NTS LogoSkeptical News for 22 April 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Evidence Bubbles Over To Support Tabletop Nuclear Fusion Device

Date: 2004-03-03
URL:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/03/040303080222.htm

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers are reporting new evidence supporting their earlier discovery of an inexpensive "tabletop" device that uses sound waves to produce nuclear fusion reactions.

The researchers believe the new evidence shows that "sonofusion" generates nuclear reactions by creating tiny bubbles that implode with tremendous force. Nuclear fusion reactors have historically required large, multibillion-dollar machines, but sonofusion devices might be built for a fraction of that cost.

"What we are doing, in effect, is producing nuclear emissions in a simple desktop apparatus," said Rusi Taleyarkhan, the principal investigator and a professor of nuclear engineer at Purdue University. "That really is the magnitude of the discovery - the ability to use simple mechanical force for the first time in history to initiate conditions comparable to the interior of stars."

The technology might one day result in a new class of low-cost, compact detectors for security applications that use neutrons to probe the contents of suitcases; devices for research that use neutrons to analyze the molecular structures of materials; machines that cheaply manufacture new synthetic materials and efficiently produce tritium, which is used for numerous applications ranging from medical imaging to watch dials; and a new technique to study various phenomena in cosmology, including the workings of neutron stars and black holes.

Taleyarkhan led the research team while he was a full-time scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and he is now the Arden L. Bement Jr. Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue.

The new findings are being reported in a paper that will appear this month in the journal Physical Review E, published by the American Physical Society. The paper was written by Taleyarkhan; postdoctoral fellow J.S Cho at Oak Ridge Associated Universities; Colin West, a retired scientist from Oak Ridge; Richard T. Lahey Jr., the Edward E. Hood Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); R.C. Nigmatulin, a visiting scholar at RPI and president of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Bashkortonstan branch; and Robert C. Block, active professor emeritus in the School of Engineering at RPI and director of RPI's Gaerttner Linear Accelerator Laboratory.

The discovery was first reported in March 2002 in the journal Science.

Since then the researchers have acquired additional funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, purchased more precise instruments and equipment to collect more accurate data, and successfully reproduced and improved upon the original experiment, Taleyarkhan said.

"A fair amount of very substantial new work was conducted, " Taleyarkhan said. "And also, this time around I made a conscious decision to involve as many individuals as possible - top scientists and physicists from around the world and experts in neutron science - to come to the lab and review our procedures and findings before we even submitted the manuscript to a journal for its own independent peer review."

The device is a clear glass canister about the height of two coffee mugs stacked on top of one another. Inside the canister is a liquid called deuterated acetone. The acetone contains a form of hydrogen called deuterium, or heavy hydrogen, which contains one proton and one neutron in its nucleus. Normal hydrogen contains only one proton in its nucleus.

The researchers expose the clear canister of liquid to pulses of neutrons every five milliseconds, or thousandths of a second, causing tiny cavities to form. At the same time, the liquid is bombarded with a specific frequency of ultrasound, which causes the cavities to form into bubbles that are about 60 nanometers - or billionths of a meter - in diameter. The bubbles then expand to a much larger size, about 6,000 microns, or millionths of a meter - large enough to be seen with the unaided eye.

"The process is analogous to stretching a slingshot from Earth to the nearest star, our sun, thereby building up a huge amount of energy when released," Taleyarkhan said.

Within nanoseconds these large bubbles contract with tremendous force, returning to roughly their original size, and release flashes of light in a well-known phenomenon known as sonoluminescence. Because the bubbles grow to such a relatively large size before they implode, their contraction causes extreme temperatures and pressures comparable to those found in the interiors of stars. Researches estimate that temperatures inside the imploding bubbles reach 10 million degrees Celsius and pressures comparable to 1,000 million earth atmospheres at sea level.

At that point, deuterium atoms fuse together, the same way hydrogen atoms fuse in stars, releasing neutrons and energy in the process. The process also releases a type of radiation called gamma rays and a radioactive material called tritium, all of which have been recorded and measured by the team. In future versions of the experiment, the tritium produced might then be used as a fuel to drive energy-producing reactions in which it fuses with deuterium.

Whereas conventional nuclear fission reactors produce waste products that take thousands of years to decay, the waste products from fusion plants are short-lived, decaying to non-dangerous levels in a decade or two. The desktop experiment is safe because, although the reactions generate extremely high pressures and temperatures, those extreme conditions exist only in small regions of the liquid in the container - within the collapsing bubbles.

One key to the process is the large difference between the original size of the bubbles and their expanded size. Going from 60 nanometers to 6,000 microns is about 100,000 times larger, compared to the bubbles usually formed in sonoluminescence, which grow only about 10 times larger before they implode.

"This means you've got about a trillion times more energy potentially available for compression of the bubbles than you do with conventional sonoluminescence," Taleyarkhan said. "When the light flashes are emitted, it's getting extremely hot, and if your liquid has deuterium atoms compared to ordinary hydrogen atoms, the conditions are hot enough to produce nuclear fusion."

The ultrasound switches on and off about 20,000 times a second as the liquid is being bombarded by neutrons.

The researchers compared their results using normal acetone and deuterated acetone, showing no evidence of fusion in the former.

Each five-millisecond pulse of neutrons is followed by a five-millisecond gap, during which time the bubbles implode, release light and emit a surge of about 1 million neutrons per second.

In the first experiments, with the less sophisticated equipment, the team was only able to collect data during a small portion of the five-millisecond intervals between neutron pulses. The new equipment enabled the researchers to see what was happening over the entire course of the experiment.

The data clearly show surges in neutrons emitted in precise timing with the light flashes, meaning the neutron emissions are produced by the collapsing bubbles responsible for the flashes of light, Taleyarkhan said.

"We see neutrons being emitted each time the bubble is imploding with sufficient violence," Taleyarkhan said.

Fusion of deuterium atoms emits neutrons that fall within a specific energy range of 2.5 mega-electron volts or below, which was the level of energy seen in neutrons produced in the experiment. The production of tritium also can only be attributed to fusion, and it was never observed in any of the control experiments in which normal acetone was used, he said.

Whereas data from the previous experiment had roughly a one in 100 chance of being attributed to some phenomena other than nuclear fusion, the new, more precise results represent more like a one in a trillion chance of being wrong, Taleyarkhan said.

"There is only one way to produce tritium - through nuclear processes," he said.

The results also agree with mathematical theory and modeling.

Future work will focus on studying ways to scale up the device, which is needed before it could be used in practical applications, and creating portable devices that operate without the need for the expensive equipment now used to bombard the canister with pulses of neutrons.

"That takes it to the next level because then it's a standalone generator," Taleyarkhan said. "These will be little nuclear reactors by themselves that are producing neutrons and energy."

Such an advance could lead to the development of extremely accurate portable detectors that use neutrons for a wide variety of applications.

"If you have a neutron source you can detect virtually anything because neutrons interact with atomic nuclei in such a way that each material shows a clear-cut signature," Taleyarkhan said.

The technique also might be used to synthesize materials inexpensively.

"For example, carbon is turned into diamond using extreme heat and temperature over many years," Taleyarkhan said. "You wouldn't have to wait years to convert carbon to diamond. In chemistry, most reactions grow exponentially with temperature. Now we might have a way to synthesize certain chemicals that were otherwise difficult to do economically.

"Several applications in the field of medicine also appear feasible, such as tumor treatment."

Before such a system could be used as a new energy source, however, researchers must reach beyond the "break-even" point, in which more energy is released from the reaction than the amount of energy it takes to drive the reaction.

"We are not yet at break-even," Taleyarkhan said. "That would be the ultimate. I don't know if it will ever happen, but we are hopeful that it will and don't see any clear reason why not. In the future we will attempt to scale up this system and see how far we can go."

Union of Concerned Scientists

http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release.cfm?newsID=389

April 19, 2004

Administration Censorship and Manipulation of Science Ongoing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a detailed analysis of the Bush administration's recent defense of a pattern of censorship, manipulation and abuse of science in the policy making process. The analysis shows that the White House document fails to offer substantive evidence to support its claims and is filled with largely irrelevant information and arguments unrelated to the scientists' charges.

"The administration is dismissive of the concerns of leading scientists across the country," said Kurt Gottfried, professor emeritus at Cornell University and UCS board chairman. "The absence of a candid and constructive response from the White House is troubling as these issues - from childhood lead poisoning and mercury emissions to climate change and nuclear weapons - have serious consequences for public health, well-being and national security."

On February 18, 2004, 62 prominent scientists released the statement Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policy Making in which they charged the Bush administration with widespread and unprecedented "manipulation of the process through which science enters into its decisions." The scientists' statement made brief reference to specific cases that illustrate this pattern of behavior. In conjunction with the statement, UCS released detailed documentation backing up the scientists' charges in the report Scientific Integrity in Policymaking. An updated report with supplemental information was posted on the UCS website on March 31, 2004.

On April 2, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a statement by Director John H. Marburger, III that dismissed the scientists' concerns and attempted to debunk the specific charges. In the analysis released today, UCS reviews each charge again, and directly addresses the administration's responses concluding, "UCS stands by the findings and conclusions of our report."

"We approached their statement as we had hoped they would approach ourslike scientistsfact based and with integrity," said Gottfried. "We stand by our findings and will continue to voice the concerns of the scientific community as long as these activities continue."

