Watching the World
Annual per Capita Income
◆ Sweden holds first place in per capita income among the 24 industrial non-Communist lands making up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.). According to the O.E.C.D. yearbook for 1978, the five top countries and their per capita gross national product (G.N.P.) are: (1) Sweden, $9,030; (2) Switzerland, $8,870; (3) Canada, $8,410; (4) United States, $7,910; (5) Norway, $7,770. G.N.P. income is the individual citizen’s share of everything produced in a nation, if equally divided, and does not indicate the average wage. The yearbook’s information was based on statistics of two years ago.
Skin Cancer Defense
◆ In the United States, over 300,000 skin cancer cases are reported annually by the National Cancer Institute. More than 6,500 cases prove fatal. Health authorities consider excessive sunshine responsible. Why? Because “too much sunlight destroys cells in the upper layer of the skin, leaving it vulnerable to cancer,” comments U.S. News & World Report. Although it is said that, in most cases, skin cancer can be cured if it is detected early enough, the journal observes that “the best defense is avoiding overdoses of sunshine.” Sunbathers may wish to heed such advice.
A “First” on Everest
◆ Two Austrian mountain climbers recently reached the top of Mount Everest without using oxygen, according to a report by Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism. Reportedly, the men—33 and 35 years of age—even slept without supplies of oxygen while ascending the 29,028-foot (8,848-meter) peak. Previous climbers had always carried an oxygen supply to aid them in breathing when on the earth’s highest mountain.
◆ Feverish conditions following intravenous injections probably are caused by the coagulated blood that remains in previously used syringes. This is the conclusion drawn by Professor Toshinobu Aoyama of Kyushu University’s pharmaceutical department and presented at a meeting of the Japan Pharmaceutical Society held recently at Okayama. Prof. Aoyama and his staff tested 68 syringes containing some foreign substance. “In every case,” reports Tokyo’s Daily Yomiuri, “he found that substance was blood.” To prove that such blood could be injected into the body of a later patient, the contaminated syringes were washed in sterilized water three times and then they were boiled for a half hour, thus surpassing the normal disinfection procedure for syringes. “This cleansing process had no effect on the coagulated blood in the syringes,” says the newspaper. Hence, the researchers concluded that persons getting intravenous injections with used syringes could not escape receiving such blood. According to the press report, “Aoyama said that the coagulated blood was surely related to the fevers although how the alien blood could cause febrility was not yet known.”
◆ According to the 1978 yearbook of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for every 1,000 residents of the United States, there are, on the average, 571 television sets. The average per 1,000 in Canada is 366; in Sweden, 348; and in Denmark, 308.
For Healthy Teeth
◆ Many believe that such fibrous foods as apples are excellent for cleaning the teeth. But the British Medical Journal holds that, because of their high acidity, apples afford no protection against damage to tooth enamel. Also, they are said to do little as regards cleaning along the gums and between the teeth. Cheese and peanuts are suggested as benefiting an individual’s teeth.
◆ Two persons driving an automobile across the United States can now expect to spend $60 daily. According to the American Automobile Association, their costs are likely to be $55 a day for lodging and food. Not counting tips and alcoholic drinks, this amounts to $27 for meals and $28 for lodging, although costs vary considerably from one place to another. If you are planning such a trip and your auto averages 15 miles a gallon (6.4 kilometers per liter), count on $5 for gas and oil every 100 miles (161 kilometers).
A Cleaner Thames
◆ After several years of effort, there has been notable success in cleaning up the polluted Thames River. A Reuters dispatch from London indicates that the river “has become so clean that it is teeming with fish.” During a recent yearly test, 200 fish were caught in its waters, among them such kinds as bass, cod, flounder and whiting.
◆ A recently reported study indicates that cigarette smoking impairs immunity, even among young persons with comparatively brief histories as smokers. University of Pennsylvania researcher Ronald P. Daniele has found that smoking reduces the ability of the lungs to fight viruses and bacteria. While Science Digest says that “smokers previously have been found to suffer from more respiratory infections than do nonsmokers,” Dr. Daniele’s new evidence shows that immunity impairment may be an adverse effect experienced rather early by cigarette smokers.
Apples and Fertilizers
◆ In Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, famous for its apples, it has been found that the use of chemical fertilizers has caused apple trees to die in less than two decades, whereas their general life-span is 70 or 100 years. Since 1941, the Aomori Prefecture Apple Laboratory has cultivated trees under varying conditions. Results from apple trees grown in a grass bed have not been good because the ground became acid. According to Tokyo’s Daily Yomiuri, “all of the trees grown in the chemically fertilized bed died by 1958.” The trees that fared best were those drawing nutrition from compost.
