NickFindanis_single pulse  of synthetic jet

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have improved the aerodynamics of aircraft by putting rows of tiny synthetic jets along the wings of aeroplanes —much like the suck and blow jets octopuses use to move through the water.

The models tested demonstrated smoothing of the air flow over the wing section. This would infer a faster and smoother ride on aeroplanes.

If adapted to aircraft this would potentially mean less fuel and ultimately less cost. [click to continue…]

2007 Fresh Scientist Tu’uhevaha Kaitu’u-Lino has won the 2009 Cosmopolitan Fun, Fearless, Female, Women of Science – and a $10,000 cheque. [click to continue…]

cor_neck_mri_jeMost people recover from whiplash injuries within the first few months. However some people have long term pain – lasting months or years. Until now there has been no way of diagnosing these more severe cases.

New Brisbane research suggests that fat deposits in the neck muscles are the key. [click to continue…]

p8070118‘Fool’s gold’ has tricked many amateur gold miners, but Queensland researchers have discovered it can reveal much about the early evolution of life on Earth.

Three billion years ago the Earth couldn’t support life as we know it – the atmosphere was deadly to oxygen-breathing plants and animals.
But two and half billion years ago life changed the Earth’s atmosphere creating the oxygen-rich air we rely on today. [click to continue…]

Radiation beams directed at the lung cancer. Credit: Sarah Everitt, Peter MacCallum Cancer CentreA team of Victorian researchers have discovered how to track if lung tumours respond during a course of treatment. Trials with five patients revealed that some tumours responded quickly to treatment while others continued to grow. A larger trial is now underway with twenty patients.

The new technique could transform lung cancer treatment. [click to continue…]

Bore hole through ice. Credit: Mike Craven Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)Researchers at Geoscience Australia have unravelled the development of a unique seafloor community thriving in complete darkness below the giant ice sheets of Antarctica.

The community beneath the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica is 100 km from open water and hidden from view by ice half a kilometre thick. This ecosystem has developed very slowly over the past 9000 years, since the end of the last glaciation.

Today it is home to animals such as sponges and bryozoans fed by plankton carried in on the current. [click to continue…]

tropical_rock_lobster2A team of Queensland researchers have discovered that lobsters, prawns and other crustaceans have evolved a unique way of making colours: making the complex patterns appreciated by biologists and connoisseurs of seafood.

Their work will help with conservation, aquaculture and may even lead to a new food colourant. And all the colours come from just one molecule.

The colour of seafood is directly linked to its acceptability as food. Highly coloured lobsters and prawns attract a premium price. And for the crustaceans themselves, it’s a matter of survival. [click to continue…]


An international team of astronomers has discovered the oldest and most distant carbon in the Universe, but there’s not enough of it to support standard theories of how the Universe lit up, a member from Swinburne University of Technology has calculated.

In the early Universe a dark pervasive fog of neutral hydrogen gas lurked everywhere. Astronomers think that this fog cleared when the first stars formed and emitted light.

There is a close connection between the amount of light and carbon produced in stars. But adding up all the 13-billion-year-old carbon detected, Dr Emma Ryan-Weber and her collaborators came to the conclusion the amount of carbon, and therefore the number of massive stars, was insufficient to lift the fog. [click to continue…]

Sophie Bestley catching tuna, photo credit Adam Watkins

Sophie Bestley catching tuna, photo credit Thor Carter, CSIRO

Issued on World Oceans Day

Southern bluefin tuna can’t even have a quiet snack without CSIRO researchers knowing. They’ve developed a way of tracking when the tuna feed and also where, at what depth, and the temperature of the surrounding water.

It’s the first time anyone has been able to observe the long term feeding habits of migratory fishes directly and the information is transforming our understanding of these highly sought after ‘Porsches of the sea’.

Dr Sophie Bestley and her colleagues at CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship surgically implant miniaturised electronic “data-storage” tags into juvenile fishes off the coast of southern Australia. [click to continue…]

Lava flows in Australia. Credit: Fred Jourdan courtesy of L Evins, formerly at University of Western Australia.

Lava flows in Australia. Credit: Fred Jourdan courtesy of L Evins, formerly at University of Western Australia.

A Curtin University researcher has shown that some ancient periods of massive eruptions released green house gases so quickly that they caused rapid climate change and mass extinctions.

But today we are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than even the most rapid sequence of eruptions.

“We have carefully dated minerals contained in the volcanic rocks and shown that only the fastest sequences of eruptions caused significant species extinctions,” says Dr Fred Jourdan who works as part of an international team.

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Researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) have developed a way to deliver drugs which can specifically shut down cancer-causing genes in tumour cells while sparing normal healthy tissues.

Sherry Wu in the lab. Credit: Sherry Wu

Sherry Wu in the lab. Credit: Sherry Wu

They are currently looking at cervical cancer. While cervical cancer vaccines – co-developed by Professor Ian Frazer at UQ – are reducing the chances of infection with the virus that causes the cancer, many thousands of women worldwide are likely to contract cervical cancer in the next few decades.

Fresh Scientist Ms Sherry Wu hopes the new technique, which involves the use of coatings rich in fats, will hasten the application of RNA interference or gene-silencing, a technology which can inactivate individual genes. Using this technology, she and her colleagues observed a 70% reduction in tumour size in a cervical cancer mouse model. [click to continue…]

Dr Fiona Hogan is DNA fingerprinting Australian owls with the help of feathers and a keen public.

Her work is transforming our understanding of the night life of owls, normally notoriously secretive.

From a single feather, this Deakin University researcher can determine the species, sex, and identity of individual birds. She has already found a pair of powerful owls who have mated together for at least 10 consecutive years, and that those breeding in urban areas are typically more closely related than those which breed in the bush. [click to continue…]

Using microscopic streams of liquid to separate valuable metals from dissolved rock could revolutionise mineral processing, according to researchers at the University of South Australia.

The researchers already have shown the technique can be used to extract copper quickly and efficiently. They believe the process can be scaled up to industrial levels and used for recovering many other minerals such as nickel, uranium, gold and platinum. [click to continue…]

Don’t be concerned about imaginary friends, they are teaching your child to communicate, a La Trobe University researcher has found.

Children aged between four and six who have imaginary friends are better able to get their point across than their contemporaries who do not, psychologist Evan Kidd and colleague Anna Roby from the University of Manchester showed. The results are being presented at Fresh Science at Melbourne Museum this week. [click to continue…]

Bilbies and bettongs-the desert forms of bandicoots and rat-kangaroos-can bring degraded desert landscape back to life, a new study at the University of New South Wales has found. [click to continue…]