At Home: Angry Birds
An app came to life recently as angry birds descended upon a Winnipeg neighbourhood, alarming residents and even affecting the delivery of the mail. There were no pigs or space goggles involved, but experts think the attackers may have been protecting their eggs?just like the birds in the popular game.
As the CBC reports, aggressive black birds??crows or ravens??were dive-bombing the residents and mail carriers. Residents were ?unable to receive their mail,? as safety concerns caused Canada Post to place mail delivery on hold until the situation was resolved.
Several of the residents themselves had been attacked, and pets and vehicles were also targeted. One resident told reporters that a particularly persistent bird ?came after? her, ?[following her] all around.?
According to conservationists, the birds were probably ?[defending] their young while they [were] vulnerable to predators.? Residents were advised to ?avoid the area if possible, for a day or so, until the young birds can fly away.?
Some 30 houses were affected by the strange behaviour.
Around the World: Tasteless Mutation
Ever bitten into a big, juicy tomato and been disappointed at the blandness of what seemed to be a rich, red treat? Or do you have fond memories of the tomatoes of your youth and wonder why today’s varieties don’t measure up? It may not be in your imagination, a new study suggests.
As the CBC reports, the study discovered that a genetic mutation ?introduced into tomatoes to make them ripen more uniformly might have inadvertently reduced some of the sugar content that makes them taste good.?
The mutation was originally intended to aid harvesters in ?improving harvesting techniques.? Since traditionally tomatoes will ripen at an uneven pace, breeders developed a variety of tomato that would be uniform at the green stage. The end result: a fruit that would ripen evenly, beginning with a ?uniform light green at the time of harvesting? and later ?[ripening] to an evenly distributed red en route to the grocery store.?
A consequence, though, was that scientists ?inadvertently disabled a protein that . . . helps optimize photosynthesis.? This means a reduction in ?the amount of sugars and lycopene . . . which are produced during photosynthesis.?
Now scientists are seeking to reincorporate those protein levels to improve the tomato’s flavour once again.