Watching the World
Space-Based Radio Telescope
Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science recently launched a radio telescope that is 26 feet [8 m] in diameter, reports Science News. The uniqueness of this new telescope lies in its being linked up with about 40 land-based radio telescopes located in various parts of the world. This system is known as the Very Long Baseline Space Observatory. Emissions from celestial radio sources, such as quasars and black holes, are picked up by these widely separated devices and combined to produce a single image. The greater the separation of the receivers, the greater the resolution of the final image. This telescope’s elliptic orbit will take it some 12,500 miles [20,000 km] from earth at its farthest point. The new space-based telescope provides a resolution 1,000 times higher than the Hubble Space Telescope achieves in visible light. “At that resolution,” states Science News, “an observer in Los Angeles could discern a grain of rice in Tokyo.”
TV for Toddlers?
To find time for necessary duties, harried parents of small children may be inclined to plunk them down in front of the TV. But according to Parents magazine, this presents dangers to the child. “Violent programming,” including many cartoons, it states, “has been unequivocally shown to lead to increased aggression in young viewers.” Additionally, studies conducted by Dorothy Singer of Yale University indicate that “a steady diet of television before preschool age is also associated with poor behavior and delays in reading readiness” later on. Singer recommends no more than 30 minutes of TV a day for one-year-olds. Another concern is accidents that may occur while the child is alone with the TV. Author Milton Chen notes: “It takes only a minute for an unsupervised and active toddler to get into danger.” Parents magazine suggests that you put your child and a few safe toys in a playpen within your view when you have to make lunch or answer the phone.
Internet Addiction Disorder
“The latest consequence of the information age may be addiction to the Internet,” reports the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Dr. Kimberly Young surveyed 496 heavy users of the Internet, 396 of whom were identified as dependent users. The research revealed that the consequences of Internet addiction include “social isolation, marital discord, academic failure, excessive financial debt, [and] job termination.” Dr. Young says that the disorder “is as real an addiction as alcoholism or compulsive gambling.” The journal added that “home-based computer users are most at risk.” Although anyone may get excessively caught up in the Internet, “a typical addict is a middle-aged female with limited education,” says Dr. Young. Among the danger signs are spending ever longer periods on-line, and “giving up important social or occupational activities” to use the Internet.
Project Tiger Falters
In 1973, Project Tiger was launched in India to prevent the extinction of the country’s national animal. At that time the number of tigers in India had already dwindled to 1,827. The project enjoyed international support and notable success. By 1989 the Indian tiger population had climbed to over 4,000. Now, however, the tiger is once again in danger, according to India Today. India’s tiger count is estimated to have fallen below 3,000. Why? Some say that poachers kill, on the average, at least one tiger every day. Project Tiger was meant to provide protection for the big cat. But it does not seem to be able to do that. “The forest guard, often shot at, is demoralised, ill-equipped,” states the report. For the tiger, “existence is giving way to extinction.”
Look Old but Die Young
As indicated by the following reports, researchers believe that smoking may speed up the aging process. Long-term smokers are four times as likely to become prematurely gray and twice as likely to be bald or balding, according to the Lancet of Britain. Reporting on this, the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter pointed out that smokers have more wrinkles and are twice as likely to lose their teeth as nonsmokers. The report refers to a recent study noted in the British Medical Journal showing that men who are lifetime smokers have only half as good a chance of reaching the age of 73 as do those who do not smoke. In addition, Good Housekeeping magazine reports that “nonsmokers who live with smokers are 20 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.”
“Fatal lightning strikes,” reports The Australian newspaper, “are more frequent than people think.” Lightning kills between five and ten people in Australia each year and accounts for more than 100 injuries, explains the report. There is little warning of an impending hit, although “some people who were about to be struck by lightning have reported feeling their hair stand on end,” says Phil Alford of Melbourne’s Bureau of Meteorology. To improve your chances of avoiding a strike, Alford recommends that you seek shelter from thunderstorms in a solid building or inside a hardtop vehicle that is isolated from metal structures.
“Depression in the aged shows up in a different way from that in younger people,” reports the Jornal do Brasil. Rather than manifesting itself as anguish or anxiety, such depression is “characterized by loss of cognitive abilities—memory, concentration, and thinking ability.” Moreover, according to Professor Paulo Mattos of Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University, “depressed elderly people manifest excessive guilt feelings in regard to irrelevant things. They lose interest in what they used to do or what used to give them pleasure,” including conversation. Such symptoms are sometimes mistakenly regarded as just part of old age, states the report. In order to recognize such changes in behavior and identify depression, says Dr. Mattos, “it is very important that people have constant contact with elderly family members.”
In 1984 a villager discovered gold in the African country of Niger, and the ensuing gold rush brought miners from many countries to the region. Canadian geologist Chris Gleeson recalled that ancient African civilizations used termite mounds to locate gold deposits. Niger is home to a species of termite that builds huge mounds, some six feet [1.8 m] high and six feet [1.8 m] in diameter. The mounds grow as the termites burrow—sometimes as deep as 250 feet [75 m]—in search of water, explains National Geographic magazine. Gleeson took samples from many mounds in the hope that they would show him where to dig. Most samples did not contain gold, but some did! “Any mound with any gold had gold all through it,” he found. It appears that as the termites dig for water, whatever they encounter is brought to the surface, including gold.
The advent of portable cellular telephones has emphasized a need for some old-fashioned manners, according to the Far Eastern Economic Review. Hong Kong business consultant Tina Liu encourages showing respect and consideration, both for the person on the other end of the line and for those who may be around you. She advises speaking clearly but not loudly and not eating or drinking while using the phone. Liu also recommends minimizing the calls taken during meetings and redirecting calls or switching to a vibrator ring signal in such places as hospitals, libraries, and auditoriums. Interrupting social occasions by taking calls can cause friends or relatives to feel left out. Regarding dining out, Liu comments: “A fellow who talks on the phone while he’s with a woman had better finish the call before the effect of his bouquet of flowers wears off.”
As long as electricity is applied to certain fluids containing suspended particles, the particles form tiny chains, causing the fluid to be more viscous. This phenomenon is called the Winslow effect, after Dr. W. M. Winslow, who discovered it in 1940. Since then, the automotive industry along with others, including Dr. Winslow himself, now 93, continue to search for a practical application of such ‘smart fluids.’ Experimenters at Michigan State University in the United States knew that molten milk chocolate shared certain qualities with ‘smart fluids.’ As suspected, in a recent experiment, a melted chocolate bar turned almost instantly into a stiff semisolid when exposed to a strong electric field. Another ‘smart fluid,’ composed of cornstarch suspended in kerosene, varies between the consistency of milk and that of butter as the intensity of the electric field is changed.