Nov. 24, 2004 | 6:15 p.m. ET
Gifts for space geeks: What do you get the outer-space enthusiast on your list? Well, if you've got $3,000 to burn, a zero-gravity flight might be nice (and a 25 percent price hike is going into effect next year). On the other end of the scale, Astronomy magazine's Explore the Universe guide makes a nice stocking-stuffer at $7.

But if you're looking for a gift in between those two price points, and more toward the lower end at that, here are some suggestions to put on your shopping list — or on your wish list:

Software: The Starry Night Complete Space and Astronomy Pack ($50) wraps together Starry Night desktop planetarium software with other goodies. The Deep Space Explorer CD lets you watch 19 mini-documentaries and take 3-D journeys through the universe on a virtual spaceship. Don't be afraid to crank up the speed to billions of times the speed of light — that's the only way you'll get anywhere. The package also includes the SkyTheater DVD, which provides a 104-minute, chapter-by-chapter exploration of the solar system.

In the interest of full disclosure, Starry Night is distributed by Imaginova, whose subsidiary Space.com is a content partner for MSNBC.com. If you're looking for a choice, it's worth checking out other planetarium programs, including Redshift ($50) and The Sky ($40-$100). Or if you're really cheap, sign your geek up for Heavens-Above, the free online planetarium service.

Video: Even the non-geeks in my family were impressed by "Black Sky: The Race for Space," the Discovery Channel documentary about SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan and his successful quest for the $10 million X Prize. The $30, two-DVD set traces the years of preparation that built up to the first flight of a privately developed spaceship, plus the X Prize bid itself. The filmmakers were given exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the SpaceShipOne team — which left me green with envy. If you pan ever so slowly through the end of the X Prize documentary, you just might spot my face in the crowd, listening to Rutan's victory speech.

Books: The National Geographic Encyclopedia of Space ($40) would take a place of honor on any space geek's coffee table, assuming that the Cokes and Cheetos have been cleared off. The text has been updated to include references to NASA's new space vision and the Crew Exploration Vehicle, and to the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars. Even SpaceShipOne comes in for a scant mention. But most people don't really buy a National Geographic book for the text, do they? This encyclopedia is chock-full of color graphics and photos, including some of the greatest hits from this year's Mars missions.

Rockets: You might have to leave an IOU in your geek's stocking if you want to give him or her the SpaceShipOne model rocket from Estes ($12). Most stores haven't yet received their shipments of SpaceShipOne and the other X Prize model kits. Also, some assembly is required. And after all the decals are in place, do you really expect someone to stick in a rocket engine and fly the darn thing? Maybe doing so is the mark of a true geek.

Decor: Sure, you can join the Planetary Society and get a free wall poster that will reassure geeks that they are not alone in the universe. But if you want to make someone on your holiday list the coolest geek in the dorm, why not give the Flag of Earth? Prices range from $47.50 to $97, and there are also $4 lapel pins that would work as stocking-stuffers. If you want to start your own Federation of Planets HQ, you can also check out the Martian tricolor, offered at the Mars Society online store ($25-$45).

Nov. 24, 2004 | 6:15 p.m. ET
Happy Thanksgiving: Updates to the log will be sporadic at best during the long holiday weekend. Regular postings will resume Monday.

Nov. 24, 2004 | 6:15 p.m. ET
Online field trips for the long, long weekend:
'Nova' on PBS: 'Dogs and More Dogs'
Nature: Energetic cells may have boosted the brain
Science News: A Titan of a mission
Recreations from Scientific American

Nov. 23, 2004 | 8:35 p.m. ET
Letters to E.T.: If you could leave a message on the World Wide Web for alien lurkers from another planet, what would you say? Back in March, scores of SETI researchers and other final-frontier notables raised precisely that question at the Contact 2004 conference, and asked some of the attendees to come up with an answer.

The result has now been posted online at the "Invitation to ETI" Web site.

There's definitely a message behind the "Invitation," and it's not just for aliens. At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, I'd say that we'd do better if we adopted the tone of the site's welcome message when dealing with our fellow Earthlings as well:

"We will treat you with respect, courtesy, friendship, and caring," the message promises. "We will speak and act truthfully, avoiding lies and deception. We will deal honestly and fairly with you, avoiding any temptation to exploit the situation for personal greed or for any particular nation or organization. Without forsaking our own values and integrity, we will be as empathic, helpful, and flexible as we can in understanding and fostering your goals and plans."

