A sweet send-off for an island treasure

Jamaicans and their friends here gave a rousing send-off Thursday to Jamaica’s first lady of culture, the soul and voice of the island nation, the beloved Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley, known universally as Miss Lou, reported Toronto Star columnist Royson James Aug. 4. Miss Lou died last week at Scarborough Grace Hospital at age 86. She will be buried in Jamaica on Wednesday. She received an honorary doctorate from York University in 1998.

Mystery of moon’s bulging middle solved

One of the oldest puzzles in astronomy may be a step closer to a solution, thanks to researchers who have examined a mysterious bulge in the moon, reported the Chicago Sun-Times Aug. 4. The slight bulge, which sits at the moon’s equator, has long frustrated stargazers, who say it should lend the satellite a different orbit. The answer may lie in the moon’s earliest days, shortly after it was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, Ian Garrick-Bethell, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a paper appearing Thursday in the journal Science.

The young moon, 100 million to 200 million years old, may have orbited nearer the Earth than today in an elliptical path, where the Earth’s gravity would have tugged at the still-molten satellite, Garrick-Bethell said. That pull may have created a lunar bulge that cooled and hardened, remaining even after the moon naturally drifted from the Earth in the coming eons, assuming an almost circular orbit, Garrick-Bethell said in his paper.

”These results appear to dovetail nicely in a reasonable way with the most viable contemporary theory of the moon’s origin,” astrophysicist Kimmo Innanen, professor emeritus in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, said in an accompanying Science editorial. That theory envisions the Earth colliding with a Mars-like object and creating debris that formed the moon, Innanen said.

Over time, the distance between the satellite and Earth has increased, Innanen said. More research is needed on how and why the moon’s distance from Earth would have widened over billions of years from about 25 times the Earth’s radius to one about 60 times that distance today, explained Innanen.

Not whether, but how, Israel defends itself

In a letter published Aug. 4 in The Globe and Mail in response to one the previous day by lawyer Edward Greenspan (LLB ’68), York law Prof. Allan Hutchinson wrote: “Greenspan makes a passable case as to why Israel has a right to defend itself against Hezbollah’s bombardment. However, he seems to miss the whole point of [United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise] Arbour’s concern and condemnation. It is not so much whether Israel can defend itself, but how it does so. Having a right to wage war does not entitle Israel to deploy whatever tactics it likes in exercising that right. The main issue is whether the Israeli government and its leaders have used disproportionate and unreasonable means in their assault on Hezbollah. While talk of war crimes is unlikely to help any level-headed resolution of the conflict, it is Greenspan who doesn’t seem to know his international law. With rights come responsibilities.”

York honoured Argo quarterback and educator

Bob Coulter, a football star at the University of Toronto in the 1930s and a quarterback with the Toronto Argonauts on three different occasions, died in Bridgetown, NS, on July 12. He was 92. During the Second World War, Coulter served in the RCAF and afterward went back to teaching. Later, he became head of the University of Toronto extension department, responsible for adult education. From 1958 to 1974, he was headmaster at St. Andrew’s College, a private school in Aurora, Ont. In 1972, he received an honorary degree from York University.

On air

  • Pastor Valle-Garay, a Spanish-language lecturer with York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed Venezuela president Hugo Chavez and his anti-American propaganda, on CBC Newsworld’s “Newsworld Today” Aug. 3.