The Hutchinson News from Hutchinson, Kansas on October 3, 1971 · Page 9
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The Hutchinson News from Hutchinson, Kansas · Page 9

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Hutchinson, Kansas
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Sunday, October 3, 1971
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Page 9
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Teleoperator Could Handle Tough Jobs (C) 1971 N.Y. Times News Servlcs BRUSSELLS — The desperate gunman is holed up on the second floor shooting at anything outside that moves. Suddenly a spider-like device rushes to the door and up the stairs, impervious to the shots, and releases an incapacitating gas. Or the spider-like contraption goes up to a bomb that—accidently or by intent—has been armed. Under remote television control, responding to every head, arm and finger movement of its operator, who is safely in the distance, it defuses the bomb. Or a remote-controlled device in space enters the high radiation environment of a Apace station's nuclear power plant to change fuel elements or make repairs. All of the situations have become real possibilities through a new American program for development of what are known as teleoperator systems. They were described here last week by E. CJ. Johnson, chief of equipment facilities in the Space Nuclear Systems Project — a joint effort of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the A t o m i c Energy Commission. Differs from Robot A teleoperator system differs from a robot in that it is not conrolled by its own artificial "brain." Rather it is completely under remote human control. Tn some designs its television eye, arms and "hands" mimic every action of the operator's head, arms and fingers. At the last session of the International Astronautical Congress, during which many speakers had extolled the advantages of sending men into space, and in a subsequent interview, Johnson made the case for teleoperators. Many space missions, he said, can only be done by teleoperators—or, at some distant time, when artificial intelligence is sufficiently advanced, by robots. Teleoperators on the moon, controlled from earth by a succession of scientists concerned with various special problems, could operate around the clock without being subject to fatigue, hunger, thirst, vertigo, or any human weakness. They will almost certainly be the first explorers of Mars and other distant celestial bodies. For satellite repairs or rescues in earth orbit they will probably IMI controlled by astronauts inside a space shuttle or orbital station, sparing tlie man needless exposure to a variety of hazards, Johnson said. Can 'Feel' Corners One system, under Navy development, is designed to defuse bombs, he said another enables the operator to feel corners, edges and other surfaces "felt" by the tcleoper- ator's "finger." It, was developed by Or. James Bliss of the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., as an aid to the blind. It is al.so ho|)ed that .some of the tele­ operator systems will prove useful in enabling those with paralyzed limbs to function again. The NASA-A.K.C. Development Project was initiated a year ago, Johnson said, by George Low, Deputy Administrator of NASA. "Teleoperators arc insensitive to the environment," Johnson said. "Teleopera­ tors can be built to have enormous strength., or very high fidelity or very high speeds." They can be equipped to "see" in X-rays or other wave lengths to which men are blind, it was explained, or they can be equipped with "ears'' of great sensitivity. Thus, he concluded, they will combine the unmatched mental capabilities and manual dexterity of man with a variety of capabilities that are not human. Page 9 The Hutchinson News Sunday, October 3, 1971 JULIE WESLEY and Rex Christner sing duct. News Pholos by Jim Morris PEDAL POWKIl — Roy Groves, Sylvia, 84, finds getting around these days is much easier now that he lias his three-wheeler, (•roves has a car but no longer lias a license, so if he wants to go any long distances gets a friend to drive him. He relics on the bike, however, for trips to town to pick up his mail and groceries. He has arthritis in both knees and admits it hurts a little to pedal the bike, but, "it's sun: a lot faster than walking." Sometimes he even pedals as far as a mile, to the gas station, to see some of his cronies. Coloradans Fight Snow Seeding Plan OURAY, Colo. (AP) - Off the Pacific Ocean, a water- saturated river of air flows inland toward the northeast. Rising up the 14,000-foot San Juan mountain barrier, it freezes, condenses and black clouds open up, d u m p i n g massive snows on the peaks and valleys. This is a land of awesome beauty, of elk and bighorn sheep roaming craggy heights, of singing waterfalls, of multicolored wildflowers—and of ever-present danger from winter storms that bury it under 30 feet, of snow. Land of 'White Death' It is the land of the "white death," the snow avalanches that thunder often down steep slopes. They trap and sometimes kill travelers braving the narrow highway that cuts a hair-raising trail between towering granite walls and dizzy dropoffs into deep canyons. And it is the place where the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BUREC) is seeding winter clouds to build up the snowpack and give extra spring runoff water to the Colorado River and a thirsty West. Here, for the first lime, the U.S. government is trying to convince the people that changing the weather can help far more than it hurts, and to win their consent for an operational program to increase the snowfall starting in 1975. No more sensitive region in America could have been chosen for such an effort. Mountaineers