NTS LogoSkeptical News for 26 October 2003

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Saturday, November 01, 2003

Walk your scaredy-pants off in Savannah

By Ann Hoevel CNN Thursday, October

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TRAVEL/10/30/sprj.ft03.hauntedsavannah/index.html

30, 2003 Posted: 11:07 AM EST (1607 GMT)

SAVANNAH, Georgia (CNN) -- Bats and river rats cried out unsettling squeaks as Creepy Pub Crawl tour guide John Lile spooked wide-eyed tourists with ghost stories along the misty riverfront in the southern costal city of Savannah, Georgia.

"You're gonna bite all your fingernails," Lile said to a young woman in the back of the group. Or so he hopes. He, like the tour guides of 31 other local ghost tours, makes his living scaring tourists while ushering them around the historic colonial city, pausing to point out where Savannah's otherworldly residents reside.

Walking tours are an excellent way for tourists to learn about the city's tumultuous history, Erica Backus of the Savannah Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau said of the 6.5 million visitors a year. "History makes the city more sensitive to spirits," said Backus, who added that at least half of the tourists who go on walking tours, take a ghost tour.

Whether you're out to have some fun, or to study the facts, Savannah's ghost tours show off the unique personality of Georgia's oldest city, which embodies traditional Southern hospitality and charm but also revels in its rough-and-tumble past.

A battleground during the American Revolution and the Civil War, the City's historical district also weathered hurricanes, fires and two devastating outbreaks of yellow fever. Savannah's port-city origins incorporate an early population of colonists, slaves, voodooists, sailors, traders and pirates with unique social and religious beliefs. These elements combined make a fitting backdrop for spooky ghost tales and unexplained phenomenon.

Shannon Scott, creator of the Sixth Sense Savannah ghost tour, lures tourists around the city and back to his house. One of the city's daytime ghost tours focuses heavily on history. Tourist Nancy Rupert from Holstein, Iowa, said she connected the city's difficult past to the hauntings described in the tour. "So many people were killed here. It can't be just coincidence," she said as she followed the Sixth Sense Savannah tour, created by parapsychologist Shannon Scott.

Scott prides himself on research and fact checking, but also said he's a believer. "People on my tour have [seen ghosts] and although that's not a guarantee of the tour, we do have sightings on the tour." According to Scott, his residence -- the last stop on the tour -- is home to a ghost he calls Liza and his specter-sensing dog Mina. To keep with the theme, he recently acquired a bed frame made from old cemetery gates he says are haunted.

Grave beginnings It's not strange in Savannah to sleep on parts of a cemetery. The city's unofficial saying, "Savannah was built on its dead," pays homage to its grave beginnings.

Scott's tour starts in the parking lot of a diner where the asphalt hides the past. "Beneath us," the guide said, "is the corner boundary of an old slave cemetery."

After Colonial Park closed in 1852, renovations salvaged headstones dislodged by hurricanes and vandalism, said Robert Edgerly of See Savannah Walking Tours. Other stories detail how settlements and battlefields left unorganized colonial gravesites scattered around the city. Lile estimated the historic section of Savannah covers seven cemeteries, with at least 9,000 graves. "I wouldn't be surprised if there were more," said Robert Edgerly of See Savannah Walking Tours. "There's at least 14,000 documented graves in Colonial Park Cemetery alone," Edgerly said, but it is hard to know for sure as not all of them lie within the current boundaries of the cemetery.

Luciana Spracher, author of "Lost Savannah" and "A History of Thunderbolt, Georgia," said that although she couldn't name more than a few cemeteries that were built over as the city of Savannah developed, some streets and buildings do exist on land where graves once were, or still are. "I know there were several small cemeteries that were moved, and there's always the possibility that unmarked graves weren't moved." Spracher says there was once a 16-plot Jewish cemetery at the intersection of Oglethorpe Avenue and Bull Street, where only a small marker betrays the graves lying under the busy streets.

With so many graves underfoot it's only fitting that a walking ghost tour would stop at a cemetery.

The city's central cemetery is the setting for one of Savannah's most famous ghost stories, that of Rene Asche Rondolier (or Renee Rondolia Asch, depending on who tells the story), an orphan purportedly disfigured and feared by many, who was said to have called Colonial Park his home in the early 1800s.

Tales of the afterlife Other people called it "Rene's Playground." But Rene is not remembered for having much fun.

According to Lile's rendition, the townspeople accused Rene of murdering two girls and leaving their bodies in the cemetery. An angry mob then dragged Rene to the nearby swamps, lynched him and left him for dead. In the days following the lynching, Lile said more bodies turned up in Colonial Park, and the townspeople blamed the ghost of Rene.

Scott, who researched the story at great length, offered a more detailed tale of Rene. He described Rene's disproportionate seven-foot statue and his subsequent confinement and display in a blockhouse by the port. Scott says dignitaries and important visitors came to see Rene in the blockhouse. Regarding Rene's murderous ghost, Scott says, "Two other children and one woman were found following his lynching, each on separate days."

More recently, Savannah's ghost-telling tradition received national attention with the 1994 best-selling book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," the story of a journalist's encounter with art collector Jim Williams. Although the book spotlighted Savannah as one of America's most haunted destinations, several other books also focus specifically on hauntings in the city.

Resident and author Margaret Wayt DeBolt said she helped lay the foundation for the city's ghost tour industry with her 1984 book "Savannah Spectres and other Strange Tales," and a charity ghost tour of the city. Her book chronicles the city's ghostly legacy and names several spooky sites, which "Ghost Talk, Ghost Walk" used as the basis of Savannah's first modern ghost tour. One haunted spot listed in the book and frequented by tours is the Pirate House. Legend has it that Captain Flint of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" (1883) died there, screaming for rum. Many sailors frequented the Pirate house in the late 1700s and early 1800s, according to DeBolt, but nobody knows for sure if Captain Flint was actually there.

Once an inn and tavern frequented by pirates and sailors, the long-standing Pirate House is now a popular restaurant. Another frequent stop on Savannah ghost tours is the 17Hundred90 house, now a restaurant, bar and inn. Rumor says the house has more than one ghost -- a lady in the inn, a servant in the kitchen and a sailor in the restaurant. Another ghostly must-see is the birth home of John Mercer, location of several mysterious deaths including the one in the book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

Girl scouts and ghost-hunters alike visit the birth house of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the girl scouts. The ghost of General Gordon, her father, appeared there to escort his dying wife Nellie to the afterlife, according to DeBolt. Others reported seeing the ghost of Nellie Gordon after hours when the house is closed, said DeBolt.

After hearing a few of Savannah's spooky stories and sampling spirits of all kinds, many tourists end a ghost tour with more questions than answers.

Hunting for answers For the curious, Scott said he has an answer. He points to the earth for an unconventional explanation of ghostly phenomenon. Parapsychologists consider Savannah's sand to be a "geomagnetic anomaly," he said.

It "has an electromagnetic charge greater than other areas. The human spirit is equated to magnetic energy so either spirits are drawn here because of that or they have a hard time leaving because of that," he said.

"Savannah is probably one of 10 cities in the country that has a long track record of parapsychologists, demonologists and witches studying it," he said.

A recent study by British scientists offers another explanation for things that go bump in the night. The study attributes ghostly experiences to an extremely low sound frequency called infrasound that humans normally can't hear. A controlled experiment on 750 people listening to music laced with infrasound concluded that infrasound makes people feel anxious, scared and sad, and sometimes produces spine-tingling chills -- much like the reactions associated with haunted houses and other spooky places.

Tour guide John Lile, left, tells the legend of Rene Asche Rondolier to tourists off River Street in Savannah, Georgia. Richard Lord, an acoustic scientist working at the National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex, England, was part of the team studying infrasound. He said that although their experiment dealt with music and infrasound inside a concert hall, "there are often natural sources." When asked if a coastal city like Savannah might have more infrasound than other areas, he said, "It's feasible to say that wind and tidal effect might have some influence on infrasound."

Experiments and theories aside, half the fun of a Savannah ghost tour can be seeing who believes and who doesn't.

"I consider the tour to be an entertainment tour," Lile said. "Whether I do or don't believe in ghosts, the important thing to me is that there are smiles on people's faces."

Final Texas textbook vote November 7!!!

As you are probably aware, the biology textbook adoption process is coming to an end, and the pressure from creationists on the textbook publishers to water down the teaching of evolution and introduce bad science promises to remain intense right up to the final vote.

The Texas Board of Education will discuss the textbooks on November 6, with the final vote to place each book on the approved, nonconforming, or rejected lists on November 7. Several board members have been openly hostile to evolution education throughout the adoption process, and have worked closely with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and local creationists, accusing publishers of presenting books that contain serious errors and fail to present the supposed "weaknesses" of evolution.

So far, the publishers have resisted the pressure from creationists to modify the textbooks in ways that would compromise the scientific validity of the textbooks. Evolution is presented accurately, and without qualification, as it should be.

Therefore, we are encouraging you to contact the board one last time and urge them to approve all of the submitted textbooks and place them on the approved list. Street address and email information for the board follows.

Points to be made include the following.

1) The textbooks have been evaulated by professional science educators and research scientists and have found to be acceptable. These are the people best qualified to judge the books, not professional politicians.

2) The Texas economy depends on well educated citizens to work in industries such as biotechnology and energy. Dumbing down science textbooks is not good for the Texas economy.

3) Texas has a great reputable for attracting some of the best and brightest research scientists from around the world. The damage to Texas's reputation, should the textbooks be rejected, will hinder its ability to attract top research scientists.

4) Finally, students taught from textbooks containing erroneous scientific data, as proposed by the Discovery Institute and local creationists, will be ill-prepared to compete with students from other states, both in college and in the job market.

Please feel free to pass this message to all interested parties.

