For Olive Ridleys, it’s paradise lost

first_imgTens of thousands of eggs laid by Olive Ridley sea turtles this year in Gahirmatha Sanctuary in Odisha, one of the world’s largest nesting grounds, are getting destroyed due to shrinking coastal space. The ongoing mass nesting of the endangered animals has enthused conservationists, but habitat decline is undoing the gains. The Odisha Forest and Environment Department estimates that 6,04,046 turtles have come to lay eggs at Nasi II island of Gahirmatha from February 22. The turtles had largely given the island a miss in 2016, with only 50,000 coming to nest.Since the small island could not host all those that turned up this year, only 50% of eggs may survive.A female sea turtle scoops beach sand out to lay 80 to 120 eggs, but its effort is undone when a second digs at the same place to lay its own. This season, turtles are estimated to have laid close to 60 million eggs along a 1,000-metre beach of Nasi II.“Wildlife staff have observed mass nesting for a month. Since only 1,000 metres is now suitable at Nasi II, there is not enough space. Of 100 turtles, eggs of only 50 survive,” Subrat Patra, Range Officer, Gahirmatha Sanctuary, told The Hindu over phone.Two bigger beaches with 200 hectares and 50 hectares at Ekakula Nasi and Nasi I island drew a mere 12 and 100 Olive Ridleys respectively. Pale shadowGahirmatha once had 32 km of beach and nesting area of 1,80,000 square metres. Research by B.C. Choudhury, former scientist, Wildlife Institute of India, showed that Nasi I and Nasi II had fragmented. Chief Wildlife Warden Sidhant Das said, “there is attrition, but there are also times when submerged portions got exposed again.” In the Visakhapatnam region, the Forest Department recorded 447 nests with 47,000 eggs, the highest so far.last_img read more

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Renovation of Temghar dam to take two years

first_imgPune: The repair work on the Temghar dam, one of the potable water lifelines of Pune, is finally underway, however, renovation of the biggest cracks may not be complete until June. The Maharashtra government has sanctioned ₹98 crore for the repair and renovation of the dam wall. Although authorities have asserted that the basic wall structure is intact, despite the cracks.The 87-meter high dam has a capacity of holding water up to four tmcft. It was built between 1997 and 2001, making it the newest among the city’s four major drinking lifelines — the others being Khadakwasla, Varasgaon and Panshet dams. The repair work was initially due to commence in December last year, but was delayed owing to the municipal, the zilla parishad (ZP) and the panchayat samiti elections.To face delay in monsoonAccording to sources in the State Irrigation Department, the work order was issued last month, with the installation of machinery and the labour in place. The process of final repairs is expected to stretch over a period of nearly two years. The work, however, may face further delay this monsoon.An Irrigation Department official said, “Priority has been given to repair the points where the cracks in the wall-face are the deepest before June, in a bid to ensure that the water, which will get stored during this monsoon, does not seep out.”The water storage has been reduced to facilitate repair work, with a plan being mooted to release the water into the Khadakwasla dam.FIR against 34 peopleLast year, in August, Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan had acknowledged that the construction of the Temghar dam was indeed faulty and had directed action against the persons responsible.Following this, the Pune Rural Police had lodged a first information report (FIR) against 34 persons for allegedly using inferior quality material during the construction of the dam. The complaint included names of government officials, and directors and board members of two south India-based construction firms, Srinivas Construction and Progressive Construction, who were responsible for the construction of the dam. Both the firms were blacklisted later.City-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Vijay Kumbhar had pegged the water leakage from Temghar to be in excess of 5 crore litres, despite irrigation authorities claiming that not all seepage went waste as water flowed into the Khadakwasla reservoir.last_img read more

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Fishermen rescued after boat capzises

first_imgTwo fishermen from Quepem in south Goa who fell in choppy waters after their boat capzised were rescued by lifeguards on Friday. The men ventured into the sea in a small fishing boat from Mobor river in Cavelossim. This is the third instance of lifeguards saving the lives in the past four weeks, said a spokesperson of Drishti Lifesaving.Meanwhile, the Goa Captain of Ports has suspended permissions given to hold watersport events for tourists.The permissions will be renewed after September 15, said Captain of Ports James Braganza.last_img read more

