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

Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought

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.

Continue reading Modern humans were in Southeast Asia 20,000 years earlier than previously thought

Reinventing the laser

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.

Continue reading Reinventing the laser

The mystery of leaf size solved

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.

Continue reading The mystery of leaf size solved

Immune boost for cancer patients with HIV

Cancer is the leading cause of death among people with HIV and yet cancer treatment can be risky as their immune system is already compromised.

Now, a new class of drugs developed at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales is providing hope—demonstrating it is effective in treating the cancer and strengthening the immune response to that cancer.

Continue reading Immune boost for cancer patients with HIV

Fresh Science

Fresh Science helps Australian early-career researchers find their story and their voice.

Over the past 20 years Fresh Science has trained and empowered more than 500 future leaders in science to engage with the community, media, government and industry.

In 2016, we chose 60 researchers around the country, trained them, and gave them the chance to present their science in pubs, school talks and to the media. Here are a few of their stories.

Continue reading Fresh Science

Australian Science Prizes 2016

Clunies Ross Awards

Dr Elaine Saunders has made premium hearing aids more affordable and easier to use. She and her team have built on Australia’s bionic ear technologies to create a system where you can: test your hearing online; buy your hearing aid online and receive it set up ready for you; and adjust the hearing aid with your smartphone while you’re at the pub, dancing, or watching TV.

Credit: Blamey Saunders

Continue reading Australian Science Prizes 2016

Does coral help create rain?

Researchers have found that coral reefs may play a key role in cloud formation. Now they’re working to make climate modelling more accurate.

Australian and international scientists, led by QUT’s Professor Zoran Ristovski, spent a month in late 2016 collecting data on airborne particles emitted from the Great Barrier Reef, which they are now analysing.

Continue reading Does coral help create rain?