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  • richardmitnick 8:32 am on August 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2019 RoboCup Millennium Challenge, According to IDC the global robotics market was worth $151 billion in 2018 and that’s expected to double to $315.5 billion by 2021., , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope- “Cashing in: Australia’s role in $1trn robotic revolution” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    19 August 2019
    Adrian Turner

    Fifteen international teams from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Iran, Japan and Portugal recently descended on Sydney for the 2019 RoboCup Millennium Challenge. Eleven fully autonomous virtual robots known as “agents” played as part of each team without the assistance of a remote control and complying with FIFA rules. The nail-biting final came down to the wire, with an Australian team emerging victorious over the 2018 world champions with seconds to spare.

    But this was more than a game, it highlighted Australia’s strengths in robotics and the speed with which the field is evolving.

    1
    Robots of the team NomadZ (ETH Zurich) of Switzerland, 1st and 2nd of left,and the Australian Runswift team (University of New South Wales), right, challenge for the ball during a soccer match.

    According to IDC the global robotics market was worth $151 billion in 2018, and that’s expected to double to $315.5 billion by 2021. Robots are used today in wide-ranging fields such as precision agriculture, mining, medical procedures, construction, biosecurity, transportation and even for companionship.

    Advancements in robotics have been accompanied by a fear that robots and automation will take our jobs along the way. While there are short-term risks with forecasts of 40 per cent of jobs potentially being displaced, it’s not clear that there will be an overall reduction in the number of jobs over time. The World Economic Forum suggests that the opposite will occur. In their Future of Jobs 2018 report, the authors concluded that while automation technologies including artificial intelligence could see 75 million jobs displaced globally, 133 million new roles may emerge as companies shake up their division of labour between humans and machines, translating to an additional 58 million new jobs created by 2022.

    A recent report by AlphaBeta estimates that automation can boost Australia’s productivity and national income by (up to) $2.2 trillion by 2030 and result in improved health and safety, the development of new products and services, new types of jobs and new business models. In that same report AlphaBeta concluded that by 2025 automation in manufacturing could increase by 6 per cent along with an 11 per cent reduction in injuries while wages for non-automatable tasks will rise 20 per cent.

    The key to unlocking economic and societal benefit from robotics will be to have them do things not possible or economic before. Take caring of an ageing population that is forecast to live longer but with a smaller workforce to support them. The math doesn’t add up without new methods for care to keep people out of hospitals and in their homes longer. Or supporting children with autism to develop social interaction and communication skills with Kaspar, a social robot being trialled by researchers at the University of New South and CSIRO. Robots can help with dangerous jobs too. CSIRO’s Data61 spinout Emesent develops drones capable of travelling in GPS-denied environments utilising 3D LiDAR technology. They travel down mineshafts to safely inspect hard to access areas of underground mines, so people don’t have to.

    On the other side of the world, a Harvard University group has spent the last 12 years creating a robotic bee capable of partially untethered flight powered by artificial muscles beating the wings 120 times a second. The ultimate objective of the program is to create a robobee swarm for use in natural disasters and artificial pollination given the devastating effectives of colony collapse disorder on bee populations and consequently food pollination. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that of the 1400 crops grown for food, 80 per cent depend on pollination and globally pollination services are likely worth more than $3 trillion.

    Robotic advancements

    Advancement in robotics is accelerating. They will increasingly evolve from isolated machines to be seamlessly integrated with our environments and each other. When one robot encounters an obstacle or new context and learns, the entire network of robots can instantaneously learn.

    Other advancements include the use of more tactile skins with embedded pressure sensors, and more flexible sensors. A team of engineers from the university of Delaware have created flexible carbon nanotube coatings on fibres that include cotton and wool, resulting in shape forming, flexible and pressure sensitive skins. Just as with the robobee there are also advancements in collaborative robots, or cobots, that can be used for resilient search and rescue operations among other things.

    We are also witnessing improvements in dexterity. The California-based Intuitive Surgical has developed a robot allowing a surgeon to control three fully articulated instruments to treat deep-seated damaged or diseased tissues or organs. Robots are also being developed that can unfold and soft robotics that will be important for applications that involve people contact. The challenge until recently has been a lack of actuators or artificial muscles that can replicate the versatility of real muscles. Advancements are being made with one design made from inexpensive materials reportedly able to lift 200 times its weight. Another compelling advancement is in augmenting our own muscles via wearable robots or exoskeletons. Applications today range from helping prevent workplace injury to helping people function more fully after spinal cord damage or strokes.

    Australia can benefit substantially from robotics in areas like managing environmental threats, maintaining vital urban infrastructure, maximise crop yields in drought-affected regions, transportation or supporting law enforcement. Australia was the first country to automate its ports and mine sites and we have strong university capabilities at QUT and Sydney University among others. Today there are about 1100 robotics companies in the country and CSIRO’s Data61 recently opened the largest robotic motion-capture facility in the southern hemisphere.

    The question of how Australia can capitalise on the trillion-dollar artificial intelligence and robotics revolution will be the focal point of the upcoming D61+LIVE conference in Sydney this October. Like all other industry creation opportunities in front of us right now, the opportunity is perishable and the way to maximise the benefit as a country is to be a global leader in parts. The Australian Robocup team has shown us how it’s done. Game on.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 9:33 am on August 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Deepfakes: danger in the digital age", , CSIROscope, Infocalypse- A term used to label the age of cybercriminals digital misinformation clickbait and data misuse.,   

    From CSIROscope: “Deepfakes: danger in the digital age” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    15 August 2019
    Alison Donnellan

    As we dive deeper into the digital age, fake news, online deceit and widespread use of social media are having a profound impact on every element of society. From swaying elections to manipulating science-proven facts.

