Bulletins

Bulletins we issue for various organisations.  If you are interested in receiving email bulletins, sign-up to our newsletters here.

Promiscuous females and their role in evolution

Today: How female promiscuity changes male behaviour

Scientists genetically manipulated female fruit flies to make them more promiscuous, and then observed what impact this had on the male fruit flies’ sexual behaviour.

  • Saturday 19 January: watch out for a story about some shady behaviour from cane toads. It’s being published in Scientific Reports and is under embargo until 9pm ADST tonight. Contact us if you’d like an embargoed copy of this release.
  • We’ve found a lot of sawfish: Last week we asked for public help to track sawfish—amazing but endangered fish that can grow to eight metres and use their saw to detect the electrical impulses of their prey, then slice and dice them. The response has been amazing with 200 reports already.

You can read more about the fruit flies story below, including contact details of the scientist to interview.

Kind regards,

Niall

Promiscuous females and their role in evolution

Males have to make less of an effort to mate with promiscuous female fruit flies, making the quality and quantity of their semen all the more important in the competition to fertilise the females’ eggs.

This also leads to male flies repeatedly mating with the same female, according to a paper published overnight in Nature Communications, by researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia, who looked into the eyes of thousands of fruit flies.

Over the last 50 years, biologists have realised that females in most animal species mate with multiple males during their lifetimes, in contrast to the Victorian-era fairytale of the monogamous female. However they didn’t know how this behaviour influences how fruit flies and other species evolve.

Macquarie’s Dr Juliano Morimoto and colleagues from the UK wanted to test the theory that increasing female promiscuity would reduce male competition before mating, while increasing their competition to fertilise the female’s eggs after mating.

To do this, they first genetically manipulated female Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies to increase their promiscuity.

By deleting a sex peptide receptor, they reduced the time the females weren’t sexually receptive after mating and therefore led to them mating more frequently.

Hundreds of the more promiscuous females were marked with paint and their interactions with male flies monitored. The researchers painstakingly counted the thousands of offspring produced and identified their fathers based on eye colour.

“We found that when females mate promiscuously, male attractiveness is less important,” says Juliano. “Instead, having a large ejaculate might be what males need to win the war.”

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Predicting firestorms; what we don’t know about rice; and have you seen a sawfish?

We’re back this week with three stories:

You can read more about each of these stories below, including details of scientists to interview.

Kind regards,

Niall


The shape of a perfect storm: saving lives by predicting firestorms

 

Scientists available for interview – details and photos below.

Correction: an earlier version stated the tool is being formally trialed by the NSW Rural Fire SERVICE. It is currently in use, but formal trials ended in 2016.

A fully developed pyrocumulus cloud, formed from the smoke plume of the Grampians fire in February 2013. Credit: Randall Bacon

Firestorms are a nightmare for emergency services and anyone in their path. They occur when a bushfire meets a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental conditions and creates a thunderstorm.

Dr Rachel Badlan and Associate Professor Jason Sharples are part of a team of experts from UNSW Canberra and ACT Emergency Services that has found the shape of a fire is an important factor in whether it will turn into a firestorm.

Fires that form expansive areas of active flame, rather than spreading as a relatively thin fire-front, are more likely to produce higher smoke plumes and turn into firestorms, the researchers found.

This finding is being used to underpin further development of a predictive model for firestorms. The model was trialed in the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons by the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the NSW Rural Fire Service, and now forms part of the national dialogue around extreme bushfire development.  

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Oxygen halving child pneumonia deaths; accessing health data; plus Nobel laureate in WA and other physics stories

Today: improving access to oxygen for children wins CSL Florey Next Generation Award

We take oxygen therapy in hospitals for granted in Australia – but increasing access to it, and training in how to use it, has been halving child pneumonia deaths in Nigeria.

Dr Hamish Graham (of the Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and The University of Melbourne) was awarded the inaugural $20,000 CSL Florey Next Generation Award for top PhD candidate in health and biomedical sciences at the Australian Institute of Policy and Science dinner last night.

More on Hamish below.

Runner-up prizes of $2,500 were also awarded to two finalists, selected from more than 90 applications:

  • Naomi Clarke, Australian National University, for her work towards eradicating intestinal worms
  • Dean Picone, Menzies Institute for Medical ResearchUniversity of Tasmania, for his work developing better ways to measure blood pressure.

They’re also available for interviews, and we’ve got photos.