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Heavy rains lash Gujarat

first_imgHeavy rains across the state has led to floods with dozens of villages cut off from main towns as roads and railway tracks are submerged in flood waters. In Saurashtra region, more than 500 people stranded in their houses were shifted to safe locations in various places due to water logging on Saturday.”Due to torrential rains, more than 50 villages have been affected in Saurashtra and North Gujarat regions,” a government official said, adding the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been pressed into service. “Around 30 villages in the state are still cut off as internal roads are flooded,” the official added. In some villages in Saurashtra, dozens of cattle were swept away in gushing waters or drowned. On Saturday, Saurashtra, North Gujarat and South Gujarat received heavy rains, disrupting normal life in interior villages. According to met department, Gujarat will continue to receive moderate to heavy rains for next few days. The authorities have advised fishermen to not venture into sea for fishing while all coastal district authorities have been alerted to be prepared for flood situation.last_img read more

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Samruddhi project a blessing, says CM

first_imgMumbai: Despite ongoing farmer protests and financial hurdles that the proposed 800 km Mumbai-Nagpur super expressway is facing, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said the road will be a blessing for farm-related industries in the State.Speaking at a programme held for India’s food processing industries, Mr. Fadnavis said the road will connect 24 districts of the State. “Samrudhi highway will connect Mumbai and Nagpur, which will help set up farm produce processing industries. A direct connection to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, will ensure a market for farm produce, and the processing industry will also benefit,” Mr. Fadnavis said.He said the value chain needed to control farmer suicides in the State can be set up along the proposed highway.However, the State is struggling to raise money for the construction work. The State government had asked various authorities to give ₹1,000 crore each as loan to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the project. While other State bodies are yet to finalise their decision, sources say the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), one of the richest authorities in the State, is struggling to put together the amount. “CIDCO has other commitements such as the Navi Mumbai airport and Metro. We will initially release ₹200 crore, and since the money is needed for land acquisition, its release will be monitored. We cannot commit the rest of the amount,” said a senior CIDCO official. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA), Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) have been asked to contribute to the project. MSRDC will have to repay the loans with interest of 8.14% up to 10 years.last_img read more

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Pesticide deaths: five shopkeepers booked

first_imgNAGPUR: The Yavatmal district police have booked five Krishi Kendra owners for allegedly selling unauthorised products to farmers. Over the past month, 19 farmers and farm labourers have died owing to improper spraying of insecticides on Bt cotton plantations in Yavatmal district. Over 600 cases of insecticide infection have been reported and hundreds of farmers are being treated in hospitals in the district for visual impairment, nausea and other health complications. Authorities said indiscriminate use of wrong combinations of insecticides, and lack of protective gear were to blame.In a press statement, the Yavatmal district police said, “Since August this year, 19 people died have died owing to infection contracted after spraying pesticides in Yavatmal. The police department registered cases of sudden death and began an investigation. The Agriculture Department inspected Krishi Kendras and found that in five cases, farmers and farm labourers died as they used pesticides that are not permitted to be sold in the market. FIRs have been registered against five Krishi Kendra owners.” The owners who have been booked include Pravin Bhelonde of Agro Krishi Kendra in Darhava town, Pritam Rathi of Ankita Krishi Kendra in Ladkhed village, Sanjay Raja of Jalaram Krishi Kendra in Kalamb town, Dilip Dhondopant of Vaibhav Krishi Kendra, and Ashok Bhavare of Pragati Krishi Kendra in Vadgoan town. All five have been booked under Section 304 (A) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 29 of the Insecticide Act, 1968. Suresh Chavhan, Agriculture Officer, Pandharakwada Panchayat Samiti, has recommended action against Krishi Vaibhav Kendra in Pandharkwada town and its owner Deepak Papatriwar for selling unauthorised pesticides.last_img read more

