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Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

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Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In May, periodical cicadas with 17 years life cycle emerged on the East Coast of the USA after underground development as juveniles since 1996. Researchers and scientists worked to map and study the rare wave, and the locals prepared for the noisy event. First recorded in 1666, the Magicicada septendecim species recently emerged in 1979, 1996, this year, with a next wave due in 2030.

This week, Wikinews interviewed Chris Simon, an ecology and evolutionary biologist at University of Connecticut, about the cicadas.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in periodical cicadas?

Chris Simon: As an undergraduate student, I was interested in the formation of species so when I went to graduate school I looked for a study organism that was likely to be in the process of forming new species. I chose periodical cicadas because they are broken up into reproductively isolated broods (or year classes). Reproductive isolation leads to speciation so I planned to study biochemical differences among the broods.

((WN)) You study the emergence of the periodical cicadas. What do you study? What observations are you making?

CS: We record exactly where each cicada population emerges (using GPS automated mapping and crowd sourcing). We record the presence or absence of each of the three morphologically distinct species groups of periodical cicadas (Decim group, Cassini group, and Decula group). We collect specimens for DNA analysis. We look for cicadas coming up one and four years early and late. We dig up cicada nymphs and monitor their growth rates.

((WN)) What equipment do you use?

CS: Nets, shovels, automated GPS recorders, cameras, laptop computers, automated DNA sequencers.

((WN)) Do you study the periodical cicadas with anyone else? What is their role?

CS: Yes, there are a large number of people studying periodical cicadas in my lab and in other labs. My lab is made up of Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Researchers, a technician, graduate students, and undergraduates. Research Scientist John Cooley is the leader of the GPS mapping project; he invented the automated GPS recorder; he built our crowd-sourcing website, and he is instrumental in public outreach. Postdoctoral research David Marshall also participates in the mapping project and leads the part of the research related to the mapping of stragglers. John and Dave and Technician Kathy Hill all study periodical cicada mating behavior and conduct mating and hybridization experiments. One of my graduate students Beth Wade has participated in the nymph collections and will soon start genetic work involving genome wide association mapping designed to locate genes related to life cycle. My graduate student Russ Meister is studying the genes of the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas. My current undergraduate honors student Erin Dwyer is also studying the development of Magicicada nymphs and is helping to design a lab exercise for college students around the eastern US to do the same. Many of my past undergraduate students have studied the biochemical genetics and development of periodical cicadas. See the Simon Lab website.
CS: We are collaborating with Teiji Sota at the University Kyoto and Jin Yoshimura at Shizuoka University in Japan. They are studying the phylogeography of Magicicada. We are collaborating with John McCutcheon of the University of Montana who is studying the endosymbiont genomes.
CS: We are also collaborating with ecologists Rick Karban and Louie Yang, both professors at UC Davis who have an interest in cicada population dynamics and nutrient cycling in the ecosystem.

((WN)) You studied the periodical cicadas in 1979 and 1996 too. What changes with time?

CS: I have studied periodical cicadas since I was a student back in 1974. What changes with time is increased human development constantly shrinking the patch size of cicada populations.

((WN)) What are your thoughts on the long life span of the periodical cicadas? Why could it be so? What advantages and what disadvantages does it have?

CS: Most or all cicadas have long life cycles compared to your typical annual insect. Examples have been found of two-year to 9-year cycles in different species. Periodical cicadas evolved an even-longer life cycle and I think that part of this relates to the evolution of their synchronized life cycles and peculiar safety-in-numbers strategy for survival. To become synchronized, periodical cicadas had to evolve an exact length life cycle and all adults would have to appear in the same year. Because the nymphs grow at different rates underground, a longer life cycle and a way of counting years must have evolved so that the individuals that get to the last nymphal (underground juvenile) stage first would wait long enough for all other individuals in the population to become ready to emerge.

((WN)) News reports mention this is ‘Brood II’ of the periodical cicadas. What are the distinctive features of this specific species and what is its full scientific name?

CS: The same species exist in multiple broods. No species is restricted to Brood II. The three species present in Brood II are: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. These same three species are found in every 17-year brood (except the farthest north which only has M. septendecim).

((WN)) At what depth do the cicadas juveniles live underground?

CS: Most live within the top foot of soil but some have been found deeper. We do not know if they go deeper in winter. We need to do much more digging to understand the nymphs.

((WN)) How do people prepare for the cicada emergence?

CS: Of course various people prepare in different ways. Ideally, everyone prepares by studying information available on the web (especially on our websites Magicicada Central and Magicicada.org).