    Deepfaking is the act of using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to produce or alter video, image or audio content. It’s done using the sequence of the original to create a version of something that didn’t occur.

    So, what’s the deal with deepfakes?

    Once a topic only discussed in computer research labs, deepfakes were catapulted into mainstream media in 2017. This was after various online communities began swapping faces of high-profile personalities with actors in pornographic films.

    “You need a piece of machine learning to digest all of these video sequences. The machine eventually learns who the person is, how they are represented, how they move and evolve in the video,” says Dr Richard Nock, machine learning expert with our Data61 team.

    “So if you ask the machine to make a new sequence of this person, the machine is going to be able to automatically generate a new one.”

    “The piece of technology is almost always the same, which is where the name ‘deepfake’ comes from,” says Dr Nock. “It’s usually deep learning, a subset of machine learning, used to ask the machine to forge a new reality.”

    Let’s go… deeper

    As a result, deepfakes have been described as one of the contributing factors of the Infocalypse. A term used to label the age of cybercriminals, digital misinformation, clickbait and data misuse. As the technology behind the AI-generated videos improves, the ability for audiences to distinguish fact from fiction is becoming increasingly difficult.

    Creating a convincing deepfake is an unlikely feat for the general computer user. But an individual with advanced knowledge of machine learning (the specific software needed to digitally alter a piece of content) and access to the victim’s publicly-available social media profile for photographic, video and audio content, could do so.

    Now face-morphing apps inbuilt with automated AI and machine learning are becoming more advanced. So, deepfake creation could possibly come to be attainable to the general population in the future.

    One example of this is Snapchat’s introduction of the gender swap filter. The cost of a free download is all it takes for a Snapchat user to appear as someone else. The application’s gender swap filter completely alters the user’s appearance.

    There have been numerous instances of cat fishing (an individual that fabricates an online identity to trick others into exploitative emotional or romantic relationships) via online dating apps using the technology. Some people are using the experience as a social experiment and others as a ploy to extract sensitive information.

    To deepfake or not to deepfake

    Politicians, celebrities and those in the public spotlight are the most obvious victims of deep fakes. But the rise of posting multiple videos and selfies to public internet platforms places everyone at risk.

    ‘The creation of explicit images is one example of how deepfakes are being used to harass individuals online. One AI-powered app is creating images of what women might look like, according to the algorithm, unclothed.’

    According to Dr Nock, an alternative effect of election deepfakery could be an online exodus. Basically, a segment of the population placing their trust in the opinions of a closed circle of friends, whether it be physical or an online forum, such as Reddit.

    “Once you’ve passed that breaking point and no longer trust an information source, most people would start retracting themselves. Refraining themselves from accessing public media content because it cannot be trusted anymore. And eventually relying on their friends, which can be limiting if people are more exposed to opinions rather than the facts.”


    The Obama deepfake was a viral hit. There were over six million views of the video seemingly produced by the US president. The video brought to light the existence of deepfake technology alongside a warning for the trust users place in online content.

    Mitigating the threat of digital deceit

    There are three ways to prevent deepfakes according to Dr Nock:

    Invent a mechanism of authenticity. Whether that be a physical stamp such as blockchain or branding, to confirm that the information is from a trusted source and the video is depicting something that happened.
    Train machine learning to detect deep fakes created by other machines.
    These mechanisms would need to be widely adopted by different information sources in order to be successful.

    “Blockchain could work – if carefully crafted – but a watermark component would probably not,” explains Dr Nock. “Changing the format of an original document would eventually alter the watermark, while the document would obviously stay original. This would not happen with blockchain.”

    Machine learning is already detecting deep fakes. Researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California are using this method to distinguish unique head and face movement. These subtle personal quirks are currently not modeled by deep fake algorithms, with the technique returning a 92 per cent level of accuracy.

    While this research is comforting, bad actors will inevitably continue to reinvent and adapt AI-generated fakes.

    Machine learning is a powerful technology. And one that’s becoming more sophisticated over time. Deepfakes aside, machine learning is also bringing enormous positive benefits to areas like privacy, healthcare, transport and even self-driving cars.

    Our Data61 team acts as a network and partner with government, industry and universities, to advance the technologies of AI in many areas of society and industry, such as adversarial machine learning, cybersecurity and data protection, and rich data-driven insights.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 7:54 am on August 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "About last night: multiple coral spawning in the Great Barrier Reef", , , Coral biology, Coral spawning- which is when corals release tiny egg and sperm bundles into the water., CSIROscope, Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is made up of more than 3800 coral reefs?, , It generally happens only once a year after a full moon for a few hours over one to two nights., , Spawning over successive months helps corals synchronise their reproduction to the best environmental conditions., When coral colonies spawn more than once a year it can lead to better health for our coral reefs.   

    From CSIROscope: “About last night: multiple coral spawning in the Great Barrier Reef” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    14 August 2019
    Natalie Kikken

    1
    Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is made up of more than 3,800 coral reefs? New research on coral spawning could help coral health, particularly in areas that have suffered coral disturbances. Credit: Shella Dee

    It’s been described as “the most spectacular events in our oceans.” And no, it’s not the gnarly waves you caught surfing on the weekend.

