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Fri, 08 Dec 2023
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Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Torrential rain causes flooding and chaos in North Ireland

Torrential rain caused massive flooding across Northern Ireland today as days of Mediterranean style weather ended in thunder storms causing traffic chaos.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said it was inundated with more than 200 emergency calls in a 90-minute period as the province was the North was engulfed by the deluge.


Interesting Discovery! Research shows leaderless, group dynamic honeybee organizing

Undergraduate education generally involves acquiring "received knowledge" - in other words, absorbing the past discoveries of scholars and scientists. But University of North Carolina at Charlotte senior biology major Andrew Pierce went beyond the textbooks and uncovered something previously unknown.

Pierce's discovery has to do with detecting a significant new detail concerning the behavior of the European honeybee - perhaps the most studied and economically important insect on Earth. Beyond agriculture, the finding may also have key implications for understanding the dynamics of all social animals, including man.

Pierce's recently reported his research in an article appearing in the behavioral biology research journal Ethology, with co-authors Lee Lewis and UNC Charlotte biology professor Stanley Schneider, Pierce's mentor. Pierce was first author on the paper - a rare achievement for an undergraduate.

"It was a very good work and an impressive achievement for a student researcher - he got a publication as an undergraduate," Schneider noted. "I really like working with our undergraduate honors students - they are so bright."

Pierce, age 22, has been working as a researcher in Schneider's lab for the past two years through a UNC Charlotte Honors College program that fosters research experiences for undergraduates.

Magic Wand

Study shows lizard moms dress their children for success

Mothers know best when it comes to dressing their children, at least among side-blotched lizards, a common species in the western United States. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have found that female side-blotched lizards are able to induce different color patterns in their offspring in response to social cues, "dressing" their progeny in patterns they will wear for the rest of their lives. The mother's influence gives her progeny the patterns most likely to ensure success under the conditions they will encounter as adults.

In a paper published June 10 in the online early edition of the journal Ecology Letters (and in a later print issue), the researchers reported that female side-blotched lizards give an extra dose of the hormone estradiol to their eggs in certain social circumstances. The extra hormone affects the back patterns of lizards that hatch from those eggs, creating either lengthwise stripes down their backs or bars stretching from side to side. Whether they get stripes or bars depends on the genes for other traits.

"This is the first example in which exposure to the mother's hormones changes such a fundamental aspect of appearance. Even more exciting is that the mother has different patterns at her disposal, so she can ensure a good match between back patterns and other traits that her offspring possess," said Lesley Lancaster, a UCSC graduate student and first author of the paper.


Death of giant shark remains a mystery

It's the biggest fish in the ocean, and one of the most magnificent creatures any diver could ever hope to encounter.

So when dive boat captain Jeff Torode heard Sunday afternoon that a 30-foot whale shark was spotted off the coast of Boca Raton, he steered the Aqua View toward the sighting. The placid, filter-feeding sharks are not rare, but it is uncommon for divers to see them because they prefer deep water.

©Joe Marino
A dead whale shark encountered Sunday off South Florida by divers out of Pompano Beach.


Kilimanjaro's shrinking snow not sign of warming

The snows of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania have been diminishing for more than a century but probably not due to global warming, researchers report.

While the retreat of glaciers and mountaintop ice in the mid-latitudes -- where much of the world's human population lives -- is definitely linked to global climate change, the same cannot be said of Kilimanjaro, the researchers wrote in the July-August edition of American Scientist magazine.


China 'gets the message' on controversial tiger farms: NGO

Pressed by conservationists to shut down breeding farms housing some 5,000 tigers, China hinted Tuesday it may abandon a proposal to legalise domestic trade in furs and tiger-bone medicine.

A document drafted by Beijing, to be submitted for approval to the UN body regulating wildlife trade, said nations that breed the endangered species "on a commercial scale should implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers."

The language is significant, says conservationists, because it may signal a reversal of China's position, and because it removes any possible justification for maintaining large populations of genetically-compromised tigers that cannot be released into the wild.

"The managed, coordinated zoo population of tigers is in the hundreds, which is enough to maintain genetic diversity," said Kristin Nowell, an expert on illegal tiger trade at wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC, one of dozens of conservation and wildlife groups sharply critical of the farms.


Brussels authorities alarmed over silkworm appearance

Brussels authorities held an extraordinary session devoted to a silkworm invasion of the Belgian capital, a radio station reported Tuesday.

"The Brussels governor held an extraordinary session of the capital's government to coordinate measures to fight the larvae after it became known that these insects appeared in the city," Radio Contact reported.

A number of cities in the northern region of Flanders have been attacked by silkworm larvae. Firefighters and army units are fighting the insects.

No Entry

Amazing pics of a hole that opened up the earth

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala - A 330-foot-deep sinkhole killed at least two teenagers as it swallowed about a dozen homes early Friday and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 people in a crowded Guatemala City neighborhood. Officials blamed the sinkhole on recent rains and an underground sewage flow from a ruptured main.


Suddenly, the bees are simply vanishing

Scientists are at a loss to pinpoint the cause. The die-off in 35 states has crippled beekeepers and threatened many crops.

The dead bees under Dennis vanEngelsdorp's microscope were like none he had ever seen.

He had expected to see mites or amoebas, perennial pests of bees. Instead, he found internal organs swollen with debris and strangely blackened. The bees' intestinal tracts were scarred, and their rectums were abnormally full of what appeared to be partly digested pollen. Dark marks on the sting glands were telltale signs of infection.


2012: Repeat of 1859 Solar 'Super Storm' Catastrophe?

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Orbital decay and 2,000 satellites dropping out of the sky. Shorted-out power grids and multi-state blackouts. Limited or no cell phone availability. Grounded polar flights. Potential economic devastation.