Board members by district:

1
Rene Nuez,
1521 Upson
El Paso, TX 79902
915/584-5644
915/584-5644 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

2
Mary Helen Berlanga,
2727 Morgan Avenue
Corpus Christi, TX 78405
361.882.8284
361.881.1028 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

3
Joe J. Bernal, Ph.D.,
6410 Laurelhill Drive
San Antonio, TX 78229
210.342.8026
210.342.2182 (FAX)
JJBernal@swbell.net

4
Alma A. Allen, Ed.D.,
3717 Cork Drive
Houston, TX 77047
713.734.1542
713.734.1547 (FAX)
aaaallen@flash.net

5
Dan Montgomery,
205 West Travis
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
830.997.9759
830.997.8092 (FAX)
jdm@danmontgomery.org

6
Terri Leo,
23516 Twin Oaks Drive, RR #5
Spring, TX 77389
281.257.0836
281.257.0836 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

7
David Bradley,
2165 North Street
Beaumont, TX 77701
409.835.3808
409.833.5134 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

8
Linda Bauer,
19 East Wedgewood Glen
The Woodlands, TX 77381
281.292.6526
281.292.6526 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

9
Don McLeroy,
3707 Tanglewood
Bryan, TX 77802
979.255.2538
979.846.1174 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

10
Cynthia A. Thornton,
Round Top
P. O. Box 321
Round Top, TX 78954
979.249.3099
979.249.2190 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

11
Patricia Hardy,
Weatherford
900 North Elm
Weatherford, TX 76086
817.598.2968
817.598.2833 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

12
Geraldine Miller,
1100 Providence Tower West
5001 Spring Valley Road
Dallas, TX 75244-3910
972.419.4000
214.522.8560 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

13
Mavis B. Knight,
P. O. Box 763337
Dallas, TX 75376-3337
214.333.9575
214.339.9242 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

14
Gail Lowe,
11 Chris Avenue
Lampasas, TX 76550
512.556.6262
512.556.3278 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

15
Bob Craig,
P. O. Box 1979
Lubbock, TX 79408-1979
806.744.3232
806.744.2211 (FAX)
RJackson@tea.state.tx.us
(indicate for Rene Nunez)

Skip Evans
Network Project Director
National Center for Science Education
420 40th St, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609
510-601-7203 Ext. 308
510-601-7204 (fax)
800-290-6006
evans@ncseweb.org
http://www.ncseweb.org

NCSE now has a one way broadcast news list.
Please note that this is NOT a discussion
list. You cannot post messages for members
to receive. We use this list to broadcast
news about the creationism/evolution issue
to interested parties.

To sign up send:
subscribe ncse your@email.address.here
to: majordomo@ncseweb2.org

Mind over Matter: Tai Chi Class Boosts Shingles Immunity, Improves Physical Functioning in Older Adults

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?id=4522

Date: September 22, 2003
Contact: Dan Page ( dpage@support.ucla.edu )
Phone: 310-794-2265

UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute researchers report that older adults in a 15-week Tai Chi class saw immunity factors that suppress shingles soar 50 percent. In addition, participants showed significant improvement in their physical health and ability to move through their day.

Appearing in the September edition of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, findings of the randomized, controlled clinical trial are the first to demonstrate a positive, virus-specific immune response to a behavioral intervention.

"Our findings offer a unique and exciting example of mind over matter," said Dr. Michael R. Irwin, a professor at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and director of the Institute's Cousin's Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. "A large body of research shows how behavior can negatively affect the immune system and health, but ours is the first randomized, controlled study to demonstrate that behavior can have a positive effect on immunity that protects against shingles. The findings are particular noteworthy as Tai Chi Chih or 'meditation with movement' increased immunity in older adults who are at risk for herpes zoster.

"The improvements in both immunity and physical functioning were significant by widely accepted measures of each, and all with no surgery, no drugs and no side effects," Irwin said. "We were particularly struck by improvements in what subjects were able to accomplish physically as a result of participating in these classes. In fact, older adults who had more impairment present at the start of the study showed the greatest improvement and benefit at the end."

The varicella zoster virus, or shingles, can cause a painful skin rash with intermittent pain that can last for months or years. Even when the rash subsides, skin in the affected area can remain extremely painful to the touch.

The virus lurks in the nerves of virtually everyone who has had chicken pox, but the immune system typically prevents outbreaks. This cell-mediated immunity to the virus declines with age, however, leaving older adults particularly susceptible to the painful condition. The greater the decline, the greater the risk. No vaccination against shingles exists.

The study randomly assigned 36 men and women age 60 or older to a 15-week program of three 45-minute Tai Chi classes a week or to a wait list. To qualify, each volunteer had to show immunity to varicella zoster virus, but not to have had a history of shingles. They also had to be able to walk. Three class members dropped out before the study ended due to transportation issues. One member of the control group dropped out.

The class used a highly structured variety of the martial art called Tai Chi Chih, which is specially designed for easy use by older adults.

Varicella zoster virus-specific, cell-mediated immunity was measured before the program began and one week after the program ended. Doctors used the Medical Outcome Scale to assess physical functioning before the program began; at five, 10 and 15 weeks during the program; and one week after the program ended.

The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a unit of the National Institutes of Health.

Co-authors of the study were Jennifer L. Pike and Jason C. Cole of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Dr. Michael N. Oxman of the University of California, San Diego and the San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

The UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute is an interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior, including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior, and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Online resources:

UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute:
www.npi.ucla.edu

Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology:
http://www.cousinspni.org/aboutus.htm

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA:
http://www.medsch.ucla.edu/

-UCLA-

DBP440 Jack Chick's Happy Halloween: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0058/0058_01.asp

Have fun.

Frontline "The Alternative Fix"

Thursday, November 6, 2003
9 - 10:00 pm

Through interviews with staunch supporters, skeptical scientists and observers on both sides of the debate, this documentary examines how complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments are facing increased scrutiny as the first real studies of their effectiveness are published, and questions whether hospitals that offer alternative therapies are conferring a sense of legitimacy on these largely untested and scientifically unproven treatments. (CC, Stereo)

At the companion site, access a compendium of fact sheets and resources to learn more about alternative therapies, get tips and safety precautions for those considering alternative treatments, watch the program online, trace the history of alternative medicine's conflicts with conventional medicine and much more.

http://pbs.org/frontline/
(Available Thursday, November 6)

From Noah's Curse to Slavery's Rationale

November 1, 2003 By FELICIA R. LEE

As stories go, this one has all the elements of good soap opera: nudity, sex and dysfunctional families.

For many scholars, though, the enigmatic tale in Genesis 9 describing how Noah cursed the descendants of his son Ham with servitude remains a way to explore the complex origins of the concept of race: how and why did people begin to see themselves as racially divided?

In the biblical account, Noah and his family are not described in racial terms. But as the story echoed through the centuries and around the world, variously interpreted by Islamic, Christian and Jewish scholars, Ham came to be widely portrayed as black; blackness, servitude and the idea of racial hierarchy became inextricably linked.

By the 19th century, many historians agree, the belief that African-Americans were descendants of Ham was a primary justification for slavery among Southern Christians.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/01/arts/01HAM.html?ex=1068671726&ei=1&en=65e73f4e64d9581e

High-Tech Daydreamers Investing in Immortality

November 1, 2003
By JAMES GORMAN

CAMDEN, Me. - Aubrey de Grey took the stage of the Camden Opera House, tugging at a beard worthy of Methuselah, to tell his listeners that they could triumph over death.

Mr. de Grey was not selling an afterlife or a metaphor. He is a geneticist at the University of Cambridge, in England, and his prophecy was straightforward if hard to believe: Getting old and dying are engineering problems. Aging can be reversed and death defeated. People already alive will live a thousand years or longer.

He was at pains to argue that what he calls "negligible senescence," and what the average person would call living forever, is inevitable. His proposed war on aging, he said, is intended to make it happen sooner and make it happen right. He subscribes, it seems, to the philosophy articulated by Woody Allen: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."

This notion of getting in on the ground floor of immortality was apparently appealing to the roughly 500 people who came in mid-October to this coastal town of big yachts and small gift shops about 70 miles northeast of Portland to attend Pop!Tech, an annual technology conference. They were ready for the Next Big Thing. After all, many of them were present at the creation of the last one, the spread of the personal computer and the explosive growth of the Internet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/01/arts/01AGE.html?ex=1068672061&ei=1&en=204a7cd61144bb12


Friday, October 31, 2003

Ghost hunters offer tips on tracking down spirits

http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Oct/10312003/friday/106975.asp

By Janet Rae Brooks
The Salt Lake Tribune

Ghosts are people, too. Perhaps not happy people, or people with unfinished business, but people nonetheless.

That is the attitude of a five-person Utah ghost-hunting team that stakes out homes, prisons, schools, cemeteries and mausoleums with their ghost-detecting equipment. And, yes, when the subject of ghosts comes up, the five members of the Layton-based Ghost Investigators Society almost expect people to assume that they are all wackos.

"There's a bias against ghosts in our society," said Barbara McBeath, a founding member of the 5-year-old group, which presents a ghost seminar tonight at Fort Douglas Military Museum. "Most people are very leery and hesitant to talk about ghost activity. People who do talk about ghosts have their honesty and sanity opened to question."

Maybe you have heard weird noises in your attic or had an experience you can't explain. Utah's premier ghost hunters offer hints on how to track down ghosts on your own:

* Don't set off looking for the extraordinary or the demonic. "Most people have a set image in their minds of what a ghost is supposed to be." said McBeath. "Ghosts are husbands, wives, farmers, soldiers. They're from every walk of life."

* Try different locations. You almost expect to run into ghosts at places associated with death and mental anguish, but even new houses can be haunted.

* Treat ghosts like real people. "You don't need to be scared," said Brendan Cook. "They're just like you or me, but they have no bodies."

* Have sympathy for the reasons behind their presence. "Sometimes they don't seem to realize they're dead, or there's a denial of death," said McBeath "Other people have unfinished business."

* Take pictures. Ghost hunters believe ghosts reflect light, showing up as gaseous clouds or orbs of condensed energy in photographs.

* Talk to ghosts, using a tape recorder. Ask what it's like where they are, what they remember from this life. "Things like that," said Cook. "Just strike up a normal conversation."

* Leave time for them to answer. Ghost hunters rely on electronic voice phenomena (EVP) to hear ghosts. They believe that tape recorders can record voices inaudible to the human ear, just as dogs hear high-frequency dog whistles that we can't. These voices can be heard by listening to the tape through earphones. Sometimes the voices are clear, more often they are soft whispers.

* Be prepared to hear youngsters' voices. "We get a lot of children's voices," said Cook. "And that's something that bothers us."