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Meerut farmers don’t burn crop stubble: they make manure out of it

first_imgWith stubble burning being held responsible for raising pollution to dangerous levels in the National Capital Region, over 50 villages in Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh have started an environment-friendly initiative. They have stopped burning crop residue, paddy waste and sugarcane leaves; instead, their farmers have started making organic manure from the remains. In the process, in the past one year alone, they prevented 2,250,000 kg of carbon dioxide from being released in the environment. The practice of stubble burning is confined mainly to Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. During the summer last year, over 250 farmers from 50 villages in Meerut division came up with a model that uses large quantities of paddy waste and sugarcane leaves to make rich quality of organic manure in a compost pit. Kanwar Singh of Atrada village, for instance, doesn’t buy fertiliser any more.“I have been using the fertiliser which I prepare in the compost pit I made with the help of Neer Foundation. I use the crop waste and mix it with cow dung and water. In 20 days organic fertiliser is ready,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu. Neer Foundation is an NGO that works on environmental-friendly methods of farming. Rajendar Singh, a resident of Narangpur village, said that not burning the crop stubble and using it to make fertiliser not only saved money but also the environment, besides further enriching the soil. Raman Kant, who heads the NGO, told The Hindu that by burning crop residue from one acre of farming area, about 45,000 kg of carbon dioxide is released in one year. “In this case we have managed to save the environment from 2,250,000 kg of the gas which would have been otherwise released into the atmosphere. “All one needs is a compost pit. After digging the pit the farmer fills it with cow dung, sugarcane leaves, paddy waste, green grass and field soil By spreading every content in 4 inch thick player one by one, repeating till the height is nearly one metre. Finally water is added to the contents,” Mr. Kant said.This model of saving the environment from carbon dioxide is being followed by many farmers of Atrada, Khaspur, Putti, Khatki, Badam, Bhatipura, Nanglamal, Amarpur, Ataula, Narangpur, Karnawal, Puthkhas, Dhanpura, Bana, Nasarpur, Jaisinghpur and Ataura villages in Meerut. “The ministries of agriculture and environment and also several other non-governmental institutions have encouraged farmers of this area to use our LR compost pit and save the environment,” Mr. Kant said.last_img read more

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Security operations to continue in J&K

first_imgThe anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir will not be slowed down because of the appointment of the former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Dineshwar Sharma as the Centre’s Special Representative to carry forward the dialogue, a senior official said on Wednesday.The directive came after a high-level meeting to review the security situation in the State. The meeting was chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and was attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, IB Director Rajiv Jain, Army chief Bipin Rawat and NIA Director-General Yogesh Chander Modi. Mr. Sharma, who was also present, made a presentation on his recent visit to Srinagar and Jammu where he had met over 80 delegations. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was to have attended the meeting, but for some other engagement, an official said.‘Decrease in protests’“It was a meeting of the core group of Ministers to review the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the number of protests has come down, sustained operations have been going on against militants. Mr. Modi spoke about the status of the investigation in the terror-funding cases against separatists,” said a senior official of the Home Ministry. Jammu and Kashmir Director-General of Police S.P. Vaid said recently around 170 militants were gunned down by security forces in the State this year.last_img read more

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Woman held hostage, sexually assaulted

first_imgPolice arrested a person on Tuesday after a woman accused him of holding her hostage in a building in a central area of Lucknow and sexually assaulting her. The incident allegedly took place in a building in Wazir Hasan Road of Hazratganj. The victim claimed when she protested the sexual assault, she was also beaten up by the accused. The woman was taken to a hospital for medical examination and treatment. Lucknow police said a case has been registered and the accused person arrested.According to the victim, on Monday night as she was out to purchase items for puja from a local market, the accused approached her and offered to give her a lift. But instead of dropping her home, he took her to an empty apartment after allegedly sedating her cold drink and attempted to rape her.”He threatened to murder me after keeping me hostage for seven days. When he got drunk and fell asleep, I managed toescape. He had stolen all my cash and mobile,” the victim told a news channel.She received help from police after dialling 100. The accused is the driver of a junior engineer of the irrigation department.last_img read more

