Watching the World
“Synthetic Blood” Saves Life
◆ For the first time, oxygen-carrying “synthetic blood” is asserted to have saved a man’s life in Japan. A man bleeding heavily after surgery was given over two pints (1,000 ml) of the experimental substitute, called Fluosol-DA, to replace his rare type blood. Surgeon Kenji Honda said that “the patient suffered no ill effects from his unprecedented emergency treatment and is doing fine.” Previously the substitute had been used only in animal experiments and on healthy human volunteers with “no adverse effects,” according to Dr. Ryoichi Naito, chairman of the pharmaceutical company that has been developing the substance.
Medical World News notes that, “unlike whole blood, [Fluosol-DA] poses no typing or infection problems and can be mass-produced, autoclaved [sterilized], and stored frozen for at least two years.” Fluorocarbon compounds such as Fluosol-DA can absorb large amounts of oxygen and thus perform in a manner similar to blood in carrying this vital gas throughout the body. The only drawback so far discovered is that the substance tends to linger in the body for a brief period, with unknown effects. A California subsidiary of the Japanese pharmaceutical company plans soon to start clinical trials in the United States.
U.S. President on “Purpose”
◆ President Carter’s speech on American energy problems contained some realistic observations on the nation’s materialistic way of life: “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We have learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”
◆ All the publicity that surrounded the fall of the American satellite Skylab overshadowed the almost daily fall of many other objects. The North American Defense Command says that pieces of space vehicles have been falling for years at an average of about one a day. Of some 11,000 objects put into space by various nations, about 4,600 remain, according to the organization. Pieces weighing up to 150 pounds (68 kg) have fallen on land in various countries. In 1970, five 150-pound pieces of a Soviet craft fell in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas with little notice being taken.
“Lick Your Wounds!”
◆ Scientists at the Royal Children’s Hospital of Melbourne, Australia, say that the natural tendency of mammals to lick their wounds may indeed accelerate healing. In experiments with rats as described in the British scientific journal Nature, the researchers learned that when the rodents could lick small cuts, they healed much faster than those not accessible to licking. They concluded that something in saliva promotes healing, with possible good potential for healing after surgery—if the substance can be isolated for medical use.
Worst Energy Gluttons
◆ The recent gasoline crisis in the United States highlights the extent of American energy gluttony compared with the rest of the world. World Bank figures now put the average energy consumption of each American at more than double that of each person in other industrial nations, almost 21 times what persons in middle-income countries use and more than 210 times the energy used by individuals in less-developed countries. And according to London’s Financial Times, American imports of oil have grown by one third in the past four years, while Japan, Germany, France and Italy actually reduced their imports.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Harvard Business School called “Energy Future” states that energy use by Americans could be reduced 40 percent by means of numerous conservation practices, including better insulation and improved auto mileage. Many of these are already practiced in other nations. Why not the U.S.? The book asserts that conservation is ignored by many American politicians because it ‘doesn’t sound glamorous.’
Life Beneath the Ice
◆ Could any form of life survive in almost freezing water beneath 18 feet (5.5 m) of ice while receiving less than one tenth of one percent of the light at the surface? Yes, according to divers for America’s National Science Foundation. They recently found vast mats of pinkish-orange-colored algae under the ice covering of two freshwater lakes in Antarctica. Zoology professor George M. Simmons, Jr., marveled that the tiny organisms can live “where there are four months of darkness and four months of twilight, and still manage to photosynthesize light and cycle nutrients and keep an incredible ecosystem going.” In fact, the algae produce so much oxygen that the water was said to fizz like an opened soft-drink bottle when scientists broke through the ice.
Similarly, at the top of the world near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, marine biologists found life under thick Arctic ice where they had thought none could exist. Dr. David Norton reports that the dark icy water is “teeming with an unusual variety of life for the Arctic—crustaceans, mollusks, starfish and fish.” He also noted that during the winter when the seabed under the ice is in total darkness, “lo and behold, these plants [kelp] put on an annual spurt of growth during this period of pitch black.” Scientists do not know how this is possible.
Penance for Squirrel
◆ Bombay’s Indian Express reports that a poor Hindu man who made the mistake of killing a squirrel “was recently compelled to shave his head and offer meals to Brahmins.” The newspaper also notes that “he had to offer a silver squirrel at the Siddhnath temple in Ujjain, before his cast panchayat [village council] agreed to take him back in the community.” And his father banned him from home until he had “cleansed himself of the ‘sin.’” Hindus believe that animals house migrating souls of the dead.
