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Mon, 04 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Snows shut Argentina-Chile crossing

Heavy snows battered the Andean border region of Argentina and Chile on Wednesday, forcing the closure of a key mountain highway connecting the two countries and idling thousands of trucks.

Argentine transit officials predicted the Cristo Redentor tunnel, a nearly two-mile passage drilled into the mountains at 10,400 feet above sea level, would be impassible for 72 hours because of snowstorms and high winds, government news agency Telam reported.

Cloud Lightning

Pakistan heat wave kills 110

At least 63 more people died on Sunday from the effects of Pakistan's record-breaking heat wave, bringing the weekend death toll to 110, news reports said on Monday.

The mercury rose as high as 52 degrees in south-west parts of the country as the hot spell entered its fourth day, also setting a 78-year record in the city of Lahore in the central Punjab province.


6.8 Earthquake - Offshore Guatemala

A powerful earthquake shook Guatemala on Wednesday, U.S. seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the capital.

The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck at 1:29 p.m. local time (3:29 p.m. EDT) and was centered 70 miles southwest of Guatemala City off the Pacific coast, according to the
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Magic Wand

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

The next time you venture into your garden armed with plants, consider who you place next to whom. It turns out that the docile garden plant isn't as passive as widely assumed, at least not with strangers. Researchers at McMaster University have found that plants get fiercely competitive when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but they're accommodating when potted with their siblings.

The study appears today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

"The ability to recognize and favour kin is common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown in plants" said Susan Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. "When plants share their pots, they get competitive and start growing more roots, which allows them to grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get them. It appears, though, that they only do this when sharing a pot with unrelated plants; when they share a pot with family they don't increase their root growth. Because differences between groups of strangers and groups of siblings only occurred when they shared a pot, the root interactions may provide a cue for kin recognition."

Though they lack cognition and memory, the study shows plants are capable of complex social behaviours such as altruism towards relatives, says Dudley. Like humans, the most interesting behaviours occur beneath the surface.


Hurricane injures five, causes $86,000 in damage in east Russia

Damage from a hurricane that left five people, including an eight-year-old child, injured in Russia's Far East, has been assessed at 2.25 million rubles ($86,000), a local emergencies ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

The hurricane hit the Amur Region late Monday. Wind gusts of up to 28 meters (90 feet) per second uprooted trees, blocking roads, tore off roofs and downed transmission lines.

Over a thousand people and 125 vehicles are involved in relief operations. Some 140,000 people still remain without electricity. Power supplies are expected to be resumed later in the day, although some private households will get electricity only by the end of the week.


Cockroaches Can Learn -- Like Dogs and Humans

Cockroaches have a memory and can be taught to salivate in response to neutral stimuli in the way that Pavlov's dogs would do when the famed Russian doctor rang his bell, Japanese researchers found.

Such "conditioning" can only take place when there is memory and learning, and this salivating response had only previously been proven in humans and dogs.

Now, cockroaches appear to have that aptitude too.

Writing in the latest edition of the online journal Public Library of Science, the researchers said they hoped to learn more about the human brain by exploring what goes on in the simpler brain of the cockroach. (Article is freely available on http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0000529)

Cloud Lightning

Whistler Reports Second Snowiest Winter On Record, BC Canada

Snow sports continue on its glaciers for a few more weeks, but Whistler Blackcomb has reported its 2006-7 season concluded on June 3rd and that it was the world famous resort's second snowiest on record, receiving an accumulative snowfall of 1,416cm (46 feet).


NASA launches GOES-N weather satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - After months of delay, NASA on Wednesday launched a weather satellite that will allow forecasters to better pinpoint severe storms and investigate world climate change.


Hurricane satellite could fail anytime

An aging weather satellite crucial to accurate predictions on the intensity and path of hurricanes could fail at any moment and plans to launch a replacement have been pushed back seven years to 2016.

Comment: Coincidence?

Red Flag

North American Birds Moving North As A Result Of Climate Change

A new study in Conservation Biology analyzed the breeding ranges of North American birds over a 26-year period. The results show that the ranges have shifted northward; coinciding with a period of increasing global temperatures. These results were similar to those found in studies conducted in Great Britain, showing the worldwide extent of these distributional changes.

"Our results add to an increasing body of scientific research documenting the effects of global climate change," says study author Alan Hitch, a wildlife ecologist at Auburn University. "It also raises questions about whether moving north could be detrimental to some species."