Friday, March 30, 2012

Canadian penny...GONE


"Canada Wins the Race to Eliminate the Terrible Penny"

by

Rebecca Greenfield

March 29th, 2012

The Atlantic

Canada has bested America in at least one thing today, ridding itself of what The New Yorker called "horrid and useless" bits of currency, the penny. Our northern neighbors will pull the coinage out of circulation at the end of this year, reports Bloomberg's Jacqueline Thorpe. We were sold on this idea long ago, when Sam Seaborn, Rob Lowe's dreamy character on The West Wing, took up the cause.

The move will be much appreciated in Canada, we presume, where they already have very full change purses from those Loonies and Toonies. Plus, it will save the country money. In Canada, it costs the government 1.6 cents to produce one penny. In our behind-the-times country, by the way, it takes 2.4 cents to make every penny. Come on, America.


"Penny" poll

No illuminated billboards in Arizona


"Astronomers celebrate billboard veto"

March 30th, 2012

Mohave Daily News

Representatives of the state’s astronomy industry are celebrating Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill that would have lifted a state ban on electronic billboards.

Professional astronomers say the action shows the state is serious about protecting the dark skies essential to the astronomy industry — and its economic boost to the state.

Jeffrey Hall, director of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, said the governor sent “the strongest possible signal” to “major international investors” that the state has their interests in mind.

Hall and other astronomers spoke at a news conference in Phoenix on Thursday and said they’re open to a future compromise with the billboard industry.

Billboard companies had asked the Legislature to change state law after a November ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals that bans electronic billboards along freeways. The ruling threatened about 70 existing billboards in the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Buell Jannuzi, an astronomer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, said Arizona’s combination of mountain tops, workforce and clear skies and weather makes it ideal for observatories.

In her veto letter Wednesday, Brewer said the astronomy industry accounts for more than 3,300 jobs and a $250 million in annual economic impact.

“It was clear to many of us here, there was no need to threaten that success story. And, thankfully, the governor agreed with us on this one,” said Rep. Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson.

“We are so lucky to have here in Arizona this precious natural resource of dark skies, which is unique in the world,” Farley said. “And that’s why we have so many world-class observatories, and so many astronomers and so much of the optics industry to support those people."

Brewer asked lawmakers to find a balance that benefits both industries, and said she expects a bill to reach her desk this year or next.

Wendy Briggs, a lobbyist who represents Clear Channel Outdoor Inc., a major billboard company in the state, said the veto was disappointing but her group “certainly will take the governor up on her offer to try to develop some kind of compromise legislation.”

Briggs and other billboard company representatives had argued that the legislation would have preserved county and city rules that keep billboards from going up in the areas around observatories.

But that wasn’t enough of an assurance for the governor or astronomers.

Hall, with the Lowell Observatory, said that to compromise with the advertisers, astronomers are asking for a ban on electronic billboards within 75 miles of observatories, which he said is a “substantial relaxation” on the current statewide ban.

That would allow for electronic billboards in the Phoenix area but keep future billboards from interfering significantly with telescopes, which are “fabulously sensitive to even tiny changes in sky brightness,” he said.

“Seventy five miles is a figure we can live with,” he said.

Briggs said they’re mulling proposals such as the 75-mile ban and limits on brightness to see what makes sense for outdoor advertising.

Robert Johnson, a spokesman for CBS Outdoor, said it’s too soon to say specifically what terms would be acceptable to them, but they appreciate that astronomers are interested in a compromise.

“I can certainly say we’re anxious to find a solution that puts all of this behind us and allows everyone to get along with their various lines of business,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted that outdoor advertising in Arizona serves about 4,200 businesses and said it also benefits the public by displaying messages about wanted criminals or missing children with Amber Alerts.


Arizona: Illuminated billboards vs astronomy

Old/New Element: "Governmentium"


For those who have not stayed abreast with the new Large Hadron Collider there is bad news. The new element is not a rumor but seems to have been around for a few centuries.

The new element has been named Governmentium.

Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take over four days to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isotopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium — an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Deceased--Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs
January 6th, 1924 to March 28h, 2012

"Earl Scruggs, Bluegrass Pioneer, Dies at 88"

by

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

March 29th, 2012

The New York Times

Earl Scruggs, the bluegrass banjo player whose hard-driving picking style influenced generations of players and helped shape the sound of 20th-century country music with his guitar-playing partner, Lester Flatt, died on Wednesday in a Nashville hospital. He was 88.

His son Gary confirmed the death.

Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Flatt probably reached their widest audiences with a pair of signature songs: “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” which they recorded in 1949 with their group the Foggy Mountain Boys, and which was used as the getaway music in the 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde”; and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the theme song of the 1960s television sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.” (Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Flatt also appeared on the show at times.)

But he also helped shape the “high, lonesome sound” of Bill Monroe, often called the father of bluegrass, and pioneered the modern banjo sound. His innovative use of three fingers rather than the claw-hammer style elevated the five-string banjo from a part of the rhythm section — or a comedian’s prop — to a lead or solo instrument. What became known as the syncopated Scruggs picking style helped popularize the banjo in almost every genre of music.

Mr. Scruggs, who had played banjo since the age of 4, got his big break when he joined Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, in 1945. The band included Monroe, who sang and played the mandolin; Mr. Flatt on guitar; Howard Watts (a k a Cedric Rainwater) on bass; and Chubby Wise on fiddle.

When Mr. Scruggs stepped up to play during an instrumental section, “listeners would physically come out of their seats in excitement,” Richard D. Smith wrote in “Can’t You Hear Me Callin’: The Life of Bill Monroe.”

Mr. Scruggs stayed with the Blue Grass Boys for two years as they starred on the “Grand Ole Opry” radio show and recorded classics like “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Blue Grass Breakdown” and “Molly and Tenbrooks (The Race Horse Song)” for Columbia Records. He also sang baritone in the group’s gospel quartet.

Early in 1948 he and Mr. Flatt, weary of the low pay and exhausting travel, decided to strike out on their own, despite Monroe’s pleas to stay. Angry and hurt, Monroe refused to speak to them for the next 20 years, a feud that became famous in country-music history.

Although the two said they had not planned to get together after they quit, they ended up forming a band called the Foggy Mountain Boys, after the Carter Family song “Foggy Mountain Top.” Aided by the former Louise Certain, the group’s manager and booking agent and soon Mr. Scrugg’s wife, they surpassed Monroe in popularity, helped partly by the corporate sponsorship of Martha White mills. (That sponsor persuaded them to join the “Grand Ole Opry.”) In 1954 they appeared in a Broadway show, “Hayride.”

In 1959 the group appeared at the first Newport Folk Festival, an offshoot of the Newport Jazz Festival, introducing the Scruggs style to the folk-music revival of those years. Soon young folk musicians were adopting his style, and the Foggy Mountain Boys began to play the college folk-festival circuit. Mr. Scruggs also began to work with his growing sons, Gary, Randy and Steve. And he recorded material by Bob Dylan and other folk-rockers.

Mr. Flatt, by contrast, disliked the new music and felt it was alienating the band’s grass-roots fans. In 1969 the two broke up — they had also performed as Flatt & Scruggs — and Mr. Scruggs, with his sons, formed the Earl Scruggs Revue, a mostly acoustic group with drums and electric bass. It broadened his repertory to include rock, and the group played on bills with acts like Steppenwolf and the singer-songwriter James Taylor, sometimes before audiences of 40,000.

