The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on September 18, 2002 · Page 11
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 11

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
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HEALTH AND SCIENCE WEDNESDAY • SEPTEMBER 18,2002 • THE HAYS DAILY NEWS • A11 Town gives away marijuana Supporters gather to promote illegal drug's medicinal use By MARTHA MENDOZA ASSOCIATED PRESS SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — More than 1,000 people gathered at City Hall to send the federal government a loud message about what Santa Cruz wants for its sick and dying residents: the right to smoke medical marijuana. "Please do not confuse our message," Valerie Corral said Tuesday. "Our message is not about defiance, our message is about peaceful assembly." Nearly two weeks after agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided a medical marijuana farm here, city leaders attended the distribution to support giving sick people marijuana and to let the DBA know it's not welcome in this coastal town. "Santa Cruz is a special place, and today we're letting the world know how compassionate we can be," said Mayor Christopher Krohn. "We're taking a stand." The enthusiastic crowd included many pet dogs, a pet snake, dancers, drummers and protesters holding signs that read: "DBA Go Away" and "U.S. Out Of Santa Cruz." Several people lit marijuana cigarettes, but it was mostly an alcohol and drug-free gathering, which was what organizers requested. No law enforcement was present, except for a helicopter without clear markings that hovered above the event for nearly an hour. Local officials did not know who was inside the aircraft. DBA spokesman Richard Meyer said he would not confirm or deny that it was an agency helicopter. Meyer did say he was appalled by the event and feared the community is sending a dangerous message to its children. "Marijuana is an illegal drug in this country," he said. Marijuana is illegal as a medicine or as a recreational drug under federal law. But California law, and some county and city ordinances, say it's legal if recommended by a doctor. Mike Corral, who helped distribute the marijuana, said the only message sent Tuesday was that "marijuana is medicine." Hal Margolin, who said he suffers chronic back pain, said he was relieved to receive his weekly marijuana dose. He said he smokes between 18 and 22 puffs a week in lieu of painkillers. "We don't buy it, we don't sell it, we don't ship it in interstate commerce and we don't give it to children," he said. In Santa Cruz and many California communities, local law enforcement works closely with growers and distributors who help sick people obtain marijuana. Krohn and his colleagues didn't handle the marijuana, but stood in solidarity with the clinic workers and users. The city did not officially sponsor the event. Council members and medical marijuana advocates simply acted on their own in a public space, said City Attorney John Barisone. Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington also allow marijuana to be grown and distributed to people with a doctor's prescription. Community members in this liberal central California community repeatedly have supported medical marijuana. In 1992, 77 percent of Santa Cruz voters approved a measure ending the prohibition of medical marijuana. Four ASSOCIATED PRESS Robert Anton Wilson, right, who says he suffers from post polio syndrome, receives marijuana Tuesday from Jeremy Griffey, left, and Kathy Nicholson, second from left, both with the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, at City Hall in Santa Cruz, Calif. Calling Santa Cruz a "sanctuary" from federal authorities, medical marijuana advocates — joined by city leaders — passed out pot to about a dozen sick and dying patients from City Hall Tuesday. years later, state voters approved Proposition 215, allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes. And in 2000, the city coun- cil approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana to be grown and used without a prescription. European scientists create antihydrogen By ALEX DOMINGUEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS European scientists say they have created enough antihydrogen — a type of the mirror- image, antimatter stuff that fictionally powers spaceships on Star Trek — to test a widely held basic model of the universe. While antihydrogen has been made before, the more than 50,000 atoms created at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva are "by far, the most produced," said Jeffrey Hangst, a leader of the ATHENA collaboration, one of two groups of physicists working on antihy- drogen at CERN. The quest to understand and manipulate antimatter is one of the most competitive and esoteric pursuits in science. Not all particle physicists — even within CERN — agree with the new finding. A spokesman for the competing ATRAP Collaboration at CERN said