There was a partial solar eclipse on January 4th. This should come as ancient news to webgoers, however, unless you saw all of the photographs compiled at Boston.com(thank you, Phil Plait, for directing me there via Facebook), you might not have seen the whole picture. For those of us that are fascinated by astronomy, we are pretty familiar with the basic mechanics of eclipses. In fact, I have already marked August 21, 2017 as my “must be in Knoxville TN” date for what may likely be the only time in my life that I am in the precise alignment of a total solar eclipse. So you would think that I have learned enough about eclipses that there could not possibly be anything new to learn. Well, I learned something new about eclipses after looking at these pictures.
In some cultures, it is believed that if you bury your sick child waist-deep in the sand during a solar eclipse, it could bestow healing to the child. The picture is that of a handicapped nine year old girl in Pakistan.
To approach this from a perspective of science is almost futile, for this is the epitome of the word “faith”. Individuals must have the rights to believe in whatever ideas they fancy. But you can’t help but feel the saddest when children are the props used in an outward expression of such personal beliefs. Is burying a child waist deep in sand detrimental to their health? Perhaps not the actual physical act of doing so, but let’s just hope the parents, by taking part in these ancient rituals, are not depriving their children of any real medical attention that might be available to them.