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  • richardmitnick 8:51 am on May 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSHOR-Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research, CSIRO, , Oceans of the Southern Hemisphere, Our new research centre focuses on the ‘ocean hemisphere’, QNLM- Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology   

    From CSIRO: “Our new research centre focuses on the ‘ocean hemisphere’” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    22nd May 2017
    Dr Steve Rintoul (CSIRO)
    Dr Wenju Cai (CSIRO)
    Dr Helen Cleugh (CSIRO)
    Dr Gongke Tan (QNLM)

    1
    Australia is uniquely placed as a centre for southern hemisphere oceans research. Image: Flickr/NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

    More than 80 per cent of the southern hemisphere is covered by oceans. Until recently, these vast oceans were largely unmeasured and poorly understood.

    New tools like satellites and profiling floats have helped to fill the gap in observations. These measurements have shown that the southern hemisphere oceans play a pivotal role in shaping the climate of Australia and the rest of the globe.

    If we want to know how climate works, and how it may change in the future, we need to better understand the “ocean hemisphere” of our planet.

    Why are the southern hemisphere oceans so important?

    Oceans influence global climate by absorbing and transporting vast amounts of heat and carbon dioxide. More than 93 per cent of the extra heat stored by the Earth since 1970 is found in the ocean – when we say global warming, we’re really talking about ocean warming.

    The oceans have also taken up about 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities in that time. By storing heat and carbon dioxide, the oceans have acted to slow the rate of climate change. Of course, this ‘service’ comes at a cost: Warming of the oceans causes sea level rise and other impacts, while the absorbed carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic.

    Ocean covers 80 per cent of the Southern Hemisphere.

    The southern oceans make a particularly important contribution. The oceans south of 40°S take up more heat and carbon dioxide than any other latitude band of the ocean. The Southern Ocean, where water rises from depths of more than 3 km and later sinks again after exchanging properties with the atmosphere, acts like a window to the deep sea.

    The warmest waters in the entire ocean are found in the maritime region just north of Australia. This ‘warm pool’ affects patterns of rainfall over Australia and much of the globe, including the monsoons and El Niño – La Niña, which drives cycles of floods and droughts.

    Australia sits at an ocean cross-roads. To the north, warm water flows from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean through the Indonesian archipelago. To the south, the largest band of strong current in the global ocean circulates cold water from west to east between Australia and Antarctica. These major currents influence regional and global climate by carrying heat, carbon and other properties around the globe.

    What will happen in the future?

    Changes in the southern hemisphere oceans may have widespread consequences. If the oceans become less efficient at taking up heat and carbon dioxide, this would likely accelerate the pace of climate change.

    Changes in the southern oceans may also alter the climate processes that control rainfall over Australia, China and other parts of the globe. These processes include the El Niño – Southern Oscillation in the Pacific and other vacillations of sea temperatures in the Indian Ocean like the Indian Ocean Dipole.

    Southern Ocean change will also impact the Antarctic Ice Sheet and sea level. Warming of the oceans will cause sea level rise. But warming may also drive melting of the floating ice shelves around the edge of Antarctica, allowing more ice to flow from the continent to the ocean, contributing to additional sea level rise.

    While we have made rapid progress in recent decades in understanding the influence of the southern oceans on climate, much remains unknown. We need to know how the southern oceans will change in the future and the consequences of those changes for climate variability, climate change and sea level rise.

    A new research centre for southern hemisphere ocean research

    Australia and China have joined forces to establish the first research centre with a focus on the southern hemisphere oceans.

    The Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research (or CSHOR – yes, you got it, ‘sea shore’) will tackle the challenge of improving our understanding of the southern oceans and how they influence regional and global climate. CSHOR will help to inform an effective response to the challenges of climate change and variability, in Australia, China and the rest of the world.

    CSHOR is a long-term research collaboration between Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (QNLM) in China and CSIRO. QNLM and CSIRO have entered into an initial five year Agreement together with CSHOR Australian partners, the University of New South Wales and University of Tasmania.

    The melting of Antarctic ice sheets and how this impacts future sea level rise is one of six priority research areas of the new Centre.

    3
    The melting of Antarctic ice sheets and how this impacts future sea level rise is one of six priority research areas of the new centre. No image credit.

    QNLM is a relatively new research institution, founded in 2013, and is the dominant player in marine science in China. As part of the QNLM strategy to become a global leader in marine science, they are establishing partnerships with overseas researchers. CSHOR is the first such collaboration to get off the ground.