E.T. would have to plug into the terrestrial World Wide Web to get the invitation, but Russian space officials plan to make "alien mail" a little more accessible by putting messages on Glonass navigational satellites, according to Pravda. A similar report comes from RIA Novosti.

Text messages and drawings addressed to extraterrestrial readers reportedly have been put on six aluminum plates attached to the Glonass-M 12-L satellite, scheduled for launch next month.

"We have already started accepting applications for the next Glonass-M spacecraft, which is to be launched in 2005. Anyone can submit their applications free of charge — students, enterprises and so on and so forth," Elena Matveeva, a spokeswoman for the Reshetnev Research and Production Association of Applied Mechanics, is quoted as saying.

If any aliens happen to be reading this item and want to pick up their mail, the Glonass satellites will be orbiting 20,000 miles above the third rock from the sun — that's the little blue one — beginning Dec. 25.

What would you tell E.T.? We went through this exercise almost two years ago, but feel free to let me know what you'd say and I'll print a selection of the best suggestions.

Nov. 23, 2004 | 8:35 p.m. ET
Space station ironman: The two crew members for the next expedition to the international space station have been named, and for one of them, the months-long mission will be a case of "been there, done that."

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who was on the space station's Expedition 1 four years ago and also served two stints on the Mir space station, will be the commander of Expedition 11. NASA astronaut John Phillips, who made a short-term visit to the station in 2001, will get his first expedition-scale tour of duty next April.

If Krikalev's six-month assignment goes as planned, he will set the record for total time spent in outer space. He already has 625 days on the books, and another 180 or so will easily beat the current cumulative record of 748 days, set by Russia's Sergei Avdeyev during three stays on Mir.

Let's just hope Krikalev's next stay doesn't play out like his 1991-92 mission on Mir, when his country fell apart while he was stuck in orbit.

Nov. 23, 2004 | 8:35 p.m. ET
Sharper view of Titan: The Cassini spacecraft's imaging team has sharpened up its images of Titan, Saturn's haze-shrouded moon, as well as Tethys, one of the most cratered satellites circling the ringed planet.

Image: Titan
NASA / JPL / SSI
Mosaic image provides sharper view of Titan.
The view of Titan is particularly intriguing because it shows light and dark areas that look suspiciously like land and liquid.

Cassini's scientists shy away from speculating openly about what's behind the high-contrast outlines: "The images hint at a young surface: i.e., no obvious craters are seen on Titan. However, the exact nature of that activity (tectonic, wind-blown, fluvial, marine, volcanic, etc.) is still to be determined," they report.

Even before Cassini flew by Titan , researchers speculated that the moon could contain hydrocarbon-based lakes or seas. Although there are no definitive answers yet, those answers could come in a few weeks when Cassini sends out its piggyback Huygens probe. Huygens is due to descend through Titan's atmosphere and perhaps even make a splashdown.

For more, check out the Cassini-Huygens home page at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Nov. 23, 2004 | 8:35 p.m. ET
Scientific smorgasbord on the World Wide Web:
Wired: The drive to discover
New Scientist: Smallest 'test tube' scoops world record
EE Times: Sun catchers tuned to crank out the juice
LiveScience: Chronic pain shrinks people's brains

Nov. 23, 2004 | Updated 6:40 p.m. ET
Second stage for the space race: SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan and his teammates are still drinking in the acclaim from this year's historic sprints to outer space : This week, Time magazine dubbed the SpaceShipOne rocket plane the "Invention of the Year." That accolade comes only days after Rutan told an audience at the University of California at Los Angeles that he expected to see 3,000 tourists go to outer space in the next five years.

But will lawmakers, regulators and investors keep up with that projected pace? That could become a key theme in the second stage of the new space race, which will probably be more like a marathon than a sprint.

Over the past week, the first piece of post-X Prize legislation went through more twists and turns than an acrobatic plane, and it still has only a slim chance of becoming law when Congress goes back in session next month. Friday's House debate over how suborbital space travel should be handled had the ring of unfinished policy business. To get the bigger picture, check out Nathan Horsley's analysis of the legislation in The Space Review.