◆ The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported the discovery of four plague-bearing rats among 1,600 rodents captured in a warehouse at Kobe, Japan. This has given rise to a plague alert. According to the journal To the Point International, the plague was responsible for “about 43 million deaths by the end of the 14th century.” But the magazine says that “in recent times there have been only small outbreaks.” Two years ago, WHO reported that 741 persons had been affected, of whom 85 died. Reportedly, in 1975 there were 49 cases of plague in Angola, 16 in Mozambique and 12 in Zaïre, with 50 in Madagascar during 1976. However, from 1968 to 1976 there were just two cases in Europe.
Why Not Drink and Drive?
◆ Besides increasing the danger of involvement in an auto accident, drinking alcoholic beverages may result in impaired heart action, thus heightening the possibility that some types of injuries will result in death. This seems to have been indicated in a study made by Dr. Gary G. Nicholas of Penn State University. In tests, some rats were injected with an alcohol solution, whereas others were not. Then all the rats were given injuries comparable to those a car driver might sustain if the steering wheel smashed into his chest during an automobile accident. Ninety percent of the rats injected with alcohol died, compared with only 20 percent of those in the group that had not been given alcohol.
◆ A Census Bureau study notes that there has been a “dramatic upsurge” in the United States divorce rate. Based on figures collected in March 1977, the study reveals that there were 84 divorced individuals for every 1,000 married persons. Since 1970, there has been a 79-percent increase in the country’s divorce rate, whereas throughout the 1960’s, the ratio increased just 34 percent.
◆ There are said to be just three veteran matadors in Spain. According to Parade magazine, “aficionados, who can differentiate skillful capework from show-biz flamboyance, say the bullfight has deteriorated into a tourist attraction.” Reportedly, Spanish youngsters prefer to become soccer players.
For Broken Legs
◆ In St. Barbara’s hospital at Gladbeck, Federal Republic of Germany, plaster casts long used for broken legs are giving way to hard-foam casings with zippers. Although lighter in weight, these casings actually are harder than plaster, and they can easily be removed.
New Plastic Piping
◆ In Nepal, a new kind of plastic piping is being used for a 10-kilometer (6-mile) water network under the temples of Bhaktapur. Developed by a company in the Federal Republic of Germany, the plastic pipes are said to be tougher than regular metal water piping, and the periodical Scala says: “Since the individual plastic pipes can be completely sealed once laid, they may be regarded as earthquake-resistant.”
They ‘Live Together’
◆ Statistics recently released by the Census Bureau reveal that in March 1977 (when figures were gathered) 1,508,000 unmarried United States residents were living with an individual of the opposite sex in two-person households. When compared with the 1,320,000 having such living arrangements in 1976, this indicates a 14-percent increase during a 12-month period. Although information on the personal relationships of such couples is not obtained, according to the bureau, “it seems likely that most of them were partners, roommates, companions or friends.”
◆ Dr. William Smith of the Albany Medical College, with the aid of General Electric magnet technicians, has built an entire artificial upper jaw for a 17-year-old auto-accident victim. Fourteen tiny cobalt-samarium magnets were used to hold together three plastic segments. This prosthesis can easily be removed for cleaning. The young man’s “magnetic mouth” is the first of its kind; and the entire segmented upper jaw weighs only three ounces (85 grams).
◆ Hungary has the highest suicide rate of any country. Employment and housing problems are said to be among contributing factors. According to the New York Times, about 4,500 persons killed themselves in that nation last year. This puts Hungary’s suicides 50 percent above those of Denmark, which has a rate that ranks second in the world. In Hungary, reportedly, over 20,000 individuals tried but failed to commit suicide during the past year.
◆ On an average, United States residents have 695 telephones for every 1,000 persons. Sweden is in second place, with 661, and Switzerland is third, with 611 telephones per 1,000. So reports the 1978 yearbook of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is comprised of 24 industrialized non-Communist nations. The yearbook contains statistics of two years previous.
◆ Seven-year-old Danny—a 15-pound (7-kilogram) poodle—was “inspecting” the roof of a building being constructed in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A., when he heard the whistle of his master. Obediently responding without delay, the dog took the “express” route to the ground by jumping the 14 stories. His 140-foot (43-meter) plunge ended in a heap of mud. Minutes later, Danny was up and limping about, his injuries being rather minor.