    It’s coral spawning, which is when corals release tiny egg and sperm bundles into the water. It generally happens only once a year, after a full moon, for a few hours, over one to two nights.

    But our scientists along with the University of Queensland have discovered something for the first time. When coral colonies spawn more than once a year, it can lead to better health for our coral reefs. The more larvae that set off into the water, the more chances they have to find new homes to help establish coral recovery. This even includes travelling to neighbouring reefs hundreds of kilometres away. This is good news for strengthening the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Multiple coral spawning: Larvae in numbers

    The corals that spawned over multiple months were successful in spreading their offspring across different parts of the Great Barrier Reef. This is exciting news for Dr Christopher Doropoulos, from our Oceans and Atmosphere team. He’s been studying coral spawning events, and what drives the successful recruitment of coral larvae, for the last 10 years.

    “Spawning over successive months helps corals synchronise their reproduction to the best environmental conditions,” he said.

    “Reproductive success during split spawning may be lower than usual, because it can lead to reduced fertilisation. But we found that the release of eggs in two separate smaller events gives the corals a second and improved chance of finding a new home reef. We call this ‘split spawning’ and it could help the coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef.”

    2
    Larvae larvae! Coral spawning is when coral release egg and sperm bundles into the water.

    Multi-skills for a mega-reef

    To understand the impacts of this spawning, we applied modelling, coral biology, ecology, and oceanography. This meant we could simulate the dispersal of coral larvae during these split spawning events across the whole of the Great Barrier Reef. That’s more than 3800 individual reefs!

    To do this we enlisted the expertise of our researchers Rebecca Gorton and Scott Condie, who have developed online tools such as eReefs and CONNIE. eReefs provides a picture of what is currently happening on the reef and what will likely happen in the future. CONNIE is used to calculate the movement and dispersal of almost any substance or planktonic organism in the ocean.

    The team looked at whether the split spawning events were more reliable at supplying larvae to the reefs. They also looked at whether connectivity (the ability to exchange larvae) among the reefs was improving.

    3
    About last night: corals release egg and sperm bundles into the water, at the same time! They can then be fertilised and will turn into larvae.

    Reef recovery and resilience

    The results showed an increase in diversity of larvae, and better reliability for the larvae to reach different areas of the Reef.

    These findings explain the higher chances of recovery for reefs in the region during split-spawning years. The extra spawning events provide a more robust supply of coral larvae to reefs. This is particularly important for areas of the reef that have suffered disturbances, such as coral bleaching and unpredictable environmental conditions.

    The Great Barrier Reef providing ecosystem services worth more than $6 billion per year in Australia alone. So, this research highlights the importance of coral recovery to sustainably manage the Reef.

    This research was published in Nature Communications and was a collaborative project with University of Queensland and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 9:23 am on August 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: After sporadic outbreaks in 2017 and 2018 the DRC is now experiencing the world’s second-largest recorded outbreak., , , , CSIROscope, , , Increased global travel also means there is a greater likelihood that infectious agents particularly airborne pathogens that can produce disease can rapidly spread among the human population., , Promising novel and repurposed drugs and treatments need to be evaluated in appropriate animal models in laboratories operating under the highest containment (‘Biosafety Level 4’)., Reports out of the region suggest that only half of the cases are being identified and reported., The World Health Organization has declared Ebola a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ (PHEIC), Vaccination alone cannot solve Ebola., We need to listen to the local leadership and ask them what they need for a community-led response., We need to take on board the valuable and transferable lessons from the last outbreak   

    From CSIROscope: “Combatting Ebola through more than just outbreak response” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    9 August 2019
    Professor S.S. Vasan

    1
    An artificially coloured electron microscope image of the Ebola virus

    The World Health Organization has declared Ebola a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ (PHEIC), for the second time in five years. So, how can the global public health community better support relief efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)?

    Current situation with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    The last major African outbreak mainly affected Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, with 28,646 cases and a 40 per cent mortality rate. This epidemic killed five times more people than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined. And a PHEIC was declared between 8 March 2014 and 29 March 2016.

    After sporadic outbreaks in 2017 and 2018, the DRC is now experiencing the world’s second-largest recorded outbreak. As of 5 August 2019, 3150 people have infected with a 59 per cent mortality rate. Reports out of the region suggest that only half of the cases are being identified and reported. Most of them in the region of Kivu.

    The disease has also spread to neighbouring Uganda and been reported in places close to the DRC’s border with Rwanda and South Sudan.

    The decision to declare a PHEIC is a complex one. It involves weighing potential effects on travel and trade that could impede support to affected regions and hinder outbreak control, as argued by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    What can developed countries do?

    The outbreak cannot be solved just with more funding and medical expertise that will arrive thanks to the PHEIC declaration.

    First and foremost, we need to listen to the local leadership and ask them what they need for a community-led response. And not assume what they want.

    The DRC Ministry of Health had asked for “more cohesion, more harmonization between the different interventions, [and] more alignment with the strategic plan of the Ministry of Health.” Lot of us want to help but are unsure how. So, we need more coordination to ensure each of us is focusing on our core competencies to address needs on the ground.