Tonight, three signers of the scientists' statement will address these issues at an event hosted by the Swiss Embassy from 6 to 8 p.m., at 2900 Cathedral Avenue, N.W. Speakers include: Lewis Branscomb, Director of the National Bureau of Standards in the Nixon administration and now an emeritus professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government; David Michaels, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health and Epidemiology at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services; and William Schlesinger, James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry and Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. Alden Meyer, UCS Director of Strategy and Policy, will also participate in the discussion.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific analysis, innovative policy development and effective citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental solutions.

Read the analysis
http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/page.cfm?pageID=1393

Read the scientists' statement
http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/page.cfm?pageID=1320


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Teachers union criticizes Darby origins policy

http://www.ravallinews.com/articles/2004/04/21/news/news03.txt

By JENNY JOHNSON Staff Reporter

In a symbolic gesture, the organization representing Montana teachers denounced the recent push by the Darby School Board to adopt an objective origins science policy.

At a meeting in Missoula earlier this month, the MEA-MFT's representative assembly unanimously adopted a motion urging the Darby School District to "cease all efforts to incorporate objective origins in Darby schools' science curriculum." The 300 delegates also passed a motion in support of the Darby faculty facing board decisions that have caused tension in the community.

"This comes as no surprise to the board," MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver said. "There is no dispute in our organization over what's going on in Darby."

Feaver said the concern isn't just about blurring the line between church and state - an argument based on the idea that the policy is a ploy to introduce creationism in the classroom.

"This is about the whole heart and soul of what it means to be a public school," he said.

The school board adopted the objective origins policy earlier this year but has yet to bring it up for a second reading. It passed 3-2 after hundreds of people offered comment on the issue.

The policy calls for teachers to question the theory of evolution in the classroom and explore other theories. It has drawn support and criticism and received national media attention.

"The Darby school community has suffered this unnecessary and divisive controversy long enough," Feaver's letter to the board said. "It is time to abandon the proposed science curriculum policy and move on."

MEA-MFT represents more than 16,000 school employees in the state.

Reporter Jenny Johnson can be reached at 363-3300 or jjohnson@ravallirepublic.com

Two candidates back study of creationism in schools

http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&display=rednews/2004/04/21/build/state/35-ask-candidates.inc

By CHARLES S. JOHNSON
Gazette State Bureau

HELENA - Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Keating and Ken Miller believe creationism should be taught in public schools, while the other four major political party candidates for the office disagree. Creationism is the belief that the Earth and life on Earth were created in a short period of time as described in the book of Genesis. Some conservative Christians see it as an scientifically valid alternative to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

A debate erupted in Darby where the school board gave preliminary authorization for what's called an "objective origins" science policy that encourages teachers to help students challenge theories such as evolution. A Missoula couple, Mike and Lorena Hillis, a retired wildlife biologist for the Forest Service and a community health educator at the Missoula City-County Health Department respectively, submitted this question: "Does creationism have a place in public schools, or should it be left in the church?"

The Gazette State Bureau submitted question to the four Republican and two Democrats seeking their respective party's nomination in the June 8 primary election.

Here are their responses:

Brian Schweitzer, Democrat, Whitefish farmer-rancher: "Religion should be taught in the home, at church schools and in our churches. Religion does not have a place in our public schools."

John Vincent, Democrat, Gallatin County commissioner from Gallatin Gateway and former state legislator: "No. I can envision a formal 'Religious Studies' class that fully covered the tenets of all the world's great religions, in which case creationism would have a place. But as a Montana classroom teacher of 30 years, I feel this kind of class is best taught at the university level."

Bob Brown, Republican, secretary of state and former legislator from Whitefish: "It should be left in the church, but teachers should respect the religious beliefs of all their students."

Pat Davison, Republican, business consultant from Billings: "I support the separation of church and state and believe creationism is best left for each faith to teach in its own way. However, I oppose efforts to eliminate all references to various faiths from our public buildings and institutions, such as Christmas symbols, the Ten Commandments or the word God from the Pledge of Allegiance."

Keating, Republican, petroleum landman and former state senator from Billings: "This country was founded on the premise that all things, including you and me, were created. Certainly the theory of creation should be studied in the public schools in comparison to the theory of evolution. The Declaration of Independence defines the essence of our country and the source of life, liberty and just pursuits. Yes, there should be serious study of creationism in the public schools as it relates to America."

Miller, Republican, furniture outlet store owner and former state senator from Laurel: "Creationism should have an equal place with the theory of evolution in our school curriculum. If God is taken totally out of our schools, than so should Darwin's theory of evolution. If both are presented and accepted as differing opinions, then students can seek out the truth that they and their parents are comfortable with."

Aboriginal Woman Puts Curse On Prime Minister

http://www.local6.com/news/3026121/detail.html

POSTED: 8:06 am EDT April 21, 2004
UPDATED: 8:07 am EDT April 21, 2004

COLAC, Australia -- An Aboriginal woman clad in possum skins put a traditional curse on Prime Minister John Howard on Tuesday, apparently in retaliation for government plans to abolish Australia's top indigenous elected body.

Howard encountered the woman on a visit to Colac, an outback town with 500 people in the state of Victoria. Supporters turned up to greet the prime minister along with angry Aboriginal protesters and the woman, known only as Moopor.

Painted in traditional tribal makeup and wearing possum skins, Moopor stood silently and cast the curse by pointing an inch-long bone at Howard as he climbed into a waiting car. Howard smiled and waved at Moopor before leaving.

Moopor refused to speak with reporters, citing unspecified Aboriginal cultural reasons. It was not clear what effect the curse was intended to have on the prime minister.

Geoff Clark, the chairman of the soon-to-be scrapped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, said the curse was a warning for Howard.

"Mr. Howard can ignore the message at his own peril and be put under a curse up until the next federal election," Clark told reporters.

The commission, widely referred to as ATSIC, advises the government on indigenous issues. With 17 commissioners elected by Aboriginal voters and a budget of more than $600 million, it administers government-funded projects aimed at improving their lives.

But Howard said on April 15 that his government plans to abolish the 14-year-old commission because it has failed to improve the lot of most Aborigines, who remain the poorest, sickest and least educated minority group among Australia's 20 million people.

In place of ATSIC, the government wants to appoint a panel of Aboriginal experts to advise it on indigenous needs.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

Enter the Sanctuary Room

http://www.bocaratonnews.com/index.php?src=news&category=LOCAL%20NEWS&prid=8066

Local doctor delivers doses of scalar energy for holistic healing Published Tuesday, April 20, 2004

by Ashley Harrell

The four computers at the north, south, east and west points of the room are alive and buzzing with energy. The ceiling is dotted with brightly colored lights, and the gush of fresh air blends with the soothing piano to leave a reclining patient surrounded by serenity.

They call it the Sanctuary Room, and it's filled with an energy form that's been around since the beginning of time. First discovered by Nikola Tesla, scalar energy comes from the earth and the atmosphere and has been known to help people live healthier and longer.

And recently, scientists discovered a way to radiate the frequencies of that energy through the screen of a computer, according to Dr. Larry LeGunn of A Center for Alternative Medicine.

LeGunn, a board certified holistic physician, naturapathic physician, and clinical nutritionist has been testing the healing powers of the energy on hundreds of his patients at his Deerfield Beach office on 40 Fairway Drive for the past three years.

The results are astounding, he said.

"Stress, insomnia, headaches, ADD, pain – this can help all of it," he said. "We've had unbelievable results with this equipment. People just come in the Sanctuary Room and it does the work for them."

In theory, the energy increases the electrical potential of cells by oxygenating them. In effect, stress is reduced, and patients feel as if they have been on vacation for a week, LeGunn said.

Sessions in the Sanctuary Room can last from 30 minutes ($75) to an hour ($125), and most patients said they try to come back at least once a month.

Boca Raton residents Fred and Beverly Avery have been getting the energy treatment from LeGunn for more than two years, and both say they are sleeping better.

"I have irritable bowel syndrome, and I couldn't sleep at night," said Beverly. "This has settled me down and calmed my intestines." Another Boca Raton patient who suffers from lyme disease, arthritis, and herniated disks in her back swears by the treatment. "I live in fear that Dr. LeGunn will move away," said Patty Ottlein, 47. "I used to be in bed 90 percent of the time because of the pain I had. It's much more tolerable and I can function."

Ottlein said she doesn't know what it is about that room, but she knows that it does something. When she exits the room, Ottlein always feels "like I just had a nice, long sleep."

Although many traditional doctors have rejected holistic healing methods, one Boca Raton dentist said he's definitely on board. Dr. Alan Slootsky and his whole family have undergone the scalar energy treatment, and they all swear by its powers.

"This definitely affects your brain waves," said Slootsky. "It's been well researched at Stanford University."

Slootsky goes in for scalar at least once a moth, and said the treatment usually ends up putting him to sleep.

"It has an extremely calming effect," he said. "It's helps you get into a state where you can even meditate."

Does atheism require more faith?

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/davidlimbaugh/dl20040420.shtml

David Limbaugh (archive)

April 20, 2004

I want to tell you about an important new book I hope will be widely disseminated. Though its subject is the truth of Christianity, it needs to be read by far more than just "the choir."

I didn't come to faith in Christ effortlessly. I began my adult spiritual journey as a skeptic seeking answers for life's ultimate questions. In the process I did a great deal of reading on Christian theology and apologetics (defense of the faith).

I discovered, to my initial surprise, that there is an extensive body of evidence supporting Christianity's exclusive truth claims. Knowledge of this evidence doesn't automatically lead one to faith, but it certainly helps to remove obstacles we sometimes unwittingly use as excuses for neglecting our spiritual "business" or flat out rejecting the truth.

