Football physics and hammies; dark matter in a gold mine and more

Australian Institute of Physics, Australian Institute of Physics Congress, Media releases
  • Football physics tackles hamstring injuries
  • Finding airports 50 light years away
  • A sun on earth- fact or fiction
  • Laser tracking of carbon-coughing cattle
  • A Victorian goldfields search for galactic dark matter

These topics and more on day three of the national physics conference, Wednesday 10 December

Football physics tackles hamstring injuries

What can physics tell us about hamstrings—the most common injury in Australian rules football and soccer. Despite endless discussion on footy shows, the common Australian ‘hammy’ is not well understood. Recently, motion-capture of footy players in action and MRI scans of living tissue have been matched with a complex mathematical model to give new insights into how this injury occurs, and could help develop techniques to reduce injury rates. Bronwyn Dolman, who was part of the study, is also involved in development of an automated Aussie rules football kicking machine with final year mechanical engineering students at the University of Adelaide.

Laser tracking of carbon-belching cattle

Livestock belch out around ten per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. There are ways to reduce this, but how do you measure their success? New technology designed to measure methane emissions from cattle out in the field could provide the answer Working with CSIRO’s Livestock Methane Research cluster, Brian Orr (from Macquarie University) and his colleagues are developing laser-based instruments that can be used in cattle yards and open ranges to detect the concentration of methane and ammonia molecule in air, as well as other gases that could be useful indicators of animal health and air quality.

Finding airports on planets circling distant stars

Research astronomer Lisa Harvey-Smith from CSIRO is part of the team working towards Australia’s part in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. She also actively supports women in science and is a keen ultramarathon runner, currently in training for ANZAC Ultra 2015—a six-day, 435 km race on the Canberra Centenary Trail.

Lisa will present recent results from the prototype for the SKA—the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP)—which is being put through its paces prior to going into action next year. ASKAP, with 36 radio dishes, and the SKA, with many more receivers again, will produce pictures of the universe covering a greater area and looking deeper into space than is currently possible. So sensitive that it would be able to detect an airport radar on a planet 50 light years away, SKA will also show us stars and galaxies forming in the very early universe.

Is there a fusion future?

Scientists at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor in France expect to achieve proof-of-concept nuclear fusion power before 2030, moving on to a commercial prototype in the next decade. Meanwhile in October US firm Lockheed Martin said they’ll have a prototype in five years and a commercial plant in ten. Steve Cowley from the UK Atomic Energy Authority can explain where we are in the hunt for the holy grail of cheap, clean fusion energy, and the likelihood we’ll achieve it.

Stawell gold mine to join the search for the missing 85 per cent of our galaxy

The Victorian government has committed $1.75 million to help Australian scientists hunt for dark matter two km underground in the Stawell gold mine in regional Victoria.

The project will commence once the Federal government provides matching support from their regional development program.

The funding will enable physicists to create the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory and construct a dark matter particle detector paired with a matching detector under an Italian mountain.

The Victorian government has committed $1.75 million to help Australian scientists hunt for dark matter two km underground in the Stawell gold mine in regional Victoria, commencing once the Federal government provides matching support.

The Northern Grampians Shire Council has calculated that over ten years the laboratory will generate $265 million in economic benefit at a challenging time for the region.

Media contacts

Niall Byrne 0417 131 977

Errol Hunt 0423 139 210

Lou Hudson 0412 938 440

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