Tag Archives: Feature

Better emergency responses by removing social bots

Image credit: Mehwish Nasim

Filtering out social bots can help critical response teams see what’s happening in real time

Mehwish Nasim, University of Adelaide

Researchers have created an algorithm that distinguishes between misinformation and genuine conversations on Twitter, by detecting messages churned out by social bots.

Dr Mehwish Nasim and colleagues at the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide say the algorithm will make it easier for emergency services to detect major events such as civil unrest, natural disasters, and influenza epidemics in real time.

“When something really big is going on, people tweet a huge amount of useful information,” says Mehwish.

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Researchers use sound to deliver drugs

Soundwaves. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

Researchers use sound to deliver drugs

A technique adapted from telecommunications promises more effective cancer treatments.

Dr Shwathy Ramesan from RMIT

Drugs can be delivered into individual cells by using soundwaves, Melbourne researchers have discovered.

Adapting a technique used in the telecommunications industry for decades, Dr Shwathy Ramesan from RMIT, and colleagues, used the mechanical force of sound to push against cell walls and deliver drugs more effectively than treatments currently in use.

The new technique aids in silencing genes responsible for some diseases, including cancer, by switching them on or off.

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Faecal pellets and food remains reveal what ghost bats eat in the Pilbara

Captive ghost bats at Perth Zoo. Photo credit: Perth Zoo.

Alba Arteaga Claramunt, University of Western Australia.
Photos of 2019 Science in Public Event at the Brisbane Hotel in Perth. Photos Ross Swanborough.

UWA, Curtin university and Perth zoo researchers have discovered that Australian endangered ghost bats in the Pilbara (WA) eat over 46 different species.

Its diet is very diverse ranging from small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Researchers used a new approach by combining two methodologies: DNA analysis of faecal pellets and classification of dried food remains.

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Redrawing the lines of our marine parks for sharks

Charlotte Birkmanis, University of Western Australia.
Photos of 2019 Science in Public Event at the Brisbane Hotel in Perth. Photos Credit – Ross Swanborough.

Small changes to marine parks could make a big difference to mako sharks and many other ocean shark species, says UWA researcher Charlotte Birkmanis, lead author of a paper published in Global Ecology and Conservation today. 

Sharks are the peak predators across the world’s oceans. They’re essential to the health of the oceans, and of the fisheries that billions of people depend on.

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Mapping our galaxy’s magnetic field

Dr Charlotte Sobey, CSIRO and Curtin University

Astronomers from CSIRO and Curtin University have used pulsars to probe the Milky Way’s magnetic field. Working with colleagues in Europe, Canada, and South Africa, they have published the most precise catalogue of measurements towards mapping our Galaxy’s magnetic field in 3-D.

The Milky Way’s magnetic field is thousands of times weaker than Earth’s, but is of great significance for tracing the paths of cosmic rays, star formation, and many other astrophysical processes. However, our knowledge of the Milky Way’s 3-D structure is limited.

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TB could be conquered by common painkillers, research reveals

Image credit – Azul. (Zebrafish)

Zebrafish model suggests aspirin slows bacterial growth.

Dr Elinor Hortle, Centenary Institute in Sydney

Aspirin could be used to treat the world’s deadliest infectious disease, according to new research conducted by Dr Elinor Hortle at the Centenary Institute in Sydney.

Tuberculosis – which affects a third of the global population – currently kills two million people every year. The spread of multi-drug resistant strains mean antibiotics are becoming less effective.

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X-rays for gold

China and Australia are the world’s two largest producers of gold. So, it’s fitting that a device combining Australian and Chinese research, and capabilities in high-tech manufacturing, is set to shake up the industry.

Ore processors need to know how much gold is in their raw material to get the most out of it. The current industry standard for testing ore is the fire assay, an elaborate and time-consuming process that requires temperatures over 1000 degrees and toxic chemicals such as lead. It also takes at least 8 hours to complete.

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Clean gas, clean air

New technologies are making natural gas a cheaper and greener fuel

Air quality in China’s cities is improving thanks to government initiatives to reduce urban coal burning. In Beijing, for example, homes, schools, hospitals and factories are switching from coal to gas for heating. As a result, demand for gas has quadrupled over the past decade. Now Australian researchers are partnering with Chinese industry to make gas production even cleaner and more efficient.

Both countries will benefit. China has large gas reserves but much of the gas is in unconventional sources such as coal seam gas and shale gas. The gases from these sources can contain less than 50 per cent methane so impurities such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen must be removed. For nitrogen that usually means cooling the gas to separate the valuable methane from the nitrogen in an energy-intensive process costing billions of dollars.

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How deep is your sleep?

Reading brain activity for better anaesthesia

More than 40 million people have major surgery in China each year. For every one of them the nature of consciousness is a very practical concern. Too low a dose of anaesthetic could see you wake up during the operation. Too high a dose could have long term health consequences.

Currently, the best monitoring devices can only monitor a suite of secondary indicators of consciousness. A Guangdong company has partnered with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) with the aim of making anaesthesia easier and safer. They’re creating an intelligent device to directly measure the depth of unconsciousness and adjust the anaesthetic dose in real time.

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The ‘coolest’ place for astronomy

High on the Antarctic Plateau, in one of the coldest places on Earth, a group of telescopes are peering through stellar dust clouds into the heart of our galaxy.

The cold helps counteract interference from the telescopes and surrounding equipment, which can hinder our ability to see relatively
‘cool’ objects in space, such as asteroids, young stars, and interstellar gas.

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