Wikinews interviews British sensory biologist Dominic Clarke about floral electric fields and bees

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Last Thursday, British sensory biologist Dominic Clarke and other authors published research about detection of floral electric fields by bees in journal Science. The research involved studying bees’ reaction to flowers with different electric fields. The researches concluded that bees can choose flowers based on their electric fields, and remember them as they do with color and other characteristics of flowers.

This Friday Wikinews interviewed Dominic Clarke about the research.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in electric fields of flowers?

Dominic Clarke: There has been a considerable amount of speculation in the scientific literature since the 60s about the role of electric fields in pollination. It has been suggested that the electric field that arises between a charged bee and a grounded flower may be responsible for increasing the efficiency of pollen transfer between the two. We looked at this literature as sensory biologists and naturally formed the question ‘can bees sense these fields?’. Since we couldn’t find any answers to that question in the literature, we decided to find out for ourselves.

((WN)) How was the new phenomenon discovered?

DC: We use what’s called ‘differential conditioning’, where bees are trained to find a sucrose reward from an array of flowers, where only half of the flowers contain the reward. In our experiment, the flowers that were rewarded (with a sugary solution) were marked with a small electric field (about the same strength as around a flower in the wild). The ones that were not rewarded were not marked with fields. Since the electric field is the only thing that differs between the two flowers, we know that if the bees can learn to tell them apart, they can sense the electric field. Our bees were able to pick the rewarded flower 80% of the time when the electric field was present as a cue. When the electric field was switched off, they could only get it right half the time, which is the same as if they were just picking flowers at random.

((WN)) How many species of flowers and bees did you study during your research?

DC: We focus on one species of bee, the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. And we look mainly at Petunia flowers (P. integrifolia). These two species provide the bulk of our data, but we do consider other flowers like geraniums, daisies, clematis and foxglove, and other species of bee (particularly the honeybee Apis mellifera).

((WN)) Do you have diagrams, sketches, or drawings of electric field around a bee and a flower?

DC: I have attached a picture of a computer model of the electric field around a flower called “Flower Potentials and Fields”.

((WN)) Was it known that bees have a charge before?

DC: Yes, reports as early as the 70s have measured electrical charge on bees, but it was not known before whether or not they could sense such charges.

((WN)) What environment did you study the flowers and bees in? A laboratory? A garden? Natural environment?

DC: The behavioural tests were carried out in a laboratory because we needed to be able to precisely control the environment in which the bees were tested. Future work will be aimed at trying to get out into the bees’ natural environment and trying to figure out exactly what role(s) this sense plays in their lives.

((WN)) What equipment was used during the research? How did you measure the charge?

DC: Charge was measured using a device called a “Faraday Pail”. It is basically an electrically shielded metal cup, the voltage of which changes according to how much charge is inside it. We can measure this voltage when a bee flies in and so measure its charge. We did this with 51 individual bees.

((WN)) What were the roles of the people involved in the research? What activity was most time-consuming?

DC: It was very collaborative in all aspects of the research. I carried out the bulk of the experimental work and data analysis, but the process of designing the experiment, figuring out how to do the analysis, choosing which ideas to follow and which to put on the shelf etc., that is highly collaborative. Then of course comes the long period of writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, sending out to colleagues for feedback, re-re-re-writing, submission, peer-review, editing re-submission etc. which is also a collaboration between all the authors. A large part of doing science is talking as well; meeting, planning brainstorming. It feels to me like putting together the paper took the longest, but perhaps that’s just because it’s the most fresh in my mind.

((WN)) What do you see as possible directions for future research in this field? What do you think possible applications of the discovery can be?

DC: The two big questions now are “how do the bees do this?” and “why do they do this?”. The first is a case of pinning down the sensory mechanism used by the bees to detect the fields, and the second will involve a great deal of field-based experiments. We need to get out of the laboratory and understand the role this phenomenon plays in the lives of bees in the wild.

((WN)) Thank you for sharing your insight and details. Have a good time.

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Diebold “whistleblower” faces criminal charges in California

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Los Angeles County prosecutors have brought three felony charges against Stephen Heller for stealing documents from his employer, the law firm Jones Day.

