They say they have no problem with refugees and they're not un-American. They just want to protect the US against terror attacks, and they think President Trump's travel ban is a good first step.
For years fairy circles have been one of nature's great, enduring mysteries. A defining feature of the majestic Namib Desert, Namibia these dusty patches of earth, ringed with tall grass and dispersed evenly across 1,100 miles have eluded explanation and confounded scientists.
Like the Bermuda Triangle, or until recently the sailing stones of Death Valley, speculation has been rife. Explanations for the circles, which can be from 10 to 65 feet across, have ranged from alien invasion to poisonous gasses. A paper from 2001 says people have claimed they're the impact sites of meteorites, rolling spots for zebra or even localized radioactivity.
However a group of biologists and mathematicians in a Princeton-led study claim to have solved the curious case of the fairy circle -- and in the process, hope to unify the scientific community on the subject.
Before this month's study, published in the journal Nature on January 19, scientists were bitterly divided.
One camp, backed up by research from the 1990s and 2000s by Eugene Moll, Carl Albrecht and Norbert Juergens, argued for what's best summarized as "the termite theory": that the bare patches of earth were the result of hungry underground termites eating vegetation in the area surrounding their colony. This theory was originally derived from the proposal of ecologist Ken Tinley in 1971, who suggested fairy circles were fossilized termite mounds.
On the other side were proponents of self-organization: that vegetation naturally formed circles under the right conditions in order to make the most out of available moisture and soil nutrients. This theory was first applied to fairy circles in 2004 and expanded upon in 2008, explains Corina Tarnita from the Princeton team. In 2014 Stephan Getzin advocated strongly for self-organization, debunking the termite theory when speaking to CNN.
"The termite theory is very appealing to people, because it's relatively easy to understand," Walter Tschinkel, a biology professor at Florida State University, quipped at the time.
Now it's time for some truth and reconciliation -- because it turns out both sides may be correct.
Tarnita, Juan Bonachela and Robert Pringle bridged experimental fieldwork and mathematical theory, creating computer models while a team in Namibia watched them play out on the ground. What they witnessed has provided a unifying theory.
"Both ideas are an integral part of what we propose may be the mechanism behind fairy circles," argue Bonachela.
"Sand termites kill on-mound vegetation thus creating bare patches, which are regularly organized as a result of competition between colonies for space and resources; by doing so, termites facilitate the accumulation of water underneath the patch, which is essential for their survival in such an arid environment.
"Plants surrounding the bare patch use a plastic mechanism for root growth to take advantage of that increased moisture, thus creating the taller (perennial) vegetation ring that we call the fairy circle."
The team's computer models were able to map the fairy circles' hexagonal layout across the desert, representing each colonies territory and surrounding 'no-man's land'. The models also visualize a fairy circle's life cycle, which can span from "a few years to more than 200," says Bonachela. In the Namib Desert it takes approximately 20 years for a fairy circle to close up after the death of a termite colony, he adds.
Their theory, the team argues, can have wide-ranging implications.
"The fairy circles are just a single, beautiful case study for what we think is an extremely common and widespread set of processes," argues Pringle, citing hexagonal distributions of ant and termite colonies in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
"The way we see it, the value of our work lies not necessarily in providing a convincing explanation for fairy circles, although we're happy if it does that, but rather in bring together these two powerful ideas about ecological self-organization."
Ehud Meron, professor at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research & Physics Department, Ben-Gurion University, is critical of the study:
"The paper by Tarnita et al. makes a significant theoretical progress in substantiating the termite hypothesis, but does not resolve many difficulties this hypothesis still faces."
"The weakness of the termite hypothesis so far was that it did not account for the large-scale hexagonal fairy circle order," he says. "The model study presented in this paper fills up this gap."
But the termite theory remains weak, perhaps superfluous, in the eyes of Meron, a proponent of the self-organization theory, citing a lack of termites in certain locations and uneven dispersion of termites within fairy circles, suggesting vegetation should prosper in their center. "The alternative theory, on the other hand, is supported by an increasing number of empirical studies," he adds.