* Most ghosts aren't out to scare you. "They maintain the exact same personality they had in life," said Cook. "If they were mean in life, they're going to stay that way. But most people you meet in life are nice. And the majority of ghosts you run into are nice people. They might be pranksters but that's about it."

* You don't have to ghost hunt at night. If a place has ghosts, it has them night and day.

A haunting we will go

* The Ghost Investigators Society will present some of its findings on Fort Douglas tonight at 7 at the Fort Douglas Military Museum. An investigation of the Fort Douglas Cemetery will follow, weather permitting.

Copyright 2003, The Salt Lake Tribune.

BREAKING NEWS: WTVM Video Shows Possible Ghost in Springer Opera House

http://www.wtvm.com/Global/story.asp?S=1505527&nav=8fapIqJ5

A "ghost hunt" in the Springer Opera House last night by News Leader 9 Reporter Jason Dennis turned up far more evidence than expected.

Exclusive video shows what paranormal investigators call "spirit orbs" moving around inside the Springer, the historic local theater recently named one of the "top ten" haunted places in America. WTVM was accompanied on the ghost hunt by professional investigators who were looking for any real scientific evidence of ghosts in the Springer.

In one piece of video, a ball of light can be seen zipping through a room and settling near a window. In another segment, an "orb" comes into a room and touches one of the professional investigators, who immediately bolts from the room.

WTVM will air some of the exclusive video today on News Leader 9 at Noon and more on News Leader 9 at 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m.

Green Eyes: a local ghost story

http://news.mywebpal.com/news_tool_v2.cfm?show=localnews&pnpID=730&NewsID=502160&CategoryID=3511&on=0

10/31/03
Kevin Cummings
Respond to this story

"Wherever there has been great suffering, people are always seeing strange things."

These are the words of Edward Tinney, former historian and chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. Tinney, who worked at the park from 1969 to 1986 and also spent time working at the battlegrounds at Shiloh, Tenn., said ghostly sightings at the Chickamauga Battlefield or any Civil War site are not uncommon.

Tinney said the legend of Old Green Eyes, the ghost who is said to haunt the battlefield in various forms ranging from a Confederate soldier to a green-eyed panther, has been a part of Chickamauga Battlefield lore since the last shot was fired at the bloody battle that claimed 34,000 casualties Sept. 19-20, 1863. The tales of Green Eyes and other phantom sightings stem from the soldiers, who lived through the War Between the States, Tinney said.

"Green Eyes is rumored to be a man who lost his head to a cannonball, frantically searching the battlefield at night for his dislocated body," Tinney said. "History says ghosts in the battlefield such as the Green Eyes tale began happening soon after the war in 1863.

"Those who lived after the war are the ones who started the stories," he said. "The more you get removed from the war or any kind of pain, the more glamorous it gets."

Tinney said wherever he has been whether it is on a Civil War battlefield or in Europe where he fought in World War II there are incidents and sightings that cannot be explained by human logic.

One of the earliest ghost sightings shortly after the Civil War ended is documented in Susie Blaylock McDaniel's book "The Official History of Catoosa County."

Jim Carlock, an early resident of the Post Oak Community, writes in McDaniel's book about returning home from a centennial celebration on Market Street in Chattanooga in 1876, a mere 13 years after the bloody battle. Carlock writes: "Did you ever see a ghost? They used to see them on the Chickamauga Battlefields just after the war."

Carlock goes on to write that, while passing through the battlefield (or near it, the exact location is unclear), it was dark and there were no houses nearby when he and his friends spotted something 10 feet high with a "big white head." He said he and his companions were in a wagon and a Mr. Shields was riding horseback. Carlock said Shields road up and hit the ghost and a baby cried out and the ghost said, "Let me alone." He said the entity appeared to be a ghostly apparition of a Negro woman with a bundle of clothes on her head.

Contact with the other side

Tinney said that out of the 34,000 casualties (killed or wounded) at Chickamauga, only 4,000 are believed to have perished during the battle, but the historian estimates close to 70 percent, or 23,800 soldiers perished from their wounds when the fighting ended. Out of the thousands who passed on, many may still be buried on the battlegrounds but the exact number is unclear, he said.

But the Civil War is not the only source of death that may have imprisoned lost spirits at the battlefield. The hill behind Wilder Tower saw the deaths of many soldiers, mainly from typhoid fever, during their training and encampment on the battlefield in preparation for the Spanish-American War, he said.

According to various sources, other tales claim Green Eyes existed before the Civil War and circulated among the soldiers during the fighting, or that the spirit existed as early as the Native American occupation of the land where the battlefield is now located.

Tinney said that during his tenure at the park, he saw something one night that he could not explain, and believes he came face-to-face with the undead inside the battlefield.

The historian said that one day in 1976, about 4 a.m., he went to check on some battle re-enactors who were camping out in the park. He said that while walking near Glen Kelly Road, he encountered a man over 6 feet tall, wearing a long black duster, with shaggy, stringy, black, waist-length hair, walking toward him. From the man's body language, Tinney feared he was about to be attacked, so he crossed to the other side of the road, he said. When the man became parallel with Tinney he turned and smiled a devilish grin, and his dark eyes glistened. Tinney said he turned to face the man and began to back-pedal, as his companion did as well. At that moment, a car came down a straightaway in the road, and when its headlights hit the apparition it vanished, he said.

Since Tinney's sighting 27 years ago, several residents have experienced unusual activity in the park they cannot easily explain.

Fort Oglethorpe resident Denise Smith said she encountered a ghostly being with green eyes on a cold foggy night in the park in 1980. Smith said she had just gotten off work at the Krystal Restaurant in Fort Oglethorpe and was taking a shortcut through the park on her way to her home on Cleo Drive. She crept her '71 Roadrunner slowly through the fog-enshrouded park about a half-mile from Wilder Tower.

"It was raining and foggy, so I was going real slow," she said. "I was going through the S-curve past Wilder Tower, when I saw something big in the road about eye level, and all I could see were these big green eyes. It was so foggy I couldn't see a body. I got closer and it just disappeared."

Smith said she always thought the tale of the ghostly green-eyed beast was a myth and never would have "believed it in a million years," but now she says she won't step foot in the park after nightfall.

A multitude of haunts?

Green Eyes, in its various forms, is not the only phantom people claim to see in the park. Tinney said there is also a ghost believed to haunt Snodgrass Hill, which saw some of the fiercest fighting and is home to the Snodgrass family cabin, which served as a field hospital to both Union and Confederate soldiers during the battle.

The specter, in the form of a lady in a white wedding dress, known as the "Lady in White," is searching for her lover, Tinney said.

Other stories of hauntings on the battlefield include visitors' accounts of hearing gunshots, hoof beats, or smelling the strong scent of alcohol.

Sam Weddle, chief ranger at the park for 11 years, said the National Park Service has no official opinion about the legend of Green Eyes or any of the other ghostly tales that float from the confines of the park.

"There are apparently a lot of local stories circulating that we don't have any official knowledge of," he said. "We don't say 'yes' or 'no,' we just say we haven't seen anything yet. We don't deal with ghosts. We don't have folders and files on ghosts or Green Eyes."

Laura Gilstrap, a lifelong Fort Oglethorpe resident, said that when she was 16 years old in 1990, she and about 10 of her friends were enjoying a hayride inside the battlefield when the unexpected happened.

She said around dusk, the group decided to take a break around Wilder Tower. Off in the field near the tower they spied a flaming torch that would disappear then mysteriously reappear again. Suddenly, the kids heard a horse's hoof beats, and a skeleton in a Confederate soldier's uniform appeared to dismount from a ghostly horse with green eyes, Gilstrap said. She said the skeleton constantly repeated the name "Amy" before disappearing for good.

Soldiers vanish!

David Lester, Civil War enthusiast and re-enactor, said about five years ago, he and some of his fellow re-enactors were camping out at the battlefield as part of "Living History Days," an event that gives park visitors a first-hand look at how soldiers lived during the war.

Lester said several of his comrades wandered to a neighboring camp to say hello to their fellow soldiers. The men talked with the neighboring campers for several hours before returning to their own camp to sleep for the night.

When day broke, the men went back to the camp to wish them a good morning and see how they were getting along, but they were gone, Lester said. There was no sign of their campfire from the night before, not one trace of any human occupation at the site only undisturbed land.

On Oct. 20, 2001, three women decided to delve into the ghostly realm of Old Green Eyes and communicate with the phantom first-hand.

Olivia Newton, Terry Kimbrell and Jennifer McElhannon all members of the Foundation for Paranormal Research, a self-proclaimed non-religious, non-scientifically-oriented investigative group specializing in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena spent the night near Snodgrass Hill, where most of the Green Eyes sightings are believed to originate. McElhannon reported that she and her partners felt "surrounded" and melancholy throughout their camping excursion that night. The trio reported taking pictures of ghostly mists and colored orbs emanating from monuments in the park.

Reporter's note: Whether soldiers or their loved ones' souls occasionally return to the once bloodstained soil of the Chickamauga Battlefield is yet to be proven to me or anyone else, except those who claim to have encountered that green-eyed spirit or one of his creepy comrades, but the legend and stories live on, providing echoes of two days of hell on earth in 1863.

2002 MyWebPal.com. All rights reserved.
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Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

For accurate instructions on how to subscribe or unsubscribe to the listserv, follow this link: http://www.mediaresource.org/instruct.htm

If you experience any problems with the URLs (page not found, page expired, etc.), we suggest you proceed to the home page of "Science In the News" http://www.mediaresource.org/news.shtml which mirrors the daily e-mail update.

In the News

Today's Headlines - October 31, 2003

AS SOLAR FLARES REACH EARTH, HOUSE REVIEWS FORECASTING AGENCY
from The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 As a solar storm continued to bathe Earth in an unusually dense flow of subatomic particles, affecting electric companies, airlines and space satellites, a House subcommittee held a hearing on Thursday on a plan to cut back or eliminate the office that forecasts such events.

For the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, the White House has requested $8.3 million for the office, the Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., but the House allocated $5.3 million and the Senate budgeted no money at all. The agency's budget for the fiscal year just passed was $5.24 million.

