Watching the World
◆ Scientists are warning that space around Earth is getting overcrowded. They refer particularly to the loop 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above the equator where satellites circle Earth at exactly the same rate as it rotates, making them “stationary” with respect to the ground below. This position is useful for stations that relay amplified ground signals back to vast areas directly below. This “geosynchronous,” or “geostationary,” orbit now contains over 100 vehicles and pieces of debris. By July, 30 craft were American, 25 were Soviet and two belonged to the Federal Republic of Germany. “We are populating the geosynchronous orbit and, even as long as it is—165,000 miles [265,500 kilometers]—it is a closed finite loop in which only so many satellites will fit,” says a U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration official.
Power of the Word
◆ “One of the hottest tickets in the commercial West End Theaters” of London is a word-for-word recitation of Mark’s Gospel, reports The Wall Street Journal. The well-known British actor Alec McCowen, who memorized the entire book of Mark and presents it dramatically to sold-out audiences, says that “there is so much action in Mark. It’s by far the most narrative of the Gospels.” McCowen “says that he sees himself as a reporter,” noted the Journal. “He believes that Mark was also a reporter, recording what Peter had told him.”
Web in the Works
◆ During the countdown for launching of the Pioneer Venus I spacecraft earlier this year, Kennedy Space Center technicians detected a problem in a vent-pipe nozzle on the mighty craft. They found that a spider had selected that site for its latest web. The tiny structure was quickly sacrificed in the interests of planetary exploration, and the countdown continued.
Armstrong Empire “Crumbling”?
◆ Garner Ted Armstrong, well-known television spokesman for the Worldwide Church of God, was recently taken off the air and then excommunicated by his father, Herbert W. Armstrong. The younger Armstrong, who had reportedly been earning $85,000 a year, claimed earlier that the “whole empire is crumbling” due to lavish spending by the leadership, as well as by divisions and fear among the membership.
◆ Recently a popular item in some Japanese pet shops has been a “Dog Runner” to help to keep dogs fit indoors. The inventor says that the idea came to him one morning when he had a hangover and did not feel like walking his dog. “He put the pet on an old conveyor belt in his workshop and set the machine in motion,” reports Japan’s Mainichi Daily News. “The Maltese appeared unstable and faltered at first, but then started to run on the moving belt.” A Fukuoka City veterinarian says that he uses the “dog runner” in his clinic to help dogs to lose weight and improve health. ‘Most dogs that visit here are too fat or too weak-legged,’ he noted.
Breaking the Ice
◆ This year the 75,000-horsepower Soviet nuclear icebreaker Sibir made a pioneering cruise across the Arctic Ocean two months before the usual short three-month summer season. The Arctic route has been of limited value commercially because of the 90-percent pack ice coverage in winter and 70 percent the year around. The Sibir, followed closely by a loaded freighter, covered 3,360 nautical miles (3,870 miles; 6,220 kilometers) in 18 days. At times the thick ice made the 25,000-ton icebreaker tip so sharply that water spilled from the ship’s pool and items fell from shelves. The Soviets hope soon to keep shipping lanes open most of the year, greatly facilitating industrial access to rich Arctic resources.
◆ Englishwoman Mrs. Naomi James recently arrived in Dartmouth after sailing alone around the world in a record 272 days. Her time for the 30,000-mile (48,000-kilometer) trip was two days shorter than Sir Francis Chichester’s earlier record trip in 1967. Her 53-foot (16-meter) sloop, Express Crusader, is a 10-ton fiber glass craft that is said normally to have a crew of 10 persons.
Cocos Cost $7 Million
◆ Australia has announced that it will pay Mr. John Clunies-Ross $7 million (U.S.) for the Cocos Islands. The 27 atolls lie in the Indian Ocean over 1,600 miles (2,570 kilometers) west of Australia. The family of Mr. Clunies-Ross was granted perpetual title by Queen Victoria in 1886, but the island group came under Australian authority in 1955. There are about 360 Malay inhabitants.
◆ When a new French chef introduced “haute cuisine” to a prison near The Hague in the Netherlands, the prisoners objected. They “complained to the prison governor that they were being fed French-style potatoes, venison and elaborate sauces,” reports Holland Herald magazine. Hence, “traditional Dutch meatballs, rissoles and stew went back on the menu.”
Keeping Athens Green
◆ “Drastic steps have been adopted by the Athens Municipal Council to protect trees and types of plants,” reports the Athens Daily Post. “A fine of 100,000 drachmae [about $2,800, U.S.] will be imposed” for chopping down a tree, cutting a bush or destroying a lawn. The municipality is concerned about maintaining what is already considered an insufficient amount of green in the historic Greek city.