are a lough breed, hardened by life in an often hostile environment. But tlie people of Ouray, Silverlon and oilier small mining towns in the San Juan Basin are worried-even scared-al. the prospect of heavier snows. "When you've seen <10 to 50 of your friends out with probes trying to find a body in a snow- slide, you get darned mad when you find the government is going to put more snow on you," says Joyce Jorgensen, owner- editor of the Weekly Ouray Plaindealer and the leader of the fight against the seeding. "ft isn't that we object to it; it's just that we object to it here," she said. "Tlie area is too fragile economically. We can't stand it. "We suggest that the bureau send its people out to ride with our catskinners on one of those terrible round-the-clock nightmare battles when many slides are running in a single night. We'll even stand them to a hot toddy when it's over—if they make it back." Exploratory Work Exploratory work will continue for three more winters. Simultaneously, effects of the added snow on the ecology and frequency of avalanches will be monitored. And a continuous public relations program will be pushed in the hope of gaining public support. Finally, to rule out bias, all data will be submitted to an independent contractor for evaluation, and the decision on an operational program will be made by Congress. If the answer is "go," the seeding will be spread over 14,200 square miles of mountains above the 9,500-foot level in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The goal is to increase snowfall by 16 per cent and add two million acre -feet of water annually to the river's flow. Dr. Archie M. Kahan, chief of BUREC's Division of Atmospheric Water ResoWces Management, says fear that the seeding could bring catastrophic snow is unfounded. Silver Iodide generators burning on the ground will sow the clouds only when the snowpack is below normal, he said. Operations will cease immediately when avalanche or flood danger looms. But the mountain folk, some with a firm distrust of the federal government and strong aversions against tampering with nature, are extremely hard to convince. "Suppose they cut off the seeding at the danger point," asks Mrs. Jorgensen, "and na- lure I lion decides to keep right on snowing?" Kalian says he likes to think that the opposition is scattered, that only the loudest voices are being heard, and that there may be a silent majority who will go along with tin; plan. Nol .so, says Allen Nossaman, bearded publisher of the Silver- Ion Weekly Standard, who organized I he Colorado Committee for Environment Stability to light the, seeders. "If there is a single person in this town who favors this," said Nossaman, "I fail to understand his logic." Some San Juan people believe that the main purpose behind the project is to help water-starved Arizona and Califor- nh—not Colorado. Kahan tells them that Colorado will get more of the water tlian the lower basin. The San Juans were chosen for the first seeding because this is "a sparsely populated area." It was a term that did not endear BUREC to the 758 residents of Ouray, who take a fierce pride in a lovely community. "That's no excuse to make guinea pigs of us," says Ken and Margaret Childres, owners of the Circle M Motel. "Ouray has become known all over the world for its beauty and tourists are coming in increasing numbers. But the season Is short, four months at the most. Cloud seeding could shorten it by a-s much as two months." Three Days' Difference T h i s Kahan vigorously denies. The difference in the tourist season between normal snowfall and "the largest amount you might have," he insists, could not bo more than three days. Along the highway between Ouray and Silverton, 34 avalanche sites are marked. On the roads of the back country, there are hundreds more. One who has had narrow escapes Is Fred Johnson, chief geologist for the Dixilyn Mining Co. Several times, he has been stranded for hours until the snowplows pushed tumbled snow and rock off the road ahead. "Anyone who supports the seeding never saw an avalanche," Johnson says. But Kahan argues that added snow will not increase the number of avalanches. It Is not the amount of snow that kicks off a slide, he says, but the rate of definition and the condition of the snow. "Nothing says that because there is an avalanche risk you add to that hazard by cloud seeding. You can draw boundaries and say here's where safety lies. We wil operate up to the limit of safety." Sing Out Reno County Show Oct. 16 The annual fall Sing Out Reno County Show at Convention Hall, "Live It Live," is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct, 16. Admission to the program i s a "$1 donation," a spokesman for the group said. Funds raised will be used to pay off bills incurred when the group performed in St. Louis last spring and operating ex- pease. Organic//! four years ago the choral group now boasts 82 members, ranging from 13 to 21. The Reno County chapter is affiliated with the state Out organization and is directed by Raymond Stauffer, J 801 Carey Blvd. The group practices once a week, on Thursday night at the National Guard Armory, and perform on the average of once a week. They sing for school groups, civic groups, and fraternal organizations, have their own flood lights, microphones, and this year bought a bus. They are accompanied by an orchestra composed of guitars, trumpets, saxophones, flutes, bongo drums ,and piano. Music for the Oct. 1(5 program has been especially prepaid for Sing Out groups and offers a variety which should appeal to everyone. SINGING OUT are Barbara Stever, Cindy Robertson, and Peggy Rue. SING (JUT Reno County members nrtittire for show.

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