The subcommittee, whose members support full financing, had planned the hearing long before the storm began on Wednesday, but its chairman, Representative Vernon J. Ehlers, Republican of Michigan, said the subject was now of broader interest thanks to "divine intervention."
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/31/science/31SOLA.html

FDA SAYS CLONED ANIMALS ARE SAFE AS FOOD
from The Washington Post

Cloned farm animals and their offspring pose little scientific risk to the food supply, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded in a new report that could pave the way for allowing products derived from clones or their offspring onto the nation's grocery shelves.

The draft report, to be released in summary form this morning and discussed at an FDA advisory committee meeting next week, is likely to kick off a fresh national debate about just how far to go in manipulating nature to achieve human ends. Nearly a year behind schedule, the report moves the agency closer to a formal declaration that cloning, the technology that produced Dolly the sheep, is permissible as a routine tool of American agricultural production.

If clones survive into adolescence, "the animals themselves appear to be healthy. And it's hard to imagine that healthy animals would somehow be capable of producing unsafe food," said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, which prepared the report. "No scientist I've talked to can come up with any rational theory of how that could possibly occur."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44602-2003Oct30.html

RESEARCHERS MAKE VACCINE-EVADING MOUSEPOX VIRUS, IGNITING DEBATE
from Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A research team backed by a federal grant has created a genetically engineered mousepox virus designed to evade vaccines, highlighting the deadly potential of biotechnology and bioterrorism.

The team at the University of St. Louis, led by Mark Buller, created the superbug to figure out how to defeat it, a key goal of the government's anti-terrorism plan.

Researchers designed a two-drug cocktail that promises to defeat their exceptionally deadly virus. They hope to publish their work soon in a peer review journal.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/10/31/state0307EST0003.DTL

LEMMINGS' DEATH WISH NOTHING BUT A TALE -- TOLD BY DISNEY
from The San Francisco Chronicle

Lemmings, as everybody knows, breed incessantly, migrate by the thousands every four years and finally rush over cliffs in a panic, hurling themselves into the sea in a dramatic case of population control by mass suicide.

So goes the myth, popularized in part by an old Walt Disney nature movie. Now, three European scientists working in the high Arctic tundra have just given the script a drastic rewrite.

After 15 years patiently observing a huge lemming population in eastern Greenland, the scientists report in a study appearing today in the journal Science that the "lemming cycle," which has stumped generations of scientists, is driven not by panic, but by predation.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/10/31/MNGID2NG3V1.DTL

FDR'S POLIO QUESTIONED
from Newsday

In a historical second opinion, Texas researchers question whether polio was the cause of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's paralytic illness.

After poring through hundreds of historical records of the president who guided the country during the Depression and World War II, Dr. Armond S. Goldman of the University of Texas Medical Branch and colleagues say FDR's case looks more like an autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barr syndrome.

Goldman, a pediatric immunologist, consulted a neurologist and several statisticians. The study appears in the current Journal of Medical Biography.
http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hsfdr313519634oct31,0,2340785.story

REPORT LINKS EXTRA GENE COPIES TO PARKINSON'S
from Newsday

Scientists have been looking for diseased genes to explain Parkinson's disease in many generations of families. But federal researchers have now discovered that the disease can also be triggered by extra copies of a normal gene, a finding that could lead to new ways to study and possibly treat the disease.

Dr. Katrina Gwinn-Hardy, a scientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, collaborated with scientists at other institutions within the National Institutes of Health. The new finding appears today in Science.

In 1996, researchers discovered a mutation of a gene on chromosome 4 in a large Italian family with Parkinson's dating back to the 1700s. The abnormality was identified in the alpha-synuclein gene, which controls production of a certain protein.
http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ny-hspark313519632oct31,0,4469021.story

SCIENTIST AIMS TO QUELL MMR FEARS
from Associated Press

LONDON -- A doctor whose research has been seized upon for the last five years by parents opposed to the measles, mumps and rubella combined vaccine has urged them not to fear the childhood immunization, saying lingering concerns over a link with autism are unfounded.

In a letter published this week in The Lancet medical journal, Dr. Simon Murch warned the proportion of toddlers getting the vaccine, known as MMR, has dropped so low in Britain that major measles epidemics are likely this winter.

Measles has resurfaced in Britain over the last few years in areas where MMR use has dipped; more children are getting infected every year.

The World Health Organization said Ireland, Spain, Italy, Germany and Switzerland have also had recent outbreaks of measles and that declining MMR vaccination is likely a contributing factor.
http://www.newsday.com/news/health/ats-ap_health12oct30,0,3629862.story

WHAT LIES BENEATH?
from The Christian Science Monitor

WOODS HOLE, MASS. Roger Stokey throttles back on the twin Evinrudes that have sent the pontoon boat and its four occupants skimming out of Woods Hole harbor. The bow gently settles into the water, allowing Greg Packard to take a seat in front of a small TV monitor.

"Is this the only channel we get?" Mr. Packard asks with mock dismay.

"It's all Remus, all day," Mr. Stokey replies.

Remus, a torpedo-shaped underwater vehicle, is out on maneuvers this afternoon. The researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) here on Cape Cod are trying to get this mechanical mini-Shamu to glide through an underwater hoop, using sonar. Their ultimate goal: a self-docking robotic explorer.
http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1030/p15s01-sten.html

Op-Ed Contributor: Why I Don't Believe in Ghosts

October 31, 2003
By PHILIP PULLMAN

OXFORD, England

Tonight is Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, a time of ghosts and spirits walking by night . . . which leads me naturally to think about literary realism, and about politics. How can you write in a truthful and realistic way about something that doesn't exist?

I don't take much notice of critics, except when they praise me extravagantly. But one of the remarks they sometimes make about my work does coincide with a mild puzzlement I feel about it myself: in common with some other writers whose work is read by children, I am chided for writing fantasy, because fantasy is a lesser form than realism, and everyone knows that there are no such things as elves or hobbits or, for that matter, ghosts and disembodied spirits, so nothing interesting or truthful can be said about them.

My usual response to that is to deny that I'm writing fantasy at all, and to maintain that all my work is stark realism. But that implicitly accepts the basic stance of the critic: that fantasy is a lesser kind of thing, and that realism is the highest form of literary art.

And there may be something in that. For example, take ghost stories. I don't believe in ghosts and disembodied spirits. I used to believe in them, and I can remember how thrilling it was, when I was a child, to read ghost stories with the thought, "This could be true, this could really happen. . . ." But that was a long time ago. I don't enjoy ghost stories in quite the same way these days. The trouble is that such tales have to convince you on the supernatural level as well as on the mundane. Part of your mind has to believe that there could be a disembodied spirit full of malice haunting this old house, there could be a nameless evil presence lurking in the crypt - and there just couldn't. Disbelief, at that point, is just too heavy to suspend.

The ghost stories I still enjoy, like "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, work because of their ambiguity. We're never really sure whether the evil presences are being imagined by the protagonist, so we can read the story as if it's a tale of psychological disturbance, and it makes enough sense that way.

I do believe, however, in disturbing places: there are houses that feel as if they're haunted. Three years ago I slept (or tried to) in a hotel room in Glasgow that was one of the most creepy places I've ever been in. But I am also persuaded by an explanation that has nothing to do with ghosts. Certain subliminal sounds or visual stimuli - the hum of an air-conditioner, the flicker of a fluorescent light - can resonate at the exact frequency that causes hallucinatory images to appear in the brain, or that induces feelings of panic or unease. Replace the neon tube, tighten the screws on the housing, and the haunting ceases as if by exorcism.

So there ain't no ghosts. The trouble is. . . .

The trouble is that for a writer of fiction (well, for me, anyway) expunging the uncanny isn't always a good thing. The rational, daylight, functional, get-about-and-do-things part of my mind welcomes the broom of reason as it sweeps away the cobwebs of spookery. But I don't write with that part of my mind, and the part that does the writing doesn't like the place cleaned up and freshly painted and brightly lit.

My daylight mind, the conscious and responsible me, might want to write stories about people who seem entirely real in situations that seem utterly plausible. I might want to explore family relationships or moral dilemmas or social problems or political questions that are entirely free of the fantastic, the ghostly, the uncanny. As a matter of fact, I do want to. Books like that are the sort I like to read; things like that are the things I think important. So I want to write stories about subjects like that.

That is to say, my will wants to. But my imagination doesn't.

When I try, it's like trying to light a fire with damp wood. Nothing catches. Making the will do the work of the imagination is a wearisome and melancholy task, and it would drive you mad with despair in no time if you let it. And there's no need to, after all; when there is dry tinder nearby, and when the spark of your imagination leaps toward it like a lover, you can have a fine blaze roaring in a moment, if a blaze is what you want.

So I came to the conclusion some time ago that imagination and reason were two powers that didn't always agree, and that the one who had sovereignty was the imagination. There's nothing democratic about what goes on in this business. Everything about the act of writing fiction is an exercise of absolute and despotic power. There's no point in deploring this, or wishing it were all nicer and kinder, or gentle and caring and inclusive. It's a tyranny, and that's that.

However, none of this is to say that we have to abandon every other faculty just because we've ceded dominance to one. In fact, we mustn't. If we don't bring everything we have to the task of writing a story, there's a psychological cost: we feel that it's a fundamentally trivial and worthless occupation, and we despise ourselves for wasting our efforts on something so contemptible.

Reason, memory, emotional experience, whatever we know of social and political truth, the craftsmanship we have slowly and laboriously acquired - all these things must come into play. Only then is the task worth doing. But these faculties must work under direction; there's no discussion, and there are no votes. They must behave like the devoted subjects of a tyrant, and dedicate their utmost efforts to serving their ruler.

For example, "The Turn of the Screw." Reading James's notebooks, we learn that the origin of that story was a supposedly true tale told him by the archbishop of Canterbury, in which the disturbing presences were definitely ghosts, with no ambiguity about them at all. But something in it caught fire in his mind. Once his imagination was engaged, his profound intelligence played over the situation and introduced the doubt, the mystery, and transformed a dinner-table anecdote into a work of art.

In my own case (and although I'm making no comparisons of quality, I think the process is similar) when I was playing with the opening of my story "His Dark Materials," I came on the idea of a personal daemon: an aspect of a character's personality that has animal form and is visible. It was the vivid pictorial craziness that caught my mind at first. But I very soon realized that unless I made that notion serve whatever I know of psychological realism, it would merely distract from the story; so I tried to find a way of making it say something about the characters that was both truthful and interesting. The notion comes first, and is sovereign and capricious. The conscious working-out plods along afterwards, obedient, diligent and, if it has the sense, modest.

