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Why the lights went out on Dan McGrew
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November 5, 2001
Volume 79, Number 45
CENEAR 79 45 p. 64
ISSN 0009-2347
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Spend a month in bed for NASA

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration seeks people willing to spend a month in bed as part of a study of the effects of long-term space flight on the human body. Volunteers will be required to lie in beds tilted head down at a six-degree angle for 30 days, 24 hours a day. The study will begin in January 2002. Interested parties should call Heather Wilson at (650) 604-5551 or e-mail her at

The experts consider bed rest at six degrees head down the best way to simulate the effects of prolonged microgravity on the body. NASA's Fritz Moore says, "These effects include cardiovascular deconditioning, muscle atrophy, decreased bone strength, and shifts in fluid and electrolyte balance." The overall project, to be managed by NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, is called the Countermeasures Evaluation and Validation Project (CEVP). Its goal is to find drugs, exercises, or other means of minimizing the bodily changes that occur during space flight and impede normal functioning after people return to Earth. The bed rest will occur at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Volunteers for CEVP should be aged between 25 and 55. They must be nonsmokers in good health and not involved in a highly competitive or rigorous exercise program. They should have no history of cardiovascular or musculoskeletal disease or hernia and must not be pregnant. The testees will reside at Ames for 45 days, including the 30 days in bed. They will take a standardized battery of tests of physical and mental performance before, during, and after bed rest. They must eschew alcohol and caffeine during the study and must endure limited overnight fasting at times.


Why the lights went out on Dan McGrew

Andrew Dequasie sent from pownal, Vt., an article headed "Shots in the Dark" by James E. Potter. It appeared in last February's issue of Roundup Magazine, published by Western Writers of America Inc., Franklin, Tenn. Dequasie says that Potter's piece "essentially explains why the lights went out in the Malamute Saloon when Dangerous Dan McGrew [and his opponent] opened fire."

A little background: Dangerous Dan McGrew appeared in "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by Robert W. Service ("The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses," New York: Barse & Co., 1916). The relevant lines:

"A bunch of boys were whooping it up in ?the Malamute Saloon;

The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;

Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,

And watching his luck was his light-o'-
love, the lady that's known as Lou. ...

Then I ducked my head, and the lights
went out, and two guns blazed in the

And a woman screamed, and the lights
went up, and two men lay stiff and

Pitched on his head, and pumped full of ?lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew."

Back to Potter. He writes in part that "Sidney, Neb., newspapers from the 1870s and 1880s include several accounts of shootouts in local saloons or hotels. These articles are interesting in their own right, but what stands out are statements that concussion from the gunshots blew out the lamps. After one or two rounds had been fired, the contestants were literally shooting in the dark."

At the time, Potter goes on, open-flame lamps lit most saloons, hotels, and similar places. Swinging doors were not in general use. In confined spaces like saloons, the concussion from large-caliber, short-barreled handguns simply blew out the lamps.

Potter, a longtime black-powder shooter, was well equipped to try it himself. The scene was a muzzle-loading rifle club's clubhouse, 12 feet by 24 feet and lit by kerosene lamps with glass chimneys. The shooter loaded a .44-caliber revolver with 35 grains of black powder and a tight-fitting ball. He then blasted away through an open window (no need for a new hole in the wall) while 8 feet away from the lamp and again at 12 feet away. The shots, he reports, "snuffed the lamp just as quickly as if I had blown it out myself. ... The concussion inside the room was pretty fierce even with the window open."

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