National Geographic : 1982 Feb
On Assignment ABDEL SATTARYOUSEF(ABOVE) AND GORDONW. GAHAN ALIEN SURFACES of the moon and Mars are almost as familiar to geologistFarouk El-Baz as the sands of his native Egypt. Now a U. S. citizen, Dr. E1-Baz helped train Apollo astronauts in lunar geology. His interest in Mars stems from the similarity of the wind swept planet to Egypt's Western Desert, a sub ject he discussed with the late Anwar Sadat, to whom he was a science adviser. Of his close personal friend, Dr. E1-Baz says, "Sadat was a man of vision and courage who could easily see through fog." Fascination with the desert can prove diffi cult if not dangerous in the field, as Dr. El-Baz discovered during his dozen trips into the Western Desert. Once he and his team were headed for an oasis some 200 miles away. Darkness fell, and after 300 miles they realized they had missed their mark and had only enough water to last the night. The next morn ing they reached their destination after a three and-a-half-hour drive. Dr. El-Baz first began collecting rocks as a boy scout exploring the mountains near Cairo. He was one of the five top university geology graduates in Egypt in 1958. "I was assigned to the science school at Ain Shams University," he recalls. "Because of my early interest in terrain and mountains, I chose geology. But what I really wanted was to be a surgeon. I may still do it someday." RETRACING THE FOOTSTEPS of Na poleon became more realistic for Senior Writer John J. Putman than he expected. While hiking the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Alps, Putman inadvertently left the snow piled path. Noticing markers for the trail 300 yards below, he took the easiest way to get back on course and, like Bonaparte, slid down on his backside. To understand the life and legacy of the Little Corporal, Putman read countless books, combed archives, consulted experts-among them English historian Felix Markham-and traveled 30,000 miles to visit a dozen nations. The assignment became an adventure in coincidence. On the trail in Alexandria, Egypt, Putman discovered that his guide was a descendant of Napoleon's aide, General Bertrand, and that living in her home was a descendant of the family of Marshal Kutu zov, Napoleon's Russian foe. In pursuit of articles for the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC, the former Alabama newspaper edi tor has hunted antelope with Pygmies in Zaire, lived on seal meat with Greenlanders, and bathed with India's holy men in the Ganges. Putman won the 1975 Overseas Press Club of America's award for Best Magazine Reporting for his article "The Arab World, Inc."