# Tuesday, 23 March 2010

This article is interesting, it suggests that in bee colonies there are certain bees that use their bodies to provide heat for the colony. The bees have been dubbed “heater bees” due to the function they perform. Thermal imaging research for a TV series found that heater bees maintain the temperature in the hive where the young bees grow. The young bees called pupae are sealed inside wax cells whilst they grow into adults. Heater bees keep the temperature at 35C for those pupae which will become forager bees and 34C for bees that will be house keepers. The heater bees creep into empty wax cells and transmit heat to around 70 pupae at any time. In this way they can ensure that there are always enough of each type of bee to maintain the hive.

posted on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 09:18:12 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

If you want to get paid to be a couch potato then you might be interested in this article. It highlights a job vacancy for a Professional Couch Potato. The successful applicant will get paid a salary of £24,000 a year to do nothing more than eat 400 extra calories a day and introduce a supplement into their diet. They will have their weight monitored over the course of the experiment which is to test a weight loss product called Proactol. So far 1,023 people have applied for the position which appears to be getting a lot of interest, I wonder why.

posted on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 09:15:52 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 22 March 2010

According to this article scientists have identified a gene that prevents regeneration. It is thought that by switching off this gene may one day enable mammals to regrow lost limbs. Trials have been conducted on mice where the p21 gene was switched off. The mice lacking the gene were then able to gain the ability to regenerate lost and damaged tissues. They do this by forming a blastema, a structure which is associated with rapid cell growth and causes the cells to behave more like embryonic stem cells than normal mammal cells. Scientists hope that they might one day be able to accelerate healing in humans by switching off this gene temporarily.

posted on Monday, 22 March 2010 11:12:46 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

pg-16-salamander_337080t The Kaiser’s spotted newt could be the first creatures to have the dubious honour of becoming extinct because of e-commerce. That’s according to this article which highlights the threat the creature is under from internet trading.

The rare newt which is found only in Iran is highly sought after by amphibian enthusiasts who are willing to pay as much as £200 for one. An investigation into the sale of the newts has been monitoring at least 10 websites which stock them, one of which has sold more than 200 wild caught newts in a year. This may seem a small amount but when it is estimated that only 1,000 mature individuals remain it is a large portion of the remaining population.

Conservationists are now pushing for trade in wild caught Kaiser’s spotted newts to be made illegal. There are also numerous websites which offer captive bred newts from £40 each, some of which have been breeding them since 2008. As always though it’s hard to know which ones are wild caught and which are not.

posted on Monday, 22 March 2010 11:06:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 21 March 2010


This new design for the British plug has recently won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award for 2010. It was designed by British student Min-Kyu Choi. It measures just 1cm thick compared with the standard size of 4.5cm and has a fold away design. The two bottom pins of the plug can rotate 90 degrees whilst the top pin remains static meaning it can be easily collapsed to fit inside a laptop case.

posted on Sunday, 21 March 2010 11:39:02 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

article-1257850-08B61CCD000005DC-662_634x569 Most people try hard to maintain a healthy weight but one woman is trying to do just the opposite. At 43 stone and still growing Donna Simpson from New Jersey is hoping to become the world’s fattest woman. Donna insists that she is perfectly healthy despite the fact she now has to rely on a mobility scooter to do the shopping. It is her goal to try and reach a weight of 71 stone within the next two years which will break the record. She currently eats around 12,000 calories a day compared to the average recommended amount for a woman which is just 2,000 and spends $750 a week on food. She runs a website where men pay to watch her eat which brings in money to fund the food bill.

posted on Sunday, 21 March 2010 11:36:59 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

If you are looking for some grazing for your cattle or ponies then you might be interested in becoming a commoner. The conservation group Natural England is currently looking for some young commoners to graze their animals in the New Forest. Traditionally commoners were people who occupied land to which common rights were attached. These rights included being able to graze their animals in the open forest. Today there are only around 800 houses with these rights and only 500 of their owners exercise them. Commoning, however, has an important part to play in maintaining the natural landscape using traditional grazing methods hence the drive to find younger commoners to take on the role.

posted on Sunday, 21 March 2010 11:33:49 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, 20 March 2010

If you are expecting a lot of people for breakfast then you might be interested to know that Waitrose has started stocking ostrich eggs in some of its stores. The eggs will be stocked in 31 branches whilst they are in season starting this week. The eggs are laid by South African Black Ostriches on a farm in Lincolnshire. They will go on sale at £18.99 each which might seems expensive but when you think that one egg is the equivalent of 24 hen eggs it certainly goes a long way. As for the cooking time required, if you are thinking of boiling it you need to allow between 50 and 90 minutes.

posted on Saturday, 20 March 2010 11:11:44 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

article-0-08B5FF80000005DC-275_468x373 This rare white puffin has been pictured off the British coast near Cornwall. The puffin was spotted among its more common black featured friends. It has a genetic mutation called leucism that dilutes the colour pigments unlike albinism which prevents melanin from forming.


posted on Saturday, 20 March 2010 11:09:32 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 19 March 2010

I receive anything up to 3,000 spam emails in a day so am always interested to see the latest trends. Recently it seems that the majority of my junk mail is made up of emails that look like they are from Amazon. Looking at my spam mail these tend to follow two formats. Either they ask you to confirm your log in details and direct you a page that looks like Amazon but judging by the web address is clearly not or they contain the subject line similar to “Thank you for setting the order No.538532” and include a zip file called track.zip.

