Science & Health
The balloons stand taller than the San Jacinto Monument when they are launched from the NASA facility in Palestine.
And by the time they come down somewhere in West Texas, Texans from as far away as Sulphur Springs in North Texas and Amarillo in the Panhandle will have taken part in the scientific research.
Since 1963, the National Scientific Balloon Facility in East Texas has helped launch more than 1,800 such balloons for research projects from around the world. . . .
Texas’ many sources of fresh, sweet water have sustained human life for many thousands of years. Ancient Indian artifacts—metates and manos (stones for grinding grain), arrowheads and hand axes, flint quarries and rock paintings—are clustered around freshwater springs in every region of the state and give mute evidence of camp sites used long before Anglo settlers arrived.
Similar artifacts reveal that ancient inhabitants also gathered around springs that produce heavily mineralized water. (All non-distilled water contains some amount of dissolved minerals, also called “salts.” Water with a combined mineral content greater than 500 milligrams per liter is called mineral water.) . . .
At the foot of the Hill Country of south-central Texas, at the Southwest Research Institute, a thousand scientists try to solve a thousand problems every day.
They’re working on behalf of the U.S government, American corporations and other clients from around the world. Since the San Antonio-based Institute was founded in 1947, its researchers have built instruments to measure particles in outer space, made cars run more efficiently and helped laundry detergents do a better job of cleaning clothes. . . .
In polite society the horny toad is known as the Texas horned lizard. In the scientific world, the reptile is referred to as Phrynosoma cornutum.
But fewer people are referring to the dinosaur-looking creature at all, since it began to disappear from Texas backyards over the past few decades. . . .
A mesquite tree along the Gulf Coast. Photo by Robert Plocheck.
The ubiquitous mesquite grows — nay, flourishes — on at least one-third of the land area of the state; that is, on more than 56 million of Texas’ 167.5 million acres of land, from the Rio Grande to the Panhandle, across Central and North Central Texas, and into much of West Texas. Mesquite grows in all regions of the state except the East Texas Piney Woods. Of all the mesquite in the United States, 76 percent grows in Texas. . . .
From the Almanac
The Iraan General Hospital in Pecos County. Photo by Robert Plocheck.
Community Hospitals in Texas
Source: The Texas Hospital Association
Of the 583 reporting hospitals in Texas in 2011, 420 were considered community hospitals.
(A community hospital is defined as either a nonfederal, short-term general hospital or a special hospital whose facilities and services are available to the public. A hospital may include a nursing home-type unit and still be classified as short-term, provided that the majority of its patients are admitted to units where the average length-of-stay is less than 30 days.)
– These 420 hospitals employed 301,000 full-time equivalent people (FTEs) with a payroll, including benefits, of more than $22.4 billion.
– These hospitals contained some 61,000 beds.
– The average length-of-stay was 5.2 days in 2011, compared to 6.8 days in 1975. This was less than the U.S. average of 5.4 days.
– The average cost per adjusted admission in Texas was $9,945 or $2,001 per day. This was 5.5 percent less than the U.S. average of $10,532.
– There were 2,535,000 admissions in Texas, which accounted for 13,062,000 inpatient days.
– There were 39,264,000 outpatient visits in 2011, of which 9,900,000 were emergency room visits.
– Of the FTEs working in community hospitals within Texas, there were 91,200 registered nurses and 9,100 licensed vocational nurses.