I don't know if there's a lesson in this, except for those of us who write fiction. If you want to write anything that works, you have to go with the grain of your talent, not against it. If your imagination is inert and sullen in the face of business or politics or adultery among the artists or the perils threatening the environment, but takes fire at the thought of ghosts and vampires and witches and demons, then feed the flames, feed the flames.

So that's why I welcome Halloween, and it's why, although I revere the great realists and read their work with devoted admiration, I know I'm not one of them. My imagination comes to life only in the presence of the uncanny; the despot I serve is the part of my mind that feels a thrill as fierce and sudden as lust when it encounters a deserted graveyard, or comes on the idea of personal daemons, or hears those old familiar words: "Once upon a midnight dreary. . . ."

But isn't there something a little politically dubious about all this emphasis on despotism and absolute power and so on? Isn't there any room for democracy in this vision of literature?

Well, yes. Democracy comes in at a later stage, when we start reading. Reading is democratic all the way through. But that's another story.

Philip Pullman is author of the series "His Dark Materials,'' whose most recent volume is "The Amber Spyglass.''

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/31/opinion/31PULL.html?ex=1068582234&ei=1&en=c5a52a0d98ce4cbe

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The McQueens will address the question, “Can origins be taught in a Two-Model Approach?” “How is the issue of origins actually being taught in Public High Schools?

David McQueen has not only been on ICR's staff (1983-1987) but also was a public high school science teacher in the 1988-1989 school year. His daughter, Deborah, has gone to a public high school and is a Senior this year. She will join her Dad with a report on what has been taught in her Biology and World History classes and her experiences in discussing the creation/evolution issues. Prof. McQueen will report on how he taught the two-model approach in his biology and earth science classes. By using the same slides he used in his teaching, he will illustrate how the facts of science bear on the origins issue. Can we ever err in teaching the truth in public schools?

Bucky Auditorium
Medical Office Building
2126 Research Row, Dallas, TX

Tuesday, November 4th, 7:30 PM

Columbine Victim's Dad Wants Darwinism's Weaknesses Revealed, Truth Taught in Schools

http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/10/282003a.asp

By Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
October 28, 2003

(AgapePress) - The father of a student who died in the tragic Columbine, Colorado, school shootings of April 20, 1999, is weighing in on the Texas debate over high school biology textbooks. He believes children who are taught that they are made in the image of God will have greater respect for life.

When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed Darrell Scott's daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and 12 other students and teachers at Columbine High School, the two teens used Charles Darwin's "survival of the fittest" theory to justify their actions. Harris even wore a "natural selection" T-shirt on the day of the killings.

With these facts in mind, Scott is calling on the Texas State Board of Education to reject textbooks that fail to acknowledge that evolution is nothing more than a theory. Scott believes public school biology textbooks need to explore both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinism. He is joining his voice to those of other concerned citizens such as the group Texans for Better Science Education, which opposes the efforts of some to censor balanced and truthful teaching about evolution by keeping students from learning about scientific criticisms of Darwin's theory.

Since the incident that took his daughter's life, Scott has become a well-known Christian speaker and the founder of Columbine Redemption (columbineredemption.com), a ministry that brings healing and hope as it promotes solutions to school violence and other problems through outreach and advocacy. In addition to equipping people to bring about positive change by partnering with or working from within schools, the ministry provides ongoing education about America's spiritual heritage and the importance of biblical values in society.

"The teaching of evolution is a theory, and yet it's being taught as though it's absolute truth, which is irritating," Scott says, noting that emphasis on Darwin generally leaves "no room for the theory or the belief of creationism." The popular speaker feels such one-sided presentation is entirely unfair.

"It's not only unfair, but it's wrong," Scott says, "and I think it violates what the Constitution stands for. I think it violates what our founding fathers would have wanted because even the Declaration of Independence mentioned the Creator four times."

Scott believes public school textbooks need to address alternatives to the theory of evolution, alternate theories often ignored by educators. He is urging the Board of Education in Texas to comply with that state's law by requiring that school science textbooks discuss the weaknesses of the entrenched evolutionary suppositions of Darwin.

The father of Rachel Scott feels there is a directly relationship between what children are taught and how they see the world and choose to live in it. "If children are taught that they came from slime, that they evolved from a lower form of life, and that there's no future after death, then their views of life are affected by that," he says.

According to Scott, for children taught to believe in such chance and random origins, "life really doesn't have the meaning that it does to children who believe they are created in God's image and that they have not only this life but a future life as well."

Scott says if Columbine High School's young killers had been taught the truth that they were made in the image of God rather than the "survival of the fittest" junk science they were taught in school classrooms, the two teens might not have murdered his daughter and the other victims.

2003 AgapePress all rights reserved.

Former Private Eye Now Probing the Paranormal

http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGAU6W8LEMD.html

By Chaka Ferguson Associated Press Writer

Published: Oct 30, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) - On Halloween, when legend says disembodied spirits return in search of living bodies to possess, Joe Nickell goes on the prowl, too - for ghosts, ghouls and other things that creep in the night.

The former private eye, who used to solve arsons and theft rings for a security firm, is now a senior research fellow at the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, or CSICOP.

His job: unravel the unexplained, debunk the deceptive, unmask the hoax.

Nickell, 58, joined CSICOP in 1995 after a career that also included stints as a professional magician and professor of English at the University of Kentucky. CSICOP, based in Amherst, N.Y., encourages the critical investigation of paranormal and "fringe-science" claims from a scientific viewpoint.

Snooping after ghosts and aliens is harder than ordinary sleuthing. "If we had a crime scene, we would have an actual body or actual blood and we can test for fingerprints," he said.

Nickell says he has investigated some 40 cases of paranormal phenomena such as ghost sightings and alien abductions - without finding a smoking ghost, so to speak. Although still fascinated by reports of the supernatural, he says he's found no credible evidence to support its existence.

"The question is whether we can find evidence that makes up for the unlikelihood of ghosts based on everything we know about science and nature," he said.

In his 2001 book "Real-Life X-Files," Nickell writes that many of the claims he investigates are hoaxes, and others are simply hallucinations or anomalies that can be explained naturally.

Having duped many people with magic tricks, Nickell can spot frauds or replicate some of the mysteries he examines. He's walked on a bed of hot coals; knifed himself to induce stigmata (wounds on the hands, feet and side that some believe simulate those suffered by Christ during the crucifixion); done psychic readings; and reproduced Kirilian photography (anomalies such as blurs found on photographs, which some believe are ghosts).

All of this makes him a killjoy of sorts for the 38 percent of Americans who believe in ghosts, according to a 2001 Gallup Poll.

Merrill McKee, president of the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society, is one of the believers.

"There are too many reportings, too many sightings," he said.

McKee's says his own investigations, which rely on electromagnetic field detectors and laser thermometers, have found evidence of unexplained phenomena.

Like any good detective, Nickell approaches each case with an open mind.

"I try not to have my mind made up and I try not to have an answer in advance," he said.

One purported miracle Nickell recently investigated was the case of a glowing Virgin Mary statue at a church in Ohio. The glow actually was caused by gold leaf that was put on the statue's eyes, heart and halo in the 1970s, Nickell says. The eyes and heart glowed more brightly, he says, because heavy rains had washed away dirt or a chemical reaction had occurred.

Despite such explanations, Nickell says some people still wanted to believe the glow was a miracle. "Many believers base their arguments on emotional, rather than rational thinking," he said.

During a recent tour of reputedly haunted pubs in New York's Greenwich Village, Nickell, like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, jotted down notes as Marilyn Stults, a tour guide and historian for Street Smarts N.Y., explained the legends.

One involves the ghost of Aaron Burr, the early 19th century vice president best remembered for his deadly duel with Alexander Hamilton. Burr once had a carriage house at the site of the restaurant, now called One If By Land, Two If By Sea.

"Things happen all the time there," Stults said.

Nickell, ever the skeptic, had a different explanation.

"Maybe," he said, "ghosts just don't like me."

-----

On the Net:

Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal: http://www.csicop.org/

Medjugorje and Fatima: Politicizing the Virgin Mary

http://www.csicop.org/si/2002-11/medjugorje.html

Apparently individual experiences of the paranormal can, on some occasions, be shown to arise largely out of the broadest social forces, including even those that result in cross-national warfare.

We live in days of all too obvious tension and occasional outright slaughter between specific Christian nations and certain Muslim ones. With this in mind, we can point to an instructive example of how a similar conflict that has occurred on a somewhat smaller geographical scale can be used to demonstrate that paranormal beliefs sometimes arise from a symbolic conflict between differing religious and ethnic groups. We can further demonstrate how such paranormal beliefs frequently both derive from and add to tensions associated with outright warfare and attempts at ethnic cleansings. To substantiate these claims I examine the case of the widely claimed apparitional appearances of the Virgin Mary in the former Yugoslavia.

UFO still puzzles 30 years later

http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/news/stories/20031018/localnews/476885.html

Soldiers encountered something strange in 'Coyne Incident'

By Russ Kent
News Journal
Incident named after pilot

The following article appeared in the Nov. 4, 1973, edition of the Mansfield News Journal. It was written by a United Press International reporter.

CLEVELAND -- Army Reserve helicopter pilot Capt. Lawrence Coyne is a military commander who doesn't believe in unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or little green spacemen.

But after a near miss two weeks ago between his helicopter and a "big, gray, metallic-looking" object in the sky over Mansfield, he doesn't know what to think.

"I had to file an official report in detail to the Army on this thing," he said.

"Coyne is a member of the 316th Medical Detachment stationed at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. He was returning from Columbus at 11:10 p.m., Oct. 18, when the UFO showed up near where the Air National Guard has a squadron of jet fighters based.

He said a check turned up that none of the unit's F-100 Super Saber Jets were in the air when the UFO appeared.

Coyne said when he first encountered the UFO, his helicopter was cruising at 2,500 feet. He had the controls set for a 20-degree dive, but the craft climbed to 3,500 feet with no power.

