Science in Public

2013 Fresh Science State Finals

How might tooth stem cells help repair damaged brains? How do trees cope with thirst and starvation? Do whales need personal space? And is there an early blood test for Alzheimer’s?

These are some of the questions our 2013 Fresh Science State Finalists are working on.

We’ve picked some of Australia’s brightest early-career scientists to participate in a one-day media and communication boot camp where they’ll learn how to talk science to journalists, business and the public. The course is based on Science in Public’s national media training program.

We’re wrapping up the finalists’ training with a small networking reception where we’ll give them one last challenge. Can they excite and inspire over a glass of wine?

The receptions are invite-only but contact AJ if you’re interested to attend:

This year the state-final courses will run in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales. Details of each event are below.

Perth: Tuesday April 16, University of Western Australia’s University Club

Adelaide: Thursday 18 April, The Science Exchange

Brisbane: Tuesday 23 April, the University of Queensland’s St Lucia Campus

Melbourne: Tuesday 30 April, Scienceworks in Spotswood

Sydney: Thursday 2 May, ANSTO in Lucas Heights

The 2013 Fresh Science State Finals are supported by ANSTO, Science Works, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland.

Colour-changing dragons to reveal their secrets

Colour-changing dragons to reveal their secrets

A zoological mystery that could change medicine and solar energy?

Media call and release 11 am, Sunday 7 April with bearded dragons at the Zoology Department, University of Melbourne, Parkville.


Credit: Devi Stuart-Smith.

Credit: Devi Stuart-Fox.

An international research initiative led by the University of Melbourne’s Dr Devi Stuart-Fox will investigate how and why animals change colour — and what it costs them.

It will also open the way for scientists to imitate lizards and develop new materials that respond to light and temperature for energy and medical applications. [continue reading…]

Profile of Dr Devi Stuart-Fox

From colour-changing lizards to colour-changing bandages…

Colour and movement show how species evolve, bring a second international L’Oréal For Women in Science honour, and a $470,000 ARC grant for University of Melbourne evolutionary biologist Dr Devi Stuart-Fox.

Devi Stuart-Fox is attracted to show-offs. “I’m just really fascinated by animals with fabulous colours and ornaments.” And ever since she was a teenager living in a bushland setting in an outer Brisbane suburb, she has also been delighted by lizards. She used to keep them as pets. [continue reading…]

Remote reefs can be tougher than they look

Scott Reef had largely recovered from a catastrophic mass bleaching of corals within twelve years of the disturbance, despite the lack of connectivity to other reefs in the region. The rate of recovery was attributed to the lack of many local anthropogenic pressures affecting reefs around the world, such as degraded water quality and overfishing of herbivores (credit: N Thake).

WA’s Scott Reef has recovered from mass bleaching in 1998

Isolated coral reefs can recover from catastrophic damage as effectively as those with nearby undisturbed neighbours, a long-term study by marine biologists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) has shown.

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Scott Reef images

Below are a series of photos and videos taken from Scott Reef. To access the high resolution version of the images, click on them to open them in high res then right/command click and select save as.
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Nuclear reactions; Bragg’s legacy; physicists elected to the Academy – physics in April, 2013

From Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Nuclear reactions reveal ground-water consumption, art fraud and contribute to emerging communications technologies. Dr Joseph Bevitt, of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), will discuss nuclear reactions and how we utilise them at a free public tour and lecture on Tuesday 14 May, for the NSW AIP Branch’s May meeting.

Also coming up in branch events, Dr John Jenkin from La Trobe University will give an account of Lawrence Bragg’s achievements and legacy. November marked the centenary of the announcement of Bragg’s Law, and his inauguration of the science of X-ray crystallography in collaboration with his father. X-ray crystallography has transformed the physical and biological sciences from engineering to ecology, and much more. John will give an SA AIP Branch public lecture at the University of Adelaide on Thursday 4 April. [continue reading…]

Saving lives from TB and is Australia top in Asia-Pacific science?

Faster diagnosis for tuberculosis could help stop the spread of this killer disease. Sydney’s Centenary Institute is helping a rural Chinese hospital to more quickly diagnose TB and to monitor how its 1,300 TB patients respond to treatment.

This is the first in a series of stories in the lead-up to World TB Day this Sunday 24 March.

TB was the leading cause of death in Australia 130 years ago but today the developing world suffers the brunt of the disease, with a third of all new cases occurring in India and China.

This week we’ll announce a new centre opening in Sydney to contribute to a world-wide campaign to eliminate TB by 2050. We’ll also be talking about Australian efforts to fight TB in Vietnam, where 54,000 people die from TB every year.

And is Australia top for scientific research in the region? Which is Australia’s top-performing institute? This week Nature will reveal its 2012 Asia-Pacific research rankings.

And in Melbourne 2,000 students from 80 countries gather for a youth UN.

More below:

  • Sydney scientists on the hunt for faster TB diagnosis for China’s millions of TB cases
  • Nature releases 2012 research rankings for the Asia-Pacific
  • Future leaders meet in Melbourne to change the world
  • Genetics, nanotech and cancer cures: Dubbo talks science at the club
  • The end of absolute poverty – Gates Foundation policy maker to visit Australia [continue reading…]

Weighing the Earth with a Nobel Laureate; the physics of Luna Park, and more

Do you weigh more in Melbourne or Canberra? How much does your weight change as you travel across the country? How much does the earth weigh?

Later this morning we’re launching a national experiment with 2011 physics Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, and year nine students at Albert Park College in Melbourne.

They’ll discover how much the Earth weighs and also that as you travel across Australia your weight changes (just a bit). Over the year, the Australian Institute of Physics hopes to involve thousands of people around the country as part of their 50th anniversary.

Also in this bulletin:

  • Roller coasters and the Roulettes – the physics of Luna Park
  • The end of absolute poverty – Gates Foundation leader vising Australia
  • The killer on our doorstep – World TB Day, 24 March
  • Bringing science to pubs from Hobart to Broome
  • “Star-Craving Mad” launches [continue reading…]

Weighing the Earth with a Nobel Laureate




Launch: Friday 1 March 2013, 9-10.30am

Albert Park College, 83 Danks St, Albert Park, Victoria

Do you weigh more in Melbourne or Canberra?

What does our planet weigh?

Australia’s 2011 physics Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, is today launching the start of a national physics experiment that everyone can participate in.

School students and the public will follow Galileo to measure local gravity. They’ll measure the weight of the Earth, and discover that your weight changes (just a little) as you travel around Australia.

Brian Schmidt will introduce Year 9 students at Albert Park College to the experiment first performed by Galileo, and together they’ll make the first contributions to a new map. Over the year, the Australian Institute of Physics hopes to involve thousands of people around the country. [continue reading…]