Jellyfish Keep Shutting Down Nuclear Power Plants

Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling intake pipes of a nuclear power plant in Scotland, which has previously prompted temporary shutdown(s) of the plant.

The Torness nuclear power plant has reported concerns regarding jellyfish as far back as 2011, when it was forced to shut down for nearly a week—at an estimated cost of $1.5 million a day—because of the free-swimming marine animals…

…Researchers at the University of Cranfield have already been conducting a pilot as part of the UK Drones Pathfinder Programme which uses medium-altitude drones as “part of an early warning system which will allow the adjustment of water-cooling mechanisms to protect both electricity generation and the environment.”

“Any industry on the coast which uses seawater can find its operations complicated when seaweed or jellyfish blooms impact protective systems,” Angus Bloomfield, a marine biologist, is quoted as saying in a press release from the University of Cranfield. “They can damage machinery and even stop power generation, which could threaten stability of the electricity grid. An early warning system involving drones could allow industries in marine environments to act early and avoid the most dramatic effects these events can bring.”

If someone figured out some way to make these critters edible and tasty, that would solve surplus populations. Cripes, I can’t even see how someone could train one as a pet.

Arts and Crafts, Neanderthal Style

Unicorn Cave, Germany

Neanderthals are often portrayed as Homo sapiens’s crude, primitive relatives, incapable of sophisticated culture, but new archaeological findings are subverting that narrative. In the latest example of Neanderthal art, archaeologists found a 51,000 year old bone carving in the mountain caves of Germany.

Archaeologists were excavating materials from the prehistoric entrance to Einhornhöhle, or the “Unicorn Cave,” in the Harz Mountains in Germany when they found the 2.2 inch-long bone. Scientists identified it as a phalanx, or toe bone, of a giant deer, and radiocarbon dating suggested that it is at least 51,000 years old.

But what was most remarkable about this bone was how it had been modified: Etched into its surface were a series of lines creating a chevron-like pattern. The cuts were clean and uniform, and also served no obvious purpose, which led scientists to conclude that they must have been both intentional and symbolic…

It’s clear that whoever made the bone carving took time and care. Microscopic analysis of the phalanx shows that the lines are etched pretty deeply, which suggests that the bone was boiled before carving to soften the surface. Giant deer were also not very common in the area at the time. All this evidence points to the idea that the phalanx art had some weighty significance, and was thoughtfully planned and executed.

I’ve mentioned this before…but, it’s relevant to this post. I have an abiding interest in my Neanderthal kin. About 3% of my DNA goes back the Neanderthal epoch…more than usual among folks with any trace at all. I kind of dig it. I’m not foolish enough to lay any attribution or characteristic to that portion. I just find the link appealing. Roots are roots.

Hitchhiking Walrus

Koninklijke Marine

Submarines don’t often pick up hitchhikers, but a Dutch vessel made an exception this week when they gave a lift to an itinerant walrus.

Freya, the first walrus to be sighted off the Dutch coast in 23 years, was filmed by submariners enjoying a rest on HNLMS Dolfijn, which appropriately belongs to the Walrus class of vessels, on Tuesday morning…

The female walrus has been in Dutch waters for at least two months, having previously visited the island of Schiermonnikoog and the Zuiderpier in Harlingen.

She is thought to have swum down from her regular habitat in the polar circle via Denmark and Germany during the summer. The submarine crew said she appeared to be in good health.

The Pieterburen sea mammal rescue centre said she was ‘well able to look after herself and will find her way home in time if left to her own devices’.

As is the case with most wild critters who bump into the human species.