In Australia, Just One Wasp Can Ground an Airplane With a Strategically Placed Nest | Smart News

New research conducted at Brisbane airport shows how the invasive keyhole wasp builds their nests over important sensors, causing havoc for aircraft, George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo.

Keyhole wasps like to lay their eggs in small, pre-made cavities like window crevices, electrical sockets and, as their name implies, keyholes. Airplanes, meanwhile, rely on external sensors that are shaped like thin tubes. If the pilot realizes after takeoff that a sensor is blocked, the plane just has to turn around so it can be cleaned. But in a worst-case scenario, malfunctioning sensors are catastrophic. The new study, published on November 30 in the journal PLOS One, confirmed keyhole wasps are the sensor-blocking culprit, figured out their favorite size sensors for nest-building, and found that they built most of their nests near a grassy field at the airport.

The researchers hope that airports will be use the data to better combat the six-legged saboteurs.

“When we did some background research we realized that this wasn’t just an inconvenience, that you just had to clean these things out and swat the wasps away; this could actually lead to major accidents,” says Eco Logical Australia ecologist Alan House, lead author on the new study, to CNN’s Hilary Whiteman.

A plane crash off the coast of the Dominican Republic in 1996 that killed all 189 passengers and crew was linked to blockage of the pitot tube, which measures the speed that air is flowing through it as a proxy for how fast the plane is flying. The pitot tube’s measurements can show if the plane is flying fast enough to be stable, or if the plane is flying too slow, putting it at risk of stalling. Inaccurate airspeed readings can cause dangerous reactions by the pilots—or software.

“It’s not a Mayday emergency but it’s the next level down, and it closes the runways,” says House to New Scientist’s Donna Lu.

The wasps are native to the Americas, but have been flying around Brisbane for over a decade. The insects have figured out a speedy strategy for establishing their nests.

“We have anecdotal reports from ground crew at Brisbane that a plane can have arrived at the gate and within a matter of two or three minutes, a wasp will be flying around the nose of the plane having a look at the probe,” House tells CNN. House adds to Belinda Smith at ABC News Australia, “When the plane first comes in, those probes are too hot for the wasp, so I think what she’s doing is waiting for it to cool down.”

Once the tube is cool, the wasp fills the cavity with mud, an egg and a bit of prey, like a caterpillar. A thin wall of mud at the front seals the nest, and solidly blocks the pitot tube. This process can happen in under 30 minutes, as was the case when a wasp nest blocked the temperature probe on a flight from Brisbane to Newcastle in 2015, per ABC

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Australia hopes a pilot program for international students can restart its crucial education sector.

A cohort of 63 international students on Monday arrived in Australia under a pilot program that allows them to resume their studies, even as the country’s borders remain closed because of the pandemic.

The students, the first group of international students allowed in since March, arrived at Darwin International Airport in the Northern Territory from Singapore. They are from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

All of them tested negative for the coronavirus 72 hours before boarding the charter flight. They will be required to quarantine at a former workers’ camp outside the city of Darwin for 14 days before being allowed to re-enter the campus at Charles Darwin University.

The education sector, crucial to the Australian economy, is set to lose billions of dollars if the country’s borders do not reopen before the end of 2021. According to research from Victoria University, the loss of international students is also affecting the makeup of Australia’s cities.

In September, Charles Darwin University made a deal with the state and the federal government that would enable students to return from overseas to study. The success of the program could influence whether more international students can return to study in other states, including South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Speaking to the local news media, the students — some of who had become stranded while visiting family overseas — said they felt lucky to return to Australia, which is beginning to reopen as states eliminate, or come close to eliminating, the spread of the coronavirus.

Xitao Jiang, a 23-year-old student from China returning to Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday that was “very lucky” to have the opportunity to return to the country and study at the university in Darwin.

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Bin-shaming: the fine line between recycling education and community alienation | Australia news

An eastern Sydney council has come under fire for a program in which staff inspect residents’ garbage bins and leave notes with information on how they can better recycle.

In Australia, where all household recycling is collected in one bin, contamination is a huge problem, when a few non-recyclable products can cause entire trucks’ worth of goods to go to landfill.

To try to reduce contamination, Randwick council, home to Coogee beach, began a program on 16 November in which inspectors look in residents’ bins and, if non-recyclables are found, “tags” are left behind with information on how the resident can improve.

“Until February 2021, council has engaged a consultant to conduct red and yellow lid bin inspections to gather information so that we can measure current waste minimisation and resource recovery levels,” a council spokeswoman said.

“These consultants conduct visual inspections only, they don’t move or remove any items from the bin.”

