Stories tagged China

A massive algae bloom is choking China’s Yellow Sea and threatening some Olympic events. Many Chinese cities dump untreated sewage into the Sea. Rich in nutrients, the sewage makes the algae grow like crazy. The problem goes beyond the inconvenience to boaters. The growing algae changes the near-shore habitat. And when all this algae dies, the bacteria that decays it sucks oxygen out of the water, killing fish and creating a dead zone.


A million forced to flee flooding in China

Torrential downpours have severely affected nine provinces in China. China's civil affairs ministry says nearly 1.3 million people have now fled their homes in the hardest hit regions as the bad weather continues. The flooding in the Pearl river delta is the worst for 50 years. The flooding has submerged large areas of farm land and destroyed 6,600 homes in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces. As of early Sunday morning, 55 deaths were reported.

Click this link to read more and see a video:
Recent flooding in Southern China (BBC News).
Click here to see BBC photos.

The region normally experiences heavy rainfall about this time every year, but meteorological authorities said this was the worst in five decades.

Flooding has affected many cities in the Pearl River Delta -- home to many export manufacturing plants -- and the western part of Guangdong province. (Reuters via Yahoo News)

An aftershock measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale caused landslides and other damage in the same areas devastated by the earthquake four days ago. At last report, some 4.8 million people were homeless, and more than 22,000 people died. Blocked roads and other damage to infrastructure have made it hard for rescuers and other aid to reach the hardest-hit cities and villages. China has asked the US for satellite images that might help locate victims and identify damaged infrastructure. And Western experts are watching carefully for any signs that China's nuclear weapons facilities, which are concentrated in the earthquake zone, have been damaged.

More Buzz stories about the earthquake:
"7.8 earthquake in Sichuan, China"
"Chinese panda habitat in jeopardy after earthquake"


Sing me a song oh pianofrog: Researchers are finding the a species of frogs in China sing mating songs as duets at ultrasonic frequencies.
Sing me a song oh pianofrog: Researchers are finding the a species of frogs in China sing mating songs as duets at ultrasonic frequencies.Courtesy carf
Keep your American Idol. I’ll settle to listening to Frog Idol.

Researchers in China have found that frogs in the wild there communicate with each other in a duet of musical tones made at ultrasonic frequencies that are beyond the hearing range of humans.

Specifically, they’ve recorded the mating calls between females and males. How’s this for setting the mood, the researchers found the romantic duets could most often be heard on rainy nights.

After recording the female portion of the duet, the researchers played back that recording to males kept in captivity. They responded by adding the male response – sort of a frog version of a duet between Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. The males also began leaping toward the source of the female songs.

Why is this so cool to know, besides prying into the romantic ways of Chinese frogs? It’s further proof that some animals have been able to adapt their hearing range to live successfully in their environment.

Being able to communicate at ultrasonic levels gives frogs a way to hear each other of the lower frequency noise caused by rushing river waters in their habit.

And just like human singers, the female frogs sing their portion of the duet at a higher frequency than the male frogs.

But the real lessons from these frogs may be applied in improving hearing aid technology. That’s the main purpose behind these researchers’ work.

Now if Budweiser could get its frogs to sing at ultrasonic frequencies, maybe it could sell even more beer!

Homeless?: A preserve where rare pandas live and breed was at the epicenter of the strong earthquake that hit China yesterday.Courtesy Sheilalau
Along with the devestating human toll, yesterday's earthquake in China could be devestating to the small breeding panda population in that country. The primary wildlife reserve for pandas to live in the wild is extremely close to the epicenter of the earthquake. National Geographic as full details of the situation at this link. More Science Buzz links to the earthquake can be found here.

UPDATE MAY 14: Panda people, you can breath easier again. All is well with the 86 pandas at the nature reserve at the heart of the Chinese earthquake. Electricty is still out at the preserve, but the pandas are fine.

UPDATE MAY 19: Information from the Wolong Reserve continues to be in flux. Now there are reports that five people were killed at the site and three pandas are missing. You can get full details here.


Earthquake in Sichuan, China
Earthquake in Sichuan, ChinaCourtesy U.S. Geological Survey

Toll from China quake estimated at 3,000 to 5,000

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck central China, but sent thousands of people rushing out of buildings and into the streets hundreds of miles away in Beijing and Shanghai.
The powerful earthquake trapped nearly 900 students in central China on Monday after their school collapsed and at least 107 people were killed across several provinces, state media reported.Yahoo News

New media allows instant news broadcasting

Blogs and a text message like tool called Twitter allowed the blogosphere to witness first person reports in real time (click examples below)


China hopes to do the right thing

With the upcoming Olympics, China is in the spotlight. The Chinese Health Ministry, scrambling to fend off cover-up allegations, issued a nationwide alert Saturday over a virus that has killed 24 children and sickened more than 4,000 others.

Enterovirus-71 can be deadly

In milder cases, EV71 can cause cold like symptoms, diarrhea and sores on the hands, feet and mouth. But more severe cases can cause fluid to accumulate on the brain, resulting in polio-like paralysis and death (the journal Genetic Vaccines and Therapy). Public health officials expect the number of cases to peak in June or July. There is no effective antiviral treatment for severe EV71 infections, and no vaccine is available. This disease also has broken out in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam, although no deaths have been reported there.

Cover your coughs and wash your hands

The viruses mainly strike children aged 10 and younger and is easily spread by sneezing or coughing. A public awareness campaign is ongoing, stressing the need for good personal hygiene, mostly by hand washing.

Sources: CNN and Los Angeles Times


A bear practices its fighting skills on a monkey: What a strange picture.
A bear practices its fighting skills on a monkey: What a strange picture.Courtesy scottobear
Fantasy cage matches, I have found, are a good way to pass the time. Bear vs. robot got me through most of junior high. How would that turn out? Robot would probably win, really, with all that mechanical strength, and maybe laser eyes, but you never know; bears are tenacious, and the Terminator series has set a long precedence for against-the-odds robot defeats.

The possibilities for these match ups are endless: bear vs. robot, robot vs. vampire, right brain vs. left brain, toaster vs. bread – you get the idea. Just let your imagination run free, and hypothetical combat scenarios can forever replace the humdrum activities of everyday life.

Every so often, I’ve found, the real world will even throw out a match for the ages. Recently discovered fossils in China suggest that around 400,000 years ago giant pandas and an extinct species of giant ape were in direct competition for the same ecological niche.

Pandas 400,000 years ago were more or less like modern pandas. They were a little bit bigger, but, like the pandas of today, they ate bamboo almost exclusively. The apes in question, gigantopithecus blacki, were probably the largest that have ever lived. Gigantopithecus was about ten feet tall, weighed twelve hundred pounds, and probably ate… bamboo.

So we have huge bears and super huge apes both looking to get their paws on the same sweet, juicy, ancient Chinese bamboo. Would they have ever actually thrown down, though? And would it matter if they did, without someone there to see it? It would have been like a tree falling in the woods, with no one around (if falling trees weren’t so boring). Except, it turns out, there may have been someone around after all.

Some archaeologists believe that ancient human may have been a third contender in the competition for food (bamboo?) and habitat in region. Gigantopithecus and early humans probably had about half a million years of overlap before the ape went extinct around 300,000 years ago, and if humans “migrated like the panda through what is now southern China, they likely had contact with the giant apes.”

Spectacular. Human/giant ape interactions are usually pretty interesting, and with a big bear thrown in the mix… well, anything could happen.

No, not quite anything. The apes went extinct, humans came out of it pretty well, and the bears did so-so.