The group stayed together for the remainder of Mr. Scruggs’s career, performing at Carnegie Hall and, in 1969, at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam in Washington. Mr. Flatt died in 1979.

Earl Eugene Scruggs was born on Jan. 6, 1924, in Flint Hill, N.C. His father, George Elam Scruggs, a farmer and bookkeeper, played the banjo and fiddle (and died when Earl was 4); his mother, Lula Ruppe Scruggs, played the pump organ in church. Earl took up the banjo and also the guitar.

Earl depended on a two-fingered picking style until he was about 10. Then one day he found himself picking a song called “Lonesome Ruben” (or “Ruben’s Train”) using three fingers instead of two — the thumb, index and middle finger. It was a style, indigenous to North Carolina, that he had been trying to master.

He learned to emphasize melody by plucking it with his strong thumb in syncopation with harmonic notes picked with his first two fingers. The sound was like thumbtacks plinking rhythmically on a tin roof.

As Earl’s mastery of the banjo grew, he began playing at dances and on radio shows with bands, among them Lost John Miller and His Allied Kentuckians. In December 1945, after the Miller group disbanded, Mr. Scruggs quit high school and joined the Blue Grass Boys for $50 a week. His career was on its way.

In 1992 Mr. Scruggs was among 13 recipients of a National Medal of Arts, and in 2005 “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” was selected for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

He continued to play into the 21st century. In 2001 he released a CD, “Earl Scruggs and Friends,” his first album in a decade and an extension of the Earl Scruggs Revue. In 12 songs, he collaborated with Elton John, Dwight Yoakam, Travis Tritt, Sting, Melissa Etheridge, Vince Gill, John Fogerty, Don Henley, Johnny Cash and the actor Steve Martin, a banjo player.

Mr. Scruggs’s wife, Louise, died in 2006; his son Steve died in 1992. In addition to his sons Gary and Randy, survivors include five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

At an 80th birthday party for Mr. Scruggs in 2004, the country singer Porter Wagoner said, “Earl was to the five-string banjo what Babe Ruth was to baseball.”

“He is the best there ever was,” Mr. Wagoner said, “and the best there ever will be.”

Earl Scruggs [Wikipedia]

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Flatt & Scruggs

1965

video

"The Master from Flint Hill: Earl Scruggs"

by

Steve Martin

January 17th, 2012

The New Yorker

Earl Scruggs died yesterday morning, March 28, 2012. The bluegrass and wider music worlds mourn and celebrate him. —Steve Martin

Some nights he had the stars of North Carolina shooting from his fingertips. Before him, no one had ever played the banjo like he did. After him, everyone played the banjo like he did, or at least tried. In 1945, when he first stood on the stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and played banjo the way no one had ever heard before, the audience responded with shouts, whoops, and ovations. He performed tunes he wrote as well as songs they knew, with clarity and speed like no one could imagine, except him. When the singer came to the end of a phrase, he filled the theatre with sparkling runs of notes that became a signature for all bluegrass music since. He wore a suit and Stetson hat, and when he played he smiled at the audience like what he was doing was effortless. There aren’t many earthquakes in Tennessee, but that night there was.

As boys in the little community of Flint Hill, near Shelby, North Carolina, Earl and his brother Horace would take their banjo and guitar and start playing on the porch, then split up and meet behind the house. Their goal was to still be on the beat when they rejoined at the back. Momentously, when he was ten years old, after a fight with his brother, he was playing his banjo to calm his mind. He was practicing the standard “Reuben” when found he could incorporate his third finger into the picking of his right hand, instead of his usual two, in an unbroken, rolling, staccato. He ran back to his brother, shouting, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” He was on the way to creating an entirely new way of playing the banjo: Scruggs Style.

He was only twenty-one when he was in on the founding of bluegrass music, adding the Scruggs’ banjo sound to Bill Monroe’s great blend of guitar, bass, fiddle, mandolin, and Monroe’s iconic high, lonesome voice, singing, “It’s mighty dark for me to travel.” He had already been playing Scruggs style for eleven years. On the Grand Ole Opry’s Ryman Auditorium stage, the banjo had been played well, but mostly in the old style, and mostly by comedians, prompting Uncle Dave Macon, a beloved regular, to say about Earl from the wings, “That boy can play the banjo, but he ain’t one damned bit funny.”

It was at the Ryman, in 1946, that he met his future wife, Louise. They made eye contact while he was performing as she sat in the third row, stage left. Ten years later, when it became obvious that Earl was not only famous but verging on a legend, Louise, exhibiting country firmness and gumption, became his gate-keeper, defending the soft-spoken Earl from celebrity abuse, ill-advised contracts, and too many free dates or dubious honors. But Earl always obliged the youngsters and amateurs (including this writer, whom Earl showed how to play “Sally Goodin’,” his way, when I was twenty-two).

Sometime after Monroe denied him songwriting credit on “Bluegrass Breakdown,” Scruggs left Monroe, changed the F chord in “Bluegrass Breakdown” to E minor, and wrote “Foggy Mountain Breakdown. ” It became, arguably, the most famous banjo instrumental, a song that speeds along at a clip of eleven notes per second. It is known by most people as the theme from the movie “Bonnie and Clyde,” and also supplied Earl with an income for life.

The banjo lends itself to showing off: it’s often played fast and thrillingly, fingers flying up and down the neck, the right hand connecting to the left with seemingly impossible accuracy. But Earl always remembered his mother’s advice when he was a boy: “Play something that has a tune to it.” His first and last priority was to make music, which keeps his sound melodic and accessible. Yet, even professional players today say, “How did he do that?” It is not easy to make the melody note land in the right place when rolling three fingers over five strings, but Earl could syncopate, “bend” a string—which caused one note to move unbroken into another—and he could audibly retune the banjo in the middle of a song, leading to the invention of a mechanical device called “Scruggs’ pegs.” Earl knew when and how to surprise the heck out of the listener.

After he left Monroe, in 1948, Scruggs teamed up with Lester Flatt, who had also left Monroe, and Earl maintained his position, unassailed, as the greatest and most influential banjo player who ever lived. They toured the rough backroads of the bluegrass circuit, where jarring potholes knocked their instruments haywire, and they tuned each night to Flatt’s G string on his guitar—which, over the months, crept up in pitch. By the end of the tour, they were often a half-step too high, which they soon learned suited Flatt’s baritone voice.

The long zigzag march through the clubs and radio stations of America counted, though, and Monroe was annoyed as Flatt and Scruggs became as famous as he was. In 1962, they headlined the Newport Folk Festival, sold out Carnegie Hall, and, one year later, Earl’s banjo helped send “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” to No. 1 on the country charts. Then the Bob Dylan revolution and Beatles revolution hit almost simultaneously. At one point, a producer convinced the band to incorporate this new music into Flatt and Scruggs, persuading poor Flatt to sing “Everybody must get stoned.”