◆ Recently some unusual rubellite stones (a red tourmaline) were discovered in Brazil. Their size and perfection were so impressive that, when a gemstone expert viewed them, medical attention was said to be needed. Reportedly, a French specialist cried. Just three of the stones weighed a total of 300,000 carats. At $100 per carat wholesale, the stones are valued at $30,000,000 (U.S.), according to a report in O Estado de S. Paulo. The mine in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state is barred to the public and press by heavily armed guards who allow only major buyers to pass.
Straddling the Fence
◆ Quebec’s newspaper La Presse of Montreal reported on the problems of a woman whose house is right on the Canadian-American border. She has to pay taxes in two countries. And when she had two telephones, she had to pay two phone bills because one was in the U.S. and the other in Canada.
Canyon Dating in Error
◆ Scientists had previously estimated the age of the Grand Canyon in Arizona at 10 million years. The figures were obtained by using the potassium-argon dating method. But now scientists say that this age is in error, as later tests are said to show the area to be less than six million years old, an error of four million years. One scientist declared: “It’s embarrassing to us.” However, even the later date is open to serious question, as the potassium-argon dating method is subject to great variation, and the assumptions that form the basis for it may be in error.
◆ The Medical Tribune reports that, in experiments with monkeys, those that had vasectomies had up to twice the rate of atherosclerosis as other monkeys when both groups were placed on a high fat diet. While it cannot be said with certainty that men who have had vasectomies will react the same way, it has been observed that monkeys do respond to cholesterol in much the same way as do humans.
◆ A new highway from the border of China’s Sinkiang Province stretches 500 miles (800 kilometers) to within a few miles of Islamabad in Pakistan. Hailed as an enormous feat of engineering, the tarred highway is carved out of the walls of mountains and crosses swirling torrents fed by surrounding glaciers. Called the Karakoram Highway, or the Himalayan Highway, during construction it claimed more than 2,700 lives, 600 of them Chinese. The others were Pakistani workers who had been on the project for 20 years. It was completed with the help of 10,000 Chinese working in two-year shifts over an eight-year period. Pakistani workers say that the Chinese declined modern equipment, and, for the most part, used picks and shovels to build the road.
Getting Rid of Fleas
◆ Two dogs and a cat in the same household were infested with fleas. According to Smithsonian magazine, researchers experimented with “every commercially available dip, bath, spray, powder, soap, collar and tag with no lasting diminution of the population of fleas.” Then one health-food store suggested brewer’s yeast for the problem. Every day 60 grains were administered to each of the dogs and 30 grains to the cat. Soon there was no sign of fleas on the animals, and they remained that way as long as they received brewer’s yeast. The results were reported to Dr. Theodore Reed, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park. He remembered that when he had been in veterinary practice he gave thiamine (vitamin B1) to a kennel boy to rid him of fleas. Reed suggested that the brewer’s yeast worked with the pets because it is rich in vitamin B.
Food Intake Affects Aging
◆ The quantity of food taken in greatly influenced aging in experiments with rats. Dr. Edward Masoro of the Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio divided 550 rats into two dietary groups. One group was allowed to eat as much as it wanted, but the other group was limited to only 60 percent of what the first group actually consumed. The results showed that death was significantly delayed in the group that had the reduced food intake. Dr. Masoro concluded: “Food restriction delays the onset of most life-threatening diseases by preventing physiologic decline.” It was suggested that in humans it would do the same thing.
Too Many Drivers?
◆ In Japan, 10 persons out of every 23, 16 years of age or older, have a driver’s license. During the past year 1,874,000 people received them, 1,060,000 of whom were women. Now there are over 37,000,000 licensed drivers in the country, which covers an area smaller than the state of Montana. An observer said: “It is crowded to say the least. In most large cities the daylight hours are one continuous traffic jam.”
◆ A study released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control indicates that as many as 1,500,000 persons a year acquire infections while in hospitals. Though these infections are not present, or incubating, when patients are admitted to hospitals, an estimated 5 percent of all hospital patients are infected when they are discharged. Most common of the hospital-acquired illnesses are urinary tract infections, followed by surgical infections. Nation wide, said the report, “the direct cost of providing medical care for this problem exceeds $1 billion.”
◆ A recent report by the National Council of Churches reveals that in the United States women make up approximately 4 percent of the clergy. Almost two thirds of them are associated with Pentecostal religions and the Salvation Army. Of the 5,000 clerics in the Salvation Army, over half are women. The report also notes that whereas the percentage of female clergy remained quite stable from 1930 to 1970, since the year 1972 the enrollment of women in seminaries has risen by 118.9 percent.