This week at Science in Public

This Week

Microbial mass movements: the millions of species we ignore at our peril

Media releases

Michael Gillings (Credit: Chris Stacey, Macquarie University)

Science paper Friday, 15 September 2017

Background information below.

More high-res images available below.

Wastewater, tourism, and trade are moving microbes around the globe at an unprecedented scale. As we travel the world we leave billions of bacteria at every stop.

As with rats, foxes, tigers and pandas, some microbes are winners, spreading around the world into new ecological niches we’ve created. Others are losing, and might face extinction. These changes are invisible, so why should we care?

“Yes, our survival may depend on these microbial winner and losers,” say a team of Australian, Chinese, French, British and Spanish researchers in a paper published in Science today.

“The oxygen we breathe is largely made by photosynthetic bacteria in the oceans (and not by rainforests, as is commonly believed),” says Macquarie University biologist Michael Gillings.

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A 3D printed rocket engine – made in Melbourne

Media releases, Monash University Technology Research Platforms

Monash engineers have designed, printed, and test-fired a rocket engine.

Media call 9.30 am, Monday 11 September, Woodside Innovation Centre, New Horizons Building, 20 Research Way, Monash University, Clayton

HD footage of static rocket testing and metal printers at work
Media contact: Niall Byrne, 0417-131-977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

The new rocket engine is a unique aerospike design which turns the traditional engine shape inside out.

Two years ago, Monash University researchers and their partners were the first in the world to print a jet engine, based on an existing engine design. That work led to Monash spin-out company Amaero winning contracts with major aerospace companies around the world.

Now a team of engineering researchers have jumped into the Space Age. They accepted a challenge from Amaero to design a rocket engine, Amaero printed their design, and the researchers test-fired it, all in just four months. Their joint achievement illustrates the potential of additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) for Australian industry.

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Monash rocket engine test firing

3D printed rocket engine – backgrounder and links

Media releases, Monash University Technology Research Platforms

Backgrounder: the printed Aerospike Rocket Engine

 

Quick facts

  • A joint Monash University/Amaero team of engineers successfully designed, built, and tested a rocket engine in just four months
  • The engine is a complex multi-chamber aerospike design
  • Additively manufactured with selective laser melting on an EOS M280
  • Built from Hasteloy X; a high strength nickel based superalloy
  • Fuel: compressed natural gas (methane); oxidiser: compressed oxygen
  • Design thrust of 4kN (about 1,000 pounds), enough to hover the equivalent of five people (about 400 kg)

The 3D printed or Additive Manufactured aerospike rocket engine is the result of a collaboration between a group of Monash University engineers and Amaero Engineering, supported by Woodside Energy and Monash University.

Engineers at Amaero approached a team of Monash engineering PhD students, giving them the opportunity to create a new rocket design that could fully utilise the near limitless geometric complexity of 3D printing.

The team accepted the challenge and designed one of the most complicated but efficient rocket engines of all, the aerospike nozzle. Amaero printed the design, then the team test-fired their engine on a remote location in rural Victoria. The rapid manufacturing process allowed them to go from concept to physical testing in only four months.

The Monash engineers have now created a company, NextAero, to take their concepts to the global aerospace industry, starting with the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide on 25-29 September [click to continue…]

Science communicator role: Short term, immediate start

Other

We’re looking for a science communicator to join our team at Science in Public for 3 to 6 months with an immediate start.

We need someone who is organised, loves science and wants to help scientists get their work into the public space. Ideally you’ve got a couple of years professional work experience and can hit the ground running.

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The mystery of leaf size solved

Media releases

Click here for high-res images.

Background information below.

And feature story by lead author Ian Wright for The Conversation here.

A global team of researchers have cracked the mystery of leaf size. Their research was published today as a cover story in Science.

Why is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.

But it’s not that simple.

The research, led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, reveals that in much of the world the key limiting factor for leaf size is night temperature and the risk of frost damage to leaves. [click to continue…]

The mystery of leaf size solved – photos

Media releases

Click here for media release and background information.