Some Christians seem threatened by the very idea of marshaling evidence in support of their faith. But the Bible itself tells us that we should "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

It is healthy to have doubts and work through resolving them, which only fortifies your faith and better positions you to withstand challenges you may encounter along the way.

Christianity has nothing to fear from a thorough investigation of the evidence. That's why I was fascinated when I happened onto a column by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. a few weeks ago, wherein Dionne discussed a recent article he'd enjoyed in the New Republic by Leon Wieseltier.

In the article, Wieseltier "praises atheists for taking the question of God's existence so seriously that they force believers to do the same … There is no greater insult to religion than to expel strictness of thought from it."

I certainly agree that a Christian's faith must hold up to intellectual scrutiny. But do atheists actually take the question of God's existence as seriously as Wieseltier and Dionne suggest? I have my doubts.

Indeed, widely respected Christian apologists Norman Geisler and Frank Turek dispute that notion in their new book, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist." Geisler and Turek confront the conventional wisdom that Christians are an unthinking lot whose faith is devoid of intellect and that atheists need no faith to sustain their belief system.

The authors show that Christian faith and reason are not mutually exclusive, but complementary and that there is an abundance of evidence for the truth of Christianity. Conversely, they show that it is impossible to be an atheist without a substantial amount of faith.

They note, for example, that naturalistic biologists claim "that life generated spontaneously from nonliving chemicals by natural laws without any intelligent intervention."

These scientists believe that a "one-celled animal known as an amoeba (or something like it) came together by spontaneous generation…" But we now know there is incredible complexity in "the message found in the DNA of a one-celled amoeba (a creature so small, several hundred could be lined up in an inch)."

"The message found in just the cell nucleus of a tiny amoeba is more than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined, and the entire amoeba has as much information in its DNA as 1,000 complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica." And "we must emphasize that these 1,000 encyclopedias do not consist of random letters but of letters in a very specific order -- just like real encyclopedias."

You get the point: Atheists have to have enormous faith to believe that such complex messages exist in the absence of intelligent design.

But when you closely examine the evidence supporting many Christian claims, you'll find that they "are certain beyond reasonable doubt." As such, "it's not faith in Christianity that's difficult but faith in atheism or any other religion. That is, once one looks at the evidence, we think it takes more faith to be a non-Christian than it does to be a Christian."

The authors admit there are obstacles to a belief in Christianity. In the course of the book, they systematically address the perceived intellectual objections, emotional obstacles and volitional reasons to reject Christianity. The authors' treatment of these issues is compelling.

I felt so strongly about the value of "I Don't Have Enough Faith …" that when the authors honored me with a request to write the foreword for it I readily agreed. This is the ideal all-in-one book for you to share with your doubting friends and to bolster your faith in Truth. You owe yourself a read.

©2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Contact David Limbaugh | Read Limbaugh's biography

David Limbaugh's latest! Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging Political War Against Christianity Christians persecuted? In America? Open your eyes -- it's happening right now Tolerance might be the highest virtue in our popular culture, but it doesn't often extend to Christians these days. Christians are increasingly being driven from public life, denied their First Amendment rights, and even actively discriminated against for their beliefs. In this relentless exposé of political correctness run amok, best-selling author David Limbaugh rips apart the liberal hypocrisy that condones selective mistreatment of Christians in the mainstream media, Hollywood, our schools and universities, and throughout our public life.

Scientists win another battle over Kennewick Man

http://www.kgw.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D822CV580.html

04/20/2004

Associated Press

Anthropologists seeking to study the ancient Kennewick Man skeleton scored another victory when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request by four Northwest tribes for a rehearing in the lengthy dispute.

Tribal lawyers sought to have the case reheard by the full court after a three-judge panel ruled in February that the tribes had no right to the 9,300-year-old remains under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

A brief order issued Monday by the court denied the request from the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakama and Colville tribes, who want to bury the remains without a scientific study.

The collection of 380 bones and bone fragments, which were found in July 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash., are being stored at the Burke Museum in Seattle.

Alan L. Schneider, a Portland lawyer representing the scientists, said his clients were pleased with the court's decision.

The tribes and the U.S. Justice Department have 90 days to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rob Roy Smith, a Seattle lawyer for the tribes, told The Oregonian that his clients "are clearly disappointed. This case has dealt a staggering blow to the tribes' ability to protect their cultural properties." Smith added that no decision has been made whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The February ruling, written by Judge Ronald M. Gould, upheld a 2002 decision by Magistrate John Jelderks of the U.S. District Court in Portland that the scientists can study the remains.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Believers and skeptics debate... Can prayer really heal?

http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/living/8450548.htm Posted on Sat, Apr. 17, 2004

BY BOB IVRY THE RECORD (BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.)

HACKENSACK, N.J. --Something was wrong with Lorice Greer's unborn baby. She was devastated. But she knew what to do. Pray. Lorice linked hands with her husband, Wayne, and squeezed her eyes shut. Please, Lord, please.

The couple prayed with Wayne's mother, Lorlene, their pastor and their congregation, the Greater Faith of the Abundance Church in Paterson, N.J.

Can prayer heal?

Ask Lorice Greer and she'll flip through her Bible to John 14:14: "If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do."

At a time when medicine offers ever more awe-inspiring remedies, 30 percent of Americans say prayer healed their illnesses, according to a Gallup Poll. Eight in 10 say God works miracles. In one study, three-quarters of breast cancer patients reported asking God to help rid their bodies of disease.

Does prayer work?

It's so effective that doctors who don't may be guilty of malpractice, says Dr. Larry Dossey, author of "Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine." In fact, medical schools nationwide teach students to treat "whole" patients: their bodies and their souls.

Research has shown that prayer can relieve stress and stress-related ailments. The act of praying -- of Catholics saying the rosary, Jews rocking in fervent prayer, Buddhists breathing "om" -- can reduce blood pressure, lower the heart rate and bestow a feeling of well-being. Even the most skeptical scientists agree.

But results of other studies are more controversial, particularly those concerning whether praying for someone else can heal.

The possible link between faith and healing has federal health officials spending millions to study the effect of healing touch on newborns and whether praying for breast cancer survivors can prevent a recurrence.

"We should all be looking for the truth, whether we're believers or not," says Dr. Gary Posner, a Tampa, Fla., scientist who doubts prayer has any healing power. "If it does work, nonbelievers like me will become believers."

'Break the angry yoke'

The Rev. Randall M. Lassiter, the Greer's pastor, is a believer.

Every Sunday, Lassiter's church meets at the YMCA in downtown Paterson. Lassiter invites congregants to the altar. Lassiter lays hands on them.

As music played on a recent Sunday morning, Lorlene -- Lorice Greer's mother-in-law -- made her way to the altar with a dozen others. Minister Carolyn Stokes took the microphone "Break the angry yoke," Stokes cried out. "We welcome you, Holy Spirit."

Lassiter moved forward into a sea of congregants. Then he jumped up and down like a boxer preparing for Round One. Clapping, shouting, clapping, shouting.

Lorlene Greer closed her eyes, raised her hands, and screamed "Hallelujah."

Lorlene Greer shrieked. Ushers -- all women dressed in white -- linked arms around her, to protect her in case she fell. Lorlene cried "Hallelujah" and leaned back. Back, back, palms up, arms outstretched, face toward heaven.

Swaying in the crowd swarming around Lassiter was Lorice Greer. Her eyes closed. Dozing in her arms was her son, Josiah. Doctors said Josiah would have Down syndrome. But he was born, 14 months ago, perfect.

Science vs. faith

Skeptics say talk of medical miracles is snake oil.

They say cases like Josiah involved a wrong diagnosis. They cite stats of cancer remissions outnumbering "miraculous" cures.

But some effects of faith, can be scientifically measured.

The laying on of hands can help heal ailments caused by stress, according to Dr. Herbert Benson, president of the Harvard Mind/ Body Medical Institute and author of "The Relaxation Response."

Healing touch triggers the release of nitric oxide into the bloodstream, he says. Nitric oxide counteracts fight-or-flight hormones, which cause stress and can lead to depression, insomnia, menstrual pain, stroke and other problems.

The immediate effects: decreased blood pressure, slower heart rate and calmer breathing.

The question is whether God intervened or if patients' belief in human touch made the difference.

"It doesn't matter," Benson says. Belief, he says, makes the healing possible.

Scientific studies of prayer and healing often spark more questions than they answer. One example is the recent finding that churchgoers live longer.

"It doesn't tell you anything about faith," says Dr. Christina Puchalski, director of the George Washington University Institute for Spirituality & Health.

"Some people go to church because someone nagged them into it. For them, there's no personal meaning in churchgoing."

Research has also found that pet owners who live with other people and participate in clubs recover faster from surgery. Social contact, not religion, may be doing the healing, Puchalski suggests.

It wasn't that long ago that a scientist risked career suicide by putting God under the microscope. Now, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health is spending $6.2 million over two years on prayer-health links.

Increasingly, employees and patients are demanding that hospitals be more attentive to spirituality.

And that means breaking down the wall between medicine and faith, said Kathleen Joyce, a Duke University religion professor and former hospital chaplain.

"You might feel medicine has become increasingly technological and 'anti-soul'," she said, "but the truth is religion has become more securely fixed in the medical infrastructure than it ever was."

Praying with patients

The American Medical Association has no official stand on whether doctors should pray with patients. One expert estimates that nine doctors out of 10, if ever asked by a patient to pray with them, would summon a chaplain.

