During a special night of Friday-the-13th Open Lines, callers phoned in to share their thoughts on the number 13, as well as to discuss their superstitions. At the end of the program, George played a recording of Detroit broadcaster Lee Allan's reading of A Letter from Michael.
Author Nathaniel Lachenmeyer discussed beliefs and superstitions about the number 13. According to Lachenmeyer, the origin of 13 as an unlucky number can be traced back to the Last Supper, when Jesus dined with his 12 disciples and afterward was arrested, beaten and executed. He said the specific fear of Friday the 13th was unheard of until the 20th century and has become the most dangerous day to drive in America. Despite this, Lachenmeyer pointed out that the superstition has been on the decline for the last 60 years, and suggested people enjoy it as a cultural tradition.
During the first half-hour, Dr. Sky and Richard C. Hoagland talked about NASA's Stardust Mission, which returns to Earth Sunday with a sample of cometary debris onboard. The capsule re-entry may be visible to residents in parts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Utah, Dr. Sky explained, appearing as a fireball brighter than Venus. Dr. Sky said scientists hope the comet particles will help them answer fundamental questions about the origins of life on Earth. Hoagland warned that NASA has taken no special precautions should the capsule bring back harmful organic material or an extraterrestrial virus -- a scenario played out in Michael Crichton's thriller Andromeda Strain.