Science: Sky Spectacular

Few areas of North America are more isolated or serene than Mexico's Oaxaca state, astride the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Foreign visitors are few, and they are usually young Americans interested in eating local "magic" mushrooms. Yet for the past few weeks, Oaxaca (pronounced wa-hac-a) has been bustling with unnatural activity. Toting tons of expensive paraphernalia, nearly 800 scientists from 14 countries have descended on the mountainous state. Frightened by the "demon" that the scientists have come to see, superstitious Indian villagers have been busily offering prayers, lighting candles and staging other rituals....

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