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Vatican Open to Aliens, but Not Dan Brown

As the Vatican has it, there may be alien beings in outer space (perhaps even without original sin). Dan Brown, how­ever, remains unredeemed. In June, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church made itself clear on both the possi­bility of alien life and the chances that the Da Vinci Code and it forthcoming prequel Angels and Demons have any truth in them.

Life on Mars cannot be ruled out, says Father Gabriel Funes, the Pope’s chief astronomer. Writing in The Astrono­mer, the Vatican’s newspaper, Funes says intelligent life created by God could exist in outer space. Funes, the director of the Vatican observatory, is seen widely as a capable scientist. The search for extraterrestrial life does not contradict belief in God, he says. Moreover, such life may very well have avoided the fall from grace of such earthbound evolu­tions as we humans. When asked about the church’s attitude toward Galileo who was forced to recant the notion that the earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around, Funes conceded that mistakes had been made.

In the meantime, movie producer Ron Howard was in Italy with his star Tom Hanks to make another chapter in writer Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code opus, Angels and Demons, whose plot includes the murder of four cardinals in contention to become Pope. Howard was rebuffed when he applied for permission to film in two chapels mentioned in the story, the Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria. The diocese of Rome refused permission be­cause, it said, the film (Angels and Demons) was “nothing but fantasy.” The same charge had been made against The Da Vinci Code. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican spokesman urged people not to see the film and branded it a “sackful of lies.”

Particularly offensive to the church appears to be the notion in The Da Vinci Code that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and sired a bloodline which still exists and is, according to the story, a threat to the authority of the church which maintains various nefarious secret societies to defend its position.

Now if Dan Brown, Ron Howard and Tom Hanks were only aliens, perhaps some suitable pennance could be ar­ranged.

Prize Offered for Homeopathic Proof

Conventional medicine continues to be threatened by Homeopathy. In the latest episode in the continuing story a British doctor says he will give over $23,000 to the first first person who can prove in a clinical trial that homeopathy works.

According to Britain’s Daily Mail Professor Edzard Ernst has opened the offer to the public and says homeopaths should “put up or shut up.” Homeopaths say they already have all the proofs they need and that Ernst is simply en­gaging in a publicity stunt. Indeed, if the Ernst offer is comparable to stage magician James Randi’s recently discon­tinued offer of a million dollars to anyone who could prove the existence of paranormal forces, it may be difficult in­deed to collect the prize. Randi’s money has always been well protected by a significant fortress of fine print.

The theory of homeopathy is based on the concept that like cures like, in other words illnesses can be treated by substances which produce similar symptoms. Onions, for instance, which make eyes tearful can be used to treat the symptoms of hay fever. Homeopathics believe that such substances can be diluted to an extremely minute concentra­tion in water and that the water retains the healing capability.

Like many of the so-called subtle sciences, homeopathy is a direct challenge to the dense materialistic mind-set which rules most conventional thinking, so it is not surprising to find that it arouses considerable opposition. Never­theless, several recent studies have done much to support the theory. The report “Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE,” published in the journal Nature in June of 1988 was one important study to make the case for the potential therapeutic worth of extreme dilutions. For more on proof for Homeopathy visit


With gasoline costs skyrocketing, the worldwide search for fuel alternatives is becoming more desperate every day, so it is no surprise that the announcement by a Japanese firm that it had produced a car that uses only water for fuel got the attention of the world press in a big way. In Osaka in June the fledgling company Genepax unveiled its new vehi­cle using a fuel cell which gets its hydrogen directly from water and requires no high-pressure hydrogen storage. Moreover, the company says its “technology needs no outside energy to split hydrogen and oxygen from water.”

In a demonstration to the assembled media, water was poured into a large cell in the luggage compartment of a compact electric car which was then driven on its own. The company would reveal no further details for now. They did say, however, that their technology employs a known method called membrane electrode assembly (MEA) in which hydrogen is used to generate electric currents. The difference here is that the hydrogen is taken directly from water as needed. Better still, the company says its cars are cheap with one currently costing about $18,500. With mass production, it says, that number could come down to as low as $5000.

Needless to say, skeptics are not buying it. Many say the Genepax demonstration was nothing more than a stunt to attract investors. Nevertheless, the company says it understands the concerns and is pursuing third-party verification of its claims which will be made public shortly.

For another take on water as fuel, see Jeane Manning’s column elsewhere in this issue.

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