Watching the World

In 2007, China had “106 US dollar billionaires, compared with 15 [in 2006] and none in 2002.”​—CHINA DAILY, CHINA.

“Indians who neglect their ageing parents face possible prison under a new law [that] reflects concerns that rapid modernization . . . is undermining a centuries-old social fabric of extended families.”​—REUTERS, INDIA.

“Today, there may be as many practising Muslims in England as there are practising Anglicans.”​—THE ECONOMIST, BRITAIN.

Siberian Trees “Mine” Precious Metals

In Siberia’s forests “it is possible to find native gold in rotting tree stumps,” reports the Russian magazine Vokrug Sveta. Scientists from Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk, and Novosibirsk have found that evergreen trees growing above ore deposits in Siberia draw up dissolved metals from the soil. When the trees die and rot, the metals are deposited on the forest floor. From a single ton of residue produced by the rotting wood of these trees, Siberian scientists have obtained five grams of platinum, almost 200 milligrams of gold, and three kilograms of silver.

First Aid at Funerals

A defibrillator has been issued to gravediggers at a cemetery in Australia. The purpose? To resuscitate grief-stricken mourners who suffer cardiac arrest, reports the Sydney Sun-Herald. “Funerals are risky places for heart attacks,” explains Sisenanda Santos, a spokeswoman for the St. John Ambulance service, which is supervising the program. “People are in large groups, they are distressed, and they are often overdressed for hot days.” The defibrillator is programmed with recorded instructions to the user and administers an electric shock to restart the distressed person’s heart only if the device detects the distinctive signs of cardiac arrest.

Divorce Bad for the Environment

The surging divorce rate worldwide is hurting the environment, since it results in increased consumption of limited resources. Divorce leads to more households, decreased household size, and higher consumption per head, says a study printed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Divorced households in the [United States] could have saved more than 38 million rooms, 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, and 627 billion gallons [2,400,000,000,000 l] of water in 2005 alone if their resource-use efficiency had been comparable to married households.” In the year 2000, there were 6.1 million “resource-inefficient” households of this kind in the United States.

The Bible on a Pinhead

Israeli nanotechnology scientists have succeeded in printing the entire “Old Testament” in Hebrew on a silicon chip “smaller than a pinhead,” reports the Internet news source Science Daily. The feat was accomplished by shooting a focused beam of tiny particles, called gallium ions, to etch the text onto the gold-covered surface of the chip. “The nano-bible project demonstrates the miniaturization at our disposal,” explains Professor Uri Sivan of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. It also paves the way for “storing information in very small spaces.”

[Picture Credit Line on page 30]

AP Photo/​Ariel Schalit