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Typhoon Slams Into Flood-Ravaged Japan

Climate
Typhoon Slams Into Flood-Ravaged Japan
Tokyo residents run from rains caused by Typhoon Jongdari. JIJI PRESS / AFP / Getty Images

After historic flooding killed hundreds and a record-breaking heat wave killed scores in Japan this month, the country prepared to weather yet another disaster as Typhoon Jongdari made landfall on the country's main island of Honshu Sunday, BBC News reported.


The typhoon injured 24 as it passed over western Honshu and the southern part of the island of Kyushu Sunday, The Japan Times reported.

The storm left 150,000 without power, according to BBC News.

The typhoon's unusual westward path was expected to take it through the regions most devastated by flooding earlier in the month, which killed 225 people over all, the National Policy Agency told The Japan Times.

However, a decision by authorities to evacuate those regions ahead of the storm paid off, as no injuries or damages were reported in those regions following Sunday's storm.

"I was afraid of getting more torrential rain, but I'm relieved that we did not have any major damage this time," Nobuhiro Kanetomo of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, one of the areas most damaged by the earlier flooding, told The Japan Times.

Perhaps the most dramatic damage caused by Typhoon Jongdari came Saturday evening when waves shattered the windows of a Pacific coast restaurant called Hotel New Akao in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture.

"Waves came for the third or fourth time and at that moment I heard the big sound of windows breaking and saw glasses and water approaching me. They broke in a way that I recall seeing in the movie 'Titanic,'" The Japan Times reported that a man told a Tokyo Broadcasting System reporter.

Four guests and one worker were injured in the incident.

The typhoon also brought sweltering temperatures of nearly 40 degrees Celsius to Hokuriku, The Japan Times reported.

Authorities warned people in affected areas not to let down their guard yet.

"The effects might continue for a while. Please remain vigilant against the risk of rises in river levels and landslides, even after the typhoon has passed," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to The Japan Times.

This is the 12th typhoon of the season, and the barrage of disasters is starting to demoralize some people.

"A typhoon on top of the already dreadful situation depressed me. I don't know if I can get over the damage but I'll just keep doing what I can," 70-year-old Toshiaki Nishitani of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture told The Japan Times.

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Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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