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Threefold solution for sugar payments crisis

first_imgA sugar cess, a production subsidy for cane farmers and a reduction of the Goods and Services Tax on ethanol are three suggestions that a Group of Ministers will present to the Union Cabinet in an effort to resolve the crisis arising from sugar mills defaulting on payments to farmers, with dues now likely to have crossed ₹20,000 crore.“We are looking for proposals that will help both the sugarcane farmers and the sugar mills,” Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan told The Hindu after the meeting on Monday evening.In a statement, Mr. Paswan said that the GoM discussed the three formulas for paying sugarcane farmers. A note presenting all the proposals will soon be prepared to present to the Cabinet, said the statement.The proposal is to reduce the GST from 18% to 5%, Mr. Paswan told The Hindu, adding that the GoM would hold another meeting to finalise the details of the proposals. He said the government was looking for ways to incentivise value-added products, including molasses and ethanol, which could utilise the surplus harvest of sugarcane, and which would reduce the burden on the mills.The GoM is headed by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, and includes Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, as well as Mr. Paswan.Last month, the Food Ministry told Parliament that sugar mills had pending dues worth ₹13, 899 crore as on March 21. Industry lobbyist Indian Sugar Mills Association estimates that figure has now crossed ₹20,000 crore.Record high Sugar production has hit record highs this year, crossing domestic consumption estimates and resulting in a crash in prices. According to ISMA data, sugar production up to April 15 stood at 299.8 lakh tonnes. That’s already 50 lakh tonnes more than the government’s estimated sugar consumption for the whole season, and 227 mills are still crushing cane. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra had each produced almost 105 lakh tonnes by April 15.last_img read more

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Don’t rule out any possibility on ceasefire: Rajnath Singh

first_imgUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday reserved any commitment on the extension of Ramzan ‘cease-ops’ or ‘ceasefire’ in Jammu and Kashmir but reiterated the Centre is open to hold a dialogue with all stakeholders to see a solution to the Kashmir problem.“The suspension of operation is on so far. We will review it. Any decision will be taken after having all opinions are on board. Don’t rule out any possibility,” said Mr. Singh in a press conference in Srinagar.Reiterating the Centre’s readiness to talk to all stakeholder, Mr. Singh said, “For talks, it requires right minded not like minded.” “It will not take time to address the Kashmir problem. This government is firm to resolve it,” he said.He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Home Minister’s statements on Kashmir should be taken “as a final word”, while responding to a question on many BJP leaders speaking in different language on J&K.Describing stone-throwers as “own children”, he said it’s criminal to lead them astray. “If our neighbour is failing to deal with terrorism or stop terrorism from its soil, it should seek help of its neighbouring countries,” he said.“There are forces directly or indirectly supporting terrorism. Terrorism has no religion. It can engulf anyone. What is wrong with our neighbour country?” he said.Referring to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ‘Jamooriyat, Insaniyat and Kashmiriyat (Democracy, Humanity and Kashmiriyat) slogan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan “Gali say nahi, galay laganay saay (Embrace not abuses), he asked militants “if they believe in democracy or not”.“Kashmiriyat has Hazratbal shrine as well as Amarnath shrine in it. India is a unique country and is home to all 72 sects of Islam,” he added.last_img read more

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Flash floods, landslides wreak havoc in Manipur, Mizoram

