回顧星期天LBS - 2020澳洲趣聞 All about Australia


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Topic: Australia’s bushfires: 2019 like nothing seen before

As the bushfires in Australia this year extend across five million hectares, an area larger than many countries, stories of destruction have become depressingly familiar.



So far 24 people and 460 million animals have been killed. In New South Wales (NSW), the worst-affected state, up to 1,365 homes have been destroyed. It is too early for a thorough examination of?the impact on wildlife, including the many threatened species in the fires’ path.


Does this qualify as unprecedented? Plenty of experts say yes, but not all politicians and newspaper columnists are convinced. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the fires were severe, but also adopted a familiar line: Australia has always had bushfires. That’s true. But a key question is whether it has always had bushfires like this.


David Bowman, director of The Fire Centre at the University of Tasmania, says the most striking thing about this fire season is the continent-scale nature of the threat. “The geographic range, and the fact it is occurring all at once, is what makes it unprecedented,” Bowman says. “There has never been a situation where there has been a fire from southern Queensland, right through NSW, into Gippsland, in the Adelaide Hills, near Perth and on the east coast of Tasmania.”


He says one of the less explored issues, though it has begun to receive some attention in recent days, is the economic impact of having prolonged fires that affect so many Australians. “You can’t properly run an economy when you get a third to a half of the population affected by smoke, and the media completely focused on fires,” he says.


There are also fears critically endangered Wollemi pines have burned in the fires tearing through the Blue Mountains. They were thought extinct until discovered by bushwalkers in 1994. Their whereabouts had been kept secret from the public to keep them safe.


Authorities say the smoke that has smothered Sydney, Canberra and other centers and towns in recent weeks has produced pollution up to 11 times greater than the hazardous level for human health. In Sydney, the air pollution has been hazardous for at least 30 days.


The explanation should be familiar by now: greenhouse gas emissions do not cause bushfires, but they play a demonstrated role in increasing average and particularly extreme temperatures and contribute to the extraordinarily dry conditions afflicting eastern Australia.

Scientists cite the near absolute lack of moisture in the landscape as a key reason the fires have been so severe.

Multiple studies, here and overseas, have found the climate crisis is lengthening the fire season.




Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/01/07/2003728808

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Topic: 7.5 billion-year-old meteorite contains oldest material ever found on Earth

Scientists analyzing a meteorite that fell down onto an Australian village in 1969 have discovered that the rock contained many particles of stardust that existed before our solar system was formed, dating them to around 7.5 billion years ago, making them the oldest material ever found on the Earth. The study findings have been published in the American scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


The meteorite that was analyzed fell to the Earth in the area around the village of Murchison in Victoria, Australia on Sept. 28, 1969. A team of scientists from the US and Switzerland placed ground particles of the meteorite in acid to remove all the material, leaving only the stardust. They then measured the length of time that this stardust would have been exposed to cosmic rays, in order to determine its age.


According to Philipp Heck, the primary author of the study, they determined that 90 percent of the stardust in the meteorite was dated to between 4.6 billion and 5.5 billion years ago, with the remaining 10 percent being over 5.5 billion years old, of which the oldest was around 7.5 billion years old. By comparison, the solar system started to form around 4.6 billion years ago.


Although this stardust is the oldest material discovered thus far on Earth, Heck believes that there is even more material older than the solar system in the Murchison meteorite and in other meteorites, it’s just that they have yet to be discovered by scientists.


Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2020/01/20/2003729528

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Topic: About Australia - Australia wins AI ’Eurovision Song Contest’

Dutch broadcaster VPRO decided to organise an AI Song Contest after the country won the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. The aim was to research the creative abilities of AI and the impact it has on us, as well as the influence it could have on the music industry, according to the official Eurovision website.


Thirteen teams entered the contest, with Australia beating out Sweden, Belgium, the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands to take home the title, giving fans a taste of Eurovision after 2020 contest was cancelled due to COVID-19.


The winning song, titled Beautiful the World, includes audio samples of koalas, kookaburras and Tasmanian devils, and was made by music-tech collective Uncanny Valley as a response to the Black Summer bushfires.

獲勝曲的題目為「Beautiful the World」,含有無尾熊、笑翠鳥與袋獾的聲音樣本,由音樂技術團體「恐怖谷」製作,回應黑暗夏日的叢林大火。

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Night at the museum:Australian police arrest German student over break-in 博物館之夜:澳洲警方逮捕闖入的德國學生

Australian police on Monday charged a German student with breaking into a Sydney museum as security footage showed him allegedly taking selfies next to dinosaur exhibits.


New South Wales(NSW)Police said that Paul Kuhn broke into the Australian Museum on May 10 around 1 a.m. local time, using some nearby scaffolding to gain access, before exploring the exhibits for 40 minutes.


“He’s taken some selfies with some of the displays. He’s also stolen a hat and a picture(from)the wall and eventually left,” Sean Heaney, chief inspector, NSW Police told reporters in Sydney.


The 25-year-old student appeared on Monday in court where he faced charges of stealing a cowboy hat and a piece of artwork.


He was granted bail on the condition that he surrenders his passport and adheres to a curfew.


The Australian Museum is the country’s oldest. It has been closed to the public since August 2019 for renovations.


Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1374692; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1373759

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Topic: About Australia - Australian stinging trees contain ’scorpion-like venom’

Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified ""scorpion-like"" toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks.


Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its indigenous name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe.


Irina Vetter, an associate professor at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said the research team discovered a new class of neurotoxin miniproteins, which they christened ’gympietides’.


Vetter said the long-lasting pain inflicted by the tree may be explained by the gympietides permanently altering the chemical makeup of the affected sensory neurons - not due to the fine hairs getting stuck in the skin.


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Topic: Magpie swoops Australian reporter moments before he goes on air/準備進入現場報導前 澳洲記者遭喜鵲俯衝猛撲

A magpie swooped an Australian reporter in the face on Monday, moments before the journalist went live on air for the evening bulletin.


Nine Network reporter, Brett McLeod, was preparing for his live cross outdoors when the crow-like bird dived at his face but he quickly regained his composure and delivered his piece to the camera.


The black-and-white Australian magpie, not related to the European magpies famous for taking glittering treasures for their nests, tend to attack anyone who comes close to their suburban nests.


Spring is widely known as the ’swooping season’ to Australians when birds, mostly magpies, attack humans and even other birds when they stray too close while its fledglings hatch and nest.

Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1409467 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1410492

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