Patients, too, have their reservations. According to Gallup, only 6 percent of Americans in a recent survey had ever prayed with their doctors.

But growing numbers of doctors do pray.

Dr. Harold Jawetz, a Passaic, N.J., internist and pulmonary specialist, says better ways to treat patients sometimes pop into his head during the time he devotes each day to prayer.

It was prayer that helped Lorice Greer, she said. We can't know why God responds to some prayers, she said, and turns away from others. Still, praying for her son deepened her faith.

No doctors or nurses or medical procedures could have helped her unborn son, she said. There was only faith. Only belief. Only God to heal her baby.

Dialogue by design

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/living/8449087.htm

Posted on Sat, Apr. 17, 2004

By BILL TAMMEUS The Kansas City Star

Is the increasingly energetic conversation between science and religion useful? Or are people in each camp (there is overlap, but I'm ignoring it for the moment) simply talking past one another?

The recent awarding of the Templeton Prize for religion suggests that this fascinating dialogue not only will continue, but also must. A South Africa-born cosmologist, George F.R. Ellis, won this year's $1.4 million Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities, created by retired financier Sir John Templeton.

Ellis, renowned in the field of Albert Einstein's general relativity theory, believes that self-sacrificial love, which theologians sometimes call kenosis, is “deeply imbedded in the universe.” After becoming a Quaker in 1974, Ellis worked to end South Africa's evil system of apartheid. As Ellis watched the country change without racial civil war, he thought more about the self-sacrificing values that drove such leaders as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

To Ellis, the challenge is to balance the rational requirements of science with what can seem like the irrational hopes at the root of religious belief, hopes that sometimes, against high odds, get fulfilled. He says there were “many times in the past (in South Africa) when it was rational to give up all hope for the future.” But the self-sacrificial leadership of Mandela, Tutu and others prevailed.

My interest in the relation between science and religion is not new. I have written about it for years and have sought opportunities for representatives of both fields to understand one another more fully. One of my tasks in my church at the moment is to help with the Kansas City Religion Science Dialogue Project ( www.kcrsdp.org), which holds forums and seminars to explore the intersection of science and religion.

A recent Dialogue Project speaker was a terrifically engaging scholar from Georgetown University, theologian John F. Haught, author of God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution. Haught takes his Christian faith seriously. He also tries to make sense of what science is telling us about the world through the theory of evolution and its many implications.

The “main issue for theists, now as always,” he says, “is that of how to reconcile evolution with the idea of divine providence. After Darwin, what does it mean to say that God ‘provides' or cares for the world?” Modern Darwinism describes evolutionary processes that add intensity to the old question about why there is suffering and evil in the world because those processes seem to have suffering built into them.

As Haught struggles with that question, he finds himself attracted to much the same idea about love that engages Ellis. Haught says God loves unconditionally, even self-sacrificially, so the world is freed, not coerced, to love the creator back. Suffering and evil in the world, Haught says, can be explained partly by the fact that the evolving universe is unfinished. Nothing unfinished can be perfect, he says, even though the cosmos is moving toward the radiant future God's love has promised.

These ideas about an in-process world tend to be in conflict with people who advocate intelligent design, a relatively recent development in the science-religion dialogue. The intelligent design movement says nature shows evidence of being created by an intelligent designer and asserts that the methods of science can prove it.

“The notion of design,” Haught says, “seems to me entirely too stiff and lifeless a term.” He says that focusing on initial design wrongly assumes that everything about the world was determined at its outset. Instead, he's more interested in the ceaseless movement of the universe toward greater complexity. English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead called that very movement the world's aim toward more intense beauty, which is a product of two opposite forces, novelty and order.

There are what I'd call extremists in both science and religion. The science extremists, unlike George Ellis, can find no room for anything but materialist explanations of the world. Religious extremists, by contrast, sometimes reject clear scientific evidence because it conflicts with their theology.

The goal of dialogue between science and religion is not necessarily to move the extremists to the center. They may well be lost causes (though we should hold on to irrational hope that they are not). Rather, the goal should be to appreciate what each field can contribute to a fuller understanding of who we are and what in the world we're supposed to be doing here.

To reach Bill Tammeus, call
(816) 234-4437 or send e-mail to
tammeus@kcstar.com.

On the Web

• A lecture John Haught gave earlier this year can be found at .uk/docs/BoyleBooklet.pdf.

• The Intelligent Design Network's Web site is at www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org.

© 2004 Kansas City Star and wire service sources
http://www.kansascity.com

Learning at home

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2004/04/15_hemphills_homeschoolers/

by Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
April 15, 2004

More and more families are choosing to home-school. In Minnesota, about 16,000 children get their education at home. That's almost eight times the number of 20 years ago. For some families, home-schooling seems like the best way to help their children learn and develop their full potential. For others, it's a way of instilling religious and ethical values.

Duluth, Minn. -- There are lots of reasons why families choose to educate their children at home. Many families are like the LeGardes, who come at it from a religious perspective.

One morning at the LeGarde house, Joseph and Robert LeGarde are playing Money Matters. It's a board game that teaches lessons about household finances.

For the moment they've left their formal schoolwork upstairs at the dining room table. Their teacher is their mom, Trina LeGarde. She says Robert did his math early this morning.

"And then he has English, and vocabulary, science, health, and history," she says."

Trina LeGarde says she and her husband didn't start out with a plan to home-school their kids. When their first child, Amelia, was kindergarten age, they were living in California, and they heard stories about the neighborhood schools. Other parents said when kids were disruptive, the schools excused the bad behavior instead of correcting it.

"We thought, 'We've spent a lot of time up until this point trying to train our kids with our attitudes, values & beliefs,' and we wanted that to continue," she says.

So they taught Amelia at home for a year, and enjoyed it so much, they kept at it.

Trina's husband Joe was in the military, so he was on assignment a lot. When he was at home, the kids were free to spend time with him. And home-schooling allows the LeGardes to choose textbooks that reinforce their religious beliefs.

"We do live in world where there are moral absolutes," she says. "There is truth based on God's word. I know not everybody accepts that, and I can be respectful of that opinion, I want our children to be respectful of that opinion. But the greatest satisfaction I will have at the end of my life is knowing that my children have a relationship with the Lord, that they're saved."

Bible study is an important lesson every day, and Christian teachings show up in math books and science books. Amelia says she likes to think about the cosmic questions.

"The 'big-bang' for example. What made it go 'bang'?" she asks. "Because atoms just don't start colliding. So it takes more faith to believe in an evolutionist point of view than in a creationist. And when you look at evidence of creationism happening, it just clicks."

Amelia says she's enjoyed learning at home. She likes to be able to work at her own pace. But now she's fourteen. And next year she plans to attend high school in Hermantown, a suburb of Duluth.

"I've been home schooled nine years, and I just think it would be a little funner to go to school and have that kind of experience," she says. "And I would like to get out of house, and kind of break away from my family just a little bit, enough so that I have some room to breathe," she says with a smile.

The LeGardes participate in an enrichment program for Duluth area home-schoolers. Every other week they get together to socialize with other kids, and to learn from people besides their moms.

At one gathering, about 20 kids are facing each other in a church basement. They're lobbing marshmallows across the room at each other. They're using catapults made out of soda bottles, pencils, and egg cartons. These kids are studying life in medieval days.

They're not all home schooling from a Christian perspective. Lisa Messerer is here with her kids. She says she and Trina LeGarde are good friends, although their styles are very different.

"And we always talk about how I come from the far left, and she comes from the far right, and we meet in center," Messerer says.

The Messerers decided to try home-schooling because their older daughter Gilah is an introvert and needs a lot of time on her own.

"So being home-schooled gives her that," Lisa Messerer says. "So that's how we first came into home-schooling, and then we just decided we kind of like this. We like being with our kids."

The younger Messerer daughter is still in school at home.

Lisa Messerer calls her educational style "un-schooling." She lets her daughters follow their own interests. She doesn't push them to achieve, but she makes a point of offering situations where they can learn.

"Even when the kids were real young, it may not have looked like school was happening," she says. "But we were always reading out loud to them, cooking with them, talking about the fractions in cooking -- 'here's a teaspoon, how many teaspoons do we need?' So the math, and the language arts were built in, just built into life."

Messerer says this approach means in some subjects her kids are ahead of other students their age, and in other subjects they're behind.

Her daughter Gilah is 15. She started ninth grade in a public school last fall. Gilah says she had some trouble adjusting.

"I was kind of far behind," she says. "But I was able to work and the teachers worked with me, and I was able to catch up, and now it's working a lot better. Yeah, I'm happy." Gilah's mother, Lisa, says teaching her girls at home has allowed them to flourish, without the negative peer pressure they might have gotten at school.

"That sense that girls aren't as smart, and that they have to be pretty and they have to play certain games," she says. "My girls have just never been exposed to that. And that's okay; maybe we're going to have kids who can change the world a little bit because they haven't been exposed to some of that stuff. And change the world in a positive way."

Lisa Messerer wants her kids to change the world. Her friend Trina LeGarde wants her kids to be saved. They both think home schooling is the best way to do it.

And they're part of a growing number of Minnesota families. Officials say home-schooling is more popular here than in other states. The legislature spelled out some requirements nearly 30 years ago. Home-schooled children have to take a standardized test every year. The state doesn't see the results, but the tests allow the parents to keep track of how their students are doing. The Department of Children, Families and Learning is comfortable with how home-schooling families are doing, according to spokesman Bill Walsh.

