Niall

Current stories

A CT brain scanner in an aircraft or ambulance?
Saving lives after stroke with a small aircraft or ambulance-mounted CT brain scanner

One million Aussies affected by eating disorders
Launch of national research strategy

Rover ready for Australian Hospitals
ARTG listing for revolutionary lightweight x-ray machine

Sugar coating opens a path to longer lasting lithium sulfur batteries
Offering the potential to:

  • Drive an electric vehicle from Melbourne to Sydney on a single charge
  • Create lightweight batteries for drones and submarines
  • Unlock new avenues in aviation and maritime industries
  • Produce batteries in Australia with Australian lithium, without using cobalt and rare earth minerals.

Galaxies pump out contaminated exhausts
Research reveals how star-making pollutes the cosmos

Galaxies pollute the environment they exist in, researchers have found.

Phenomena
Extreme cinematography captures everyday phenomena.
Salt and sound. Oil and ink. Bubbles. Each reveal the fundamentals of science: energy, waves, light, and the beauty in science and nature in Josef Gatti’s photographs and short films.

Rethinking eating disorders from the inside out

Australia’s first national research and translation strategy for a mental health disorder

Online launch 10:15 am AEST, Tuesday 21 September 2021: media welcome, https://www.streamgate.co/insideout-institute/

At least a million Australians affected by eating disorders, but only about 200,000 receive evidence-based treatment

  • Leading psychiatric cause of death
  • Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa and other eating disorders are having a profound impact on individuals, families and communities
  • National research strategy launched today says we can improve early identification and treatments and even prevent eating disorders
  • The strategy outlines the ten questions that need answers for us to improve the quality of life for all affected Australians and their families.

Speaking at the launch: Jana Pittman, Sarah Maguire, Minister for Mental Health David Coleman, and people who have experienced eating disorders

At least a million Australians right now are living with an eating disorder. But there may be many more, because the early signs often aren’t recognised, there is significant stigma and stereotyping associated with eating disorders, and there is insufficient research into the best ways to prevent, detect and treat these disabling and sometimes deadly mental health disorders.

That’s why patient advocates, people with eating disorders, clinicians and researchers came together to develop the National Eating Disorder Research Strategy. “We worked with over 480 people around Australia to develop the strategy and to define the Top 10 most urgent research priorities, that can make a real difference over the next decade,” says Dr Sarah Maguire, Director of the InsideOut Institute at the University of Sydney.

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Sugar coating opens a path to low cost lithium sulfur batteries

Offering the potential to:

  • Drive an electric vehicle from Melbourne to Sydney on a single charge
  • Create lightweight batteries for drones and submarines
  • Unlock new avenues in aviation and maritime industries
  • Produce batteries in Australia with Australian lithium, without using cobalt and rare earth minerals.

Melbourne to Sydney on one charge: the new lithium-sulfur battery technology could store two to five times more energy. The Monash Energy Institute team (L-R): Mahdokht Shaibani, Mainak Majumder, Matthew Hill, Yingyi Huang.
Credit: Monash Energy Institute

Simply by adding sugar, researchers from the Monash Energy Institute have created a longer-lasting, lighter, more sustainable rival to the lithium-ion batteries that are essential for aviation, electric vehicles and submarines.

The Monash team, assisted by CSIRO, report in today’s edition of Nature Communications that using a glucose-based additive on the positive electrode they have managed to stabilise lithium-sulfur battery technology, long touted as the basis for the next generation of batteries.

“In less than a decade, this technology could lead to vehicles including electric buses and trucks that can travel from Melbourne to Sydney without recharging. It could also enable innovation in delivery and agricultural drones where light weight is paramount,” says lead author Professor Mainak Majumder, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Associate Director of the Monash Energy Institute.

In theory, lithium-sulfur batteries could store two to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries of the same weight. The problem has been that, in use the electrodes deteriorated rapidly, and the batteries broke down. There were two reasons for this – the positive sulfur electrode suffered from substantial expansion and contraction weakening it and making it inaccessible to lithium, and the negative lithium electrode became contaminated by sulfur compounds.

