Watching the World
Bible Reading Brings Benefits
Americans who read the Bible at least once a week feel more joyful and content and sense greater purpose in life than those who read the Bible less often, according to a study reported by the Associated Press. In a random survey of American adults, conducted by Market Facts, Inc., of Illinois, nearly 90 percent of frequent Bible readers said that they feel at peace all or most of the time, compared with 58 percent of those who read the Bible less than once a month. Further, 15 percent of regular Bible readers said that they worry about being accepted by others, compared with 28 percent of irregular readers. Only 12 percent of frequent readers said that they worry about death sometimes or very much, compared with 22 percent of infrequent readers.
What Babies Hear
Recent research confirms that the quantity and tone of the words an infant hears affect its ability to think rationally, solve problems, and reason abstractly, reports The New York Times. A study at the University of Iowa found that children of parents who are professionals heard an average of 2,100 words each hour, while those of working-class parents heard 1,200 words and those of parents on welfare, only 600. The parents’ tone of voice—encouraging, scolding, warm, or commanding—was also noted. The two-and-a-half-year study showed that the varying input “had a profound effect on each child’s abilities to think conceptually by age 4.” One of the researchers, Dr. Betty Hart, said that the first three years are unique in the lives of humans because infants are so utterly dependent on adults for all their nurture and language.
Cassava is a staple food for some 200 million people in Africa. And now, thanks to a small predator mite called Typhlodromalus aripo, there is a lot more cassava to go around. According to New Scientist magazine, the T. aripo was imported from Brazil to fight one of the world’s most devastating cassava pests, the green spider mite, which was responsible for destroying up to one third of some African cassava crops. Researchers discovered that northeast Brazil, which has plenty of cassava, has few problems caused by the green spider mite. It was found that the predator mites, T. aripo, sit at the tip of the plant waiting for the green mites to appear and then eat them. Not only do T. aripo kill up to 90 percent of the green spider mites, says the magazine, but they also help farmers avoid the use of pesticides, which many cannot afford.
Two Are Better Than One
People have greater success in trying to adopt a healthier life-style when they have a partner who is doing the same, according to Britain’s New Scientist magazine. This is the conclusion drawn from a survey of 1,204 couples, which was reported on in Archives of Family Medicine. Says Stephen Pyke, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: “People are more likely to quit smoking, lower their cholesterol and lose weight if both partners follow the advice.”
Anyone who uses his voice a lot, such as a teacher, is at risk of straining and losing his voice, reports The Toronto Star newspaper. Likewise, constant yelling to be heard in a noisy environment can damage vocal cords. Whispering and habitual throat clearing are also hard on your voice, says speech and language pathologist Bonnie Mann. She advises not waiting until the problem becomes serious before taking action and encourages good posture to relax tension in the neck and shoulders. She adds: “It’s important, above all, to keep your throat wet.” If you depend on your voice, Mann recommends sipping water throughout the day.
Tracking Tibetan Weather
Ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region have organized experiments to study monsoons, reports New Scientist magazine. Agriculture in large areas of Asia is dependent on the rains brought by the monsoons, but these can vary substantially from year to year. Meteorologists believe that the Tibetan plateau is a major cause of the monsoon rains, but data from Tibet has not been available for analysis. After negotiation with China, unmanned equipment is now being set up in Tibet to monitor temperature, humidity, wind, and other Himalayan weather factors. Researchers are hopeful that the data obtained will lead to better understanding of Asian monsoons.
Roman Governmental Site Unearthed in Israel
Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a Roman governmental complex in Caesarea that may be the praetorian palace where the apostle Paul was imprisoned, says a Reuters report. Yosef Porath, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority operations at Caesarea, said that archaeologists at the site had unearthed a mosaic bearing a Latin inscription indicating that one office there may have served as a bureau for internal security. “This inscription helps solve the problem of where the hearing of St. Paul before the Roman governor described in the New Testament took place,” said Porath. He noted that the site was the only seat of Roman government yet unearthed in Israel and one of the few in the ancient Roman world.
Ants as Medicine
During a battle in 1947, Chinese military surgeon Wu Zhicheng needed to control infection in the wounded, but his stock of medicines was exhausted. Near despair, he turned to a local doctor, who prescribed traditional Chinese medicine—water boiled with ants to clean the wounds and medicine made from special types of ants. According to China Today, the results were so encouraging that Dr. Wu began a long career of researching medicinal uses for ants. He believes that ant medicines help balance the immune system and says: “The ant is a mini-nutritional storehouse. It contains more than 50 nutrients needed by the human body, 28 amino acids and various minerals and chemical compounds.”
More than 80 percent of Italians experience posture problems because of a sedentary life-style, according to a study conducted by Professor Maurizio Ricciardi, director of the University of Siena posture center. More than half these sufferers of “office sickness” also complain of such things as backaches, headaches, nausea, dizziness and balance troubles, fluctuation in blood pressure, diarrhea, constipation, colitis, and gastritis, reports Il Messaggero newspaper. “After every hour of work, the Japanese and Chinese do some simple exercises” to combat these problems, says Ricciardi, “while for us, the only break is for coffee.”
Young Brazilian Readers
Literacy and the number of years that students remain in school are both on the rise in Brazil, states Exame magazine. Although there is still much room for improvement, between 1991 and 1995, there was a 36-percent drop in illiteracy in the 7-to-14-year-old age group, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. The average number of years spent in school increased by 10 percent between 1990 and 1995. The growing interest in reading among Brazilian youths may be reflected in the nearly 40-percent increase in the number of students who attended a recent book fair in Rio de Janeiro. The best sellers at the fair—comprising 24 percent of all sales—were books written for young people, reports the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo.
Punjabis and Kidney Stones
People from the state of Punjab and surrounding areas of India are more prone to get kidney stones than any other community in the world, reports India Today International. Punjabis are known for working hard and eating heartily, but often they do not drink enough water in the scorching summer months, says the report. For this reason, their region was described at a recent international urologic conference as the “stone belt” of the world. The average size of a kidney stone there is between two and three centimeters [about an inch], compared with one centimeter [less than half an inch] in Europe and the United States. The report attributes this to many Indians’ tendency to ignore minor pains or put off treatment. Urologists say healthy people should drink at least two quarts of clean water every day.