    Secondly, we need to take on board the valuable and transferable lessons from the last outbreak. This includes dialogue and delicate compromise with the community to ensure safe burial practices.

    Similar to the sustainable Resilient Zero program in Sierra Leone, we should strengthen their district health capacity, laboratory network and disease surveillance systems. We can then detect and respond effectively to not just Ebola, but also other infectious diseases.

    Thirdly, vaccination alone cannot solve Ebola. This is due to a range of factors including lack of 100 per cent protection, adverse effects, clinical and other challenges around coverage, compliance and cost-effectiveness. That is why the global scientific community needs to accelerate the development of treatments that complement the two experimental Ebola vaccines currently in use.

    Promising novel and repurposed drugs and treatments need to be evaluated in appropriate animal models in laboratories operating under the highest containment (‘Biosafety Level 4’). But such high secure facilities, like our own Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), are very few in number. So, we need greater coordination to ensure there is no duplication of efforts. Some mechanisms are already in place, such as the BSL4ZNet, an international network of laboratories like AAHL to protect against animal to human disease. And the fast track model agreement for rapid collaboration, which shares results for a global coordinated response.

    2
    A CSIRO infectious disease researcher working in the CSIRO high containment lab

    Looking long-term beyond outbreak response

    Recently there has been a greater risk of infectious diseases being transmitted to people from wild and domesticated animals. This is due to growth and geographic expansion of human populations and the increase in agricultural practices. Increased global travel also means there is a greater likelihood that infectious agents, particularly airborne pathogens that can produce disease, can rapidly spread among the human population. Together, these factors have increased the risk of pandemics. It’s not so much a matter of if, but when. While the current list of known emerging infectious diseases is a major concern, it’s the unknown viruses, with a potential for efficient human-to-human transmission that pose the biggest threat.

    Ebola and other haemorrhagic fever viruses are likely to re-emerge and pose a great threat to health and biosecurity. Especially in Africa and other developing nations. These settings have a relatively low health expenditure, high likelihood of such outbreaks, and an urgent need for rapid, safe, cheap and effective treatment options. Therefore, the typical 17 years’ ‘implementation gap’ in the health research translation process is simply not an option for Ebola and similar diseases.

    Ebola has increased the ‘intersectionality’ of suffering among the 13 million people living in a complex humanitarian crisis in the DRC. This includes ongoing conflict and widening health, wealth and gender inequalities. To solve this, we need a strong and locally-led social science and humanitarian focus. This would help guide scientific research, development, evaluation and uptake of response strategies and promising medical countermeasures. For the long-term, we need to focus on planning, preparedness and resilience, not just outbreak response.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 1:23 pm on August 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The (ocean) floor is lava: RV Investigator’s Coral Sea voyage", , CSIROscope, , Monkey Island New Zealand,   

    From CSIROscope: “The (ocean) floor is lava: RV Investigator’s Coral Sea voyage” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    RV Investigator Australia

    Most of the ocean floor and what goes on down there is pretty much a mystery. They say we know more about the planets of our solar system than about the depths of the oceans.

    Hopefully, a 30-day voyage leaving Cairns today will help. The voyage is heading east into the Coral Sea, north to Papua New Guinea and across to the Solomon Islands.

    Australia’s only dedicated blue-water (or ocean) research vessel, RV Investigator, will carry a team of researchers to prod, probe, scrape and map the ocean floor – mainly in the Coral Sea Marine Park and surrounds.

    2
    Simon Williams, University of Sydney and the voyage Chief Scientist, Associate Professor Jo Whittaker, University of Tasmania, examine the voyage route on the bridge of RV Investigator prior to leaving Cairns.

    It’s not a tropical holiday

    The Coral Sea Marine Park lies beyond the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland.

    3

    What the Coral Sea Marine Park means for Recreational Fishers

    3
    Map of The Great Barrier Reef Region, World Heritage Area and Marine Park, 2014

    4
    Satelite image of the Great Barrier Reef. Public Domain

    It covers nearly 1 million square kilometres and is one of the world’s largest marine parks. Stretching more than 2200 km from top to bottom, it has a wide range of habitats, including coral reefs (more than 15,000 square kilometres), sandy cays, deep-sea plains and canyons.

    But the idea is to find out what is out there. Or more accurately, what’s down there! As the Chief Scientist for this voyage, Associate Professor Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania, said: “If we don’t know what’s out there, how can we manage it?”

    What we do know is there are two strings of seamounts, running parallel to the east coast of Australia. Seamounts are volcanic seafloor mountains which were formed up to 8 million years ago. The seamounts are huge! Rising up to 3000 m from the seafloor, some of them are still another 2000 m below sea level and are up to about 50 km wide. The science team will find these seamounts, then literally run a huge steel basket towed behind RV Investigator into the side of it. The aim? Rocks get collected in the basket-like a big rocky lucky dip to be hauled on board for analysis. This will help scientists onboard examine the geology, history and origin of the region.

    I see you watching me, watching you

    Also on the voyage will be a group of scientists settling into “Monkey Island” in an observation room above the main bridge of RV Investigator.

    4
    Monkey Island, New Zealand | Tim Parkinson | Flickr

    From dawn to dusk, this dedicated team of birdwatchers will spot, identify and catalogue every seabird that passes by. The project will collect data to give a number to the variability in the distribution and abundance of seabirds. Scientists can then examine the relationships between physical oceanography in this area and their role as feeding areas for seabirds. Observations of marine mammals, such as whales, will also be shared with researchers. This data will help understand the role of the surrounding oceanography in determining how and why marine mammals live in their habitats around Australia.