The program is part of the council’s plan to divert 75% of waste from landfill by 2022.

The mayor of Cumberland city council, Steve Christou, condemned the approach as “councils spying and intruding on their residents’ privacy” while speaking to Sydney’s the Daily Telegraph.

Assoc Prof Ruth Lane, a recycling expert at the University of Monash, said social pressure could be an affective tool.

“You need to make it normal, that it’s ‘just what you do’,” she said. “People need to feel like the odd one out if they aren’t doing it. That’s how behaviours shift.”

But Lane said Randwick council’s scheme could be too punitive despite the absence of penalties.

“You need to be careful,” she said. “If you are a local government, you need to bring people along with you. I think a punitive approach might not work, you will always have people who just don’t respond to the messaging.”

Lane said transparent recycling bins, which have been suggested or trialled on a small scale in several locations around Australia, might strike the right balance between social pressure and community collaboration.

Adelaide City area councillor Robert Simms proposed their use in June last year, aiming to make the city a leader in recycling.

“If we want to encourage behavioural change, I think this is something that will really encourage people to do the right thing,” Simms told the Advertiser. “In a way, it is kind of naming and shaming.”

Cities around the world are experimenting with how to avoid recycling contamination, many utilising shame.

Christchurch city council in New Zealand has been placing a large gold star on the kerbside wheelie bins of successful recyclers.

Warnings are left on the bins of residents who fail to sort their waste three times and if they still cannot be trusted the council will confiscate the bin. This has led to the percentage of recycling trucks able to head to the sorters nearing 80%.

Ross Trotter, Christchurch city council’s manager for resource and recovery, said the threat of public shaming was usually enough for residents to address the

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Marcus Harris hopes small tweaks will revive his Australia Test career

Victoria opener Marcus Harris is hopeful a set-up adjustment he has made with new state coach Chris Rogers will help propel him back into Test calculations.

Harris hasn’t played Test cricket since the 2019 Ashes where he made just 58 runs in six innings. Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer dismissed Harris five times between them, all from around the wicket and all where he was squared up.

Harris identified that he needed to make a technical adjustment but found it difficult to do last season with less than a month between the Ashes and the start of the domestic summer.

“Pretty much since the end of the Ashes almost I’ve been trying to work on how I can stay a little bit more side-on and some stuff like that,” Harris told ESPNcricinfo. “It was hard to try and work at it in season, so I never did much of it during the season.”

ALSO READ: Cameron Green set to return to bowling crease for Western Australia

Harris did score a century in his first Shield innings last summer but it came on a lifeless Junction Oval pitch where six players reached triple figures, two of which were double centuries, and only 12 wickets fell in four days.

He made four more half-centuries for the summer in 10 innings but none exceeded 70. He missed out in the tour match against Pakistan in Perth and lost his Test spot to Joe Burns.

Harris was keen to work on getting more side-on in his set-up and strokeplay over the winter but coaching changes in Victoria and the Covid-related state lockdown provided some hurdles.

Harris’ long-time batting mentor Lachlan Stevens moved from the Victorian men’s program to the women’s program while and one of Harris’ other sounding boards, Andrew McDonald had left Victoria’s senior coaching role early last summer to join the Australian team as an assistant coach.

ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Victoria were without a senior coach right up until mid-August when former Victoria and Australia opener Rogers was appointed. Harris worked diligently with Victoria assistant coach Andre Borovec in the interim.

Under the McDonald, Stevens, Borovec and Mick Lewis coaching unit Victoria’s batsmen in particular had been given the freedom to explore their own technical preparation within reason, with the coaches fully supporting and working with the player-made plans and only intervening when form issues demanded it.

Rogers has a different philosophy having come from coaching Australia’s Under-19 team.

“He’s very different to [McDonald],” Harris said. “He’s very technical and he likes tweaking. He’s very focused on that sort of stuff. Which is not wrong or right, every coach is different. He’s been good.

“He has just helped me a little bit with my alignment and just getting myself in a better position. That’s been really good. I just work with whoever. All our staff are all very helpful.”

Rogers stated when he got the job that developing Victoria’s young batsmen into long-term Test players was his top priority and he specifically mentioned

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Skyscraper-sized reef discovered in Australia [Video]

Scientists have discovered a massive detached coral reef taller than the Empire State Building in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

It’s the first discovery of its kind in over a century and the reef is healthy and thriving.

Footage captured by scientists shows clown fish paddling between vibrant peach and pink coral; a colourful scene found last week by a team from James Cook University.

