Thumbs up to retired Southern Illinois University Carbondale physicist Walter Henneberger. Fifty years ago, Henneberger postulated that an electron could be freed from an atom and bound to it at the same time with the help of super-intense lasers. There were no lasers powerful enough to test the theory at the time, but Henneberger met plenty of opposition. Papers were written by other scientists dispelling the notion. Fast-forward 50 years, and what do you know, Henneberger was correct the entire time. Last April, a team of German and Swiss researchers proved his theory. He was unaware of the tests until current SIUC physics professor Dipanjan Mazumdar presented him with the test results. “I feel good,” Henneberger said. “My life was not completely wasted.” Henneberger still makes his home in Carbondale.
Thumbs up the The Nature Conservancy for appointing a new Southern Illinois director for the agency. It’s been nearly 10 years since the not-for-profit conservation group maintained an office in the Southern part of the state. Tharran Hobson has been named the regional director. He assumed the post in December and is expected to establish an office in the area sometime this month. The Nature Conservancy has been instrumental in restoring the Cache River in Southern Illinois. The organization has also worked to restore wetland habitat in and around the Shawnee National Forest.
Thumbs down to the rash of traffic accidents that plagued the region last week. With thousands of vehicles traveling rural roads throughout Southern Illinois on a daily basis, the region always sees its share of accidents. However, there were a couple fatalities and other accidents with serious injuries last week. A Saline County man was killed while driving a tractor. The accidents are a sad reminder that our cars and trucks regularly share these rural roads with slow-moving vehicles and we all need to keep that in mind on a daily basis.
Thumbs down to the theft of baby Jesus from the Nativity scene at our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Herrin. Sadly, this isn’t the first time the Christ child has been kidnapped from the church. Lori Beers, an administrative assistant at the church, said another statue of baby Jesus was taken about 15 years ago. The original statue was never returned or recovered. It’s not difficult to understand people under duress shoplifting food when they are hungry or warm clothing to keep them warm. However, taking a statue from a Christmas display is nothing short of malicious. Possibly, it’s merely some misguided person’s idea of a prank, but it leaves the rest of us shaking our heads sadly.
Thumbs up to the return of missing pages of a family Bible belonging to Jean Barwick’s family in Herrin. Barwick said the Bible had likely been stored in a truck and was sold as part of a real estate sale when her grandfather died in 1953. The pages of the book containing births, marriages and deaths of the family, dating back to the 1800s, were returned last month. Susan Whitemountain, of Anna, traveled to Dixon for a 70th wedding anniversary party when a relative told her they had discovered the missing pages of the Bible. Working through an online genealogy website, Whitemountain traced the pages back to Barwick’s family. Unfortunately, the entire Bible wasn’t saved. “My mom has always told me that there was a family Bible and we were never able to find it,” Barwick said.