    China is investing in the collaboration because they, like Australia, are exposed to climate variability and change driven by the southern hemisphere oceans. They chose Australia as a partner because of Australia’s standing as a leader in southern hemisphere ocean research.

    CSHOR has a budget of $20 million over five years, including funding for seven new positions in Australia, and will be based at the CSIRO Climate Science Centre in Hobart.

    The new centre will begin by focusing research on a number of questions:

    How will the El Niño – La Niña cycles that bring floods and drought to Australia change with climate change?
    How will changes in the ocean, including interaction with Antarctic ice shelves, impact sea level rise?
    How do the El Niño, the Indian Ocean Dipole and the Southern Annual Mode interact to drive variability in the climate of Australia, China and the rest of the globe?
    Will the southern oceans continue to slow the pace of climate change by taking up heat and carbon dioxide at the same rate in the future?
    How do the oceans north of Australia influence regional and global climate, and how will these regions change in the future?

    Recent research has highlighted the profound influence of the southern oceans on climate variability and change, but much remains unknown. This new partnership between Australia and China – the first in the world to focus on the southern hemisphere oceans – aims to fill this gap, providing decision-makers with the knowledge they need to respond to the challenges of a variable and changing climate.

    Find out more about our climate research on our website.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:48 am on May 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Aussie soil microbiome, CSIRO,   

    From CSIRO: “Mapping Australia’s soil microbiome” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    18th May 2017
    Andrea Wild

    1
    Sampling soil at Uluru with National Parks staff.

    Beneath our feet is a universe of microbes. The number of bacteria in Earth’s soils rivals the number of stars in the observable universe, and that’s not counting other microbes like fungi.

    Soil microbes are vital for ecosystem health. They support soil fertility, agriculture, species diversity and resilience of our natural ecosystems.

    You could even say that soil microbes run the planet. They take care of ecological processes like nutrient and carbon cycling and water purification. They help plants take in nitrogen from the soil. Like our own friendly gut bacteria they suppress plant diseases present in the soil.

    How do we know what’s living in our soils? Until very recently, we didn’t. Counting microbes in the field, in the traditional way of surveying or collecting biodiversity, is obviously impossible. And while soil microbes are happy in the soil, try culturing them in the lab and you’ll find that most of them die while a few grow out of all proportion.

    So over the last five years, we’ve run a project known as BASE – Biomes of Australian Soil Environments. Working with custodians and land owners, we sampled soils from more than 1500 sites across Australia, spanning deserts, agricultural lands, the tropics, alpine regions, coastal areas and beyond.

    We then used next-generation DNA sequencing to identify the microbes present, handling more than 90 billion DNA sequences in the process. To make the resulting terabyte-scale data usable by real people, we built a map of Australia’s soil microbiome.

    2
    Map of soil sampling sites around Australia.

    Our map is a world first, a globally unique resource for environmental research and management. It’s being used in many different ways: mineral exploration, land management, agriculture and even forensics.

    One of BASE’s most interesting uses is in restoring landscapes. It turns out that areas with similar ecosystems have similar soil microbes, even if they are vast distances apart. You may have heard of a faecal transplant, where the gut microbiota of a healthy donor are transferred to a patient suffering an untreatable gut infection. The same can be done for soil, transplanting a little soil from a healthy ecosystem to help restore one that has been altered by farming, mining or other land uses, paving the way for successful plantings of local trees and other plants.

    BASE continues to grow, with new contributors providing soil samples from across the continent. And the marine science community is adding data about our marine microbes to produce a national combined land and sea microbiome dataset for Australia.

    The BASE dataset was published in the international data journal GigaScience and we are working on making it openly accessible on the Atlas of Living Australia, where it can be combined with other environmental data, such as climate data, geochemical information and vegetation type.

    BASE has more than 25 research partners and is led by us in partnership with Bioplatforms Australia, Agriculture Victoria and the University of Adelaide.

    You can find out more about our work with soil and see the dataset for yourself here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:38 am on May 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Australian Dung Beetle Project, CSIRO   

    From CSIRO: “Six-armed ecosystem engineers remedy farming woes from the ground up” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    16th May 2017
    Jesse Hawley

    1
    We’ve been employing the help of foreign dung beetles to bury our problems for fifty years. Image: Andi Gentsch CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Up until 1967, Australia had a mammoth problem that we solved by sweeping it under the carpet. It worked a treat, and this week it was announced that we’re doubling down the efforts with a slew of new projects.

    The problem

    Consider a herd of beef cattle, each cow weighing perhaps half a tonne, grazing away. If you were to guess, how many times would you say each animal defecated in a day? Once? Three times?

