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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 1, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 8 THZ LFIHBRIDOe HERAID Thursday, Morch 1, 1973 Moon may not be alive, but its breathing body By WALTER SULLIVAN New York Timei Service. NEW YORK While it lias been shown by the Apollo land- ings that the moon is not a liv- ing celestial body, it now ap- pears that it is, at least, a breathing one. Analysis cE data collected In lunar orbit by the Apollo 16 and 17 spacecraft lias shown that certain craters, where for centuries moon-watchers have reported bright flashes, appar- ently emit puiTs of gas. Some of those who believed the reports of moon flashes have suggested that they are eruptions of gas thai, through some process yet are stimulated to glow. Others have regarded the reports as fig- ments of the imagination, but the claims have now acquired new plausibility. The most recent Mow to those who hoped to find evidence of relatively recent activity on the moon was the discovery the reddish soil found on the last mission, Apollo 17, was extremely old. To the astro- nauts it looked like the deposil from a recent gas eruption, bul like all other moon samples dated so far, it lias proved to be more than three billion years old. The data obtained in lunar rbit, as yet unpublished, was btained 'with detectors ex- remely sensitive to alpha par- icles. The la'.ter are one of the ypical products of radioaetivi- TEiey consist of a helium atom nucleus, formed of two irotwns and two neutrons. In volcanic eruptions and oth- er gas emissions from within he earth, the radioactive gas, is a small component. Alter a few days part of it lecays, emitting an alpha par- icle at high velocity. If such an emission took place in the near vacuum of the moon, the larticle could travel up to acti- vate a detector on an orbiting spacecraft. It was therefore assumed that a detector of such parti- cles on an orbiting spacecraft would be able to identify any spots on the moon from gas was erupting. Analysis of data from the Apollo 15 craft has now shown such emissions from the crater Aristarchus, a great cavity in the lunar sur- face, 25 miles wide, on whose rirn light flashes have repeated- ly been reported. Another product of radon de- cay is a form of lead (lead 210) that, after about 20 years, de- cays in a way that produces polonium. This, in turn, emits a characteristic alpha particle. This type of emission was re- corded as the Apollo 16 craft 'lew over the black-centered crater Grimaldi. According to Dr. Paul Gor- enstetn of American science and engineering in Cambridge, Mass., this suggests that an eruption occurred there a de- cade or two ago, but not very recently. His concern was re- sponsible for the alpha parti- cle experiment. The particle detector also re- corded evidence lor emissions :rom Tsiolkovsky Crater, on the 'ar side of the mcon. Like Grimaldi, Tsiolkovsky has extremely dark floor, as does the crater Shickard, on the earth-facing side. According to Barbara Middle- hurst, who has assembled some 600 reports of lunar "transient Grimaldi, Schickard and other dark-floored or dark- rimmed craters tend those where sudden glows ap- pear. 223 CATTLE SOLD CRANBROOK (Special) Cranbrook Sales Point of Com- munity Auction Sales Associa- tion Limited opened its 1973 sales schedule with the sale of 223 mixed cattle for a total of The March 3 sale will be special when registered breeding hulls come up. Normal Preclplt Vancouv Edmonlo Winnipeg Toronto Ottawa Monlraa HoliloM St. John'! Cold and dry Above normal and near normal temperatures are ex- pected to cove most of the country for March according to the 30-doy weather out-look of the United States Weather Bureau. Precipitation is expected to be light-to-moderate, with the Maritimes and portions of Quebec heavy. "Give us coffee to match our Rich and bold as the West itself and with good reason. Because Nabob West is specially blended to please our Western coffee taste. When you see the colourful Western scenes on the labels, you know there's a mountain of real coffee flavour inside! In Ceylon, firewalking is for real By TOM TIEDE UDDAPWVA, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (NEA) One night each year a usually sedate Hindu priest here gathers his followers for what has to be a helluva hot time. He burns a mountain of logs into a 6-by 15-foot bed of sizzling cinders and with Tamil versions of praise be and hallelujah, leads as many as a thousand of the faithful barefoot across the coals. The priest is S. Muthaieh Foosager. A firevvalker. Thirty- nine years ago as a nervous but believing youth he stepped on his first flame, emerged with- out so much as a singe, and has been doing it ever since. Why? As a test of faith. Ha believes that if he is pure of heart, and clean of body, his god