In the late nineteen-sixties, Earl continued to be introduced to new sounds through his musical sons Randy and Gary, and also by drop-ins to his Nashville house: Bob Dylan, the Byrds, and others who wanted to pick with the famous Earl Scruggs. Ravi Shankar came by with his sitar, and, after their unlikely jam session, they satisfied Ravi’s mystical craving for Kentucky Fried Chicken by sharing a bucket. Eventually, Earl grew his hair a bit long, joined Randy and Gary to create the Earl Scruggs Revue, and added drums to the band—a bluegrass no-no. A few years later, he released a solo album featuring songs by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. When he showed up at a Washington, D.C., anti-Vietnam War protest, the country-music world from which he sprang wondered if he had blown a gasket.

A grand part of American music owes a debt to Earl Scruggs. Few players have changed the way we hear an instrument the way Earl has, putting him in a category with Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hendrix. His reach extends not only throughout America, but to other countries, including Japan, where bluegrass bands, strangely, abound, as well as Australia, Russia, the U.K., Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic, which boasts not only bands but banjo makers. Most, if not all, of the banjo players play Scruggs style.

Earl is now eighty-eight, and it’s been seventy-eight years since he first shouted, “I’ve got it!” and reinvigorated the banjo. Picking with Earl at his home in Nashville is a holy anointment, and playing Earl’s banjo, the one he recorded “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on in 1949, well, that’s like holding the Grail. Sometimes on these special evenings, everyone will sit around playing their instruments, and the tunes will glide easily from one to another, like it has on the porches and living rooms of America for hundreds of years. But then Earl will settle in, playing backup or taking the lead, and you hear the sound, the one you heard when you first fell in love with the banjo, and you can’t help but have a slight intake of breath. Unmistakable. That’s Earl Scruggs. The five-string banjo could not have had a better genius.

The author wishes to thank Gary Scruggs, Pete Wernick, and Tony Trischka for confirming facts and contributing memories to this article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Pleiades and ancient civilizations


Abstract:

In the ancient Egypt seven goddesses, represented by seven cows, composed the celestial herd that provides the nourishment to her worshippers. This herd is observed in the sky as a group of stars, the Pleiades, close to Aldebaran, the main star in the Taurus constellation. For many ancient populations, Pleiades were relevant stars and their rising was marked as a special time of the year. In this paper, we will discuss the presence of these stars in ancient cultures. Moreover, we will report some results of archeoastronomy on the role for timekeeping of these stars, results which show that for hunter-gatherers at Palaeolithic times, they were linked to the seasonal cycles of aurochs.

"The Pleiades: the celestial herd of ancient timekeepers" by Amelia Sparavigna


Pleiades [Wikipedia]

Pleiades [Greek mythology] [Wikipedia]

Chemical of extraordinary corrosiveness..."Oxychloride X"


In the fall of 1933, NBC writer Wyllis Cooper conceived the idea of "a midnight mystery serial to catch the attention of the listeners at the witching hour." The idea was to offer listeners a dramatic program late at night, at a time when the competition was mostly airing music. At some point, the serial concept was dropped in favor of an anthology format emphasizing crime thrillers and the supernatural. The first series of shows [each 15 minutes long] ran on a local NBC station, WENR, at midnight Wednesdays, starting in January 1934. By April, the series proved successful enough to expand to a half hour.

Lights Out [Wikipedia]


Lights Out

"Oxychloride X"

January 25th, 1938

Out of frustration from being rejected membership in a fraternity; a gifted laboratory student formulates a super antimatter corrosive substance that eats anything and eventually creating a hole on Earth.

Audio presentation

Monday, March 26, 2012

LSD and the CIA..."whoopee, we are all gonna die"


Syphilis experiments, sterilizations...why not LSD?

"The Legacy of the CIA’s Secret LSD Experiments on America"

Newly unclassified information blows wide the U.S. government's covert operation to dose hundreds of unwitting Americans with LSD in the 1950s and '60s.

by

Maia Szalavitz

March 23rd, 2012

Time

Before LSD escaped the lab and was evangelized by hippies, the U.S. government was secretly testing the effects of the drug on hundreds of unsuspecting American civilians and military personnel. In a must-read feature on newly unclassified material on the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert operation, the MK-ULTRA program, which ran from 1953 to 1964, SF Weekly fully exposes the bizarre world of the CIA’s unethical drug tests. The utterly-unbelievable-but-true story involved using hookers to lure in unwitting johns for undisclosed testing, narcotics agents who slipped drugs into drinks, and a U.S. marshal who held up a San Francisco bar not knowing he was high on acid.

It sounds like something out of a paranoid dream. And indeed, before the documentation and other facts of the program were made public, those who talked of it were frequently dismissed as being psychotic. But the U.S. government’s history of secret human experimentation ought to be kept in mind, particularly when we consider the power we grant to it and the way we regulate drugs.

The LSD experiments were purportedly carried out because the U.S. believed that communist Russia, North Korea and China were using the drug to brainwash captured Americans. Consequently, the CIA didn’t want to fall behind in developing and responding to this potentially useful technology.

So, incredibly, it decided to slip acid secretly to Americans — at the beach, in city bars, at restaurants. For a decade, the CIA conducted completely uncontrolled tests in which they drugged people unknowingly, then followed and watched them without intervening. In some cases, the agency used the drug to perform interrogations, but these procedures were conducted so inconsistently that they proved equally useless in providing useful data.

The lack of ethical controls was even more appalling. Here’s how SF Weekly’s Troy Hooper describes what happened to one of the last living survivors of the MK-ULTRA operation:

It’s been over 50 years, but Wayne Ritchie says he can still remember how it felt to be dosed with acid.

He was drinking bourbon and soda with other federal officers at a holiday party in 1957 at the U.S. Post Office Building on Seventh and Mission streets. They were cracking jokes and swapping stories when, suddenly, the room began to spin. The red and green lights on the Christmas tree in the corner spiraled wildly. Ritchie’s body temperature rose. His gaze fixed on the dizzying colors around him.

The deputy U.S. marshal excused himself and went upstairs to his office, where he sat down and drank a glass of water. He needed to compose himself. But instead he came unglued.

Ritchie became so paranoid and distressed that he decided the only way to keep them from getting him was to strike first:

“I decided if they want to get rid of me, I’ll help them. I’ll just go out and get my guns from my office and hold up a bar,” Ritchie recalls. “I thought, ‘I can get enough money to get my girlfriend an airline ticket back to New York, and I’ll turn myself in.’ But I was unsuccessful.”

Out of his skull on a hallucinogen and alcohol, Ritchie rolled into the Shady Grove in the Fillmore District, and ordered one final bourbon and soda. After swallowing down the final drops, he pointed his revolver at the bartender and demanded money.

Fortunately, a waitress and a patron were able to subdue him and Ritchie was arrested before anyone got hurt. Even more fortunately, because he was a law enforcement officer who had served in the military and had no prior record, he was sentenced only to probation and a $500 fine. But he was forced to resign from the Marshals Service.

It would be decades later, in 1999, when Ritchie came across the obituary of an American chemist, Sidney Gottlieb, who was involved in the CIA’s acid experiments, that he put two and two together. The article mentioned a narcotics officer he once knew and noted the officer’s involvement in the LSD experiments; then it hit Ritchie that he might have been secretly dosed on the day he went crazy.

