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. 

Previous editions of Stories of Australian Science and our other publications

Read the individual stories of the 2017 edition here, or view the PDF of it, and earlier editions, here. And read the full distribution for the magazines here.

We’re sharing all the stories on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (@AusSciStories), and via LinkedIn.

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.

Over the past decade, we’ve profiled the breadth and depth of Australian science in our Stories 2016magazines—from astronomy to zoology, and climate science to quantum mechanics.

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

All our stories 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.

From car batteries to grid storage

There’s still life in lead batteries. East Penn Manufacturing operates the largest single-site, lead-acid battery manufacturing facility in the world in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

They argue that their new lead batteries are 99 per cent recyclable and ideal for large-scale storage.

To prove it, they’re developing a 3MW power storage system using the UltraBattery technology invented by Australia’s CSIRO.

By combining lead-acid technology with a supercapacitor, the UltraBattery not only charges and discharges rapidly, but lasts four to five times longer than an ordinary battery.

Quantum computers with photons

The idea behind quantum computing has been around for almost half a century, but getting to a point where quantum effects can be created experimentally has taken a long time.

Now that materials physics and photonics have caught up, the race is on to devise and construct a quantum device that can out-compute today’s solid-state silicon supercomputers.

And Swinburne is leading the way with the use of photons.

Continue reading Quantum computers with photons

Protecting surfers from shark attacks

Macquarie University researchers discovered that most sharks are colour blind, and used that knowledge to create patented wetsuit camouflage designs that are now on the market. Now the team is looking at how sharks perceive surfboards.

Associate Professor Nathan Hart, his students and collaborators are taking a new look at the sensory world of sharks. Using a range of physiological, genetic and behavioural methods, they have obtained the clearest view yet of how sharks, including notorious predators such the great white shark, see the world around them. 

Continue reading Protecting surfers from shark attacks

The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

A hidden reef exists behind the Great Barrier Reef—but it’s three times bigger than previously thought, constructed by algae, and made up of doughnut-shaped mounds.

Uncovering the true scale of the 6,000 km2 structure was made possible by airborne laser mapping technology LiDAR, provided by the Royal Australian Navy.

It has implications for the Great Barrier Reef’s habitat mapping and conservation zoning, as well as providing possible insights into past climates.

Continue reading The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

Harnessing the data from everything that’s online

From cars that know when they need a mechanic and where to find one, to improving transport links between affordable housing and employment centres—Professor Dimitrios Georgakopoulos of Swinburne University of Technology wants to harness the mass of information generated by the internet of things (IoT).

This network consists of every connected device or ‘thing’ (including people) connected to the internet and each other.

Dimitrios has developed ways to gather and distil high-value information from this data.

Continue reading Harnessing the data from everything that’s online

After 160 years, it’s time to throw away the needle and syringe

Professor Mark Kendall is planning to dispatch the 160-year-old needle and syringe to history. He’s invented a new vaccine technology that’s painless, uses a fraction of the dose, puts the vaccine just under the skin, and doesn’t require a fridge.

The Nanopatch is a 1 cm square piece of silicon with 20,000 microscopic needles engineered on one side. Coat the needles with dry vaccine, push it gently but firmly against the skin, and the vaccine is delivered just under the outer layer of skin.

It’s a technology he invented in response to a call from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking ideas for delivery of vaccines in developing countries—where it’s a challenge to keep conventional wet vaccines cold to the point of delivery.

Continue reading After 160 years, it’s time to throw away the needle and syringe

Mapping species and coral bleaching by drone

Advanced, miniature cameras on drones are capturing details of landscapes that have previously been invisible. QUT researchers are using them to fly low over reefs, capturing almost 100 times the colours captured by standard cameras.

“High-altitude surveys of reefs may lack the resolution necessary to identify individual corals or bleaching effects,” says Associate Professor Felipe Gonzalez, who is leading a team of researchers and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) engineers from QUT in a partnership project between QUT and the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS).

Continue reading Mapping species and coral bleaching by drone

Tracking space junk

Algorithms normally used to track aircraft, ships and other vehicles are being used to monitor space junk and predict where it will go.

Currently the US Department of Defense tracks around 17,300 objects the size of a softball or larger, orbiting around the Earth at speeds of up to seven kilometres per second.

They can cause serious damage if they collide with something else. Last year a tiny paint fleck caused a crack in a window of the International Space Station.

Continue reading Tracking space junk

Earthquake-proofing ports

Researchers from The University of Melbourne are learning how to modify existing Indonesian and Australian ports so earthquakes don’t do such devastating damage to sea trade.

“What we currently have is a recipe for disaster. Some of the port infrastructure is over 100 years old and wasn’t designed to cope with the loads they are currently bearing, let alone an earthquake,” says Dr Massoud Sofi.

Continue reading Earthquake-proofing ports