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      25.07.2000 17:48
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      The world could end before you finish reading this review, and not with a whimper, with a bang. A very, very big bang. Because there are a lot of very, very big rocks trundling to and fro in outer space and if one of them happens to cross the earth's orbit at the wrong time it really will be the end of the world as far as the human race is concerned. An entire nation the size of France or German could be wiped out in the first few seconds of impact, with the after-effects - flaming fragments, tidal waves, earthquakes - finishing off the rest of Europe in the following minutes, and Asia, Africa, and the Americas waiting a few hours or days longer for the end, as dust, smoke, and debris thrown into the atmosphere block out the sun and plunge the world into prolonged icy darkness. It could happen. An asteroid that size could be sliding in unseen right now. So could an asteroid much smaller, but still big enough to wipe out London or New York. We already know of near misses in the 20th century, and more were undoubtedly overlooked. We know too that asteriods have hit the world before: the dinosaurs were wiped out by one. In the long run, it's bound to happen unless something is done to guard against it. Step forward SpaceGuard, a worldwide effort to create a defence against the danger. Considering the size of the potential damage, it's ludicrous that more isn't being done: governments spend billions of dollars insuring against much small risks, and an effective asteroid-watch would cost far, far less to set up and run. After all, what price can you put on the continued survival of the human race? You can learn more about what you can do to help at the offical SpaceGuard UK site linked to from this review, and there are details of an interesting unofficial effort being made in America at this site: http://www.egroups.com/community/tmg_hitlist

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