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.

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Mangroves’ message from the grave

Mangroves help fight climate change but they’re at serious risk from its effects. That’s one of the findings from a study of a massive mangrove dieback that occurred in late 2015.

Local fishermen reported mangroves were dying along hundreds of kilometres along the Gulf of Carpentaria coastline, an area known for its barramundi fishing and high value commercial fisheries.

This caught the attention of Dr Damien Maher of Southern Cross University, who is interested in the chemistry of mangroves—how they store carbon in their soils, remove planet-warming nitrous oxides from the atmosphere, and neutralise ocean acidification by releasing alkaline chemicals into nearby waters.

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Radar in a suitcase; rain gardens to grow food and stop floods; earthquake-proofing ports—The Australia-Indonesia Centre

The Australia-Indonesia Centre are its supporters are funding collaborative research in energy, health, infrastructure, urban water, and food and agriculture. Here are some highlights.

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Growing food and stopping floods with rain gardens

Small urban ‘rain gardens’ are popping up all around Australia and Indonesia to keep waterways free from pollutants, stop flooding and erosion, and to grow food.

Although they may look similar to a normal garden, beneath the surface rain gardens are a sandwich of layers of sand, gravel, roots and microbes through which polluted water passes and clean water exits, which can then be used for irrigation or washing.

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Radar-in-a-suitcase making bridges safer

Assessing ageing bridges just got safer and easier, thanks to a high-tech radar device that fits inside a suitcase.

Developed by Dr Lihai Zhang of The University of Melbourne as part of a collaborative research project supported by The Australia-Indonesia Centre, the IBIS-S radar technology can scan a bridge in 15 minutes from a kilometre away, quickly assessing its condition and stability.

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Hearing voices is normal; lenses a thousandth of a hair-width; harnessing the Internet of Things; and more—Swinburne University of Technology

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology are working on:

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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.

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