"There's some national studies that indicate that home-school students do very well on standardized tests, like SAT and ACT," he says. "Most evidence would point toward high academic achievement for home-schooled kids."

A generation of home-schooled young people is now active in the world.

Bible, evolution at odds; can't have it both ways

http://www.aberdeennews.com/mld/americannews/news/opinion/8460445.htm

Posted on Sun, Apr. 18, 2004

About seven years ago I attended a creation/evangelism seminar presented by Kent Hovand [sic]. He explained that he once frequented public universities and colleges to discuss the subject of creation science. After he told a biology class that after the flood all living creatures repopulated the earth from those that had been preserved on the ark, the professor inquired something like: "Do you expect us to believe that all 248 species of dogs came from two wolf-like creatures?" Hovand responded with: "If this seems absurd, then explain to the class that you believe that all 248 species of dogs came from a rock."

The professor became defensive, but after a bit of analysis (debate) of the professor's belief system (big bang/evolution), it became apparent that when put in simple terms Hovand had accurately stated the professor's belief. Kent Hovand has said many creation scientists are no longer invited to most of these public universities, perhaps they sometimes ask "over simplified" questions.

The Bible is publicly attacked nearly every day in various ways and yet, when defended, "separation of church and state" is used to suppress the debate.When the supposed "Mars rock" was found and believed to prove life from Mars, major news outlets broadcast the story. Major newspapers put the article on the front page.

Later, when the majority of the scientific world debunked the claim, a tiny article was found somewhere around 54A of those same papers. Just as when evidence for a young earth, global flood and other findings that support the Bible are seldom (perhaps never) at the forefront of the news.

God's not surprised. His Word states that the world is at enmity with Him and Jesus said that the "prince of this world" has nothing in Him (John 14:30). By the way Christians, the Bible is of the utmost importance; it is no coincidence that one of Jesus' "names" in the Bible is "The Word."

I was 30 before being introduced to wonderful scientific arguments that support the validity of the biblical creation account. I pray this article may lead some to a stronger relationship with the God of the Bible. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32.

On Friday, April 2 (page 3A of American News) I saw the small Associated Press release titled "Limbs evolved in water before land." These types of statements are constantly spewed without any explanation of the fallibility of the dating processes or the tremendous assumptions that are used when finding a small bone fragment or fossil.

I believe that the religion of evolution (naturalism) defies biblical christianity. Rather your belief system is based on the Bible or evolution or you're trying to mix the two. It is vitally important to understand that a major contradiction exists between them - they both can't be right. It is equally important to understand that believing that the origin of man (actually of everything) has evolved by chance over millions of years without intelligent design is in fact a religion or belief system.

The AP article portrays "fact" when theory is clearly what is being dealt with; theory with a hole large enough to drive a truck through.

Most of our children are taught evolution as fact; creation science has been labeled religion and banned from public schools and universities. And most sadly, many churches accept evolution while allowing the authority of God's word to be needlessly undermined in the eyes of our children and society.

Organizations exist who employ scientists who believe the creation account as the Bible teaches it (no government grants as with university funded programs). God's account of origin fits what we see in this world much better than what we are told in articles.

The "limb" is simply an arm bone buried in sedimentary rock layers that were likely laid down by Noah's flood several thousand years ago. The dating methods are widely debated. This link - http://www.answersingenesis.- org/home/area/faq/dating.asp - gives some very light on the dating processes currently used by our scientific community. God's Word can be received without shame and with confidence of its accuracy. If the Bible is true, there is tremendous hope. If we came from a rock, well then!

(Readers React appears occasionally on this page. It is designed to provide a forum for readers to express their views on matters in the news. Questions may be sent to Readers React, American News, P.O. Box 4430, Aberdeen, SD, or e-mailed to americannews@aberdeennews.com. Please include a daytime telephone number.)

Brian Hemen, Aberdeen, is a member of Melgaard Park Baptist Church.

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Announces Collaboration with Alternative Link

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/04-19-2004/0002154356&EDATE=

Organizations Will Jointly Develop Code Terminology for Nearly 50 Nursing Specialties

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) announced today a collaboration with Alternative Link to create additional nursing terminology within the ABC coding system for nearly 50 nursing specialties. ABC codes are designed to fill critical coding gaps that currently exist in the nursing profession. As part of this initiative, the NACNS is assembling nursing experts to work closely with Alternative Link to further develop code terminology for 48 nursing specialties.

"The NACNS decision to collaborate with Alternative Link not only demonstrates their support and belief in the use of ABC codes, but also recognizes the immediate need to fill critical gaps in mandatory standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)," said Melinna Giannini, president and founder of Alternative Link, the developer of ABC codes for alternative medicine and integrative healthcare. "We are delighted that the NACNS has chosen to focus on this important initiative."

ABC codes are recognized by the American Nurses Association, however the NACNS is the first nursing group to take a formal role in the development of code terminology, a key driver in measuring outcomes, costs and utilization, said Ms. Giannini.

"We are pleased to partner with Alternative Link because no other code set fully describes nursing practices as effectively as ABC codes or deals with state nursing scope of practice variances," said Christine Filipovich, executive director of the NACNS. Alternative Link's ABC codes can accommodate almost 12 million combinations of nursing and integrative healthcare services. "Nurses and clinical nurse specialists are at the core of healthcare delivery but are invisible when nursing functions are not systematically identified. They also play a critical role in designing and implementing interventions that improve the safety, quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare," said Ms. Filipovich. "The development of coding terminology will for the first time provide the means to capture healthcare provided by nurses and clinical nurse specialists and will further nurses' ability to serve the healthcare industry."

"We believe that the results of this collaboration will spur significant interest in code development by other practitioners throughout the healthcare industry," said Ms. Giannini. "When an organization like the NACNS takes a leading role in the development and acceptance of code terminology, patients gain broader access to quality and cost-effective care."

Alternative Link (http://www.alternativelink.com)

Alternative Link, the developer of ABC codes, delivers information products and consulting services that help health-promoting organizations and individuals finance, administer and deliver cost-effective care that improves

individual and public health, business and industry efficiencies and socioeconomic development.

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (http://www.nacns.org) The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS), founded in 1995, exists to enhance and promote the unique, high-value contribution of the clinical nurse specialist to the health and well-being of individuals, families, groups, and communities, and to promote and advance the practice of nursing. Members of NACNS benefit from national, regional, and local efforts of the Association to make the contributions of CNSs more visible.

SOURCE National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
Web Site: http://www.nacns.org

Alternative allergy treatments

http://www.vaildaily.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040418/NEWS/104180006

Drew Werner
April 18, 2004

Dear Doc: I read and appreciated your article in Monday's Daily regarding allergies and their sufferers. I am the wife of a sufferer and would like to find out about more long-term treatments for airborne allergies.

Are there alternative treatments, perhaps accupunture or something I have never even heard about? I would really appreciate some advice, as my husband, the sufferer, has had to make emergency room trips in the middle of the night and really has never found anything that makes Rocky Mountain summers bearable for him (or me).

- Suffering with a Sufferer

Dear Suffering: I sympathize with your plea. Allergies make people fatigued, cause headaches and even shortness of breath. Watery itchy eyes can make it difficult to see and there may not be enough tissues in the state to control the nose that runs like Niagra Falls. For those of us without severe allergies it is hard to relate.

The only bright side is that allergies, despite how badly they make someone feel, are not medically serious. Treatment should focus on improving quality of life and shouldn't be worse than the cure. Combinations of medications may be needed for severe sufferers and rarely short-term steroids can be used - but then the cure may be worse than the condition. If that fails, alternative options exist.

There are three categories of care for illness. Conventional medicine is where my training falls. It is the scientific treatment of illness, as well as prevention of disease based on rigorous scientific evidence. Despite all our science, however, there exists an art to the best conventional medicine, as well. Alternative medicine consists of those practices often based more on a long history of experience than scientific evidence. In the past the two rarely overlapped, but traveled down separate roads. Today "complementary" medicine or the new buzzword, "integrative" medicine, recognizes the simultaneous application of conventional and alternative medicine to achieve optimal health.

No matter the catch phrase used, the proof is in the patient, so to speak. If you or your husband is getting relief from a particular therapy, stick with it. One answer is not always found, but combinations of therapies can provide the relief you are seeking. Acupuncture is available through many local practitioners. Like finding a physician, it is important to find the right person for you. Acupuncture itself can be utilized to provide allergy relief, as well as combining it with many herbal products.

Other local therapies include naturopathy, in which practitioners work with natural healing forces within the body with a goal of helping the body heal from disease and attain better health. Specific techniques are used to treat allergies. Although not scientifically proven, many have found these alternative therapies very helpful, even when conventional medicine has failed. The most important thing is to have good communication regarding treatment, expectations and goals.

It was great to see so many of you at the health fair this weekend. Many thanks go out to Valley View Hospital, the Eagle Lions Club, my office (the Eagle Valley Medical Center), the Eagle and Gypsum fire departments and all the many volunteers. If you didn't make it, Valley View Hospital is hosting a second health fair in New Castle this coming Saturday. The location and times are: Riverside Middle School, 804 W. Main St.,New Castle, Saturday, April 24, 7 a.m. to noon.

Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to editor@vaildaily.com or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.

Amid Doubters, Making a Case for Lively Venus

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22559-2004Apr18.html

Scientist Posits Signs Of Microbial Life on Planet Despite Toxicity

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 19, 2004; Page A08

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- Compared with Mars, Earth's other neighbor is not a very nice place. The surface temperature is 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and lava covers most of the landscape. It's always overcast, but it never rains. The clouds are made of sulfuric acid.

