Archive | March, 2012

Zombie Bees 0_o

28 Mar

Parasite turns honey bees into zombies

A fly parasite is being blamed for an epidemic that has struck the honey bee population around the world. The parasite nests in the stomach of the bees and causes them to walk in circles, sometimes pursuing bright lights, before eventually dying.

The Parasitic Phorid Fly Apocephalus borealis is responsible for the zombie transformation, laying its eggs inside the abdomen of the honey bee.

“When we observed the bees for some time, the ones that were alive, we found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction,” said San Francisco State University’s Andrew Core lead author on the bee parasite study in the journal Plos One.




Woman accused of orally raping man inside his house.

20 Mar

A WOMAN has been ordered to stand trial accused of breaking into a man’s home and raping him.
Rebecca Helen Elder, 39, of Parkside, appeared in the District Court this morning.
She pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated serious criminal trespass in a place of residence, and one count of rape.
Prosecution documents, filed with the court, allege both offences took place at a suburban location between September 20 and September 23 last year.
At trial, prosecutors will allege Elder broke into a house while its male occupant – who cannot be named – was lawfully on the premises.
They will further allege she broke in with the intention of committing a further offence of rape.
Finally, prosecutors will allege Elder raped the man by performing an act of oral sex without his consent.



World Sheep Trimming Championship 0_o

5 Mar

15 sheep in 13+ mins.

Napier shearing gun John Kirkpatrick made an early push for a sixth consecutive season as New Zealand’s top-ranked shearer when he regained the Wairarapa Spring Shears Open title on Saturday.

With defending champion and fellow Hawke’s Bay shearer Adam Brausch eliminated in the semifinals, the three-times Golden Shears open champion was a comfortable winner of the four-man final at the Wairarapa A&P; Show at Clareville, near Carterton.

Pushed a little for time honours by Pongaroa farmer David Buick, Kirkpatrick shore his 15 sheep in 13min 41sec, beating Buick by six seconds, but proved demonstrably superior in the quality stakes and won by almost four points. Third was Hawke’s Bay-based Northland shearer Matthew Smith, enjoying another finals preparing for the World Championships New Zealand team selection series which starts at the Canterbury Show at the end of next week.

Having also won the Great Raihania Shears final in Hastings earlier this month, Saturday’s win pushed Kirkpatrick into an early lead in Shearing Sports New Zealand’s 2010-2011 national rankings.

Now in his 20th season of Open-class competition, Kirkpatrick first won the rankings’ Bowen Trophy in 2002, the season in which he ended King Country star David Fagan’s 12-year reign as Golden Shears champion, and has now headed the rankings each season since 2007. A prolific winner in the North and South islands, he’s an early favourite for the eight-round selection series that ends with a final in Gore in February and the naming of two machine shearers for the championships in Masterton.
Kirkpatrick won a World teams title with Taranaki farmer Paul Avery in Norway in 2008, but missed out on a place in the team for last year’s championships in Wales.

The Carterton event also brought important wins in the lower grades, with Kane Kapene, of Martinborough winning a senior final for the first time, Golden Shears junior champion Michael Rolston, of Levin, winning his first senior title and Manahi Fox, of Masterton, winning his first junior final.

The open woolhandling provided a similar success for woolhandler Choppy Patterson, of Alexandra, who claimed her first Open title.




Oxygen found on Saturn’s moon

5 Mar

SOME planets revolve close enough to their suns to support human-like life.

Some either once had liquid water, or possibly harbour it under their surfaces.

And now Saturn – or more specifically, one of its moons – has shown that Earth doesn’t have a monopoly on oxygen either.

A new report published in Geophysical Research Letters describes how Cassini – the global initiative satellite that’s been orbiting the ringed planet since 2004 – has detected a thin layer of oxygen around icy moon Dione.

The discovery was made two years ago, but these things have to be verified before they can be published, so here it is – heat, water and oxygen all occurring in the universe somewhere other than Earth.

But before you get too excited about that interplanetary move, there’s a few things to consider.

One is that the layer of oxygen around Dione is too thin to be considered an atmosphere, so for now, scientists are calling it an exosphere.

It’s about the equivalent of oxygen on Earth if you were breathing it 500km up.

And as far as the surface of Dione itself goes, there’s no liquid water, which means you’d be relying on a a kind of intergalactic watercooler top-up service, or, if you’re Bear Grylls, drinking your own wee.

The important thing for Team Cassini is the discovery supports a theory that claims oxygen is present in some form on most of the moons around Saturn and Jupiter.

Add that to the fact that some of those moons do indeed support bodies of liquid water and you have a stronger case for finding life in some form.

Enceledus, for example, is another Saturnian moon which is thought to host a liquid ocean beneath its surface.

The oxygen on Dione is thought to be present on Dione due to highly charged particles from Saturn’s radiation belt splitting its ice water into oxygen and hydrogen.

For the now, what it all means is the European Space Agency folk can push for more money to launch an orbiter to Jupiter’s icy moons and begin drilling for life beneath the surface.

Europa is the most likely candidate, although a co-author of the Dione study, Andrew Coates, offers a tantalising future scenario for Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

With its nitrogen and methane atmosphere, he tells the BBC, “it may be an Earth waiting to happen as the outer Solar System warms up”.