A new tool to measure social inclusion to save lives

Work, housing and friendships are core factors to feeling included.

A new tool developed by researchers at Orygen to measure and monitor social inclusion was tested with more than 500 young people.

By identifying the early signs of isolation and loneliness, support can be provided to prevent more serious mental ill-health.

In mental healthcare, simple screening tools for common conditions like depression and anxiety make it possible to diagnose people quickly and get help sooner.

A new tool developed at Orygen does the same, but for social inclusion: the F-SIM (Filia Social Inclusion Measure), developed by Dr Kate Filia and being presented in Hobart this week at the Society for Mental Health Research conference, could help to pinpoint the causes of isolation and social exclusion,

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Ancient campfires reveal a 50,000 year old grocer and pharmacy

For the first time in Australia, archaeobotany has been used by researchers from UWA to examine charcoal from ancient campfires in the Western Desert.

They found wattle and other Acacias which proves it was (and still is) used by Indigenous people for tools, food and medicine.

The iconic wattle isn’t just about sports uniforms and the coat of arms – new finds in the oldest archaeological site on the land of the Martu in the Western Desert shows how wattle has defined culture and been important to Australians for over 50,000 years.

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Single test for over 50 genetic diseases will cut diagnosis from decades to days

A new DNA test, developed by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney and collaborators from Australia, UK and Israel, has been shown to identify a range of hard-to-diagnose neurological and neuromuscular genetic diseases quicker and more-accurately than existing tests.

‘We correctly diagnosed all patients with conditions that were already known, including Huntington’s disease, fragile X syndrome, hereditary cerebellar ataxias, myotonic dystrophies, myoclonic epilepsies, motor neuron disease and more,’ says Dr Ira Deveson, Head of Genomics Technologies at the Garvan Institute and senior author of the study.

The diseases covered by the test belong to a class of over 50 diseases caused by unusually-long repetitive DNA sequences in a person’s genes – known as ‘Short Tandem Repeat (STR) expansion disorders’.

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What ingredients went into the galactic blender to create the Milky Way?

Our galaxy is a giant ‘smoothie’ of blended stars and gas but a new study tells us where the components came from

In its early days, the Milky Way was like a giant smoothie, as if galaxies consisting of billions of stars, and an enormous amount of gas had been thrown together into a gigantic blender. But a new study picks apart this mixture by analysing individual stars to identify which originated inside the galaxy and which began life outside.

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Quantum computing in silicon hits 99 per cent accuracy

UNSW Sydney-led research paves the way for large silicon-based quantum processors for real-world manufacturing and application.

Australian researchers have proven that near error-free quantum computing is possible, paving the way to build silicon-based quantum devices compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing technology.

“Today’s publication in Nature shows our operations were 99 per cent error-free,” says Professor Andrea Morello of UNSW, who led the work, with partners in the US, Japan, Egypt, UTS and the University of Melbourne.

“When the errors are so rare, it becomes possible to detect them and correct them when they occur. This shows that it is possible to build quantum computers that have enough scale, and enough power, to handle meaningful computation.

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Building a silicon quantum computer chip atom by atom

An atomic array in silicon paves the way for large scale devices

A University of Melbourne led team have perfected a technique for embedding single atoms in a silicon wafer one-by-one. Their technology offers the potential to make quantum computers using the same methods that have given us cheap and reliable conventional devices containing billions of transistors.

“We could ‘hear’ the electronic click as each atom dropped into one of 10,000 sites in our prototype device. Our vision is to use this technique to build a very, very large-scale quantum device,” says Professor David Jamieson of The University of Melbourne, lead author of the Advanced Materials paper describing the process.

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Too much heavy metal stops stars producing

Stars evolve according to the elements they manufacture

Stars are giant factories that produce most of the elements in the Universe – including the elements in us, and in the Earth’s metal deposits. But what stars produce changes over time.

Two new papers published in MNRAS shed light on how the youngest generation of stars will eventually stop contributing metals back to the universe.

The authors are all members of ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions. They are based at Monash University, the Australian National University (ANU), and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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Closing in on the first light in the Universe

Research using new antennas in the Australian hinterland has reduced background noise and brought us closer to finding a 13-billion-year-old signal

The early Universe was dark, filled with a hot soup of opaque particles. These condensed to form neutral hydrogen which coalesced to form the first stars in what astronomers call the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR).

“Finding the weak signal of this first light will help us understand how the early stars and galaxies formed,” says Dr Christene Lynch from ASTRO 3D, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions.

Dr Lynch is first author on a paper published in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia. She and her colleagues from Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research have reduced the background noise in their observations allowing them to home in on the elusive signal.

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Food and housing crisis for Melbourne’s native bees

RMIT researchers call on Melburnians to plant the right plants and create the right homes for native pollinators.
They say we’ll get better tomato crops, more flowers and boost urban biodiversity.

As Melbourne’s gardens burst into life after a wet spring, native insects are out looking for flowers and pollen. City gardeners rely on bees, butterflies and other insects to pollinate their plants, which is how flowering plants reproduce and grow fruit or seeds.

But city gardens often don’t have the right types of food and homes for these helpful native bees and flies, with knock-on effects for our gardens and for biodiversity. Urban ecologist Katherine Berthon from RMIT University found that only 43% of flowers in the Melbourne city gardens she studied were being used by bees and other pollinating insects.

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Fishing for solutions to the plastic problem

A University of Adelaide study shows industry players are open to measures to reduce plastics in seafood – but first they have to understand the problem.

More than 35 percent of fish caught in the waters off southern Australia contain microplastics, and the problem is most acute in South Australia, with plastic found in 49 percent of fish, according to research from the University of Adelaide.

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