a woman of antiquity Tropbathi protects him. And, Indeed, someone up there must care, for the 50-year-old, gap- toothed gentleman hasn't so much as a scar from four dec- ades of firewalking. "Not he says "have I been injured." DIVINE The reason, if its not divine Intervention, is not clear. Fire- walking is as old, almost, as man. Pliny refers to it in his ancient writings. Early South Sea Islanders are said to have, practiced the ritual as a kind of supreme Judgment sus- pected criminals were forced into flames and either released or buried according to the de- cision of the fire. Even today, Jirewalking thrives as a cultur- al art in places such as Fiji, India, Japan, and, for some in- explicate reason, Bulgaria. Skeptics have advanced doz- ens of theories to explain the firewalker's alleged immunity to burns: the tough soles of na- tive feet; secret chemicals which deflect heat; the low thermal conductivity of burning wood. Some believe that ers are protected by first wash- ing their feet (which many because as the water turns to vapor it creates a cushion. Still others doubt firewalking really exists at all. DOUBTERS But the doubters have gen- erally been disproved. Scien- tifically even. In one famous firewalking ex- periment, in 1935, scientists from the London Council per- suaded an Indian walker named Hussain to perform un- der controlled conditions in Sur- rey, England. He was present- ed with a bed of cinders heated to decrees at the surface and degrees in the inter- ior. His feet were washed, dried and examined. An official re- port on the activity says Hus- sain made the walk without pain or harm, and, what's more, was followed by ama- teurs hired for the experiment (the amateurs, apparently, re- ceived some slight That firewalking is real is unarguable. Thit it is exnlain- ed by nhysical facts is likewise probable. But what facts? No one knows. JITTERS For the villagers here in Ud- dapuwa, no one even cares. Most of the people in this impoverished, isolated outpost have walked on flame but do not wonder at it. One villager. 34-year-pld Siva Jothy. educated in English, says that when he first went PCTYKS the conh he faith than .litters: "I didn't believe the story about a pro- tecting god. But then, when T walked acrreis 'he fire and found that it rlirln't even hurt, I began to think that there must be someone protecting, some supernatural reason for it." That reason, savs the local Driest, is the great god Troi- bathi. According fo she was married to five at one time. Such morslHv v'as nuest'onahle even in mylnolo- py, thus tile woman was rivfn a severe test of her worlnhw'i. She was to live with one broth- er for a vear, then made to walk the flnmes to determine If she could change to another brother's bed. Accordln" fo the slie passed all f-'mes and beds wiMi {Trace and lived such a rotating, robust life that sno became a pod "the Pod" as the locals insist on call- In" her. Despite the Uddanuwans slight error in nicknanvnir, fiiov apparently pegged Tropbathi Barefoot in the coals, S. Muthaieh "Poosager is protected by a pure heart, a clean body and Tropbathi correctly as their protector. Firewalking in this village goes back 350 years, when the com- munity was established by fish- ermen from Southern India. Since then the firewalking rite has been carried out annually so residents say, a single casualty. Oh, there have been a few mishaps of nu'nor degree. Fish- erman Jothy says that the im- portant tlu'ng in firewalking is to be perfectly clean. All walk- ers take long batlis before the journey. "But sometimes some- Iwdy will accidentally step in some cow sighs Jothy, in which case "they are burn- ed Also, an occasional goof-off joins the firewalking rite, with- out the proper faith, i.e. drunk, and he to he sure spends the next few painful weeks walking on his knees. CEREMONY Indeed, the firewalking cere- mony hsfe is not for tho frivo- lous or unclean. Priest Poosag- er insists the'fire ordeal be (he supreme test. Hundreds of logs are burned for several hours to make a mound of hard-pack, white-hot coals thjt can shrivel body hair at 15 feet. Prior to the walking in fact, villagers are kept back at least 30 feet for their own comfort. Says fisherman Siva JoUiy: 'I have seen small sticks a few feet from the fire explode, its (hat hot there." But the villagers, right on the fire, for six or seven incredible do not explode. One six- year-old child says only: "Its warm." The ceremony continues for about an hour and a half. Resi- dents here sing and chant and enjoy themselves absolutely. Some fellows, outsiders, some- times extend the ritual by slick- ing needles and pieces of sharp wood through their skin, as an even grealer lest of faith. But that practice is strictly extra- curricular. People who do that kinrl of tiling, say the firewalkers, shaking their heads, must be crazy. ;