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OpenLearn Live: 24th August 2016

Updated Tuesday, 23rd August 2016

A Bolt under pressure from a European invader. Then more free learning through the day.

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OpenLearn Live brings the worlds of learning and research into the heart of your world. This page will be updated during the day.

Yesterday, we heard how NASA is back in touch with STEREO and how the Olympics' leftover food was put to good use

On this day last year: a citizenship podcast, studying music research and Hearst's home in California

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

Jorge Luis Borges: A short reading list

Today would have been Jorge Luis Borges' 117th birthday, had he been blessed with extraordinary longevity. We've marked his birthday by creating a short reading list covering his work - and his film reviews.

Explore the Borges reading list

BBC Two, tonight, 8pm: Can Britain Have A Pay Rise?

BBC Two is midway through a series exploring the lot of the lowest paid workers in Britian - workers such as those who plod through our discarded recycling.

Alongside the series, Britain's Hardest Workers: Inside the Low Wage Economy, tonight the OU & BBC is hosting a debate on the state of pay across the UK:

One hundred workers representing all levels of pay face each other in a studio to try and work out whether Britain can have a pay rise.

Presented by James O'Brien and Steph McGovern, this programme examines the roots of Britain's low-pay economy and pits Brits against Germans in a productivity challenge as well as visiting the Swedes who work for just six hours a day.

Watch the trailer: Britain's Hardest Workers: Inside the Low Wage Economy

Find out more about the programme, and the state of wages in the UK

Moth allergies

Some people can be fatally allergic to the tiger moth - but the allergy can be hard for doctors to spot. Now, though, there's a new test which could help medics identify the illness more quickly:

Pallara Janardhanan Wills, senior scientist and lead author of the study, said delay in proper clinical treatment of lepidopterism often complicated related conditions like platelet drop, respiratory disorders, meconium aspiration syndrome and hepatic and renal failure.
“Without specific diagnosis, the actual, underlying disease can go undetected, often resulting in acute, and even fatal, respiratory problems. In Kerala, these cases occur from June to August during monsoon season when moths flock to artificial lights,” 

Read the full article: Why are tiger moths making people unwell - and what can we do about it?

Earthquake in Italy

Overnight, there's been a massive earthquake in central Italy. The OU's Dave Rothery shares what we know so far

Bolt week: Bolt faces an invasion

This week, we're tangentally celebrating Usain Bolt's achievement by exploring stories from other Bolts. Yesterday, we explored the far right's fascination with lightning bolts. Today, we're heading to Wisconsin, and a place called Bolt. Bolt is under threat of invasion.

A diver surfaces through heavy infestation of Eurasian water milfoil. Creative commons image Icon Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources under Creative Commons BY-ND 4.0 license A diver surfaces through a Eurasian Milfoil infestation elsewhere in Wisconsin

Bolt is a small place - really small. In fact, it's officially almost not a place - the US Geological Survey has designated it thus:

Populated (Community) Place (except those associated with facilities). A populated place that is not a census designated or incorporated place having an official federally recognized name.

There's not much there, but what there is is a lake, Heidmann Lake:

Heidmann Lake is a 23 acre lake located in Kewaunee County. It has a maximum depth of 34 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Largemouth Bass and Northern Pike.

And that's lovely. Except since 1993, Heidmann Lake has been under occupation from a foreign invader. Like 435 other lakes in Wisconsin alone, the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil has taken hold.

That can be a threat to the lake, and everything in it:

In nutrient-rich lakes it can form thick underwater stands of tangled stems and vast mats of vegetation at the water's surface. In shallow areas the plant can interfere with water recreation such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The plant's floating canopy can also crowd out important native water plants.

The invader can be controlled, but its almost impossible to eradicate entirely.

Scientists are fighting back, though. Dr. Tim Gerber, Professor of Biology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, trying to fight the invader at nearby Lulu lake, had a great idea.

The Nature Conservancy reports:

What if he and Ziegler could find a way to get native aquatic plants to grow in the places where milfoil was removed and give the invader some competition?

With additional funding from the state, they are working on doing just that. The idea is to weave native aquatic plants like pondweed into a fibrous coconut mat that is biodegradable and then sink the mats into the lake where milfoil has been removed. The fiber mats will suppress milfoil growth, as Gerber and Ziegler have shown in greenhouse experiments, and give the pondweed a chance to establish.

“We’ve successfully grown the native plant mats in the Conservancy greenhouse and placed them in Lulu Lake,” said Ziegler. “We know they work on the calcium carbonate-rich bottom of that lake. We plan to expand this work to Pickerel Lake, another Conservancy project area in the Mukwonago River watershed, to see how the technique works on the sandy, gravely bottom of that lake.

“Early detection, removal and our experimental work with Eurasian water milfoil is part of a broader, long-term effort to manage invasive species in Lulu Lake and the entire Mukwonago River system,” said Ziegler.

If it works there, it could work for Heidmann Lake, too. Bolt may yet fend off its international competition as effectively as its running namesake.

Read: The challenge of invasive species





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