Contact Tanya Ha on 0404 083 863 or tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au

Thursday: Flying Blind 2 in Sydney

Join the Digital Health CRC for the launch of Flying Blind 2, a report that will outline how we can improve the health of all Australians and save $3 billion, just by more effectively providing researchers with access to health data.

If you’d like to come along, contact Marisa on marisa@scienceinpublic.com.au 

Thursday 29 November, 5pm to 8pm, at the CMCRC offices, level 4, 55 Harrington St, The Rocks.

Next week: Nobel laureate in WA at Australian Institute of Physics Congress 

This year’s Australian Institute of Physics Congress will run from December 9-13 at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Highlights will include:

  • 2017 Nobel laureate for gravitational wave detection and MIT professor Rainer Weiss
  • ‘active matter’ and the physics of life: Oxford expert Julia Yeomans
  • China’s quantum internet chief, Pan Jianwei.

More information can be found at www.aip2018.org.au

We’re not handling the media for it, so if you’re interested in finding out more send Niall an email on niall@scienceinpublic.com.au and we’ll put you in touch with the right person.
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The breathing Earth, light beams, frogs, crystals, and guidewires—Prime Minister’s Prizes 2018 announced; media training in Hobart and more

The recipients of the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prizes are:

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The breathing Earth, light beams, frogs, crystals, and guidewires: Prime Minister’s Prizes 2018 announced

Tonight, from Parliament House in Canberra: 

The recipients of the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prizes are:

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Tell us your of your EU collaborations; World Congress of Science and Factual Producers coming to Brisbane; Science Friction live events; and training

Tell us your stories of research collaboration with EU countries.

Have you had successful collaborations between Aussies and EU? We’re writing stories for the EU Delegation and the French Embassy in Canberra, so tell us about your success.

Put your rising stars in front of the people who create factual content for billions of viewers around the world. They’re looking for new faces and new ideas and they’ll be in Brisbane in November. More below.

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Turning coffee waste into coffee cups; Aussie citizen scientists unite to help the Reef; and thanks for supporting National Science Week

Today

Australians drink six billion cups of coffee each year but have you ever thought about what happens to the coffee grounds used to make these coffees—which are used only once and then discarded?

A Macquarie University PhD student believes he’s come up with a way to turn this coffee waste into biodegradable plastics.

“You could use such plastics to make anything from plastic coffee cups to yoghurt containers to compost bags to sutures in medicine,” says researcher Dominik Kopp.

Contact Suzannah Lyons on suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0409 689 543 for more.

Full media release below.

Also:

Citizen scientists from around Australia are helping scientists and reef managers get a much better picture of the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

So far, they have looked at over 2.7 million points on more than 180,000 underwater images of the Reef and told us whether they can see coral, algae or sand.

They’re all taking part in Virtual Reef Diver—the ABC’s online citizen science project for National Science Week.

“The response we’ve had from citizen scientists has been amazing,” says spatial scientist and project leader Dr Erin Peterson from Queensland University of Technology. “We couldn’t collect this volume of data without their help.”

Nine scientists, divers and science communicators are available for interviews. Contact Suzannah Lyons on suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0409 689 543.

Full media release below.

And: thank you!

National Science Week wrapped up on Sunday, finishing a fortnight in which we learnt that:

  • the Andromeda Galaxy is rushing towards us at 400,000 kilometres an hour
  • pond scum (algae) could provide future foods, fuels and medicines
  • artificial intelligence is expected to equal human intelligence by 2062
  • most of the world’s vitamin D supplements are made from the greasy wool of Aussie sheep
  • ‘carcinology’ has nothing to do with cancer—it’s the study of crustaceans, who have complicated sex lives
  • NASA’s Kepler mission planet hunters have discovered 3,774 exoplanets, and their new TESS spacecraft is set to find thousands more
  • 100 years ago, CSL facilities in Melbourne made three million doses of vaccine to help combat the Spanish flu
  • Australia has a rich history of using wine as medicine
  • music is powerful for maintaining the memories of people with dementia.

These are just some of the stories told in Science Week events, posts and media coverage. There’s more stories and scientists among our highlights for media.

Thank you once again for your support of Science Week. National Science Week 2019 will run from 10 to 18 August.

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Frozen fossils, superbugs, humans 2.0, and the Ultimate Drone Challenge

Today: Highlights from day five of National Science Week

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

Sydney

  • Bob Brown’s battle for the planet, from the Franklin River to Federal Parliament
  • Will coral reefs survive climate change? Ask the scientists
  • Superbugs: what we need to do to become resistance fighters

Melbourne

  • Humans 2.0: what’s the future look like for humanity?