On the investment side, so far Rutan and his team have been the only ones able to attract the tens of millions of dollars required for developing the private-sector space frontier, from software billionaire Paul Allen and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. That definitely gives Rutan the inside track. But other players are still working away — including Space Transport Corp. in Washington state, which has delayed the flight test of its Rubicon 2 rocket until December, in part due to funding considerations.

Even Peter Diamandis, who led the X Prize effort to encourage suborbital spaceflight, is talking about getting into the orbital race . Meanwhile, NASA has just gained approval for a $16.2 billion budget that provides almost all that was requested this year for its moon-and-beyond exploration initiative.

So even if the suborbital space legislation doesn't become law this year, the stage is already set for a new push to the final frontier. The only question is how slow or fast the race will be run.

Here's some of your feedback about what happens when the space race leads through the political arena:

Wade Whitlock, Aberdeen, Md.: "If a commercial activity involves some form of flight, would that not automatically come under the FAA and the Department of Commerce? What matter the altitude reached or the form of propulsion? If passengers choose to take a risk, and the risk to non-participants is taken to the minimum, why treat the things much differently than 'experimental' aircraft? Much ado about nothing much?"

Dennis O'Connor, Hemlock, Mich.: "We have a new and exciting industry, and the knee-jerk reaction of the government is to instantly bring it to its knees with those steel shackles called regulations. Immediately following the regulations will be ... license fees, use taxes, taxes to cover the cost of regulating the industry, etc., which should nicely put the industry out of its 'misery'.

"Rutan/Allen did what NASA and the Pentagon cannot do: create a lifter and suborbital vehicles and fly it for $20 million in R&D (a Pentagon program would have spent that on coffee cups, fer gawd's sake). ... If our bureaucrats have a brain (oxymoron) they will leave the space tour industry alone, and the taxes on the wages and income it will create will pour money into the treasury like a fountain.

"As an airplane owner I am well-acquainted with the cost of meeting government regulation. This week I am replacing on my airplane a small aluminum bar, approximately 8 inches long and a half-inch thick, which would cost $25 if it were for an automobile, but due to regulatory burden on certified aircraft parts, New Piper Inc. is charging $1,600."

Slight update for Nov. 23: One word was added to this item. NASA got "almost" everything it asked for because the approved funding is $44 million less than the request.

Nov. 22, 2004 | 9:10 p.m. ET
Celebrating science and society: This year's winners of the Science-in-Society Journalism Awards, given annually by the National Association for Science Writers, delve into the societal implications of big topics ranging from reproductive technology to nanotechnology, from memory-erasing drugs to life extension.

That social angle the whole point behind the prizes, which were announced just days after the AAAS Science Journalism Awards . The NASW's awards recognize writers who show how scientific pursuits are intertwined with social trends. Here's more about the winners, who will receive their awards in February at an NASW banquet in Washington:

Television: Noel Schwerin of Backbone Media wins for "Bloodlines: Technology Hits Home," a one-hour documentary broadcast on PBS that examined the human dramas and ethical dilemmas created by new reproductive technologies.

Books: Stephen S. Hall wins for "Merchants of Immortality: Chasing the Dream of Human Life Extension," published by Houghton Mifflin.

Newspapers: Alexandra Witze and Tom Siegfried of The Dallas Morning News win for "Science's Big Unknown," a three-part series on nanotechnology that explored its health effects and environmental effects.

Magazines: Robin Marantz Henig wins for "The Quest to Forget," an article appearing in The New York Times Magazine about the ethics and practicalities of administering drugs to prevent painful memories from forming in people who have experienced a trauma.

NASW said no winners were selected this year in the online and radio categories "because the judges felt that none of the entries sufficiently fulfilled the core requirement of the Science-in-Society award, which is to explore the societal impact of science."

Nov. 22, 2004 | 9:10 p.m. ET
Your daily dose of science on the Web:
EurekAlert: Fruit flies on crack cocaine
N.Y. Times (reg. req.): Art and science evolve together
MilitaryPhotos.net: The Soviet battle station that never was
American Physical Society on the moon-Mars program (PDF)

Nov. 20, 2004 | Updated 2:40 p.m. ET
House OKs suborbital bill: After days of ups and downs, the House approved legislation aimed at putting the regulation of suborbital space travel on firmer footing, and opening the way for paying passengers to take outer-space jaunts.

