Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Sunlight Diet

This story first cropped up a couple of years ago and I was utterly intrigued and wondered if there was any truth to it. Mr. Hira Ratan Manek (also called Hirachand) an Indian mechanical engineer in his sixties, has purportedly not eaten a thing in almost a decade. He survives on liquids (water, coffee, tea) and by staring directly at the sun for an hour in the evening, which he says provides him all the nutrition he needs. (For most people, staring at the sun is a quick route to blindness, so I'm not recommending this - though Manek claims that in the evening the damaging ultraviolet rays aren't as intense.)

According to some reports, NASA, the US space agency, observed Mr. Manek for over 4 months and declared the phenomena to be real - but after a bit of digging, I've come across this report that NASA had never had any contact with him. James Randi, noted skeptic and debunker, looked into the story with similar results. (Randi also mentions that Manek consumes buttermilk and fruit juices - things that can be quite nutritious. In related news, I've just finished a delicious smoothie and I don't think I'll be hungry for hours. A miracle!)

So I'm left with the feeling there's a lot less to this wonderful tale than I first thought. But if you want to find out for yourself, you can always look up Manek through his web site and see if he's coming to your area. Just remember to bring sunglasses.


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