March 12, 2014

Samel was on a moose hunt in Denali National Park when he found McCandless.     Photo: AlbertoLoyo/Thinkstock

"Into the Wild" Moose Hunter Killed

Man who found McCandless shot by police

Gordon Samel, 52, was killed on Sunday in an officer-initiated shooting surrounding a drunk-driving incident in Wasilla, Alaska.

In 1992, Samel became a part of Alaskan folklore when he found the body of Christopher McCandless while on a moose hunt near Denali National Park and Preserve.

Samel was described as a passionate outdoorsman but also someone who had lived a troubled life. Late Sunday night, Samel was involved in a police chase after he was reported for drunk driving. Following a sustained pursuit, police units ultimately surrounded Samel as he sped toward an officer approaching on foot. The officer and another trooper opened fire on the pickup, killing Samel and injuring the other male passenger.

Samel had been under court orders to not drink after a DUI arrest in September, when he picked up two hitchhikers before crashing into a roadside ditch. Sunday night marked the end of a nearly 30-year criminal history for Samel.

In 1992, Samel was with a group of three moose hunters when they found McCandless almost three weeks after he died. According to Jon Krakauer, when the hunters arrived at the old Fairbanks city bus, a couple from Anchorage were already there but stayed back because of the stench and unsettling SOS note. It was Samel who eventually discovered McCandless in his sleeping bag.

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Scientists still aren't exactly sure how the fish will respond to the move.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Californians to Transport 12 Million Salmon to Ocean

Responding to drought with tanker trucks

What do you call a procession of tanker trucks carrying 12 million Chinook salmon from their Sacramento River habitats to the ocean? There's no punchline here; this is just another result of California's severe drought.

According to the Sacramento Bee, state and federal officials have agreed to relocate hatchery-raised salmon because the drought could make the Sacramento River and its tributaries uninhabitable for the fish.

Scientists fear that poor conditions could harm salmon populations in a number of ways. As water levels dip, shrunken habitats and shallower waters could shrink the salmons' food supply and make them easier targets for predators. Plus, warmer waters can prove lethal for salmon.

“The conditions may be so poor as to produce unacceptable levels of mortality for the out-migrating juveniles,” said Bob Clarke, fisheries program supervisor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That's why officials from the agency's Coleman National Fish Hatchery are fighting back. The hatchery rests on Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, and is California's largest, producing 12 million fall-run salmon. Scientists usually release salmon from Coleman—which itself was created to mitigate habitat loss caused by Shasta Dam—in April or May, but this year they're altering the plan.

Officials will save millions of salmon by transporting them to the ocean, but not without a cost to the state. Releasing salmon into rivers rather than oceans trains the fish to think of the river as their "home" and aids migration back to the river for spawning.

The jury's still out on how this artificial migration to the ocean will influence migratory patterns in three to four years. If the salmon fail to return in their usual numbers, it could have a sizable impact on the Californian economy. Salmon from the Sacramento River network account for much of the wild-caught salmon available in California's stores and restaurants and also support the state's sportfishing industry. At the end of the day, fall-run Chinook salmon constitute billions of dollars for the state economy.

The salmon should take care, however, when returning to California rivers. Word is that pot farms also pose a serious threat to the fish.

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Sixteen underwater drones, similar to the one shown here, are on a quest to map the world's oceans.     Photo: Teddy Seguin/Wikimedia Commons

Underwater Drones to Map Oceans

Will travel more than 60,000 miles

A fleet of 16 underwater drones will travel more than 60,000 miles as part of a two-year quest to map the world’s oceans.

The gliders, part of a Rutgers University research project, will collect data on ocean currents, temperatures, and salinity. Scientists hope the information will improve the accuracy of current climate and weather forecasting.

The seven-foot-long unmanned submarines will rely on energy from buoyancy changes as they travel roughly 21 miles per day. They’ll navigate the waters using altitude and depth sensors, as well as GPS and an altimeter.

“Part of our goal with this mission is to increase global ocean literacy,” Scott Glenn, co-leader of the mission, told the Telegraph. “This expanded dataset will enable students and researchers to focus on the science of their local waters, as well as be a part of a global research community, all working toward understanding the ocean's role in regulating the changing climate and weather.”

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    Photo: Getty Images

STUDY: 5-Second Rule Is Real

Floor-bound food safe to scarf

The "five-second rule" is one of those "laws" that prevails through our formative years. Though science has generally accepted the idea that within a five-second window any food dropped on the floor is fair game for consumption, it hasn't exactly supported it. Until now. New research from Britain confirms that time actually is significant in the transfer of bacteria from floor to food, the New York Daily News reports.

Researchers for the Aston University study dropped toast, pasta, biscuits, and sticky sweets, and then waited from three to 30 seconds. They found that moist foods are most likely to follow the five-second rule. Toast can sit for much longer than pasta, however. And if you’re going to drop your toast, the best place to do it is on carpet, which is the least likely surface to transfer bacteria over any period of time. Tiled and laminate flooring are not so safe for your grub.

“Consuming food dropped on the floor still carries an infection risk, as it very much depends on which bacteria are present on the floor at the time,” said Professor Anthony C. Hilton, leader of the study. “However, the findings of this study will bring some light relief to those who have been employing the five-second rule for years, despite a general consensus that it is purely a myth.”

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In France, doing this to work could soon make you money.     Photo: DragonImages/Getty Images

In Europe, Biking to Work Pays

Stateside, the trend has yet to catch on

Getting paid on your way to work might sound too good to be true, but it's an increasingly popular scheme in Europe—if you commute via bike.

Already, employers in Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands reward their employees for every kilometer and mile pedaled to the office. Some French workers could soon receive the same benefit under a new plan proposed last week by the country's transportation minister, Frédéric Cuvillier. A measure aimed at boosting bike usage in France would reimburse employees between 21 and 25 centimes per kilometer (roughly 29 to 35 U.S. cents).

Pedaling commuters are being paid 20 euro cents (29 U.S. cents) per kilometer in Belgium, 15 cents in the Netherlands, and 20 pence (32 U.S. cents) in Britain per mile, according to Reuters.

In the United States, compensating bike commuters has yet to gain the traction that it has in Europe. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey, only 777,000 Americans rode a bicycle as their primary means of traveling to work in 2011.

Since 2009, the IRS added a bicycle commuting reimbursement benefit to the books that allows employers to reimburse bike commuters up to $20 per month for flat tires and other expenses.

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