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Environment

  • Darwin’s Galapagos birds share rare taste for flowers

    Darwin’s Galapagos birds share rare taste for flowers

    Scientists have for the first time discovered a general shift in diets across an entire group of animals while studying birds on the Galapagos islands that once helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Spanish-led team observed 19...

  • Magnet test shows flies’ mastery

    Magnet test shows flies’ mastery

    A bizarre experiment in which fruit flies carrying tiny magnets are forced to roll in the air has demonstrated the insects’ ability as ‘fly-by-wire’ master aviators. Scientists wanted to study how the flies manage to fly so well when their small...

  • Blue chameleons?

    Blue chameleons?

    Chameleons use futuristic nanotechnology more advanced than anything humans possess to carry out their extraordinary colour changes, scientists have learned. The process involves the active tuning of a lattice of microscopic crystals in skin cells...

  • Setting a higher standard for (environmental) journalism

    Setting a higher standard for (environmental) journalism

    Let me start this article with a proviso. Being a resident academic at University and penning this fortnightly column for the past 13 years means I have a foot in both academia and journalism. Academics are usually wary or coy, to say the least,...

  • Quake Watch

    Quake Watch

    Two weak earthquakes of 2.6 and 2.4 magnitude were recorded in the early morning of February 9. These two earthquakes had the same epicentre and, al­though low on the Richter scale, occurred very close to the Maltese islands, several kilometres...

  • Seismic Monitoring and Research Unit purchases state-of-the art equipment

    Seismic Monitoring and Research Unit purchases state-of-the art equipment

    State-of-the-art seismographs have been purchased by the Seis­mic Monitoring and Research Unit at the University of Malta’s Depart­ment of Physics. These instruments will be used to establish the Malta Seismic Network, and also comple­ment the...

  • Mellieħa Bay surface sea currents being monitored as part of project to predict spread of jellyfish

    Mellieħa Bay surface sea currents being monitored as part of project to predict spread of jellyfish

    The direction and strength of sea surface currents and temperature at various distances from the mouth of Mellieħa Bay are being surveyed to obtain data to validate models that can simulate the spread of jellyfish blooms and predict their presence...

  • Nepal tells Mount Everest litterbugs to take out the trash

    Nepal tells Mount Everest litterbugs to take out the trash

    Six decades after the first conquest of the world’s highest peak, tons of rubbish and human waste abandoned by hundreds of Mount Everest climbers is starting to raise a stink. Nepal is cracking down on the mountaineers who seek to emulate the 1953...

  • Mediterranean painted frog

    Mediterranean painted frog

    February seemed to be wetter than usual. It rained most days and, by the end of the month, I was hearing a lot of people complaining that they were fed up of the rain even though they all knew that in this country we should welcome every drop of...

  • Private life of hairy Hoff crab exposed

    Private life of hairy Hoff crab exposed

    Males of a species of crab nicknamed after David Hasselhoff because of their hairy chests spend largely separate lives from the females, according to research. In a study looking at the private life of the deep-sea crab known as the Hoff have...

  • Syria’s civil war linked, in part, to global warming

    Syria’s civil war linked, in part, to global warming

    A record-breaking drought may have helped push Syria into all-out civil war, according to research. Parts of the country were ravaged by the worst ever dry spell to hit the region between 2006 and 2010 and this may have been a factor in propelling...

  • EU approves plastic bags crackdown

    EU approves plastic bags crackdown

    The European Union has approved new rules that clamp down on the use of flimsy plastic bags that are hazardous for the environment. The 28 member nations have given final approval to the rules that mean consumers may be obliged to use sturdier,...

  • Let nothing go to waste

    Let nothing go to waste

    European Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella is committed “to seizing classical win-win opportunities” arising from a move towards a circular economy. The European Commission announced in its work programme for...

  • Tracing our timber to sustainable suppliers

    Tracing our timber to sustainable suppliers

    There is nothing quite like the rich feel, colour and even the smell of real wood to make a house feel like a home. Yet our preference for natural products in the home should always be combined with a thought for how timber is being...

  • A stellar nursery – the Orion nebula

    A stellar nursery – the Orion nebula

    Later this month, the cold winter nights will soon give way to calmer weather as we witness the onset of spring. However, early March is a good opportunity to look at the Great Nebula in the constellation Orion, a unique place in our galaxy where...

  • Carob trees are in peril

    Carob trees are in peril

    The Plant Health Directorate last week issued a statement saying that carob trees are falling victim to a beetle known scientifically as Apate monachus, in English, the black borer. This beetle species is native to Africa from where it has spread...

  • Feeding a kiosk frenzy

    Feeding a kiosk frenzy

    The placing of a fast food kiosk, cheek and jowl with the statue of Jean de Valette in Valletta, rightly raised a furore, as it was seen as the epitome of disrespect towards the capital city’s cultural identity. But while the perceived denigration...

  • Mediterranean cowry

    Mediterranean cowry

    Visiting the beach after storms can be very rewarding. Waves can throw up interesting creatures and deposit them on the sand or in rock pools. A few days ago, while looking in a rock pool at Pembroke, I found a Mediterranean cowry trapped...

  • In a first for a fish, Oregon chub no longer risks extinction

    For the first time, a fish has been removed from US Endangered Species Act protection as federal officials declared that a tiny shimmering minnow found only in an Oregon valley was no longer in danger of extinction. Millions of the five-centimetre...

  • Fracking has one bird fan

    Fracking is controversial but likely to have at least one real fan − the black-chinned hummingbird. The noise of machinery at gas extraction sites in the US appears to benefit the nectar-loving birds, boosting their nesting capacity and the rate...

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