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Monday, August 10, 2009

Earhart mystery could be solved with help of DNA lab

"One of the most fascinating mysteries in aviation history could be solved with the help of two Ontario DNA labs.

Genesis Genomics and Warnex Pro-DNA Services are working with a team of volunteer experts to help solve the 72-year-old disappearance of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

Earhart and her flight navigator Fred Noonan disappeared in July, 1937, during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. It is thought that Earhart went down somewhere in the Phoenix Islands, a group of uninhabited Pacific islands north of Samoa, between Hawaii and Australia. (see map)

A non-profit group, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), has probed the Earhart disappearance for the last 21 years. Through its research of archaeological and anecdotal evidence, the group has come to believe that Earhart's twin-engine monoplane did not crash but instead was forced to land on one of the Phoenix Islands.

The theory is that Earhart and Noonan became disoriented while trying to find their destination of Howland Island. With fuel running low, they landed on the reef-flat on tiny Gardner Island, near the wreck of a ship that had run aground there eight years before.

Earhart and Noonan waited on the uninhabited island for rescue that never came, trying to send out distress calls that were too weak to be interpreted, the TIGHAR theory goes. The castaways survived for a time of provision left behind from the shipwreck rescue, and then in the island jungle before succumbing to either thirst, hunger or the elements.

As for what became of the Earhart plane, TIGHAR theorizes that much of it was broken and up lost between 1938 and 1965. That's when British officers tried to establish a colony on the six-kilometre-long island. But with trouble maintaining supplies of fresh water, they eventually abandoned the post.

TIGHAR's theory is that during the period of habitation, the colonists found the Earhart wreckage and used scraps for fishing tackle and other uses, while other bits were washed out to sea or were buried by winds.

TIGHAR's director, American Richard Gillespie, led a 15-member expedition team to Gardner Island, now called Nikumaroro, in the summer of 2007 to try to solve the mystery. They recovered artifacts that may have belonged to Earhart, including pieces of broken glass that match a 1930s compact mirror.

They brought the artifacts home to be analyzed in a lab. But to Gillespie's frustration, DNA from the materials was contaminated during the collection process with his own DNA.

So next May, the recovery group plans to launch a $500,000 expedition to the island to seek out more items. The team of engineers, archaeologists, and others hope to find scraps of material in the island's abandoned and overgrown village that might indicate Earhart was on the island. They also expect that portions of Earhart's skeleton still remain there but have yet to be found."

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.