Watching the World
“It’s an astonishing fact that year after year, the Bible is the best-selling book in America—even though 90% of households already have at least one copy. . . . An estimated 25 million copies [are] sold each year.”—THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, UNITED STATES.
“Globally, snake bite affects the lives of some 4.5 million people every year, and conservative estimates suggest that at least 100,000 people die from snake bite, and another 250,000 are permanently disabled.”—UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.
Some “210 billion emails per day were sent in 2008.”—NEW SCIENTIST, BRITAIN.
Highway Noise Hampers Memory
“People with a bedroom near a highway, railroad, or airport are likely to find it harder to remember old information and learn new things, even if they just sleep through the noise.” So says Ysbrand van der Werf of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. Memory performance and learning ability are affected when a person is deprived of sleep, but the same is true when a person is subject to “mild disruption of deep sleep without . . . waking up,” says the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant. In order to work properly, the hippocampus, an area of the brain crucial to memory, needs deep sleep, undisturbed by “external stress factors, such as noise and light.”
Fireworks and Respiratory Conditions
Fireworks displays may be spectacular, but the particles shot into the atmosphere can be dangerous to your health. To produce different-colored flashes, many fireworks contain metal salts—for example, strontium for red and barium for green. Austrian researchers who tested samples of fallen snow before and after a New Year’s fireworks display found that the snow’s barium content increased some 500-fold. Since barium poisoning causes constriction of the airways, researchers say that inhaling the smoke from fireworks could aggravate respiratory problems, such as asthma.
Wind Turbines Kill Bats
In Alberta, Canada, bats are being found dead at the foot of wind turbines, reports the magazine Scientific American. This has left investigators perplexed, given the bats’ remarkable sonar and flying abilities. However, researchers have discovered internal hemorrhaging in 92 percent of the victims examined, leading to the conclusion that the bats’ delicate respiratory system cannot cope with the sudden drop in air pressure created by the turbine blades. These blades can move at a speed of 125 miles [200 km] an hour at their extremities. Insect-eating migratory bats are principally affected, and it is feared that wind turbines could have a destabilizing effect on ecosystems.