CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

May 8, 2012

Professor Spends $1500 to Abort Moon Landing of Apollo-11


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

PROFESSOR SPENDS $1500

TO ABORT MOON LANDING OF APOLLO-11

     There are colorful personages in most, if not all, professions.

     And so it is with university professors.

     One of the clippings I pulled from my files during a cleanup was written about a colleague of my husband, Monte, while Monte taught physics at the State University of New York. Undated, it would have been written after our 1966 marriage and prior to our 1969 move to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. The piece was published on July 25 of the unnamed year—however, it can be dated 1969, since Apollo-11 was launched on July 16th of that year.

An assistant professor of physics at the State University of Buffalo spent $1500 of his own money for telegrams urging Congress to prevent the moon landing of Apollo-11 “while still possible.”*

     Beth sent copies of the 180-word telegram to all 435 House members and all 100 U. S. senators on July 11. He said he kept the cost down by sending the original telegram from Buffalo-to-Washington and having the 535 copies originate from Washington…

     Citing reports of an indestructible disease-producing organism on Earth called “Scrapie,” a disease found in sheep, the Beth telegram said:

     “Suppose an equally indestructible organism is brought from moon producing something like cancer or worse? How long must astronauts be quarantined for cancer virus? If moon operating is perfect with no microbes, we shall be no better off than now. Thus, all life on Earth would be endangered for exactly nothing. Since the danger is also known abroad, our country cannot obtain prestige from moon landing. Even if no disease results, we shall reap hatred and condemnation for having put mankind into such danger.”

     Am I in danger? After all, I actually handled 4.6 billion year old moon rocks in 2002 while writing a story for the Fay-West section of the Tribune-Review newspaper. Students from eleven Fayette County elementary schools also handled these rock fragments, most of which were brought back from the last mission to the moon, Apollo 17,** launched December 07, 1972, 12:33:00 a.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center.***  Are they in any danger?

The rocks were on loan from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. They were released to Captain Tony Henderson, head of Geibel School’s science department and a captain and aerospace officer of the US Air Force Auxiliary. The rocks were so valuable that Henderson had to keep them in her possession at all times.

“I even have to take them to the bathroom with me,” she joked.

NASA encased the rocks in Lucite to prevent air exposure that would change the rock’s composition, according to Henderson.

The Apollo 17 lunar landing site was the Taurus-Littrow highlands and valley area. This site was picked… as a location where rocks both older and younger than those previously returned from other Apollo missions and from the Luna 16 and 20 missions might be found.***

     Beth contended that there were possible, real, dangers.

Moon landing with return is known to endanger all life on Earth due to possibility of bringing the earth microbes, either indigenous to the moon or, far more likely, arisen there by mutation of microbes transported from Earth by earlier moon shots. Precautions are known merely to reduce dangers.*

     Monte recalled his colleague, Eric Beth.

     “He was very sensitive to viruses, super concerned about being exposed, a fanatic, a germophobic. It was very clear he was super concerned about germs.”

     Perhaps, Monte speculated, Beth “may have had a condition that led to this concern…His metabolism was so high…he was so thin. He ate three to four meals at a single sitting and never gained any weight.”

     Still, transporting bacteria to or from outer space explorations should be a concern. 

     A National Aeronautics & Space Administration response to Beth’s telegram was received by a Western New York congressmen: … considerable effort has been taken “to insure that everything possible id done to preclude such contamination.”

     It added: “The most thorough biological protocol will be executed on the crew, returned lunar samples and specimens from the returned spacecraft. Any unknown factor that turns up in the process will be the subject of an intensive effort to identify and understand it.”

Should I be worried?

~~~~~~~~~~~~

ADDITIONAL READING:

IT’S NOT THAT SMALL A WORLD

Warning: Do Not “Smile Someone” Today!

HIKING THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY Part 1 of 2

QUECREEK MINE DISASTER: A 21st Century Historical Site in Somerset County, PA

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 1

POPHAM BEACH, MAINE

~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

SOURCES

*U. B. Professor Spent $1500 In Bid to Halt Moon Landing, Ronald J. Maselka, Buffalo Evening News Bureau,  WASHINGTON, Jul y 25

**News article submitted to, and ultimately published, the Fay-West section of the Tribune Review, Greensburg, PA, February 2, 2002

***  http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo-17/apollo-17.html

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