Features

Boom or bust?

"Boom or bust?" Continued...

Issue: "The other campaign," Feb. 9, 2008

Walters wants "environmentally responsible medical practitioners" to push for a carbon tax-$5,000 per child at birth, $400 to $800 each year for life-on any family that chooses to have more than two children. Birth-control users would get carbon offsets, and David Attenborough's adage could be fulfilled: "Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, we should control the population to ensure the survival of the environment."

The sun did it

Scientific space weather-watchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have noted the first sunspot (an area of highly organized magnetic activity on the surface of the sun) of Solar Cycle 24. "This sunspot is like the first robin of spring," said solar physicist Douglas Biesecker of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (swpc.noaa.gov.). "In this case, it's an early omen of solar storms that will gradually increase over the next few years."

According to NOAA, the new 11-year cycle will gradually increase, with the peak coming in 2011 or 2012. During these cycles electrical grids, communications, cell phones, and GPS signals could be affected. NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr. said, "Our growing dependence on highly sophisticated, space-based technologies means we are far more vulnerable to space weather today than in the past."

Trimmed-down television

Early adopters can now start dreaming about owning a skinny TV. At the Consumer Electronics Show large screen TV manufacturers vied to be the skinniest, with LG bragging about its 1.7-inch thin LCD screen, JVC announcing a 1.5-inch screen, and Pioneer proclaiming the "world's thinnest plasma," at a mere .35 inches. The manufacturers have not announced prices. The search for thinness is not limited to TV screens. Apple recently introduced the "world's thinnest notebook," the MacBook Air, which measures 0.16 inches at its thinnest point.

Valentine's facts

  • Six percent of currently married women have been married for 50 years or longer.
  • Last year the nation's nearly 30,000 jewelry stores sold $2.5 billion in merchandise in February alone.
  • Americans eat 26 pounds of chocolate a year per capita, at a total cost of about $15 billion.
Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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