Toowoomba

  • The world’s most powerful laser. Meet Ceri Brenner, the UK physicist pressing FIRE

Canberra

  • Frozen fossils: palaeontologist reveals unseen footage of 1970 Antarctic Fossil Expedition

Darwin

  • Drone enthusiasts compete for a place in the Ultimate Drone Challenge finals

Adelaide

  • Young scientists with healthy advice for senior Australians

Perth

  • The science, songs and stories of the night sky and Indigenous astronomy.

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.
Also today:

More than 2,000 events and activities are registered throughout Australia—from Corals in the Outback in Queensland, to events at our Antarctic bases, and from STEM meets dance in Perth to The Innovation Games at Sydney Olympic Park—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week runs until 19 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au. Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area: www.scienceweek.net.au.

For general Science Week media enquiries:

Tanya Ha: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0417 131 977

Have you missed our highlights for specialist rounds?

Here they are for The Arts, Environment, Indigenous and Health reporters.

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Merlot-making microbes, health tech, hangry, and fifty shades of cray

Today: Highlights from day four of National Science Week

347 events and exhibitions, 20 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

Adelaide

  • How do microbes turn grape juice into wine?
  • The secrets of the success of giant cuttlefish in the waters near Whyalla

Canberra

  • How are mobile devices and apps affecting our mental health and how can they be used as a force for good?
  • How will climate change affect whisky?

Albany

  • Fifty shades of cray: what does a male fiddler crab do with his enlarged claw?

Sydney

  • Quantum computing making problem-solving take minutes instead of years—Michelle Simmons
  • Stargazing over wine with Fred Watson

Melbourne

  • Hangry? How hunger affects your behaviour
  • How will apps, mobiles and sensors change healthcare? Harvard professor in Melbourne

Darwin

  • Pulse check for politicians at Parliament House

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

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Laser power, Frankenstein, whisky science, and more

Today

National Science Week state launch events in:

  • 10am in Launceston with the Minister getting experimental at QVMAG
  • 11.30am in Canberra with the announcement of the ACT Scientist of the Year, at Kingston Bus Depot
  • 5.30pm in Melbourne with the Lead Scientist, and the volcanic roots of Frankenstein
  • 6pm in Darwin with dramatic weather at Brown’s Mart Theatre
  • 7pm in Adelaide with astrophysics and the announcement of the Science Excellence Award winners at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

More below.

Plus, dozens of MPs and senators will join CSIRO Scientists in Schools to launch Science Week locally in their electorates or regions.

See our state highlights for New South WalesQueensland and Western Australia.

We’ll have daily highlights each day of the Science Week’s nine-day ‘week’ at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout the week – contact Tanya Ha on tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au, 0404 083 863 or (03) 9398 1416.
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The future of scholarly books; expensive pee; National Science Week; pitch training

Explore the future of scholarly monographs with Springer Nature’s Chief Book Strategist at a forum hosted by ANU this Tuesday 31 July. More on that below.

Make sure your National Science Week events are registered so we can promote them. It kicks off 11 August. Read on for some of the highlights amongst the 2000+ events.

How can researchers and policy makers work better together – we want your views for an ANU research project.

Meet the people who put science in front of billions of people, this November in Brisbane.

Vitamania – health revolution of expensive pee – on SBS and around the country.

Pitch and communication training courses in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.

And

  • Are you, or do you know someone in stem cell research? If so, nominate them today for a Metcalf Prize worth $50,000.
  • CSL Centenary Fellowships are also open, worth $1.25m for two early to mid-career Australian biomedical researchers.

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Creating future TV stars of science; $1.25 million CSL Fellowships for medical researchers; $50,000 stem cell prizes; training

Could your research stories engage billions of viewers through science and factual TV?

The people who create, fund and broadcast science TV will be meeting in Brisbane in November at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers.

They deliver big audiences. Discovery Channel alone has over 440 million viewers. Animal Planet has over 350 million. China Central Television has 50 channels and a billion viewers.

We helped bring Congress to Melbourne in 2009. After nearly 10 years it’s back, this time in Brisbane thanks to the support of the Queensland Government, the ABC and SBS.

Last year’s Congress included commissioners and producers from the BBC, Netflix, NHK, PBS, Discovery, Canada’s CBC and dozens of other networks from national broadcasters to cult YouTube channels.

