The leaning tower of Babel
The world's languages are disappearing at a rate of about one every two weeks—faster than researchers can document them. The heaviest losses are taking place in five regions, according to a new report sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages: Oklahoma and the southwestern U.S., central South America, eastern Siberia, northern Australia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Researchers expect nearly half of the world's 7,000-odd languages to die out this century. (Enduring Voices Project)
Love American style: Web beats sex every time
One fifth of Americans spend less time having sex because of the Internet, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults. Australia's iTnews reports that 28 percent of respondents said Web surfing also cuts into the time they would spend socializing face to face. Most of those polled said they wouldn't want to be disconnected from the Web for more than a few days. "People told us how anxious, isolated and bored they felt when they are forced off line," a pollster told the news service. (iTnews)
Yale to Peru: here's (some of) your stuff back
Yale University agreed last week to return some of the thousands of artifacts taken from Machu Picchu in Peru nearly a century ago by a Yale archaeologist. Long a sore point for Peru, which has threatened legal action to recover the bones, jewelry, pottery and other artifacts, the returned items will become part of a joint Yale–Peru traveling exhibition based in the former Inca capital of Cuzco. Yale told the Los Angeles Times it would return several hundred of the fragments, but stressed it would retain research rights to much of the collection, leaving unspecified the exact number of artifacts Peru would receive. (LA Times)
What's with all these Wookiees?
According to press reports, a cancer patient who received Pfizer's antifungal drug Vfend swears he saw a Wookiee leaning over his bed—a hallucination brought on by the drug. But SciAm wonders: Could it have been a guy in a Wookiee costume? Consider this: just weeks ago a Wookiee impersonator handed over the light-saber prop from the original Star Wars movie to NASA officials in honor of the film's 30th anniversary. Later, a video made the rounds featuring another impressionist roaring Wookiee-style on the TV show Judge Joe Brown after allegedly head-butting a tour guide. It's probably just a coincidence, but you never know. (CNBC pharma blog; video)