"When they found the sulfur, that was the nail in the coffin," said planetary scientist David Grinspoon. The consensus: "Fire and brimstone," he said. "Venus is Hell."

But Grinspoon, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute and author of a book called "Lonely Planets," has another idea. At the recently concluded Astrobiology Science Conference 2004 here, he braved an auditorium full of colleagues abuzz over the Mars rovers to deliver a lecture on "The Case for Life on Venus."

Or, as he subtitled it, "Sympathy for the Devil."

"There are other planets besides the Earth and Mars," he told the audience. "I'd like to remind you that studying Venus is vital to understanding life elsewhere. Comfortable notions about Venus are not good things."

Grinspoon is a leading advocate for the thesis that Venus's battery-acid clouds might very well support microbial life -- like the "extremophile" microorganisms that Earth scientists have found thriving near volcano outflows.

"We are fairly sure Venus once had an ocean," said University of Texas at El Paso geobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Grinspoon collaborator who studies acidic hot springs. "As the ocean slowly evaporated, the organisms would have had enough time to adapt to the cloud environment."

Or not. "When life can survive, it tends to dominate," said astrobiologist Christopher P. McKay, of NASA's Ames Research Center, sponsor of the astrobiology conference. "When I look out my window, everything's green," he said, but Venus's clouds show no such marker. "Why aren't the clouds green?"

Grinspoon, interviewed by telephone after the conference, acknowledged that McKay had a fair point, but maintained that life on Venus "is just as plausible" as life in Mars's chill, stony badlands. "We shouldn't be so quick to rule out environments that haven't been properly explored," he said.

So far, exploration has not been kind to Venus. Known since ancient times because of its brightness, the planet was named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty, and for much of recorded history enjoyed a reputation as "the jewel of the sky," "the morning star" or "the evening star." (It is currently the bright evening star in the west.)

The onset of modern astronomy only added luster. "There was a long history of people believing there was life on Venus," Grinspoon said. "It was about the same size as Earth. It had clouds. It was commonly believed it was tropical -- wet, hot and steamy." Venus is 67 million miles from the sun and has an almost perfectly circular orbit. A Venusian year lasts 225 days.

The bloom began to fade in the late 1950s when radiation measurements suggested that Venus was considerably hotter than tradition had taught. This view was confirmed in 1962 by Mariner 2, the first Earth spacecraft ever to embark on a voyage of exploration.

And after more than 20 subsequent flybys, probes and orbitings, the news is still all bad. In an image transformation worthy of Dr. Jekyll, Venus in a few short decades fell from its perch as the solar system's darling to become "the example of how a planet couldn't possibly have life," Grinspoon said.

But maybe it can. Scientists generally accept that Venus had large, warm liquid water oceans for at least several hundred million years, and Grinspoon said they could have lasted as long as 2 billion years. "Conditions for the origin of life were present," Grinspoon said. At least for a while.

At some point, however, the oceans heated up and eventually boiled away. "Venus is much closer to the sun, and eventually it got too hot," Schulze-Makuch said. The result was a "runaway greenhouse effect," in which water vapor from the oceans trapped the sun's heat on the Venusian surface, causing the temperature to rise higher and higher as more vapor boiled off.

If microorganisms were present, they would have begun migrating to the clouds at this stage. "Probably the clouds were not so acidic at first," Grinspoon said. "It would have been a gradual transition, the kind life handles best."

Once the ocean had disappeared, Venus's land masses would have ceased moving over the planet's surface, the way continents do on Earth. "For plate tectonics to work, you must have water," Schulze-Makuch said. "It acts like grease."

With the plates jammed, pressure inside the planet began to build, Schulze-Makuch continued, culminating in an apocalyptic outburst of volcanic activity about 700 million years ago. Venus's surface today is covered with craters, lava flows and volcanic mountain escarpments.

"The surface of the planet was repaved, and it's almost all the same age, something you can't say of Earth, Mars or the moon," Grinspoon said. "Because of this, we don't know much about Venus's early environment."

Over time the clouds' acidity has probably increased dramatically because of sulfur dioxide and other sulfur compounds spewing from the volcanoes. The clouds start about 30 miles above the surface and top out at 42 miles. They are wind-driven but unbroken, cloaking the entire planet.

The Venusian atmosphere below the clouds is 90 times as dense as Earth's -- about the same density as seawater on Earth at a half-mile depth -- and composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide, which maintains the greenhouse effect that keeps Venus's surface at furnace temperatures.

Venus does offer a few mitigating features. The cloud temperature drops from 206 degrees Fahrenheit at the base to minus 46 at the top, and the middle is "like room temperature on Earth," Grinspoon said.

The cloud cover is also uniform and stable, unlike Earth's, and dust particles float in Venus's clouds for months, rather than a day, as they do on Earth, plenty of time for microbes to reproduce.

If they are there. "In some of the hot springs [on Earth], microorganisms thrive by oxidizing hydrogen sulfide" in environments not unlike Venusian clouds, Schulze-Makuch said. "On Venus, the microbes would eventually come down and burn up, but would have plenty of time to reproduce."

McKay, however, said Grinspoon and Schulze-Makuch have made the mistake of "basing their speculations on the properties of individual organisms." Instead, he said that "you need a community of organisms -- because individual organisms can't live in isolation."

It is hard to imagine how a community could form aboveground, McKay added. "There's something about the transient nature of clouds. I can't prove it, but I would argue that life needs a pond."

© 2004 The Washington Post Company




Monday, April 19, 2004

Metaphysics goes mainstream

Regular folks flock to psychics, but are they tapping into truth?

By LARRY MUHAMMAD
lmuhammad@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

Louisville psychic Marilyn Gaddie often is asked to handicap the Kentucky Derby and has told fortunes aboard the Star of Louisville. She claims an 85 percent accuracy rate.

Among the dated predictions on her Web site, www.heaven-knows.com, is a foiled terrorist plot on the Eiffel Tower in 1994.

"One day, I was walking down the hall of my house and I saw the Eiffel Tower blow up in front of my eyes," says the 61-year-old soothsayer and former president of the Astrological Society of Kentucky. "I called one of my friends, so if anything happened I would have told somebody.

"Then several weeks later, I went to a New Year's Eve party, and one of the guests said, 'Well, what do you think? Somebody was trying blow up the Eiffel Tower, but they stopped it.' I hadn't seen the news. But I was constantly getting images on terrorists attacks, and right after 9/11, all the television programs were on about how similar this plot to blow up the Eiffel Tower was."

Believe it, or not.

More and more people are taking such prognostications to heart, increasing the popularity of psychics, advisers, healers, mediums, herbalists and clairvoyants.

Hundreds of people flock to psychic fairs at area hotels. When 23-year-old Heather Teague was kidnapped near Evansville, Ind., in 1995, the family sought help from psychic Sharon Gresham in a futile police search. Even WHAS radio personality Francene Cucinello joked last year that it might take a psychic to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

In 2002, the Oasis Center, a school of metaphysics that teaches psychic development, dream interpretation, astrology, meditation and other esoteric subjects, opened in the Crescent Hill neighborhood.

One of its instructors, a 40-year-old Bardstown, Ky., clairvoyant named Fanell, reputedly speaks to the dead, and comes highly recommended by satisfied customers such as Anita Perryman, a retired Jefferson County Public School teacher.

Perryman said Fanell channeled her aunt, Hazel Peters, within the last 18 months.

"I went in for a 30-minute session, and what he did that made me know that it was real was that she said, 'Tell my daughters that I'll be at the wedding this weekend and that everybody will be in white.'

"Well, I didn't know that there was a wedding that weekend involving my cousins," Perryman said. "Afterwards, they called me to say that Aunt Hazel had been right. Everybody was in white, even the mother of the bride."

Kente International, the African arts boutique in the Highlands that boasts an upscale, sophisticated clientele, recently began offering appointments with Okomfo Enyo, a priest and mystic in the Akan religion of Ghana.

John Edward is host of "Crossing Over."

Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton star in "Minority Report." "A lot of our customers were requesting it. They want their fortunes told. They're asking for tarot card readings," said Musa Uthman, who owns the boutique with his wife, Lisa. "And I'm not surprised. There are so many things happening now that people don't understand, and they're searching. They want to know what's in store for them. They want to understand the mysteries of life, because they know there's something more."

That's only human. We've been trying to predict the future for eons. But occult practices once associated with carnival sideshows seem to be going legit.

Featured guests on CNN's "Larry King Live" can be Secretary of State Colin Powell one night and psychic Sylvia Browne the next. Popular movies such as "The Sixth Sense," "The Gift" and "Minority Report" increasingly explore paranormal themes.

And individuals often looked up to as role models are setting the example.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer; author Norman Mailer's wife, Norris Church, and Mia Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, have attempted to channel dead relatives through medium John Edward, according to Edward's 2003 book, "After Life" (Hay House).

Edward also is host of a popular cable show, "Crossing Over," on which he talks to audience members' dead relatives. "A lot of this would probably not make a '60 Minutes' feature, but Larry King has more air time and can afford to be more divergent," said Michael Cunningham, a social psychologist at the University of Louisville. "There's an expanding number of cable channels, more time to fill, and therefore more diverse points of view are represented.

"As a result of greater exposure, things become a bit more known and a bit more accepted."

There are skeptics aplenty, such as James Randi, a Florida-based magician who wrote "The Truth About Uri Geller" (Prometheus Books), debunking Geller's ability to bend objects with his mind or divine the contents of sealed envelopes as simply magic tricks.