"I had made no attempt to pull up," he said. "There was no noise or turbulence, either."

Coyne said a red light appeared on the eastern horizon, and was first spotted by his crew chief, Sgt. Robert Yanacsek.

"The light was traveling in excess of 600 knots," Coyne said. "It came from the horizon to our aircraft in about 10 seconds. We were on a collision course."

The pilot said he put his helicopter into a dive.

"At 1,700 feet I braced myself for the impact with the other craft," he said. "It was coming from our right side. I was scared. There had been so little time to respond. The thing was terrifically fast."

There was no crash.

"We looked up and saw it stopped right over us," Coyne said. "It had a big, gray metallic-looking hull about 60 feet long.

"It was shaped like an airfoil or a streamlined fat cigar. There was a red light on the front. The leading edge glowed red a short distance back from the nose. There was a center dome. A green light at the rear reflected on the hull."

Coyne said the green light swiveled like a spotlight and beamed through the canopy of his craft, bathing the cabin in green light.

He said as he and members of the crew stared at the craft his helicopter began to climb without his guidance.

"I had made no attempt to pull up," he said. "All controls were set for a 20-degree dive. Yet we had climbed from 1,700 to 3,500 feet with no power in a couple of seconds with no g-forces or other noticeable strains."

Coyne said the UFO finally moved off to the west and was gone.

MANSFIELD -- Thirty years ago tonight, strange things were happening in the skies over north central Ohio.

A close encounter in Mansfield, that has since become known as "The Coyne Incident," is still raising eyebrows among believers and UFO investigators.

That evening, in a soybean field on the west side of Galion, Rene Boucher and her brother Brad encountered a bright light in the sky that has lured her from Florida for another sojourn into that field.

It was about 11 p.m. on Oct. 18, 1973, when an Army Reserve helicopter came perilously close to colliding with an unidentified flying object.

Arrigo "Rick" Jezzi, 56, who now lives in Cincinnati, was flying the Huey helicopter that night. Three decades later, he is still not sure what happened.

Jezzi was one of four members of an Army Reserve unit based at Hopkins Airport in Cleveland on board. The crew was en route to Cleveland from Columbus.

"Capt. Larry Coyne was the pilot," Jezzi said. "I was in the left seat, actually flying the Huey at the time. We were near Mansfield flying at 2,500 to 3,000 feet."

John Healey and Robert Yanacsek were in the back of the Huey, near a cargo door with a Plexiglas window.

"One of the guys in the back reported a red light. He said it looked like an aircraft light on the right horizon," Jezzi said. "I couldn't see it."

Jezzi was flying from the left seat. On the other side of the Huey there was a 12-foot section of fuselage between the side window and the cargo doors. He figures the red light was in his blind spot.

"Then I heard 'I think its coming toward us'," Jezzi said. "The next thing I knew Larry took control of the throttle. We went into a maneuver, a controlled free fall. We dropped about 2,000 feet."

Jezzi said if Coyne had not made the drastic maneuver there would have been a collision.

"It took just a couple of seconds," Jezzi said. "I remember looking up through the ceiling and I saw a white light moving over top of us. I followed it to the left horizon where it disappeared."

Jezzi isn't sure what he saw. It was like no aircraft he'd ever seen. He guessed it was traveling at least 500 knots, twice the speed of his Huey.

"Red navigational lights aren't located in the front of an aircraft," he said. "That's what was moving toward us. I don't know what it was."

The incident was documented by witnesses on the ground. In UFO lore the "Coyne Incident" is regarded as one of the most reliable UFO sightings of all time.

"It caused a lot of hullabaloo," Jezzi said. "The first thing I thought was those Commie bastards. What are they up to."

The next morning two of the other crew members, while being questioned about the incident, sketched drawings of the cigar-shaped craft they observed.

"They both came up with similar drawings," Jezzi said.

The magnetic compass in the Huey never worked right after the incident and had to be replaced.

Rene Bouchard doesn't know what she saw in Galion about 60 minutes earlier that same evening.

"I was in high school. My brother was in junior high," she said. "There had been a lot of sightings in the days and weeks before that. Even the governor reported seeing something. We thought we'd give it a try."

She and her brother walked out in the field behind their home and started watching the sky.

"We saw a bunch of stuff that looked like it was maybe 30,000 feet in the air," she said. "But it wasn't anything spectacular. Then I think we both put our heads down for some reason. That's when we saw this brilliant white light. It was as bright as the sun. I don't know what it was but it scared us. We ran for two blocks until we got home."

Rene has since moved to Florida. Her brother is in California. She's back in Galion today and plans to go out in that same bean field to spend part of her evening.

"We really saw something that night," she said. "I don't know what it was. But I'll be back there (tonight). I called my brother and asked him to fly here so he could go with me. He said no. I'm not expecting to see anything. But I'm going to be there."

rkent@nncogannett.com

(419) 521-7274

Originally published Saturday, October 18, 2003

Science In the News

The following roundup of science stories appearing each day in the general media is compiled by the Media Resource Service, Sigma Xi's referral service for journalists in need of sources of scientific expertise.

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In the News

Today's Headlines - October 30, 2003

NIH FACES CRITICISM ON GRANTS
from The Washington Post

A coalition of conservative church groups said yesterday that it will ask the Justice Department to investigate how scores of research studies relating to health and sexuality gained federal funding through the National Institutes of Health.

An NIH official said the studies, including several aimed at documenting the behaviors of prostitutes, intravenous drug users and others at high risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases, are an important part of an effort to devise better public health and education strategies. But the coalition called them "smarmy projects" representing at least $100 million in wasted federal money.

The group's call for Justice Department intervention is the latest volley in an escalating war of words and actions in recent weeks between the Washington-based religious group and the NIH and its congressional and institutional supporters, who see the attack as part of a larger effort to foist conservative religious values on the federal scientific enterprise.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37896-2003Oct29.html

SO FAR, SUN GOOD
from Newsday

Washington -- A fast-moving cloud of charged particles from the sun washed over Earth early Wednesday, creating one of the most powerful geomagnetic storms in recent years.

But space weather specialists said the peak activity subsided rather quickly and there were no reports of serious effects from the storm, which had the potential to disable spacecraft, disrupt satellite communications and even trigger power grid blackouts.

The storm posed no threat to people on the ground although the crew of the space station was at risk of higher radiation exposure, as were those on airliners flying at some latitudes.
http://www.newsday.com/ny-hssun1030,0,141740.story

X-RAY VISION UNLOCKS ANCIENT MYSTERIES OF FLYING REPTILES
from The San Francisco Chronicle

In the age of the dinosaurs, some of the most skilled hunters were sharp-eyed flying reptiles that used their specialized brains, elaborate guidance systems and some fearsome weaponry to snatch their prey while diving in high-speed flight.

Now, researchers studying the fossilized skulls of those long-gone creatures are reporting fresh insights into just how they evolved to do it.

Fossil experts have long been frustrated by the fact that only the bones of ancient animals survive in fossil form, while their crucial soft tissues, like muscles, nerves and brains, simply rot away after death and never fossilize.

That limitation is ending now, thanks to advanced X-ray imaging technology -- much the same as the CT-scans doctors use to picture the inner organs of human patients.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/10/30/MNG7Q2MBHT1.DTL

ANCIENT MAYA ALTAR RETAKEN FROM LOOTERS IN GUATEMALA
from The New York Times

The latest story coming out of the jungle of Guatemala, of plunder and violence in the illicit traffic of Maya antiquities, has an all too familiar plot line, except for the ending.

Two years ago a gang of looters fell on the palace ruins of the ancient city of Cancun and made off with an elaborately carved stone altar, complete with writing and the image of a powerful king of the late eighth century A.D.

The thieves tried to sell the relic to drug traffickers, the only people in the region with the kind of money they were asking.

When the gang had a falling-out, first one band and then another seized the altar, at least once in a blaze of gunfire. An effort was made to get it across the Belize border and into the lucrative international market in antiquities, ill gotten or otherwise.
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/30/science/30MAYA.html


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Rooms with a boo

http://www.dallasnews.com/latestnews/stories/102803dnwebadolphus.462f1eef.html A thump. A chill. Who's there? At Hotel Adolphus, some say ghosts
10:59 AM CST on Tuesday, October 28, 2003
By BRIAN ANDERSON / Dallas Web Staff

When things go bump in the night at the historic Hotel Adolphus in downtown Dallas, Eric Langley gets the call.

"It's usually somebody just complaining of hearing conversations and the like," said Langley, who has spent the past four years handling guest services on the aptly named 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. graveyard shift. "I get calls at night that people hear someone walking down the hall."

Sometimes, the sleepy-voiced guests say they are bothered by the steady drone of a distant piano. Other times, the patrons complain of the loud Big Band music echoing down the hallway.

"The 19th floor used to be the ballroom level," Langley explained. "That's where most of the stories generate from."

But when security officers arrive to investigate the complaints, the result is always the same. No one is wandering the hall. There is no piano player or swing band. In fact, for decades, there hasn't even been a ballroom. 'It was glamorous'

At first glance, the 19th floor looks like any other of the Adolphus today. Rows of white doors stretch along the sides of the quiet carpeted hallway. There are no clues to its former opulence.

John Valis, the hotel's director of engineering, said the long-abandoned ballroom was gutted in 1979 to make way for a subsequent remodeling that filled the 19th level with new guestrooms. But behind an inconspicuous door on the 21st floor, through a hidden crawlspace and over a rickety catwalk high above the ceiling of the current 19th floor, a giant cavity is at the hotel's core. And below lie the decrepit remnants of the once grand gathering place.

Pillows of insulation have replaced the polished hardwood floors where Dallas' elite once danced the night away. Peeling wallpaper hangs from the gritty walls and a marble staircase leads to nowhere.

"I guess you have to use a little bit of your imagination to see what it was," Valis said, surveying the emptiness beneath his perch. "It's said it was glamorous, and it probably was."

Arched ceilings are now only rusty steel ribs suspended overhead. Small, boarded windows hint at where spotlights were once stationed to illuminated the dance floor.

"This is 1912 vintage construction," Valis said. He proudly patted a steel beam above his head and bragged that rivets, not welds, hold the steel structure together. "You get better quality, but it takes longer to put it together."

