Explore Australian science

Science drives innovation and economic, social and cultural change.

It’s at the heart of the innovations that transform the human condition: vaccines, smart phones, flight and clean energy.

It tells us how our world is changing, and what we can do about it, if we choose to.

It reveals where we, our world, our galaxy, and our Universe came from, and where we’re going.

Stories of Australian Science celebrates discoveries and the people behind them.

Stories of Australian Science 2016 is now available online

This collection features more than 70 stories and celebrates the best of the past year’s Australian science: from supercharged rice to feed the world; halving brain scarring from strokes; what unboiling an egg means for pharmaceuticals; using maths to save seagrass sanctuaries; and printed medical tools from the scientists who brought us the world’s first printed jet engine.

Stories 2016And there’s a special feature on Australia-Indonesia collaborations.

We’ve also included the winners of many of Australia’s science prizes, and we’ve got the best young researchers from Fresh Science.

Read the individual stories here, or view them together as a PDF here along with our earlier editions.

We’ve already promoted the collection at the AAAS in Washington, and over the coming months we will distribute 15,000 copies to journalists, embassies, schools, MPs and others in Australia and around the world. Read the full distribution here.

And we’re sharing all the stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via @AusSciStories.

Please feel free to use the stories for your own social media, website and publications. Everything is available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence.

More Stories of Australian Science and our other publications

Over the past decade, we’ve profiled the breadth and depth of Australian science in our magazines — from astronomy to zoology, climate science to quantum mechanics.

We have hundreds of stories from every State and Territory. And we have a host of special collections including:

We’ve featured more than 200 stories so far, all of which are available online.

Scroll down for more, or search by organisation, Australian state, or field of science using the menus on the left-hand side of this page.

And if you’d like to see your work in the collection take a look at our submission guidelines

Keeping ahead of a child killer: stopping gastro from birth

A new rotavirus vaccine should soon be available thanks to a collaboration between PT Bio Farma and researchers in Melbourne and Yogyakarta. The new ‘RV3’ vaccine is aimed at protecting babies from birth, improving protection and simplifying delivery.

The current vaccine, available in Australia and only on the private market in Indonesia, can only be administered from six weeks of age.

Diarrhoea is the leading cause of death in children under five years of age in Indonesia, and rotavirus has been found to be the most common cause of diarrhoea in these children admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis.

But the cause was unknown until Ruth Bishop and her colleagues, working with babies at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital and The University of Melbourne, found the rotavirus. The discovery triggered a global effort to fight the disease. Today GAVI, the global vaccine alliance, are getting rotavirus vaccines to over fifty million children in the poorest countries.

The vaccine is saving millions of lives, but it’s hoped that the new version, RV3, will take protection a step further. Developed through a collaboration between Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Bio Farma, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), RV3 has been through clinical trials in New Zealand and Australia.

“The rotavirus vaccine RV3 trial in Indonesia is one of outstanding and long collaboration between UGM and the Rotavirus Group at MCRI/Royal Children’s Hospital and The University of Melbourne which has been established for almost 40 years, involving academic exchange, research and training,” says Dr Jarir At Thobari, of Universitas Gadjah Mada.

“We hope the success story will continue
in future.” An Indonesian trial started in 2013 with two regional hospitals, 23 primary healthcare clinics, and more than 35 doctors and 300 midwives. Bio Farma hopes to licence the vaccine in Indonesia in 2019.

Predicting fire, flood, and food shortages

In lands ‘of droughts and flooding rains,’ predicting the weather means saving both lives and livelihoods.

The work of Indonesian and Australian scientists, which began with a visit to Jakarta in 1981 by climate scientist Professor Neville Nicholls, has given the countries the ability to forecast rain in the dry season, and during the lead up to the wet season. This means the fires, haze, and food shortages that often go hand in hand with droughts can be predicted—and planned for.