How can you reach this community? The options include:

  • presenting your researchers via exhibition booths
  • holding your own presentations or group meetings at breakfast and lunch events
  • hosting post-Congress tours
  • supporting Australian researchers who are potential TV stars of the future
    supporting producers from emerging countries
  • and the usual range of sponsorships.

Read more about the Congress at: https://www.wcsfp.com/

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Manufacturing a cell therapy peace-keeping force, and more

Today

It’s Day 3 of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) 2018 Annual Meeting at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre: more than 2,500 stem cell scientists from 50 countries will hear from 150+ speakers, including:

Lab-grown mini-brains make new connections
Fred ‘Rusty’ Gage (USA) is making mini-brains from human stem cells in the lab. But in order for these new tissues to function, they need to become well-connected.

Fred is pioneering research to explore how transplanted human neural organoids (mini-organs) can mature into tissues with blood vessel and nerve connections. This work could lead to methods of replacing brain tissue lost to stroke or disease, and repairing spinal cords damaged by trauma.

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Treating diabetes; turning skin cells into brain cells; hearts in a dish

Today

It’s Day 2 of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) 2018 Annual Meeting at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre: more than 2,500 stem cell scientists from 50 countries will hear from 150+ speakers, including:

Treating type 1 diabetes with stem cells
A Harvard team has shown they can control glucose levels in mice using a transplant of insulin-producing cells made from human stem cells. Doug Melton presents his research today.

His effort to fight diabetes involves a 30-person lab at Harvard and a start-up company, Semma Therapeutics, which he named after his children. His son Sam and daughter Emma both have type 1 diabetes.
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Cells, salamanders and what’s wrong with US ‘right to try’ laws

Today:

  • Could you regrow an arm or a leg? Salamanders can.
  • Should you be allowed to try unapproved treatments—without the FDA tick—when you’re terminally ill? President Trump says yes.

It’s Day 1 of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) 2018 Annual Meeting at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre: more than 2,500 stem cell scientists from 50 countries will hear from 150+ speakers, including:

Taking stem cell science from the lab to the clinic, and what’s wrong with the US ‘right to try’ legislation—Roger Barker, UK

ISSCR is concerned about ‘right to try’ legislation just signed into law in the US, which allows terminally ill patients to try risky, unproven treatments without regulation or oversight. Doctors and scientists are alarmed. They say current compassionate use provisions allow access.

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Stem cell invasion: 2,500 researchers in Melbourne

Mending broken hearts and burnt eyes, and much more

  • Stem cells are saving lives today—through bone marrow and cord blood transplants
  • There are trials making new skin, restoring sight, treating diabetes, repairing the brain
  • But we’ll also hear of the dangers of risky treatments, snake oil merchants, and new Australian and US regulations.

More than 2,500 stem cell scientists from 50 countries are in Melbourne this week for the massive International Society for Stem Cell Research 2018 Annual Meeting. It’s taking place from 20-23 June at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Here are some highlights and we’ll have daily alerts for you with more people and ideas through the week.

Media are welcome.

Developing a stem cell product to cure blindness from burning—Michele De Luca and Graziella Pellegrini, Italy

Italian innovators Graziella Pellegrini and Michele De Luca have seen their work lead to patients regaining eyesight after 20 years of blindness. And it’s led to the world’s first non-blood-related commercial stem cell therapy.

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The Women in Physics lecturer is…; Stargazing world record; and more physics in June

It gives me great pleasure to once again welcome a renowned physicist to Australia for the AIP’s annual Women in Physics lecture tour—and this year we’ve chosen Dr Ceri Brenner from the Central Laser Facility at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK.

Ceri is a high-power laser plasma physicist who works alongside industry, translating her research on the fourth state of matter, into practical real-world applications in medicine, aerospace and more. She’s also a passionate science communicator who I am sure will inspire audiences around the country. More on that below.

Physics also made quite a mark on the media in the past month. Not only was rockstar physicist Brian Cox making the media rounds, but ANU also managed to achieve literally record-breaking numbers of people turning their eyes to the sky for their successful Guinness World Record attempt.

We’ll have another huge physics name down under in September. Kip Thorne has announced a string of tour dates, be sure to support the industry and grab a ticket when they go on sale on 22 June. He’ll be supported by local star of Swinburne astronomy Alan Duffy and comedian Robin Ince.