The roll-call vote on H.R. 5382 (PDF file) was 269-120. To move forward, the bill required a two-thirds majority to suspend the chamber's procedural rules, and that's what it got.

Now the bill moves on to the Senate. Because there's so little time left in Congress' lame-duck session, even one vote in opposition there could be trouble. However, Democrats as well as Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee were involved in drawing up the text as it is now, so the House vote had been seen as the key test.

Crew and passenger safety emerged as a key point during Friday's House floor debate.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., argued that new legislation was needed to resolve the Federal Aviation Administration's role in regulating piloted suborbital space launches, and that the FAA would be able to step in if a spacecraft was found to be unsafe for the crew or passengers. But Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., contended that the bill is too lax in that regard, and that the FAA would have to stand by until someone is killed or gravely injured.

Rohrabacher said failure to act could drive the infant suborbital space travel industry out of the country. "Don't strangle this industry and drive these entrepreneurs offshore," he pleaded.

The prospects for H.R. 5382 look better today than they did earlier this week, but it's not a done deal quite yet. If it does fizzle out, the next significant announcement just might have to do with Virginia-based Space Adventures' plans to set up a suborbital spaceport in Australia.

Check the House floor proceedings to keep tabs on the progress of the legislation as Congress' lame-duck session dwindles down.

Nov. 19, 2004 | 6:10 p.m. ET
Closing arguments: For years, Jim Muncy has been working behind the scenes to further the private-sector spaceflight agenda — in roles ranging from co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation, to White House aide, to congressional staff member, to private consultant. In his current capacity at the Polispace consulting firm, he advises several space companies and has focused much of his attention on H.R. 5382, the suborbital spaceflight bill we've been talking about so much.

With crunch time rapidly approaching, Muncy sent out this open letter on the bill's prospects:

"Dear Space Advocates and Correspondents:

"This afternoon the House of Representatives had a 40-minute debate on legislation designed to advance the U.S. commercial human spaceflight industry.  It was a good and spirited debate, with bipartisan supporters speaking in favor, and two partisan Democrats speaking against H.R. 5382.

"Unfortunately, the opponents’ arguments reflected the same misunderstanding of this issue that so many people have.  Their presumption is that the federal government needs to set standards to protect the safety of the early adventurers who wish to buy a risky ride into space.  Even before the vehicles that would fly them are designed, let alone built and flying.  Frankly, Mr. Oberstar and Mr. DeFazio, the Ranking Minority Members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and its Aviation Subcommittee, seem to believe that we need to regulate spaceflight as if it were just another approach to aviation.

"But rockets are not airplanes, and the Commercial Space Launch Act and the U.S. commercialspace transportation industry are not under the jurisdiction of the Aviation Subcommittee.  Space is a new sphere of economic activity, and the House’s experts on these issues are members of the House’s committee that is focused on America’s future, the Science Committee.

"More importantly, the House worked for several months with the Senate to develop a compromise version of the original H.R. 3752, which was passed by a vote of 402 to 1 in March of this year.  It is important to note that H.R. 3752 told the Secretary of Transportation to promote and license the carrying of 'spaceflight participants' for compensation, i.e., to make money, under an 'informed consent' regime.

"In other words, the rocket company had to tell the passenger how likely it was they might crash, and then the passenger could choose to take the risk or not.  All regulation was focused on making sure the rockets didn’t hurt anyone on the ground.  The Secretary was not given any authority — and has none under current law — to regulate in order to protect people riding on the vehicle.

"And I might just point out, Mr. Oberstar and Mr. DeFazio both voted for HR3752 in March, along with every other Democratic member of the Transportation Committee who showed up to vote.  (The only vote against HR3752 in March was by a libertarian Republican who didn’t think the government had any right to regulate rockets at all!)

"So today’s choice on H.R. 5382 is a choice not between one level of safety and another.  It’s between Congress telling the American people they have a right to go into space and an expectation that, over time, it will become more affordable and more reliable to do so ... and saying 'we can’t be bothered to write legislation to help enable this new industry.'  Fortunately, the American people already have the right to go into space.  And the American free market will make it ever more affordable and ever safer, even without the help of federal regulators.  But it would be a good thing if this bipartisan legislation were enacted into law to help accelerate the process.