    Well it’s actually around ten to twelve times. There are 28 million cattle in Australia, producing 280 million cow pats a day that can take months, and sometimes years, to break down. And that’s just cows, not to mention our native marsupial wildlife. You can see how quickly this issue piles up. So why aren’t we living in the Land Down Under a colossal hard-baked monolith of faeces?

    The answer, for marsupial faeces at least, is our native dung beetles. They co-evolved with our bouncing, watery-eyed friends and are quite happy to bury their small and hard pellets underground. The enormous wet and sticky pats produced by cows, though? Our native beetles don’t stand a chance.

    2
    If a 500 kg steer produces 10 cowpats a day, and is processed to create — on average — 1800 quarter-pounder patties, that’s three dung ‘patties’ for every meat patty. Image: CAFNR CC BY-NC 2.0.

    Cowpats are an issue not simply because, at their heart, they’re puddles of shit. They also—

    Suffocate the grass beneath and inhibit plant growth.
    Cause nutrient run-off, polluting and destroying the equilibrium in waterways.
    Bear vital nutrients for the soil and plant growth, which need to be introduced piecemeal.
    Act as a spawning ground for flies, with one large patty producing 3,000 bush flies in just one fortnight.

    Flies alone are a stabbing, burrowing, festering nuisance that can harbour diseases and transmit infections, cause myiasis — the grizzly ‘fly strike’ wherein maggots digest the tail, wounds, and genitals of livestock. Flies are also an all-round pain in the arse.

    We’ve established the flow-on effects of millions of tonnes of dung. So what was the solution?

    The solution

    It was the 1960s and, looking over our vast dung-strewn farmland, a newly immigrated entomologist working with us, Dr George Bornemissza, concluded our country had an issue. Instead of relying on our native dung beetles specialised to deal with marsupial faeces, Dr Bornemissza reasoned, why don’t we import beetles that have evolved to work with bovine faeces? And thus, our country-wide grassroots movement known as the Australian Dung Beetle Project emerged.

    Headed by Dr Bornemissza, the Australian Dung Beetle Project gradually introduced 45 dung beetle species to Australia, bringing them in from Africa and the Mediterranean. Like tiny organic bulldozers, the insects were collected, reared, and released to farms around the country, to overwhelming success. Each beetle rollout was tailored for the particular farmland habitat, with certain species performing their role, on a roll rolling dung into their preferred soil type.

    Headed by Dr Bornemissza, the Australian Dung Beetle Project gradually introduced 45 dung beetle species to Australia, bringing them in from Africa and the Mediterranean. Like tiny organic bulldozers, the insects were collected, reared, and released to farms around the country, to overwhelming success. Each beetle rollout was tailored for the particular farmland habitat, with certain species performing their role, on a roll rolling dung into their preferred soil type.

    3
    The very shiny Onthophagus dandalu Image: David McClenaghan

    In the last 50 years, we’ve continued introducing unique species of beetle to tackle specific requirements, such as the spring months in temperate climates where flies had a head-start over the beetles there.

    After half a century of riding the success of our dung beetles, the latest application will be the National Dung Beetle Database (NDBD [a clear cut acronym]), which will perform a targeted and heavily monitored release of the beetles in specific locations around the country. The NDBD will house the data for beetle numbers and efficacy, and will feed back in to inform future deployments of beetles.

    Haven’t had your fill of dung beetle information? Read more about some of the species of dung beetle we released in 2012-14.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:42 am on May 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CSIRO, ,   

    From CSIRO: Women in STEM – “The hunt for the Superstars of STEM to engage more women in science” Lisa Harvey-Smith 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    3rd May 2017
    Lisa Harvey-Smith

    1
    The new Superstar in STEM ambassador Lisa Harvey-Smith at the Australian Astronomical Observatory’s 3.9m Anglo-Australia Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. Author provided.

    Superstars of STEM is a new program by Science and Technology Australia that aims to smash the stereotypical portrait of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Conversation

    The plan is to identify 30 superstar women currently in STEM, and work with them to create role models for young women and girls, and thus move towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM.

    As the new ambassador and a mentor for Superstars of STEM, my role is to encourage broad participation, which we hope will elevate the visibility of women STEM professionals in public life.

    Encouraging more women in STEM

    There are already some programs that support female scientists and technologists in a bid to break down systemic obstacles. These include the Science in Australia Gender Equity program. Others aim to inspire women to study STEM subjects, such as Code like a Girl or to help young women build their techno-confidence, such as SheFlies and Robogals.

    Adding to this picture, Superstars of STEM aims to address public perception and is founded on the principle that visibility matters in achieving equality.

