All posts by Bill Condie

Bone of contention

People lived in Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought

“It was a great surprise to the team when a modern child’s tooth and stone tools, which in no way were associated with Neanderthals, were discovered in a soil layer dating back 54,000 years ago,” co-author of a recent study, Dr Martina Demuro from the University of Adelaide, said.

Previously it was believed the Neanderthals had the continent to themselves until 45,000-43,000 years ago.

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Laser light waves point the way to super-accurate measurements

Scientists in Australia and Scotland have discovered a new way to use lasers for measurements, which brings a level of quantum precision never before available.

The improved sensitivity will enable the next generation of sensors with a wide variety of optical and quantum technologies.

“We have used the wave properties of light to create grainy patterns due to interference, termed ‘speckle’, which offers a sensitive probe of both the light and the environment,” says Professor Kishan Dholakia, who is jointly at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, and the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St Andrews.

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Mammoth discovery

Prehistoric animals should have survived for 4,000 more years

“Humans were a crucial and chronic driver of population declines of woolly mammoths,” says Damien Fordham from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute.

His research, as a member of an international team of scientists led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and University of Copenhagen, debunks the popular theory that a warming climate critically reduced mammoth populations, leaving so few that humans merely picked off the last survivors at the end.

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Breast cancer risk

A new breast cancer warning tool enters clinics

Identification of women at high risk of breast cancer could boost survival rates and even avoid the development of the cancer all together.

In a large global project, scientists bridged the gap between geneticists and epidemiologists and between Australia and Europe in a collaborative project to improve breast cancer risk prediction.

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The physics of cancer

Can we measure the physical forces at play as cancer cells move around the body? And can we influence those forces to create new treatment options?

An international team has developed a non-invasive way to measure the physical forces at play as cancer cells move within tissues. Their work has led to clinical trials to determine if these measurements can be used to guide treatment.

The ‘FORCE, Imaging the Force of Cancer project was a Horizon 2020 project led by King’s College London, with academic and business partners from across Europe and the USA, plus the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Neuroscience Australia.

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Dreams come true

AI could bring a better night’s rest

Artificial intelligence could be used to create personal treatment plans for many of the billion people suffering with sleep apnoea.

“An increase in the number of patients will pose challenges to health care and its resources,” Professor Juha Töyräs, Head of Biomedical Engineering at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at University of Queensland. and Professor of Medical Physics and Engineering at University of Eastern Finland.

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Optometrist to the stars: MAVIS

A new instrument will give Earthbound astronomers a clear view to rival space telescopes

An ambitious collaboration led by Australian, French, and Italian scientists, together with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) located in Chile, is aimed at fixing the distortion of images from Earth-based telescopes caused by the Earth’s atmosphere, by designing a giant pair of “glasses” to correct the vision of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the ESO.

A new instrument, dubbed “MAVIS” (MCAO Assisted Visible Imager and Spectrograph), will correct for these distortions in real time, delivering crystal clear images and “3D” data portraits of objects millions of light years away.

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Vaccination validation

European Union backs Australian malaria vaccine ideas

A malaria vaccine being developed by James Cook University researcher Professor Denise Doolan could save half a million lives a year.

“Malaria is one of the oldest diseases and is probably the disease that has had the biggest effect on the human genome, by driving evolutionary changes,” says Professor Doolan. “The sickle cell trait, for example, is a genetic abnormality in the human genome that has arisen in Africa to deal with malaria.”

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Australia’s time machine gets down to business

The ASKAP radio telescope, about 800 kilometres north of Perth, is taking new images of space to help scientists better understand the origins of the Universe.

Professor Elaine Sadler is the principal investigator of an ASKAP project working with European researchers, dubbed FLASH, for First Large Absorption Survey in H1. She and her team are looking for hydrogen in the Universe.

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