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The Friends of Tuva Newsletter
Celebrating Richard Feynman's spirit of adventure

Published by Friends of Tuva, Box 70021, Pasadena CA 91117 USA
Thirteenth Issue: Winter 1995 - Spring 1996
Edited semi-annually by Ralph Leighton

Hotline and fax: (213) 221-TUVA (-8882)
(If fax doesn't turn on automatically, press 33)
Email address on Internet:
After January 1, 1996, try

These drawings are from another ``Tuva'' (adventure) by Richard Feynman - a foray into the world of art. The adventure is chronicled in The Art of Richard P Feynman: Images by a Curious Character - compiled by Michelle Feynman (Feynman's daughter), with an introduction by Al Hibbs, a preface by Michelle Feynman, and reminiscences by Richard Feynman himself (``But Is It Art?'' from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!), Ralph Leighton (introducing quotes from What Do You Care What Other People Think?), and artists Walter Askin, Jirayr Zorthian, and Tom Van Sant. The ``coffee-table art book'' contains 99 images, of which 7 are in color. It is published by Gordon & Breach Science Publishers and G + B Arts International. (ISBN 2-88449-047-7) A must for Feynman fans - see Tuva Trader.

Feynman Lives!

Film & TV actor Norman Parker has been delayed in bringing his one-man play to the public because of the untimely death of the man who was to be the director. After a lengthy search, a new director has been found, and Mr. Parker hopes to debut the play sometime next year. The next issue of the Friends of Tuva Newsletter (summer 1996) should provide a more precise update.

RPF's 80th BD

May 11 1998 will be Richard Feynman's 80th birthday. Preliminary approval has been given for a scientific conference to be held at Caltech in Pasadena with the theme ``If Richard came back today, what would he like to learn about?'' The conference will not be limited to theoretical physics, and will probably include topics in chemistry, biology, mathematics, computing, and several other fields. In the evening, Feynman Lives! and perhaps a stage version of Tuva or Bust! might be performed.

Feynman Postage Stamp

The spring of 1998 would be a good date for the release of a Richard Feynman postage stamp, in conjunction with the conference at Caltech. Citizens of the US (other than presidents) are not eligible for a postage stamp until ten years after their death, which makes our hero eligible in February, 1998 - a few months before his 80th birthday.

I telephoned the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee in Washington DC and learned that Feynman had been considered in the July 1995 meeting and was rejected. (Ouch!) I was further informed that now is not a good time to write in, because it is within a year of the past rejection. The earliest advisable date to write in to Washington DC is next April. In the meantime, I welcome you to send me a letter at FoT HQ with suggestions for this campaign. I am thinking of getting a persuasive letter signed by illustrious people who regard Feynman as their hero, and get the help of some senators (Feinstein and Boxer, from California, are a good start).

Feynman CD ROM?

Another event for the spring of 1998 could be the unveiling of a Richard Feynman exhibit (which could travel later to science and technology museums around the country). Complete with hands-on experiments (perhaps a rotating, wobbling, plate with a medallion?) and an interactive CD-ROM. Any ideas for such an exhibit or CD-ROM are welcome!

Paul Pena Wows Tuva

The third week of June marked the Second Triennial Symposium on Throat-singing, sponsored by UNESCO, held in Kyzyl. People from around the world converged on the Tuvan capital in unprecedented numbers. Friends of Tuva sent San Francisco bluesman Paul Pena to compete. He was accompanied by Mario Casetta, the elder statesman of world music in Los Angeles (see Tuva or Bust!, Chapter 4). Upon arrival in Kyzyl, Mario was appointed to the international jury, along with Trang Van Hai from the Musee de l'Homme in Paris and eight other panelists from China, Japan, Russia, and several European countries. As he was introduced to the audience at the beginning of the competition, Mario walked to the center of the stage, and called out at the top of his lungs, ``Feynman lives!''

The festivities began with a parade from the ``Centre of Asia'' monument to the drama theater. Paul was the sole representative of the USA. There were over 100 entrants - a handful of foreigners from Japan, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada (a woman from Saskatchewan), and Russia; a sizable delegation from Mongolia; and - of course- scores of entrants from Tuva.

A times the contest was chaotic, with jury members becoming confused about which contestant was singing. After six hours of competition, strict limits were put on the time a contestant could sing, with the threat of monetary fines if a three-minute limit was exceeded.

Paul was terrified that the song he had prepared would exceed the limit. He also found out that the singer whose verses he was going to quote was in prison for serial rape, and that mentioning his name wouldn't be kosher. After being told he would sing the next day, he was suddenly told, at one o'clock in the morning, that he would perform in a few minutes. Paul collected himself as best he could, and when his name was called, he spoke to the crowd in Tuvan (to their immense delight) and broke out his own song, ``Kargyraa Moan''.

