PM’s Prize winner working on astronomy pathfinder

John O’Sullivan with a prototype of the revolutionary phased array feed for the ASKAP. Credit: Chris Walsh, Patrick Jones Photo Studio
John O’Sullivan with a prototype of the revolutionary phased array feed for the ASKAP. Credit: Chris Walsh, Patrick Jones Photo Studio

CSIRO’s Dr John O’Sullivan, winner of the 2009 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, is now working on the next generation of radio telescopes.

John’s latest efforts are directed towards the development of an innovative radio camera or ‘phased array feed’ with a uniquely wide field-of-view for the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope.

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Breaking the link between fat and diabetes

Michael Cowley has shown how our brain tells our body we are full. Credit: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
Michael Cowley has shown how our brain tells our body we are full. Credit: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Why do we get fat? What’s the link between obesity, diabetes and hypertension? Can we break the link? These are critical questions around the world. Prof. Michael Cowley may have the answers.

He’s shown how our brains manage our consumption and storage of fat and sugar and how that can go wrong. He’s created a biotech company that’s trialling four obesity treatments.

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Supercomputer to test nanoparticles before we make them

Playing with virtual gold nanoparticles. Credit: Amanda Barnard, CSIRO
Playing with virtual gold nanoparticles. Credit: Amanda Barnard, CSIRO

Every new technology brings opportunities and threats. Nanotechnology is no exception. It has the potential to create new materials that will dramatically improve drug delivery, medical diagnostics, clean and efficient energy, computing and more. But nanoparticles could also have significant health and environmental impacts.

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How astronomy freed the computer from its chains

John O’Sullivan’s search for exploding black holes led to fast, reliable Wi-Fi. Credit: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
John O’Sullivan’s search for exploding black holes led to fast, reliable Wi-Fi. Credit: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

When you use a Wi-Fi network—at home, in the office or at the airport—you are using patented technology born of Australian astronomy.

Australia’s CSIRO created a technology that made the wireless LAN fast and robust. And their solution grew out of 50 years of radio astronomy and one man’s efforts to hear the faint radio whispers of exploding black holes.

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From bionic ear to bionic eye

An example of the microchip that will be inserted into retinas to help restore sight. Credit: NICTA
An example of the microchip that will be inserted into retinas to help restore sight. Credit: NICTA

Melbourne scientists gave Australia the first practical bionic ear. Today, over 180,000 people hear with the help of the cochlear implant.

Now, The University of Melbourne is a key member in an Australian consortium developing an advanced bionic eye that will restore vision to people with severe vision loss. This device will enable unprecedented high resolution images to be seen by thousands of people with severely diminished sight, allowing them to read large print and recognise faces.

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Erosion and dams threaten barramundi and prawn fisheries

Barramundi caught at Shady Camp freshwater in Northern Territory. Credit: Marcus Finn
Barramundi caught at Shady Camp freshwater in Northern Territory. Credit: Marcus Finn

Kilometre-wide erosion gullies eating their way across Australia’s northern landscape are proving likely culprits as the main source of the sediments that are flushed into the Gulf of Carpentaria each year, possibly smothering prawn and barramundi breeding and rearing habitats.

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Measuring mercury with a Midas touch

Nano-gold spikes magnified 200,000 times. Credit: RMIT
Nano-gold spikes magnified 200,000 times. Credit: RMIT

RMIT University researchers have used nanotechnology to create a pioneering sensor that can precisely measure one of the world’s most poisonous substances—mercury.

The mercury sensor developed by RMIT’s Industrial Chemistry Group uses tiny flecks of gold that are nano-engineered to make them irresistible to mercury molecules.

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Goanna team finds software bugs before they bite

nicta_Goanna_pg 6Software bugs are expensive. Typically, software developers waste around a quarter of their time testing and debugging programs. The later bugs are detected in the software development process the more expensive they are, and the more they delay the product launch. This is especially true in the case of embedded systems software which has to be developed at the same time as the hardware. If a bug gets through, it may mean millions of dollars is spent recalling the product.

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H1N1 still a threat

MIMR_H1N1_300x180Why does influenza make some of us much sicker than others? What are the implications for swine flu (H1N1)? Australian scientists are looking to past outbreaks for the answers.

In July 2009, the Australian Government responded to urgent global calls to use the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season as a catalyst for investigating the severity and global threat of the H1N1 flu strain.

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Imaginary friends, real benefits

Credit: Marina Adinolfi
Credit: Marina Adinolfi

Children with imaginary friends are better at learning to communicate than those who do not have one, according to psychologist Dr Evan Kidd at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

In a study of 44 children, Evan and his colleague Anna Roby showed that the 22 children who had imaginary friends were able to get their points across more effectively when talking.

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