Through the James Randi Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes critical thinking about the paranormal, he's offered $1million to anyone who demonstrates supernatural powers in a controlled setting and supervised by third-party experts.

And it's hard to find instances of Edward or other spiritualists contacting missing or dead people who would seem strongly motivated to apprise living relatives of their whereabouts.

Wouldn't that be a cakewalk for the psychically gifted? Wouldn't victims of unsolved murders want to comfort grieving family members and bring their assailants to justice?

"It depends on whether they've transferred over into the spirit world," clairvoyant Fanell said. "Sometimes they stay earthbound, which is what we call 'ghosts.' I can't remotely pick up ghosts. Second, if they do transform all the way into the spirit realm, they immediately forgive the person that killed them. You can't assume that the person wants justice done, or even if they want their remains found.

"I'll give you a prime example," Fanell said. "James Van Praagh (a famous medium) did a session to channel Nicole Brown Simpson, and she basically said, let it go."

For every doubter, there's a believer like Wendy Wilson asserting the veracity of supernatural claims.

A practicing Christian who is skeptical of the occult, Wilson said that Enyo, the Akan priest, helped alert her to fibroid tumors that Wilson eventually had removed surgically.

Wilson, a 35-year-old bank manager in Louisville, met Enyo at the home of her boss's neighbors. Enyo pulled out her tarot cards and asked if Wilson would like a reading.

"I thought it would be a fun thing to do," Wilson said, recalling that Enyo told Wilson about her love life, her finances and her future — even correctly describing a man she later met.

"She asked me, 'What are you worried about? You're concerned about something,'" Wilson said.

Enyo grabbed her stomach, and said, "I feel something in your stomach. Something's not right," Wilson recalled. "I don't know if it's your kidneys, but it's in the middle part of your body."

"My eyes got big," Wilson said, "because I think I was starting to get sick then. Prior to the reading I wasn't feeling that well, but thought it was just female stuff, weird stomach problems, and was putting it off.

"I would have gone to the doctor eventually, but she helped me."

Nearly everyone has intuitive powers — it's why you may think of someone the instant before he or she calls on the phone — that can be developed to uncanny levels with discipline and training, all the psychics interviewed said.

But most practicing psychics are said to be gifted and variously ascribed powers of telepathy, faith healing, communion with the dead and spirit possession, during which some supposedly regurgitate a luminous substance called ectoplasm that materializes into ghosts.

"Everything I do is guided by God," said Fanell, the 40-year-old Bardstown clairvoyant and spiritual medium. "I had a very powerful awakening in November of 1995 where God came to me. I had been cleaning my apartment, and I went to take a bath. The bathroom temperature dropped to where I could see my breath, but I felt all this warmth.

"When I got out of the bathroom, my whole bedroom was lit up in a brilliant light, and I felt myself in the presence of God. So I asked, 'Are you God?' And a voice answered, 'I am neither male nor female, but I am the entity that you recognize as God. I've always been by your side.' I asked, 'Why me? Why now?' And he told me, 'Why not?'

"He asked me to do his work and, at the time, I didn't know what that meant. But when the energy left the room, I found myself able to pick up people's thoughts."

More typical are abilities developed over time, pursued in years of metaphysical study and practice, and often supplemented with a college degree in a respectable field.

Louise Hancock, 66 and a Chandler, Ind.-based reader and intuitive, said psychic ability ran like an inheritance in the female line of the family, compelling her to devote over 40 years to developing her skills and studying religion, philosophy and metaphysics. For the past 15 years, she's organized psychic fairs in nine states.

Enyo, the Akan priest, holds a master's in social work and has studied under religious prefects in Ghana, partly following her grandmother's example.

"She did a lot of work with herbs; she was a psychic; she could do healing and readings, interpreted dreams," said Enyo, 48. "She would always burn her hair, never threw it away because someone could get your hair and work spells on you.

" I can't explain it, but I've always had this gift to see an imbalance in bodily energy — high heat energy or low cold energy, just by running my hands across a person's energy field."

That ability can have a scientific explanation, according to Victoria Snelling, a chiropractor who studied holistic medicine at the London School of Homeopathy and now runs an alternative healing clinic in Louisville.

"Quantum physics describes waves of particle-matter, matter at the subatomic level — that the next instant, it's energy," she said. "It slips back and forth (between subatomic matter and energy). It's almost the interpretation of the observer that determines whether it's matter or energy.

"So what we once thought of as very mysterious are actually things that are very real and very measurable. There is information we receive from the body that an onlooker would almost assume you had to be psychic.

"But it's not psychic; it's actually science."

http://www.courier-journal.com/features/2004/04/10/metaphysics1.html

Tracking origin of Darwin's theories

Two great influences on his evolutionary ideas emerge in new books about scientist-adventurers.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/lifestyle/orl-livdarwinbooks_bkrv041804apr18,0,7493291.story?coll=orl-home-entlife

By Roger Moore | Sentinel Television Critic
Posted April 18, 2004

If America's bumpers, with their fish insignias -- fish with feet -- fish eating fish with feet -- are any indication, Charles Darwin is still a lightning rod for controversy more than a century after his death. School boards still feud over evolution and the resurgent faith-not-science "creationism." Ministers still take potshots at him from the pulpit.

But as embattled as he remains as a figure, his theories have, on the whole, held. So maybe it's time to start looking at how Darwin-the-theorist evolved. And a great place to start would be with the books he took with him on his fateful voyage in the HMS Beagle in 1831 -- books on natural history, as it was understood at the time, on competing theories of geology, on geography and every other "ology "under the sun sailed with Darwin. And from those, and the firsthand observations he made, came The Origin of Species.

Two of Darwin's great influences are the subject of new biographies out this month. The writings and science of these earlier scientists were on Darwin's bookshelves in the Beagle as he sailed into history.

Science to the rescue

Alexander von Humboldt was the greatest scientist-adventurer of all time. He was a Byronic figure -- rich, dashing, curious, brave and possibly even gay. He explored Latin America in the early 1800s, setting the stage for scientific, cultural and even political revolutions. Gerard Helferich's Humboldt's Cosmos is as lively and eye-opening as the man himself. The world's newspapers trumpeted his discoveries and travels, and when he died, he was mourned all over the world.

But within decades, this great scientific generalist, a man whose interests spanned meteorology, geology, geography, astronomy, biology and the social sciences, was all but forgotten. In an age when scientists were still shackled to biblical interpretation of such nonbiblical questions as the age of the Earth, Humboldt tipped the scales in the favor of scientific truths.

Humboldt settled the debate over whose theories on the creation of the Earth was the most valid, and was the first European to celebrate Native American civilizations and cultures. His writings about slavery and Spanish and Catholic repression of native populations planted the seeds of Simon Bolivar's South American revolutions. But he was supplanted by scientists in each and every field where he dabbled. And as specialization took over the sciences, all that was left are the many towns and counties named for him, and the famous Pacific current that bears his name. Helferich's delightful book should rectify that.

A rogue and a scholar

Although it is no surprise that works by Humboldt were in Darwin's Beagle library, it may come as a shock that the fellow who inspired both Humboldt, and in turn, Darwin, was of somewhat more dubious repute. William Dampier, as the title of Diana and Michael Preston's splendid new biography sums up, was an "explorer, naturalist and buccaneer." Indiana Jones had nothing on the widely traveled Dampier, a 17th-century contemporary of Capt. Kidd who used his shore leave from various pirate voyages to write grand travelogues full of insights on the natural world.

For a pirate, Dampier was big on the scientific method, a man who only related things he had seen with his own eyes, and carefully noted what was mere hearsay from others.

"When analyzing information, he was careful to compare and contrast experiences in different locations," the Prestons write. He relayed observations about the geography, flora and fauna of widely separated parts of the world and speculated on why creatures and plants were different, or similar.

The book is full of admiration for Dampier, and leaves the reader with the same feeling. Amid all his piratical misadventures -- he was rarely successful as a buccaneer -- Dampier took scrupulous notes, which he saved from all manner of peril.

He circled the globe, and became so respected as a naturalist that he undertook the first English exploration of Australia, predating Captain Cook by decades.

It's no wonder that the dashing rogue Dampier caught the fancy of the young Daniel Defoe -- who based Robinson Crusoe on events from Dampier's adventures --and a generation of pirate-crazy English. The Prestons point out that the marvel of his life was that Dampier was a good enough scientist to inspire and command the respect of the later giants of science.

As much as Humboldt deserves to have his reputation revived, it is Dampier's life that truly captures the flavor of a time when a scientist had to be many things -- including, it would seem, a bit of a pirate.

Roger Moore can be reached at 407-420-5369 or Rmoore@orlandosentinel.com.

About past lives ... Uniontown WW II flyer's memories in Louisiana boy

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailycourier/news/s_189477.html

By Judy Kroeger
DAILY COURIER Thursday, April 15, 2004

James Leininger, 6, of Lafayette, La., loves airplanes.

"He has always been extraordinarily interested in airplanes," said James' mother, Andrea Leininger, by telephone from their Louisiana home.

Lots of kids love airplanes, but James' story is unique. He has memories of being a World War II fighter pilot from Uniontown -- Lt. James McCready Huston, shot down near Iwo Jima in 1945.

At 18 months old, his father, Bruce Leininger, took James to the Kavanaugh Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, where the toddler remained transfixed by World War II aircraft.

A few months later, the nightmares began.

"They were terrible, terrible," Andrea said. "He would scream, 'airplane crash, on fire, little man can't get out!' He'd be kicking, with his hands pointing up at the ceiling."

