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Wed, 20 Jan 2021
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Cloud Lightning

US, Indiana: Lightning strikes house

An early morning fire that was started by a lightning strike destroyed the home of Lowell Stailey at 826 Glen Meadows Parkway, with no injuries reported.

According to the Bedford Fire Department report, the home was fully involved when firefighters arrived on the scene at 1:05 a.m., about six minutes after the alarm sounded. At the request of Stailey, firefighters salvaged some pictures and some jewelry and delivered them to the family.

X

US: First It Was Bees, Now It's Bats That Are Dying

Though bats are a bit spooky looking, inviting thoughts of Dracula, the real horror story is that bats are becoming sick and perishing. A massive bat die-off is happening. Their extinction in the United States is threatening -- and no one knows why.

Just as news of the massive bee die off is fading away -- though not actually ending -- the plight of bats in the United States is starting to come out. The loss of bats may be an even worse concern than the loss of bees, which are exclusively tame and mass-raised -- over-stressed, over-bred, and grown to be over-sized. They're used to pollinate crops, especially ones that are not natural to the areas in which they're grown, such as almonds in California. Wild bees are doing just fine.

Attention

US: "Major disaster" for bees may jeopardize Washington state's crops

Bees are in trouble, and in Washington, that could mean agriculture is, too.

Last year, many Washington beekeepers were relieved that they avoided a mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder that silenced hives all over the country. But this year, some beekeepers are reporting a devastating new pathogen - with no reliable cure - is killing their bees in droves.

Some beekeepers are helping to pay for a crash research program at Washington State University to figure out what is going on.

"It's a major disaster in Western Washington. We are into a huge emergency situation," said Yakima beekeeper Eric Olson, who runs the state's largest commercial pollination business.

Image
©Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times
Yakima beekeeper Eric Olson holds a hive loaded with bees in Long Beach, Pacific County. A new pathogen is devastating the hives of some Washington beekeepers.

Magic Hat

Photo: Lake Vanishes Suddenly in Chile



Lake
©AP/ Centro de Estudios Cientificos

Melting ice in southern Chile caused a glacial lake to swell and then empty suddenly, sending a "tsunami" rolling through a river, a scientist said Thursday.

No one was injured in the remote region.

Glacier scientist Gino Casassa said the melting of the Colonia glacier, which he blamed on global warming, filled the Cachet Lake (above) and increased pressure on the ice sheet.

Comment: More on the other Chilean disappearing lake can be read here.


Bizarro Earth

Storm Winds Hit Bowling Green, Kentucky

Driving through many areas of Bowling Green, Kentucky, you wouldn't know we had intense winds Thursday night. If you take a drive through the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Westen Avenue, the evidence is everywhere.

There's a gentle breeze blowing the streets off Westen Avenue and Jana Thornton would be enjoying the day, if something weren't obscuring her view.

Attention

Swarm of Earthquakes Detected Off Oregon

Grants Pass, Ore. - Scientists listening to underwater microphones have detected an unusual swarm of earthquakes off central Oregon, something that often happens before a volcanic eruption - except there are no volcanoes in the area.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 7.3 - Macquarie Island Region

== PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE REPORT ==

***This event supersedes event AT00796021.

Region: MACQUARIE ISLAND REGION
Geographic coordinates: 55.563S, 158.311E
Magnitude: 7.3 Mw
Depth: 10 km
Universal Time (UTC): 12 Apr 2008 00:30:13
Time near the Epicenter: 12 Apr 2008 11:30:13
Local standard time in your area: 12 Apr 2008 00:30:13


Cloud Lightning

The Giant Ottershrew: An Electrogenic Mammal?

There are three known kinds of electric - more correctly called electrogenic - animals:

(1) the one species, Electrophorus electricus, of South American electric eel (really a knifefish),

(2) the 19 species of African electric catfish in the genera Malapterurus and Paradoxoglanis, and

(3) the 69 species of electric rays (order Torpediniformes) found around the world.

The first two fish both demonstrate the ability to shock prey with electricity as an effective strategy for a piscivore (an animal that eats fish). They produce high levels of voltage, e.g. electric eel (600 volts) and the electric catfish (350 volts). Electric rays can produce an electric discharge used to stun or kill prey, from as little as 8 volts to up to 220 volts depending on the species.

Could there be an electrogenic mammal?

ottershrew
©Don Meighan

Fish

Truly amazing: Elephantnose fish 'see' with their chin

Originating in Central Africa, Peters' elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii), finds its bearings by means of weak electrical fields. Scientists from the University of Bonn have now been able to show how well this works. In complete darkness the animals can even distinguish the material of objects at a distance or dead organisms from living ones. The results have now been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Elephantnose fish
©G. von der Emde
Despite having a long nose, the Peters' elephantnose fish uses its chin to emit a weak electrical current to help it navigate. Zoologists from the University of Bonn have found the fish has more than 500 electric sensors and behaves "like treasure hunters... on the beach with their metal detectors".

Cowboy Hat

Alaskan oil drilling proposed inside rare whale habitat



North Pacific right whale
©Bob Pitman / NOAA via AP
The North Pacific right whale, with a population estimated at between 50-100, relies on habitat off Alaska that could be opened to oil exploration.

Activists concerned about impact on right whales and Bristol Bay salmon

The Bush administration has proposed allowing oil and gas drilling in an area of the Bering Sea considered important for the recovery of the world's most endangered whale.