Imaginary friends, burrowing bilbies and mining microchips

Media bulletins, Media releases

These are the first three stories from Fresh Science 2009.

Over the next few weeks 15 early-career scientists will announce their discoveries. That’s if they survive the Fresh Science boot camp this week in Melbourne. Fresh Science is a competition that selects top young scientists from around Australia to present their work to the media and the public. Full stories at

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Fresh Science

If you had an imaginary friend as a child you’re likely to be more creative, more achievement-oriented, and more emotionally responsive as an adult. That’s one of the conclusions of a study by La Trobe University’s Evan Kidd into imaginary friends.

Rabbits destroy diversity. But the burrowing of bilbies and bettongs helps revegetation and biodiversity according to UNSW’s Alex James.

She’s found that bilbies excavate five tons of soil per hectare – concentrating nutrients and giving seedlings a good start.

A fluid-based microchip is the newest technique for the minerals processing industry. Developed by Craig Priest and his colleagues at the University of South Australia, it uses channels the width of a hair to separate minerals with less energy, less water and less pollution.

Details on these stories at

Journey to the surface of the earth

This exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, until 16 June uses Charles Darwin’s writings as a model for observing matter, space and time to explore the physical aspects of the earth.

Space travel, earth exploration and cosmic collisions

Talk to Pascal Lee, from the NASA Ames Research Center, about the what, why, how and when of a human expedition to explore Mars. He is talking tonight at 6.30pm at Casey Plaza Lecture Theatre, Building #10, Bowen St, RMIT University, Melbourne.

What are the chances of another meteorite impact on the earth, like the one that hit Tunguska, Siberia, in 1980? Alex Bevan, from the WA Museum, explores the risks and effects of cosmic collisions at Horizon -The Planetarium in Perth on Thursday 30 June.

Treasures from Charles Darwin and James Cook are travelling to public libraries in Victoria this week. See Cook’s celestial charts and celestial globe and books from Darwin’s travels in Sunshine tonight, Horsham (Tuesday 2 June), Warracknabeal (Wednesday 3 June) and St Arnaud (Thursday 4 June).