The legal documents discussed the legal ramifications of activist allegations that Diebold Election Systems had used uncertified voting systems in Alameda County elections beginning in 2002. Jones Day represented the controversial electronic voting machine manufacturer at the time. The firm’s lawyers concluded that if such uncertified systems were used, then Diebold could be sued by Alameda County for millions of dollars. The memos also discussed whether the California’s secretary of state had the authority to investigate Diebold.

Mr. Heller has been charged with felony access to computer data, commercial burglary and receiving stolen property. He has pled not guilty.

Blair Berk, Heller’s attorney said, “It’s a devastating allegation for a whistle-blower. Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections.”

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Septic Tank Pumping In Seguin And Taking Care Of Your System


Where’s your home’s septic tank? If you’re like the millions of other people in the country, you have absolutely no idea. You shouldn’t necessarily panic or feel bad about not knowing where you septic tank is located, but you should definitely be more mindful of it’s location. These systems are often overlooked because they’re out of sight. However, they play a big part in how your home’s plumbing operates.

Septic tanks are at the heart of a healthy plumbing system. Practically every bit of water that travels through your drains end up in your septic tank. Not only does your septic tank see all of the water that comes from your home but it also sees all of the waste. With such a job you can see why septic tanks have problems from time to time.

Every once in a while you’ll need to invest in Septic Tank Pumping in Seguin has to offer. This involves having your septic tank pumped and essentially freed from the water and waste it collects. This is done by services that specialize in handling these situations. These services have the proper machines needed to pump your system. It could take a matter of hours before the job is complete. After that you won’t need your septic tank pumped until at least a year.

How do you avoid having your septic tank pumped? These services aren’t cheap, but they’re much cheaper than having to replace your system once it fails. However, you can avoid a septic problem by being more mindful of what you’re putting down your drain. Some people will put any and everything down their drains because they aren’t seeing the consequences of their actions. Over time, all of the water and waste begins to build up faster than the septic tank can handle. As a result the septic tank begins to flood and eventually needs to be pumped.

Try your best not to run more water than you have to in your home. You should also avoid putting excess waste down your sink. The more water and waste that sees your tank the more you’ll likely need septic services. These tips will surely help you avoid having your septic tank pumped.

Posted on December 3rd, 2021 by  |  No Comments »

Australian PM faces inquiry into Iraqi kickbacks

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Cole Inquiry

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard appeared before the Cole inquiry on Thursday, the first time an Australian Prime Minister has appeared before an inquiry with royal commission powers since 1983.

Unlike his foreign minister Alexander Downer who gave evidence before the inquiry on Tuesday, Mr Howard entered through the front door where he gave a brief address. He told the press that his government is being open about the Iraqi kickback affair. ” just want to make one point and that is that the appearance by me, earlier this week by the Foreign Minister and also by the Trade Minister, demonstrates absolutely how open and transparent and accountable the Government is being in relation to this matter” Mr Howard said to reporters.

Mr Howard was questioned by John Agius, counsel assisting the inquiry. Counsel for AWB, the company at the centre of the scandal did not apply to cross-examine the prime minister.

Terrence Cole, the inquiry’s commissioner received an application from Peter Geary and Micheal Long’s counsel to cross-examine the prime minister but refused it on the grounds that the proposed line of questioning was similar to that of Mr Aguis’ and that there was no evidence that Mr Howard had “ever met with Mr Geary or Mr Long”.

Mr Agius questioned the prime minister about a series of diplomatic cables sent to his office, which raised concerns about AWB’s contracts in Iraq.

Mr Howard told the inquiry that he doesn’t recall reading or being briefed about any of the cables referred to by the inquiry. The inquiry also heard that prior to 2003 there was no system in place to identify which cables had been bought to the prime minister’s attention.

In his statement to the inquiry, Mr Howard said that his office had not received four of the cables mentioned by the inquiry. Under questioning, Mr Howard confirmed this but conceded that it was likely that his staff had read the other 17.

When asked whether there were any guidelines which guided his advisors in deciding which cables should be bought to the prime minister’s attention, Mr Howard replied “No, there weren’t”.