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50+ countries, 300 physicists meet to address global shortage of women in physics

11 July 2021

We need all our best brains to solve global challenges.

And we need to empower women who want an intellectual life to explore big ideas. But,

  • over 99 per cent of physics students at Burkina Faso’s largest university are male
  • no women have graduated in physical sciences at The University of El Salvador between 2017 and 2020
  • in Chile, the percentage of women working full time in universities and research centres has stayed around 14 per cent for years
  • Cuba is doing better, where 20 per cent of physicists are women. But that’s less than a third of the overall percentage of women in the highly qualified workforce (68 per cent)
  • around 24 per cent of Germany’s physics PhDs are awarded to women. And they’re training thousands of physicists from other countries with 43% of women pursuing a PhD in physics being international
  • 95% of Irish students study science up to age 16 years, only four per cent of girls follow through with physics in their final years
  • the Netherlands is approaching 30% women in undergraduate physics enrolments, with steady increases
  • the United Kingdom has seen slight increases in women students from 21% in 2012/13 to 24% in 2017/18
  • Iranian women are leading the way in physics, making up around 55% of PhD candidates. And all physics teachers in female high schools are now women, further encouraging girls to pursue education in physics.

And in Australia? Women account for only 25% of Australian year 12 physics students. As they progress through university and research most fall away. A recent study in Nature noted that it will take until 2060 to achieve 33 per cent gender equity in astronomy research in Australia.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) has recognised a need to foster the participation of women in physics. This is IUPAP’s seventh International Conference on Women in Physics.

From 11-16 July they’re bringing together 300+ physicists from over 50 countries for a virtual conference, co-chaired by Dr Cathy Foley, Chief Scientist of Australia, and Professor Sarah Maddison, Swinburne University.

“Over the next week we will discuss what’s working, what’s not working, and what can affluent nations do to support women into physical science careers in developing nations,” says Cathy.

“The impact of COVID on research has set back gender equity,” says Cathy. “But it’s also introduced new ways of working online that could benefit women. This conference is one example.”

Over the next week we will be bringing you stories from the conference, with women physicists from Australia, international and developing nations available for interview.

For more information and interviews visit www.scienceinpublic.com.au/iupap-women and contact:
Laura Boland, laura@scienceinpublic.com.au, 0408 166 426
Niall Byrne, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, 0417 131 977

IUPAP speaker call out

We’re assisting with media liaison for the 7th IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics next week.  We understand that you will be speaking at a session of the conference.

We’re working with the organising committee to bring the ideas and issues discussed at the conference to a wide public audience via media and social media. To do this, we will issue stories to the media throughout the conference, and to selected media in advance on embargo.

We are writing to see if you are willing and available during the conference to speak with media about your talk, work and/or relevant issues regarding women in physics.

If you are not available or interested, we would also appreciate you letting us know. Or if you would like to nominate a peer or colleague at the conference to speak about your work or session, please let us know their details and we’ll get in touch.

If you are keen, then we have a few short questions for you:

These are introductory questions to gauge your potential stories and opportunities for media coverage. So, if any question is irrelevant to you, please ignore it.

1.      Will your talk have ideas or information that’s potentially newsworthy?

  • If so, can you provide a copy of your talk (or key points), and/or a plain English explanation of the broader significance of your findings.

2.      Do you have any opinions that you would like to share?

For example:

  • You may have opinions about your research/discovery, or opinions and stories around equality, diversity and inclusion for women in physics in your country. If you can provide brief comments of 40 to 80 words then we can share those with journalists and on social media.
  • Would you be interested in writing an opinion editorial? This is a newspaper opinion story, usually around 600 to 800 words on your work and/or issues relating to the conference. We can edit contributions.

3.      Are you on social media?

If so, what handles/names do you and your organisation use?

We’ll be tweeting from @IUPAPwomen and we may also have time to share information you post on other platforms.

4.      If we do release information about your work would you like us to share it with any of your contacts?

·         For example your media team, journalists you’ve spoken with in the past, supporters of your work.

5.      Do you have any relevant photos that we can share with media and social media?

We’re writing to everyone speaking at the conference and we’ll choose the best mix of stories. If we include your work/story we’ll let you know. 