first_imgTorrential rains over the past 24 hours triggered flash floods and landslides, wreaking havoc in Manipur and Mizoram. Some parts of Assam too had been affected.Officials in Manipur capital Imphal said there had been large-scale displacement of people in Imphal Valley owing to the flooding. The valley constituted about 20% of Manipur’s geographical area but had 40 of the State’s 60 Assembly constituencies.“The situation is critical because of flash floods and landslides. We are trying to rescue people and provide relief besides assessing the situation,” Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said, adding that educational institutions in the valley were closed on Wednesday.Breaching of river embankments at various places had aggravated the situation, officials in relief and rescue operations said. Among the submerged facilities in the valley was All India Radio resulting in suspension of services.National Highway cut offOfficials said the national highway connecting Manipur with southern Assam had been cut off because of landslides. Power supply had also been disrupted.In Mizoram, more than 500 families had been affected by flash floods and landslides in four districts. More than 1,000 people were evacuated to safer places in two of the worst affected districts – Lunglei and Aizawl.The State government had declared a two-day holiday as landslides blocked roads in more than 40 places, cutting off many areas. At least half a dozen houses collapsed because of landslides.Officials said efforts were on to clear the debris from the roads. The road from State capital Aizawl to Lengpui, Mizoram’s only airport, was cleared by Tuesday evening.Three Assam districts hitFloods had also affected three Assam districts – Golaghat, Karimganj and Hailakandi. The Kaziranga National Park, large swathes of which are in Golaghat district, had also been partially inundated. River Difolu flowing through it had overflowed to submerge a stretch of a highway alongside.Pradip Kumar Talukdar, the Deputy Commissioner of southern Assam’s Karimganj district, said the district hadbeen affected by unprecedented flood in adjoining Mizoram.The National Disaster Response Force said it had deployed search and rescue teams in eight districts of Assam to ensure prompt response during floods. These districts were Cachar, Tinsukia, Sonitpur, Jorhat, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Dhemaji and Kamrup (Metro).The Indian Meteorological Department had attributed the sudden heavy rainfall in parts of the Northeast to an “upper air cyclonic circulation over south Assam and Meghalaya” and neighbouring areas.last_img read more

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Will wait for govt. permission for rath yatra: BJP

first_imgThe West Bengal BJP will “wait and watch” till Saturday for permission from the State government for the party’s rath yatra campiagn, top party leaders said on Friday. A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court had directed the State Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police to hold a meeting with three representatives of the BJP by December 12 and take a decision on the rally by December 14.Course of action “We had met the government officials yesterday. Now we will wait and watch till tomorrow as the State government officials have told us they will inform us on Saturday. Let’s see what happens, then we will decide our next course of action,” Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said. “Our schedule is already in place and as soon as the government grants us permission, we will announce the new dates,” he said. The BJP on Thursday had said that it will stick to its rath yatra programme in West Bengal but will launch it only after hearing from the State government on the new dates. The party held a meeting with Chief Secretary Malay Dey, Home Secretary Atri Bhattacharya and State DGP Virendra during the day as directed by the Calcutta High Court. After the meeting at the Lalbazar police headquarters here, Mr. Ghosh had said: “We informed the State government that we want to organise our programme the way it was scheduled. Only the dates will be changed.”last_img read more

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Fred Kavli’s Support for Science to Live On

first_imgFred Kavli, the man behind the Kavli Foundation, died last week at the age of 86. He leaves a legacy of supporting the fundamental sciences that will be further strengthened in the future, thanks to additional funds that Kavli bequeathed to the foundation in his will.“Fred had always indicated that the foundation would exist in perpetuity,” says Kavli Foundation President Robert Conn. “He endowed it with a generous initial gift. It will be even more generously endowed after his passing.” Conn did not, however, provide details on how much Kavli’s final bequest will add to the foundation’s capital, which totaled $145 million in 2011, according to tax records.Kavli grew up in a small village in Norway and moved to the United States in 1956. Two years later, he founded Kavlico Corporation, which became one of the world’s largest suppliers of sensors for the aerospace and automobile industries. In 2000, Kavli sold the company and launched the Kavli Foundation to support basic research. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Since then, the foundation has endowed 17 research institutes at universities around the world to foster work in astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics. And since 2008, the foundation has also financed biennial prizes of $1 million each to recognize top researchers in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. Among other prizes funded by the foundation are the annual science journalism prizes awarded by AAAS, which publishes Science.“Something that was very special about Fred was his singularity of purpose,” Conn tells ScienceInsider. “When he set up the foundation, it was with a deep belief that fundamental science could ultimately show the way to a better life for everyone.”Despite his illness over the past year, Conn says, Kavli remained gung-ho about the foundation’s work. “In phone conversations over the last 6 weeks, he told me several times—let’s keep going,” Conn says. “He had absolute conviction in his vision and his belief. It’s motivating.”last_img read more