The agency appeared to be experiencing its own form of madness. The San Francisco branch of the program (the other hub was in New York City) was dubbed Operation Midnight Climax and it involved agents using hookers to lure johns into a secret pad decorated with photos of women in bondage and other suggestive images by the French artist Toulouse-Lautrec. The johns were given acid-laced cocktails and, from behind two-way mirrors, a Bureau of Narcotics agent, who doubled as a CIA operative, along with his minions would quaff martinis and watch the drugged sex.

By the time the agency finally put a stop to the program in 1964, hundreds of people had unknowingly gone on acid trips on both coasts. The following year, Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters started holding the first “acid test” revels, accompanied by the Grateful Dead.

The official rhetoric on LSD from the government’s anti-drug agencies was that it was extremely dangerous. LSD was quickly made illegal and research into its potential as a treatment for alcoholism and other disorders was shut down. Wild claims about it damaging chromosomes and causing birth defects were promulgated.

But, of course, the CIA had thought the drug was safe enough to randomly distribute to unwitting Americans without even debriefing them about their experiences or providing any measure to keep them safe — something researchers now know is essential to avoid incidents like Ritchie’s bar robbery.

A notable aspect of LSD’s history is the contrast in the way a single drug has been used and perceived by different groups. Just as one segment of the American population was starting to experiment with a drug they believed could produce peace and spiritual awakening, their government was using the same drug to try to “brainwash” people into compliance. The hippies mainly found unity and joy; the CIA paranoia and fear.

Both had inadvertently discovered what acid guru Timothy Leary would come to call “set” and “setting.” Set is a person’s mindset: mood, background, physiology and everything else unique to them at the time they take the drug. Setting is the physical and cultural environment.

Set and setting are fundamental to the effects of all drugs. They explain why you can have exactly the same amount of the same type of drink in one situation and be joyous, for example, while the same drinking pattern can lead to anger and aggression in another. But while drugs like alcohol, cocaine and heroin generally tend to produce at least somewhat consistent effects in multiple settings, psychedelics like LSD are much more sensitive to context. Being dosed without your knowledge in a fearful setting is thus very different from dropping acid deliberately in a calm, friendly place.

When we look at our drug laws, the senselessness of MK-ULTRA appears in bold relief. Here we have an institution that was supposedly protecting Americans from the harms of drugs actually drugging its unwitting population. This was “research” being conducted on human beings without any concern for their lives or welfare. And at the center of it was a substance that thousands — including Apple’s Steve Jobs — have said brought deep meaning and inspiration to their lives.

What’s unfortunate is that rather than having a democratic discussion about the proper role of LSD and similar drugs for consenting adults — and conducting legitimate research into their potentially beneficial uses — we are instead enmeshed in a culture of knee-jerk prohibition that produces repeated, uncontrolled and sometimes deadly human experiments.

The recent rise of synthetic drugs, including so-called bath salts and fake marijuana, are only the latest evidence of our continuing denial that humans always have and always will seek to chemically alter their minds. The real question is, how safe or unsafe do we want to make the set and setting in which they do so?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zebra spiders and fungus-killing bacterium to visit the ISS

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma

"Space Lab Contest Picks Experiments Featuring Spiders and Bacteria"

by

Kenneth Chang

March 22nd, 2012

The New York Times

A zebra spider spins no webs, but instead catches its prey by leaping onto it. But in space, a zebra spider would zip off in a straight line instead of a trajectory curved by gravity, missing its target.

Amr Mohamed, an 18-year-old student from Alexandria, Egypt, wondered if the spider could learn and adjust.

“If they can catch their prey in microgravity, it’s going to be evolutionary,” Mr. Mohamed said, “because it’s going to be the first time in history that an animal changes and adapts its hunting way to the zero-gravity environment.”

Soon he, and the rest of the world, will find out.

Mr. Mohamed’s idea is one of the two global winners of Space Lab, a competition run by YouTube, Google’s video site; Lenovo, the computer manufacturer; and Space Adventures, a space tourism company. Students ages 14 to 18 from around the world were invited to make videos pitching a science experiment to be conducted on the International Space Station.

Two 16-year-olds from Troy, Mich., Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, formed the other winning team, with an experiment that will look at whether a fungus-killing bacterium will become even more effective at killing fungus when it gets back from a trip that will make it temporarily weightless. Scientists already know that salmonella bacteria become more virulent in zero gravity, and the bacterium in their experiment, Bacillus subtilis, contains the same protein that caused that change in salmonella.

“The idea, that having your experiment in the space station, is so surreal and so literally out of this world,” said Ms. Chen shortly after the winners were announced on Thursday.

As for the zebra spiders, Mr. Mohamed does not think they will figure out how to catch fruit flies in space. These spiders do not spin webs, but they do attach a silk lifeline to themselves before leaping; this will allow them to reel themselves in and try again and again to aim themselves at fruit flies sharing their space station habitat.

Both experiments are already being designed and constructed at BioServe Space Technologies, a research center run by the University of Colorado at Boulder, and are scheduled to fly to the space station on a cargo ship launched by the Japanese space agency. Sunita Williams, a NASA astronaut, is to perform the experiments, which will be broadcast online.

For their grand prize, Ms. Chen and Ms. Ma will go to Japan for the launching of their experiment. Mr. Mohamed chose the other option: He will go to Star City in Russia for a week of the same training that Russian astronauts undergo.

Arizona: Illuminated billboards vs astronomy


"Despite astronomer objections, digital billboards get Senate OK"

by

Howard Fischer

March 24th, 2012

Capitol Media Services

Brushing aside concerns by astronomers, the state Senate voted Wednesday to legalize existing lighted digital billboards and potentially pave the way for more.

The 20-8 tally came over objections from Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford, D-Tucson, who said the billboards "undermine the $1.2 billion investment in Arizona' of companies and academic groups in their telescopes and research." She said that not only endangers more than 3,300 jobs but threatens the state with the loss of billions of dollars and future grants.

"If we pass this bill, it signals the world that Arizona is closed to astronomy," she said.

But Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said those concerns are misplaced.

She pointed out that nothing in the legislation overrules existing local "dark sky" regulations like those which exist in Tucson and Flagstaff, or force any community to allow any new billboards at all of any type.

"Our observatories are protected right now," she said, detailing some of those local restrictions. "Those protections are not going to be removed."

Cajero Bedford countered that local ordinances are insufficient.

"Telescopes collect light from great distances," she said. "The glow from Phoenix affects observatories in Tucson."

Wednesday's vote gives the final word on HB 2757 to Gov. Jan Brewer. The measure already has been approved by the House.

Press aide Matthew Benson would not comment on what his boss thinks of the plan, saying she will review it when it reaches her desk.

In a prepared statement, Jeff Hall, director of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, expressed cautious optimism that Brewer will refuse to approve the measure.

"We know she supports economic development and high-paying jobs in the state, which is exactly what astronomy has brought and continues to bring to Arizona," he said, "We hope she will help us continue to bring major new investors into the state by vetoing the bill."

The legislation follows a ruling last year by the state Court of Appeals that billboards with changing messages are not authorized under state law to be located along roads funded at least in part with state and federal dollars. That made the 70 internally illuminated billboards which operate that way, mostly in Maricopa and Pinal counties illegal.

