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Butterfly swarm shows up on Denver radar system

Butterfly swarm shows up on Denver radar system

Science
A colourful, shimmering spectacle detected by weather radar over the US state of Colorado has been identified as swarms of migrating butterflies.Scientists at the National Weather Service (NWS) first mistook the orange radar blob for birds and had asked the public to help identifying the species.They later established that the 70-mile wide (110km) mass was a kaleidoscope of Painted Lady butterflies.Forecasters say it is uncommon for flying insects to be detected by radar."We hadn't seen a signature like that in a while," said NWS meteorologist Paul Schlatter, who first spotted the radar blip."We detect migrating birds all the time, but they were flying north to south," he told CBS News, explaining that this direction of travel would be unusual for migratory birds for the time of year.So he...
Australia's solar challenge begins

Australia's solar challenge begins

Science
The rules of the race are quite precise. "Based on the original notion that a 1000W car would complete the journey in 50 hours, solar cars are allowed a nominal 5kW hours of stored energy, which is 10% of that theoretical figure. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from the kinetic energy of the vehicle," the organisers say.Let's block ads! (Why?) BBC News - Science & Environment
Pesticides linked to bee deaths found in most honey samples

Pesticides linked to bee deaths found in most honey samples

Science
A new study has found traces of neonicotinoid chemicals in 75% of honey samples from across the world. The scientists say that the levels of the widely used pesticide are far below the maximum permitted levels in food for humans. In one-third of the honey, the amount of the chemical found was enough to be detrimental to bees. Industry sources, though, dismissed the research, saying the study was too small to draw concrete conclusions.Neonicotinoids are considered to be the world's most widely used class of insecticides. These systemic chemicals can be added as a seed coating to many crops, reducing the need for spraying. They have generally been seen as being more beneficial for the environment than the older products that they have replaced. However, the impact of neonics on pollinators s...
Scientists propose space shield to protect Earth from solar storms

Scientists propose space shield to protect Earth from solar storms

Science
Oct. 6 (UPI) -- If governments and their space agencies are serious about protecting Earth from solar storms, one team of researchers argues a giant space shield is the most logical solution.Much attention is paid to the threat of comets and asteroids. In the past, violent collisions have triggered mass extinctions. Solar storms -- intense waves of high energy particles flung into space during coronal mass ejection -- aren't so much a threat to life. But they could seriously damage satellites, electric grids, communications systems and a variety of modern technologies.When a massive geomagnetic solar storm struck Earth in 1859, the only observable effect was a spate of vibrant auroras. If a similarly powerful storm hit Earth today, the global economy could suffer losses totaling in the tri...
Microlasers get a performance boost from a bit of gold

Microlasers get a performance boost from a bit of gold

Science
Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Scientists have boosted the efficiency of microlasers using tiny gold particles, thus expanding the technology's real-world application possibilities.Researchers at the University of Southern California were able to create a tiny, energy-efficient frequency comb by attaching gold nanoparticles to the surface of a tiny laser.Frequency combs create a rainbow of light frequencies from a single color. The technology is used in a variety of fields, but is most often employed as a sensor capable of measuring the spectral properties of tiny targets, like potentially harmful chemicals.Today, the best commercial frequency combs are prohibitively expensive and require larges amounts of power, limiting their potential outside the lab. Scientists at USC were able to create a frequency ...