Stopping poaching by the numbers

Fresh Science, Macquarie University, Media releases

Maths model helps rangers protect national parks, despite tight budgets.

Math could be used to prevent elephant poaching.
Image credit: Pixabay

Mathematics can help reduce poaching and illegal logging in national parks, researchers have found.

A team of applied mathematicians including Macquarie University’s David Arnold has developed an algorithm that predicts which areas inside park boundaries offer the greatest possibilities for criminals – and how rangers can most efficiently combat them.

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Hunting molecules that signal pain

Fresh Science, Macquarie University, Media releases

Researchers close in on an objective measure for physical distress.

Pain self-assessments are naturally subjective. An independent pain measure will help treatment.
Image credit: Jim De Ramos

A new microscope-based method for detecting a particular molecule in the spinal cord could help lead to an accurate and independent universal pain scale, research from Australia’s Macquarie University suggests.

An accurate way of measuring pain is of critical importance because at present degrees of discomfort are generally assessed by asking a patient to estimate pain on a one-to-10 scale. The situation is even more acute in the treatment of babies, the very old and animals, where speech is absent.

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Device makes electric vehicle charging a two-way street

Fresh Science, Macquarie University, Media releases

New tech means cars can power houses, as well as the other way round.

A new device turns electric vehicles into chargers for houses and stranded cars.

Researchers led by Seyedfoad Taghizadeh from Australia’s Macquarie University are looking to commercialise the technology, which may significantly increase the appeal of the vehicles.

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Better emergency responses by removing social bots

Fresh Science, Media releases

Image credit: Mehwish Nasim

Filtering out social bots can help critical response teams see what’s happening in real time

Network visualisation of genuine users (at the right side) and social bots (in purple on the left side). Bots form a densely connected graph by tweeting similar messages at the same time. Two users in this network are connected if they repeatedly tweeted similar messages about the same topics in a given time duration. Bots are very loosely connected to rest of the users.

Researchers have created an algorithm that distinguishes between misinformation and genuine conversations on Twitter, by detecting messages churned out by social bots.

Dr Mehwish Nasim and colleagues at the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide say the algorithm will make it easier for emergency services to detect major events such as civil unrest, natural disasters, and influenza epidemics in real time.

“When something really big is going on, people tweet a huge amount of useful information,” says Mehwish.

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Family matters in autism outcomes

Fresh Science, Media releases

Cognition is influenced by siblings, researchers find.

Autistic children with autistic siblings have better cognition than those who are the only family member with the condition, researchers have found.

Importantly, the outcome does not depend on birth order.

Although previous studies have identified that having autistic siblings leads to better cognition for individual children with the condition, it was assumed that the order in which the children were born was a significant factor.

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Hire more LGBTQ and disabled astronomers or risk falling behind, review finds

ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D), Media releases

Analysis finds gender equity among star scientists improving, but big challenges remain.

Professor Lisa Kewley, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics (ASTRO 3D), in front of Australia’s Reynolds telescope, which dates from 1927.
Credit: ASTRO 3D

Ensuring research opportunities for indigenous, disabled and LGBTQ astronomers is essential if Australian research is to succeed in the new era of “mega-telescopes”, a major analysis has found.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, Professor Lisa Kewley, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics (ASTRO 3D), finds that encouraging astronomers from marginalised communities will increase the chances of significant research discoveries.

“Studies show that increased diversity up to the highest levels of organisations, and effective diversity management, leads to organisations outperforming their competition in innovation, productivity and profit because more ideas are produced,” she says.  

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Sugar found to boost lethal bacteria

Fresh Science, Other

Adelaide researchers find how a bacteria digests a sugar can be key to new treatments

The severity of a common and often lethal type of bacteria depends on its ability to process a type of sugar, research from the University of Adelaide reveals.

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes diseases of the lungs, blood, ear and brain, killing an estimated one million people every year. Moreover S. pneumoniae causes otitis media (infection of the middle ear), which devastates Aboriginal populations. It also rapidly develops resistance to antibiotics, making it challenging to treat.

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Researchers use sound to deliver drugs

Fresh Science, Media releases

A technique adapted from telecommunications promises more effective cancer treatments.

Dr Shwathy Ramesan from RMIT

Drugs can be delivered into individual cells by using soundwaves, Melbourne researchers have discovered.

Adapting a technique used in the telecommunications industry for decades, Dr Shwathy Ramesan from RMIT, and colleagues, used the mechanical force of sound to push against cell walls and deliver drugs more effectively than treatments currently in use.

The new technique aids in silencing genes responsible for some diseases, including cancer, by switching them on or off.

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Star-quake vibrations lead to new estimate for Milky Way age

ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D), Media releases

Data gathered by NASA’s now defunct Kepler telescope provides a solution to an astronomical mystery.

An artist impression of the Milky Way, showing the thick and thin discs.
Credit: NASA/JPL Caltech/R.Hurt/SSC

Star-quakes recorded by NASA’s Kepler space telescope have helped answer a long-standing question about the age of the “thick disc” of the Milky Way.

In a paper published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of 38 scientists led by researchers from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in Three Dimensions (ASTRO-3D) use data from the now-defunct probe to calculate that the disc is about 10 billion years old.

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Faecal pellets and food remains reveal what ghost bats eat in the Pilbara

Fresh Science, Media releases

UWA, Curtin university and Perth zoo researchers have discovered that Australian endangered ghost bats in the Pilbara (WA) eat over 46 different species.

Its diet is very diverse ranging from small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Researchers used a new approach by combining two methodologies: DNA analysis of faecal pellets and classification of dried food remains.

They receive their name due to their pale grey colour and “ghostly” appearance. They are top-level predators and very important for the ecosystem.

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