The crowd went nuts, and when the awards were announced three days later, Paul was king of kargyraa, taking first place in the style that Tuvans love the most. Paul also received a special award for audience favorite. All of this action was recorded by film makers Roko and Adrian Belic, along with sound engineer Lemon DeGeorge. Their short preview documentary, Genghis Blues, is available now in the Tuva Trader. (Paul appears with Kongar-ool Ondar on Disc A, Track 2, in Planet Soup, a three-disc project by Ellipsis Arts. Their upcoming CD Genghis Blues has not yet been released. The next issue of the Friends of Tuva Newsletter will have information about that. )

Our Own Contest

Several great entries were submitted for our own throat-singing contest. They were played for Kongar-ol Ondar on a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in July, and he enjoyed all the selections. Plans were set for him to listen to them again and to rank them, but time ran out! Ondar took the selections back to Tuva, and I am trying to have him judge them from there and send me back the results - but rather than risk a misunderstanding, perhaps it would be better to postpone Ondar's decision until the next time he comes to the USA. I'd also like to make the selections available for a nominal price to the membership next year, since the entries were all so interesting - any objection from the participants?

Huun-Huur-Tu News

For the past three years, January has been the month when the golden voice of Kaigal-ool Khovalyg was heard by US concert audiences. Khovalyg's group, Huun-Huur-Tu, will take a rest in 1996 and resume touring the US in 1997. Presently they are recording with the Bulgarian Women's Choir in Sofia.

Meet Aivar the Nomad

Here's someone Richard Feynman would love to meet: Aivar ``the nomad'' Bartan, 27-year-old Tuvan physicist, is a 1993 graduate of the Physical Department of Moscow State University. His thesis topic was "Desorbtion of translationally excited molecules of simple gases from platinum in an ultrahigh vacuum". Aivar currently works in the laboratory of mathematical modeling of Tuvinian Joint Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences (Siberian Branch) in Kyzyl. Writes Aivar: ``I wrote a program to study thermodynamic and kinetic parameters of Langmuir-Hinshelwood reaction with lateral interactions using transfer-matrix method with algorithm of multiplicative expansion of central matrix. This algorithm saves time and memory of your computer. I can construct a phase diagram for monomolecular adsorbed gas layer with lateral interactions.''

Aivar is the first Tuvan to go "on line" and can change results of his calculations by e-mail. More important, he is looking for cooperation in the research facility. Can a Feynman fan and friend of Tuva help? If you have a possible contact or technical questions for Aivar, please e-mail him at on the Internet. Please limit your message(s) to l0 lines each - phone lines are terrible in Russia.

Article on Tuva Information Available Online

Here is an article from ``Macinteresteds'' by J. Michael Rowland.

No More Space!

I had planned to print several articles by FoTs about past and future activities in this edition, but because of the sudden appearance of the Wall Street Journal article and The Art of Richard P. Feynman, I'll have to save them for later. The next issue should appear in late Spring, around May 11 - Richard Feynman's 78th birthday.

A Friends of Tuva exclusive:

Boris Yeltsin, in Tuvan costume, inspects a vat of suutug shai, milky tea. President Sherig-ool D. Oorhzhak (left) and Parliament Chairman Kadyr-ool A. Bicheldai 9right) are in Russian garb (and they got roasted in the Tuvan press for it, too!). this photo (and a similar one, of Yeltsin inspecting a horse) is available in full color from the Tuva Trader. Photo, taken in June of 1994, provided courtesy of Kongar-ool Ondar, who sang for Yeltsin.

Here are entries from the caption contest, solicited in the previous issue:

  • ``Yes, Comrade Yeltsin- bobbing for stamps is an old Tuvan custom!'' - Jan Hiatt
  • ``This is our secret borscht recipe we already market in the west for terrific profits!'' - Michael J. Harrison
  • ``Look what Reagan did to the Evil Empire!'' - Eugene Lally
  • ``What? no more Tuvan vodka?'' - Tim Grotts
  • ``Is that yak piss?'' - Michael Lord
  • ``Milky tea indeed! Where's the vodka?'' - Matt Reismayer
  • ``Suttug shai has a powerful effect, Mr Yeltsin. If you get close enough then it turns you into a Tuvan - watch out!'' - Keith Conrad
  • ``Chic Sheik Shuns Shai'' - David Saloman
  • ``Onions? Surely You're Joking, Mr President. The eyeballs always go in last.'' - Margaret Cubberly
  • ``Bozhe Moi! Stalin may have conquered this place, but the old bastard was smart enough not to come here and have to drink this stuff!'' - Fred Pement
  • ``How long can he usually hold his breath for?'' - Anna Roosen-Runge
  • ``This soup has been prepared especially for you, Mr President, by our new cook from Chechnya!'' - Tim Ratcliffe
  • ``Listen, does our dental plan kick in if this melts our fillings?'' - Roy Meador
  • ``How long does it normally take to clean a suit in Kyzyl?'' - Lisa Roosen-Runge

And my favourite:

  • ``And now, Mr President, we remove the O-ring....'' -

I can't remember who sent it in - please contact me to claim your prize! (And my apologies to anyone else whose entries I've lost!)