According to this article due to volume of emails that are appearing Amazon have warned their customers to be wary of any emails asking them to check their accounts and only check the status of orders by first logging into the website not by clicking a link in an email. I find it interesting that people are fooled by these, as each of the emails I have received has contains a multitude of spelling mistakes, usually one of the first things that makes doubt the authenticity of the sender. The message once again is clear, don’t assume the sender is genuine and don’t click through and enter your details.

posted on Friday, 19 March 2010 09:49:14 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Personally I don’t like Ugg boots so don’t own a pair but I was surprised to read this article which suggest they could damage peoples feet. It seems the boots which are actually made to be worn inside are not suited to outdoor use. When they are worn outdoors the foot slides around inside the boot and leads to ankle, knee, back and hip problems. The problem can be particularly acute with teenage girls because their bones are still developing. The message here seems to be that the boots are designed to worn like slippers and that you should purchase something more sturdy for outdoor pursuits.

posted on Friday, 19 March 2010 09:16:35 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lord Adonis has suggested that the drink drive limit should be lowered in England and Wales. The Government is currently waiting on the results of a report on whether the current limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood should be cut to 50. This could mean that motorists will be over the limit if they drink just one pint of beer and would be the first change to drink drive laws since the introduction of the breathalyser in 1967. It is also thought that there will be lower limit of just 20 milligrams for novice drivers, lorry drivers and bus drivers as well as tightened laws on driving under the influence of narcotics. The changes are likely to come into place only if Labour stay in power as the Conservatives would leave the limit unchanged.

posted on Thursday, 18 March 2010 08:49:09 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

If you have a bit of cash to spare you might be interested in this £10,000 whisky. The whisky is the world’s oldest malt and has gone on sale at £10,000 a bottle. The Mortlach 70 year old Speyside whisky was filled into it cask on the 15th of October 1938. 70 years later the decision was taken to empty the cask and bottle the contents. Only 54 full size bottles costing £10,000 each and 162 smaller bottles at £2,500 each are available . The whisky has been sampled in a tasting and has been described as a malt “without comparison”.

posted on Thursday, 18 March 2010 08:16:05 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 17 March 2010

According to this article nearly 500 species of plants and animals have disappeared from in England in the last 200 years. A comprehensive audit of native wildlife has found that most of the disappearances have been largely down to human activities. They include species such as the great auk, a flightless seabird which did not exist anywhere else. The survey looked at records and specimens dating back 2,000 years. It found that all but 12 of the 492 species to vanish were lost after 1800. It seems that most of the extinctions are down to increased hunting and fishing, loss of habitat and climate change. The report has offered some encouragement suggesting that recent conservation efforts have been effective where they have been employed. For example the article highlights the red kite which although it had disappeared has now been reintroduced successfully and has numbers in the hundreds. Other species like the corncrake, ladybird spider, sand lizard and polecat are also starting to return which is encouraging.

posted on Wednesday, 17 March 2010 10:54:59 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

McDonald’s will soon be offering a new work experience based qualification equivalent to a GCSE. Under the scheme the company will work with the exam board Edexcel to develop a BTec certificate to recognise the skills gained. The BTec course will be open to teenagers and will require them to complete a 10 day placement in a restaurant as well as completing work at school. The course is fully accredited and is equivalent to one GCSE at grade B or C. The placement adds up to a 80 hour study requirement and covers issues such as team working and communication skills. The qualification is designed to help prepare young people for the work place, helping to build their confidence and give them the edge when looking for employment.

posted on Wednesday, 17 March 2010 10:49:20 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Psyllid-release-to-fight--001Japanese knotweed is fast becoming a problem in some areas of the UK. It grows very quickly and can be expensive to remove by hand costing anything up to £150m a year to control. It will soon be under attack from another alien in the form of an insect. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have approved the release of an insect called the psyllid which eats the weed. In tests the insect has fed on sap from the stems of knotweed, causing the plant to die back and has ignored other similar native plants. It will be released in two locations initially under close supervision to see whether the plan works before being released at another six sites. I’m not convinced myself, that releasing another potentially invasive species will not cause further unforeseen problems to the environment.

posted on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 15:38:21 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Predators of songbirds such as the magpie tend to get a bad press when it comes to looking at the reasons for the decline of songbirds. According to this article, however, they are not to blame. At a time when species such as the yellowhammer and bullfinch have dropped by half there have been calls for culls of predators such as magpies and grey squirrels which have seen numbers soar. A study of the relationship between songbirds and predators has found that rather than more causing a decline they are in fact a indication of a higher number of animals further up the food chain and a healthy overall population. For the majority of songbirds there is no evidence of a link between predators and songbird decline although it is acknowledged this might be an issue in some cases on a local level. In fact research indicated that factors such as woodland management, changing farming practices and urbanisation were more behind the decline in most cases.

posted on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 11:11:57 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback