Watching the World
A Look Under Antarctica’s Ice
◆ The Ross Ice Shelf, about the size of Spain, has long intrigued scientists. “There is hardly any place in the Earth’s biosphere which rivals the isolation and uniqueness of the Ross Ice Shelf—not even the abyssal trenches or underground caverns,” says scientist John Clough. Ice is 1,380 feet (420 meters) thick in this remote area. To penetrate this ice, scientists recently brought to Antarctica a drill that generates a supersonic jet of hot gas. Using this, they drilled a hole through the ice into the “lost world” of the sea below. What is it like at the bottom of the ice-covered sea? To find out, scientists lowered a television camera and a light through the hole to the sunless sea floor, about 660 feet (200 meters) below the ice shelf. The camera revealed that the sea bottom was apparently paved with sediment-covered small angular stones. Was there any sign of life? Yes, two crustacean-like sea creatures passed in view of the camera. There were other indications of life, such as tracks and burrows on the sea floor. “That indicates a rich bottom dwelling community of organisms,” said Dr. Duwayne Anderson, chief scientist for polar programs of the National Science Foundation.
Success with an Artificial Heart
◆ An international team of surgeons at Switzerland’s Zurich Hospital recently reported the first successful use of a “total artificial heart.” It was used externally for a time. After a heart operation, a woman patient suffered a “very severe heart failure.” The artificial heart was connected by tubes to the woman’s natural heart in order to pump blood until the natural heart could return to normal. The surgeons had been prepared to leave the artificial heart connected for a week or longer, but it needed to be used only two days. The doctors stated that the woman would have died had not the artificial heart been used. “This was the first time,” said Professor Marco Turina who performed the surgery, “that a total artificial heart successfully supplied both ventricles.”
“Teeth Cannot Lie”
◆ An arsonist in Southport, England, ransacked an office, removed an apple from a desk drawer, took a single bite out of it and left. The fire that he set destroyed most of the building but left the office unburned and the apple as evidence. Police rushed the apple to the Liverpool home of John Furness, a leading authority on bite marks. Five days later they arrested the arsonist. The court held that bite marks are as valid for evidence as fingerprints and sentenced the man to three years in prison. “No two people’s teeth wear in the same way,” explains Furness. “Just as each blacksmith will use his hammer in a slightly different way, and a criminal will use his jemmy [a jimmy or crowbar] in a particular way, so no two people chew in the same way. Their teeth take on unique characteristics. People can lie through their teeth, but their teeth cannot lie.”
Tallest Woman Stops Growing
◆ Twenty-two-year-old Sandy Allen of Shelbyville, Indiana, has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records since 1974—as the world’s tallest woman. She is now 7 feet 7-1/4 inches (2.32 meters) tall, but she thinks her growth has stopped at last. She recently had surgery to remove a tumor of her pituitary gland. Explains Miss Allen: “This tumor caused my pituitary to put out excess growth hormone. The doctors say it may have been with me my entire life and caused my height.” The operation also removed part of the brain centers controlling taste and smell. Though she has regained much of her sense of smell, her sense of taste is poor. “It may be just as well,” she added. “It’s helping [me to] lose some weight. I’m down to 408 pounds [185 kilograms], more than 50 pounds [23 kilograms] less than in May. I think I don’t eat as much because food doesn’t taste as good.”
Women and Lung Cancer
◆ Surveys reveal that increasing numbers of women are smoking with predictable results. For example, the Connecticut Cancer Epidemiology Unit recently reported that from 1945 to 1949 lung cancer in men was nearly five times as great as in women in Connecticut. The figure decreased to less than two to one by 1974. Then a new development in 1975—for the first time more women than men between the ages of 35 and 44 developed lung cancer!
Students Smoking Less?
◆ Among college students, at least, there may be fewer smokers. A Princeton University survey indicated that only about 7 percent of its undergraduates are smoking. Nine years ago, the figure was 45 percent. Harvard’s freshman class had only 27 smokers out of 1,624 students. Why are smokers among college students apparently fewer than among high school students? “Students in a place like this are used to evaluating information and acting on it,” said Princeton’s director of health services. “They’re aware of the long-term dangers of smoking, and even if they started smoking in high school, they’ve usually quit by the time they get here.”
Garlic Without Odor
◆ Japan is marketing a new kind of garlic—an odorless strain. It took 66-year-old Toshio Nakagawa, a former rice farmer, 19 years to develop it. Each year he would take the least smelly garlics and replant them to propagate, until, finally, he came up with an odorless crop. Garlic experts told him that his crop would soon revert to the smelly strain. So he had to wait through six more crops and it was still as odorless as ever. Now the Mitsubishi Corporation will market the new strain, which may sell for about twice the price of smelly garlic.
