NET WORK

 
Published: Tuesday 15 September 1998

Look, up in the sky...
No, it isn't Superman, It's an airship. And last month was the 160th anniversary of the birth of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the man who started a new era in air travel. His first airship took off in July 1900 at Lake Constance, on the Swiss-German border. Check out his some-what ungainly early design at Matthew Same's Zeppelin Library, a comprehensive historical site at http://top .monad.net/ - wo nko/Zep_ HP.html.

The Count's invention was also pressed into service as a terrifying new weapon, used during the First World War to bomb Britain. In the World War I Document Archive at http:// www. lib.byu.edu/~rdh/ wwi/memoir/zeppelin.html you can read a gripping account of how the airships' crews dumped their deadly cargo on two small towns in the industrial West Midlands, UK. Their intended target was Liverpool, more than a hundred kilometres to the northwest.



Rendezvous with doom
From airships to airborne doom. We are talking cometary collisions here. As scientists tell us, a giant comet or asteroid struck Earth some 65 million years ago, disrupting life radically - it probably wiped the dinosaurs off the planet. The crust-shattering impact also triggered massive tsunamis, giant waves, and undersea landslides. There is no doubt that it will happen again, though when exactly no one can tell. The US National and Aeronautics and Space Administration-affiliated Website at http://impact.arc. nasa.gov/index.html gives a sober perspective on risks and likely consequences of a cosmic collision. Novices should head straight to the introduction, while serious impact freaks can go on to the list ol "near-Earth objects" (NEOs) that orbit dangerously close to us.

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