he doubts that an- tihydrogen had been produced in the latest experiment. The ATHENA group relied on indications of the simultaneous destruction of an- tihydrogen's two atomic particles — the positron and the antiproton — to show it had been produced, said Harvard physicist Gerald Gabrielse, spokesman for the ATRAP group. "Our long experience with these very diffi- tanepus positron and antiproton annihilation does not ensure that antihydrogen has really been produced,'? Gabrielse said. ATHENA researchers, whose work appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, plan to make more antihydrogen to test the Standard Model, equations that explain the nature of matter and energy. If the antihydrogen doesn't behave the same as normal hydrogen "the textbooks would have to be rewritten," said Hangst, who is a physicist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, along with his CERN work. "It would imply that we have overlooked something fundamental about how nature works," Hangst said. "Such a discovery certainly wouldn't help you to build a better computer or TV, but it might shed some light on why we have a universe that looks the way it does." Antimatter is the mirror image of conventional matter with opposite properties. Antimatter is destroyed whenever it collides with matter, turning both into bursts of electromagnetic radiation. Scientists believe this process was crucial to the fiery creation of the universe billions of years ago. Why so little antimatter is made now in nature remains one of physics' great dilemmas. Only modest levels have been detected in cosmic ray showers and the nuclei of distant galaxies. Antimatter is difficult to make in the lab, too. Giant particle accelerators at CERN and Fermilab near Chicago specialize in the quest. r-Jn^he firstTaifiiiiaatt^K experiments a few •-years ago, only dozens of short-lived antimatter particles were created. Hydrogen, the most abundant element, consists of an electron orbiting a proton. Antihy- drogen is the exact opposite; a positron — an electron with a positive charge — orbiting an antiproton, or a proton with a negative charge. In the latest experiments, ATHENA researchers used the CERN accelerator to create antiprotons and electromagnetically trapped them in a vacuum chamber. A radioactive source, meanwhile, was used to create positrons, which were held in a separate trap. The antiprotons then were fed into the pool of positrons, where the two combined to form an- tihydrogen. The antimatter was short-lived; Hangst said it was annihilated when it bumped into normal matter. Detectors picked up the unique signatures of antimatter as it was destroyed, he said. David Christian of Fermilab said the ATHENA group appears to have made antimatter in greater quantities. "They've got a lot more big steps they need to make, but this one is a big step," Christian said. However, Gabrielse said upcoming publications by his group "will show how it is possible to be fooled." "Our initial understanding of the recent report makes it likely that we will present the case that the reported observations do not prove that any antihydrogen was observed," he said. ATHENA researchers plan several experiments to test the Standard Model by creating more antihydrogen, exciting it with lasers and observing what happens when the atom's positron jumps from one orbit to another. Buck-toothed dinosaur discovered in China By ALEX DOMINGUEZ ASSOCIATED PRESS A bucktoothed, rabbit-like dinosaur related to Tyrannosaurus Rex and other predators lived in China 128 million years ago, researchers report. The fossil of the unusual Inci- sivosaurus was found in the Yix- ian formation near Beipiao City in northeast China, an area that already has produced many unusual fossils, including dinosaurs with feathers. Incisivosaurus is part of a group of dinosaurs known as ovi- raptors, small two-legged dinosaurs that had parrot-like beaks. Incisivosaurus, however, is the oldest oviraptor found to date and lacks the bird-like features found in others of its group, the researchers report in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Instead of having a beak, Inci- sivosaurus has a long skull and jaws filled with teeth for grinding. How- ever.'mltsmost-'unusual characteristic, it sports 'two 1 large buck teeth' at the front of' its jaw similar to those used by rodents for gnawing. The bucked teeth suggest the dinosaur was an herbivore rather than a meat-eater like its relatives, reported Xing Xu and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Other paleontologists said bucked teeth alone do not mean In- cisivosaurus was a plant-eater. But they said the discovery shakes up the traditional view, of theropod dinosaurs, which are widely assumed to have long, sharp teeth. "The classic view of predatory dinosaur (theropod) teeth is that they are all basically the same and are shaped more or less like serrated steak knives," said geologist Joshua Smith of Washington University in St. Louis. "However, it is becoming more and more obvious as we begin to look closely at theropod teeth that they are far more complex than we have been led to believe and that the steak- knife view isn't accurate. This is true of Tyrannosaurus, and with new discoveries like Masi- akasaurus last year in Madagascar and now Incisivosaurus hi China, 1 it is -becoming apparent that it is. true'6f other therbp'6ds'as { well;".' 