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
Plants need water, but if that water also comes with a hefty dose of salt it can kill the plant. But the ice plant, Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, has a clever way of storing salt in special cells, allowing it to thrive in saline coastal areas.
Continue reading How the ice plant thrives in high-salt areas
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Continue reading Lenses a fraction of a hair’s width, faster communication and better solar cells
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.
Continue reading Gravitational waves—looking further
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.
Continue reading Robo reef protector