media release

Cyclones can damage even distant reefs

Research finds current models underestimate the impact of hurricanes and typhoons on coral reef communities

Full paper and images available. Details below.

The same area of Scott Reef photographed in 2010, and again in 2012 after Cyclone Lua. Credit: James Gilmour/AIMS

Big and strong cyclones can harm coral reefs as far as 1000 kilometres away from their paths, new research shows.

A study led by Dr Marji Puotinen from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) sounds a warning about the way strong cyclone winds build extreme seas that affect coral reefs in Australia and around the world.

Conventional modelling used to predict how a cyclone, hurricane or typhoon might impact corals assumes that wave damage occurs primarily within 100 kilometres of its track.

[continue reading…]

Hungry galaxies grow fat on the flesh of their neighbours

Full paper available here, read on for media release, photos, captions and background information.

Modelling shows big galaxies get bigger by merging with smaller ones

Distribution of dark matter density overlayed with the gas density. This image cleanly shows the gas channels connecting the central galaxy with its neighbours. Credit: Gupta et al/ASTRO 3D/ IllustrisTNG collaboration.

Galaxies grow large by eating their smaller neighbours, new research reveals.

Exactly how massive galaxies attain their size is poorly understood, not least because they swell over billions of years. But now a combination of observation and modelling from researchers led by Dr Anshu Gupta from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) has provided a vital clue.

[continue reading…]

Windows will soon generate electricity, following solar cell breakthrough

Full paper available here, read on for media release, photos, captions and background information.

Two square metres of solar window will do the same job as a standard rooftop solar panel, Australian researchers say.

A semi-transparent perovskite solar cell with contrasting levels of light transparency.
Credits: Dr Jae Choul Yu

Semi-transparent solar cells that can be incorporated into window glass are a “game-changer” that could transform architecture, urban planning and electricity generation, Australian scientists say in a paper in Nano Energy.

The researchers – led by Professor Jacek Jasieniak from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (Exciton Science) and Monash University – have succeeded in producing next-gen perovskite solar cells that generate electricity while allowing light to pass through. They are now investigating how the new technology could be built into commercial products with Viridian Glass, Australia’s largest glass manufacturer.

[continue reading…]

Hot qubits made in Sydney break one of the biggest constraints to practical quantum computers

A proof-of-concept published in Nature promises warmer, cheaper and more robust quantum computing. And it can be manufactured using conventional silicon chip foundries.

Full media kit here.

Dr Henry Yang and Professor Andrew Dzurak: “hot qubits” are a game-changer for quantum computing development.
Credit: Paul Henderson-Kelly

Most quantum computers being developed around the world will only work at fractions of a degree above absolute zero. That requires multi-million-dollar refrigeration and as soon as you plug them into conventional electronic circuits they’ll instantly overheat.

But now researchers led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at UNSW Sydney have addressed this problem.

[continue reading…]

Additions to resource industry underwater robots can boost ocean discoveries

Remotely operated vehicles used by the oil and gas sector can be enhanced to gather more scientific data, researchers say.

A picture containing ground, water

Description automatically generated
An ROV fitted with an arm for collecting marine samples. Credit: AIMS

Underwater robots are regularly used by the oil and gas industry to inspect and maintain offshore structures. The same machines could be adapted to gather extra scientific information, thus boosting environmental and resource management capabilities, an Australian-led study has revealed.

Scientists from around the globe, led by Dianne McLean and Miles Parsons from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), are urging closer ties between industry and researchers to maximise the use of the underwater robots, known as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

In a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, they identify a range of instruments that can be easily added to the craft, including cameras, audio recorders and sample collectors.

[continue reading…]

Next gen solar cells perform better when there’s a camera around

Full paper available here, read on for media release, photos, captions and background information.

Researchers find a simple way to detect tiny imperfections that affect performance. 

Perovskite solar cells bathed in blue light, and responding in infrared. Credit: Exciton Science

A literal “trick of the light” can detect imperfections in next-gen solar cells, boosting their efficiency to match that of existing silicon-based versions, researchers have found. 

The discovery opens a pathway to improved quality control for commercial production.

On small scales, perovskite solar cells – which promise cheap and abundant solar energy generation – are already almost as efficient as silicon ones. 

However, as scale increases the perovskite cells perform less well, because of nanoscale surface imperfections resulting from the way they are made.

As the number of unwanted tiny lumps and bumps grows, the amount of solar power generated per square centimetre drops off. 

Now, however, Australian researchers have come up with a solution – using a camera. 

[continue reading…]

Sharp increase in Ningaloo whale shark injuries might be due to boat encounters

Scarring and major lacerations due to vessel collisions becoming more common, study finds.

The tail of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus), showing massive scarring. Image: Jess Hadden.

Almost one-fifth of the whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef Marine Park show major scarring or fin amputations, with the number of injured animals increasing in recent years, new research reveals.

Distinctive scar patterns strongly suggest many of the injuries are caused by boat collisions, says whale shark scientist Emily Lester from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

[continue reading…]

Canberra astronomer becomes first Australian to win major US science award in 133 years

Lisa Kewley has transformed our understanding of the early years of the Universe, the development of galaxies, and what happens when they collide.  

2020 James Craig Watson medal winner Professor Lisa Kewley in her office. Credit: ASTRO 3D

For her pioneering investigations across theory, modelling and observation, she will receive the US National Academy of Science’s biennial James Craig Watson Medal in Washington DC.

“At school I thought physics would be too hard.  But I had a wonderful physics teacher whose love for astronomy was contagious!” says Lisa.

[continue reading…]

Women and the Internet, dolphins in Adelaide, and fun with the Periodic Table

Highlights from day five of National Science Week – hump day brings comedy, dance and memories of the flu.

423 events and exhibitions, 18 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

Adam Spencer, Karl Kruszelnicki and many distinguished scientists feature in events around the country today – bringing tales of music, maths, Indigenous history and the untold stories behind the invention of the World Wide Web.

National

  • In class online with Karl Kruszelnicki.

Sydney

  • Indigenous science sessions at Redfern begin.
  • Pandemic in Parramatta:when the Spanish flu hit town.
  • Reclaiming the contribution of women to the creation of the Internet.
  • Periodic Table fun with Adam Spencer, Karl Kruszelnicki and Alice Motion.

Cairns

  • Rapid-fire science education: 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each in a PechaKucha Night.

Adelaide

  • Meet the local dolphins.

Tasmania

  • High-voltage art made by electrifying matter.
  • The science and comedy of your poor decisions, with Alanta Colley & Ben McKenzie.

Melbourne

  • TheIndigenous stories, memories, and roadmaps of the night skies.

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

Also today:

[continue reading…]

A New Hope for Coral Reefs: Largest-Ever Study Unlocks Global Solution to Save Coral Communities

Scientists urge priority action on hundreds of surviving reefs.

Image credit: Jeremy Bishop

The majority of 2500 reefs surveyed in a major international exercise retain the coral species that give them their distinctive structure.

More than 80 marine scientists, including several from Australia, contributed to the study, which is published in the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution.

[continue reading…]