Killer volcanoes, rogue satellites, robot gardeners and the anti-waggle song

Tim’s blog

This week on radio, Tim Thwaites is talking about killer volcanoes; rogue satellites; robot gardeners; the anti-waggle song; and more…

Abandoned satellite on collision course with Earth—More than half a tonne of debris from NASA’s abandoned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is due to hit Earth sometime on Friday—and there’s a one in 3200 chance that someone will get hurt. So far, NASA has narrowed the hit zone to somewhere between latitude 57 north and latitude 57 south, which takes in all of Australia and almost everywhere that is habitable!—New Scientist

A New Scientist  story on this topic can be found at

Return of the killer volcano—When the Icelandic volcano was wreaking havoc with Europe’s air traffic last year, some researchers could be heard whispering about Laki, a much larger volcano said to be due to blow. Researchers in England have now modelled what such an eruption would do—and they have happened at least four times in the past 1150 years. The results, in terms of deaths and economic damage, are not pretty.—Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A Science story on this topic can be found at

Black Saturday ignited rare plant growth—Rare plants are springing up in the Kinglake National Park, 90 per cent of which was damaged in the 2009 bushfires. Local ecologists have found more than 60 plant species flourishing which have never before been recorded in the park. And they are attracting rare bird species.—New Scientist

A New Scientist  story on this topic can be found at

Glowing cells guide cancer surgeonsThanks to fluorescent labels that help them to spot cancerous tissue, Dutch surgeons have removed ovarian tumour cells that might otherwise have been left behind.—Nature Medicine

A Nature story on this topic can be found at

Honeybee anti-waggle song tells others to buzz off—Honeybees use the waggle dance to tell hive-mates about new nest and food sites. But they fine-tune the process with an accompanying anti-waggle song, US researchers have found.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at

Robot-assisted plants find their place in the sunHaving trouble with finding enough light and water for your office plants? Swiss researchers are building a prototype of a robot that moves plants around in search of the best spot for sun—and then tops up their water.—New Scientist

A New Scientist story on this topic can be found at