    Rather than simply attempting to shoehorn women into the public eye, this new program will work with 30 women in STEM to equip them with the skills, confidence and opportunities to become role models. This approach will build on the work being done to address systemic issues facing female scientists and technologists.

    A recent European study by Microsoft found that most girls became interested in STEM at around the age of 11, but their interest began to wane at 15. This is an important age, as girls are starting to make decisions that will set the trajectory of their academic life.

    The lack of role models in STEM was identified as the key factor that influenced the girls in the study, as well as a lack of practical experience with STEM subjects at school. On Twitter, 92% of the most followed scientists are male. When women scientists are mentioned in the media, they often tend to be described by their appearance rather than their achievements.

    The need for more female STEM role models has also been echoed in similar reports and programs in Asia, the UK, Africa and the United States.

    In Australia, more than half of all undergraduates and half of PhD students are female. Almost 60% of junior science lecturers are women. But women comprise just 16% of top-level science and technology researchers, professors and professionals.

    Role models

    As a young kid gazing at the stars, my role models were pioneering astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and eccentric types such as the late, great astronomy broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore.

    I thought that was enough for me, until as a 16-year-old I met Britain’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman, at Space School UK. At that moment I suddenly realised that every one of my role models in the fields of astronomy and space science had been male.

    Meeting this real-life STEM superstar had a transformational influence on me. It even spurred me on to apply for the European Astronaut Program in 2009.

    As someone who is passionate about astrophysics and science education I have inadvertently become a role model myself.

    But the continued lack of diverse role models in STEM makes me wonder how many missed opportunities and how much unrealised potential continues to be lost. Have our young, modern-day Marie Curies, Ruby Payne-Scotts, Ada Lovelaces and Isobel Bennetts passed up on science as a subject in favour of more conventional choices?

    The new superstars

    In its first year, Superstars of STEM is placing 30 women in the public eye, by equipping them with advanced communication skills. This will include media training, meetings with decision-makers, and opportunities to showcase their work.

    Participants will also be supported to speak with girls directly at local high schools and public events, along with establishing a public profile online.

    There are too few transformational and brilliant women in the public eye. Every success in science and technology in Australia is built on the work and contributions of people across the genders. For the sake of our girls, we need to celebrate these outstanding scientists and their work.

    I imagine a time when we ask children to draw a scientist and they draw somebody who looks like mathematician Nalini Joshi, molecular biologist Suzanne Cory, or astronomer Karlie Noon.

    The measure of the success of Superstars of STEM will be whether young Australian women can turn on the television, read a newspaper or engage with social media and see women experts presenting STEM as an exciting and viable career. I can’t wait to witness the opportunities this change will bring.

    This article was co-authored with Kylie Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Science and Technology Australia.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:59 am on May 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , CSIRO, ,   

    From CSIRO: Women in Stem “The hunt for the Superstars of STEM to engage more women in science” Lisa Harvey-Smith 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    3rd May 2017
    Lisa Harvey-Smith
    Kylie Walker

    1
    The new Superstar in STEM ambassador Lisa Harvey-Smith at the Australian Astronomical Observatory’s 3.9m Anglo-Australia Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. Author provided


    AAO Anglo Australian Telescope near Siding Spring, New South Wales, Australia

    Superstars of STEM is a new program by Science and Technology Australia that aims to smash the stereotypical portrait of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    The plan is to identify 30 superstar women currently in STEM, and work with them to create role models for young women and girls, and thus move towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM.

    As the new ambassador and a mentor for Superstars of STEM, my role is to encourage broad participation, which we hope will elevate the visibility of women STEM professionals in public life.

    Encouraging more women in STEM

    There are already some programs that support female scientists and technologists in a bid to break down systemic obstacles. These include the Science in Australia Gender Equity program. Others aim to inspire women to study STEM subjects, such as Code like a Girl or to help young women build their techno-confidence, such as SheFlies and Robogals.

    Adding to this picture, Superstars of STEM aims to address public perception and is founded on the principle that visibility matters in achieving equality.

    Rather than simply attempting to shoehorn women into the public eye, this new program will work with 30 women in STEM to equip them with the skills, confidence and opportunities to become role models. This approach will build on the work being done to address systemic issues facing female scientists and technologists.

    A recent European study by Microsoft found that most girls became interested in STEM at around the age of 11, but their interest began to wane at 15. This is an important age, as girls are starting to make decisions that will set the trajectory of their academic life.