The inquiry heard that the only discussions about which cables which should be bought to Mr Howard’s attention occurred when an advisor changed in very generic terms. Mr Howard told the inquiry that he would tell a new advisor “Well, you’ve got to exercise your own judgment, I can’t possibly read everything, and clearly I want things brought to my attention which are, in your judgment, important and are relevant to issues in front of the government at the time”.

Mr Howard admitted that the government had an interest in Iraq using the United Nations oil for food program for its own financial benefit, but said he did not expect cables dealing with alleged breach of UN sanctions to have been bought to his attention.

The questioning then turned to a statement Mr Howard made to the National Press Club on March 13, 2003, one week prior to the US-led Iraqi occupation. Speaking about Saddam Hussein Mr Howard said “He has cruelly and cynically manipulated the United Nations oil-for-food programme. He’s rorted it to buy weapons to supporthis designs at the expense of the wellbeing of his people”.

Mr Agius asked Mr Howard if his statement was based upon briefngs he had received. Mr Howard told the inquiry that the information was based upon “open source” intelligence stated at addresses by British foreign secretary Jack Straw and the United States state department. Mr Howard said one of his advisors “checked with some cables to confirm that those cables supported the open-source claims and was satisfied that they did”.

Mr Howard denied seeing the cables used by the advisor to support the claims, but believed he would have told her to be sure that everything they were saying can be supported by fact. Mr Howard told the inquiry that he never knew about cables which referred to Hussein rorting the UN Oil for Food program. Mr Howard admitted that at the time his “general knowledge” was that Hussein had breached UN sanctions and was rorting the Oil for Food program.

“My general knowledge at the time and belief was that the program had been rorted, and it was not seriously in dispute. Nobody was arguing it hadn’t been rorted” Mr Howard said.

The prime minister was questioned about an unassessed intelligence report which mentioned a Jordanian trucking company known as “Alia” paying kickbacks to Hussein. In response to this Mr Howard told the inquiry that he could not recall the information being bought to his attention, which was not unusual.

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Monster waves make way for rare surfing competition

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Massive waves pounded the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii Tuesday, allowing for a rare surfing competition to take place.

The contest is known as the Eddie Aikau competition, named after a noted Hawaiian surfer who was lost at sea during the 1970s. It has only taken place eight times in the past 25 years.

Tens of thousands of spectators from across the state gathered to watch 28 expert surfers tackle the 40-foot waves. Competitor Jamie O’Brien said, “We were all stoked out there, smiling, laughing and having a good time.” He added, “This is like a natural arena out here for this and it’s amazing to be a part of it.”

The monstrous waves were caused by two cyclones to the northwest of the islands. Conditions have to be nearly perfect for the competition to commence.

The winner was 24 year-old Greg Long, a first-time entrant who took home a $55,000 prize.

The dangerous conditions inflicted one injury, but safety teams were on standby to deal with any accidents.

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Posted on December 2nd, 2021 by  |  No Comments »

Maintain The Peak Of Your Physical Fitness With High Quality Beta Alanine And Other Sports Supplements.

Maintain the peak of your physical fitness with high quality Beta-Alanine and other sports supplements.


Normand Moeller

Helping you to push to the physical peak of fitness, whether as a competitive sportsperson or a keep fit enthusiast, the correct supplements can make all the difference to boosting your physical peak, whether combined with a wide variety of dedicated exercises and a healthy intake of the right amino acids, proteins and vitamins/minerals to best suit your bodily requirements. In the world of sports there are many carefully balanced supplementary compounds that can be taken quite safely, assisting your body to best perform under exercise conditions in addition to helping to build stronger muscles and more during recovery periods in-between workouts.

Thanks to the work of leading suppliers and stockists of sports supplements, individual athletes can create the perfect accompaniment to their diets using quality ingredients that work efficiently to deliver the energy required by muscles and the healing attributes of many proteins and enzymes that work to develop increased muscle mass and strengthen tendons. Designed to offer you better outcomes when visiting the gym as an amateur enthusiast, when looking to stay trim and healthy or when practicing as a professional athlete, the right compounds and supplements for a busy and demanding work out are a vital necessity for you.

