Watching the World

According to one study, Cesarean sections more than triple the risk of maternal death, as compared with normal deliveries.​—OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY, U.S.A.

Scientist Stephen Hawking posed this open question on the Internet: “In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?” A month later he confessed: “I don’t know the answer. That is why I asked the question, to get people to think about it, and to be aware of the dangers we now face.”​—THE GUARDIAN, BRITAIN.

Every year between 14 million and 19 million people out of Tanzania’s population of 37 million suffer from malaria. “The disease claims about 100,000 lives annually in the country.”​—THE GUARDIAN, TANZANIA.

Fish Protect Water Supply

A number of North American cities are using common bluegills, fish particularly sensitive to chemicals in their environment, to monitor the quality of drinking water. An Associated Press report explains: “The fish are kept in tanks constantly replenished with water from the municipal supply, and sensors work around the clock to register changes in the breathing, heartbeat and swimming patterns of the bluegills that occur in the presence of toxins.” In one instance in New York City, says the report, “the fish noticed a diesel spill two hours earlier than any . . . other detection devices,” and they thus prevented toxins from reaching the public water supply.

Nicotine Levels Raised

While public health campaigns have been urging smokers to quit, tobacco companies have been “sneakily making cigarettes more addictive” by raising nicotine levels “10 percent in the past six years,” reports The New York Times. A new test, considered more realistic in mimicking smokers’ real-life habits, has revealed that tobacco companies are trying “to hook new young smokers and prevent older ones from quitting.” In tests “virtually all brands [of cigarettes] were found to deliver a high enough nicotine dose to cause heavy dependence.”

Thought-Controlled Artificial Arm

A man in the United States who had both arms amputated at the shoulder after an accident is now using a thought-controlled artificial arm. He can climb a ladder, use a paint roller, and even hug his grandchildren. “His left arm is a bionic device controlled by his brain,” explains the Cable News Network. “He thinks, ‘Close hand,’ and electrical signals sent through surgically re-routed nerves make it happen.” Electrodes pick up muscle activity caused by thought-generated impulses and relay them to a computer in the arm. The computer activates motors in the artificial limb, making its parts imitate certain movements of a normal elbow and hand.

Thousands of New Species!

Nearly 17,000 new species are found every year, according to the newspaper Fenua Info of Tahiti. Some three quarters of the new species are insects, but among the discoveries are also some 450 vertebrates, including 250 species of fish and 20 to 30 mammals. Two thirds of the new mammals are rodents and bats, and “on average,” says the newspaper, “a new primate is discovered every year,” which scientists say is surprising. The list of finds also includes trees and plants.