Marine Scientist Dr Robin Beaman led the mission:

“That’s it was a real eye-opener to bring the R.O.V. up over the ledge, literally climb onto the summit, and then peer around in the warm photic water, warm photic zone to see all the fish and coral and sharks there. So a very healthy coral ecosystem on this type of top of a 500 metre tall reef. It’s not something you discover every day.”

The nearly mile-long structure was named the “blade reef” for its sharp peak, and was found by using an underwater robot, named Subastian.

With its help, the team collected samples to be archived.

“We’ve found new fish species, new black coral species, we have been taking samples with the R.O.V., because it has a hand and we have a permit from the Marine Park that allows us to collect these rare corals.”

This part of the seabed stands in contrast to the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, which is suffering from bleaching where warm water causes coral to expel the algae that feeds it and ecosystems are destroyed.

“We didn’t see any evidence of bleaching…what we saw instead was quite a thriving coral reef and sponge community, probably more fish than we’ve seen on any of the other R.O.V. dives.”

The discovery is a welcome breakthrough for scientists after a study was published earlier this month that found the Great Barrier Reef had lost more than half its coral in the last three decades.

Video Transcript

Scientists have discovered a massive detached coral reef taller than the Empire State Building. It’s the first discovery of its kind in over a century, and the reef is healthy and thriving. Footage captured by scientists shows clownfish paddling between vibrant peach and pink coral. A colorful scene found last week by a team from James Cook University. Marine scientist Dr. Robin Beaman led the mission.

It was real eye opener to bring the ROV up over the ledge, literally climb onto the summit and then peer around in the warm photic water to see all of the fish and coral and sharks there. So very healthy coral ecosystem on this, you know, top of a 500 meter tall reef. It’s not something you discover every day.

The nearly mile long structure was named the Blade Reef for its sharp peak and was found by using an underwater robot named SuBastion. And with its help, the team collected samples to be archived.

ROBIN BEAMAN: We’ve found new fish species, new black coral species. We have been taking samples with the ROV,

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Coronavirus Australia live updates: PM announces reopening plan as protesters in Melbourne pepper-sprayed | Australia news

Fragments of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, have also been detected in untreated wastewater samples collected in recent days from wastewater treatment plants at Colac, Gisborne, Kilmore and Shepparton where there are known residents with recent infections.

While the test results may not mean there are currently active cases of Covid-19 in these communities, the Department of Health and Human Services has increased testing with local health services and taken further wastewater samples.

People who have had coronavirus may shed the virus or virus fragments for several weeks on used tissues, off their hands and skin when washing, and in their stool, well beyond their infectious period.

The preliminary positive test result from Ararat is not expected, with no known recent cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the area. As with all wastewater testing, it may be because of someone local who is shedding the virus or from a visitor to the area.

While the other positive wastewater test results are in line with recent known cases of coronavirus (Covid-19), the most recent cases in the Colac and Gisborne areas, including New Gisborne, Macedon and Mt Macedon, are nearing the end of the typical shedding period.

Victoria this month increased its surveillance of wastewater. Samples are now taken from 42 wastewater treatment plants across Victoria with additional sites recently at Bacchus Marsh, Bairnsdale, Cowes, Gisborne, Hamilton, Horsham, Kilmore, Melton, Portland and Warrnambool.

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Coronavirus Australia live updates: PM to speak on national cabinet as ASIC chair and deputy stand aside after annual report audit | Australia news

Fragments of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, have also been detected in untreated wastewater samples collected in recent days from wastewater treatment plants at Colac, Gisborne, Kilmore and Shepparton where there are known residents with recent infections.

While the test results may not mean there are currently active cases of Covid-19 in these communities, the Department of Health and Human Services has increased testing with local health services and taken further wastewater samples.

People who have had coronavirus may shed the virus or virus fragments for several weeks on used tissues, off their hands and skin when washing, and in their stool, well beyond their infectious period.

The preliminary positive test result from Ararat is not expected, with no known recent cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the area. As with all wastewater testing, it may be because of someone local who is shedding the virus or from a visitor to the area.

While the other positive wastewater test results are in line with recent known cases of coronavirus (Covid-19), the most recent cases in the Colac and Gisborne areas, including New Gisborne, Macedon and Mt Macedon, are nearing the end of the typical shedding period.

Victoria this month increased its surveillance of wastewater. Samples are now taken from 42 wastewater treatment plants across Victoria with additional sites recently at Bacchus Marsh, Bairnsdale, Cowes, Gisborne, Hamilton, Horsham, Kilmore, Melton, Portland and Warrnambool.

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