Continue reading Predicting fire, flood, and food shortages

Reassessing Jakarta’s seismic risk

The work of Indonesian and Australian scientists is resulting in re evaluation of Jakarta’s seismic risk by Indonesian Government agencies.

The team is scanning the Earth from thousands of kilometres in the air, right down to chemical traces found in rocks, as they hunt out telltale signs of future earthquakes and the damage they might do. They’ve highlighted a major new seismic threat for East Java as well as the tsunami threat to Bali, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara, and other coasts along the Flores Sea; and have identified active faults in the Nusa Tenggara region of Eastern Indonesia, measuring the rates of strain building up.

Continue reading Reassessing Jakarta’s seismic risk

What happened to Asia’s lost ‘elephants’?

Why did Stegodon, the elephant-like animals that were once widespread throughout Asia, decline and eventually disappear?

Stegodon were a group of trunked mammals, related to (but not the ancestors of) modern elephants. As they dispersed to many of the Southeast Asian islands with scarcer food resources, they evolved to become ‘dwarfed’.

Continue reading What happened to Asia’s lost ‘elephants’?

Making waves: artificial tsunamis to prepare for the worst

Ninety-nine per cent of all tsunami-related deaths have occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Indonesian and Australian scientists have been working to reduce this figure—by creating artificial earthquakes and tsunamis.

Building off more than 15 years of research from Indonesian, Singaporean, American, and Australian scientists, the team created a collection of scenarios, for earthquakes of different magnitudes and the resulting tsunamis that would affect West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Continue reading Making waves: artificial tsunamis to prepare for the worst

The little people of Flores

The 2003 discovery of a fossil of a small, human-like creature, Homo floresiensis (nicknamed ‘Hobbit’), in Indonesia by the late Professor Mike Morwood and Professor Raden Soejono shook up palaeoanthropologists worldwide. But there was more to find.

In 2010 Mike and his team returned to the island of Flores. With researchers from the Geology Museum Bandung, Geological Survey Institute of Indonesia and Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional, and with the help of 120 trained field workers from the Ngada and Nage Keo districts, they initiated one of the largest fossil digs in Southeast Asia. They found pygmy elephants, Komodo dragons, giant rats, and stone tools.

Continue reading The little people of Flores

Predicting where gold and copper lie

Indonesian and Australian scientists are searching for buried treasure: using the movement of tectonic plates to predict when and where giant deposits of gold and copper should form, while building an understanding of the conditions these deposits are created in.

The project, which began in 2013 and is due for completion in 2016, is using Southeast Asia as a ‘natural laboratory’ to explore these natural processes and their products. Knowing when and how deposits formed can help us understand geological processes occurring today.

Continue reading Predicting where gold and copper lie

Riding the rails to an efficient freight system

From 2016 a specially-equipped standard railcar will be rocking and rolling along the tracks of East Java. It will have carefully positioned sensors to detect its movement during normal operation, including its displacement and vibration.

The railcar instrumentation has been designed by Monash University’s Institute of Rail Technology to provide data on the condition of the track. This will allow engineers to accurately estimate safe loads and running speeds.

Continue reading Riding the rails to an efficient freight system

Building sustainable, resilient ports and cities: The Australia-Indonesia Centre Infrastructure Cluster

The Australian and Indonesian governments have recognised railways, roads, and ports as important areas for investment over the next 20 years.

The Australia-Indonesia Centre has developed a suite of projects that will help the country create the resilient infrastructure it needs to grow.

Continue reading Building sustainable, resilient ports and cities: The Australia-Indonesia Centre Infrastructure Cluster

Building port cities

Port cities can be lively, vibrant hives of activity—the hub of a nation’s economic health—if they’re planned well.

Indonesia’s busiest port, Tanjung Priok, has roughly two and a half times the container traffic as the Port of Melbourne. But it also has a reputation as one of the least efficient ports in Asia. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has recognised the need to transform the nation’s ports and plans to develop 24 new ports by 2019. One recently established, state-of-theart port is Teluk Lamong in Surabaya.

Continue reading Building port cities