At the End of the Earth, Seeking Clues to the Universe
The same conditions that make the Atacama, Earth’s driest desert, so inhospitable make it beguiling for astronomy. In northern Chile, it is far from big cities, with little light pollution. Its arid climate prevents radio signals from being absorbed by water droplets. The altitude, as high as the Himalaya base camps for climbers preparing to scale Mount Everest, places astronomers closer to the heavens.
Opened last October, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, known as ALMA, will have spread 66 radio antennas near the spine of the Andes by the time it is completed next year. Drawing more than $1 billion in funding mainly from the United States, European countries and Japan, ALMA will help the oxygen-deprived scientists flocking to this region to study the origins of the universe.
How to Keep Seniors Working: Lessons from Chile
American workers live longer each decade but they continue to retire early. They often begin receiving Social Security benefits, quit working and stop contributing to national output well before age 65. Reversing these trends must be an important objective when designing long-term reforms to balance revenues and expenditures on elderly entitlements.
Chile faced similar problems prior to 1981. It had a traditional pay-as-you-go defined benefit system, like Social Security in the United States. Workers had strong incentives to start their retirement benefits as soon as possible, because postponing pensions and adding contributions did not increase benefits commensurately. Labor force participation dropped dramatically when workers became eligible for pensions.
Chilean olive oil
“The Chilean olive oil industry continues to achieve even greater excellence in product integrity, which has translated into fabulous market growth,” states Felix de Vicente, Director of ProChile, the Trade Commission of Chile, whose mission is to make Chile a global food powerhouse with a tantalizing variety of wholesome products. “There has been a 1,000% increase in tons exported from 2007 to 2011 and total orchard size has quintupled since 2005. We’re very proud of our producers and partners and excited for the future in the U.S. and in the 40 other countries our olive oil is sold.”
Chile stops use of mercury in vaccines:
Chile has become the first developing country to stop the use of mercury in vaccines.
In meetings with the Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs (CoMeD) held last week in Santiago, Chile, the current Vice President of the Chilean Senate, Alejandro Navarro Brain, committed to adopting legislation in the Senate that would prohibit the mercury-based preservative Thimerosal from vaccines.
Thimerosal, which is 49% mercury by weight, continues to be used as a preservative in vaccines and other drugs worldwide, despite the fact that it is a human neurotoxin and that safer, less toxic alternatives are readily available.
Chilean Engineer’s Designs Help Santiago’s Skyscrapers Endure Earthquakes
Juan Carlos de la Llera was sleeping soundly with his wife in the early morning of Feb. 27, 2010, when the earth off the coast of central Chile convulsed in the sixth-largest quake ever recorded. As the temblor broke windows and tossed books and dishes from the shelves, he, his wife and their 14-year-old daughter sheltered in a fortified area that de la Llera, a civil engineer, had built in the center of their two-story home outside Santiago. The quake lasted almost two minutes. De la Llera, safe with his family, feared the worst for Chile’s capital. “I thought the whole city was down,” he says.
The 8.8-magnitude quake left more than 520 people dead and wrought $30 billion in damages, equal to 17 percent of Chile’s gross national product. Later that morning, de la Llera, president and co-founder of engineering company Sirve, drove to Santiago to see if the quake-resistant technology his company designed had saved what was then the city’s tallest skyscraper, the 52-story, $200 million Torre Titanium La Portada office building. Although the tower had swayed three feet from side to side, it suffered no structural damage other than a balcony that had separated — but not fallen — from the building.