Perhaps the fairy circle community isn't as united after all.
"The controversy about the cause of fairy circle formation -- vegetation-self organization or termites -- has remained as strong as it was," Meron concludes.
photo of Fairy circles: Has one of nature's great mysteries been solved?
The ban on travel to the US is a disappointment -- but to be fair, we're used to it. It has never been easy for Sudanese nationals to gain access to America.
"Many professionals in our region cross every day to work, to visit family, and they feel targeted and uncertain."
A total of 872 refugees will be allowed into the United States this week.
At least 47 people in B.C. have now been diagnosed with Zika after traveling to areas with the mosquito-borne illness including Mexico and parts of Central and South America.
Just a few weeks ago, Sahab Masoumian was in Edmonton, visiting his girlfriend Saghar Sobhani. But President Donald Trump's newly-imposed travel ban means he's not sure when he'll see her again.
Trump's travel ban causes chaos in immigration system said Winnipeg immigration lawyer Reis Pagtakhan, and that chaotic system could benefit Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preparing to meet as early as this week with U.S. President Donald Trump, a visit intended to underscore the deep ties between the two countries. But it also carries substantial political risk.
The Trump administration signaled Tuesday that some of the temporary bans on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries are likely to be extended indefinitely and elevated a deportations official to run the nation’s top immigration enforcement agency as it pushed further to dramatically
The leader of the European Union put longtime ally the United States in a "threat" category on Tuesday, insisting that President Donald Trump is contributing to the "highly unpredictable" outlook for the bloc.
- J.D. Power & Associates 8 most dependable cars, minivan
- Wake up to this crazy good Goo Goo barbecue biscuit from Holler & Dash
- Muscle Shoals Swampers, Jimmy Hall appear in Bayside Academy music showcase
- New York City Ballet dancer returns to Alabama for "The Sleeping Beauty"
- Who should replace Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on 'SNL'?
- Jimmy Buffett to return to The Wharf in Orange Beach
- Beer garden in the works for downtown Montgomery
- Weekend box office: 'Logan' tears up opening weekend with $85.3M debut
- Resumes are more art than science
- How to open a resume: Objective statement vs. qualifications summary
- Don't confuse a resume with an autobiography
- Do I really need a cover letter? Plus more common resume questions
- Tim Tebow stalked by Colorado woman at Mets spring camp: cops
- KING: The Democratic Party doesn't get why it's so unpopular
- Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy Obamacare replacement should be called ‘Abominable Care’
- Fisher’s finish leads to Match Play and a shot at Masters
- Robinson, Lind ready for a spring training job fight
- World Baseball Classic failing to draw interest of American fans
- Ben Carson confirmed by Senate as HUD secretary
- Proposed $54B jump in defense budget won’t help economy much
- Somalia: 'People are dying..there's no water'
- Abuja airport shutdown 'hugely embarrassing'
- Christians flee their homes after ISIS attacks in Egypt
- Award-winning photos capture life on the farmlands of rural Africa
- 'The Wound': Is this Africa's 'Moonlight' moment?
- Somalia drought: 110 die amid fears of famine
- Zimbabwe's Mugabe turns 93; lauds Trump's nationalist stance
- M-Pesa: Kenya's mobile success story turns 10
- Kasha Nabagesera: The face of Uganda's LGBT movement
- In South Africa, a protest against foreigners turns violent. Why was it allowed to go ahead?
- Nigerian president disdains his country's best hospital for medical care in Britain. But what ails him?
- In Madagascar, mothers weep and send their children to bed without water to drink
- Famine strikes in South Sudan, as people in four countries face starvation
- Kenya's High Court rules against government plan to close the world's biggest refugee camp
- In Somalia, famine is looming and families with no food or water are leaving their land
- African leaders amp up pressure on the International Criminal Court, with a plan for mass exit
- Sierra Leone enters Miss Universe competition for first time
- Trump travel ban: For Sudanese-Americans, this humiliation is far from new
- Gambia's new President returns to country
- Armyworms destroy crops in southern Africa