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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 34 - THE UTHBRIDGE HERAIO - Wednesday, February 7, 1773 Someone tell the bedbugs: the war's over By HUGH A. MULLIGAN SAIGON (AP) - The Poles.' Canadians, Hungarians a n d Indonesians assigned to keep the peace in Vietnam share a common gripe: Someone forgot, to tell the bedbugs the war is over. "The bottom floors of these barracks are really swarming," groused Cpl. Ron Clarke, a postal clerk unth the Canadian team. Ceasefire observation teams from the four countries serving on the International Commission for Control and Supervision are quartered at Saigon's Tan Son Nhut air base. Their laded green transient barracks had been vacant for several months after United States troops hastened their closure. ; A Polish lieutenant pointed i out large holes in the mosquito | screening, missing light bulbs 1 in the latrine and a broken � railing on the staircase. "Food not very good," he added. The first four automobiles assigned to the Canadians by the South Vietnamese broke down: the fifth wasn't exactly new but the driver was. "A Vietnamese girl who had just graduated from driving school the clay before," said Capt. Phil Lacey of Toronto. "Going downtown with her was quite an experience. The only thing she was afraid of was something bigger on the road." ESCAPE FROM WINTER ; Lacey, waiting to go out with one of the prisoner recovery � team, said most of his fellow ; officers were "glad to get away from the Canadian winter for a ! few months." Most of the offi-i cers and senior noncoms have | had experience at peacekeeping | missions in Kashmir, Cyprus ' and the Middle East. ! For the peacekeepers, get- ting to know each other is a reaching out of hands, except one never knows whether to salute or shake hands. "The first two days around here almost no one saluted," said a Canadian major. "The Hungarians and the Poles went around with their heads down. Now everybody is salute happy, and you walk to the mess hall with your arm all the way up. The Indonesians solved the question of who's who in the saluting game with a huge bulletin board outside their barracks showing the sleeve and collar insignias of all four coun-; tries. ! "The Poles have something called a third lieutenant," ex-| plained air force Capt Par-j wandino of Indonesia. "T h e I first day, colonels were salu'-i ing privates, but now everyone comes to study our bulletin board." In the glare of the dry-season heat, the dusty barracks compound is a colorful melange of soldiers at ease according to \ the customs of their country: Indonesians heading to the shower in bright batik sarongs, Himgarians lounging about in blue boxer-shorts in grateful respite from their heavy twill uniforms. Canadians in green shorts and knee socks, a n d Poles out on the wooden balconies sipping beer. LINE UP TOGETHER Officers and men from the four countries line up with their trays in a chow line three times a day in one wing of a U.S. air force mess hall reserved for them. "The food is even worse than in the Canadian army," said Clarke. From his tone, it was apparent cordon bleu standards | were not at stake at either end of the comparison. So far there has been no attempt to provide the troops from the four countries with national dishes like Hungarian goulash or Canadian bacon, but the Indonesians did send a team down to the central market in Saigon to buy shrimp, rice, spices and other ingredients for nasi goreng, the national fried rice dish. Prof, studies rodents /"^ SIMPSONS bears PURCHASE! Stork Craft Factory Second DELUXE CRIBS 29 .99 This deluxe crib features safety sDaced, plas-Hcized spindles. Both sides lower, double safety locks, 4 heights, teething rails. Non-toxic enamel, yellow, white and orange trim. 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S.M.L.XL. 16" 17" 16" 1* NEW STORE HOURS: Open daily from 9:30 to 22 S:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Centra Village Mall. Telephone 328-9231 Mice may influence space survival research Biology professor Luke Stebbins won't be entitling his research papers, "Of Mice and Men," even though he has spent a good deal of time with the little rodents. Since 1969, when he began in-depth re-search of the hibernating habits of small animals, the University of Lethbridge professor has met and studied literally hundreds of "wee beasties" such as deer mice, jumping mice and chipmunks. Interest in why tiny animals - some weighing no more than nine or ten grams -can survive harsh northern winters first triggered Dr. Stebbins' interest in hibernation. He became fascinated by the complicated mechanism which sends them to their burrows to avoid cold weather and brings them back out in time for spring. He had also conducted previous research on the adaptation of small animals to 24-hour darkness and found links between that behavior and the process of hibernation. For surviv al "Besides,'' adds Luke Stebbins, a self-avowed outdoorsman, "everyone has stud-died the habits of the larger hibernating animals such as bears. There hasn't been much research on the smaller animals." Dr. Stebbins describes hibernation as a definite adaption for survival, without which large populations of creatures would never live through winter. The findings of his hibernation study-though not yet published-indicate that the basis of hibernation is indeed a complicated one. Animals adapt to winter in a more basic and clever way than does man: they "retire" for several months during which period of time, all their life patterns are altered to save as much of their energy as possible. During hibernation, animals eat much less, grow and move very little; generally, their level of activity is reduced to just above a torpor state. Research done Although Dr. Stebbins' active research is officially concluded and he has analyzed most of his findings, the task is far from complete. "None of the results are written up yet," he concedes. "There should be at least six papers for biological journals coining out of the research - maybe more." Dr. Stebbins received total research grants of $7,000, mostly from the National Research Council, obtained in the days he so fondly recalls, "when professors in smaller universities were encouraged to do vai-ied research, and when the grants for such activities were readily forthcoming." Work on hibernation may have implications for human survival, particularly in the area of space research. Scientists are interested, he says, in using animals to discover the biochemical secret which triggers the annual hibernation process and results in such a great conservation of energy over such a long time. He admits the parallel for mankind - especially in space travel where astronauts must remain inactive and conserve strength during long space flights - does exist, but qu st'ons the practical applications. "When small animals are faced with a shortage of energy, they do everything which requires energy output in a sequential pattern, so there is no wasted movement and no two major drains of energy at the same time," explains Dr. Stebbins. "Thus they will be active, will reproduce and will do most of their growing in the spring when there is food available and they can maintain high energy." Not for man Not so mankind. He lives practically the S3me lifestyle in winter as in summer and wherever his environment is too uncomfortable, he changes it, rather than adapting himself. Dr. Stebbins doubts whether man could ever adapt or learn from the hibernation habits of animals. When it comes to survival and self-preservation, mankind has evolved too far, says the biology professor. He has manipulated his own atmff-sphere and natural habits too much to ever revert to the natural rhythms of the seasons. "We've controlled our environment for too long now7," comments Dr. Stebbins, "People on the prairies in the early days cut back on their energy output in times of scarcity. Pre-industrial man lived in close harmony with natm-e. Today we've changed that and there may be a time when we wish we hadn't." To obtain enough animals for experimental purposes. Dr. Stebbins captured mice and chipmunks and also bred those already in captivity. The animals were kept outdoors, in an effort to closely approach natural conditions during the study. Results of the animals' habits during the hibernation process were then closely studied by the biologist and his assistants. During round-the-clock observation, the scientists studied the animals' activity levels, oxygen consumption and growth patterns. "Contrary to popular belief," says Dr. Stebbins, "it is not the temperature which causes animals to hibernate. The length of the day affects their nervous systems: like migration, hibernation is affected by the availability of light. When the days become shorter the animals' biochemical trigger is set off, telling them it's time to hibernate. In spring a form of biological clock which was set in the fall triggers a response which brings them out of inactivity." What is the nature of the clock, how will it set, and how does it initiate and end hibernation? That, Dr. Stebbins concedes, is one of the secrets of the biochemical process. Which means that, for Luke Stebbins and other biologists like him, there's plenty of work yet to be done. 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