Media releases

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

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.

[click to continue…]

A 3D printed rocket engine – made in Melbourne

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.

[click to continue…]

Monash rocket engine test firing

3D printed rocket engine – backgrounder and links

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…]

The mystery of leaf size solved

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…]

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

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

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

[click to continue…]

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

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

[click to continue…]

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

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

[click to continue…]

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

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.

[click to continue…]

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

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

[click to continue…]

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

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…]

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

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.

[click to continue…]

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

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:

[click to continue…]

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

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

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

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…]

Mayan astronomy; biomedical future; black holes on the big screen; a bloody Science Gallery; and more

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 325+ Science Week events in Victoria

  • Art meets science in BLOOD: Attract & Repel.
  • A virtual reality look inside a plant cell.
  • The science of food at Queen Victoria Market.
  • Game your children’s interesting in science.
  • Will Australia’s biomedical research future be as bright as our past achievements? With Gustav Nossal, Anne Kelso and other research leaders.
  • What do actress Hedy Lamarr, nuclear physicist Lise Meitner and Nobel winner Marie Curie have in common? Their science stories on stage.
  • Ask the Interstellar visual effects wiz how to make a black hole on the big screen believable.
  • Can science make the world’s most liveable city even better?
  • Are your genes your destiny? Gattaca 20 years on.
  • What can we learn about ancient astronomy from Mayan ruins? Ask an expert from Honduras.
  • 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.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

About National Science Week

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 events held 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.

National Science Week 2017 will run from 12 – 20 August. Find an event at www.scienceweek.net.au.

More about the event highlights

Blood—is it art? Is it science?

Science Gallery Melbourne is giving us a taste of what to expect when it sets up permanently in 2020, combining art, science and controversy with its pop-up exhibition.

BLOOD: Attract & Repel features 22 works which address the themes of taboo, stigma, identity, giving, health, future.

As well as international artists, the exhibition also involves many of The University of Melbourne’s staff and students – from almost all disciplines; only the business and architecture streams are not involved – and a curatorial advisory panel like few other galleries, among them a cardiologist, a haematologist, an Indigenous bio-artist and a performance art lecturer.

Embedded at the University of Melbourne, Science Gallery Melbourne will involve, inspire and transform curious minds through arts and science.

Tuesday 25 July – Thursday 5 October Event details

Talent available for interviews:

  • Rose Hiscock – Science Gallery Melbourne director
  • Ryan Jeffries – Blood creative director

Media enquiries: Katrina Hall – kathall@ozemail.com

Event enquiries: Lee Casey, info@melbourne.sciencegallery.com or 03 9035 4484

Market of the Mind—Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Socialise with science after work at Market of the Mind in Southbank, with ice-sculpture, inside-out people, a virtual reality look inside a plant cell, and taste fine wines from the grapes CSIRO developed to suit Australia’s growing conditions.

Friday 11 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Carly Siebentritt, carly.siebentritt@csiro.au or 03 9545 2615

Living Science at Queen Vic Market—Melbourne

A day of food, facts and fun for the whole family at Queen Victoria Market, with DNA from fruit, zebrafish embryos, liquid nitrogen shows, hands-on experiments, and a marine touch tank.

Sunday 13 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Carly Siebentritt, carly.siebentritt@csiro.au or 03 9545 2615

Game your kids’ science skills at family science games nights—Warrnambool, Geelong and Burwood

Gaming is an ideal means of engaging participants in science. Science games nights in Warrnambool, Geelong and Burwood will provide participants with the opportunity to play a variety of games relating to different scientific concepts and skills that they may not have previously thought about.

The games provide a fun and exciting avenue for exploring scientific concepts that are normally difficult to relate to and which might be perceived as too difficult to understand or not relevant to participants’ lives.

Each child attending will be given a ‘science games bag’ with science games and information about resources that will enable them to pursue their interest in playing or creating science games.

Warrnambool on Monday 14, Geelong on Wednesday 16, and Burwood on Friday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: John Cripps Clark, john.crippsclark@deakin.edu.au 03 924 46467 or 0403 878 021

Buffeted by Global Headwinds: Challenges Facing Biomedical Research—South Wharf

Biomedical research in Australia has a distinguished history with our universities, medical research institutes and hospitals ensuring we enjoy high standards of health and care. Our contribution to health and well-being is recognized internationally: half of Australia’s sixteen Nobel Prize recipients received the award for either Physiology or Medicine.

The Convergence Science Network brings together a distinguished panel—including Sir Gustav Nossal, Prof Anne Kelso, Prof John Carroll, and MC Dr Rachel Nowak—for a public conversation about the state of biomedical research in Australia. This is an opportunity to understand the headwinds biomedical research faces and to have a say about how we might respond, to ensure we remain a nation that not only enjoys the benefits of cutting edge health care but contributes to a world where good health is not only the preserve of wealthy nations.

Monday 14 August. Event details

Event enquiries: Luan Ismahil, l.ismahil@convergenceScienceNetwork.org.au or 03 8344 8405

Curie Meitner LaMarr Indivisible—Clayton

Radiation. Nuclear fission. Frequency hopping.

These discoveries are made by women – double Nobel Prize winner and discoverer of radioactivity Marie Curie, the Austrian-Swedish nuclear physicist Lise Meitner and the Viennese Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr with the invention of frequency hopping.

