Fear the Reaper: Man hospitalised after eating red hot chilli pepper

Found on The Register on Tuesday, 10 April 2018
Browse Nature

The 34-year-old was rushed to an emergency room in New York after developing "excruciating" pain from eating the Carolina Reaper, according to a report in the British Medical Journal this week.

According to Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University and director of the Chile Pepper Institute, has said the grub can theoretically cause death, but in most cases people's bodies "would react sooner and not allow it to happen".

Dragon's Breath was created by a farmer for the Chelsea Flower show and is so potent that it had to be kept in a sealed container when it went on display.

Up to a certain level chillis are good, but at some point they turn into an impossible feat.

Mount Etna is 'sliding towards the sea'

Found on BBC News on Saturday, 24 March 2018
Browse Nature

Scientists have established that the whole structure on the Italian island of Sicily is edging in the direction of the Mediterranean at a rate of 14mm per year.

This instrumentation is sensitive to millimetric changes in the shape of the volcanic cone; and with 11 years of data it is now obvious, he says, that the mountain is moving in an east-south-east direction, on a general track towards the coastal town of Giarre, which is about 15km away.

Better take a few pictures right now, because in the blink of an eye the vulano has run away.

2018 preview: Thousands of mystery lifeforms to be revealed

Found on New Scientist on Sunday, 24 December 2017
Browse Nature

It is hard to study these mystery microbes because most can’t be grown in labs. They need the conditions of their natural habitat – be it a hydrothermal vent or our intestines – to survive.

Metagenomics has already made big finds. In September, Philip Hugenholtz and his team at the University of Queensland, Australia, used it to identify 1749 novel microbial species. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2018 most likely more species will be eradicated than discovered.

We can make plants pass out—with the same drugs that mysteriously knock us out

Found on Ars Technica on Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Browse Nature

Just like humans, plants can succumb to the effects of general anesthetic drugs, researchers report this week in the Annals of Botany. The finding is striking for a variety of reasons—there’s the pesky fact that plants lack a central nervous system, for one thing.

The anesthetics temporarily caused the plants to go still and unresponsive. The Venus flytrap's spikey trap didn’t slam shut when poked. The shy plant was no longer shy; it’s leaves stayed open when gently brushed. Similarly, the sundew plants didn’t bend to capture dead fruit flies and the pea plant’s tendrils drooped and curled up instead of whirling in normal upward fashion.

Actually, that's pretty amazing: who would have thought that plants can be drugged too?

EU settles dispute over major weedkiller glyphosate

Found on BBC News on Monday, 27 November 2017
Browse Nature

EU countries have voted to renew the licence of glyphosate, a widely used weedkiller at the centre of environmental concerns.

The UK was among the states in favour of glyphosate renewal. Germany and Poland were also among them - though they had previously abstained.

Critics say widespread use of glyphosate reduces biodiversity, by killing plants that are essential for many insects and other animals.

Everybody can see the effects of modern agriculture. Or better, you cannot see them anymore, because there are less and less species than a few decades ago; and it's not only the flora that's affected, but in turn the fauna too. However, as long as money can be made, everything is fine, right?

Mother Nature can save the Great Barrier Reef... if we help her

Found on CNet News on Monday, 23 October 2017
Browse Nature

Filling clouds with salt will brighten them and, in turn, reflect the sun's heat away from the sea below, Harrison says. Climate change has caused Australia's ocean temperatures to rise around 0.68 degree Celsius over the last century. That may not sound like much, but it's enough to cause a coral catastrophe. Harrison says his plan can offset this change and give the reef much-needed time to heal.

Current efforts amount to little more than stopgaps. Still, they're hoping they can alter the environment just enough to give Mother Nature a helping hand in repairing herself.

Sadly, there will only be enough interest if money can be made from it. That's how far ahead the world thinks.

Alarm over decline in flying insects

Found on BBC News on Friday, 20 October 2017
Browse Nature

Research at more than 60 protected areas in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75% over almost 30 years.

They stressed the importance of adopting measures known to be beneficial for insects, including strips of flowers around farmland and minimising the effects of intensive agriculture.

Dr Lynn Dicks, from the University of East Anglia, UK, who is not connected with the study, said the paper provides new evidence for "an alarming decline" that many entomologists have suspected for some time.

A few decades ago, the industry and politicians told farmers to cut down every small spot covered with wild flowers and bushes because it harms effiency. Farmers were also told to rely on modern chemistry to keep weeds and insects away from crops. Now everybody gets the bill for that.

Monsanto leaks suggest it tried to ‘kill’ cancer research about notorious weed killer

Found on RT on Friday, 04 August 2017
Browse Nature

A trove of documents was released by LA-based plaintiff firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman earlier in August. The company is representing people who claimed that they or their relatives got cancer due to Monsanto products.

“This is a look behind the curtain,” attorney Brent Wisner said. “This show[s] that Monsanto has deliberately been stopping studies that look bad for them, ghostwriting literature and engaging in a whole host of corporate malfeasance.

“They [Monsanto] have been telling everybody that these products are safe because regulators have said they are safe, but it turns out that Monsanto has been in bed with US regulators while misleading European regulators,” he added.

That should not be any surprise for everybody who knows even just a tiny bit about Monsanto.

A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change'

Found on The Guardian on Saturday, 01 July 2017
Browse Nature

The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water and the spread of a western, urbanised “on the go” culture to China and the Asia Pacific region.

Most plastic bottles used for soft drinks and water are made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which is highly recyclable. But as their use soars across the globe, efforts to collect and recycle the bottles to keep them from polluting the oceans, are failing to keep up.

Major drinks brands produce the greatest numbers of plastic bottles. Coca-Cola produces more than 100bn throwaway plastic bottles every year – or 3,400 a second, according to analysis carried out by Greenpeace after the company refused to publicly disclose its global plastic usage.

Introduce extra taxes for plastic bottles (and bags), so that they will become more expensive than glass bottles. Or drastically raise bottle deposits to increase the recycling. However, as long as it "hurts the industry", this won't happen. As long as he economy is more important than the ecosystem, humanity will continue its path to self-eradication.

Where have all the insects gone?

Found on Science on Thursday, 18 May 2017
Browse Nature

The group, the Krefeld Entomological Society, has seen the yearly insect catches fluctuate, as expected. But in 2013 they spotted something alarming. When they returned to one of their earliest trapping sites from 1989, the total mass of their catch had fallen by nearly 80%. Perhaps it was a particularly bad year, they thought, so they set up the traps again in 2014. The numbers were just as low.

Across North America and Europe, species of birds that eat flying insects, such as larks, swallows, and swifts, are in steep decline. Habitat loss certainly plays a role, Nocera says, "but the obvious factor that ties them all together is their diet."

Maybe they should just ask Monsanto and BASF.