All posts by Operations

The hunt for shapeshifting cancer cells

For a long time, doctors and patients have dreamed of precision oncology, a process that allows specific, effective treatments for individual tumours.

In the past, the complex nature of tumours has made this impossible.

“Within a tumour, there are many different cell populations, each doing different things and behaving in different ways. Most cells will be killed by chemotherapy, but some are not,” says Associate Professor Frederic Hollande of The University of Melbourne.

Continue reading The hunt for shapeshifting cancer cells

The Milky Way is warped

The first accurate 3D map of our galaxy reveals its true shape: warped and twisted.

Astronomers from Macquarie University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have used 1339 ‘standard’ stars to map the real shape of our home galaxy in a paper published in Nature Astronomy today.

They found the Milky Way’s disc of stars becomes increasingly ‘warped’ and twisted the further away the stars are from the galaxy’s centre.

Continue reading The Milky Way is warped

Cane toads: what they do in the shadows

Cane toads are picking up some shady habits, according to a new study co-authored by a Macquarie University researcher.

Toads in Western Australia have been spotted awake and active during the day in deeply shaded habitats, despite the species usually being nocturnal in Australia and other parts of the world.

However nearby cane toad populations at more exposed sites remained only active at night.

Continue reading Cane toads: what they do in the shadows

Promiscuous females and their role in evolution

Males have to make less of an effort to mate with promiscuous female fruit flies, making the quality and quantity of their semen all the more important in the competition to fertilise the females’ eggs.

This also leads to male flies repeatedly mating with the same female, according to a paper published last week in Nature Communications, by researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia, who looked into the eyes of thousands of fruit flies.

Continue reading Promiscuous females and their role in evolution

The quest for the missing proteins in rice

Researchers have identified over 5,700 new proteins in rice and are calling for a global effort to find the remaining missing proteins, in a new study co-authored by Macquarie University.

The international team of scientists from Australia, Iran and Japan say there’s an estimated 35,000 proteins encoded by the rice genome, and yet we still don’t have experimental evidence for 82 per cent of them.

This is important because rice is the major food source for more than half the world’s population, and in order for it to grow in warmer climates and with less water we will need to better understand rice at the molecular level. Continue reading The quest for the missing proteins in rice

The future of electronics is chemical

We can’t cram any more processing power into silicon-based computer chips.

But a paper published in Nature overnight reveals how we can make electronic devices 10 times smaller, and use molecules to build electronic circuits instead.

We’re reaching the limits of what we can do with conventional silicon semiconductors. In order for electronic components to continue getting smaller we need a new approach.

Molecular electronics, which aims to use molecules to build electronic devices, could be the answer. Continue reading The future of electronics is chemical

Warming oceans will affect sharks’ brains

By Macquarie University

Rising ocean temperatures due to climate change will not only be felt by smaller organisms like coral, but will also impact apex predators, according to new research.

The study from the Macquarie University Fish Lab found that increasing water temperature by just 3ºC altered the behaviour of hatchling sharks.

Baby sharks incubated at temperatures predicted by the end of the century had very different turn preferences compared to sharks reared in present day water temperatures.

Continue reading Warming oceans will affect sharks’ brains

Why so blue? New research sheds light on why our iconic blue-tongue lizards have such colourful tongues

By Macquarie University

A new study by researchers at Macquarie University has shed light on why blue tongue lizards have such an outrageously coloured tongue, given that the vast majority of lizards have a regular pink tongue.

The study, just published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, found that the colour is not accidental, and likely evolved as a protection against predators. Continue reading Why so blue? New research sheds light on why our iconic blue-tongue lizards have such colourful tongues

Would electric cars crash the grid?

Widespread adoption of electric cars in New South Wales would increase demand on the power grid by an average of eight per cent, according to new research from the School of Engineering.

Sohaib Rafique and Professor Graham Town used data from the New South Wales Household Travel Survey to determine the demand that electric cars would place on the grid if they were used in 82 per cent of weekday and 81 per cent of weekend commutes, with trips less than 35km in length. Continue reading Would electric cars crash the grid?