Science: Beans and Whales

For many years the Indians and early settlers of the American Southwest treasured the oil they pressed from the beans of the wild jojoba shrub. In Arizona and California the jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-bah) oil was used as a nostrum for almost every ill: to ease childbirth, as a remedy for cancer, even as a laxative. Spanish colonists liked to rub the waxy, colorless oil on their mustaches. Last week a panel of National Research Council scientists reported that the jojoba bean may also be a panacea for the endangered sperm whale.

The giant sea mammals (up to 60 ft. in length) are...

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