    The lack of role models in STEM was identified as the key factor that influenced the girls in the study, as well as a lack of practical experience with STEM subjects at school. On Twitter, 92% of the most followed scientists are male. When women scientists are mentioned in the media, they often tend to be described by their appearance rather than their achievements.

    The need for more female STEM role models has also been echoed in similar reports and programs in Asia, the UK, Africa and the United States.

    In Australia, more than half of all undergraduates and half of PhD students are female. Almost 60% of junior science lecturers are women. But women comprise just 16% of top-level science and technology researchers, professors and professionals.

    Role models

    As a young kid gazing at the stars, my role models were pioneering astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and eccentric types such as the late, great astronomy broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore.

    I thought that was enough for me, until as a 16-year-old I met Britain’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman, at Space School UK. At that moment I suddenly realised that every one of my role models in the fields of astronomy and space science had been male.

    Meeting this real-life STEM superstar had a transformational influence on me. It even spurred me on to apply for the European Astronaut Program in 2009.

    As someone who is passionate about astrophysics and science education I have inadvertently become a role model myself.

    But the continued lack of diverse role models in STEM makes me wonder how many missed opportunities and how much unrealised potential continues to be lost. Have our young, modern-day Marie Curies, Ruby Payne-Scotts, Ada Lovelaces and Isobel Bennetts passed up on science as a subject in favour of more conventional choices?

    The new superstars

    In its first year, Superstars of STEM is placing 30 women in the public eye, by equipping them with advanced communication skills. This will include media training, meetings with decision-makers, and opportunities to showcase their work.

    Participants will also be supported to speak with girls directly at local high schools and public events, along with establishing a public profile online.

    There are too few transformational and brilliant women in the pubic eye. Every success in science and technology in Australia is built on the work and contributions of people across the genders. For the sake of our girls, we need to celebrate these outstanding scientists and their work.

    I imagine a time when we ask children to draw a scientist and they draw somebody who looks like mathematician Nalini Joshi, molecular biologist Suzanne Cory, or astronomer Karlie Noon.

    The measure of the success of Superstars of STEM will be whether young Australian women can turn on the television, read a newspaper or engage with social media and see women experts presenting STEM as an exciting and viable career. I can’t wait to witness the opportunities this change will bring.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:34 am on April 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Boeing and CSIRO launch new AU$35M research program, CSIRO   

    From CSIRO: “Boeing and CSIRO launch new AUD$35M research program” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    CSIRO has signed a new, $AUD35 million research agreement with the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing.

    1
    Sprayon topcoat for aircraft. Our costeffective topcoat technology is reducing environmental impact and improving worker safety in the aviation industry. No image credit.

    Over the next five years the organisations will work together on a broad range of areas of mutual interest including space sciences, advanced materials and manufacturing.

    It’s the latest step in a 28-year partnership between CSIRO and Boeing that has provided a huge boost for Australia in the global aviation industry.

    CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall announced the new funding agreement at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia’s G’day to Aussie innovation event in Sydney today.

    “With almost three decades of ground-breaking research that has created jobs and growth for Australia and the US, it’s hard to overstate the impact that our relationship with Boeing has had,” Dr Marshall said.

    “Adopting a global outlook for national benefit is a key pillar of CSIRO’s Strategy 2020, and it’s an approach that has yielded enormous benefits through our relationship with Boeing.”

    Earlier this month, Boeing named CSIRO as a 2016 Supplier of the Year.

    “Boeing celebrates 90 years in Australia this year, and for nearly a third of that time, we’ve partnered with CSIRO on advanced technologies that have made a real difference to the aerospace industry,” President of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Maureen Dougherty said.

    “We’re excited to see that relationship move forward as a result of this new multi-year agreement.”

    CSIRO and Boeing celebrated their respective centenaries in 2016. Over the years the organisations have invested more than $AUD170 million on 190 joint research projects into everything from innovative new manufacturing processes, to fire retardants, biofuels and software.

    CSIRO’s “Paintbond” technology, for instance, has been applied to more than a thousand Boeing airplanes, including some in the skies above Australia, saving millions of dollars in maintenance costs.

    The strong relationship with CSIRO was a key factor in Boeing choosing Australia as the location for its largest research and development operation outside the United States.

    “We are proud to have worked with Boeing so closely and for so many years, helping them to deliver profound value to their customers.” Dr Marshall said.

    “Our relationship is a real success story of science partnering with industry to create impact, and we’re looking forward to growing that impact even further in the coming years.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on April 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSIRO, Deep Earth Imaging is science of the future, Exploration: Towards building an accurate picture of the deep earth, Six Future Science Platforms   

    From CSIRO: “Exploration: Towards building an accurate picture of the deep earth” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    20th April 2017
    Emily Lehmann

    1
    We’re leading future science to find the earth’s deep and hidden mineral, energy and water resources.

    Humans have explored far and wide on this earth and we’ve only just scratched the surfaced.

