Watching the World
▪ The official Web site of Jehovah’s Witnesses (www.watchtower.org) currently provides information in 314 languages. Last year, there were over 22 million visits to the site—an average of more than 60,000 every day.
▪ “The challenge of securing safe and plentiful water for all is one of the most daunting challenges faced by the world today. . . . Too often, where we need water we find guns.”—BAN KI-MOON, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL.
Happiness and Health
It has long been thought that happy and positive people tend to be generally healthier than stressed, hostile, or pessimistic people. In one recent study, researchers concluded that people with “upbeat moods” have lower levels of cortisol—a stress hormone that may contribute to a range of ills when it is chronically elevated. Such people also have lower levels of “two proteins that indicate widespread inflammation in the body.” According to Dr. Andrew Steptoe of University College, London, “mood states are not just a matter of heredity, but depend on our social relationships and fulfillment in life.”
Moon Sighting Goes High-Tech
For hundreds of years, Muslims have scanned the skies for the first sliver of the new moon that ends the month of Ramadan and begins the Feast of Fast-Breaking. Traditionally, in some areas that sighting had to be made with the naked eye, after which a religious leader would make an announcement to the faithful. Within the past few years, however, some clerics have sanctioned high-tech methods. Iranian astronomers, accompanied by clerics who verify their sightings, now use high-definition telescopes, night-vision equipment, and even planes loaded with sensitive observation equipment. An early sighting means an early start to the holiday.
Social Skills in Infants?
Babies as young as six months develop “social judging skills before they [can] talk,” say researchers at Yale University, U.S.A. Babies aged six months to ten months watched a large-eyed toy try to climb hills, while other toys either helped it or pushed it backward. The children were then “presented with the toys to see which they would play with,” explains the Houston Chronicle. “Nearly every baby picked the helpful toy over the bad one.” So to some extent, “even infants can tell the difference between naughty and nice playmates, and know which to choose,” says the newspaper.
“Thirst for Bottled Water”
“America’s thirst for bottled water seems unquenchable, reaching nearly 30 billion bottles a year,” says U.S.News & World Report. Many consumers do not realize, however, that most bottled water is simply tap water, so “anyone who is opting for bottled over municipal [water] for health reasons is misguided,” says the magazine. What flows out of the tap in many countries is monitored to ensure conformity to strict standards. And when compared with the “outrageously expensive” bottled alternatives, tap water is also “practically free!”