◆ The United States, says Senator John Glenn, is in an arson epidemic that is “virtually unchecked and unnoticed.” At a hearing to alert the public to the danger, he stated that arson has increased over 400 percent over the past decade and that “an estimated 1,000 people, including 45 fire fighters, die each year in arson fires and 10,000 people are injured annually. Annual damage estimates are as high as $15 billion. Insurance losses exceed $3 billion.” At the hearing one authority on arson testified that, in some places, arson is responsible for 50 to 55 percent of fire insurance premiums.
Department-Store Thefts Soar
◆ The National Retail Merchants Association, representing 30,000 department stores throughout the world, has compiled its latest statistics for shoplifting and employee stealing. The report shows that these thefts have doubled over the past 10 years—from $800,000,000 to $1,600,000,000 today. This is over 2 percent of the stores’ yearly sales. Employee stealing accounts for about 60 percent of the loss.
Fashion Show for Homosexuals
◆ Chicago, Illinois, was the scene recently of a fashion show for homosexuals, sponsored by the Bonwit Teller fur salon in that city. About 400 persons paid the $2 admission price for the show at a homosexual nightclub, a few blocks north of the city’s Loop. The show featured elegant men’s and women’s fur coats ranging in price from $1,500 to $75,000. Ten male models, including two female impersonators, displayed the fur coats amid an atmosphere of throbbing disco music. It was said that the proceeds of the show will go to help to build a “gay men and lesbian women center” in Chicago.
“Debugging” the Computer
◆ Computers on Japan’s high speed “bullet” train running between Tokyo and Fukuoka are being “debugged.” Recently, the computer recorded a speed of 130 miles (210 kilometers) an hour when the train was standing still in Nagoya station. The cause? A cockroach slipped into the speed measurement circuit. Management has ordered high-powered insecticide to “debug” the computer.
Life-Span in Greece
◆ Greece’s National Statistics Service has disclosed that, on the average, Greeks live from 70 to 73 years. According to the report in the Athens Daily Post, the average Greek man lives 70.1 years and the average woman, 73.6 years. Back in 1897 the average life-span in Greece was only 36.7 years.
Dangers of Vasectomy and VD
◆ Dr. John Peter Blandez, professor of urology at London Hospital, England, warned about the dangers of vasectomy at a recent Urology Congress in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Besides being irreversible in most cases, vasectomy may produce profound mental anguish in a man and may even lead to madness, he stated.
The Urology Congress also disclosed that venereal diseases are on the increase in Brazil. Sérgio Aguinaga, president of the Brazilian Urology Society, called the situation “alarming,” one requiring government attention. He also pointed out that it is no longer only the prostitutes who are prone to pick up venereal diseases, but any young girl can do so, due to widely accepted promiscuity.
◆ In Japan a Tokyo group recently wrote letters to farmers flattering them and telling them that they were recipients of a gold medal and a citation. The farmers were asked to send 15,000 yen (about $50) to cover the postage to receive their awards. According to police reports, “quite a few” fell for it, and now have “fewer” yen in their pockets. Meanwhile, the police are looking for the group. As the Bible says: “Valuable things resulting from vanity become fewer.”—Prov. 13:11.
Top Ad Agencies
◆ Which ad agency does the most business? Japan’s Dentsu Advertising. In 1976 the firm placed about $1,189,000,000 worth of ads. This put it ahead of the second-place American firm, J. Walter Thompson, by some $150,000,000. United States agencies took the next 13 places. In the list of the 10 top non-American agencies, Japan held eight spots, France one and Brazil one.
Advertising for Spies
◆ Major newspapers in Australia recently carried advertisements to recruit intelligence agents for the government, at a salary of $220 a week. The ad said: “Officers can expect to undertake duties directly related to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization’s statutory responsibilities in regard to espionage, sabotage, and subversion including terrorism.”
Deadly Weapons on TV
◆ How often do hand-held deadly weapons appear on TV’s action programs? The U.S. Conference of Mayors, after a study of 73 hours of prime time action shows, recently reported that guns, knives and other deadly weapons appeared on TV an average of nine times an hour. The show “Hawaii Five-O” had the most appearances of weapons of any program surveyed—20.3 times per show.
◆ The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently reported that injuries from riding skateboards in the United States have jumped to more than 100,000 a year. At least 28 youths were killed riding skateboards. “Since all the victims killed by falls from skateboards struck their heads,” said the Commission, “the use of helmets should reduce the risk of death.”
Fewer Nuns and Priests in Brazil
◆ Each year more Roman Catholic priests and nuns are leaving religious orders in Brazil. The 1975-1976 Anuário Católico do Brasil reports that there were 13,292 priests between 1970 and 1971. In 1976 this number decreased to 12,065. Of the existing 339 Catholic institutions for women, 39 are threatened with extinction. Of these, some have only one, or at the most, five members left.