March 28, 2013

    Photo: Argenberg

Scuba Divers Try to Sever the Internet in Egypt

Foiled by the navy

While the rest of the world worried about the world's largest cyber attack yesterday, three divers in Egypt almost took out four times as much data using just a couple of scuba tanks.

In a statement on Facebook, the Egyptian navy said it caught the three men in the process of "cutting the undersea cable" off the coast of Alexandria that carries much of Egypt's web traffic. The men's identities and motives were not immediately clear.

Egypt has already been experiencing disruptions in Internet service since March 22, which Telecom Egypt, the country's main communications company, blamed on damage from a ship.

Via Quartz


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sharpshooters Begin Culling D.C. Deer

Attempting to control the population

Sharpshooters for the National Park Service began hunting white tailed deer Wednesday night in Washington D.C.’s Rock Creek Park in an effort bring the population under control.

The deer have been credited with widespread environmental damage, costing thousands of dollars to the park service and local residents. The New York Times explained the extent of the problem in a story last month:

Because of the animals’ grazing, the forest is unable to regenerate. As wind and age topple the massive oaks, hickories and poplars that make up the canopy, or overstory, no young trees survive to replace them. At the same time, the deer leave alone many of the invasive species in the park.

CBS Local reports that the 2,800-acre park is home to over 400 deer, or more than 70 deer per square mile. The park service hopes to reduce that number to between 60 to 80. The meat will be donated to local food pantries.

Due to the problem's immediacy, authorites ruled out various forms of birth control. Animal rights groups' attempts to halt the hunt were struck down by a judge last week.



African Fairy Circles Caused By Termites?

Mysterious desert feature may have been chewed into creation

A new study may have cracked the mystery of thousands of so-called "fairy circles" that cover a swath of desert from Angola into northern South Africa. The round patches of sand in the middle of the grassland, some as large as 40 feet wide, may have been caused by termites living deep beneath the surface, according to the New York Times.

Writing in the journal Science, professor Norbert Juergens of the University of Hamburg said the termite might “match the beaver with regard to intensity of environmental change, but surpass it with regard to the spatial dimension of their impact.” Though insects might seem a stretch, it's a no more implausible than the explanation given by local legen:

To the Himba people who live in the region, however, there is nothing to explain. That’s just how it is, they tell anthropologists; the circles were made by their “original ancestor, Mukuru,” or more poetically, they are “footprints of the gods.” A just-so story blames a mythical dragon that lives in a crack deep under the earth. The dragon’s poisonous breath kills vegetation to create the circles. Trouble is, some scientists point out, the bad-breath hypothesis apparently originated with fanciful tour guides.

But you can see why termites might not immediately spring to mind:

Fairy circles in Namibia. See the original image at