Watching the World
◆Business International, a U.S. company with its base in Switzerland, reports that the world’s most costly city is Tokyo, Japan. In second place is the Japanese city of Osaka. Following these, in the order indicated, are: (3) Stockholm; (4) Zurich; (5) Geneva; (6) Oslo; (7) Copenhagen; (8) Lagos; (9) Paris; (10) Vienna; (11) Toronto; (12) Jakarta; (13) New York.
Potent Pituitary Pain-Killer
◆ A very potent natural opiate produced by the pituitary gland has been discovered by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco. Called beta-endorphin, it “is at least 20 to 40 times more effective than morphine in the relief of pain when injected directly into the brains of rats and mice, and three to four times more effective when injected intravenously,” according to an announcement regarding tests on living animals.
◆ Reportedly, about two thirds of a new frontier barrier has been finished by East Germany. It is the fourth to be built along the border since Germany’s division after World War II. When completed, it will run some 900 miles (1,448 kilometers) from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia. Some 10 yards (9 meters) from the border is a wire-mesh fence about 9 feet (2.7 meters) high. It extends 3 feet (1 meter) below the surface and its concrete posts are mined. A ditch some 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide beyond the fence is intended to prevent persons from driving trucks or other vehicles through the barrier. Next comes a strip of soft plowed ground, in which footprints or tire tracks could be seen by East Germany’s border guards. Finally, paralleling the fence are two concrete strips over which men can march and motorized patrols can pass. Concrete watchtowers having observation platforms with machine-gun ports are another feature of this barrier. The cost of this system is estimated at $415,000 a kilometer (.6 mile). “Like its predecessors,” says the New York Times, “it is designed to keep the East Germans in rather than the Americans and West Germans out.”
◆ Psychologists in Britain have found that daylight-saving time-changes can affect human behavior. In testing 65 persons for reactions to the autumn time shift, researchers at the University of Sussex noted that the subjects awoke earlier, there were fluctuations in their oral temperatures and for a few days these individuals felt more alert. Such time-shift adjustment required a longer period than the average spans needed to adjust when travelers cross time zones by air.
Farm Real-Estate Values
◆ Farm Journal of September 1976 revealed that according to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 48 of the nation’s 50 states, farmlands had risen in value by an average of 14 percent from March 1975 to February 1976. And economists expected the upward trend to continue during the year. On a national average, farmlands have doubled in value in five years. The country’s farm real estate currently is valued at $421 billion, whereas assets of the 500 biggest industrial corporations of the nation, as listed by Fortune, increased 6 percent last year, rising to $668 billion.
◆ The Soviet press agency Tass reported on October 11 that eight new volcanoes had made an appearance in the Kamchatka Peninsula. One of these was belching out more than 700 cubic feet (20 cubic meters) of lava a second. Tass stated that this peninsula northeast of Japan has 160 volcanoes, of which 28 are active.
“So Little for So Much”
◆ The United Nations has 10,000 international employees in Geneva, Switzerland. Citing a “still-secret report,” Parade magazine recently gave some examples of their wages. Sample salaries given ranged from $350 weekly for a copy typist to a top executive’s wage of $1,000 per week. A U.N. ambassador was quoted as remarking: “Never have so many done so little for so much.”
◆ The Detroit Institute of Arts recently paid a museum in East Germany the highest sum ever spent by an American purchaser for African sculpture. For $275,000 the Institute bought a nineteenth-century Nkonde, a fetish 46 inches (117 centimeters) high.
◆ Two decades ago, Britain’s rabbit population was almost eliminated by myxomatosis. But the animals survived that plague, and the Ministry of Agriculture says that they now number 60 million, making them more numerous than the human populace. How much agricultural produce do the rabbits consume? One part in 25, estimate the farmers.
For Pedestrians Only
◆ Some South American cities are setting aside certain streets for pedestrians. For instance, Lima does not allow automobiles on the Jirón de la Unión. In addition to its 12-block Calle Florida for pedestrians, Buenos Aires recently has restricted vehicular use of a dozen other downtown streets. Also, Rio de Janeiro has some 18 streets for strolling, some paved with mosaic patterns and furnished with benches, while others are open only to emergency vehicles. “City officials ban cars to save fuel, cleanse the air, cut traffic jams,” says U.S. News & World Report.
◆ Some cardiac patients have pacemakers surgically implanted to give the heart’s muscles electrical impulses that control its rhythm. When the mercury batteries that power the conventional types run down, surgical replacement is necessary. However, plutonium pacemakers are so long-lasting that replacement is not needed. According to Mechanix Illustrated, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission holds that “benefits to patients from plutonium pacemakers outweigh the small risk of radiation exposure they get from the devices.”
Mystery Mummy Identified
◆ The mummy of Queen Tiy, grandmother of Egyptian King Tutankhamen, recently was identified. This was the first identification of a royal mummy since the discovery of that of King Tut in 1922. Queen Tiy is said to have lived during the fourteenth century B.C.E. Her mummy was one of three found in 1898 C.E., but it was not considered important. These mummies were again sealed in the tomb about 1900. A clue leading to the recent identification was an old photograph showing that the left arm of this particular mummy lay across her chest in a way usually reserved for high-ranking individuals. So, the mummies were located once again. X rays of skulls of royal mummies indicated that inherited skull-shape features placed her between Thuyu (who was known to be Queen Tiy’s mother) and King Tutankhamen. But hair analysis also helped. A locket found in King Tut’s tomb contained some hair, and an accompanying inscription said that the hair was that of Queen Tiy. Some of it and hair clipped from the mummy’s head were analyzed with an electron probe. The analysis showed the hair samples to be identical, and Dr. James E. Harris of the University of Michigan views the identification of the mystery mummy with Queen Tiy as “certain.”
Shortage of Water
◆ Seventy-five percent of earth’s rural residents and 20 percent of its city dwellers live with the problem of inadequate water supply. This was revealed in a recent United Nations report for the International Water Conference at Mar del Plata, Argentina. In developing lands, use of water amounts to only about a gallon (3.8 liters) a day per person, compared with daily per capita use of 237 gallons (897 liters) in industrial countries.
Sharks and Their Prey
◆ In an Associated Press dispatch from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, it is said that oceanographic research indicates that sharks are attracted by the electrical magnetism of the human body. According to Dr. Adrianis Kalmijn, the signals can be detected by sharks only at close range. However, their acute hearing, sight and smell can aid them to locate prey.
Cause of Mystery Fever
◆ The World Health Organization has identified the cause of a mysterious fever responsible for recent deaths in central Africa. It is said to be an offshoot of the Marburg virus, so named for a town in West Germany. In 1967, 30 laboratory workers there who had handled the organs of certain dead African monkeys were stricken with that virus. Seven of those persons died. Electron microscope study of recent specimens from the Sudan and Zaire indicates that the present virus has a form similar to the Marburg virus. The newly identified disease has no known cure.
◆ Unwittingly, some air travelers violate rules of the Federal Aviation Administration and could be fined as much as $10,000. Solid or liquid flammables are not allowed to be carried in a passenger’s luggage. Prohibited items include such things as butane lighter fuel, firecrackers, guns, gun powder, auto signal flares, Mace, and glue used for model airplanes. Book matches are not permitted unless they are securely packed and put in a closed container.