Wendy Briggs, lobbyist for Clear Channel Communications, said the industry believes the judges got it wrong. She pointed out that her company and others followed all the proper procedures, including getting the necessary permits.

Most immediately, the legislation would end the threat that these signs would have to come down or be converted to fixed messages. But the astronomy community instead sees the measure as an open-ended license for proliferation of this type of billboard.

Cajero Bedford said the proposal comes at a particularly inopportune time, with the state trying to land the $130 million Cherenkov Telescope Array in Northern Arizona.

She offered a compromise that would allow the 70 existing billboards to stay.

New ones would be prohibited within 75 miles of an existing observatory or a site specifically proposed for a project. They would be allowed elsewhere, but only with limits on nighttime light levels that were set at the factory and could not be altered.

That proposal was rejected by Sen. John McComish, R-Phoenix. He said a 75-mile dark sone is "basically putting into effect a statewide ban on all electronic signs.'

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, said the industry-crafted legislation "may not be the most perfect bill."

"But it does protect the industry of telescopes and observatories throughout the state," he said. Melvin said it is important to approve the law now and then, if necessary, revisit the issue next year.

Allen said too much is being made of this particular technology. She said billboards amount to only between 2 and 5 percent of total light pollution.

"Yes, digital is different," Allen said. But she said operators are doing what they can to prevent extraneous light, even with an "eyebrow" over each bulb.

Cajero Bedford countered that her colleagues were giving too much credibility to the arguments of the billboard industry.

"I would tend to believe the astronomers, the observatory people, as opposed to what the billboard companies are telling us about their lights," she said.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Physics and philosophy win..."The Cold Equations"

Astounding Science Fiction

August 1954

"The Cold Equations"--the most horrific episode of the X Minus One radio series and similar to the Twilight Zone's "Time Enough at Last". Physics and ethics must be satisfied and an example of the sacrifice of one for the salvation of many.

Audio presentation...

The Cold Equations

Script...

X Minus One

"The Cold Equations"

August 25th 1955

SOUND:

HIGH-PITCHED ELECTRONIC HUM ... JOINED BY ELECTRONIC BEEPING IN AGREEMENT WITH COUNTDOWN

ANNOUNCER:

Countdown for blast-off. X minus five, four, three, two. X minus one. Fire.

SOUND:

A MOMENT'S SILENCE ... THEN ROCKET SHIP BLASTS OFF

MUSIC:

BUILDS VERTIGINOUSLY TO A CLIMAX ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future, adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand maybe worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction, presents -- (HEAVY ECHO) X Minus One!

MUSIC:

TO A CLIMAX ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight's story, "Cold Equations."

MUSIC:

FOR DEEP SPACE ... IN BG, OUT AT [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) There is no margin of safety along the rim of a frontier; there can't be any, until the way is made for those who come later. Until then, the penalty for mistakes is a grim one. The laws of physical nature operate with irrevocable certainty -- with no room for mercy, kindness or sentimentality. In space, life becomes a cold equation -- and the equal sign is often followed by death. I know. I'm the pilot of an EDS. (PRONOUNCED ee-dee-ess) [X]

SOUND:

KNOCK AT DOOR

COMMANDER:

Come in.

SOUND:

DOOR OPENS ... FOOTSTEPS IN

BARTON:

You sent for me, Commander?

COMMANDER:

Yes.

SOUND:

DOOR SHUTS

COMMANDER:

Sit down, Barton.

SOUND:

BARTON WALKS TO CHAIR AND SITS

COMMANDER:

We just got an ED from the territorial space station on Woden.

BARTON:

Uhh, Woden -- that's in the Crab Nebula, isn't it?

COMMANDER:

That's right. There are two exploration parties there on Manning's Continent. Eight men each.

BARTON:

Mm hm.

COMMANDER:

They've got kala fever in one of 'em and no serum.

BARTON:

(DISAPPOINTED) Ohhh. And I thought this was gonna be a nice, quiet passenger run.

COMMANDER:

Computers are working out your payload and your course right now. In exactly ten minutes, we'll drop into normal space and launch your ship.

BARTON:

I'll get her ready.

COMMANDER:

One thing.

BARTON:

What's that?

COMMANDER:

Woden is at the maximum pay limit for an EDS. Figuring the weight of the serum, we'll be able to give you just enough fuel to land on Manning's Continent if you make it the first pass. Otherwise, you'll burn out in midair.

BARTON:

Mm hm. Standard procedure.

COMMANDER:

Report to launching control.

BARTON:

Right.

COMMANDER:

Good luck, Barton.

BARTON:

Thanks. Oh, er, by the way--

COMMANDER:

Yes?

BARTON:

When can I expect to be picked up?

COMMANDER:

We'll make a stop on the run back to Earth some time next year. You'll be notified by radio.

BARTON:

Okay.

COMMANDER:

Sorry we can't make it sooner.

BARTON:

(GOOD-NATURED) Heh! That's what happens when you sign on for EDS work. I'll see you next year, Commander.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... BRISK, FOR A HURRIED LAUNCH ... THEN IN BG, OUT BY [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) Down in the belly of the Stardust, the crew was working like beavers to get the EDS -- the Emergency Dispatch Ship -- ready. Mechanics and technicians were swarming all over the place. Girls in inspectors' uniforms were checking the gauges and the supply cabinet. Nine minutes later, the exact course was in the computer, the serum was stowed in my supply cabinet closet, and little EDS Four-Gee-Three was ready to be borne into space. [X]

LAUNCH:

(FILTER) Barton?

BARTON:

Yes, sir?

LAUNCH:

(FILTER) Thirty seconds to blast-off. All set?

BARTON:

All set.

LAUNCH:

(FILTER) I'm turning you over to Traffic.

BARTON:

Ready.

TRAFFIC:

(FILTER) Traffic Control. Come in, EDS Four-Gee-Three.

BARTON:

Ready.

TRAFFIC:

(FILTER) Twenty seconds. Lock open.

SOUND:

LOCK SLIDES OPEN

TRAFFIC:

(FILTER) Fifteen seconds. Space Drive on.

BARTON:

Space Drive on.

TRAFFIC:

(FILTER) Ten seconds. Gravity Neutralizer on.

BARTON:

Neutralizer on.

TRAFFIC:

(FILTER) Five seconds. Four. Three. Two. One. Blast off!

SOUND:

SHIP BLASTS OFF!

MUSIC:

BRIEF BRIDGE ... FOR SPACE TRAVEL ... THEN IN BG, OUT BY [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) I don't remember how long it was afterwards that I first noticed something wrong. Maybe an hour, maybe two. There was nothing to show it except the needle in the heat gauge. It was on zero when we left the Stardust and now I noticed that it had crept up toward the thirty mark. That meant something inside the ship was radiating heat. That something was in the supply closet -- and it was alive. [X]

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES THROB, IN BG ... BARTON'S FOOTSTEPS TO CLOSET

BARTON:

(CALLS) All right! Come out! (NO RESPONSE, CALLS) Whoever or whatever you are -- if you don't come out in five seconds, I'm gonna blast you! One! Two!