Some of Australia’s best and brightest physicists were also elected into the Australian Academy of Science Fellowship, one of the highest scientific honours in Australia. Be sure to read all about them, and head to our Facebook page to offer your congratulations. Meanwhile the next generation were representing at FameLab Australia and in the Physics Olympiad. [continue reading…]

Getting more out of your ARC impact statements; meet the 2018 Fresh Scientists at the pub; Science Week is coming; and more

Fresh Science: join us at the pub in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and (for the first time) Canberra to meet this year’s Fresh Scientists, 60 early-career researchers with stories to tell.

Details below.

Impact statements: you’ve sweated blood getting them together and uploaded to the ARC. Can you do more with them? Or do you have other research you’d like to promote? We’d love to help you turn them into short impact stories for the public and get them out through your, and our, social media channels.

We’ll also publish a selection of them in our next Stories of Australian Science print publication. If you book five or more stories, we’ll include them as a feature spread with your logo, and design flyers that you can share with partners, hand out at Open Day and the like.

Prices range from $1,300 + GST for a single story to $1,100 + GST per story when you book five or more.

More details below.

National Science Week: more than a million people and 2,000 events—it’s big. As national publicists for the Week we can help publicise any Science Week event that grabs our interest. Make sure you register your event so we can consider it for promotion. And let me know by email if you’ve got something really special happening.

Read on for some of the early highlights.

Pitch and communication training: we have courses coming up around the country.

Melbourne: Tuesday 31 July, Tuesday 9 October
Adelaide: Wednesday 14 November
Sydney: Wednesday 4 July, Wednesday 29 August
Perth: Friday 7 December

You can book via Eventbrite, or read on for more about our bespoke training.

In this bulletin:

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GOING FOR GOLD (IN PHYSICS); HAVE YOUR SAY; PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT; AND MORE: PHYSICS IN MAY

While some of us spent most of last month cheering on the Aussies, especially Cameron McEvoy, in the pool – there is plenty of good physics going on out of the pool as well.

Some of it will be coming to a pub near you as a part of the  Physics in the Pub event series, and there will be even more at the  AIP Congress in Perth in December. Abstract submissions are open until 15 June.

Australia produces some fantastic physicists, and that’s one of the reasons our organisation is so important. It’s great to have a solid community of physicists and physics fans to share their work and get excited about the work of others.

We recognise excellent Australian physics with our AIP medals. There are awards for physicists in a range of disciplines and at all career stages,  have a look at the list below to see if you might be eligible. Nominations close 1 June.

And we want to hear from you.

I get to write to you each month, so now we’re giving you the opportunity to talk back in our regular monthly surveys. The first one is only two questions long, so  check it out

We’re also considering whether a consolidated approach to managing the operations of the AIP could be an efficient use of members funds. Accordingly, we are seeking detailed expressions of interest to deliver AIP Operations, if you’re interested all the details are online.

Finally, I recently joined a meeting with Presidents, CEOs and other leaders of Australia’s most prominent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) organisations in Canberra, to discuss the important role that science and technology will play in Australia’s future.

As a result, we issued a statement calling for: a whole-of-government plan for science and technology; strategy to equip the future Australian workforce with STEM skills; strong investment in both basic and applied research; and creating policy informed by the best available evidence. You can read our full statement here.

Kind Regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

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Fresh Science; new CRCs; training around the country; and more

Nominations for Fresh Science – our annual competition for early-career researchers – are open for one more week. So, have a think about which ECRs you could tap on the shoulder to nominate.

We run Fresh Science in every state where we can secure enough support – so far that’s Qld, SA, WA, Vic and NSW. Big thanks to our hosts and the 17 unis and research organisations who’ve come on board so far.

It’s highly likely we will run an event in the ACT, we just need a couple more supporters to confirm.

So, make sure you encourage any Canberra-based ECRs you know to nominate. More on that below.

Nominations close midnight 24 April 2018.

If you’d like to share our flyer calling for nominations, you can download it as a PDFor a JPEG or share the call on social media using #FreshSci

Even if you’re not an ECR, we can still help you find the story in your science.

We’ve just announced our media and communication training dates for the rest of 2018.

Join us in:

  • Melbourne: Tuesday 5 June, Tuesday 31 July, Tuesday 9 October
  • Adelaide: Tuesday 8 May, Wednesday 14 November
  • Sydney: Wednesday 4 July, Wednesday 29 August
  • Perth: Thursday 10 May, Friday 7 December

You can book via Eventbrite, or read on for more about this course and our bespoke training.

Also in this bulletin:

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