Watching the World
◼ “A team of astronomers using the Subaru and Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea [Hawaii] has discovered giant, three-dimensional filaments of galaxies extending across 200 million light-years of space.” These filaments make up the largest-known structure ever discovered.—SUBARU TELESCOPE WEB SITE, JAPAN.
◼ The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics reports that “the number of weddings [in England and Wales] in 2006 was the lowest for 110 years. More and more couples prefer to cohabit.”—THE GUARDIAN WEEKLY, BRITAIN.
◼ According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.”—U.S.A.
Colleges and “Hookup” Sex
“Except for some evangelical colleges . . . , there is little difference between public, private and Catholic colleges and universities in the ‘hookup culture’ that prevails on campus—one in which students seek sexual experiences with a variety of partners.” So said Catholic theologian and assistant university professor Donna Freitas after doing research on sexual behavior and religion in American colleges. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Freitas said that religion’s lack of influence on sexual mores reveals not only “the power of the college hookup culture” but also “the weakness of religious traditions in the face of it.”
Parents Paid to Raise Girls
The Indian government is offering poor parents the equivalent of nearly $3,000 (U.S.) to raise daughters, says a BBC News report. Families will receive a cash award upon the birth of a daughter and at various stages of her life up to the age of 18. Although gender selection and selective abortion were outlawed in 1994, they remain widespread. In fact, it is estimated that over the past 20 years, abortion claimed the lives of approximately 10 million female fetuses, seriously affecting the gender balance in some areas. According to a 2001 census, nationwide there were 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six and the gap was widening. In one state the birth ratio was 793 girls born for every 1,000 boys.
Birds’ Reaction to Noise
Some birds go to great lengths to make themselves heard over city clamor. While urban noise may be a nuisance for humans, it can be a question of “life and death” for birds, says New Scientist magazine, since males sing to “attract mates and demarcate their territory.” Because city noise is louder at low frequencies, certain birds make their songs more audible by singing at night or by raising their volume or pitch. What is more, this adaptability is not limited to urban birds, says the magazine. Those living near “waterfalls and river torrents also sing at higher frequencies.”