A lens just a billionth of a metre thick could transform phone cameras. Swinburne researchers have created ultra-thin lenses that cap an optical fibre, and can produce images with the quality and sharpness of much larger glass lenses.
The brainpower of 18 institutions and more than $30 million are expanding the net to detect gravitational waves—disturbances in the fabric of spacetime—and cement Australia’s role in the emerging field.
A fleet of autonomous robots is being developed by Queensland scientists to kill crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub of QUT are working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to create the RangerBot, following successful field trials of QUT’s COTSBot in 2016.
Hearing voices is normal, says Swinburne’s Professor Susan Rossell. But sometimes those voices can cause extreme disruption.
Susan suspects our brain’s ability (or inability) to tune out our internal voice may be involved in the auditory hallucinations experienced by many with schizophrenia.
Dating of ancient human teeth discovered in a Sumatran cave site suggests modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.
The international research, led by Dr Kira Westaway from Macquarie University and published in Nature, has pushed back the timing of when humans first left Africa, their arrival in Southeast Asia, and the first time they lived in rainforests.
High-power lasers have many potential applications: from medical imaging to manufacturing, shooting down drones or space junk, or powering deep space probes. But current laser technologies overheat at high power.
Associate Professor Rich Mildren and his team have developed a technique to make diamond lasers that, in theory, have extraordinary power range. Five years ago, their lasers were just a few watts in power. Now they’ve reached 400 watts, close to the limit for comparable conventional lasers.
Why is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.
But it’s not that simple.
A global team of researchers, led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, revealed that in much of the world the key limiting factor for leaf size is night temperature and the risk of frost damage to leaves.
Macquarie University researchers are exploring the earth, oceans, fire and sky to answer big questions of the past and future.
- The mystery of leaf size solved
- Reinventing the laser
- Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought
- Protecting surfers from shark attacks
Making motorcycle clothing safer, a robotic arm for stroke rehab, prospecting for gold using prehistoric volcanoes—these are some of the highlights of the past year featured in Stories of Australian Science 2017.
Australian scientists are making silk-derived implants to fix damaged eardrums, and working to stop people going into flood waters. They’re flying unmanned drones to record our reefs in incredible detail, and teaching bots to search out and destroy crown-of-thorns starfish. They’re keeping stored red blood cells in shape, testing water safety with fingernail-sized sensors, expanding the net for gravitational waves, and much more.
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Stories of Australian Science grew out of our work hosting the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne in 2007, where we realised that there was a hunger for more stories about the best of Australian science.