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In addition to a comprehensive array of products and food supplements, experts including Blackburn Distributions and other well established, fantastic stockists offer all the benefits of excellent supplements such as Beta-Alanine and many others designed specifically to suit your physical requirements. Working to maintain the body s optimum level of fitness by allowing the absorbing of the recommended levels of amino acids and other critically required vitamins and minerals, sports compounds, proteins and other essential vitamins, supplements are one thing that can transform the way a competitive athlete retains their physical peak of fitness.

It is when exercising at the very brink of an athlete s capabilities that the correct and ethical use of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in their diet can offer the edge over their competitors and help increase muscle output, assisting in shaving fractions of a second or actual seconds of a personal best. When performance matters and you need to build up lean, efficient muscle mass, Beta-Alanine is an essential building block that can be administered as part of a nutritious array of supplements to offer the most benefits possible. Increasing stamina, power delivery, body efficiency and much more, choose the best products from some of the most well established stockists today online or in the high street.

Discover the benefits now and see how the correct use of these health and training supplements can redefine your ability to outperform in the gym, on the track or out within the rugged outdoors. With purpose made body enhancing products readily available, it is assuring that these ethical and safe products can be purchased quite easily without fuss or drama, effectively recreating the natural enzymes made within the body or broken down during exercise. Chose the best of the products available online with experts who are dedicated to presenting the perfect choice of supplement to assist your physical regime is easily done, especially today with the professional help and assistance of experts working within this highly motivating industry.

Blackburn Distributions is a company dedicated to producing a wide and challenging array of sports enhancements such as their


and other such amino acids.

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Posted on November 30th, 2021 by  |  No Comments »

Oil in Alberta spill may be carcinogenic

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The province of Alberta, Canada is considering legal action against Canadian National Railway for failing to warn that a derailment last week contaminated Wabamun Lake with a hazardous chemical.

The 700,000 litres of heavy Bunker C fuel oil that spilled into the lake asphyxiated birds and killed fish.

In addition, one of the ruptured tanker cars sent 70,000 liters of Imperial Pole Treating Oil into the lake. This oil is a yellow mixture of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Naphthalene, a component of this “very toxic material” is suspected of causing skin cancer if touched and lung or other cancers if inhaled.[1] Inhalation is promoted by actions that cause splashing or foaming. The mineral oil is used in connection with pentachlorophenol for preserving wooden utility poles.

Wabamun Lake is a popular summertime recreational area about 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Edmonton, Alberta.

The 766-megawatt Keephills power generating plant, one of 3 in Wabamun, was shut down because the coal-fired plant uses water from the lake. Edmonton’s health authority ordered people not to swim, boat or rescue animals in the lake and to stop using its water or any water from nearby wells for cooking, drinking, showering or brushing teeth. These warnings came 3 days after many residents, including children, had been wading into the oil slick without protective clothing to save wildlife injured by the spill and others had been routinely depending on the lakewater for home use. Why the alert was not issued sooner remains under investigation and may result in criminal charges. Canadian National Railway had been informed of the nature of the oil when it was loaded by Imperial Oil Ltd., Canada’s largest petroleum company. Imperial Oil is posting informational updates on a special website [2]. In addition The Wabamun Residents Committee has established an information website [3].

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Posted on November 30th, 2021 by  |  No Comments »

Making Use Of Custom Flash Drives To Improve Brand Awareness

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By Chris Arranaga

Custom flash drives are the perfect merchandise for showcasing company logos, slogans, or product photos. These small gadgets are an inexpensive method for advertising your company. Since people use them frequently, USB drives are an ideal gift for improving brand awareness.

Custom flash drives are one of the most affordable promotional gifts. They can include pre-loaded sales catalogs, MP3 files, web keys, and other advertisements that keep your company name in front of the recipient.

Thanks to modern technology it is very easy to develop thumb drives to showcase your business image. These tiny gadgets are available in a wide range of colors and designs and can also be customized in various shapes. The possibility of creating unique devices is limited only by imagination.

Customized thumb drives can be designed to meet the needs of the demographic market. Business owners can choose how much memory is included and configure devices with preloaded software or data. Owners can also add logo keychains or lanyards so recipients can easily transport the device.

