While embedded with troops in Afghanistan in the late 2000s, war photographer and writer Michael Yon captured numerous photos of the sparkling halo that can appear when a helicopter’s rotors hit sand and dust. Upon finding that the particular phenomenon didn’t have a name, Yon gave it one that honors two fallen soldiers: the Kopp-Etchells Effect.
The name “Kopp-Etchells Effect” is now widely used when referring to dazzling helicopter halos, which commonly appear when powerful military helicopters take off or land in sandy environments.
After asking around, Yon found that none of the American or British pilots around could give a name for the glowing rings of light. All they could tell him is that it was caused by sand hitting the titanium and nickel abrasion strips on rotor blades and eroding their surfaces. The cloud of tiny metal particles spontaneously ignites in the air (a “pyrophoric oxidation of eroded particles“), creating a visible corona.
How can the helicopter halos, so majestic and indeed dangerous at times, be devoid of a fitting name?” Yon wrote in a dispatch in 2009.
So, the former Green Beret decided to name the phenomenon himself. After spending 2 weeks trying and failing to come up with a good name, Yon’s mind turned to a 21-year-old US Army Ranger named Benjamin Kopp and a 22-year-old British soldier named Joseph Etchells, both of whom were killed in battle in Sangin, Afghanistan, that year.
“And so a fitting name had arrived to describe the halo glow we sometimes see in Helmand Province: Kopp-Etchells Effect, for two veteran warriors who died here,” Yon writes. “The Kopp-Etchells eponym can be seen as a cynosure for the many who have gone before the Corporals, and those who will follow.”
And that’s how one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in a war zone was given a name that honors the lives of fallen soldiers.
The Art of Condolence by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times
Offering a written expression of condolence (from the Latin word condolere, to grieve or to suffer with someone) used to be a staple of polite society. 'A letter of condolence may be abrupt, badly constructed, ungrammatical — never mind,' advised the 1960 edition of Emily Post. 'Grace of expression counts for nothing; sincerity alone is of value.'
But these days, as Facebooking, Snapchatting or simply ignoring friends has become fashionable, the rules of expressing sympathy have become muddied at best, and concealed in an onslaught of emoji at worst. 'Sorry about Mom. Sad face, sad face, crying face, heart, heart, unicorn.'"
One mark of this change is in the card industry. Just over two and a half million Americans die every year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and we buy 90 million sympathy cards annually, a spokeswoman for Hallmark said. But 90 percent of those cards are bought by people over 40.
For those who are inexperienced or out of practice in comforting someone in grief, what are some tips for mastering (or at least not humiliating yourself in) the lost art of condolence?
1. BEING TONGUE-TIED IS O.K.
the one overwhelming thing I heard was it’s perfectly acceptable to admit you don’t know what to say. One rabbi said, “Admitting you’re at a loss for words is far more caring and helpful than writing pithy statements like ‘he’s in a better place’ or ‘your child was so perfect, God wanted her to sit beside him.’”
2. SHARE A POSITIVE MEMORY
The condolence notes that moved him most, he said, were from strangers who shared a recollection of his father. “That was important for me because I realized his place in the world,” he said. “At the time, you’re only thinking of your own relation to the loved one. You realize this person had impact beyond you. That was comforting.”
3. NO COMPARISONS
One bit of quicksand worth avoiding is the temptation to say you know what the other person is going through. Everyone experiences grief differently. ..“The temptation is to bring it back to yourself, but this is not about you,”
4. DON’T DODGE THE ‘D’ WORDS
When did people become so squeamish,” one friend griped. “All the euphemisms make my skin crawl.”
5. GET REAL. By contrast, grievers hear so many vacuous phrases that a little straight talk can often be a welcome relief. ... The model outlined by Millicent Fenwick in “Vogue’s Book of Etiquette,” published in 1948. First an expression of sympathy (“I was so sorry to hear...”). Second a word about the deceased. Finally an expression of comfort.A little bluntness goes a long way. First an expression of sympathy (“I was so sorry to hear...”). Second a word about the deceased. Finally an expression of comfort.
“This all makes perfect sense,” she said, “but I think my favorite note upon the death of my brother was from one of my closest friends. ‘My dear Jane,’ he wrote. ‘IT STINKS.’”
6. FACEBOOK IS NOT ENOUGH These days many people first learn of the death of a friend’s loved one via social media. The instinct to post a comment or dash off an email is understandable. But everyone I spoke with agreed on one point: Even heartfelt gestures like these do not replace a condolence note. A stern reminder from Ms. Fenwick still seems apt: “A letter of condolence to a friend is one of the obligations of friendship.”
7. THERE’S NO TIME LIMIT ON SYMPATHY While writing immediately is comforting, it’s not necessary. Many mourners are overwhelmed in the immediate aftermath, and a number told me they especially appreciated cards that arrived weeks or even months after the death....Even with these tips, many people may still feel daunted with the pressure to come up with the right words. In that case, send someone else’s words. Mr. Young recommended three poems: “Clearances” by Seamus Heaney, “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden or “Infirm” by Gwendolyn Brooks.
An ancient burial site in northwest Chin ahas yielded some surprising discoveries. A team led by archaeologist Hongen Jiang are analyzing a grave that contained a 35-year-old man with Caucasian features who was buried over 2,000 years ago. One of the treasures buried with him was a stash of marijuana plants.
Thirteen cannabis plants, each up to almost three feet long, were placed diagonally across the man's chest, with the roots oriented beneath his pelvis and the tops of the plants extending from just under his chin, up and alongside the left side of his face. (Read how Eurasian gold artifacts tell the tale of drug-fueled rituals.)
Radiocarbon dating of the tomb's contents indicates that the burial occurred approximately 2,400 to 2,800 years ago.
This discovery adds to a growing collection of archaeological evidence showing that cannabis consumption was "very popular" across the Eurasian steppe thousands of years ago, says Jiang.
The burial site is at the Turpan oasis, which was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road trade route. Cannabis seeds have been found at burial sites before, but this is the first from the period that contained whole plants. Read more about the discovery at National Geographic.