research

Bees make decisions better and faster than we do

Research reveals how we could design robots to think like bees

Bees available to film at Macquarie and Sheffield, video overlay and graphics available.

Image Credit Théotime Colin.

Honey bees have to balance effort, risk and reward, making rapid and accurate assessments of which flowers are mostly likely to offer food for their hive. Research published in the journal eLife today reveals how millions of years of evolution has engineered honey bees to make fast decisions and reduce risk.

The study enhances our understanding of insect brains, how our own brains evolved, and how to design better robots.

The paper presents a model of decision-making in bees and outlines the paths in their brains that enable fast decision-making. The study was led by Professor Andrew Barron from Macquarie University in Sydney, and Dr HaDi MaBouDi, Neville Dearden and Professor James Marshall from the University of Sheffield.

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Family matters in autism outcomes

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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Sugar found to boost lethal bacteria

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

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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Where does Australia rank in research? And the Mythbusters are coming to Australia…

Australia has taken the podium alongside Japan and China as one of the top three science performers in a dynamic Asia-Pacific region. The Nature Publishing Index is a snapshot of the region’s scientific research in the past year based on publication output in Nature and the 17 Nature research journals.

And from chart topping to myth busting – the Mythbusters are coming to Australia during National Science Week.

Read on for more…

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