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A sight to behold

Published December 08. 2012 09:04AM

Sometimes medical miracles happen in the most amazing ways. Imagine having a drink and later finding yourself blind. In the case of one New Zealand man that was exactly what happened. According to a news report on Fox News earlier this week, Denis Duthie mixed his diabetes medication with vodka and his sight abruptly disappeared. He said the blindness was sudden and he tried to sleep it off but to no avail. His sight was gone, so he went to the hospital and explained to the staff what he did.

The doctor thought he had formaldehyde poisoning which is caused by ingesting methanol. The treatment is typically to counter its effects with ethanol which is the type of alcohol we normally find in our beverages. Unfortunately the hospital was short on medical ethanol so his doctor thought outside the box. He sent one of the staff to the local liquor store in sunny downtown New Plymouth for a bottle of none other than Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey.

The whiskey was fed into his stomach through a tube and the alcohol content neutralized the methanol in his bloodstream returning the man's sight. In the process the neutralized methanol was stopped by the whiskey from being converted by the man's body chemistry into formaldehyde saving his sight. Talk about a success story for the famous whiskey. And here I thought my grandfather was being silly when he claimed a shot of brandy could cure what ails you. It turns out whiskey has its benefits as well.

In other science news, the Voyager space probe originally launched in 1977 has reached the furthest area of our solar system. Scientists expect it to leave our system and enter interstellar space in the next few months to the next few years. Currently the fringe of our solar system consists of an area of space called the "magnetic highway" by scientists. They claim the area of space is ten times more intense than termination shock, but it will still take several months before it probably breaks free of the solar system entirely. When it does, it will be the first manmade object to leave the solar system and travel into the universe beyond. In my opinion, this is mind blowing to comprehend and amazing.

According to NASA's website, the solar system is contained within the heliosphere that is created by the sun's influence. It's almost like a wind sock according to scientists and the solar wind that travels through the solar system forms this heliosphere. The solar wind is created by the ejection of high velocity gases emanating from the sun's corona. These gases speed away from the sun and form this heliosphere. Termination shock is the area on the fringe of the solar system where the solar wind abruptly loses its high speeds. Voyager passed through this area to end up in the area of space known as the heliosheath.

The heliosheath is the area where our solar system's heliosphere is intermeshing with interstellar space. The solar winds that are slowed in this area are influenced and buffeted by interstellar winds trying to enter our atmosphere from deep space. It's in this area where Voyager is currently traveling and it is approximately 8.7 billion miles from the sun. That distance is 94 times the distance of our earth to the sun. It is mindboggling to imagine a space craft has not only traveled this far from Earth but is still in contact with our planet.

Voyager covers the distance of one million miles per day. In terms of time according to NASA scientists the probe is moving at a speed such that it could reach Los Angeles from New York in about four minutes. IT takes almost one day for each transmission to be sent and acknowledgement received. That is like saying "Hello" and waiting an entire day for the customary response to your greeting. The nuclear batteries on-board will power Voyager until about 2020 at which point it is expected to be well over 13 billion miles away and most likely outside the solar system.

In other news, a track announcer in Washington, PA had the rare opportunity to call a race that featured three deer. According to KDKA-TV, a horse race was just about to get started when the trio of deer jumped onto the track and began racing around the track changing directions and running randomly. Without missing a beat announcer Roger Huston began to call the race using names like Rudolph and Bambi. In the end the deer that looked like they were going to head for the stables managed to leave the track safely. Huston later declared Bambi the winner of the race. I wonder if Rudolph demanded a second opinion.

And finally we must take a moment to pause during this pre-holiday season to mourn the loss of another pop icon. Like the Twinkie, Bazooka Joe is being shelved in favor of puzzles and brainteasers. The pitchman for the world's hardest gum is being phased out by Topps Inc. who feel his comics and his persona are outdated and no longer relevant. Bazooka Joe, not relevant? Honestly, those comics were like a lifeline to a simpler time. Of course, the jokes were as old as the hills for the most part, but it's another pop culture loss. What will be retired next? It's bad enough when childhood fades, but when your reminders vanish as well, the world is a little lonelier place. At least I will still be able to use the gum to even the legs of a table.

Til next time…

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