Pat Shingleton: "No Noise and No Light..."
The tiny town of Green Bank, nestled in the middle of the Allegheny Mountain Range, could be one of the quietest places on Earth. It’s the home of the Green Bank Telescope, operating under the auspices of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. In 1958, the Federal Communications Commission created a 13,000-square-mile quiet zone to shield Green Bank’s radio telescopes from man-made interference. The entire National Radio Quiet Zone borders Virginia and West Virginia and permissible noises include daytime car engines, wind, and thunder. Cellphones, other mobile devies and designated electronics are regulated by Chuck Naday who patrols and protects the largest steer-able radio telescope. About half the size of the Statue of Liberty, the radio telescope listens into space, gathering signals originating 14 billion years ago. Also of interest, we're fortunate in south Louisiana to have the atmospheric characteristics to enjoy marvelous sunrises and sunsets. Research indicates that after sunset there are physical benefits. Scientists have discovered that only when it's really dark can your body produce the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin fights diseases, including breast and prostate cancer. Small amounts of light around your bed at night switch off the production of melatonin. A dark night may keep certain cancers under control. Light during the evening hours, even emanating from your bedroom television, turns on other immune system hormones that should be activated only in daytime. If these hormones are depleted, you could be more likely to catch a cold. Scientists believe nature also needs darkness, as animals' immune systems grow weak if there's artificial light at night. So turn off everything, enjoy your rest and wake up with dawn's early light.