11: ' ; •' The'size of'the teeth in the'fBS-,""" sil vary widely. The front teeth appear two .to three times longer than teeth further back, which is almost unheard of, Smith said. Construction begins on plant to clean up radioactive waste RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — In a scrubby sagebrush desert not far from the Columbia River, lethal leftovers from the Cold War era are finally about to be cleaned up. After a decade of fits and starts, construction has begun on a $4 billion waste treatment complex at the Hanford nuclear reservation, the biggest environmental cleanup project hi the country. Environmental advocates say it's none too soon. At least 67 of Hanford's 177 underground tanks, some of them decrepit and well past their intended service lives, have leaked more than 1 million gallons of radioactive brew into the soil. The waste has contaminated the aquifer, and the tanks are just seven miles from the Columbia River, which borders Hanford. "There's a lot at stake," said John Britton, a spokesman for Bechtel National, which was hired to rescue the stranded project last year after the previous contractor's cost estimates doubled to $15.2 billion. State regulators have squabbled with the Energy Department over the project since the early 1990s, when the department scuttled a plan to turn some of the waste into grout and bury it in sealed containers. The agencies later argued over missed deadlines and uncertain federal budgets until a kind of detente was achieved. "Right now our focus is on getting the thing built," said Sheryl Hutchison, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Ecology The new plant will turn radioactive waste from-Plutonium production into more manageable glass cylinders. The process,' called vitrification, mixes radioactive waste with glass-forming materials, then melts them at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to make a molten glass that is poured into canisters for long-term storage..';, The most radioactive glass will end up at some kind of national repository, likely Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where it will take 10,000 years to decay. The less radioactive waste will be buried in trenches in the 560-square-mile reservation here. But exactly how much of the nearly 54 million gallons of radioactive waste will be turned • into glass still is being debated within the Energy Department. The Bush administration wants the agency to study less expensive but still effective ways to treat low-activity radioactive waste. "There's a lot of concern they'll not empty those tanks," Hutchison said. Another source of concern is an Energy Department plan to reclassify some highly radioactive residual waste at several sites, including Hanford, which could mean it would be left in the tanks. The Natural Resources Defense Council and two Indian tribes are suing the Energy Department in federal court in Idaho over the plan. Roy Schepens, the new manager for the Energy Department's Office of River Protection, which is overseeing the project, wouldn't comment on the litigation. But he said he's considering a number of alternatives for low- activity waste, including a technology that uses superheated steam to treat waste and turn it into a cat litter-like substance, and bulk vitrification, where waste is turned into glass in an existing container rather than transferred to one later. Any such plans would have to be approved by state regulators. For now, the focus is on constructing the plant. In 2005, the plant should be ready for non-radioactive testing and in 2007, "hot" testing is scheduled to begin. Crews at a test facility will use safe, simulated waste to find the best way to remove the radioactive mix of liquid^ salt cake and sludge from the tanks, Plutonium was made at the site for more than 40 years for the nation's nuclear arsenal, including the bomb ttiat was dropped on Na. gasaki during World War II. Wireless Business Sales (800)650-9179 Visit ALLTEL at one of these locations: ALLTEL Retail Stores: Dodge City 1701 N. 14lh St. (620)227-3977 Garden City 519 W.Mary St., Ste. 119 (620)276-6776 Great Bead 480710th St. (620)793-5757 Hays 1711 S. Vine (785)625-8904 - Authorized Agent Locations: . Service and equipment otters at these locations may vary. Goodland American Communications 1813 Main St. Great Bend Enterprise Communications 240710th St. Hays Frank Communications 1706 Vine Ulysses McKamp Distributors 204 North Main St. Teeter Irrigation Inc-Ulysses 107 S. 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