Vic

Eating plastic makes for smaller mussels

RMIT researcher calls for reducing ‘microplastics’ in bathroom products

Mussels in Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne are ingesting microscopic pieces of plastic used in cosmetics. And it’s affecting their ability to grow and reproduce, an RMIT University eco-toxicologist has found.

The microplastics travel from our bathroom sinks to the ocean, where they are easily confused with algae or seaweeds. Because they cannot tell the difference, the mussels take in the plastic along with their normal diet of algae.

But, says researcher Dr Charlene Trestrail, the plastics affect the action of four of their key digestive enzymes which means the mussels then struggle to break down starch into the simple sugars they need to survive.

“We don’t think the plastic affects mussels directly, but it does reduce their ability to digest the real food in their gut, which means they miss out on energy and nutrients,” says Dr Trestrail.

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A new tool to measure social inclusion to save lives

Work, housing and friendships are core factors to feeling included.

A new tool developed by researchers at Orygen to measure and monitor social inclusion was tested with more than 500 young people.

By identifying the early signs of isolation and loneliness, support can be provided to prevent more serious mental ill-health.

In mental healthcare, simple screening tools for common conditions like depression and anxiety make it possible to diagnose people quickly and get help sooner.

A new tool developed at Orygen does the same, but for social inclusion: the F-SIM (Filia Social Inclusion Measure), developed by Dr Kate Filia and being presented in Hobart this week at the Society for Mental Health Research conference, could help to pinpoint the causes of isolation and social exclusion,

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Too much heavy metal stops stars producing

Stars evolve according to the elements they manufacture

Stars are giant factories that produce most of the elements in the Universe – including the elements in us, and in the Earth’s metal deposits. But what stars produce changes over time.

Two new papers published in MNRAS shed light on how the youngest generation of stars will eventually stop contributing metals back to the universe.

The authors are all members of ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions. They are based at Monash University, the Australian National University (ANU), and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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Mystery of children’s ‘chalky teeth’ explained

A blood protein blocks hardening of enamel on teeth growing inside the jaw

Australian and Chilean researchers solve a 100-year-old mystery and call for education and research to save millions of teeth worldwide.

Case studies available.

One in five children have chalky tooth enamel – visible as discoloured enamel spots – which often causes severe toothache and decay, and sometimes leads to abscesses, extractions and orthodontic problems.

Now, researchers from The D3 Group (based at The University of Melbourne, Australia) and the University of Talca in Chile, have discovered the mechanism causing molar hypomineralisation, the commonest type of chalky teeth.

They report today in Frontiers of Physiology that chalky molars arise when developing enamel is contaminated by albumin – a protein found both in blood and in the tissue fluid surrounding developing teeth. The trigger appears to be childhood illnesses.

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From the bionic ear to the ‘audiologist in your pocket

The Aussie hearing system you can set up yourself or for your gran: online and on your phone

From the bionic ear to the ‘audiologist in your pocket’ – high performance, low cost hearing for the four million of us who don’t want to admit our hearing loss

Images and background information below.

An Australian company has completed a trifecta of tools to help Australians take care of their own hearing without the stress and expense of audiology visits. It’s the product of decades of government-backed research. [continue reading…]

Fresh Science 2012 state finalists

This year, thanks to funding from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, Research and Tertiary Education through the Inspiring Australia initiative, and partners in other states, we’ve expanded the program to include state finals in:

Here’s the state finalists – we’ll announce the national finalists in the next week or so. [continue reading…]

L’Oreal Fellowships awarded tonight; national hearing survey and helping 10,000 patients via e-health

Tonight, three exceptional young women scientists will each receive a $25,000 L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowship to assist their research.

The 2012 Fellows are from Christchurch and Melbourne. Two are life scientists, one is a physical scientist. More here.

Also in this bulletin:

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L'Oreal Fellowships awarded tonight; national hearing survey and helping 10,000 patients via e-health

Tonight, three exceptional young women scientists will each receive a $25,000 L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowship to assist their research.

The 2012 Fellows are from Christchurch and Melbourne. Two are life scientists, one is a physical scientist. More here.

Also in this bulletin:

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