Need to know: troubled oceans, lurking flu, vuvuzela filters and more


A handful of need-to-knows this week:

  • The oceans are in trouble even without rigs dumping oil into them. Science’s coverage of the issues in its latest issue, is, well, oceanic. The direst of the problems seems to be that the oceans’ pH is dropping. Which means that there’s a massive acidification of the waters going on thanks to all that extra CO2 getting converted in part into hydrogen ions (the ‘H’ in the pH). This is bad news for many, including coral reefs and shell fish (and their consumers too, presumably).
  • The other ocean-related news that might interest you is that there’s a big cocktail party going on down there and that the whales don’t like it. The human race’s maritime activities – ship-clogged lanes and submarine traffic – are flooding the waters with an acoustic racket that’s disrupting whale talk, mermaid song and God knows what else. Scientists are urging the development and deployment of noise-free propeller systems (note: the silent “caterpillar” drive in The Hunt for Red October isn’t real. Yet. But great movie, though).

Flu virus

  • Swine flu has returned to whence it came – the swine – but we should still keep an eye on it. According to this study in Science, it’s still reassorting (or evolving) in unpredictable (read “potentially even more dangerous”) ways. Good post about it in 80 beats.
  • Wish you had a way of watching the World Cup with the commentary but without that incessant, annoying B-flat drone? There’s a software for that, an anti-vuvuzela filter, that a soccer fan in Germany (where else?) has kindly made available to the 5 billion fans who are not in the stadium in Jo’berg. Haven’t tried it yet, but hope those who do will let me know.
  • And last, football isn’t the only action on grass these days. Wimbledon’s on. And the Fed started off badly, as though to justify the title of this piece about him that came out in the New Yorker today. (This last bit obviously doesn’t have anything to do with biology, technology, environment, or any of the other categories of this blog, but my Fed-headedness compels me to mention it).
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