When James was 2 1/2 years old, he and Andrea were shopping and he wanted a toy airplane. "I said to him, 'Look, it has a bomb on the bottom' and he told me, 'That's not a bomb, it's a drop tank.' I had no idea what a drop tank was."

Neither of the Leiningers have ever served in the military, nor are they involved with aviation. Until James began showing an interest in planes, they had nothing aviation-related in their home.

Andrea's mother sent her a book by Pennsylvania author Carol Bowman, called "Children's Past Lives." The Leiningers started using Bowman's techniques of affirming James' nightmares and assuring him that the experiences happened to a different person, not the person he was now. "It helped. The nightmares stopped almost immediately," Andrea said.

However, the memories did not stop, but they do not come up all the time.

"I was reading him a story and he got a faraway look," she recalled. "I asked what happened to your plane? 'Got shot,' he said. Where? 'Engine.' Where did it crash? 'Water.' When I asked him who shot the plane, he gave me a look like a teenager, rolling his eyes, 'the Japanese,' like who else could it have been?

"What little kid knows about the Japanese," she asked. "He said he knew it was a Japanese plane because of the red sun. My husband and I were shell-shocked."

James provided other information. He said his earlier name was James, he flew a Corsair and took off on a boat called the Natoma, and he remembered a fellow flyer named Jack Larson.

Foods can set James' memories off, too.

"I hadn't made meatloaf in 10 years, so James had never had it," Andrea said. "When he sat down, he said, 'Meatloaf! I haven't had that since I was on the Natoma.' When we were getting ice cream one day, he told me that they could have ice cream every day on the Natoma."

Bruce began researching his son's memories and discovered a small escort carrier called the Natoma Bay, which was present at the Battle of Iwo Jima. Twenty-one of its crew perished. Bruce also discovered that only one of the Natoma's crew was named James, James Huston.

James Huston's plane was hit in the engine by Japanese fire on March 3, 1945, went down in flames and sank immediately. Flyer Jack Larson witnessed the crash.

James Huston was born Oct. 22, 1923, in South Bend, Ind., and lived in Uniontown during the 1930s. His father was James McCready Huston Sr., of Brownsville, and Daryl Green Huston, who was born in New Geneva and grew up in Uniontown. James was the only son.

According to Lt. Huston's cousin, Bob Huston of Flatwoods, the elder Huston started several newspapers and published 13 books. He was living in Brownsville when two Navy officers informed Huston of his son's death.

"I didn't know James," Bob Huston said. His parents were divorced, "but I knew his father. He stayed with us in Brownsville. James was on his 50th mission and would have come home if he'd lived another five minutes."

The Leiningers have been in touch with Bob Huston.

"I knew what happened to James (Huston)," he said. "I was excited to hear from them (the Leiningers). The boy's mother was flabbergasted when all this happened."

Andrea believes that her son is the reincarnation of Lt. James Huston. "There are so many little things. I believe in reincarnation now."

Her husband, Bruce, remains skeptical. "He started researching to disprove what James was telling us, and ended up proving it all," he said. "I think he believes that James Huston's spirit has manifested itself in our son somehow."

The Leiningers have been in touch with Natoma Bay veterans, too.

"We didn't tell the veterans for a long time," Andrea said, "but everyone has a story about having had a spirit visit them. James' sister, Anne Barron, was in California talking to him the day he was killed. Anne believes James' story, because he has provided so much information that only her brother could have known.

"Families of the 21 men who were killed are talking to each other," continued Andrea. "It's brought them together."

The Leiningers plan to attend this year's Natoma Bay reunion and bring their son, James.

Andrea doesn't know why this has happened.

"If he did come back, why? Maybe it was so my husband could write the book about the Natoma Bay," she said. "It helped turn the tide of the war in the Pacific and was one of the most highly decorated carriers, but it hasn't received much recognition."

She said her husband has been working on a chronology of what's happened to James and is researching the book. "He has flight plans from the missions and has spent a year and a half on research. In the introduction, he's writing about how he found out about the ship."

That discovery, through a toddler's fascination with airplanes and nightmares, has led to a segment on national television.

ABC contacted Carol Bowman about her work on children's past lives and James Leininger's experience was the most verifiable, Andrea said. "And we agreed to share his story."

Chris Cuomo will host the segment, which airs tonight at 10.

Judy Kroeger can be reached at jkroeger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3538.

Investigators seek clues in UFO sightings

http://www.southbendtribune.com/stories/2004/04/17/local.20040417-sbt-MARS-A1-Investigators_seek_c.sto

By ANITA MUNSON
Tribune Staff Writer

ROCHESTER -- Bev Carpenter's hands painted pictures in the warm blue sky, the sound of birds punctuated by her testimony of the only thing investigators found missing: The UFO she saw the night of April 8.

Roger Sugden, assistant director of Mutual UFO Network Indiana, and MUFON state section director Stewart Hill, went to Carpenter's rural home Friday to look into reports by at least seven people in three counties of sightings of something they can't explain.

MUFON, headquartered in Littleton, Colo., is an international scientific organization of people who are seriously interested in studying and researching unidentified flying objects and was founded in 1969.

Sugden and Hill went to Carpenter's property for a physical look for two reasons:

"The type of structure that was reported was rare," Sugden, who lives in Fort Wayne, said. All of the witnesses have described a disc-shaped object with lights.

"And to have multiple witnesses (also is rare)," Hill added.

The pair conducted interviews with Carpenter and Robbie Crull, among others. Crull lives only about a half-mile from Carpenter, on County Road 400 North. When Carpenter went on a Rochester radio station last week to talk about her experience April 8, several callers said they had seen the object in the air, as well.

The incident happened around 10 p.m. on April 8. Carpenter saw it to the south of her home about 400 yards away. Crull said it looked as if it were "in my yard," and a third witness in Miami County, Gene Winters, told The Tribune earlier this week that whatever it was hovered only 35 to 50 feet above the pond in his back yard located mid-way between Mexico and Denver.

A couple of other Fulton County residents and two additional Marshall County witnesses also were to be interviewed by Sugden and Hill Friday afternoon.

Sugden, who served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam, and who currently owns an aerial photography business in Fort Wayne, was enthusiastic about the investigation, but far from excitable. Hill, a retired Bayer Corp. employee who lives in Elkhart, was calm as the pair looked for any possible explanation of what the object could be.

Standing outside her home, Carpenter extended her arm and pointed off to the south to show the investigators where she and her 13-year-old granddaughter first saw two sets of three lights about 400 yards from the house as they came home around 10 p.m. April 8.

Sugden's eyes followed Carpenter's finger as it traced a path in the clear blue sky.

"I tell you, Roger, it was humongous," Carpenter said.

Sugden assured her he has with him many pieces of equipment with which to take many types of measurements.

Crull, a former employee with the Fulton County Sheriff's Department and also a former private investigator, said she and her son "didn't have time to be scared" when they saw what they think was the same object Carpenter saw in the night sky.

Now, though, the experience has the retiree from Crull's Christian Academy wondering if whatever it was is still out there.

"It makes me think there are probably other things out there besides just us," Crull said.

"Hers (Carpenter's sighting) was a lot further away from the house than ours was," Crull said.

The walk from Carpenter's immediate yard downhill southward, where investigators checked out fallen limbs and other growth, was filled with buttercups, spring beauties, wild violets and other signs that nature had been left untouched.

The group then reached the dip where Carpenter had, on Easter while looking for mushrooms, observed a circle of fallen tree limbs. Sugden took magnetic, electric, radio and microwave readings in the area.

"Nothing's spiking up," he told the crowd. He also noted that there were "no burnt tree tops."

Both Sugden and Hill photographed the area.

Sugden and Hill tramped around the underbrush a bit longer, and WSBT-TV news reporter Ray Roth focused his camera on Sugden, asking him pertinent questions about his activities.

Suddenly, the audio on Roth's camera went haywire, producing a "buzzing" not only in Roth's ear but as background to the interview. The camera had worked just fine up at the house.

"This is kind of crazy," Roth said, fiddling with the buttons, checking to see if something he had done had made the equipment behave in a peculiar manner.

Sugden produced an inexpensive tape recorder with a never-before-used tape, turned it on, spoke several sentences, and stopped the tape. He then replayed it. Sure enough, that same buzz could be heard in the background.

When the group began walking back toward the house, Roth again checked his camera. The audio was again clear.

Sugden tried the same experiment with the tape recorder. It, too, was clear.

Sugden said he'd return to the dip where the tree limbs lay in a circle and take some additional readings.

Hill said whatever findings the pair collects from their full day of investigation will be posted on the organization's Web site at www.mufon.com.

Carpenter's initial report of the sighting was posted on the Web site of the National UFO Reporting Center, headquartered in Seattle, at www.nuforc.org/webreports/034/S34815.html.

"I'm really curious whether they (the investigators) believe us, or think we're just kooks," Crull said. "But I'm glad they're willing to walk around and check out what we're telling them we saw."

She's had some second thoughts about UFOs since the experience, too.

"If we (the witnesses) had all seen it in the same place, that would have been one thing," Crull continued, still mulling it over in her head. "But there's a half-mile difference between Bev's place and mine, and then there's the people in Miami and Marshall counties, too. It's really weird."

"I keep going back to the fact that when the lights (on the UFO) went out, it was still there," Crull said. "Maybe it's still there ... Maybe they are there more often than we realize."

Staff writer Anita Munson:
amunson@sbtinfo.com
(574) 936-2920


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