World Population officially hits 6 Billion
On New Year's Day 1900, there were just over 1.6 billion human inhabitants on this earth. Today, with what has been termed "the Exponential Century" coming to an end, some baby out there has joined the ranks of his or her 6 billion other homo sapiens.
In September 1999, the United Nations decided that October 12, 1999 would be the day, termed "D6B" when the world's population officially climbed over 6 billion. This date is based mainly on guesswork due to constantly changing mortality and birth rates.
During a two-day visit to Bosnia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will symbolically welcome the first newborn born after midnight Sarajevo time in the maternity ward of the University Clinical Centre of Sarajevo as the six billionth person in the world.
In no other time period in the history of man has the population increased so dramatically, despite hundreds of millions being killed in major famines, wars and political oppression. This "population explosion" was mainly caused to falling infant mortality rates and climbing life expectancy brought about by improvements in medical technology. The UN has estimated that the world's population will reach 8.9 billion by 2050, but other forecasts vary from a low of 7.3 billion to a high of 10.7 billion.
By Jason, Sizwe and Janine (27629) on Monday, October 4, 1999 - 09:17 am:
Princess Diana Dies
Diana, Princess of Wales, died early on the morning of 31st August when the armoured Mercedes she was travelling in crashed in a Paris underpass. Her companion, millionaire jet setter Dodi Al Fayed, and the chauffeur, Henri Paul, were also killed.
A gang of paparazzi photographers on motorcycles had pursued the couple after they left the Ritz Hotel where they had enjoyed dinner. Initial reports blamed the accident on the attention of the photographers. However, French police said that they believed their Mercedes might have been travelling at excessive speed. Seven men were put under investigation in connection with the accident.
At the age of 36, Diana left behind two sons, William, aged 15, who is second in line to the British throne and Harry, 12. Tributes to the Princess poured in from around the world. South African premier Nelson Mandela praised her work with the poor, the sick and the disabled. US President Bill Clinton said: "Hillary and I knew Princess Diana and were very fond of her. We are profoundly saddened by this tragic event." In Britain, prime minister Tony Blair said of the princess: "She touched the lives of so many others in Britain and throughout the world with joy and with comfort."
On the day of the funeral on 2nd September, Britain plunged into the greatest outpouring of grief since the death of Queen Victoria. Shops, pubs and banks honored the princess by closing for the day and many sports events were cancelled. People queued for up to 12 hours to sign a condolence book at St James's Palace.
Mad Cow Disease
On 19 March 1996, London scientists issued warnings of a new form of deadly brain disease which was linked to eating beef from cattle infected with "mad cow disease". They revealed that ten cases had recently been diagnosed of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), a rare illness that usually affects older people. This time, all the sufferers were under 45 years of age.
CJD, the human variant of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), attacks the central nervous system and causes dementia and seizures, leading to a painful death. BSE, was first identified in the UK in 1986, and was attributed to the practice of feeding dairy cows with animal protein from sheep infected with scrapie - a common nervous disease. BSE causes erratic behaviour and staggering in cattle -- hence the name 'mad cow disease'.
European countries demanded that the entire British herd be slaughtered, and Britons - who had already curbed their consumption of beef - later encountered a Europe-wide ban on the export of British cattle, beef and related products.
By Graham on Friday, September 10, 1999 - 04:41 pm:
Before I start, let me first say that this is one fantastic site. Excellent job, everyone!
This site already has a fascinating section on 20th century transportation and I just want to add some comments.
This year alone, many exciting developments in the area of transport have taken place. For one, the first non-stop ballon circumnavigation of the world was completed by Bertland Priccard and Brian Jones in the Breitling Orbiter 3. The ballon lifted off in the Swiss Alps on March 1 1999 and landed in the Egyptian desert 20 days later.
Future developments look as bright: A new supersonic space passenger shuttle is in the works. It will work by continually bouncing off the stratosphere, cutting long-haul commuting times by up to half. Meanwhile, construction of the International Space Station is pretty much going according to plan and the next module, the Russian Service Module, is slated to go up into orbit in November 1999.
Closer to home, auto makers are racing to develop "green" cars using alternative, renewable fuel sources such as hydrogen or vegetable oil. Working prototypes are already on the roads and within half a decade should be available to the general public.
Trains that "glide" or "float" on their rails because of a strong electromagnetic field have been around since the '80s and are now seeing a revival in interest, with inverstigations being made into its feasibility by many city tranportation departments.
On the seas, a new shipping route which passes through the Arctic Circle may be opened as early as the year 2000, reducing shipping times between Europe and Japan by bypassing the ports of Southeast Asia. Feasibility studies are being made and improved ice-breaking ships are being developed. Asian governments have voiced their protest against the possibily development.
As for leisure travel, airlines, cruise liners and car rental companies expect a boon as millions of people travel around the world to celebrate the dawn of January 1st, 2000 in some far-off and exotic place. Plane, train and cruise tickets have been booked up as early as last year but many travellers are wary of travelling on or after January 1st, fearing the possible impact of the Y2K bug, which could render radar and Global Positioning Satellite systems (used by all commercial airliners) unusable.
Personally, I'm scared stiff of travelling around that time so I'm going on vaction a couple of weeks before.
(Note: Original message body remains unchanged except for additional links which were added by Jason, Sizwe and Janine. Thanks Graham, for your excellent submission.)