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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

Feb. 22, 2013 at 6:14 PM   |   Comments

Pieces of Russian meteor to be analyzed

MOSCOW, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The first fragment recovered from a meteor that exploded over central Russia last week has arrived in Moscow for analysis, officials say.

"This is the first piece, but it's not the only one our colleagues collected," Mikhail Nazarov, head of the science laboratory doing the analysis, told RIA Novosti.

After being weighed and photographed the fragment will undergo a detailed analysis, he said.

A shock wave shattered windows, damaged buildings and injured more than 1,000 people, when the estimated 50-foot meteor exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk Feb. 15.

Fragments of the meteor have been found under a 25-foot-wide hole in the ice covering the region's Lake Chebarkul, scientists said this week.


Giant goldfish found in Lake Tahoe

RENO, Nev., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A massive 4-pound goldfish found in Lake Tahoe may be the result of aquarium dumping that could threaten the lake's ecosystem, U.S. scientists say.

Researchers trawling the lake on the California-Nevada border in a study to identify invasive fish species say they netted a goldfish that was nearly 1.5 feet long and weighed 4.2 pounds.

"During these surveys, we've found a nice corner where there's about 15 other goldfish," environmental scientist Sudeep Chandra of the University of Nevada, Reno, told LiveScience. "It's an indication that they were schooling and spawning."

Goldfish are considered an invasive species that could interfere with the lake's ecosystem, he said.

Aquarium dumping is introducing hardy, nonnative aquatic species to California waters that are a threat, researchers said.

Scientists say the fish must have come from aquariums because these species could not have ended up in these waters naturally.

"The invasion is resulting in the consumption of native species," Chandra said, adding the invasive fish also excrete nutrients that cause algal blooms that cloud Lake Tahoe's famously clear waters.

The size and aggressiveness of aquarium fish are the two main reasons people dump them, the researchers said.


N.Y. police target Apple device thieves

NEW YORK, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- New York police say they've formed a team dedicated to catching people involved in rampant theft of Apple Phones and iPads.

The theft of the popular devices -- dubbed "apple-picking" by thieves -- has become so widespread in the city a team of police has been assigned to work with Apple to get the stolen gadgets back, the New York Post reported Friday.

When an Apple device is reported stolen, detectives attempt to obtain tracking numbers, either from the victim or from online records, which are then passed on to Apple.

Apple -- which can track its devices even if they are subsequently re-registered with a different wireless provider -- will provide NYPD with the device's location.

"We're looking for ways to find individuals who have stolen Apple products and return the products to their original owners," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. "It is being done to learn the pattern of who is stealing."

Many of the devices are sold on the second-hand market to people who aren't aware they were stolen, police said, but even in those cases police may confiscate the device to return it to the original owner.

"This technique of identifying stolen phones by their unique identifiers has been around for a number of years and is technically rather simple -- the difficult part has been integrating with law enforcement to track down the stolen devices," Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder of cellphone security firm Lookout, said.


Flowers go electric to attract bees

BRISTOL, England, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Flowers use more than just color and shape to attract pollinating bees, British researchers say -- in fact, they can go completely electric.

Researchers from the University of Bristol say their studies show for the first time that pollinators such as bumblebees are able to find and distinguish electric signals given out by flowers.

Flowers have the equivalent of a neon sign, researcher Daniel Robert said -- patterns of electrical signals that can communicate information to the insect pollinator.

These electrical signals can work in concert with the flower's other attractive signals like color and shape and enhance floral advertising power, the researchers said.

Plants are usually charged negatively and emit weak electric fields, while bees acquire a positive charge as they fly through the air. When a charged bee approaches a charged flower a small electric force builds up that can potentially convey information, a Bristol release said Friday.

How the bees detect the electric fields is not yet known, the researchers said, although it may be that hairy bumblebees bristle up under the electrostatic force, just like one's hair in front of an old television screen.

"The co-evolution between flowers and bees has a long and beneficial history," Robert said, "so perhaps it's not entirely surprising that we are still discovering today how remarkably sophisticated their communication is."

Topics: Paul Browne
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