Click on photos for the high-res version.

Bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, New Jersey Pine Barrens. Credit Peter Wilf

Conifer needles. Credit Peter Reich

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Are you a slave to your smartphones? Or master of your mobile?

ABC projects, Media releases, National Science Week

We spend three hours a day on our phones, on average, with almost one in five of us admitting we check our phone at least once every 15 minutes.

These are some of the early findings from Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey, which is looking at how we use our smartphones and how we feel about them.

More than 10,000 people have taken part in the survey so far, but there’s still plenty of time to participate with the survey running until Friday, August 25.

In particular, researchers want to hear from more young people, especially those aged between 12 and 25.

Psychology PhD student Bep Uink from Murdoch University, says: “Young Australians are digital natives so it’s possible they have more sophisticated relationships with their smartphones than their parents’ generation.”

“It’s really important for researchers to hear from young people about the benefits they get from their smartphones, and conversely the downsides of having such a ubiquitous device in their lives, that we might not otherwise be aware of,” she says.

Other early findings from the survey show: [click to continue…]

Super Hornet simulators; sporty science; Robotronica; Aboriginal astronomy; Pokémon GO with real animals; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Sunday 20 August 2017

Highlights for the final day of National Science Week

142 events and exhibitions, 16 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Sydney

Gold Coast

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Sex, genes and rock ‘n’ roll; inside a dodgy drug lab; physics of recycling; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Saturday 19 August 2017

Highlights for day eight of National Science Week’s nine-day ‘week’

177 events and exhibitions, 16 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Hobart

Perth

Blue Mountains

Canberra

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Keeping the lights on; Mayan astronomy; Whisky Academy; bull science; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Friday 18 August 2017

Highlights for day seven of National Science Week

446 events and exhibitions, 23 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Melbourne

Sydney

Darwin

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Our earthquake science epicenter; new recycling plant opening; ‘tree lobsters’ and peacock spiders; the physics of beer; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 120+ Science Week events in ACT

  • Opening of Canberra’s re-vamped recycling facility…tour the facility, meet the experts and see how physics sorts trash from treasure. Drone footage available.
  • ‘Tree lobster’ stick insects and small peacock spiders on the big screen. And meet the man who discovered these tiny dancing spiders.
  • Scienceability: young adults with a disability running a free science workshop open to the public.
  • Ask scientists to explain physics using beer.
  • Geoscience Australia open day—see inside Australia’s epicenter for earthquake detection, how we use satellites to find water for agriculture, and precious rocks for our smartphones.
  • Dancing with the Science Stars: astronomy, gravitational waves and Antarctic research explained…with the help of dancers.
  • 1,000 science Scouts and Guides saving the planet.
  • How to turn a ‘dead’ seed into a living plant.
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone? Researchers want to know.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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The botany of booze; drones on the farm; wildlife forensics; plastic oceans; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Thursday 17 August 2017

Highlights from day six of National Science Week

448 events and exhibitions, 22 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Sydney

Charters Towers (near Townsville)

Hobart

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The ‘Madhouse Effect’; evil weevils; the funniest physicist; the language of plants; dingo puppies; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Highlights from day five of National Science Week

476 events and exhibitions, 22 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Canberra (10am, Parliament House)

Sydney

Melbourne

Western Australia and South Australia

Perth [click to continue…]

Wine science; pulse checks for politicians; microplastics; a kids’ coding hackathon; and more

Media releases, National Science Week, Other

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Highlights from Day 4 of National Science Week

454 events and exhibitions, 21 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

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From Antarctica to ocean plastics, and fighting MS to the science of whisky…Tassie science on show

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 150+ Science Week events in Tasmania