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Rotten Fruit May Be Due to Microbe Warfare

first_imgHave you ever bitten into a rotten apple and thrown it away in disgust? Some scientists think that was microbes waging biological warfare against you—and winning. The idea, almost 40 years old but never properly tested, argues that bacteria and fungi actively spoil food to keep large animals, like humans, from taking away their meal. Now, a new paper bolsters that case with a mathematical model, proving that the old hypothesis is still fresh.Ecologist Daniel Janzen, then at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, first proposed the idea in a 1977 paper, which he wrote was “inspired by paying 95 cents for a rotten avocado.” Microbes, he argued, don’t just happen to spoil food when they gorge on it; they have evolved to make it unappetizing to large animals as fast as possible—for instance by producing bad-tasting compounds—so they can keep the meal to themselves. “Fruits rot, seeds mold, and meat spoils because that is the way microbes compete with bigger organisms,” he wrote. (He also hypothesized that plants, which benefit from animals spreading their seeds, may have developed countermechanisms such as producing chemicals to repel fungi and bacteria.)Some researchers have gone to great lengths to see whether the idea actually holds true in nature. In one experiment, U.S. scientists baited crab traps off the coast of Georgia with fresh or rotten fish and found that fresh carrion attracted almost three times as many animals, showing that “bacteria compete with large animal scavengers by rendering carcasses chemically repugnant,” according to the study. Other experiments have shown that birds prefer fresh fruits to rotten ones.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)But in 2006, four scientists tried to build Janzen’s theory into a mathematical model and ran into trouble. They found that if microbes put extra work into spoiling the food for large animals, they would be outcompeted by others that did not bother. Janzen’s idea sounded plausible but was unlikely to be true, they concluded. The disgusting taste of a rotten apple, in their view, was more likely an accidental byproduct of its breakdown by microbes.Now, some of the researchers who built that earlier model have revisited the topic, but they changed a key assumption: “In our original model pretty much any microbe could arrive anywhere,” says David Wilkinson, an ecologist at the Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom and one of the authors. That meant that any rotting fruit would likely be colonized by all kinds of microorganisms. In that scenario, microbes that evolved to spoil food would always be outcompeted by microbes that just reaped the benefits without investing in spoiling the food themselves. “In the new model they do not move quite as easily and that is the crucial biological difference.” The new model predicts that “even in the extreme case where there is a very high cost to spoilage … spoiling microbes can be sustained,” the authors write online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.In essence, the old model viewed rotting fruit as a buffet with all kinds of microbes in attendance, explains Michael Kaspari, a biologist at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, who was not involved in the work. “The poisoner, taking the time to [spoil the food for large animals] while everybody else is stuffing their mouths, gained little advantage,” he writes in an e-mail. “The new model allowed for the more realistic possibility that if the poisoner gets to the party first, it can keep everybody else at bay. As long as there are enough parties, poisoners prosper.”Experiments are still needed to back up the assumptions of the new model, Wilkinson cautions. He suggests that biologists should try to track which microbes arrive on a fruit or a dead animal over time. “With birds you would just sit there with a pair of binoculars and see what turns up,” he says. “With microbes it is not that easy, but it is not entirely impossible with molecular methods.”Even then, however, it will be hard to prove that microbes are actually targeting large animals; they could also be trying to repel other microbes, Kaspari argues. “To a microbe busily rotting a banana, do we even exist?”Janzen, who now works at the University of Pennsylvania, says he is happy that his idea has been converted into a plausible model. But he doesn’t really need mathematics to know he is right. “Have you ever bitten into a piece of moldy bread or a spoiled orange, to say nothing of over-ripe fish?” he writes in an e-mail. “How much theory did you need for your reaction? Who won?” But whatever his reservations, the research is worthwhile, Janzen says. “It is good to have people exploring the interactions between microbes and us big guys.”last_img read more

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