    This research voyage will have it all! Birds, seamounts, tropical waters and small ocean animals. While this sounds like the setting of a 1950s sitcom, scientists on board hope this voyage will promote understanding about our region’s geology and biodiversity.

    The voyage departs today and will continue until 3 September. This research is being led by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and involves a collaboration with 10 institutions, including six universities from both here and overseas.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 10:07 am on July 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope: “Lithium, the metal of the decade” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    3 July 2019
    Keirissa Lawson

    1
    As the demand for battery technologies grows so does the hunger for lithium commodities.

    Until your mobile phone runs flat, you probably don’t think about the battery technology inside.

    So what is powering your phone, your laptop, your tablet? It’s most likely a lithium ion battery.

    Recharging your batteries

    Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable, reliable and generally lighter than other rechargeable batteries.

    In recent years, our demand for personal electronics has also driven the demand for lithium. But it’s the development of low emission technologies, like electric vehicles and renewable energy, that’s really supercharging the market’s appetite for lithium commodities, worldwide.

    Australia is the world’s largest producer of lithium. That means we have an opportunity to be at the forefront of lithium production and to value-add across the mineral processing chain.

    From the stars to your smartphone

    Lithium is the third element in the periodic table. It’s also the lightest metal. In nature, lithium never exits in pure form. Instead, it forms compounds which are found in nearly all igneous rocks and in mineral springs.

    Where does it come from? Its origin goes back to the beginning of time (cue: dramatic classical music). Lithium was created in the Big Bang, along with hydrogen and helium. Stars are actually the super-factories of lithium, spreading the metal through the universe with every supernova.

    And this metal … well, it continues to bang! Because lithium is highly reactive. It’s a favourite ingredient in fireworks, exploding with a flare of crimson when ignited.

    2
    Red fire at night, reveller’s delight! Lithium is used to create bright red fireworks.

    Rock out: getting lithium from hard rock deposits

    Australia’s lithium resources are locked in hard rock deposits, such as highly crystallised igneous rock called pegmatites.

    Once they’re found, pegmatite deposits can be mined. Then ore is then processed: the rock is crushed to concentrate the lithium-bearing ore, called spodumene. Then it’s sold on overseas, for further processing.

    Given the increasing value of lithium, Australia can seize the opportunity to refine and add value to our lithium resources.

    Putting the (research) pedal to the (lithium) metal

    Given the importance of lithium as a global commodity, we’ve been researching all things lithium. We’ve been working on improving the technologies and techniques for mineral exploration, and improving the production of lithium metal.

    We’re working on discovering new lithium and critical metal deposits. We want to understand the metal-rich mineral systems in pegmatite fields, and identifying lithium-rich deposits.

    But we’re not just exploring new deposits. We’re also investigating ways to minimise mining impacts and helping producers make more efficient mining and processing decisions.

    Given next-generation batteries will likely require significant quantities of lithium metal, our innovations in metal production are also targeted towards lithium production. We’re developing a new extraction process, called LithSonic, that can be cleaner, more efficient, and lower-cost than the existing electrolysis process. Using supersonic flow, similar to the flow through a rocket engine, LithSonic can produce lithium metal powder directly by rapid cooling lithium vapour.

    For more information on these technologies and expertise, visit us at the CSIRO booth at the AusIMM Lithium conference in Perth, 3 to 4 July 2019.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 12:04 pm on June 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CSIROscope, Dr Xiao Deng who is experimenting with electricity to grow and sustain a cluster of microbes from deep under the Earth., For life under the surface of the Earth which predominately consists of single-celled organisms finding energy is a challenge., Microbes rely on some novel methods to obtain energy, One of the most common autotrophic behaviors is photosynthesis, Recent studies have found that several kinds of microbes living in deep marine sediments can extract electrons from electrodes., Some microbes that live in oxygen-free marine environments can survive on hydrothermal vents deep in the sea.   

    From CSIROscope: “Unlocking the secrets of mysterious microbes” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    26 June 2019

    Fiona McFarlane
    Andrea Wild

    In the late 1700s, Luigi Galvani connected a lightning rod to a frog corpse in his backyard and waited for an impending electric storm to arrive. When lightning flashed nearby, energy coursed down the rod and the frog’s leg twitched! This supported his theory that animals generate electricity and use it to make their body move.

    Mary Shelley was so intrigued by the notion of a spark reanimating the dead that it inspired her to write the fabled tale of Frankenstein.

    The stuff of fiction – right? Maybe not! Meet our scientist, Dr Xiao Deng who is experimenting with electricity to grow and sustain a cluster of microbes from deep under the Earth.

    1
    Dr Xiao Deng is working to solve a mystery and her results might be shocking.

    What do we want? Energy! When do we need it? Always!

    All living things require energy for life – from the smallest single-celled organisms to the biggest and most complex mammals.

    On the Earth’s surface, the two main lifestyles for acquiring energy are autotrophy (meaning making your own food) and heterotrophy (which means eating food for energy).

    One of the most common autotrophic behaviors is photosynthesis. In this process, specialised molecules capture carbon from the air and bind it to water using energy produced from sunlight. Most plants, fungi and algae are autotrophs whereas most animals are heterotrophs.