Disco Fingers and Feet
◆ Dangers to sight and hearing from flashing lasers and overloud disco music have been joined by disco hazards to other parts of the anatomy. In the New England Journal of Medicine, physicians at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University Hospital tell of treating a young girl for a finger infection. Finger-snapping to the music had caused a callous that split and became infected. And Temple University’s Center for Sports Medicine describes a new disease called disco foot. As a result of foot contortions in pointed, high-heeled shoes, says Dr. Ray Moyer, “you can get bunions, blisters, trouble with your arches and sore knees. Some people even break their spikes and their ankles at the same time.”
◆ According to a recent study of traffic fatalities among the industrialized nations, Americans have the fewest highway deaths based on distance traveled, and Turks have the most. The report in London’s Daily Telegraph lists American fatalities as 3.3 per 100 million miles (161 million km), while Turkish fatalities are nearly 10 times as great, at 32.2. Speed limits are the same, about 55 m.p.h. (90 km/h). Comparative highway deaths for other countries over the same distance are 4 for Britain, with a 70 m.p.h. (113 km/h) speed limit; 4.7 for Japan, 62 m.p.h. (100 km/h); 6.4 for Italy, 87 m.p.h. (140 km/h); 7.9 for the Federal Republic of Germany, no speed limit; 12.9 for Greece, 62 m.p.h. (100 km/h); and 22.5 for Portugal, 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).
“Gays” Ruin Scenic Stop
◆ Homosexuals often contend that they should be viewed the same as heterosexuals in their sexual activity. However, it is of interest to note that the beautifully scenic Williamette Falls rest stop near West Linn, Oregon, recently had to be closed due to blatant homosexual activity involving its rest rooms, picnic tables and the surrounding area. Numerous arrests only publicized the location, to which “ministers, a grade-school principal, a doctor, school teachers, an engineer and a biologist,” among others, flocked for open sexual activities, according to the Oregon Journal. People who came to use the place for its intended purpose often had to leave in disgust. Due to the cost in money and manpower, police finally decided to close down the location.
◆ It has been well established that millions of children around the world are severely beaten and otherwise abused by parents. Not so well known is the fact that parents are often beaten, and sometimes viciously, by their children, mostly adolescents or young adults. In the United States it is estimated that about one of 10 children attacks his parents. This type of violence is most likely to occur in homes where one or both parents have abdicated parental authority. What makes the problem more difficult is that most parents assaulted by their children do not want to report the incident to police, even if their lives are endangered. And when someone else calls the police, parents often lie to protect their children, as well as the image the parents have of themselves.
Nuclear Cargo Ships
◆ How many nuclear-powered cargo ships are now plying the seas? At one time some thought that the number would constantly increase. However, not a single nuclear-powered cargo ship is in active service today. The last one was the Otto Hahn, a cargo vessel of the Federal Republic of Germany. Several months ago it was decided that the 17,000-ton freighter was too expensive to run and so was dry-docked.
◆ A recent report in the Mainichi Daily News headlined: “Greater Tokyo Now Holds 27,042,000.” The Tokyo metropolitan sphere, including Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa Prefectures, covers an area of 5,175 square miles (13,403 km2), a little larger than the U.S. State of Connecticut. This is less than 4 percent of the entire land surface of Japan, yet almost 25 percent of Japan’s population lives there!
Leprosy Resists Drug
◆ Leprosy can now be added to the list of diseases that are developing resistance to modern drugs. British specialist Anthony Bryceson recently told the Canadian Dermatological Association that leprosy could become a “big problem” in the 1980’s. He noted that some who have been treated with the drug diasone have started to relapse, and the first cases of resistance to diasone among formerly untreated persons began to appear last year. Other drugs are more costly and have more side effects.
Behind Soviet Drinking
◆ According to an Associated Press report, Soviet factory managers have indicated that a significant percentage of their workers arrive on Monday morning too drunk or with too much of a hangover to work effectively. This information was included with a recent government release of statistics in its continuing campaign against alcoholism. In an effort to list the causes of so much drunkenness, sociologist Vasili Belov, writing in a Soviet economic journal, included “the primitive level of spiritual life in some people and their lack of any clear moral ideal.” Yet at the same time Soviet psychiatrist Dr. V. Krupko, writing in the newspaper Rural Life, was attacking religion and belief in God as “a real danger” to a person’s “psyche.” And the official newspaper Pravda was boasting of a study from the autonomous Chuvash Republic showing that over 97 percent of people under 20 and almost 94 percent of those from 21 to 30 have no religion.