A giant step backward 

University of Connecticut physics professor Ronald Mallett, 57, said in April that after years of study, he hopes to begin experiments this year leading to genuine time travel, involving probably no more than a neutron or two at first but laying the groundwork for transporting larger objects. Mallett believes his theory is solid (straight from Einstein's Theory of Relativity), but that amassing the amount of energy necessary even to move small objects may be impossible with current knowledge. Mallett said he's been thinking about time travel since age 10, when his father died, because he wanted to go back in time to warn his dad of the dangers of smoking.

Sound parenting

According to a March Washington Post Magazine feature, a deaf Bethesda, Md., female couple recently gave birth to a child whom they had conceived by artificial insemination and specially designed to be born deaf. (They had used sperm from a man with a long family history of deafness.) The couple said they merely want their son to be like the rest of the family, including their older daughter. The boy is deaf in one ear, but the other ear may still develop hearing.

Throwing the books at her

After pleading guilty in February to stabbing a man in Duluth, Minn., Leah Marie Fairbanks, 25, was sentenced to 14 months' probation, during which she was to read the Declaration of Independence and seven classic novels and to write reports on each; her co-defendant, sentenced by another judge, got eight years in prison.

Stream of conscience

Ian Cheeseman, 34, who pleaded guilty in October to multiple counts of sexual assault against girls in several Canadian cities, took the stand in February in Ottawa at his sentencing hearing and vehemently denied that he had raped any of his victims. "That's not my thing," he said. "Urophilia (drinking the urine of young girls) is my thing."

Capital offense

Jerome Heckenkamp, indicted for illegally hacking into computers at eBay, Lycos and other companies, challenged the charges at a court appearance in San Jose, Calif., in March by denying that he is the person named in the indictment, in that the document refers to a "HECKENKAMP" in all capital letters, whereas he capitalizes only the H.

Smoke and mirrors

Michael William Rahmer, 26, arrested for purse-snatching in Reno, Nev., in January, told the police he was only trying to test police response time to a crime report (and that he was indeed impressed with how fast they caught him). And female leaders of Britain's large Unison trade union proposed in January that the organization join the cannabis-legalization movement, calling it a "women's issue," on the ground that smoking pot is a no-calorie way to lose weight.

Close call

In February, Johnstown, N.Y., public-school employee Maggie Wallace, 45, was sentenced to a year in jail; last Sept. 12, she had thought the kids needed a breather from the events the day before and so called in a bomb threat so the school would close.

Father's day

In February, prosecutors in Orleans County, Vt., finally got around to filing a murder charge against Jamie Ovitt for killing his ex-stepfather Duane Perry in April 2000. Allegedly, Ovitt shot Perry because he was mad that Perry was spreading the word around town (truthfully) that Jamie and his mother were fathered by the same man. According to the prosecutor, the murder was not smooth: Ovitt's fatal bullet went right through Duane Perry and hit the ex-Mrs. Perry (who was helping Jamie), bloodying her knee, and after they buried Duane in a deep grave, they jumped into Duane's truck to get away, only to realize that the keys were still in Duane's pocket.

Straight dope

Scotland introduced a systemwide experimental program in prisons giving methadone to inmates about to be released, to allow them to build up a tolerance so as not to overdose on heroin immediately upon hitting the street.

Deep dough-dough

Last month in Hatfield, Pa., a Univest bank accepted for deposit two $100 bills chewed up and swallowed by the depositor's dog and recovered only when the dog answered nature's call. And in St. Louis, Britain's Susie Stephens, 36, a world authority on pedestrian safety, who was speaking at a biking/walking conference, was accidentally run over by a tour bus and killed as she crossed the street.

Speaking of News Of The Weird

More by Chuck Shepherd


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