"Ironically, the two members speaking in favor of higher safety today will actually leave the industry free to do whatever it wants under current law, with no process by which the Secretary could, let alone would, start to set safety standards.  So perhaps they are more committed to stopping legislation — and a new industry — than safety, after all."

— James Muncy

I'll be glad to publish an equal-time statement from opponents of the bill if one happens to come in today — the Cosmic Log e-mailbox is always open.

Nov. 19, 2004 | 5:30 p.m. ET
Ups and downs for space balloon: JP Aerospace is changing course as it pursues its plan to create what it calls "the other space program," using balloons rather than rockets to get to the final frontier.

The California-based venture had been working with the U.S. military to build a balloon-based, near-space platform for surveillance and communication, but the test program suffered a big setback when high winds ripped up JP's test balloon in West Texas — as we reported back in June. Since then, the Pentagon's program has shifted into its second phase in Oregon, but without JP as a partner.

John Powell, who heads JP Aerospace, said he decided not to sign on for the second phase. "We just lost our shirts on the first one," he told me this week.

That doesn't leave JP Aerospace grounded: Powell said his mostly volunteer group is preparing for a high-altitude balloon mission in mid-December. The balloon would carry experimental packages and video equipment to an altitude of 100,000 feet (30,500 meters).

Powell said one of the experiments would expose carbon nanotube material provided by LiftPort to the elements and see how the stuff holds up. Such material could someday be used in high-altitude lifter systems and space elevators.

Powell still has his heart set on creating a system of transport airships and high-altitude floating platforms — initially, to serve as relay stations for telecommunications. "We also want to use it as a launch platform for our high-altitude rockets," he said.

In the longer term, the system could provide access to orbit. In fact, Powell said JP Aerospace is among the early entrants in the $50 million America's Space Prize , put up by hotel magnate Robert Bigelow to encourage the private-sector development of orbital transports. Powell said JP is already building a 90-foot-long (27-meter-long) airship "on our own dime," but he figures it would take a 3,000-foot-long (915-meter-long) version to win the prize.

To get there, Powell needs sponsors. "Each piece of the system has to stand on its own and pay for itself," he said.

It just goes to prove Grissom's Law, as enunciated in the movie "The Right Stuff": "No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

Nov. 19, 2004 | 5:30 p.m. ET
Weekend field trips on the World Wide Web:
'Nova' on PBS: 'Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land'
The Economist: Big Sister is watching you
Slashdot: Apollo 12 at 35
BBC: Try your hand at DNA detective work

Nov. 18, 2004 | 8:30 p.m. ET
Must-see science: Will killer germs defeat our best antibiotics? Were Polynesians among the first Americans? Are there hidden genetic gems within our "junk DNA"? Will Iceland blaze a trail toward a new global hydrogen economy? Scientific sagas addressing these and other mysteries are among the winners in the annual AAAS Science Journalism Awards, announced today.

The awards recognize the nation's best science writing in six categories, taking in magazines, TV, radio and online news outlets as well as large and small newspapers. I was lucky enough to be one of the honorees in 2002, and I'm particularly pleased to see my prolific colleague Carl Zimmer win in the online category this year.

Here's a rundown of the winners, who will receive their awards during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science next February in Washington:

Large newspapers: Amy Ellis Nutt of The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., won for "The New Plague," a series about the arms race between antibiotics and the germs that are developing resistance to them.

Small newspapers: In the award-winning entry "Ancient Mariners," Melinda Burns of the Santa Barbara News-Press wrote about an unconventional theory that Polynesians crossed the sea to Santa Barbara, Calif., 1,300 years ago and stayed long enough to share their knowledge with the local Chumash people.

Magazines: W. Wayt Gibbs won for "The Unseen Genome: Gems Among the Junk," an inside look at scientists' search for meaning in bits of "junk DNA" that were once thought to be nothing more than white noise within our genetic code.

Radio: Cynthia Graber's prizeworthy piece for National Public Radio, "The Promise of Hydrogen," chronicled Iceland's effort to wean itself off imported oil and switch to hydrogen to fuel ships, cars, trucks and buses.

Television: Writer/producer/director Mark Graber won for "Mars Dead or Alive," a documentary about the Mars Exploration Rover missions that aired on "Nova" on PBS.