    Deep below our feet lies a vast expanse of unexplored, unknown territory. And while the deep earth is believed to be rich in mineral, energy and water resources, we’re a long way off ‘seeing’ exactly what lies 50 metres, let alone a kilometre, below the surface.

    We’re not expecting to journey to the centre of the earth anytime soon, but a more plausible idea – that’s still wildly radical – is to map the deep earth so accurately that a figurative ‘X’ can be drawn to mark the spot of hidden natural treasure.

    A map of this kind would make deep exploration targeted and less risky for industry. This is crucial if we are to sustain a growing world population and meet material demands for future generations.

    It’s going to take clever science to do it and that’s why we’re leading new, groundbreaking research into Deep Earth Imaging.

    2
    Resource exploration is like searching for buried treasure; it helps to have a map.

    Deep Earth Imaging was one of six Future Science Platform investments we announced late last year.

    3

    It aims to build new sophisticated imaging technology that enables us to see into the uppermost surface of the earth’s crust with the same accuracy that we see the earth’s obvious features, such as its rivers, rocks, mountains and plains.

    If successful, we envision creating a suite of beautiful multi-coloured images, models and maps that accurately reflect the geophysical makeup of the earth’s subsurface. We’ll then work towards interpreting the subsurface using tools to predict what the underlying geology looks like.

    These predictive models aim to significantly reduce exploration risks for industry by eliminating uncertainties. A more targeted approach will also reduce the environmental impact of exploration activity.

    The hope is that one day geophysical models can predict underground phenomena as accurately as weather models predict rainfall.

    It’s a highly experimental research initiative that will take a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach. We’re bringing on board a fresh new team of post-docs from around the world. They represent a wide range of traditional geoscience disciplines, as well as less traditional fields such as machine learning, data analytics, quantitative image analysis, applied mathematics and statistical inference.

    Deep Earth Imaging is science of the future. In the end, the platform’s level of invention will be applied to industry.

    The latest edition of resourceful magazine explores Deep Earth Imaging in depth. It covers a national and industry perspective, the opportunities for sourcing mineral, energy and groundwater resources, as well as some of our other Future Science Platforms.

    Read our resourceful stories here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:22 am on April 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , CSIRO, Exoplanet discovery by an amateur astronomer shows the power of citizen science,   

    From CSIRO via The Conversation: “Exoplanet discovery by an amateur astronomer shows the power of citizen science “ 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    The Conversation

    4.7.17
    Ray Norris

    You don’t need to be a professional astronomer to find new worlds orbiting distant stars. Darwin mechanic and amateur astronomer Andrew Grey this week helped to discover a new exoplanet system with at least four orbiting planets.

    2
    An artist’s impression of some of the thousands of exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL

    But Andrew did have professional help and support.

    The discovery was a highlight moment of this week’s three-evening special ABC Stargazing Live, featuring British physicist Brian Cox, presenter Julia Zemiro and others.

    Viewers were encouraged to join in the search for exoplanets – planets orbiting distant stars – using the Exoplanet Explorers website. After a quick tutorial they were then asked to trawl through data on thousands of stars recently observed with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

    NASA/Kepler Telescope

    Grey checked out more than 1,000 stars on the website before discovering the characteristic dips in brightness of the star in the data that signify an exoplanet.

    2
    As the planet passes in front of the star, it hides part of the star, causing a characteristic dip in brightness. ABC/Zooniverse

    Together with other co-discoverers, Grey’s name will appear on a scientific paper reporting the very significant discovery of a star with four planets, orbiting closer to the star than Mercury is to our Sun.

    Grey told Stargazing Live:

    “That is amazing. Definitely my first scientific publication … just glad that I can contribute. It feels very good.”

    Cox was clearly impressed by the new discovery:

    “In the seven years I’ve been making Stargazing Live this is the most significant scientific discovery we’ve ever made.”

    A breakthrough for citizen science

    So just what does this discovery signify? First, let’s be clear: this is no publicity stunt, or a bit of fake news dressed up to make a good story.

    This is a real scientific discovery, to be reported in the scientific literature like other discoveries made by astronomers.

    It will help us understand the formation of our own Earth. It’s also a step towards establishing whether we are alone in the universe, or whether there are other planets populated by other civilisations.

    On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that this discovery joins the list of more than 2,300 known exoplanets discovered by Kepler so far. There are thousands more candidate planets to be examined.