As pioneers in their chosen fields in the early 20th century, what triumphs and challenges have they faced in both their personal and professional lives as they battle a world where science is thought of as a male endeavour?

The Monash School of Physics and Astronomy presents Curie Meitner Lamarr Indivisible – a play featuring the stories of these three remarkable women who have challenged the assumptions of their day that women are viewed as incapable of advanced abstract thought.

Directed by Sandra Shuddekopf, with the three scientists portrayed by Austrian improv actress Anita Zieher and staged by Viennese theatre group portraitheater.

Tuesday 15 August. Event details

Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Silvia Dropulich, silvia.dropulich@.monash.edu, 03 9902 4513 or 0435 138 743

See Interstellar with the guy behind the visual effects—Melbourne, VIC

How do you build a black hole for the big screen? And make it convincing, entertaining and true to the science?

See the movie Interstellar—in which a team of researchers must find a way through a wormhole to a new home for humanity—and hear a short talk and Q&A with Oliver James, the Chief Scientist from Double Negative, the team responsible for bringing the science behind Interstellar to life.

Melbourne (Mornington): Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Brad Tucker brad@mso.anu.edu.au, 02 6125 6711 or 0433 905 777

Can science make the world’s most liveable city better?—Melbourne, VIC

Melbourne has ranked as the ‘world’s most liveable city’ for the seventh consecutive year.

What does science and research reveal about Melbourne’s future liveability?

Dr Anthony Boxshall (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientist, longtime 3RRR presenter, and Principal Fellow at University of Melbourne) will host a panel discussion of the science of Melbourne’s liveability, from air quality to train tunnels to behavior change. With panelists:

  • Walkability and healthy urbanism expert Billie Giles-Corti

Distinguished Professor, NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Director RMIT Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, Director Healthy Liveable Cities Group

  • Architecture guru and lead researcher at the Sagrada Familia Basilica (Barcelona) Mark Burry

Director of the Smart Cities Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology

  • City planner Andy Fergus

Urban Designer for City of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Design, Melbourne Architours

  • Behaviour change researcher Sarah Kneebone

Research Fellow at BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute

Friday 18 August. Event details The event will also be livestreamed online.

Anthony Boxshall and Andrea Hinwood, Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist, are available for interview.

Media enquiries: John Rees, john.rees@epa.vic.gov.au or 03 9695 2903

Gattaca: Are your genes your destiny?—Melbourne, VIC

How close is Gattaca to reality, 20 years on from its cinema release? Are we choosing the gender of our children? Are we creating designer babies? Are we profiling people with DNA?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi film Gattaca. This modern classic explores the consequences of genetic selection and manipulation on society through the eyes of genetically less-than-perfect Vincent (Ethan Hawke) and genetically perfect Irene (Uma Thurman).

This event is a screening of Gattaca, followed by an expert panel discussion of the science, art and ethics of the movie. Scientists are available for interview.

Friday 18 August. Event details

Media contact: Jacqueline Savard, Jacqueline.savard@sydney.edu.au, 02 9036 3427 or 0406 484 170

Mayan Astronomy—Emerald, VIC

What can we learn about ancient astronomy from the remains of a lost civilisation?

The Mayan Classic period (250 CE- 900CE) was the height of the arts, astronomy, architecture and urbanism for the Maya. Observations of the celestial landscape arise in sculptures, buildings, calendars, numbering, writings and all Mayan cultural expressions.

Mount Burnett Observatory and Emerald Secondary College are hosting a mini festival of astronomy, with telescopes, interactive activities for the kids and a lecture by Dr Javier Mejuto on Mayan Astronomy.

Visiting academic Dr Mejuto (Professor of Cultural Astronomy at the National Autonomous University in Honduras) will share his knowledge of Mayan Astronomy. He will focus on Copan Ruinas—a site known for outstanding architecture and symbolic language that shows the role of time and cosmos in the religion, rituals, and social ends of the Mayan people.

Friday 18 August. Event details

Dr Javier Mejuto and Dr James Murray will be available for interview.

Media enquiries: James Murray, jamesrhysmurray@gmail.com or 0409 703 929

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—national

Are you a slave to your smartphone? Or have you mastered your mobile? Researchers want your help to build a deeper understanding of our relationship with our smartphones.

Take part in Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—the online project for National Science Week.

How has having a smartphone changed your life? Has it made your life easier? Or harder? How much time do you spend on it? Does it help you connect (or disconnect) with people? And could you live without it?

The survey will run on the ABC website for two weeks from Friday 11 August. Join in by heading to the Smartphone Survey website at www.smartphonesurvey.net.au.

Several researchers and science communicators are available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Suzannah Lyons suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au, 03 9398 1416 or 0409 689 543

How healthy is your relationship with your smartphone?

Are you a slave to your smartphone? Or have you mastered your mobile?

Researchers want your help to build a deeper understanding of our relationship with our smartphones.

Take part in Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—the online project for National Science Week.

How has having a smartphone changed your life?

Has it made your life easier? Or harder? How much time do you spend on it? Does it help you connect (or disconnect) with people? And could you live without it?

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey is asking you to share how you use your smartphone and what impact this ubiquitous device is having on your life.

[click to continue…]