Flashbacks: The Milton apparition deciphered, Scot Lehigh on skydiving, and the man behind a far-out idea for providing solar power

5 Years Ago
June 27, 2003 | Michael Bronski explained the meaning behind the Blessed Virgin Mary's appearance on a window at Milton Hospital.
 "...Obviously, the BVM has a message for us today. The trick is in deciphering it. Fortunately, her appearance in Milton is easy to interpret. The BVM chose to appear at a hospital because she is speaking about matters of physical health. No doubt she is unhappy with the rancorous debates about Medicare and prescription drugs taking place in Congress. She may also be speaking to the horrific problem of AIDS in Africa, which has been exacerbated by the failure of the US government and pharmaceutical companies to do anything about it. There can be little debate on the meaning of this apparition, because let’s face it — if she wanted to give her blessing to the ongoing occupation of Iraq, she would have manifested herself at the Pentagon. If she wanted to support war profiteering, she would have made an appearance at the headquarters of Halliburton...The BVM doesn’t make a lot of the personal appearances, so when she does, it’s a good idea to pay attention." Read Full Article

10 Years Ago
June 26, 1998 | Ellen Barry investigated the scientific objections to everyone’s favorite cult-classic alien TV show.

“Yes, the skeptics of the world are united in giving The X-Files the old secular-humanist thumbs-down, according to statements from the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, or CSICOP, which has kept a close eye on weeping Madonnas and floating balls of light since 1976. What it comes down to is a pattern of discrimination.
“ ‘It’s always the mystical explanation that prevails, and science is shown as incapable of dealing with it,’ says Matt Nisbet, a CSICOP, ‘But suppose Hollywood produced a show that was fictional in nature in which there is a black suspect and a white suspect and the black suspect was always guilty, would you be able to defend that as only fiction? It’s a negative stereotype.’ ”THE THINGS WE DO FOR STORIES
25 Years Ago
June 21, 1983 | Scot Lehigh leaped out of a plane for no good reason or if you’d rather, went skydiving.

“ ‘Stand by,’ the jumpmaster yelled, his voice above the engine’s roar breaking my fright-frozen fixation on the ground. My right hand moved out to grasp the strut, and it and my left hand started to pull against the wind of a 70-mile-an-hour flight to get my body out of the plane...I know it’s idiocy, but I’ll just do it, I thought. I won’t think about it; I’ll just fling myself back...Instantly everything went from a confused, windy whoosh to a falling, dizzying, streaking blur...I reached for the reserve rip and was about to pull it when — whump — the main chute clapped open, and my 160-foot free-fall ended with a sharp jerk. I looked up to see the parachute — surprisingly small, I thought —  between me and the hazy sky...Now, the rushing confusion of free fall quieted, it seemed virtually silent...Although I knew my rate of descent was around 15 feet per second, it seemed unexpectedly gentle and slow as I looked farther out, south to Quabbin Reservoir, and over to the town of Orange.”
30 Years Ago
June 27, 1978 | Michael Matza profiled Dr. Peter Glaser, the man behind a far-out idea for providing solar power.

“Like other scientists working on the long-term energy needs of the planet, Glaser cites the Arab oil embargo of 1973 as the catalyst for exploring alternatives. Unlike other proponents of renewable solar power, those who would capture the sun’s energy through decentralized, ground-based collectors, Glaser advocates centralized power production on a scale that is truly staggering. His scheme calls for numerous 20,000-ton satellites to be placed in synchronous orbit 22,000 miles above the earth. Solar panels on them would collect the sun’s energy, convert it to microwaves and beam it to earth. Huge, six-mile-diameter receiving antennas located on earth would catch the microwaves and reconvert them to electricity. The resulting energy would be distributed to regional utility power pools and sold to consumers...Because the satellites required would be larger (72 miles square) than any we could hope to launch from earth, they would have to be constructed in space by a team of at least 400 trained astronaut-laborers. It’s here that the project begins to sound like science fiction. According to one plan kicking about, the required materials for the satellites would come from mining the moon.”

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