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SCIENCE Hale-bopp's origins revealed

Comet hale-bopp would fail a vehicle emission test. But the amount of carbon monoxide produced when it was the same distance from the sun as the earth - equal to that given off by 5.5 billion cars every day - reveals its origin. Hale-Bopp was formed in the region between Jupiter and Neptune. Scientists hope this discovery will help them learn more about the way planets were formed.

CULTURE

Drive-through sundial

PARIS - France inaugurated the world's largest sundial Monday, using an ancient Egyptian obelisk as the pin and Paris's famed Place de la Concorde - the city's most hair-raising road junction - as the dial. The sundial is part of France's millennium celebrations. Mathematicians and astronomers traced out lines from the base of the obelisk across the square and provided a table to enable tourists to work out the actual time.

TRAVEL

Out-of-this-world vacations

Tired of those family trips to the seashore? Not to worry. In 2001, vacationers may travel in space. WildWings, the British agent for US companies Zegrahm Space Voyages and Space Adventure, is offering space-based vacation packages. Passengers will fly 62 miles above Earth on a rocket-powered cruiser, achieving weightlessness for about two minutes of the three-hour flight. For a tidy sum of $90,000, each traveler also will receive a spacesuit and a six-day basic training course.

TECHNOLOGY

Metal in the microwave

The No. 1 rule for microwaves, never use metal, is no longer true. For scientists, that is. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University adapted a technique known as sintering, in which powdered metals are cold-pressed into a desired shape and heated until the powders fuse. The metals actually absorbed microwaves. The team described its research in the journal Nature.

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