Watching the World
Instead of transfusing blood, doctors in Japan recently treated an anemic premature baby with erythropoietin, a hormonal substance that stimulates red blood cell formation. The baby weighed only 1 pound 12 ounces [800 g] at birth, and “its anemia progressed to a condition that would naturally require blood transfusions,” reported the newspaper Asahi Shimbun. However, because the baby’s parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, they refused the use of blood for their baby. So the doctors administered erythropoietin from the 39th day after its birth. Within a week the red blood cells started to increase. Later the hemoglobin concentration also went up. “Although the reason for this case was religious,” said the doctor in charge, “the treatment is very likely to be used widely to avoid risks such as infections from blood transfusions.”
NOT A LEG TO STAND ON
Evolutionists assume that snakes evolved from lizards, but they are hard put to explain why lizards lost their legs. In 1973 an influential Harvard University study asserted that snakes evolved from lizards to conserve energy by slithering instead of walking. Recently, however, scientists at the University of California, Irvine, put that theory to the test. They outfitted some black racer snakes with tiny oxygen masks, put them on treadmills, and measured how much energy they actually do expend in slithering. The results: The snakes either used the same amount of energy as, or up to seven times more than, legged lizards walking the same distance.
High-flying aircraft may be especially potent polluters, according to research carried out in West Germany. As reported in the Austrian magazine Profil, pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and soot may remain active for years when released at altitudes of over 33,000 feet [10,000 m], whereas they would decompose in a few days on the ground. Civilian aircraft emit some 600,000 tons of nitric acid every year; military aircraft emit even more. At high altitudes, water from jet-engine combustion freezes instantly to form high-flying clouds of ice particles and nitric acid. These are widely suspected of helping to destroy the planet’s crucial ozone layer.
GOLDEN CALF FOUND
“A figurine backs the tale of Moses and the idolatrous Israelites,” said Time magazine. Until now, no religious figures of calves had been found in Canaanite ruins from before the Israelite Exodus. But in June 1990, in the ruins of the ancient port city of Ashkelon, Israel, a team of archaeologists unearthed a 5-inch-long [12.5 cm] calf made of bronze, copper, and possibly lead and silver. The bronze was apparently burnished to shine like gold. Lawrence Stager, the director of the team, feels that the calf dates back to 1550 B.C.E., before the Israelites conquered Canaan. Stager suggests that the calf may have been used in worship of the pagan god El or his son Baal and that it may have been a prototype for the golden calves mentioned in the Bible.
The science textbooks used in U.S. elementary schools are rife with embarrassing errors, complain growing numbers of scientists. According to Newsweek, one physicist said: “The books are filled with factual mistakes and totally misrepresent the whole nature of science.” Some examples: Gravity does not affect an astronaut in space. (Wrong. What holds an astronaut in orbit if there is no gravity out there?) A mosquito stings with its rear end. (Just as far-fetched, as anyone knows who has watched a mosquito when it stings.) It seems that few of the textbooks are scrutinized by experts before publication. Adds Newsweek: “The errors propagate like maggots, since virtually every ‘new’ textbook is closely modeled on profitable predecessors.”
DRUGS IN BRAZIL
“Research reveals that the use of drugs among Brazilian students increased 24% in the last two years,” reports Brazil’s Veja magazine. The grim figure comes from a study of 30,000 elementary- and secondary-school students. “When the information from the interviews was compiled, a gloomy perspective surfaced. . . . The increase in the use of drugs was significantly higher among adolescents between 13 and 15 years of age.” The study also shows that tranquilizers and inhaled drugs (such as shoemaker’s glue and perfume from squirters) are the most used. Although these drugs are less potent, they can lead to the use of more harmful ones. According to Professor Elisaldo Carlini: “The data is alarming because the most used drugs in the country are not illegal and can be bought in drugstores.”
A LOSS OF WARMTH?
Many Italians cast a doleful eye on the state of their nation last summer because of the sad plight of a six-year-old girl. Little Vanessa Moretti and her father were driving to the beach. As they were passing through a tunnel, he suddenly suffered a heart attack. Before he died, the stricken man told his daughter to find her way home. She struggled out of the tunnel, repeatedly blown over by gusts of wind from cars that zipped by without slowing. Scratched, bleeding, and sobbing, she walked along the highway for half an hour, ignored by hundreds of passing cars filled with merry vacationers. Finally one stopped. Newspaper editorials around the country asked searching questions, such as whether the country’s affluence has made it lose some of the warmth and compassion for which it has long been famous.
The Common Cold Research Center of Salisbury, England, closed this summer, bringing an end to a futile 44-year quest to find a cure for the common cold. The task, it turned out, is not as simple as was once thought. Comments the center’s administrator: “We used to think there was only one cold virus. Now we know there are nearly 200, so there is no chance of finding a vaccine.” Over the years some 18,000 volunteers had come to the center to be subjected to a variety of viruses during ten-day quarantine programs. Even though volunteers had to keep at least 30 feet [10 m] away from anyone except for their roommate and the medical staff, some seemed to enjoy the program. One couple met during their stay and returned the following year for their honeymoon. One man returned 26 times. The administrator describes him, though, as “rather odd.”
A BLURRED UNIVERSE
Shock waves of bitterness and rage rippled through the community of astronomers who had high hopes for the recently launched $1,600,000,000 Hubble Space Telescope. With its huge, sensitive mirrors designed to capture the crystal-clear view available beyond earth’s distorting atmosphere, the telescope had promised to extend mankind’s view into the universe as dramatically as did the telescope used by Galileo. But as ground-based astronomers attempted to operate the telescope, they realized the grim truth: It cannot focus properly. Apparently a mirror was made with an aberration that was not detected because the mirrors were never fully tested.
CONTAMINATION-FREE BLOOD BANK?
A West German doctor faces a tough challenge in a central African country—he was asked to set up an AIDS-free blood bank there. In the country’s capital, 6 percent of the donated blood is infected with the AIDS virus. Hence, the blood bank emphasizes screening the blood. Yet, lapses do occur. As the monthly magazine New African reports: “On one occasion a blood sample turned out to be AIDS-infested but unknown to the bank, the samples were given to two newly born babies.” While the bank claims its blood is AIDS-free, it does not even test for the malaria and syphilis that are known to contaminate more than 18 percent of the blood.
PRISON PROBLEMS PROLIFERATING
A recent report by the Australian Institute of Criminology warns that Australia’s prisons have become seriously overcrowded. It claims that prisons should have an 85-percent occupancy rate, whereas the rate in Australian prisons currently averages 103 percent, with some states much higher than others. Only on the island state of Tasmania does each prisoner have a single cell. Another concern is that 23 of the continent’s 88 prisons were built before the year 1900. In many of these prisons, the conditions are primitive and described by some as “inhumane.” There seems to be little hope of improvement, as statistics reveal disturbing trends. For instance, the number of women sent to prison between 1982 and 1986 increased by 65 percent!