About Science in Public

Science in Public is a science communication and public relations business based in Melbourne. We have a core team of 7 staff and associates around Australia.

You can read more about us and our work at www.scienceinpublic.com.au.

And you can view examples of past conference media alerts and releases at the following links:

Contact us at sarah.bradley@scienceinpublic.com.au if you have any questions.

Can we guarantee supply of essential drugs in a global crisis?

Flow chemistry trial will test new way to make drugs locally and fast

Australia may soon be able to produce essential drugs – including anaesthetics and treatments for antibiotic resistant superbugs – rapidly and entirely onshore, ending the need to import them.

A collaboration between Melbourne chemical company Boron Molecular and DMTC Ltd (formerly the Defence Materials Technology Centre) is testing a new system capable of synthesising drugs at scale, quickly and continuously.

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No more than 10 a week and 4 a day…

Official site at www.nhmrc.gov.au/alcohol. Copies of all resources for media available here.

National Health and Medical Research Council confirms new national guidelines for reducing the health risks from drinking alcohol.

Graphics available via links below.

The guidelines are the result of four years of extensive review of the evidence on the harms and benefits of drinking alcohol.

They replace the previous version, published in 2009. They will underpin policy decisions and public health messaging for many years to come.

“We’re not telling Australians how much to drink,” says Professor Anne Kelso, CEO of NHMRC.

“We’re providing advice about the health risks so that we can all make informed decisions in our daily lives.”

Professor Paul Kelly, Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, adds: “Every year there are more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia, and more than 70,000 hospital admissions. Alcohol is linked to more than 40 medical conditions, including many cancers.

“Following the guidelines keeps the risk of harm from alcohol low, but it does not remove all risk. Healthy adults drinking within the guideline recommendations have less than a 1 in 100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition.”

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Why plumbers and teachers should have a say on designer babies and genetically enhanced potatoes


Content available:
Image and caption,
Extended quotes from selected authors as supplementary content,
Genepool release – Filmmaker becomes co-author on paper published in top international journal, ‘Science’,
Paper details
– Media release below

Ethical and social implications of powerful DNA-altering technology are too important to be left to scientists and politicians, researchers find.

Illustration by Alice Mollon

Designer babies, mutant mozzies and frankenfoods: these are the images that often spring to mind when people think of genome editing.

The practice – which alters an organism’s DNA in ways that could be inherited by subsequent generations – is both more complex and less dramatic than the popular tropes suggest.

However, its implications are so profound that a growing group of experts believe it is too important a matter to be left only to scientists, doctors and politicians.

Writing in the journal Science, 25 leading researchers from across the globe call for the creation of national and global “citizens’ assemblies”, made up of lay-people, tasked with considering the ethical and social impacts of this emerging science.

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Flexible phone screen chemicals kick off new industry partnership for South Korea and Australia

Seoul firm KISCO and CSIRO invest in Melbourne’s Boron Molecular, taking CSIRO precision chemistry to new global customers

Launch: 3pm KST, 4pm AEST, Thursday 9 July 2020, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Seoul and via Zoom
With His Excellency James Choi, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

KISCO manufacturing facility
Credit: KISCO

The next generation of flexible phone screens and other high tech products are one step closer to development following a partnership agreement between Melbourne company Boron Molecular; South Korean chemical company, the Kyung-In Synthetic Corporation (KISCO); and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. KISCO and CSIRO will both take a minority shareholding in Boron Molecular.

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Hot qubits made in Sydney break one of the biggest constraints to practical quantum computers

A proof-of-concept published in Nature promises warmer, cheaper and more robust quantum computing. And it can be manufactured using conventional silicon chip foundries.

Full media kit here.

Dr Henry Yang and Professor Andrew Dzurak: “hot qubits” are a game-changer for quantum computing development.
Credit: Paul Henderson-Kelly

Most quantum computers being developed around the world will only work at fractions of a degree above absolute zero. That requires multi-million-dollar refrigeration and as soon as you plug them into conventional electronic circuits they’ll instantly overheat.

But now researchers led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at UNSW Sydney have addressed this problem.

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