    For life under the surface of the Earth, which predominately consists of single-celled organisms, finding energy is a challenge.

    Below the surface, there is no light to power photosynthesis and finding organic matter and oxygen are rare. Microbes rely on some novel methods to obtain energy.

    Who doesn’t love some chemistry?

    Some microbes that live in oxygen-free marine environments can survive on hydrothermal vents deep in the sea. The water from the vents is rich in dissolved minerals. These microbes use chemical energy (not sunlight) to produce food in a process called chemosynthesis.

    Photosynthesis and chemosynthesis are both processes by which organisms produce their own food. While photosynthesis is powered by sunlight, chemosynthesis runs on chemical energy.

    In contrast, the methods used by microbes to obtain energy in subsurface environments, which are predominantly made up of solid rock, is still poorly understood. In fact, more than 99 per cent of subsurface microbes can’t be cultivated in the laboratory by conventional methods using organics or gases.

    2
    The black smoker hydrothermal vent supports microbial life. Credit: NOAA Photo Library

    We gonna’ rock down to Electric (microbes) Avenue

    Recent studies have found that several kinds of microbes living in deep marine sediments can extract electrons from electrodes. An electrode is a solid electric conductor that carries electric current into non-metallic objects. These microbes are kept alive with electricity and nothing else, no sugars or other kinds of electron donors.

    Scientists are thinking that in the energy-scarce subsurface, microbes may use rock itself as a source of energy. Unlike any other living things on Earth, electric microbes may acquire energy in the shape of electrons harvested directly from the surface of rocks.

    This is a new and exciting area of study made challenging by the lack of knowledge on the subsurface biosphere and the difficulty in accessing subsurface samples.

    Dr Deng is looking to verify the possibility of microbes interacting with the surface of rocks for energy and document a method for growing electric microbes in the lab.

    This will create new opportunities to study the poorly understood subsurface biosphere that is estimated to account for more than half of all microbial life on earth.

    3
    A view of corrosive bacteria on an iron surface taken with a scanning electron microscope.

    Opening a future to new compounds

    Since humans first discovered the world of microbiology we have been discovering how useful they can be.

    Today, about half of the drugs on the market were discovered by screening collections of small molecules made by bacteria, fungi, snails, leeches and other similar species.

    However, all our current medications are effective against only one-third of diseases because of increased antibiotic resistance.

    There is an urgent need to find new biologically active compounds.

    If this research is successful, it could open the door to using the untapped subsurface microbial resource for biosynthesis of new compounds such as antioxidants, antibiotics and anticancer drugs.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 9:50 am on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIROscope, SETI-Search for Extraterrestrial Life in the Unverse   

    From CSIROscope: “ET continues to elude scientists…for now” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    19 June 2019
    Eamonn Bermingham

    1
    In the film Contact, Jodie Foster races to interpret a possible message from extraterrestrial life originating from the Vega star system

    Are we alone? It’s a question that remains unanswered, after the first three years of Breakthrough Listen, a global project with the core focus of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA




    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia


    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    Since 2016 our researchers, along with University of California, Berkeley and Swinburne University, have been combing thousands of nearby stars. Using Australia’s iconic ‘Dish’ at Parkes and the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia they’re striving to answer one of science’s most profound questions.

    Finding a needle in a haystack

    It’s the greatest search for ET in human history, but one that has so far proved elusive.

    Headquartered at the UC Berkeley, the Breakthrough Listen team have used cutting edge techniques to hunt for so-called ‘technosignatures’—evidence of technology (such as radio transmitters or propulsion devices, like a rocket launcher) that may indicate intelligent life.

    For three years the scientists have been scanning billions of radio channels looking for signals that cannot be naturally explained. After a painstakingly stringent vetting process, the few surviving signals of interest proved to be outliers; human-generated radio interference that slipped through the first filter.

    Consider this.

    The observable Universe is 13.7 billion light years across, compared to 0.04 light seconds for Earth. Given the unfathomably small proportion of the Universe that is occupied by Earth, there is something of an absurdity to the notion that life doesn’t exist elsewhere. To give these numbers some context, picture planet Earth in all its beauty, teeming with life. Now imagine that life on Earth only existed in an area the size of a pinprick. And you begin to gauge the magnitude of the existential quandary.

    2
    The shot from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows the magnitude of the Universe. This one snapshot shows thousands of galaxies, including massive yellowish ellipticals and majestic blue spirals. Much smaller, fragmentary blue galaxies are sprinkled throughout the image. The reddest objects are most likely the farthest galaxies. Asteroid trails appear as curved or S-shaped streaks. Image: NASA

    The size of the Universe allows for the possibility of other intelligent life, so where is everybody?

    “We know there are tens of billions of places in our Galaxy alone that appear to be similar to Earth in their potential for life,” said UC Berkeley’s Dr Steve Croft, astronomer with the Breakthrough project.

    “But even where the conditions and ingredients are right, we don’t know whether life is common or exceptionally rare.

    “One thing’s for sure—for the Universe to have produced just one example of intelligence, rather than zero or many, would be rather odd. So we’re cautiously optimistic that the search will succeed.”

    What happens if we find a signal of life outside Earth?

    The first step after we detect a candidate signal is to confirm it exists, using an independent telescope and research group.

