Tag Archives: computer modelling

Hidden art revealed

A glimpse of a rare self-portrait by one of Australia’s most highly regarded artists has emerged from what appeared to be a blank canvas—thanks to researchers at the Australian Synchrotron.

A rare Streeton self-portrait, revealed in this image of zinc atoms. The highest concentrations are in the white of Streeton’s collar and the fairness of his face because zinc is used in the white pigment. Credit: Daryl Howard
A rare Streeton self-portrait, revealed in this image of zinc atoms. The highest concentrations are in the white of Streeton’s collar and the fairness of his face because zinc is used in the white pigment. Credit: Daryl Howard

A glimpse of a rare self-portrait by one of Australia’s most highly regarded artists has emerged from what appeared to be a blank canvas—thanks to researchers at the Australian Synchrotron.

Continue reading Hidden art revealed

The mathematics of conservation

The Earth is losing species and ecosystems fast, but figuring out the best response is not easy when information, time and money are scarce.

Dr Eve McDonald Madden helps saves species—with maths. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au
Dr Eve McDonald Madden helps saves species—with maths. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au

Dr Eve McDonald-Madden is using maths to help governments and others make tough decisions on how best to use limited resources to preserve ecosystems under threat.

The young Australian scientist helps to save species, not by going out into the field, but by analysing the data other people have collected on endangered species. Continue reading The mathematics of conservation

Crashing helicopters for safety

Mathew Joosten crashes several helicopters a day—without any deaths or injury. He uses computer simulation.

Crashing helicopters can now be done from the safety of the keyboard. Credit: ACSCRC
Crashing helicopters can now be done from the safety of the keyboard. Credit: ACSCRC

A research student of the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures, Mr Joosten has designed ‘virtual crash test’ software to help accelerate the development of safety systems.

Continue reading Crashing helicopters for safety

Virtual management of the world’s oceans

New computer models are challenging the conventional wisdom in marine science.

Virtual management of the world’s oceans
Beth Fulton’s fisheries models are used all over the world. Credit: Istockphoto
These models have revealed for example that: large populations of jellyfish and squid indicate a marine ecosystem in trouble; not all fish populations increase when fishing is reduced—some species actually decline; and, sharks and tuna can use jellyfish as junk food to see them through lean periods.

The models were developed by the 2007 Science Minister’s Life Scientist of the Year, Dr Beth Fulton, a senior research scientist at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Hobart.
Continue reading Virtual management of the world’s oceans

Saving our skins

Physicist Dr Amanda Barnard has been using supercomputers to find the balance between sun protection and potential toxicity in a new generation of sunscreens which employ nanoparticles.

Dr Amanda Barnard with one of her nanoparticle simulations Credit: L’Oréal/SDP Photo
Dr Amanda Barnard with one of her nanoparticle simulations Credit: L’Oréal/SDP Photo
The metal oxide nanoparticles which block solar radiation are so small they cannot be seen, so the sunscreen appears transparent. But if the particles are too small, they can produce toxic levels of free radicals.

Amanda, who heads CSIRO’s Virtual Nanoscience Laboratory, has been able to come up with a trade-off—the optimum size of particle to provide maximum UV protection for minimal toxicity while maintaining transparency—by modelling the relevant interactions on a supercomputer.
Continue reading Saving our skins

Mapping the seafloor from space

We know more about the topography of Mars than that of Earth because 70 per cent of our planet is covered by water.

Kara Matthews has mapped the seafloor using satellite data and software. Credit: Kara Matthews

Now University of Sydney PhD student Kara Matthews has used satellite data and GPlates, a computer package developed at the University, to create a complete digital map of the many geological features of the seafloor.

Fracture zones—the orange lines in the accompanying image—are deep linear scars on the seafloor that extend perpendicular to the boundaries where tectonic plates are moving apart, revealing up to 150 million years of plate movement. They are accompanied by huge ridges on the seafloor, rising up to 2 km above the abyssal plains, and valleys as deep as 8 km below sea level.
Continue reading Mapping the seafloor from space

Slide back in time and see the Himalayas form

Researchers in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney have developed a computer package that lets scientists record and study the Earth over geological time.

GPlates moves geology into the fourth dimension
GPlates image showing topography (left) and predicted temperature 300 km below surface (right) as India moves towards the Eurasian continent 60mya. Credit: Sabin Zahirovic, EarthByte

Their GPlates software, which they describe as “Google Earth with a time-slider,” contains powerful tools for modelling geological processes. Yet it is simple enough to use in schools or at home, and is freely available. By combining data on continental motion, fossils and sediments, for example, scientists can analyse changes in geography, ocean currents and climate over geological time.
Continue reading Slide back in time and see the Himalayas form