Niall

Current science stories

Free telescopes set school kids dancing with the STARS: Astronomers head to the country to spark student interest in what lies above.

Orbits of ancient stars prompt rethink on Milky Way evolution: Australian telescopes and European satellite combine to reveal unexpected motions among the Galaxy’s rarest objects

Playing detective on a galactic scale: huge new dataset will solve multiple Milky Way mysteries: Australian-led GALAH project releases chemical information for 600,000 stars.

Blinded by the light no more: simulations show NASA’s James Webb Telescope will reveal hidden galaxies

$2.5 million CSL Centenary Fellowships announced: Could Frizzled proteins lead to new cancer drugs? (Melbourne)
A new way to fight drug-resistant bacteria (Canberra)

Climate grief? Eco-anxiety? How do you feel about climate change? – Researchers want to know.

Designer crops, animals, babies? In Science, why plumbers and teachers should have a say on designer babies and genetically enhanced potatoes.

Elements of surprise: neutron stars contribute little, but something’s making gold, research finds – Colliding neutron stars were touted as the main source of some of the heaviest elements in the Periodic Table. Now, not so much …

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


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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’,
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– 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.

For interviews contact Niall Byrne, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, +61-417-131–977. 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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Should Australia allow mitochondrial donation?

  • Public events in Sydney 11 Nov, Melbourne 18 Nov and online
  • Case studies/patients also available from the Mito Foundation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is inviting all Australians to provide their views on the use of a new assisted reproductive technology that might assist in preventing certain rare mitochondrial diseases but which requires careful ethical and social consideration. Consultation is open until Friday 29 November 2019.

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2019 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science: don’t call us.

For information about the 2019 Prizes please visit www.industry.gov.au/pmscienceprizes.

We had a great run with the Prizes from 2004 to 2018. But all good things come to an end. So please don’t contact us for media information, go straight to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science at media@industry.gov.au. We will be at the dinner on 16 October waiting with bated breath to find out who the 2019 winners are. 

15 years ago, Peter McGauran, Gemma Allman and Virginia Cook placed their trust in us to publicise the Prizes when Science in Public was in its infancy. As awareness of the Prizes has grown so has Science in Public. Please read on for some comments on our journey with the Prizes and for our thanks to the many people who contributed.  Or jump to the next post to access profiles of past winners. 

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Anaemic star carries the mark of its ancient ancestor

Australian-led astronomers find the most iron-poor star in the Galaxy, hinting at the nature of the first stars in the Universe.

A visualisation of the formation of the first stars. Credit: Wise, Abel, Kaehler (KIPAC/SLAC)

A newly discovered ancient star containing a record-low amount of iron carries evidence of a class of even older stars, long hypothesised but assumed to have vanished.

In a paper published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, researchers led by Dr Thomas Nordlander of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) confirm the existence of an ultra-metal-poor red giant star, located in the halo of the Milky Way, on the other side of the Galaxy about 35,000 light-years from Earth.

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