National Geographic magazine regularly produces astounding covers. But the upcoming November issue is special; it's an actual-size hologram of the fossil skull of a 5-year-old child preserved for more than a million years in an African cave. The spooky skull is the second holographic cover the magazine has done. It cost $1.34 million to produce, compared with $250,000 for a normal cover.
Dating of the Taung skull pushes the origins of humans back to 1 million or 2 million years ago, a contention certain to anger many fundamentalist Christians. Whenever there is an article on a major evolutionary discovery, said the magazine's news service director, Paul Sampson, fundamentalist groups complain and threaten to cancel subscriptions.
But he added, "This is a scientific institution . . . we're not going to pay attention to that. We wouldn't stop even if half the membership canceled." Geographic Editor Wilbur E. Garrett, in his column in the issue, wrote that to fundamentalists the world is only 5,989 years old, a figure developed by Archibishop James Ussher of Dublin in the 1650s. Garrett optimistically added, however, that if Ussher came back today "he would be fascinated by the tremendous advances in scholarship in just three centuries, and not be too offended that his dates were a bit conservative." Eaton at the Smithsonian
Comedian Mark Russell reportedly once described the singing voice of Washington's premier pianist, John Eaton, as somewhere between those of Fred Astaire and Walter Mondale. An exaggeration, but close. Things, however, have changed. Eaton played a concert performance at the Smithsonian Institution's Baird Auditorium Sunday as part of the Smithsonian Associates'20th anniversary, and the keyboard magic, as usual, was masterful.
After all those years playing against obnoxious saloon chatter at the old Billy Martin's Carriage House and now at the Embassy Row Hotel, Eaton reveled in his attentive audience, mesmerized by his renditions of Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin. And while it's true Eaton is no threat to Mel Torme, he's obviously been working on his singing and his version of "It's De-Loverly" wasn't bad. End Notes
Susan Akin, the new Miss America, stopped by the White House yesterday for her photo opportunity with the president. Fred Ryan, who handles the president's scheduling and normally brings visitors in on such occasions, decided that since he's getting married soon, he should pass this one. Three other project officers -- David Waller, B. Oglesby and Pete Roussel -- rushed in to uphold Ryan's responsibilities. There certainly is a dedication to duty over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. . . .
Margaret Papandreou, the wife of Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, was scheduled to be at the Smithsonian last night. Attending First Lady Nancy Reagan's drug conference at the United Nations, Papandreou left early to fly to Washington to see her son Nicos, a doctoral candidate at Princeton, speak at a Smithsonian Associates series on Greece Today at the National Museum of Natural History . . .
A New York grand jury yesterday indicted internationally known sculptor Carl Andre on two counts of second-degree murder in the death last month of his wife, sculptor Ana Mendieta. He was charged with both intentional murder and "depraved indifference to human life." His wife died in a fall from the bedroom window of their 34th-floor Greenwich Village apartment . . .
They may be thrilled to have the royal couple in attendance at cash-and-carry Palm Beach, Fla., but industrialist Armand Hammer's sponsorship of a formal ball for Prince Charles and Princess Diana has several of the moneyed socialites annoyed. The proceeds from the Nov. 12 ball, costing up to $50,000 a couple, is to go to United World Colleges, a network of seven schools designed to promote international understanding. The Palm Beach capitalists protested, arguing Hammer is a "sympathizer of communist causes." But the city council awarded a permit for the ball when an unidentified Palm Beach charity was offered $75,000. Now they can all comfortably party and be royalists for a day . . .