SOUND:

CLOSET DOOR OPENS

BARTON:

(STUNNED) Well, I'll be--

MARILYN:

(FRIENDLY) Hello. I'm Marilyn Lee Cross.

BARTON:

What are you doing in there?

MARILYN:

(CASUAL) I'm a stowaway.

BARTON:

(HORRIFIED) Oh, my--

MARILYN:

Well, what's the matter? Do I have to pay a fine or something?

BARTON:

What are you doing here?!

MARILYN:

I wanted to see my husband.

BARTON:

Who's your husband?

MARILYN:

He's with the Government Survey crew on Woden. I haven't seen him since he left Earth four years ago.

BARTON:

Okay. But what made you hide in my EDS?

MARILYN:

I have a job waiting for me on Mimir. But I heard you were going to Woden and there was plenty of room, so I hid. Oh, I knew I'd be breaking some kind of rule but, er, what's one little rule?

MUSIC:

SOBER BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT BY [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) Ha! "What's one little rule?" H amount of fuel will power an EDS with a mass of M safely to its destination. H amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of M plus X safely to its destination. (SIGHS) Well, how could she be expected to know? She was five-two, with brown curly hair, and the faint sweet smell of perfume. She was five-two and she smelled like apple blossoms. And her name was X in an equation that would have to be balanced. [X]

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES THROB, IN BG ... BEEP! OF RADIO

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) Stardust. Come in, EDS. Come in.

BARTON:

This is Barton, Emergency Dispatch Pilot Four-Gee-Three.

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) Go ahead.

BARTON:

Give me Commander Delhart.

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) What's the message, EDS?

BARTON:

I have to consult Commander Delhart.

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) The commander is busy.

BARTON:

Listen, you squirt! Give me Commander Delhart!

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) One moment, Four-Gee-Three.

SOUND:

FILTERED CLICK! OF COM

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER, INTO COM) Commander Delhart? Emergency message from EDS Four-Gee-Three.

COMMANDER:

(BEAT, FILTER, ANNOYED) This is Delhart. What is it?

BARTON:

At oh-eight-hundred hours, I discovered a stowaway aboard my ship.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) A stowaway?!

BARTON:

Yes, sir.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) Well, have you notified Ship's Records?

BARTON:

Not yet, sir.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) You know the regulations as well as I do.

BARTON:

Of course I know the regulations. That's why I'm calling.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) Barton -- what's going on?

BARTON:

Sir, this is a girl. A young woman.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER, PAUSE, LOW) Oh.

BARTON:

She wanted to see her husband on Woden. She didn't know what she was doing.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) I see.

BARTON:

I wondered, sir-- Maybe the cruiser could - change course or something?

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) I'm afraid not. We're hundreds of light-years apart now. We have a limited fuel supply ourselves. With nine hundred passengers--

BARTON:

Is there any chance--?

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) No.

BARTON:

Okay, skipper.

COMMANDER:

(FILTER) Better get the information to Ship's Records.

BARTON:

Okay.

COMMANDER:

(BEAT, FILTER) Barton?

BARTON:

Skipper?

COMMANDER:

(BEAT, FILTER, LOW) I'm sorry.

BARTON:

Yeah, sure.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF RADIO ... SHIP'S ENGINES SLOW, THEN CONTINUE IN BG

MARILYN:

You cut our acceleration, didn't you?

BARTON:

Yes.

MARILYN:

Why?

BARTON:

Mm, save fuel. For a while. (EXASPERATED) How did you manage to stow away?

MARILYN:

(MERRILY, A LITTLE PROUD) Well, I was taking a language lesson in Mimirese from a girl in the Inspection Corps. The order came in for your trip and I just went along on an impulse. Oh, it was easy. I'll be a model prisoner, I promise.

BARTON:

(GROANS) If you were only a thief or a spy, it would make it easier.

MARILYN:

Make what easier?

BARTON:

(CURT) Oh, forget it!

MUSIC:

BRIDGE ... SAD ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) Why couldn't she have been somebody with some ulterior motive? A fugitive, hoping to lose himself in a raw new world; a crackpot, with a mission. Why did she have to be a woman? A beautiful, kind, trusting woman? [X]

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES THROB, IN BG ... BEEP! OF RADIO

RECORDS:

(FILTER) Stardust.

BARTON:

Barton, EDS Four-Gee-Three.

RECORDS:

(FILTER) Go ahead, Four-Gee-Three. Identify stowaway.

BARTON:

(TO MARILYN) Uh, give me your identification disc, Miss Cross.

MARILYN:

Here. Why?

BARTON:

It's for Ship's Records. (READS) Uh, Identification Number T-eight-three-seven-four--

RECORDS:

(FILTER) One moment. This is for the Gray Card, of course?

BARTON:

Yes.

RECORDS:

(FILTER) I'll need the time of--

BARTON:

I'll tell you later.

RECORDS:

(FILTER) That's highly irregular--

BARTON:

Then we'll do it in a highly irregular manner! The subject is a young woman. She's listening to everything that's said. Are you capable of understanding that?

RECORDS:

(PAUSE, FILTER, LOW) Oh. Go ahead, Four-Gee-Three.

BARTON:

(READS) Number T-eight-three-seven-four dash Y-five-four. Name: Marilyn Lee Cross. Female. Married. Born: July seventh, Twenty-One Sixty. (SHOCKED, TO MARILYN) Good lord, you're only a child.

MARILYN:

(GIGGLES)

BARTON:

(READS) Height: Five feet, two inches. Weight: a hundred and ten. Hair: Brown. Eyes: Blue. Complexion: Light. Blood Type: O. Original destination: Port City, Mimir. (TO RECORDS) Listen, I'll call you back later.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF RADIO

BARTON:

Look, miss--

MARILYN:

Marilyn.

BARTON:

Look, Marilyn. I - I guess you don't know what you got yourself into here. Well, it's like this. This ship is carrying kala fever serum to the survey group on Woden.

MARILYN:

Yes?

BARTON:

Their supply was wrecked in a tornado. The fever is always fatal unless the serum is given in the first forty-eight hours. Now, these little ships have exactly enough fuel to reach their destination. If you stay aboard her, your added weight will cause it to use up all its fuel before it can land.

MARILYN:

Oh. What happens then?

BARTON:

We crash. You die. I die. And six fever victims on Woden die.

MARILYN:

Can't they send out another ship to meet us?

BARTON:

There are no ships to send.

MARILYN:

Well, I-- (REALIZES, PANICS) Oh, no. No, no, you - you couldn't do that.

BARTON:

That's how it has to be.

MARILYN:

But that's crazy. I haven't done anything! I haven't hurt anybody!

BARTON:

I'm sorry. I - I - I should have told you before but I wanted to make sure there was no other way.

MARILYN:

You mean it? You're gonna make me leave this ship?

BARTON:

That's how it is.

MARILYN:

But I'll die! I'll explode! I'll be like those horrible pictures of--!

BARTON:

Try to understand.

MARILYN:

I do understand! You're going to kill me and I didn't do anything!

BARTON:

I know you didn't! I know you didn't! That has nothing to do with it.