((WN)) Do cicadas affect transport in the local area?

CS: No, not really. Occasionally individuals can be seeing flying across highways and sometimes they smash into cars.

((WN)) Do cicadas usually stay outside or do they also invade houses too?

CS: They stay outside. One might accidentally fly in through an open window but that would be rare.

((WN)) What do the cicadas eat?

CS: Cicadas suck xylem fluid (the watery fluid coming up from the roots of plants) in deciduous forest trees and herbs. Essential amino acids in the cicada diet are supplied by their bacterial endosymbionts. There are two species of endosymbionts. One makes 8 essential amino acids and one makes two essential amino acids.

((WN)) Do cicadas damage crops or city vegetation? What damage?

CS: Cicadas do not chew leave so they do not damage crops like other insects. They can inflict some damage by their egg laying. Cicadas lay eggs in pencil-sized tree branches. If there are not enough branches available, too many female cicadas may lay eggs in a single branch weakening it and making it susceptible to breakage by wind. This can sometimes cause damage in fruit orchards. If the branches break, the eggs die so this behavior is selected against by natural selection.

((WN)) Thank you.

CS: You’re welcome. I am happy to have this opportunity to communicate with your readers!

Airborne sedan smashes into dental office in Santa Ana, California, US

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Airborne sedan smashes into dental office in Santa Ana, California, US

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A car accident involving the car occupants and a dentist’s office happened on Sunday night in Santa Ana, California. A white Nissan sedan which was apparently driving too fast hit the raised concrete median on the road, after which it was launched into the air, slamming straight into the wall of the second floor of a two-story dental practice building, where the car got wedged.

According to the police, the car approached from a side street. The room of the dental office penetrated by the sedan was used as a storage space. A fire department crane was used to extract the vehicle from the building, which took several hours.

There were two people in the sedan. One of them managed to escape from the hanging vehicle on his own, while the other one remained trapped inside it for over an hour. They were both hospitalized with minor injuries, according to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA). According to the police, the driver of the car admitted narcotics use, and after toxicology tests the case is to be submitted to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The moment of the accident was captured by surveillance video from a bus which the car narrowly missed when becoming airborne.

According to OCFA spokesperson Captain Stephen Horner, there was a small fire after the crash, which was extinguished quickly.

Police station attacked following illegal rave

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Police station attacked following illegal rave

Monday, August 20, 2007

Two police vehicles were damaged and police officers narrowly avoided injury in Great Yarmouth, England after a mob of over 100 people assembled outside a local police station.

The event has been labelled by local police as a ‘major incident’ and has so far resulted in 15 arrests pertaining to violent disorder, possession of drugs and taking a vehicle without consent. Over 100 police officers were involved in the event; many of them from bordering counties.

The mob assembled in the early hours of Monday morning and threw missiles including wine bottles and beer cans at the building.

The conflict is thought to be connected to the prior arrests of three people driving a van containing sound equipment in connection with an unlicensed music event which was being monitored by the police several hours earlier. At the event, police had made three arrests and seized 44 vehicles.

The police are also investigating a burglary which occurred on Harfrey’s Industrial Estate in the close vicinity of the illegal music event. Police Chief Supt Scully has warned people away from the area as it is now being treated as a crime scene.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Russ Aegard, Thunder Bay-Atikokan

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Russ Aegard, Thunder Bay-Atikokan

Monday, September 24, 2007

Russ Aegard is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Thunder Bay-Atikokan riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.

Contents

  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources

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Chinese government approved Nanjing purchase of MG Rover

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Chinese government approved Nanjing purchase of MG Rover

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Chinese National Development and Reform Commission approved today the plans by Nanjing Automobile Group to revive the MG Rover brand.

Nanjing Automobile are planning to annually produce 200,000 cars, 250,000 engines and 100,000 gearboxes on the assembly lines purchased from MG Rover.

The first MG produced in Pukou in Nanjing in the east of China will be the sedan version of MG-75, in the first half of 2007.

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Brazil’s Minas state stops sales of Toyota Corolla

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Brazil’s Minas state stops sales of Toyota Corolla

Friday, April 23, 2010

Minas, one of the largest states of Brazil, has stopped the sale of the Toyota Corolla over safety concerns.

The move was made after nine Corolla customers reported that their cars automatically accelerated. The state public prosecutor’s office said in an online statement on Tuesday that the problem is blamed on accelerator pedals sticking underneath floor mats. Local government said the issue was “putting in danger the lives of occupants”.