Online: Carl Zimmer won for three extended Web log entries on Corante.com relating to evolution. "Hamilton's Fall" focuses on the late evolutionary biologist William Hamilton and his legacy. "Why the Cousins Are Gone" reflects on the ancient, dead limbs hanging from humanity's family tree. "My Darwinian Daughters" looks at what evolutionary biology can teach us about parenting.

Zimmer's Web log, The Loom, represents only one facet of his talent. You can also find his work on magazine racks and bookshelves — heck, you can even hear him on radio. But it's only via the Web that you can get a taste of all those media, and it's particularly cool that Zimmer's latest award recognizes original, long-form blogging. Hmmm, that's something to think about for next year.

Nov. 18, 2004 | 8:30 p.m. ET
Scientific smorgasbord on the World Wide Web:
Defense Tech: Army's counterinsurgency strategist speaks
Universe Today: Space elevator? Build it on the moon first
The Guardian: Evolutionary science used in anti-terror war
Technology Review: A new vision for nuclear waste

Nov. 17, 2004 | 8:30 p.m. ET
The science of best sellers: If you've just written the Great American Novel, is it better to get a quick plug on the "Today" show or benefit from slow, steady word of mouth on the Internet? A group of researchers did a statistical analysis of Amazon.com's best-seller list — and concluded that slow and steady is better for sales than a short, sharp shock.

The study, titled "Endogenous Versus Exogenous Shocks in Complex Networks," (PDF file), has been accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters. It's not exactly a page-turner; the prose fairly bristles with arcane statistical calculations. But the four researchers behind the study saw a clear similarity between best-seller sales charts and power-law phenomena ranging from earthquakes to avalanches to Web log links.

They theorized that some best sellers, such as "Strong Women Stay Young," benefit from one-time events such as a glowing review in The New York Times or a plug on TV (an exogenous shock). Other best sellers, such as "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," percolate through book clubs and other social networks over a period of months (an endogenous shock).

Phil Schewe and Ben Stein provide a concise summary of the results in the upcoming edition of Physics News Update (No. 709), presented by the American Institute of Physics:

"Single triggering events (e.g., a mention on 'Oprah') appear to have much less effect on the sales history of a book than the actions of interconnected groups of people, who may pick up the book after multiple conversations with acquaintances or by hearing about the book secondhand or by remembering a friend's recommendation months or even years after the book comes out," they write. "According to the researchers, marketing agencies could apply their method of classifying and analyzing bestsellers to measure and to maximize the impact of their publicity on the network of potential buyers."

The researchers behind the study are Didier Sornette of the University of California at Los Angeles, Fabrice Deschâtres of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, Yann Ageon of the Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis and Thomas Gilbert of the University of California at Berkeley.

Sornette discusses the application of the statistical method to Amazon.com as well to economics and mass extinctions on his own Web page. I've mentioned him previously in connection with his overly gloomy predictions about the stock market's future course.

Nov. 17, 2004 | Updated 6:50 p.m. ET
Suborbital bill fizzles out: The clock is running out on legislation that would have put private-sector suborbital space trips on firmer footing is fizzling out, according to the House Science Committee. At the last minute, H.R. 3752 has run afoul of a jurisdictional dispute between that committee and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

In today's statement, the House Science Committee said its staff members worked out a deal with their counterparts in the Senate last Friday, but were unable to resolve differences with the Transportation Committee in time for passage during this week's lame-duck session.

"When H.R. 3752 passed the House, the Transportation Committee asserted its jurisdiction but expressed no concerns about the substance of the bill," the statement explained. "But when the Transportation Committee reviewed the final agreement this week, it expressed concerns about both original provisions of the bill and aspects of the final deal, and said it wanted to start over next year with hearings."

Get all the details in the Space News section .

Nov. 17, 2004 | 8:30 p.m. ET
Quick scan of the scientific Web:
LiftPort: Lifter climbs tall building (via Slashdot)
Discovery.com: Another Stonehenge found in Russia?
Chicago Sun-Times: Experts knock claim of 'hobbit' species
The Register: Was Einstein a plagiarist? (via Daily Grail)

The fine print: Looking for older items? Check the Cosmic Log archive. Share your perspective on cosmic subjects with Alan Boyle. If you link to this page, you can use http://cosmiclog.msnbc.com or http://www.cosmiclog.com as the address. MSNBC is not responsible for the content of Internet links.

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