  • The barista scientist, the insect lover, and other Young Tassie Scientists tour the state.
  • What did a voyage to Antarctica tell us about women in science? Meet the scientist studying the scientists.
  • What do rabbits and sea urchins taste like? Fighting invasive species by making them gourmet—Launceston.
  • Behind the scenes—how do you make an Attenborough documentary?
  • From the ocean’s food chain to the good oil, why krill is crucial, and why Hobart is the krill capital.
  • Whisky Academy: the science behind Tassie’s whisky boom—Strahan.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: meet the Tassie scientists looking for solutions for the 23,000 Australians affected.
  • Fluorescence—from forensic science to highlighter pens and spinach. Sydney chemist Elizabeth New reveals all.
  • Tasmanian climate science experts on the big changes that are happening in our oceans and ice—local differences in global warming, sea level rise, acidification and reefs—Sandy Bay and Launceston.
  • Trash in the tummies of seabirds, microplastics, and a surfboard fin made from recycled plastic waste: the problems and solutions of ocean plastic pollution.
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone? Researchers want to know.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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Making a black hole; Fred Astaire; quantum physics explained by electric guitar; biomedical and renewable energy summits; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Highlights from Day 3 of National Science Week

344 events and exhibitions, 19 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent, including:

Canberra (Parliament House): Innovating Energy Summit: how will we power our future?

Canberra: Ask the Interstellar visual effects wiz how to make a black hole on the big screen believable.

Melbourne: Will Australia’s biomedical research future be as bright as our past achievements? With Gustav Nossal, Anne Kelso and other research leaders.

Sydney:

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Green energy in the Red Centre; moving to Mars; shark science; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Sunday 13 August 2017

Highlights from Day 2 of National Science Week

157 events and exhibitions, 16 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent, including:

Melbourne:

Sydney:

Adelaide:

Townsville: Earth 2.0: are we moving to Mars?

Launceston: Beetles, bugs, spiders and creepy crawlies at QVMAG Science Open Season.

Canberra: What brings seeds to life? Germination in the nation’s capital.

Perth:

Alice Springs: Can Alice Springs be 100% renewable energy powered by 2030?

Online: How healthy is your relationship with your smartphone? Scientists want to know.

More than 173 events, exhibitions and online activities on offer around the country today.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

For general Science Week media enquiries:

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in more than 1,800 events and activities.

In 2017, National Science Week celebrates its 20th birthday, with 2,000+ events registered throughout Australia— from insect Olympics in Darwin to ‘Blood’ at Melbourne’s new Science Gallery, to Antarctic science in the Apple Isle—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government; partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC; and sponsors Cosmos, Discovery Science, New Scientist and Popular Science.

Visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area: www.scienceweek.net.au.

Your brain on fake news; an insect festival; science graffiti; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Saturday 12 August 2017

Highlights from Day 1 of National Science Week

170 events and exhibitions, 17 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent, including:

Sydney: Your brain on fake news.

Canberra: What do you get when science meets street art? See ‘Co-Lab’ at Science in ACTion.

Bendigo: Before Hidden Figures, women made The Glass Universe, with US author Dava Sobel.

Melbourne: How does the smell of BLOOD make you feel? at the Science Gallery Melbourne.

Hobart: Ethical farming, the science of piracy and Hobart Hackerspace at the Festival of Bright Ideas

Adelaide: How does your brain work? [click to continue…]

An eco-apocalyptic circus; insect Olympics; green energy in the red centre; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 80+ Science Week events in the Top End

  • Artists and Circus Oz performers explore climate change.
  • Bush foods, food waste as fuel, and science in the garden with Costa Georgiardis at the desertSMART EcoFair—Alice Springs
  • Can Alice Springs be 100% renewable energy powered by 2030?
  • What do midges have to do with chocolate? Find out at the Darwin Insect Festival.
  • Politicians get a grip (test): HealthLAB visits Parliament House.
  • Meet the science writer who turned 13 sea voyages in three years into a book and a play. And hear from her on science, journalism and telling the stories of climate change.
  • From suspended schoolboy to educational pioneer: 17-year-old innovator Taj Jabari.
  • Meet Fergus the tawny frogmouth, Mr Slithers the snake, and other Top End wildlife.
  • Are you addicted to your smartphone? Researchers want to know.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia. [click to continue…]