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Geoff Carr, Science Editor, Economist. Credit: Edge.org

Geoff Carr, Science Editor, Economist. Credit: Edge.org

Join us for a conversation with Geoff Carr, The Economist’s Science Editor, hosted by the University of Melbourne on behalf of the Parkville Precinct Communications Group, at a special viewing of the exhibition TRANSMISSIONS | Archiving HIV/AIDS | Melbourne 1979-2014. The exhibition showcases artworks, manuscripts, and other material from private collections and public archives explores the history of AIDS as seen in Melbourne.

Geoff Carr is in Melbourne for AIDS 2014. We have asked him if he could join us for a conversation about science, science journalism, The Economist, and his impressions from AIDS 2014.

12.30 – 2pm Thursday 24 July 

Light lunch is provided followed by discussion in the George Paton Gallery – Level 2, Student Union Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus

M/C: Niall Byrne, Creative Director, Science in Public

After training as a zoologist, Geoff Carr joined The Economist in 1991 as Science Correspondent. He then became Tokyo Correspondent in 1994 and in 1995 moved to his current job as Science Editor.

When he isn’t editing he has particular interests in evolution, genomics, biotech, AIDS and malaria, and renewable-energy technologies.

This is a free forum aimed at journalists, science communicators and researchers. 

Places are limited, RSVP essential to niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

For more information about the exhibition contact or if you’re lost on the day contact Rebecca Scott | Acting Director Media and PR| University Communications Mobile +61 417 164 791, rebeccas@unimelb.edu.au

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Two stories today:

Dancing bees and a dancing bee researcher

A researcher at The University of Sydney has just released his latest research on honey bee interpretive dance.

He’s got some nice vision of bees dancing, and he can dance too.

James Makinson has been evicting bees from their homes to figure out how they find a new nest site. It’s work that could help with understanding and managing honeybees for pollination services, ecological health, and pest control.

He’ll be at Sydney Uni with bees today. He’s also provided some footage of the bees ‘dancing’ about where to nest, then heading off after coming to agreement.

James does a good ‘waggle dance’ too. He was a national finalist of FameLab Australia -a science communication competition for early-career researchers.

More below

Also: Do you look infected? Should I kill you? No, I’m fine, move along

How viruses use ‘fake’ proteins to hide in our cells: some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make ‘fake’ human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking ‘everything is awesome’, there’s nothing to see here.

Now researchers at the Imaging Centre of Excellence at Monash and Melbourne Universities have used synchrotron light to determine the basic structure of one of the two known families of these deceptive proteins.

We issued this story on Friday and it will be published in September’s Journal of Biological Chemistry.

More below

 

Read the full article →

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14171849136_6a20a4805e_oWednesday 9 July 2014

Video and photos of bees available
Scientist available for interview

Dr James Makinson evicts bees from their homes for a good reason—to figure out how they collectively decide on the next place to live. His research on bee communication and consensus-building has been published in this month’s issue of Animal Behaviour.

James and his colleagues at the University of Sydney in partnership with two universities in Thailand have found that not all honeybee species think like the common Western hive bee when it comes to deciding on a place to nest.

Two little-known species—the giant Asian honeybee and the tiny red dwarf honeybee—use a more  rapid collective decision-making process that enables them to choose a new home quickly. But they aren’t as fussy when it comes to the quality of their new home.

It’s work that could help with understanding and managing honeybees for pollination services, ecological health, and pest control. Read the full article →

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How viruses use ‘fake’ proteins to hide in our cells

Some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make ‘fake’ human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking ‘everything is awesome’, there’s nothing to see here.

Now researchers at the Imaging Centre of Excellence at Monash and Melbourne Universities have determined the basic structure of one of the two known families of these deceptive proteins.

Using synchrotron light and working with a common virus that lives in people happily and for the most part harmlessly, they worked out the structure of the fake proteins. This is an important first step towards producing better vaccines and drugs to fight viral disease.

The research was posted online this week by the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It will appear in the September issue of the journal.  Read the full article →

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But SAHMRI researchers are making it starve by eating itself to death

Lisa Schafranek at the national final of FameLab Australia, held at the WA Museum in May. Credit: OK-White Lane © International FameLab

Scientist available for interview, Tuesday 1 July 2014

Stubborn cancer cells play a cunning trick when faced with treatments designed to kill them — they eat themselves to survive. But SAHMRI researchers have found a way to starve the cancer cells, making them more susceptible to cancer therapy.

As researchers develop more personalised cancer therapies that target cancer cells, they are also seeing an increase in resistance to treatment, where patients relapse or no longer respond to treatment.

One way that cancer resists treatment is by undergoing a process where the cancer cells eat themselves to maintain energy levels during times of stress — a process that helps them survive cancer treatments that would otherwise starve them.

Lisa Schafranek, a University of Adelaide PhD student working a SAHMRI, and her colleagues have used a clinically available drug to stop leukaemia cells from eating themselves to survive cancer therapy. Read the full article →

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Post image for Congress registration, Queen’s Birthday honours, Olympiad: physics in July

Posted on behalf of Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics.

The 2014 AIP Congress is less than six months away and you have just one more day to submit an abstract for a presentation or poster. Registrations have opened, with early-bird rates available until 29 August, so book in now to get together with your colleagues in December.

Of course, on the other side of the world the summer conference season is now on, and many of us will be flying north for the winter. The connections made at these events are crucial to the health of Australian physics, so I wish everyone happy hunting.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours were announced earlier this month, and I congratulate physicists Steve Buckman (ANU), Jim Piper (Macquarie), Ian Allison (Tasmania) and Tomas Kron (Peter Mac), as well as applied mathematician and physical chemist Barry Ninham (ACT) and former physicist Ziggy Switkowski, whom I think we can also claim, on their awards.

Young stars are also shining, with the announcement of the team of students who will represent Australia at the International Physics Olympiad in Kazakhstan in July. I was fortunate to attend the event in Canberra, along with media personality Adam Spencer and Dennis Jensen MP. You can read more about the team below.

Finally, I and some fellow AIP members recently had the opportunity to attend lectures by visiting American theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. He didn’t dumb things down too much, giving an entertaining performance to packed houses. It was inspiring to see so many people turn out and pay to hear a physicist speak, and a timely reminder of how much the public values what we do. Read the full article →

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