SA

Slipped discs: robot shows it’s not all bending and twisting

High res photos available below.  

Video of Dhara and the bending robot available here

Dhara hopes her work will lead to improved guidelines on repetitive and heavy lifting. Credit: Flinders University

Some slipped disc injuries might be caused by movements other than the commonly blamed bending and twisting, according to new research by South Australian engineers.

It’s a finding that will lead to a better understanding of the motions that put people at greatest risk of a slipped disc and help develop more robust guidelines for safe lifting.

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Dark matter, light science, wine science and NASA’s search for new planets

Launch tonight 7pm at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Plus 280+ Science Week events around SA:

  • Who will win tonight’s South Australia’s Science Excellence Awards?
  • Are there habitable planets outside our solar system? Meet NASA scientists and planet hunters
  • Why does food taste different when you have a cold? And how do your neurons communicate? Meet your brain and find out
  • What can maths and science tell you about politics and voting?
  • Grape expectations: what’s the future of wine? And what causes white wine haze?
  • Revisit Coober Pedy when it was under sea: paeleontology meets musical theatre
  • A mobile observatory on wheels tours regional SA
  • GM-food aside, should humanity edit our own genes? Ask the experts
  • Help build a better picture of the Great Barrier Reef’s health, without getting your feet wet.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia. [continue reading…]

Put your scientists in the spotlight

Are you or your researchers keen to speak up for science? Now more than ever we need to hear stories of science, how science has made an impact and changed our lives. We need to see and hear from passionate researchers who are making a difference.

In this bulletin I’m focussing on training, prizes and showcasing science.

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Fresh Science; put your science in front of journos; Europe travel for PhD students; the sound of breaking glass

Do you know any exceptional early career researchers with peer reviewed papers and potential to be a media star?

If so, consider nominating them for Fresh Science – a competition where we train them and throw them to the media lions – generating hundreds of stories.

More info on that below, and also:

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Can Australian researchers help maintain the technological superiority of the US Air Force?

And what are the benefits for Australian research?

Today in Washington DC, the Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley will open a four day workshop with more than 60 US defence researchers and 33 Australian nanotechnology scientists.

The meeting, organised by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF), will explore opportunities for collaboration in nanotechnology and nano-manufacturing.

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One unlucky letter causes an infant epilepsy

A 20 year old mystery was solved this week with the discovery that an epilepsy that affects infants is caused by the change of a single letter in one gene. Seizures in infancy are not rare, but this familial epilepsy occurs in probably 60 families across Australia. It can also cause a movement disorder later in life.
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A part of her students’ lives: 2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Jane Wright

Students at Adelaide’s Loreto College have been investigating extra-sensory perception, finding the best way to neutralise spills of household cleaners, and testing the antibiotic effects of Manuka honey. They present their results not just by writing reports, but using talks, videos, role-plays and stories. Their activities are typical of the practical, can-do attitude of their science coordinator, Dr Jane Wright. It’s an attitude she’s also applied in her leadership of her chosen profession.

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Ultrasound puts water back in the Murray Darling…

…by putting the squeeze on mining waste

You may not be able to squeeze blood out of a stone but, by applying the right amount of ultrasound during processing, Jianhua (Jason) Du and colleagues from the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) have been able to squeeze a considerable amount of fresh water from mining waste.

Honeycomb-like structure which retains significant amount of water in tailings before ultrasonic treatment. (Photo: Jason Du)

As well as conserving water the technique reduces the waste bulk, which could also save mining companies millions of dollars in operational costs and help postpone significant capital expenditure, Jason says. Jason is one of sixteen winners of the national 2010 Fresh Science program – highlighting the work of leading young scientists.

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