Watching the World

The world’s population surpassed 7 billion in late 2011, “up from 6 billion in 1999.”​—HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, U.S.A.

“Overall, 58.8% of people in the [United Kingdom] said they felt that their family would benefit from having technology-free time where all communications are switched off. . . . One in three people has felt overwhelmed to the point of needing to escape from communications technologies.”​—UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, BRITAIN.

“Since 1976, the conference of America’s Catholic bishops has issued statements . . . before each presidential election year to help Catholics apply their faith to their political choices.”​—FORDHAM UNIVERSITY, U.S.A.

“If sufficient numbers of criminals want to create havoc on the streets, they can. . . . A moral malaise has gripped a minority of young Britons, a subgroup that is nevertheless big enough to terrorise and humiliate the country.”​—THE ECONOMIST, BRITAIN.

How Many Species on Earth?

“We are still remarkably uncertain as to how many species exist, highlighting a significant gap in our basic knowledge of life on Earth,” say scientists whose research appears in the journal PLoS Biology. Although their estimate is 8.7 million species of living things, give or take a million or so, other experts put the figure anywhere between 3 million and 100 million. So far, only about 1.2 million of those species have been classified, and it is believed that at the present rate, it could take over 1,000 years to catalog the remainder. “This slow advance in the description of species will lead to species becoming extinct before we know they even existed,” say the researchers.

Archaeology by Satellite

Archaeologists are using a new method to locate sites of interest to them. They are employing analytic tools to interpret pictures taken by high-resolution and infrared satellite photography. Images taken from 440 miles (700 km) above Egypt, for example, are reported to have revealed the locations of 17 previously unknown pyramids, 1,000 ancient tombs, and some 3,000 lost settlements. Because infrared photography is capable of penetrating the earth’s surface, the technology is revealing outlines of long-forgotten and buried structures, which are invisible on the ground.