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December 1999

Another year … closing fast. As we race toward the end of the millennium (still a year away!) we can reflect on much: How many batteries do you need to haul into the field to run your Toshiba™, Magellan™, Palm Pilot™, electronic Brunton™, Nokia™ and Mag Lite™? (Take an assistant.) Or, will Y2K send the GPS satellites into different orbits? (Highly unlikely, but keep a compass in your field vest.) And, what will be the rate of evolution of the Kansas State Board of Education in the coming year? (Catastrophic, we hope.)

We’ve had a few changes at Geotimes: new writers and a greater use of color. Our goal is to make the magazine a useful tool for you and all of your colleagues who read your copy. In the coming months we will offer a greater focus on AGI’s member societies, as well as more career information, a stronger student voice and more special sections on timely topics of interest to the entire community. We also plan to make <> more useful. With a more comprehensive calendar, more book and software reviews and access to more “geophenomena,” Geotimes Online will become a more dynamic source of geological and community information. We hope you’ll support the magazine by recommending that your friends get their own subscriptions.

Our first feature this month shouts “Gold! Gold! Gold!”—a cry first heard in this country in 1799 at the Reed homestead in North Carolina, not, as many people think, in Sutter’s Mill, Calif., 49 years later. Dennis LaPoint with Appalachian Resources tells us the interesting history of our Eastern gold rush. Situated in North Carolina along the western edge of the Carolina slate belt, the Reed mine sparked gold fever years before the Civil War. After a long hiatus, Carolina gold mines saw an infusion of capital from a number of precious metal mining companies responding to the “rising gold prices in the 1980s.” With this year marking the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the first gold nugget on the Reed property, Dr. LaPoint describes the history of gold fever in the Carolinas and the “end” of the latest Carolina gold rush.

Our second feature describes an ancient and intriguing story, the tale of the Burnwell meteorite. Timothy McCoy, associate curator of the national meteorite collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, tells us both the mineralogical and the human stories behind this curious rock. Early in September of 1990, in a blaze of light and with the sound of gunfire, a small stony object pierced the home of Frances and Arthur Pegg on the Kentucky side of the Tug Fork River. The “gift from on high” became a wonderful conversation piece in the Pegg home. A few years later the Smithsonian acquired the specimen for its research collection. It has proved quite unique. Dr. McCoy tells us a fascinating story that starts in Burnwell, Ken., and ends on the surface of asteroid 433 Eros.

Remember to take some time to read both the Political Scene and Geoscience Education columns. In this month’s Political Scene, AGI Government Affairs Director David Applegate describes last October’s political drama on Capitol Hill over ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and offers some lessons from the treaty’s defeat. For the Geoscience Education column we’ve reprinted a special piece by E-an Zen, now scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, that first appeared in Geotimes in October 1989. Dr. Zen’s plea that “society must pursue scientific literacy” is as poignant today as it was 10 years ago.

And finally, all of us at Geotimes want to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.

Good reading to you.

Victor V. van Beuren, Editor, Geotimes

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