    If Grey and his colleagues hadn’t discovered this new planetary system, then somebody else would have eventually discovered it. But that can be said of all discoveries. The fact remains that this particular discovery was made by Grey and his fellow citizen scientists.

    Amateurs and professionals working together

    I think that the greatest significance of this discovery is that it heralds a change in the way we do science.

    As I said earlier, Grey didn’t make this discovery alone. He used data from the Kepler spacecraft with a mission cost of US$600 million.

    Although we can build stunning telescopes that produce vast amounts of valuable data, we can’t yet build an algorithm that approaches the extraordinary abilities of the human brain to examine that data.

    A human brain can detect patterns in the data far more effectively than any machine-learning algorithm yet devised. Because of the large volume of data generated by Kepler and other scientific instruments, we need large teams of human brains – larger than any research lab.

    But the brains don’t need to be trained astrophysicists, they just need to have the amazing cognitive abilities of the human brain.

    This results in a partnership where big science produces data, and citizen scientists inspect the data to help make discoveries. It means that anyone can be involved in cutting-edge science, accelerating the growth of human knowledge.

    A gathering of brainpower

    This is happening all over science and even the arts, from butterfly hunting to transcribing Shakespeare’s handwriting.

    Last year citizen scientists in the Australian-led Radio Galaxy Zoo project discovered the largest known cluster of galaxies.

    None of these projects would be possible without widespread access to the internet, and readily-available tools to build citizen science projects, such as the Zooniverse project.

    Will machines ever make citizen scientists redundant? I have argued before that we need to build algorithms called “machine scientists” to make future discoveries from the vast volumes of data we are generating.

    But these algorithms still need to be trained by humans. The larger our human-generated training set, the better our machine scientists will work.

    So rather than making citizen scientists redundant, the machine scientists multiply the power of citizen scientists, so that a discovery made by a future Andrew Grey may result in hundreds of discoveries by machines trained using his discovery.

    I see the power of citizen scientists continuing to grow. I suspect this is only the start. We can do much more. We can increase the “fun” of doing citizen science by introducing “gaming” elements into citizen science programs, or by taking advantage of new technologies such as augmented reality and immersive virtual reality.

    Perhaps we can tap into other human qualities such as imagination and creativity to achieve goals that still frustrate machines.

    I look forward to the day when a Nobel prize is won by someone in a developing country without access to a traditional university education, but who uses the power of their mind, the wealth of information on the web and the tools of citizen science to transcend the dreams of traditional science.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:25 am on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIRO, Mia Baquiran, ,   

    From CSIRO: Women in STEM – “One woman’s role in designing the world’s largest radio telescope” Mia Baquiran 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    10th March 2017
    Helen Sim

    1
    Mia Baquiran. When they flick the switch on the world’s largest telescope, one woman’s work will come to life.

    If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a planet – or at least ten countries – to build the the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.

    The Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, is a next-generation radio telescope that will be vastly more sensitive than the best present-day instruments. It will give astronomers remarkable insights into the formation of the early Universe, including the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.

    Consisting of thousands of antennas linked together by high bandwidth optical fibre, the SKA will require new technologies and progress in fundamental engineering. The telescope’s design and development is being led by the international SKA Organisation.

    Radio telescopes add to observations made by optical and other telescopes by revealing different information about stars, galaxies and gas clouds. Because radio waves can pass through clouds of dust and gas, radio telescopes are able to observe objects and processes not visible to other telescopes.

    2
    An artist’s impression of the Square Kilometre Array’s antennas in Australia. ©SKA Organisation

    Construction is due to start in 2018 and around the globe 11 groups, all with members from several countries, are working feverishly on different aspects of the project to make it come together.

    Australia has a presence in several of these groups, and indeed leads two of them. Our very own Mia Baquiran is one of the researchers working on this exciting project.

    She spends her days in a quiet, ground-floor office in a leafy suburb of Sydney, working on systems that will go into the international SKA radio telescope.

    Mia’s role in this ‘moon-shot’ project concerns a telescope called ‘SKA Low’, an assembly of more than a quarter of a hundred thousand low-frequency antennas that will be housed at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.

    3
    CSIRO’s ASKAP antennas under construction at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia

    SKA Low has no moving parts but it is still a complex beast. The signals from the antennas have to be brought together and compared with each other (‘correlated’) to create a view of the sky.

    Mia is working on the system (the correlator and beamformer) that does this. She writes ‘permanent’ software (firmware) for controlling the subsystems of the correlator and beamformer.

