News In Brief


You'd probably expect a choice between accommodating Queen Elizabeth II and an earless lizard to go the monarch's way, right? Not in Australia. Organizers of the queen's visit later this month have abandoned plans for her plane to land at Canberra's airport because the runway would have to be widened - which would cut into a potentially important habitat for the lizard, an endangered species. "We're very disappointed that we can't handle her," an airport official said. Instead, the queen will touch down in Sydney and commute around the country via government jet. As for the lizard, it's so rare that, well, it actually hasn't been sighted at the airport.


Brits can relax. Despite new European Union requirements to list weight in grams, McDonald's has assured Britain that the Quarter Pounder can still appear that way on menus. But there's a catch: The metric weight - 113 grams - has to be listed too.

Silly Putty's serious sides: model clay, keyboard cleaner

In its 50th year, that pink, bouncy substance sold in plastic eggs called Silly Putty is being celebrated as one of America's favorite toys. The accidental creation stemmed from World War II, when the Japanese invasion of rubber-producing countries forced the US to find rubber substitutes. Combining boric acid and silicone oil in a test tube turned out to be a flop, but it did unexpected things - like bounce and float. Peter Hodgson, an ad copywriter, saw a money-making chance and bought a batch. The wads soon outsold everything in his toy catalog - except Crayola Crayons. Last year, about 6 million eggs of Putty were sold. Alhough it's mostly used as a toy, even adults have found novel uses for the stuff, such as:

Geologists use it to model geographic events.

Physicians put it over patients' eyes during CAT scans.

It secured tools during the Apollo 8 moon launch.

It cleans ink off keyboards.

Employees use it to relieve stress at the office.

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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