Watching the World
Blood and AIDS
A recent report in The Journal of the American Medical Association ranked blood transfusions as the number two source of AIDS transmission in the Central African region. Dr. Thomas Quinn, a researcher with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, estimated that nearly one thousand children annually may be infected with the AIDS virus through transfused blood. Those particularly at risk are said to be children who are receiving transfusions as a form of emergency treatment for malaria-related anemia. Commenting on the problem, Dr. Quinn said: “In the region, transfusions have become the second most-common mode of transmission, behind only heterosexual sex.”
An effective synthetic bone material has been developed at the University of Texas, reports The Medical Post of Canada. Research scientists claim that the material, a synthesized hydroxyapatite in porous form, is “virtually identical to natural bone.” Living bone is 65 percent hydroxyapatite, a mineral component that provides strength and rigidity and acts as a porous mold in which the blood vessels, bone marrow, and bone-synthesizing cells are embedded. Researchers believe this new synthetic bone implant may be the only material that imitates the body’s natural bone replacement process. When implanted, says the Post, the material is “slowly broken down by specialized cells and then replaced with natural bone.”
Theodor von Wolkenstein, a German rooster, sang his way to victory in a crowing competition. Within a 20-minute spell, the champion gave voice a seemingly “unbeatable” 45 times, reports the German magazine Das Tier. His nearest rival crowed only 28 times.
A three-month-old Chilean infant gave his parents a real fright when his hair began to stick out in every direction. According to Iván Roa, a Universidad de la Frontera pathologist following the case, the boy has a rare disorder known as “uncombable hair syndrome.” First identified in 1973, there are few cases documented worldwide. Children afflicted by this syndrome have hair that looks “as though they’ve stuck their fingers in a light socket,” says hair and skin specialist Robert Crounse. “You brush the hair down, and it springs right back up.” Caused by hairs that grow wedge-shaped instead of flat or cylindrically, Crounse says that some children outgrow it at puberty.
Dolphins to the Rescue!
“A school of dolphins guided three men to safety yesterday after their yacht capsized,” reported the Johannesburg Star. Two of the men had been flung into the sea when the tiller arm snapped, and the third had clung to the boat. Floundering in rough waters about a half mile [1 km] offshore, one man reported that “the dolphins surrounded me and my friends as I tried to right the boat and steer back to shore. . . . As soon as we were all safely ashore, they disappeared.”
“Tales of dolphins and porpoises coming to the aid of drowning people date back to ancient times,” states the book The Fascinating Secrets of Oceans & Islands. What makes them do it? “They seem to have an instinctive urge to push objects they find floating in the sea.”
Tokyo children in their early teens were asked to write down what in life is most important to them. Sample answers published in Asahi Evening News listed such responses as gold, cash, and bank savings passbooks. According to Japan’s Management and Coordination Agency, the research group responsible for the survey, Japanese youth are aspiring to a life-style that “matches their personal tastes . . . , doesn’t require hard work,” and reflects a desire “to make lots of money.”
Vatican Financial Ills
The Vatican is short of cash, reports the business magazine Fortune. Although the Vatican appears shrouded with vast wealth, its growing bureaucracy, tarnished by financial scandal, has pushed the papacy into a monetary squeeze. Last year the Vatican took in $57.3 million (U.S.) but spent $114 million (U.S.). “This is a real crisis,” says John Cardinal Krol of the United States. “Anytime your operating income fails to cover expenses, you’ve got a problem.”
Death on the Roads
Worldwide there are about 400,000 traffic deaths annually—about 1,100 daily—estimates the Federal Office of Statistics in Wiesbaden, Germany. Europe, excluding the Soviet Union, has 66,000 road fatalities each year, with the United States, Canada, and Japan adding a further 57,000 to the sad statistics. The statistics office estimates that worldwide some 12 million people are injured in traffic accidents each year.
By taking a half-hour siesta, or nap, each day, the prospects for coronary heart disease may be reduced by a third, suggests a Greek medical research team in Athens. Doctors have long tried to explain the low incidence of coronary heart disease in Mediterranean countries. Previous studies have pointed to the diet of low saturated fats with the use of vegetable oils and milk rather than animal fats and richer dairy products as the reason, reports The Lancet, a medical journal. Now, however, an additional reason may be added—a regular siesta.
A recent revision of the Newport Beach, California, Municipal Code gives proper recognition to Jehovah’s Witnesses as ministers. The action affecting the city’s Non-Commercial Solicitation Ordinance acknowledges that the house-to-house ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses does not come under the classification of “solicitation.” A similar ordinance adopted by city officials of Anaheim, California, laid the groundwork for the Newport Beach code revision. Since officials in both cities recognize the actions of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be outside the definition of “solicitation,” a permit to preach is not required.
Bible on Chip
The words of the Bible have been recorded on materials as ancient as parchment and as modern as microfilm. What is next? “God’s word became a silicon chip,” announces the Bible Society in Australia and explains that the entire text of the King James Version, together with a concordance and a Bible dictionary, have now been transferred to a single silicon chip about the size of a thumbnail.
Since birds are apparently sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field, it has been theorized that they use it as a navigational aid when migrating. To test that theory, Swedish scientist Thomas Almerstam studied birds flying over an iron-ore mine in Norberg, Sweden. According to the French magazine L’Express, the iron-ore mine had, within a seven-mile [12 km] perimeter, a magnetic intensity 60 percent above normal at low altitude. As suspected, the altered magnetic field apparently disoriented some low-flying migrators. The birds were said to “land nervously and go around in circles before taking off again,” notes L’Express.