MARILYN:

It has everything to do with it! Nobody just dies like that for no reason! Oh, listen, maybe there are other cruisers. Cruisers you don't know about. Maybe the radio-- Maybe it--

BARTON:

Now, listen to me. It's different here. Different from anything you've ever known. On Woden, there are sixteen men -- sixteen men on an entire world. They're fighting. Fighting an alien environment. The environment fights back. You can only make a mistake once.

MARILYN:

(QUIETLY) And - I made a mistake.

BARTON:

Yes.

MARILYN:

(SLOWLY) There's no hope of--?

BARTON:

Absolutely none. You'll have to be put out of the ship.

MUSIC:

AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) It was better so. With the going of all hope would go the fear. Then would come the resignation. She needed time and there was so little. [X]

SOUND:

RADIO STATIC ... THEN IN BG

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) EDS? Starship to EDS. Need pertinent data.

BARTON:

All right, starship.

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) When do you expect to complete your report?

BARTON:

I - I need a computer check.

COMMUNICATIONS:

(FILTER) I'll give you Statistics.

SOUND:

BUZZER!

STATISTICS:

(FILTER) Statistics.

BARTON:

This is EDS Four-Gee-Three. I'm intersecting course vector seven-point-three at oh-eight-three-one. Deceleration, seventeen-fifty. Weight, one ton. I would like to stay at point-ten as long as the computers allow. Will you give them the question?

STATISTICS:

(FILTER) Check. I'll call you back.

MUSIC:

AN ACCENT ... THEN IN BG

BARTON:

(NARRATES) We wouldn't have long to wait. The new factors would be fed into the steel maw of the computer bank and the electrical impulses would go through the complex circuits. Here and there, a relay would click, a tiny cog turn over. But it would be the current -- formless, mindless, invisible -- which would determine with utter precision how long the pale young girl beside me would live. Five little segments of metal in the second bank would trip against an inked ribbon and the machine would spit out the answer.

STATISTICS:

(FILTER) You will resume deceleration at nineteen ten.

BARTON:

(NARRATES) It was eighteen ten when he spoke. One hour. She has one hour to live.

MUSIC:

UP, FOR A BRIDGE, THEN OUT WITH--

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES THROB, IN BG

MARILYN:

One hour?

BARTON:

That's it.

MARILYN:

All I did was hide in a closet. Now you tell me I have to die. I don't believe it.

BARTON:

You might as well get used to it.

MARILYN:

If this happened back on Earth, a thousand ships would fill the sky. The whole word would know about it. They'd do everything to save me.

BARTON:

This isn't Earth.

MARILYN:

It was such a big dream. Gerry and I separated almost five years ago. We were too young. And I was going to see him to - try to make everything all right again. Are - are you married?

BARTON:

I - was.

MARILYN:

Oh?

BARTON:

She ran off with some guy in the Weather Service.

MARILYN:

Do you still think about her?

BARTON:

I don't let myself.

MARILYN:

Where is she?

BARTON:

Back on Earth. Look, if you don't mind, I'd just as soon talk about something else.

MARILYN:

Okay. (PAUSE) What do you do when you've got an hour to live? What do you talk about?

BARTON:

(AWKWARD) What's - Gerry like?

MARILYN:

Gerry? Oh, he - he's a funny guy. When he found out I-- I mean, about the other fella. He didn't get mad. He - he cried. That was all he felt -- sadness.

BARTON:

So you walked all over him.

MARILYN:

Oh, I thought I wanted him to get mad at me -- to be jealous.

BARTON:

And now?

MARILYN:

I've been thinking about him for five years. So when I heard this ship was bound for Woden and I knew Gerry was there -- I stowed away. I didn't know about the fuel. I didn't know this would happen to me.

MUSIC:

MELANCHOLY ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) She had violated a man-made law that said "Keep Out." The penalty was not of man's making or desire. It was not a penalty men could revoke. H amount of fuel will power an EDS with a mass of M safely to its destination. The time was eighteen-thirty. Forty minutes. It was beginning to get me. A space frontier is a rough place and I'd seen a hundred men die since I left Earth. But this was different. I watched her as she wrote a message to her folks. I watched her as she fought her way through the black horror of fear toward the calm gray of acceptance. And then, there it was on the viewscreen -- the planet Woden, a red ball enshrouded in the blue haze of its atmosphere, swimming in space against the background of star-sprinkled blackness. The chronometer on the instrument panel said eighteen-forty-five. [X]

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES THROB, IN BG

BARTON:

Listen. We're in radio range of Woden now. I mean, would you want me to try to contact your husband?

MARILYN:

Gerry?

BARTON:

It'd mean-- He would know you're going to die. There'd be nothing anyone can do.

MARILYN:

Yes. I would like to talk to him. Do you think we can?

BARTON:

Well, the planet is turning. If his group is on the side facing us, we might be able to reach him.

MARILYN:

Oh, try.

BARTON:

All right.

SOUND:

BUZZER!

BARTON:

Hello? Hello, Woden? EDS to Government Survey Group, can you hear me? Come in, Woden.

SOUND:

PAUSE ... RADIO STATIC

BARTON:

(TO MARILYN) They may not be monitoring.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Hello? Hello?

BARTON: Hello? Hello? Identify yourself, please.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) This is Government Survey Group One on planet Woden.

BARTON:

This is John Barton, EDS pilot.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Do you have the serum?

BARTON:

Yes. How bad is it?

MONITOR:

(FILTER) One man died last night. Six have the fever. How long will it take to--?

BARTON:

I start deceleration at nineteen-ten hours. I should be able to land at nineteen-thirty.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Thank God.

BARTON:

Uh, look, do you have a Gerald Cross in charge of the group?

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Commander Cross? Yes, we do.

BARTON:

Could I speak to him?

MONITOR:

(FILTER) He isn't here. He's out with a survey team.

BARTON:

Well, when do you expect him?

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Can't say.

BARTON:

How do you read me? How much time do we have left for communication?

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Less than fifteen minutes.

BARTON:

All right. If Commander Cross comes back before we lose radio contact, will you have him buzz me? It's important.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Okay, EDS.

BARTON:

I'll keep the set open.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Check.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF RADIO

MUSIC:

TENSE ... THEN IN BG, FADES OUT AT [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) The minutes passed like small bits of eternity. On the viewscreen, I could see Manning's Continent sprawled like a gigantic hourglass in the Eastern Sea. There was a thin line of shadow where it was beginning to disappear as the planet turned on its axis. I looked at the pale woman next to me and I thought of another woman, long ago, who'd sat next to me and cried because I wouldn't try to understand. What had she written in those letters back home? What would they think of the faceless, unknown pilot who'd sent her to her death? What would I think of myself -- alone, nights -- reliving this voyage? [X]

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES THROB, IN BG

MARILYN:

Cold, isn't it?

BARTON:

I'll turn up the thermostat.

MARILYN:

Nothing from Gerry?

BARTON:

We have about two minutes of radio contact left.

MARILYN:

Maybe it's better. I mean, suppose it were you and your wife tried to call you. How would you feel?

BARTON:

I don't know.

MARILYN:

Do you ever hear from her?

BARTON:

I got a letter about a year ago. I tore it up.

MARILYN:

That was foolish.

BARTON:

Yeah, it was.

MARILYN:

Life is so terribly short - to be wandering around alone.

