Brain-Eating Amoeba, Wasted Food, and Other News Items

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ILLUSTRATION: PENGUINN/FOTOLIA
Naegleria fowleri, a freshwater amoeba which devours human brain cells, is responsible for 123 deaths worldwide.

The following short news items were drawn from multiple sources.


Brain Eating Amoeba

The Center for Disease Control reports 123 deaths
worldwide caused by Naegleria fowleri, a strain of
freshwater amoeba which devours human brain cells (only
three people have, so far, recovered from such attacks).
Although there’ve been fewer than 35
victims in the United States in the past 12 years, the CDC cautions against
extended underwater swimming.

Wasted Food

While millions starve, the government
estimates that 20% of all food produced in the U.S. (an
amount which adds up to about 137 million tons and is worth
some $31 billion) is wasted. In one year
alone, our nation’s production and
distribution systems lose enough food to keep 49 million people alive. Another 60 million tons of edibles (worth $5 billion) are
simply left in fields and orchards for lack of commercial
markets.

Drowning Fire Ants

Water quenches fire ants, according to
Florida State University insect ecologist Dr. Walter
Tschinkel. Just choose a cool, sunny day when most of the
ants are close to the surface, break open the tops of
all of the colony’s hard mounds, and pour about three
gallons of scalding water into each “hill.” One or two
additional applications of the hot liquid may be necessary,
but any survivors will stay (where they can be re-treated)
rather than merely relocating and building up their
strength again, as they often do after chemical treatments.

New Light Bulb

A $10 light bulb,  made by General
Electric, will be on the market in early 1981. The lamp
will fit into existing sockets, should last four times
longer than–and use about one-third the energy of–normal
bulbs, and is expected to save the consumer about $20
over its projected life. Illumination in the new bulb is
produced by an arc of electricity in a quarts-tube-enclosed
metal halide vapor.

Electrified Beef

Electrified beef will soon be on the
market, as the packing industry rapidly adopts a new
process that tenderises meat with a series of 600-volt
shocks administered to a carcass for about one minute
before it’s hung up to age. The treated meat is said to
produce steaks that are 50% more tender than are untreated
cuts, which will upgrade more beef to the “USDA Choice”
class.

Goat Lawn Mower

Shortly after his
rent-a-goat ad appeared in a San Diego newspaper, Harold
Norris was swamped with calls for the service … which
many homeowners saw as a means of preventing the brush
fires that often sweep southern California’s overgrown
canyon residential areas. Harold charges a $7.50 rental
rate for one sure-footed weed-eater per week, or $11 for
two.

Sinking Land

Since 1915,
approximately 35 trillion gallons of irrigation water have
been pumped from beneath the surface of the broad valley
between Arizona’s Picacho and Santa Rosa mountains. As a
result, a 120-square-mile area between Phoenix and Tucson
has dropped from 7 to 12 feet below its former level and
created at least 800 earth fissures (some chasms are as
much as 25 feet wide, and one is a full nine miles long).

Non-Digestion Technology

Eat it but don’t digest it is the theory
behind a whole new line of food preservatives, sweeteners,
and colorings that’s being developed by California’s
Dynapol Company. This non-absorption technology leashes
small molecules–such as those in food additives–to much
larger molecules that can’t pass through the intestinal
walls to be metabolized by the body!

Anti-Radar Device

An anti-radar device which enabled
Israeli pilots to carry out their secret Entebbe rescue
mission emits rays that alter the magnetic fields and
centers of gravity of instrument dials, and confuse the
aiming devices on many weapons as well. Though the details
of the “ray” are still among Israel’s best-kept military
secrets, its inventor, Sydney Hurwich of Toronto, once
staged a demonstration–reminiscent of the reports often
given by flying saucer sighters–that stopped watches and
jammed the guns of Canadian police.

Stop Smoking With Spinach

Preliminary
studies indicate that simple sodium bicarbonate may enable
smokers to drastically cut down their use of (or abstain
from) cigarettes. It seems that people with high acid
levels in their urine are more likely to crave nicotine
than are men or women with low levels. Though researchers
used four grams of bicarbonate to aid smoker withdrawal in
their tests, they suggest that beet and spinach greens–and
other alkalizing foods–may have “much more profound
effects”.

Eating Earthworms

A worm farmer,
who points out that his wrigglers are 70% protein, offers
this recipe for their preparation: “Boil them for five
minutes, then change the water and reboil four or five
times until the meat is ‘purified’. Put the worms on a
cookie sheet and bake in a 380°F oven for about 15
minutes. They come out crisp and tasty, like french fries
or bits of bacon.”

In Brief

SURVIVAL OF THE FURRIEST : Mice in a
London meat market have developed long fur coats as
protection against the chill inside cold-storage units ….
While serfs in the middle ages paid 20% of their earnings
to their masters, the average worker today hands over 40%
of his or her pay to MILORD, UNCLE SAM …. GOLD
FRANKLINS, the new troy-ounce, half-ounce, and
quarter-ounce gold pieces from the Franklin Mint
(sculptured by Gilroy Roberts, designer of the U.S. Kennedy
half dollar) are an American alternative to South Africa’s
Krugerrands . . . . NEW YORK’S SUPER RATS , oversized
rodents that are impervious to most kinds of poisons, are
being snared by the city in mesh cages baited with peanut
butter sandwiches.