But is the dark, dusty ballroom the nightly setting for supernatural carousing?

"I haven't seen anything myself," Valis said. Many of his co-workers say they have.

A haunting history

Since its construction in 1912, the Adolphus has maintained a reputation for lavish comfort and keen service. They're what keep customers coming back, and perhaps why some never leave.

Hotel guests and employees have reported numerous instances of unexplained activity throughout the building. They've reluctantly attributed the incidents to the ghosts of visitors from long ago.

"People feel like someone is watching them. They hear doors slam. Over the years, I've heard it all," said Louis Ford, a 16-year employee who now supervises the hotel's Bistro restaurant.

Ford said he, too, worked the graveyard shift early in his career at the Adolphus. He said he often sensed he was not alone as he made his late-night rounds to collect room service carts.

"I have felt a presence at times. You feel like someone is watching you, but no one is there, of course," he said.

Longtime bartender Dale Rust blames one playful spirit for routinely rearranging the beer bottles displayed behind his counter.

"It would always move out," Rust said, pointing to the last bottle in the row of samples on a shelf. "You'd put it back and later it would be moved out again."

Rust said last spring marked a particularly busy period of paranormal activity. In the weeks following the death of a frequent customer, employees repeatedly saw the image of the deceased woman, taking a place at her favorite table near the front of the Bistro's seating area.

In another incident, a housekeeper claimed an unseen visitor repeatedly tapped her on the shoulder as she was attempting to clean one of the hotel's restrooms.

At least two hotel employees reported separate instances of windows bursting open with a violent blast of cold air.

"Out of nowhere, the window just flew open." Langley said, recalling how the incident caused one visitor to fall to the floor in a rush to escape the room. "We assumed somebody didn't latch the window, but that's very odd. It was on the interior of the building. It would be hard for the wind to get in there."

And on one occasion, two women fled the hotel in the middle of the night after awakening to find the apparition of an unknown man standing in their room.

However, no single supernatural occupant of the Adolphus has registered more visits than the specter of a spurned woman in white.

Belle of the ballroom

"We've had people say they saw a bride," Langley said. "Supposedly it was a bride who was left at the altar."

According to hotel lore, the grand ballroom was the scene for many musical events and elegant weddings during the hotel's earliest years. But in the 1930s, one young bride's dreams of a fantasy marriage in the ornate hall were dashed when her husband-to-be abandoned her on their wedding day. The distraught bride promptly hanged herself only steps from where she had hoped to begin a new life with her beau.

Now, the lonely spirit is said to haunt the halls of the 19th floor, occasionally making her presence known to unsuspecting hotel guests. "People will say they hear a woman crying in the room next to them, but there won't be anyone there," Rust said.

Johnny Bauman, a Bistro waiter, said he recently encountered the ghostly bride as he wandered the building with a friend late one night. "I was telling her about the ghost stories I'd heard working here. She said we should go up to the 19th floor," Bauman said.

But when the couple arrived at their destination, they knew something was terribly wrong.

"As soon as we walked off the elevator, this heat rush hit us and my ears turned bright red," Bauman said. "We could feel a presence there. We knew we shouldn't be toying with that stuff."

The pair raced back to their room on the 10th floor. But when they arrived in the company of more friends who were staying at the hotel, at least one woman from the party sensed that they were not alone.

"Without us saying a word, she said, 'What did you bring here with you?' We could all feel there was still a presence there. Everyone in the whole room felt it," Bauman said.

Some of the room's occupants eventually fell asleep, but for those who remained awake, the peculiar events continued. The gentle sound of an unseen music box played for more than an hour.

'Spirit' of hospitality

David Davis, director of public relations for the Adolphus, isn't sure if ghosts really are roaming the halls. But he agrees that many guests and employees feel a unique connection to the building's past.

"That's why I started working here. There is a feeling of history," he said.

Whether tall tales or vivid imaginations are to blame for the hotel's paranormal phenomena, Davis said it's all just part of the Dallas institution's intriguing character.

"Whatever that spirit is, that sense people get here, it draws a certain type of guest and a certain type of employee," Davis said. "There is something about the Adolphus that wants to draw people in. It wants you to be a part of the family."

E-mail briananderson@dallasnews.com
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In the News

Today's Headlines - October 27, 2003

BAY AREA LEADS REVOLT AGAINST SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS
from The San Francisco Chronicle

More than five centuries after Gutenberg's printing press revolutionized the transmission of scientific information, the multibillion- dollar scientific publishing industry is quaking to two Bay Area-led revolts.

This month, a nonprofit venture founded by Nobel laureates with the help of a $9 million startup grant launched the first of two new scientific journals that will make all content freely available online. Print versions of the journals will be available for a subscription fee.

The goal of the initiative, called the Public Library of Science, is to force a new standard of "open public access" to scientific research, which, after all, is largely funded by taxpayer dollars. As it is now, scientific journals demand a hefty subscriber fee and limit online access to only those who pay. In another move, two prominent UCSF scientists called last week for a global boycott of six molecular biology journals, accusing the publisher, Reed Elsevier, the Goliath of science publishing, of charging exorbitant new subscription fees for online access.
http://snurl.com/1z9v

EGYPT WELCOMES MUMMY'S RETURN FROM U.S.
from Associated Press

CAIRO, Oct. 26 (AP) A children's choir and a military band greeted the return on Sunday of what scholars believe is a royal mummy possibly Ramses I that was looted from a tomb and smuggled out of Egypt by a Canadian doctor nearly 150 years ago.

The Michael Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, which bought the mummy three years ago from a museum in Ontario, returned the relic after determining that it might be the founder of the 19th Dynasty and grandfather of Ramses II.

"Welcome Ramses, the builder of esteemed Egypt," a children's chorus sang as the box containing the mummy was brought into the Egyptian Museum here.

Zahi Hawas, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that it was uncertain that the mummy was Ramses I, but that the return was "a great, civilized gesture" by the Emory museum.
http://snurl.com/1z05

Jacko Charity Single Raising Money for Scientology

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,101280,00.html#1

A lot of big name stars are unwittingly about to start raising money for Scientology, thanks to Michael Jackson.

At 3 p.m. PST Monday, Jackson is launching a worldwide Internet download of his charity single, "What More Can I Give?" For $2 a shot, Jackson fans will be able to hear this record, made two years ago but never released. The record features Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, members of 'N Sync, The Backstreet Boys and others.

But what fans and the two dozen participating artists probably don't know is that proceeds from the single download are going, in part, to Scientology. Jackson has designated The HELP Organization, which uses study techniques developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as one of the beneficiaries of his largesse.

The other charities Jackson will send "part" of these proceeds to include: Oneness, Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and something called the International Child Art Foundation. Information about Jackson's plans can be found at www.whatmorecanigive.com.

The Oneness Foundation is run by one of Jackson's record producers, who also produced the Spanish language version of the single. Ironically, Oneness a boutique operation was supposed to benefit from the sales of tickets to Neverland last month, as was the Make a Wish Foundation. Neither group has yet to see any money from the Neverland open house event.

Scientology's HELP as well as Oneness, Mr. Hollands and ICAF were not the designees when Jackson convinced people like Usher, Luther Vandross, Tom Petty, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Beyonce Knowles and other superstars to participate in this recording two years ago. At the time, the stars thought they were participating in a fund raising event for families of the Sept. 11 tragedy. Now, however, "What More Can I Give?" will be collecting money for causes many of the stars may not have intended.

HELP, which stands for Hollywood Literacy and Education Program, is a subsidiary of the Church of Scientology. The copyright on the HELP Web site, which Jackson's Web site is now linking to, states: "The Hollywood Education and Literacy Project is licensed by Applied Scholastics International to use the Study Technology of L. Ron Hubbard. Applied Scholastics is a trademark and service mark owned by the Association of Better Living and Education International and is used with its permission."

The Association for Better Living is yet another Scientology offshoot, which, according to their Web site, adheres to the teachings of founder Hubbard, the late science fiction writer. Referred to as ABLE, the association is an umbrella name for Scientology's different 12 step and learning programs.

Jackson was briefly married to a Scientologist, Lisa Marie Presley, in the late 1990s.

Calls to Jackson's company, MJJ Productions, proved useless. An answering service operator said they were on vacation.

Homeopathy may combat arsenic poisoning

http://www.scidv.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=1070&language=1

Natasha McDowell
24 October 2003
Source: SciDev.Net

A homeopathic remedy based on arsenic oxide can reduce liver damage in mice poisoned by arsenic, Indian scientists have found. They hope the research will lead to an inexpensive treatment to alleviate the suffering of the millions of people worldwide poisoned by arsenic-contaminated groundwater.

A.R. Khuda-Bukhsh and his team from the University of Kaylani, West Bengal, found that the homeopathic remedy Arsenicum Album could remove arsenic from mice as well as reducing its ill-effects. The research was published this week in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Arsenic contamination of groundwater, largely a result of the drilling of boreholes over the past 20 years, is a major health problem in Bangladesh and India as well as 15 other countries, including Chile and China. Symptoms include skin disease and liver damage.

The scientists are keen to see whether the drug has the same effect in human volunteers living in arsenic-contaminated areas. Such a trial would be exciting, says George Lewith of the University of Southampton and a member of the UK government's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency advisory board for the registration of homeopathic products.

He adds that similar work with arsenic has been done in animals in the past. Animal models are one of the very few reproducible observations in homeopathy, but they are generally ignored by a sceptical establishment due to a lack of clinical trials you cant intentionally poison people with arsenic,he says. A trial using volunteers from such areas would be extremely interesting.

Although chemical treatment can remove arsenic contamination, efforts to provide safe drinking water have not been widely implemented. Khuda-Bukhsh and his colleagues were therefore searching for a cheap and easy-to-use treatment that is effective in low doses.

A central tenet of homeopathy is that water can retain a 'memory' of substances dissolved in it. Practitioners believe that the higher the dilution of such medicine, the more potent it becomes a claim that inspires much of the scepticism surrounding homeopathy.

The scientists monitored the activity of two enzymes in mice poisoned with arsenic after feeding them drops of either the homeopathic remedy, water or alcohol. These enzymes are more active in mice with arsenic poisoning, and can therefore be used to indicate levels of toxicity. The researchers found that the homeopathic remedy reduced the activity of the enzymes within 72 hours and was effective for up to 30 days. Water had no effect on either enzyme, and alcohol increased the activity of one of the enzymes.