SOUND:

RADIO STATIC, BEHIND--

BARTON:

Well, I - I-- Wait a second, we're getting something.

MARILYN:

How much time before - before I have to leave the ship?

BARTON:

About ten minutes.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) Hello, EDS? Hello, EDS? Come in. Come in.

BARTON:

(ANSWERS) EDS.

MONITOR:

(FILTER) This is Woden. I have Commander Cross.

BARTON:

All right, go ahead.

CROSS:

(FILTER) Hello? This is Commander Cross.

BARTON:

Gerry Cross?

CROSS:

(FILTER) Yes.

BARTON:

I have someone for you. Go ahead.

CROSS:

(FILTER) Hello?

MARILYN:

Gerry?

CROSS:

(FILTER) Hello?

MARILYN:

Gerry?

CROSS:

(FILTER) Who is it?

MARILYN:

It's me -- Marilyn.

CROSS:

(FILTER) Marilyn?

MARILYN:

I wanted to see you again. I stowed away on the EDS.

CROSS:

(FILTER) You what?! But, Marilyn--!

MARILYN:

It doesn't matter, Gerry. All that matters is that I can tell you all the things I've kept inside for so long. Gerry -- I want you to know, I - I've never forgotten.

CROSS:

(FILTER) Oh, it's been so many years, I - I can't believe it.

MARILYN:

I thought I'd see you again but-- Now I can't. Gerry, you don't hate me, do you?

CROSS:

(FILTER) Hate you? Oh, Marilyn, I've never stopped loving you. Not for an instant.

MARILYN:

Oh, Gerry--!

CROSS:

(FILTER) Listen, we don't have much time. The transmission is getting fuzzy. Oh, Marilyn, I've got to see you. There's got to be some way.

MARILYN:

There isn't.

CROSS:

(FILTER) Let me talk to the pilot.

BARTON:

(LOW) Give it to me. (TO CROSS) Hello?

CROSS:

(FILTER) Pilot, have you called the mother ship? Did you have them check with the computers?

BARTON:

I've done everything. You've been on the frontier long enough to know the set-up in an EDS.

CROSS:

(FILTER) Oh, dear God, there must be something. Some way.

BARTON:

Do you think I'd let this happen if I wasn't sure?

MARILYN:

He tried to help me, Gerry. He tried. And it really doesn't matter. I'm not frightened any more. Not now.

CROSS:

(FILTER) But how did you get here? I don't understand.

MARILYN:

Well, I was going to Mimir to take a job, I thought, and-- Now I realize I was just going because I'd be closer to where you were. Oh, Gerry, all this time--

SOUND:

RADIO STATIC GROWS WORSE BEHIND--

CROSS:

(FILTER) Don't. Let me tell you something. Marilyn, I've always known you'd come back to me. I've known it every minute. It's what's kept me alive. I want you to hold that in your mind--

MARILYN:

Gerry, I - I can't hear you!

CROSS:

(FILTER) We haven't much time. We're losing radio contact.

MARILYN:

Gerry!

CROSS:

(FILTER) Oh, don't cry, darling. Just know how I feel.

MARILYN:

I do.

BARTON:

It's fading.

MARILYN:

There are so many things to say. Gerry, if you can still hear me-- Maybe I'll come to see you again. Maybe I'll come to you in your dreams. Or - or be the touch of a breeze. Or one of those golden-winged little birds, singing my silly head off. Maybe I'll be nothing you can see or hear but-- You'll know I'm there. Think of me like that, Gerry. Goodbye.

CROSS:

(FILTER, VERY FAINT) Goodbye, my darling.

SOUND:

SHIP'S ENGINES FADE OUT BEHIND--

BARTON:

(NARRATES) She sat motionless in the hush that followed, and then she looked at me.

MARILYN:

Now?

BARTON:

Now.

MUSIC:

FOR MARILYN'S DEATH ... IN BG, OUT AT [X]

BARTON:

(NARRATES) I pulled down the black lever and the inner door of the lock slid open. She walked with her head up and the brown curls brushing her shoulders. I let her do it alone. She stepped into the lock and turned to face me, and I could see the pulse in her throat.

MARILYN:

(AFTER A PAUSE) I'm ready.

SOUND:

LEVER PULLED ... AIR LOCK DOOR SLIDES SHUT

BARTON:

(NARRATES) I pulled the red lever and there was a slight waver as the air gushed out. I thought I sensed a bump -- as if something had bumped the outer door. And then there was nothing. [X] The white hand of the closet temperature control was back at zero. A cold equation had been balanced and I was alone in the ship.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard "X Minus One" presented by the National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction.

MUSIC:

CLOSING THEME SNEAKS IN UNDER FOLLOWING--

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, by transcription, "X Minus One" has brought you "Cold Equations," written by Tom Godwin and adapted for radio by George Lefferts. Featured in the cast were Court Benson as Barton, Jay Meredith as Marilyn, Milo Boulton as Commander Delhart, Bob Hastings as Gerry Cross, Jack Arthur as Traffic Control Officer, and Walter Kinsella as the Woden monitor. Your announcer, Bill Rippe. "X Minus One" was directed by Ken MacGregor and is an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

SOUND:

HIGH-PITCHED ELECTRONIC HUM ... IN BG, OUT ABRUPTLY AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

And now, next week! In the days of the windjammers, whalers sometimes went on cruises that lasted as long as two years, and so, sometimes, they had to resort to rough methods to gather a crew. But what of the future, when a cruise to a distant star may last for fifteen years or more? We hear of such a voyage next week on-- [X] (HEAVY ECHO) X ... Minus ... One!


Bummer for Bemis..."Time Enough at Last"

X Minus One [Wikipedia]


The Digital Deli



Other X Minus One offerings...

X Minus One's "How 2"...old time radio offering #1

X Minus One's "Student Body"...old time radio offering #2

X Minus One's "A Gun for Dinosaur"...old time radio offering #3

X Minus One's "Tunnel Under the World"...old time radio offering #4

X Minus One's "Junkyard"...old time radio offering #5

X Minus One's "Marionettes, Inc."...old time radio offering #6

X Minus One's "Skulking Permit"...old time radio offering #7

X Minus One's "Something for Nothing"...old time radio offering #8

X Minus One's "Project Mastodon"...old time radio offering #9

X Minus One's "The Veldt"...old time radio offering #10

X Minus One's "The Coffin Cure"...old time radio offering #11

X Minus One's "The Defenders"...old time radio offering #12


X Minus One's "Knock"...old time radio offering #13

X Minus One's "Protection"...old time radio offering #14

X Minus One's "The Snowball Effect"...old time radio offering #15

X Minus One's "First Contact"...old time radio offering #16

X Minus One's "The Seventh Victim"...old time radio offering #17

X Minus One's "The Haunted Corpse"...old time radio offering #18

X Minus One's "Man's Best Friend"...old time radio offering #19

X Minus One's "Mars Is Heaven"...old time radio offering #20


And four Dimension-X offerings...


Dimension X's "A Logic Named Joe"...old time radio offering #1

Dimension X's "Requiem"...old time radio offering #2

Dimension X's "There Will Come Soft Rain--Zero Hour"...old time radio offering #3

Dimension X's "The Outer Limit"...old time radio offering #4