    “Once it’s unambiguously determined to be extraterrestrial, we would announce the results and share them with the world,” said UC Berkeley’s Dr Danny Price, astronomer with the Breakthrough project.

    “A signal could be a simple ‘hello’, telling us that there are indeed other inhabited worlds, or it may contain information for us to interpret. In the latter case, we have no way of knowing how easy the interpretation might be.

    “But we do know that any signal received belongs to humanity as a whole, and it will be for humanity as a whole to decide if, and how, to respond,” Dr Price said.

    3
    The Parkes radio telescope is being used as a part of the Breakthrough Project, to search of life outside Earth. Image: Wayne England

    Where to from here?

    Satellite TV, artificial limbs, adjustable smoke detectors, tyres; the list of technologies created during the space race is long and varied. And often cited as its most profound benefits.

    The Breakthrough Listen project is also focused on scientific advancement in other areas.

    “We’ve developed techniques that have helped us understand astrophysical phenomena like fast radio bursts. We’ve built deep learning algorithms that could be applied in areas such as wireless communications. And we’ve trained dozens of undergraduate researchers in the tools and techniques that we use,” Dr Croft said.

    The team have also released a huge amount of publicly-available data to encourage active participation in the search.

    Spin-off benefits aside, after 36 months of quiet the team could be forgiven for feeling a hint of despondency. And a desire to turn to a more traditional form of astronomy as a sort of a scientific ‘chicken soup’.

    Not so.

    “Curiosity about our origins and place in the Universe compels us to search”, said Dr Croft.

    “The amount of space, the variety of possible formats, the vastness of time, and the ranges of frequencies to be searched are enormous.

    “But just like biologists looking for elusive snow leopards in the Himalayas, we must be patient and thorough. We may find the signal we seek tomorrow, or next year, or never, but as we continue to expand our capabilities the chances of a detection only continue to increase.”

    Results from the first three years of Breakthrough Listen have been submitted for publication in Astrophysical Journal.

    The search continues.

    See the full article here .

    Not included in this article:

    SETI’s Jill Tarter

    Laser SETI, the future of SETI Institute research

    SETI@home, a BOINC project originated in the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley


    METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence)

    METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International has announced plans to start sending signals into space

    NIROSETI
    The NIROSETI (Near-InfraRed Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an astronomical program to search for artificial signals in the optical (visible) and near infrared (NIR) wavebands of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is the first dedicated near-infrared SETI experiment. [1][2] The instrument was created by a collaboration of scientists from the University of California, San Diego, Berkeley SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Toronto, and the SETI Institute. It uses the Anna Nickel 1-m telescope at the Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.[3][4] The instrument was commissioned (saw its first light) on 15 March 2015 and has been operated for more than 150 nights.

    UCSC alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument. (Photo by Laurie Hatch).jpg

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego, with NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto, at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer UC Berkeley Jérôme Maire U Toronto, Shelley Wright UCSD Patrick Dorval, U Toronto Richard Treffers Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch)


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 12:10 pm on June 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSIROscope, , Fishing industries located here produced a significant percentage of the world’s annual catch., , Over 2.5 billion people from 32 countries live around the border of the Indian Ocean., The complex relationships and mixing between these waters creates zones of unique phyto- and zoo- plankton communities along the west Australian coast., The Indian Ocean is the fastest warming ocean in the world and is at risk of being impacted by climate change., They continue to increase yields while employing tens of millions of people.   

    From CSIROscope: “From oceanic critters to the oceanic frontier: our researchers navigating the Indian Ocean” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    7 June 2019
    Chris Gerbing
    Natalie Kikken

    1
    From the 110⁰ E meridional line in the Indian Ocean from 40⁰S where the Indian Ocean joins the Southern Ocean to the tropical waters at 10⁰S near Christmas Island, we hope our scientists don’t get seasick!

    Over 2.5 billion people from 32 countries live around the border of the Indian Ocean. Fishing industries located here produced a significant percentage of the world’s annual catch. And they continue to increase yields while employing tens of millions of people. However, the Indian Ocean is the fastest warming ocean in the world and is at risk of being impacted by climate change. One factor of climate change, ocean acidification, could threaten food security and economic prosperity for a third of the world’s population.

    With Australia having the world’s longest coastline in the Indian Ocean, we spoke with four of our researchers currently aboard our RV Investigator for the UN-led Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2). They are travelling from where the Indian Ocean joins the Southern Ocean to the tropical waters near Christmas Island.

    3
    Hunting plankton in converging waters – Claire Davies (Experimental Scientist)
    Claire Davies is collecting plankton to better understand their composition in tropical and temperate regions.

    The Leeuwin Current on Australia’s west coast is the only ocean current of its kind (subtropical eastern boundary current). It plays a major role in the distribution of marine life.

    The Leeuwin Current transports warm, low nutrient waters and ocean creatures from the tropics southward along the Australian coast. A deep ocean current delivers high nutrient, cold water into the Indian Ocean from the Southern Ocean.

    The complex relationships and mixing between these waters creates zones of unique phyto- and zoo- plankton communities along the west Australian coast. Claire Davies is investigating using a device called the continuous plankton recorder (CPR).

    3
    Ocean discoveries: new plankton has already been sighted on the voyage.

    “The CPR collects plankton samples 10 metres below the surface for us to study,” explained Claire. “We can then map their distributions and abundances across our oceans.”

