A fake peregrine and a radar-activated cannon work better at keeping birds away from oil sands tailings than the current system, says new research from the University of Alberta.
Oil sands mining is one of several industrial activities that produces waste dangerous to waterfowl. The birds, such as ducks, geese and swans, are attracted to freshwater ponds for foraging, roosting and nesting, and as stopover sites during migration. Spring migration is a particular problem in north-eastern Alberta, when the warm-water waste forms tailing ponds from oil sands mines are the only open water--the natural bodies are still frozen. When waterfowl land in these ponds, they may ingest oil and their plumage may become oiled with waste bitumen, potentially preventing birds from flying or leading to lost insulation and death from hypothermia. Current deterrents being used are not always successful because wildlife either ignore the stimuli or habituate to them.
Dr. Colleen Cassady St. Clair and her former undergraduate student, Rob Ronconi (now a Ph.D student at the University of Victoria), compared the industry standard--randomly firing cannons and stationary human effigies--to a radar-activated system which fires cannons and also activates large peregrine falcon effigies only when birds approach. The radar detects the birds and relays the information to a computer that automatically deploys the deterrents. Ronconi led the fieldwork and observed almost 8000 birds during the experiment, which took place in northern Alberta near Fort McMurray. The research has just been published in the "Journal of Applied Ecology."
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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