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Monday, October 1, 2001

Nostradamus overwhelmed by search engines queries
Jean-Francois Rosnoblet

FRENCH doomsday astrologer Nostradamus is topping Internet search lists after the deadly attacks in the USA and wild prophecies based on his musings are flooding the Web.

Jacqueline Allemand, curator at the Nostradamus museum in the town of Salon-de-Provence, southern France, where the seer died in 1566, says his cryptic predictions are being stunningly skewed — but she is not surprised.

The 16th-century Frenchman’s name was one of the four most searched-for words on the main Internet search-engines after the attacks on the USA and books about Nostradamus topped the charts compiled by on-line bookseller Amazon.

"His work is a huge intellectual achievement but people are making him look as though he talked nonsense. His predictions can’t be translated and the pseudo-revelations flourishing on the web are fantastical and absurd," he told Reuters in an interview.

"We’ve seen this phenomenon before. Every time there’s a crisis, people turn to Nostradamus. Only the bible is more frequently consulted."

"During the Gulf war, during the (bomb) attacks on Paris (in 1995) or before the eclipse in 1999, everyone was checking his predictions, which would sometimes frighten and sometimes reassure. It’s become a habit," Allemand says with a sigh.

Nostradamus shot into the spotlight after widely circulated e-mails, quoted in newspaper columns around the world, suggested he foretold the destruction of New York in a prophecy translated to read "in the year of the new century and nine months..."

Two brothers torn apart

A Website for Nostradamus study cast doubt on the reliability of the various translations that caused a stir when they first showed up in the days after the September 11 suicide airplane attacks on the twin towers of the New York World Trade Center.

One version, discredited by the Website, said: "In the City of God there will be a great thunder, Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb. The third big war will begin when the big city is burning."

Allemand said visitors, particularly Americans, have flocked to the museum in the town where the astrologer died ever since the attacks.

Michel de Nostradame, called Nostradamus, was born in 1503. He etched out a place in history with his work "Centuries" but the enigmatic style of his predictions tends to draw varied interpretations.

Internet information search engines such as Google and Ask Jeeves both said Nostradamus even trounced Osama bin Laden — names as prime suspect for the U.S. assault — on their list of most visited Websites.


MSN Explorer launched in India

MSN, one of the world’s most popular destinations on the Web, which attracts more than 250 million visitors per month, announced the launch of MSN Explorer in India. Britannia will be associated with the marketing and promotional activities undertaken by msn.co.in to drive the adoption of MSN Explorer. MSN will promote Britannia’s brand and products through MSN Explorer, MSN Messenger, MSN Hotmail and a host of other MSN properties in India.

MSN Explorer combines Web services such as MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger with the Internet software such as Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer to offer a unique Web experience to Indian users. MSN Explorer also offers facilities such as finance, shopping, search and music in one integrated window. The Indian version of MSN Explorer is freely available for download at http:// explorer.msn.co.in/.

MSN Explorer in India is localised and tailored to the needs and interests of the Indian users providing them with the information such as finance, music, local weather updates and news. With this launch msn.co.in aims to provide consumers with a simpler way to use the Web, personalise it to their needs and get the most of all the Internet has to offer through one integrated interface. — TNS