    4
    Our research engineer Mia Baquiran is working on the software that will create a view of the sky using the SKA Low radio telescope.

    So how did she get into this space you might ask?

    “When I was thinking about what I wanted to do at university I didn’t have that much direction,” Mia said. “Really the only thing that got me excited was the concept of engineering, being able to develop things and understanding how things work.”

    She was always interested in physics and robotics appealed too, so she headed for a degree in mechatronics, a field that brings together mechanical engineering, electronics and software.

    After finishing her studies at UNSW in 2012 she worked at a small software company, then joined our astronomy and space science research area.

    Mia loves problem solving. “There’s always that wonderful moment when you finally find a solution,” she said.

    She’s also curiosity-driven. “I like the idea that I can learn something new every day,” she said. “Engineering is constantly changing, so you have to become a lifelong learner.”

    “I do enjoy the opportunity to learn from people who are more experienced than me, and that’s definitely well-facilitated in CSIRO.”

    Because the correlator and beamformer project is international Mia has had the opportunity to visit the Netherlands to work with colleagues there.

    The SKA will give radio astronomers a view of the past a million years after the Big Bang, when the universe first evolving to what is referred to as the “cosmic dawn”.

    But what’s in store for Mia in her future?

    “I’d like to continue in electronics and FPGA (field programmable gate array) design,” she said.

    “Ideally I’d like to continue in radio astronomy, because we’re in a special position being in Australia, where it’s one of the fields that we’re world leaders in.”

    Find out more about how CSIRO is helping to bring the Square Kilometre Array to life.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on March 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon Fibre, CSIRO   

    From CSIRO: “Carbon fibre coup: Secret recipes and super strength” 

    CSIRO bloc

    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    20th February 2017 [Where has this been hiding?]
    Rachael Vorwerk

    1
    Slightly more elaborate than a pasta maker: this machine helps us to create a new carbon fibre mix. No image credit

    If you enjoy watching motor racing, you’ve no doubt heard the commentators talk a lot about carbon fibre. And if racing doesn’t tickle your fancy, you’ve most likely flown on a plane or driven in a car with carbon fibre components – in fact, carbon fibre is used in civil engineering, the military, cars and aerospace just to name a few areas. This material of the future combines high rigidity, tensile strength and chemical resistance with low weight. It’s far stronger than steel at just a fraction of steel’s weight.

    But did you know that the recipe needed to make the precursor (the material you need to make before you can start manufacturing carbon fibre) is a closely guarded secret? Only a handful of companies around the world can create this precursor (polymer goo) from scratch.

    Our researchers, together with researchers from Deakin University, are now members of this elite club of secret recipe makers. They worked out a way to reverse engineer the material and cracked the secret code to make a new carbon fibre mix – the first time this has have ever been done in Australia – and it’s likely to be the strongest, lightest, version of carbon fibre in the world!

    Carbon fibre & the secret recipe

    So, just how do you make carbon fibre?

    Well, if you’ve ever made pasta, you’ll probably understand how to make carbon fibre!

    The first step in making pasta is to make a dough out of the freshest, best ingredients. This isn’t too dissimilar to the “dough” needed for carbon fibre, that is, the precursor.

    Next, to produce the carbon fibre we need wet spinning lines to mix. This is like kneading the pasta dough. And just like dough through a pasta maker, the polymer goo is stretched into thin, long strands. Polymer goes into the wet spinning line and comes out as 500 – 12,000 separate strands – all finer than human hair (think angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti).

    The strands are stretched on rollers to ensure consistency, stabilised in a series of solutions, and even gets a steam bath along the way. Then the little strands of carbon fibre angel hair are wound onto a spool, which is taken back to the carboniser (kind of like an oven, but a lot more technical!). It changes the polymer’s molecular structure, getting rid of the hydrogen and realigning carbon atoms to make the finished product stronger. It’s this alignment that gives carbon fibre its amazing strength and rigidity.

    Al dente!

    What’s next for carbon fibre?

    We’ve launched a brand new carbon fibre facility with Deakin. It was custom built in Italy by a company specialising in the carbon fibre industry, in fact they liked our design so much they built another for their own factory!

    Because these amazing researchers were able to reverse engineer this secret recipe, we’re now currently testing what could be the next generation of carbon fibre. Remember how we said it was aligned molecular structure that gave carbon fibre its strength? Well, we’ve created a way to control a substance’s molecular structure. This means we have more control over our carbon fibre and can potentially make it even stronger than ever before.

    Carbon fibre isn’t our only love – we’re working hard to be innovators in other manufacturing industries, you can find out more about them here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
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