The Hutchinson News from Hutchinson, Kansas on October 3, 1971 · Page 40
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The Hutchinson News from Hutchinson, Kansas · Page 40

Hutchinson, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 3, 1971
Page 40
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Teleoperator Could Handle Tough Jobs (C) 1971 N.Y. Tlmos Mows Service 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—accldcntly 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 space 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 ot what are known as teleoperator systems. They were described here last week by E. G. Johnson, chief of equipment facilities in the Space Nuclear Systems Project — ?i joint effort of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Atomic Energy Commission. Differs from Robot A teleoperator system differs from a robot, in that it is not conrollcd by its own artificial "brain." Rather it is completely under remote human control. In some designs its television eye, arms and "hands" mimic every action oE the operator's head, arms and fingers. At the last session of the International Astronautical Congress, during which many speakers had extolled the advantages ot 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 teleoporators—or, at some distant time, when artificial intelligence is sufficiently advanced, by robots. Teleoporators 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 be controlled by astronauts inside a space shuttle or orbital station, sparing the 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 Dr. James Bliss of the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., as an aid to the blind. It is also hoped that some of the tele- operator systems will prove useful in enabling those with paralysed limbs to function again. The NASA-A.E.C. Development Project was initiated a year ago, Johnson said, by George Low, Deputy Administrator of NASA. "Teleoperators are 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 1 ' 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 Rax Cliriatiuir sing duel. 'News Photos by Jim Morris PEDAL POWER — Roy Groves, Sylvia, 84, finds getting around these days is much easier now that he has his three-wheeler. Groves 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 relies on the bike, however, for trips to town to pick up his mail and groceries. He lias arthritis in both knees and admits it hurls a little to pedal the bike, but, "it's sure a lot faster than walking." Sometimes lie even pedals as far as a mile, to the gas station, to sec 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, dumping 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 lowering 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 time, 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 arc a tough breed, hardened by life in an often hostile environment. But the people of Ouray, Silverton and other .small mining towns in the San Juan Basin are worried-even scarcd-at the prospect of heavier snows. "When you've seen 40 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. "It isn't that we object to it; it's just that we object to it here," she said. "The 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 arc running in a single night. We'll even stand them to a hot toddy when it's over—if they make it hack." 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 he 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 I),500-foot level in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The goal is to increase snowfall by 1C per cent and add two million acre-feet of water annually to the river's flow. Dr. Archie M, Kalian, chief of BUREC's Division, of Atmospheric Water Resources 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. Jorgen.scn, "and nature then decides to keep right on snowing?" Kalian says he likes to think Ihat 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 the plan. Not so, .says Allen Nossaman, bearded publisher of the Silver- Ion Weekly Standard, who orga- ni/ed tlio Colorado Committee for Environment Stability to fight the seeders. "If there is a single person in tliis town who favors this," said Nossaman, "I fail to understand his logic." Some San Juan peoplci believe that the main purpose behind the project is to help wa- tcr-starved Arizona and Calitqr- nh—not Colorado. Kahan tella' 1 them that Colorado will got more of the water than 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 75fl 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 Childrcs, 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 it-fi much as two months." Three Days' Difference T h i s Kahan vigorously denies. Tho difference- in tho tourist season between normal snowfall and "the largest amount you might have," ho 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 Prod Johnson, chief geologist for the Dlxilyn Mining Co. Several times, he has been stranded for hours until the Showplows pushed tumbled snow and rock off the road ahead. /"Anyone who supports the seeding never saw an avalanche/' Johnson says. But-Rohan 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 deposition 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 win 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. 1(5. Admission to the program 1 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. Organiewl four years ago the choral group now boasts 82 members, ranging from 1.3 to 21. The Reno County chapter is affiliated with the state Sing Out organization and is directed by Raymond Stauffer, 1801 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 tho Oct. 1(5 program has been especially prepared for Sing Out groups and offers a variety which should appeal to everyone. SINGING OUT are Barbara Slever, Cindy Robertson, and Peggy Rue, SING OUT Reno County niemhem itruclit'.a for show. .

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