All posts by Lydia Hales

Stories of European-Australian Innovation

Coming soon: Stories of European-Australian Innovation

Building the largest scientific instrument on Earth in outback Western Australia. Tackling cancer with big data in Adelaide. Making carbon fibre blades for more powerful wind turbines in Geelong. These are just a few of the ways in which European and Australian researchers are collaborating to change the world for the better.

Stories of European-Australian Innovation will bring together these stories and many more.

Here are three previews.

Spying on the denizens of the Southern Ocean

Sonar and satellites reveal the fish and other creatures that live far below the surface

The depths of the ocean still hold great mysteries. At depths between 200 and 1000 metres live creatures that, taken altogether, weigh as much as 10 billion tonnes.

Rudy Kloser, an expert on echo sounding and deep-sea ecosystems at CSIRO in Hobart, says these creatures are vital but poorly understood.

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Hypersonic travel

Brussels to Sydney in less than three hours

A passenger jet could one day fly halfway around the world in just a few hours. That’s the goal of the HEXAFLY project (High-speed Experimental FLY): going beyond the supersonic realm pioneered by the now-defunct Concorde to reach hypersonic speeds more than five times as fast as sound.

Led by the European Space Agency, the project has now brought on international collaborators to prepare for an early stage test flight planned for 2020.

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Making wine in a warming world

South Australian winemakers are looking to Europe as the climate – and what drinkers want – is changing

Grapes don’t ripen the way they used to. As temperatures climb, they are getting sweeter faster.

Winemakers find that by the time the crop achieves the right colour or level of tannins, the grapes contain more sugar. More sugar means heavier, more alcoholic wine. At the same time, drinkers are preferring lighter wines.

Dr Roberta De Bei is trialling countermeasures to delay ripening at the University of Adelaide, where she has worked as a research fellow in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine since she left Italy in 2008.

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The shape of a perfect storm: saving lives by predicting firestorms

Correction: an earlier version stated the tool is being formally trialed by the NSW Rural Fire Service. It is currently in use, but formal trials ended in 2016.

Firestorms are a nightmare for emergency services and anyone in their path. They occur when a bushfire meets a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental conditions and creates a thunderstorm.

Dr Rachel Badlan and Associate Professor Jason Sharples are part of a team of experts from UNSW Canberra and ACT Emergency Services that has found the shape of a fire is an important factor in whether it will turn into a firestorm.

Fires that form expansive areas of active flame, rather than spreading as a relatively thin fire-front, are more likely to produce higher smoke plumes and turn into firestorms, the researchers found.

This finding is being used to underpin further development of a predictive model for firestorms. The model was trialed in the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons by the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the NSW Rural Fire Service, and now forms part of the national dialogue around extreme bushfire development.  

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Slipped discs: robot shows it’s not all bending and twisting

High res photos available below.  

Video of Dhara and the bending robot available here

Some slipped disc injuries might be caused by movements other than the commonly blamed bending and twisting, according to new research by South Australian engineers.

It’s a finding that will lead to a better understanding of the motions that put people at greatest risk of a slipped disc and help develop more robust guidelines for safe lifting.

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Kid-friendly chocolate formula helps the medicine go down

Researchers from The University of Western Australia have developed a winning medicine formula that makes bad-tasting medicine taste nice, making it easier to treat sick children.

The UWA study published by the journal Anaesthesia tested 150 children and found that the majority of children who were given the new chocolate-tasting medicine would take it again, unlike the standard treatment, while they still experienced the same beneficial effects.

UWA Clinical Senior Lecturer Dr Sam Salman said the poor taste of many medicines, such as Midazolam, a sedative used prior to surgery, presented a real difficulty in effectively treating children.

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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.

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