According to the prosecutor’s office, sales of Corollas may resume when Toyota alters the floormats in its current models. Toyota has recalled over eight million vehicles worldwide due to acceleration problems.

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How To Find The Best Assisted Living Facility

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If you have a loved one that is in need of assisted living care, you may be feeling overwhelmed with all of the things that need to be taken care of. The most important thing on your list should be finding the right facility for your loved one. There are many assisted living facilities in the area, there are several ways that you can find these facilities and then narrow your choices down to just one.

First, speak to your friends and family members and get personal recommendations from them. Many people have first-hand experience with a local assisted living facility, and they will give you an unbiased review to help you choose a facility that meets the needs of your loved one.

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Next, you can consult your local phone directory or conduct a search online to get a list of local nursing homes and assisted care facilities. You can also check out the websites of any of these places, if available. This will help you narrow down the choices to a few contenders.

You may also wish to contact your local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau or the agency that is tasked with the oversight of local nursing homes and assisted care facilities. You will be able to check out reviews of local facilities and see if there are any complaints or failed inspections on file.

Once you have narrowed your list down to a few choices, it is important to visit these facilities in person. You can speak with the staff and get a feel for the atmosphere at the facility. You can also meet some of the residents and check out the amenities to see if they meet the needs of your loved one. Once you have conducted these visits, you will be able to make an informed choice.

If you are looking for an assisted living facility in Kentucky, Memory Care Louisville KY can help. Memory Care Louisville KY cares for the residents that have been entrusted to them. The facility offers a variety of amenities to make your loved one feel like they are home. Contact the staff today to see if the facility is right for your needs.

Click Here to visit Magnolia Springs Senior Living website

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World’s oldest seaborne passenger vessel on tour as floating library

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World’s oldest seaborne passenger vessel on tour as floating library

May 2, 2005

The Merchant Vessel (MV) Doulos, listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship, has docked in the port of Muscat, Sultanate of Oman this week. The ship was built in 1914, two years after the Titanic, but unlike the more famous luxury liner, Doulos has over 90 years of safe sailing to her credit. This “Grand Old Lady of the Sea” has undergone several periods of rebuilding and expansion throughout the 20th century and sailed under three different names, before being purchased by a Christian missionary group, Operation Mobilisation (OM), in 1977 and converted for their use.

Doulos bills itself as “the world’s largest floating book fair”, and carries half a million books which represent about 6,000 distinct titles, which are donated and sold for modest fees to support the vessel’s operation. The books represent Christian literature and educational material in various languages. Sailing from port to port throughout Asia and Africa, the crew of the Doulos sometimes finds itself faced with local restrictions against the sale of Christian literature, which it handles by separating the sacred books from the secular with a canvas divider, and evangelizing the guards who are sent to control access to the banned books.

Most places visited by the Doulos and its sister ship Logos II (which travels North and South America) receive them with an enthusiastic welcome. “Most places we visit don’t have Borders or Barnes and Noble,” said Lane Powell, publications editor for OM. “In other countries literature is more highly valued and this can be the biggest thing in town,” Powell continued in his interview with ASSIST News Service. “People line up one to two miles in some parts of the world. We have 6,000 people coming on the Logos II in one day.”

The OM website claims that, since 1970, the two ships have together reached 30 million people in 140 countries, in 435 ports around the world. The crews themselves are also quite international in character, with volunteers from 50 different countries. Powell gives credit to their shared Christian background for their ability to get along with each other despite their differences. The names of their ships also have Christian meaning: doulos means “servant” and logos means “word”, as in holy scripture.

The ship recently sailed to Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt before coming to the Gulf of Oman, and docking in its Sultan Qaboos port, where it was received in style by the Tourism Minister Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali, one of three female ministers in the cabinet. Oman is the only country in the Gulf to have its own tourism ministry, created last year to encourage visitors to come partake in Omani life and culture.

Said bin Ali to the Daily Times, “We are absolutely delighted to have a roving library second to none, busy inculcating reading habits among people at a time when it matters most.”

Also speaking to the Daily Times, Murthadha Hassan Ali said, “The importance of such a visit can’t be over-emphasised in days when reading habits are waning and people are swarming restaurants as if we were born only to eat… Book remains your best companion, TV or no TV.” Ali described himself as a “compulsive book reader”, and wants someday to start a public library in the capital city of Muscat, which currently has none.

The 425 foot long (130m) library will weigh anchor and continue its missionary journey starting May 9, with plans to sail to Kenya, on Africa’s east coast.

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