To some, moonbeams are a vital ingredient in psychedelic rock anthems--and little else. But Richard Chapin and his wife, Monica, think the moon's light has yet-to-be-established therapeutic properties, with at least anecdotal evidence supporting their views. They constructed the 25-ton Interstellar Light Collector in the desert 15 miles west of Tucson to focus the light raining down from the heavens, and are hoping scientists will use it to conduct research. For more information or to contact the Chapins about seeing the device, go to www.starlightuses.com.

I've been told that you've always been involved in science, that you've always been fascinated by it ever since you were a child.

I have, ever since I was 8 or 9 years old, when I built my first telescope, and then refined it a little bit better at 14 and 15 years old. (I) started my high school astronomy club. So I guess from an early age, I just had this scientific feeling in me. I was curious about the world around me.

Have you studied astronomy?

I studied a bit in college, and a bit in high school--and a lot on my own. I tend to take my interests and follow them that way.

Your Web site says a friend's terminal cancer drew you to light therapy. Can you tell me about that?

She lived here in Tucson, Connie Albair, and fought a 2 1/2-year battle with pancreatic cancer. About the last year of her life, when this idea came to fruition, we would talk about it often. And more and more, she would look forward to being the first one undergoing the so-called treatment. Of course, we don't know until we do it, because nobody has done it yet. But there were indications, and I did a lot of study and talked to some top people in the field of light and light therapy. ... Everything was positive. And in fact, even her doctors toward the last two or three months had a curious eye toward this, and a nod to go ahead. She never made it to get a treatment; I was too slow, unfortunately. There were times when we would talk, and she would say, "Richard, can you go a little faster?" And I would say, "I'm trying, Connie." About a year later, we finally got this going.

How was the collector constructed? By you?

No, I used a team of experts, including a well-known Kitt Peak (scientist), good engineers and special mirror people. I think I know all the aspects, so that helped. It certainly was the experts who truly made it come into being. I'm always grateful for the great minds that are out there. I'm glad we had an opportunity to piece this together, and here it is.

Back in May, you had some people out there to see it, right? And they were exposed to the moonlight from four, six or eight mirrored panels. (The ILC is comprised of 84 mirrored panels that collect light.)

It was just a few (panels) that time, yes.

What might happen if they were exposed to 84 panels?

Well, we've been going up, and we've had a second (visit) since then, in which we increased it to 22 panels. We've done some of our private studies with about 50 panels. We have yet to achieve all 84, but I think we're getting close. Each step has proven, if I may put it this way, harmless and, in fact, positive.

How did people describe it?

Energizing, positive, exciting yet calm. Bright light, yet no squinting. Eyes wide open. No pain. Feeling better than I've ever felt before. Some--no feeling.

You've tried it?

Oh, yes. And it's very pleasant, very beautiful. Of course, can we toot our own horn? I can, but I won't. ... It has to be others; it's all others. And, thank God for others, because they're the ones who either prove it or not. Science is that way, isn't it? This is all negative until we prove the positive. It is coming forth--there are more than 200 people now who've been through it. There've been excellent results, and we're very encouraged.

What makes you think this could have beneficial health effects? Is the evidence anecdotal?

At this point, is it anecdotal. We are attempting to gather enough anecdotal evidence to switch it to a serious scientific study, though I will have to say this anecdotal (evidence) is about as serious as you get. If you're feeling better, you're feeling better. So we can at least go from that point. And we are approaching very detailed studies, also. I don't think I'm going to stop the anecdotal (trials) side by side with the serious trial studies. We need to have all of that and keep it open.

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