- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

Nobles: Voyager 1, for a magnificent mission to the margins of the solar system.

Voyager 1 was launched a long time ago from a world that seems far, far away. When it blasted off 26 years ago, Jimmy Carter was running for president, Debby Boone was lighting up lives (and music charts) with her single and “Star Wars” was shining on the silver screen.

Voyager 1 was expected to last just five years, enough time to explore Jupiter and Saturn. It did so in spectacular fashion, making many important discoveries while returning amazing images of Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings. Then, having reached a velocity of about 38,000 mph, Voyager 1 kept going … and going … and going.

It is still going today, after traveling more than 8.4 billion miles. This week, scientists announced that Voyager 1 had reached the boundary of the solar system, the first man-made object to do so. It is either within or extremely close to a region called the Termination shock, where the wind of highly energetic particles from the sun crash into interstellar gas, causing a wave of turbulence across the medium. (Termination shock should not be confused with Terminator shock, which occurs when a wave of energetic voters from California cashier their governor, causing a rush of turbulence among Democrats.)

Voyager 1 will spend the next decade traversing the Termination shock, sending back new information all along the way. It will then reach the heliopause, the beginning of interstellar space. While nothing on Earth — or, for that matter, in the solar system — is likely to stop it, power shortages are expected to put its instruments into forced retirement in 2020.

Yet, after it has gone as cold and dark as the deep space surrounding it, the determined Voyager 1 will travel on, mankind’s first messenger to the outermost frontier.

Knaves: The persecutors of octogenarian Lester Campbell.

Mr. Campbell probably looked like an easy pick to the street predators of New York. On Monday, one such animal sighted the 80-year-old as he was coming home after cashing his $262 Social Security check. The still-at-large felon stalked Mr. Campbell as he walked into his apartment building. Once the doors closed, the predator pounced, pushing Mr. Campbell down and punching him in the face.

Fortunately, Mr. Campbell was not entirely defenseless. A retired security guard, he kept an unlicensed .38-caliber handgun on his person. Mr. Campbell pulled his equalizer out, surprising his assailant and probably saving his life.

Yet, instead of pinning a medal on the frail old man for fighting off his attacker, the prosecutor put the cuffs on him instead — Mr. Campbell had violated New York’s stringent gun laws. While Mr. Campbell broke the law by packing an unlicensed pistol, the prosecutor should have had the sense to show him a bit of mercy, particularly after he had been bloodied.

For cold-hearted judgment instead of simple pity, Mr. Campbell’s prosecutors are the Knaves of the week.


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