"It is quite amazing that such microdoses [of the homeopathic drug] were capable of bringing about such spectacular enzymatic alterations in mice treated with a toxic dose of arsenic," the researchers write. "This is more fascinating because the dilution at which the drug appeared to be effective was so high that the chances of even a single original molecule being in them was theoretically almost impossible." A team at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said they had shown materials in clay were key to some of the initial processes in forming life.

Specifically, a clay mixture called montmorillonite not only helps form little bags of fat and liquid but helps cells use genetic material called RNA. That, in turn, is one of the key processes of life.

Jack Szostak, Martin Hanczyc and Shelly Fujikawa were building on earlier work that found clays could catalyze the chemical reactions needed to make RNA from building blocks called nucleotides.

They found the clay sped along the process by which fatty acids formed little bag-like structures called vesicles. The clay also carried RNA into those vesicles. A cell is, in essence, a complex bag of liquidy compounds.

"Thus, we have demonstrated that not only can clay and other mineral surfaces accelerate vesicle assembly, but assuming that the clay ends up inside at least some of the time, this provides a pathway by which RNA could get into vesicles," Szostak said in a statement Thursday.

"The formation, growth and division of the earliest cells may have occurred in response to similar interactions with mineral particles and inputs of material and energy," the researchers wrote in their report, published in the journal Science.

"We are not claiming that this is how life started," Szostak stressed.

"We are saying that we have demonstrated growth and division without any biochemical machinery. Ultimately, if we can demonstrate more natural ways this might have happened, it may begin to give us clues about how life could have actually gotten started on the primitive Earth."

Among religious texts that refer to life being formed from the soil is the Bible's Book of Genesis where God tells Adam, (King James translation), "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/10/25/clay.life.reut/index.html


Monday, October 27, 2003

2003 Texas Bigfoot Conference

I want to thank everyone that attended, donated to our auction or spoke at our Conference last weekend. From the response that I have garnered so far, it was a great success.

We are making plans to acquire some rather expensive research equipment, thermal imaging cameras, and the success of our auction will make that an obtainable goal.

We are looking forward to making some inroads to gaining video and photographic evidence of these elusive creatures.

We still have some of the goods left over from the Conference. The t-shirts came out really nice, compliments to Paul Smith, the artist.

http://www.texasbigfoot.com/conf2003goods.html

In the words of John Kirk, "These are the best darn t-shirts from any Conference." Loren Coleman summed up this last Conference as the best Conference of any kind that he had ever attended.

We also have the videos from the 2002 Conference available, http://www.texasbigfoot.com/2002video.html, as well as subscriptions to our quarterly newsletter: http://www.texasbigfoot.com/newsletter.html

Here's looking forward to a productive 2004.

Thanks, Craig Woolheater
Texas Bigfoot Research Center
http://www.texasbigfoot.com

Alien hunt in space may score by 2025

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/03298/234442.stm

Saturday, October 25, 2003

By Michael Woods, Post-Gazette National Bureau

E.T., the extraterrestrial, may prowl neighborhoods on Halloween with Hollywood's other soft-and-squishy renditions of intelligent alien life forms.

But when might we humans actually, finally encounter the real thing?

Probably in your lifetime. By 2025.

The leading experts in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., recently completed the most systematic calculations ever performed on when the human race is likely to contact intelligent alien life for the first time.

Their answer: within 22 years.

And they suspect that our first interstellar interlocutor might end up being a super-intelligent machine rather than anything biological.

Seth Shostak unveiled SETI's predictions at an international astronomy conference in Germany earlier this month. He and co-author Alexandra Barnett will go public with their findings Nov. 1 when their new book, "Cosmic Company: The Search for Life in the Universe," is published by Cambridge University Press.

"There are as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sand on Earth's beaches," said H. Paul Shuch, executive director of the New Jersey-based SETI League Inc. "About 10 percent may have planets with intelligent life. That's your haystack.

"We investigated the rate at which astronomers will be scanning those stars for radio signals, and concluded that it will take about one generation to find the needle."

Shuch, who attended Shostak's presentation in Germany, nevertheless joined other scientists in chiding Shostak for so starkly predicting first contact by 2025.

"My respected colleague should know better," Shuch said. "It is safe to say that by 2025, our newest and greatest SETI technology will have been up and running long enough to make a detection -- if."

"Ifs" include: that extraterrestrial life exists in detectable civilizations relatively close to Earth that are still primitive enough to use radio signals.

The search accelerates

Previous predictions for first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, Shostak pointed out, have been mainly guesswork.

Organized searches for extraterrestrial life began in the 1960s with radio telescopes -- antennas shaped like satellite dishes that can capture electronic signals transmitted from other planets. Scientists look for signals with patterns that suggest they were sent intentionally and are not simply stray transmissions from energy sources.

Earthlings also have tried to reach out to extraterrestrials.

In 1974, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the largest radio telescope in the world, sent a digital message toward the M13 Global Cluster. It will arrive in about 25,000 years.

The Pioneer 10 spacecraft launched in 1972 carried humanity's first message-in-a-bottle -- a plaque bearing an illustration of a man and a woman and a diagram identifying Earth's location in the galaxy. It is now 9 billion miles away.

The search for extraterrestrials has been intermittent, however. In 1993, a budget-cutting U. S. Congress canceled NASA's SETI program. By the late 1990s, there had been barely two years of continuous observations for extraterrestrial messages.

Now the pace has picked up, and this figures heavily in Shostak's prediction that intelligent life will be detected by 2025.

The SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, launched as a successor to the NASA program, employs Arecibo and other radio telescopes in West Virginia and Australia. Computers monitor millions of radio channels simultaneously, focusing on relatively close stars likely to host planets hospitable to life.

All these stars are within 200 light-years of Earth. A light-year is 5.9 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year at 186,000 miles per second, so that would be about 1,180 trillion miles.

Anyone with an Internet connection can join the search by downloading a free program at http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu, which uses spare computer time to analyze radio telescope data.

One thing that has slowed the search for extraterrestrials is the need for researchers to share telescope time with astronomers doing other work. Project Phoenix, for instance, can make SETI observations at Arecibo for only three weeks each year, allowing it to scan only 60 star systems annually.

SETI soon will get its first "dedicated" telescope, called the Allen Telescope Array, which will provide continuous observations.

A project of the SETI Institute and the University of California at Berkeley, the Allen array will employ 350 dishes, each about 20 feet in diameter. It will be built 250 miles north of Berkeley with $12.5 million contributed by Paul Allen, co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, and Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's former chief technology officer.

When completed around 2006, the Allen array will survey about 1,000 star systems annually, Shostak said. Future upgrades could greatly increase the telescope's scanning speed.

The pace will accelerate further if an international consortium gets funding for another full-time SETI telescope, called the Square Kilometer Array.

NASA and the European Space Agency both plan SETI-related missions, as well. NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder vehicle would search space for planets like Earth. The European agency's Darwin project would involve a flotilla of six space telescopes scanning for life on Earth-like planets.

By the early 2020s, Shostak calculates, scientists will have scanned enough star systems that the odds are excellent that they will have found signals from an alien civilization.

Man meets machine?

Shuch agrees that the odds will improve dramatically, but he is not the only expert chary of making predictions.

"Seth Shostak is a very capable scientist," said NASA's Marc Rayman. "I think it would be wonderfully exciting if the prediction proved correct. But our understanding is so immature that it's hard for me to see how we could expect such a fantastically important result in such a short time."

Dr. Stuart A. Kingsley, director of the Columbus Optical SETI Observatory in Ohio, searches for laser beacons from extraterrestrial civilizations.

"In this game one probably needs to be somewhat optimistic to remain motivated," he noted in an interview. "There have been many optimistic predictions of success in just a few years, but where are the results?"

Shostak acknowledged "many" reasons why his calculations might be wrong.

"Nevertheless, the intention is to improve upon existing 'gut feeling' speculation," he added.

As for E.T.'s appearance?

"I doubt if they will be the aliens you see in the movies," he said. "Those are human hopes and fears about extraterrestrial life. We may find biological intelligence, actual living things. Then again, it is entirely possible that it will be machine intelligence."

Biological aliens may share some of humanity's architecture, with eyes and ears up high for good data input and appendages like arms and legs, Shostak said. They might be about human size, too, but probably not bigger than an elephant or smaller than a golf ball because extremes don't survive well.

"In a general sense, we're pretty well designed," Shostak observed, "and it may be a basic pattern for life."

Shostak nevertheless thinks humans are likely first to contact super-intelligent machines -- machines capable of reproducing themselves that have come to dominate their planets. They may view biological life forms much as humans view domestic pets or wildlife.

"It's entirely possible that biological intelligence is just one step on the road to another kind of intelligence -- machines 100,000 times smarter than humans that take control," he said.

Humans should hope the first encounter with aliens will be long-distance, Shostak suggested.

"I would be very leery of visitors, to be honest," he said. "There would be few reasons for aliens to appear. Ask yourself, why did Pizarro visit the Incas?"

(Michael Woods can be reached at mwoods@nationalpress.com or 1-202-662-7072.)

Strange UFO seen in Colorado

WEIRDNETDAILY

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35272

Durango resident describes giant boomerang

Posted: October 26, 2003 1:00 a.m. Eastern

2003 WorldNetDaily.com

There's a new kind of UFO being seen in Colorado.

It's not an egg. It's not a football shape. It's not a cigar. And it's certainly not a flying saucer.

Tim Butler, a sound engineer from Durango, says he saw a silent, silver, flying boomerang about 40 to 60 feet long sweep over Fort Lewis College while flying a little higher than 1,000 feet, according to a report in the Durango Herald.

Butler witnessed the craft in the sky Sept. 28 and has since found out others in Colorado saw something similar about that time.

Other similar reports of a boomerang-shaped craft were recorded in the Silverton Standard more than a week earlier.

Butler told the Herald he is a scientist at heart and believes what he saw was evidence of unknown technology possibly military.

"It wasn't thermalling and didn't make a sound," he said. "There was no heat distortion behind the end. I thought it had to be a military drone at one point but there was no contrail, no propulsion."


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