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Watch Livestream: Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein Headline 'Off and On' Climate Event

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Watch Livestream: Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein Headline 'Off and On' Climate Event

Some big names in the environmental movement will be leading a multimedia presentation about the climate crisis tomorrow night, Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. ET, which will be livestreamed right here on EcoWatch.

Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org, and Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and narrator in an upcoming documentary of the same name, will headline the event.

The event is called Off and On because "society's task in tackling climate change is simple," says 350.org. "Turn off the flow of carbon-dense fuels like coal, oil and gas, and turn on the switch to renewable energy sources like solar and wind." The event will also focus on the upcoming climate talks in Paris this December.

Watch the livestream here tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET:

Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, who is working to connect music, climate justice and civil rights activists, and Cynthia Ong, a climate activist from Borneo, who is one of Indonesia's most effective and visionary coal-fighters, will also speak at the event.

Bill McKibben says he's "not much a fan of big climate summits" because "none so far have done hardly anything to solve the problem." But he feels at least they get the world a little more tuned in to the state of the climate "if for a few weeks at least." So, as McKibben says, "with the big Paris talks on the horizon, our job is to focus that attention on what it will really take to get serious: keeping at least 80 percent of fossil fuels under ground and getting to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050."

The event is at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. Tickets are still available.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

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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