so bad. It makes the elementary mistake of supposing that an implied value of the process that got us here is to be extrapolated into the future.

Omni: Can Darwinian theory be useful to people in the humanities?

Dennett: Yes, my own semicasual survey of thinking among critics is that they've all seen the wisdom of abandoning a pure Cartesian mind-first author-first view. What's the death of the author--deconstruction--all about? That's bread and butter to these people. They've all seen what to flee. But my gosh, they've been all over the map about where to go from there, so we've had a lot of dreary exaggeration of different sorts of post-modernist, relativist baloney.

There was a time when my hunch that the truth about DNA was going to turn out to be much more "deconstructionist" than its turned out to be. Many biologists thought so too, that context must rule expression of DNA, so there'd be very little interspecies translation possibility. Each species would have its own DNA ideo ect its own textua tradition. But it doesn't turn out that way When you lift glow-in-the-dark genes from fireflies and put 'em n plants they glow in the dark' That's an absolutely antideconstruction st fact. Its like taking a sentence out of the Gilgamesh and putting it into a Saul Bellow novel and it means the same thing there!

What we're learning about DNA is that although in principle there's this complete contextuality, and the reader makes all the difference. in practice, it doesn't make al the difference. There's a tremendous amount of constraint, ike the cryptographers constraint. Cryptographers have always krown that if you can find any sizable chunk of cipher text, any decoding at all, you've found the decoding That principle is being shown to apply in attenuated form to DNA, so we find that things like the genes for "eyeness" in Drosophila are recognizably the same as a gene in mice for their eyes. In literature we'll realize "in principle" any text can be read as any other: Moby Dick is a tract on petunias--sure. Try it. It doesn't work.

Omni: Some people wil complain you're forcing this Darwinian idea on them, that they like their traditional worldview better.

Dennett: I'm not making up these facts or discovering them. I'm doing what I can to show what the implications are and aren't. These cats are already out of the bag. It's just a question of not confusing them with other cats people think may be out of that bag. If, when I initially thought about it, the balance would have come out negatively, I wouldn't have written the book. I'd have thought, this is mischief, doing damage; it's intellectual vandalism. On the contrary, the vision of things we hold dear is more elegant, more real, has more detail. It's more awe-inspiring than the vision it replaces. So people are trading up to a more adult and wonderful idea. But a lot of people don't want to be adults. Some regret the passage of childhood, and in many regards so do I. It'd be wonderful to be able to experience the world through five-year-old eyes. But people grow up, and the human race is growing up. And it's time to be grownups.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Omni Publications International Ltd.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group