Watching the World

▪ A clam dredged from the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean has been dubbed “the longest-lived animal ever known.” Scientists counted the growth layers of its shell and determined that the clam was 405 years old.​—SUNDAY TIMES, BRITAIN.

▪ “In an economic downturn, even those whose net worth is in the billions feel the squeeze. Just ask their psychologists.”​—THE NEW YORK TIMES, U.S.A.

TV Affects Sexual Behavior

“There is increasing evidence that youth exposure to sexual content on television shapes sexual attitudes and behavior,” says an article published in the journal Pediatrics. In fact, according to one study, adolescents who have high exposure to such programs are “twice as likely to experience a pregnancy” than those who view little of such material. One possible explanation is that TV creates the perception that sexual behavior is relatively risk-free, in that unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are not portrayed realistically enough. Of course, TV is just one medium that shapes adolescents’ sexual behavior. Researchers also suggest that critical attention should be given to magazines, the Internet, and music.

New Cases of Leprosy

Three thousand people in the United States are receiving treatment for leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease. Approximately 150 new cases are diagnosed annually. Many sufferers are from other countries. However, the National Hansen’s Disease Program, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, “sees approximately 30 cases each year among residents in southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast of Texas who were born in the U.S. and who have never visited an endemic country,” says the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Researchers still do not fully understand how the disease spreads. If diagnosed early, leprosy is fully treatable. However, once the disease has taken hold, nerve damage cannot be reversed.

Thefts of Radioactive Material

“The possibility of terrorists obtaining nuclear or other radioactive material remains a grave threat,” says Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The number of incidents reported to the Agency involving the theft or loss of nuclear or radioactive material is disturbingly high​—nearly 250 in the first half of 2008 alone. Equally troubling is the fact that much of this material is not subsequently recovered.” It is not clear whether this phenomenon is a result of an increasing demand for radioactive materials or of member states’ more accurate reporting of losses.

Ancient Writing Found in Israel

Israeli archaeologists have found an ancient text that appears to predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1,000 years. The document, five lines of text written in ink on a pottery fragment, was uncovered in excavations of a 10th-century-B.C.E. Judean fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel. The document has not yet been fully deciphered, but it seems to be a legal text that was written by a trained scribe and contains “roots of the words ‘judge,’ ‘slave’ and ‘king,’” says a press release from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Gabi Laron/​Institute of Archaeology/​Hebrew University © Yosef Garfinkel