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Customization is a simple procedure that starts by providing sketches and color choices to a promotional product company. Manufacturers create a 3-D model that will be used to produce a custom mold. After owners accept the design, manufacturers produce drives to comply with requested specifications such as preinstalled software and memory capacity.

Installing preloaded software is a great way to keep your company name in front of recipients. Thumb drives can include price sheets, product catalogs, data encryption, customized icons, and other types of non-erasable data.

A lot of business owners believe that purchasing customized promo products is too expensive. However, personalized merchandise is nearly the same cost as stock merchandise and can pay for the expense in repeat business.

When developing the design it’s a good idea to consider how recipients will use the device. Anytime drives are used to store videos or photographs it’s recommended to use devices with a lot of memory. If the drives are used primarily for data storage, devices won’t require as much memory and can be purchased for less.

Most people use USB drives to store and transport data files. However, these pocket devices can also be used to lock computers, connect to wireless networks, boot operating systems, restore or backup files, operate portable applications, or for use as a MP3 player.

When companies install preloaded software it is a good idea to include instructions about its use. Educating people about how they can make the most of their flash drive will provide them with a better experience, as well as improve customer relationships.

Giving away personalized thumb drives as a promotional gift makes a statement that your company stays abreast of current technology trends and is attentive to the needs of customers.

Providing custom flash drives is an innovative method for enhancing brand recognition while providing a beneficial product. Anyone can give away T-shirts, hats, and personalized pens, but businesses that give away branded promo items that make life easier for recipients will be remembered for a long time.

About the Author: Discover more creative uses for

custom flash drives

from Gorilla Marketing; an industry leader in promo gifts and trade show giveaways. Learn how easy and affordable it is to design unique corporate gifts that make your company stand apart from the rest by visiting us at



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Posted on November 29th, 2021 by  |  No Comments »

Raids take place as enquiry into failed UK bombings continues

Friday, July 6, 2007

Australian police have questioned four more people in connection with the failed bombing attempts in London and Glasgow, seizing computers and other evidence in several raids.

The four being questioned are all doctors, working in hospitals in Perth and Kalgoorlie. They are reported to be of Indian origin, and have all been linked to the UK’s National Health Service. Two of the men arrested in the UK have similarly been linked to Western Australian hospitals, to which they had applied for jobs, receiving multiple rejections.

Police have been granted an extra 96 hours to question Mohammed Haneef, who was arrested at Brisbane International Airport on July 3. They will be examining several thousand files stored on Haneef’s laptop and a mobile telephone SIM card which had been left with a suspect.

Raids have also taken place in Cambridge, UK, at which four of the arrested suspects are believed to have lived and met in 2005.

The four men being questioned in Australia have not currently been placed under arrest, but are described as having links to the UK by the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty.

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Posted on November 29th, 2021 by  |  No Comments »

Warmest Canadian winter on record

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The winter of 2005/2006 has been the warmest winter in Canada since the beginning of the nationwide weather record in 1948, with average nationwide temperatures 3.9°C above the long-term average. Statistically, such a strong deviation from the average is expected to be observed only once in 100 years.

While most of the country was experiencing temperatures of at least 2°C above normal, in most of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories the temperatures were 6°C above normal, with some regions averaging up to 8°C above normal.

For this statistic the months from December through February were counted as winter.

Lack of ice in eastern Canada will probably affect the annual harp seal hunt, which typically starts around March 15. In February, so little ice had formed that Environment Canada reported that such poor ice conditions had never been seen before in recorded history. The last time conditions approached what we saw in February 2006 was in 1969. The year 1981 was the third lowest ice year in recorded history.

In 1981, a number of harp seal mothers, who normally whelp only on ice, went to the shores of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and gave birth on land. That year, due to the lack of ice, hundreds of thousands of seal pups drowned. The seals who were born on land faced both natural dangers such as death by exposure, and the danger of death at the hands of thousands of sealers, both licensed and unlicensed. These sealers took this rare “opportunity” to walk right up to a baby seal and kill it. Some of these seals were also attacked by domestic dogs.

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Posted on November 27th, 2021 by  |  No Comments »