    The CPR kit is an oldie but a goodie, remaining unchanged since 1927. However, for the first time, it will provide a gap-free record of the plankton in the Indian Ocean. Helping us to understand the effect of the Leeuwin Current and eddy systems on the mix of plankton species that live from tropical to temperate regions. Already, the results have Claire excited.

    “I’ve already seen a lot of plankton new to me, and we may even find species new to science!”

    Turbidity: the last great oceanographic frontier – Maxime Marin (PhD Student)

    Max is using a unique instrument called a vertical microstructure (turbulence) profiler (VMP) to measure the ‘murkiness of water’. Scientifically speaking that is the dissipation of light under the ocean’s surface and the number of particles that limit light penetration in water. It’s not an easy task. “You don’t realise how hard it is to get data. The ocean is wild,” said Max.

    This is Max’s first voyage onboard the RV Investigator, and he is addressing a relatively new ocean challenge – understanding and modelling its turbidity. Understanding ocean turbidity helps us to understand ocean productivity, the microscopic plants that use light to grow and the impacts on species that depend on them.

    “The 110 ⁰E voyage will help to determine the role of the Indian Ocean in regulating the climate in the region,” said Max. “We are comparing how the Indian Ocean flows and how physical conditions have changed over the past half a century since the transect was first studied. This will generate more accurate climate and oceanographic models and satellite products to gain insights into the physical conditions of the Indian Ocean’s subsurface.”

    4
    Let there be light: Maxime Marin (front) is joining the voyage for the first time to study turbidity of the Indian Ocean.

    Healthy oceans, habitable planet – Dr Peter Thompson (Research Group Leader)

    The world’s oceans provide up to 80 per cent of the oxygen we breathe – and phytoplankton produces 330 billion tonnes of oxygen each year! This oxygen is produced when microscopic plants, called phytoplankton, photosynthesize, just like a plant on land does.

    Along with being a source of oxygen, phytoplankton sits at the bottom of the marine food web, providing a source of nutrition for fish and baleen whales. With the Indian Ocean warming the fastest in the world, it’s these tiny critters that will be affected first.

    “I am conducting nutrient assessments along the 110 ⁰E meridional line to understand whether the nutrients essential for phytoplankton growth and photosynthesis (carbon, phosphorous, nitrogen and silicate) have become less available as the ocean warms up,” reveals Peter Thompson.

    “Water sampling is extensive, as phytoplankton can grow to nearly 175 metres below the ocean surface, so it will be a few months until we can compare data collected over the last 60 years as to whether the nutrient concentrations are changing in the east Indian Ocean and, if so, by how much.”

    5
    Red alert: the Indian Ocean is warming so Dr Peter Thompson is researching how ocean changes will impact plankton.

    Future oceans in a high CO2 world – Dr Karlie McDonald (Research Fellow)

    Each year, 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the earth’s atmosphere. Of which, at least 25% is assimilated into the world’s oceans. Ocean acidification occurs when the pH of seawater becomes acidic due to elevated CO2 uptake.

    Karlie McDonald is improving our knowledge on CO2 assimilation and transport in the east Indian Ocean. She is measuring CO2 and alkalinity (a buffer of increasing pH) in seawater along the 110 ⁰E transect from the surface to 5000 metres deep. Karlie is also investigating how ocean acidification impairs marine life to protect social and economic values in the region.

    “Ocean acidification impacts the construction of calcium carbonate shells and skeletal structures for sea butterflies and other calcifiers. Such as corals, crustaceans, and molluscs. This can have far-reaching impacts on the marine ecosystem, including fisheries and aquaculture,” states Karlie.

    5
    Coral crusader: Karlie McDonald is researching how carbon dioxide is transported through the Indian Ocean and how ocean acidification impacts the survival of marine life, like coral. Photo: Helen Phillips

    This World Oceans Day, we want to say thank-you to our dedicated researchers making waves in marine science. This voyage on our RV Investigator is led by chief scientist Professor Lynnath Beckley from Murdoch University.

    CSIRO RV Investigator

    CPR is funded by the Integrated Marine Observing System.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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 6:46 am on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Can AI help fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs?", , , , CSIROscope,   

    From CSIROscope: “Can AI help fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs?” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    23 May 2019
    Sian Stringer

    1
    A sample of penicillin mould from Alexander Fleming himself. Image: Science Museum London

    Antibiotics. They’ve been our go-to for treating (and sometimes preventing) bacterial infections ever since Alexander Fleming found mould keeping bacteria in check in his petri dishes almost a century ago and figured it was worth investigating.

    But bacteria are shrewd. They were among the first life forms to inhabit Earth, and the fact they’re still here some 3.5 billion years later means they’re extremely resilient and capable of constant change to adapt to their environment.

    This adaptability, combined with our use of antibiotics, is contributing to a surge of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. And with the surge showing no signs of slowing, the global scientific community is working hard to find new ways to fight the resistance – before it’s too late.

    Antibiotics and what they’re good for

    Many antibiotics work by attacking specific parts of bacteria that human cells don’t have, such as cell walls, and can either stop bacteria from replicating or kill them outright.

    Along with antivirals and antimalarials, antifungals and antibiotics are classed as “antimicrobials”, agents that target microorganisms. Medicine involves an arsenal of antimicrobials critical in fighting a huge range of infections, with antibiotics used against the bugs responsible for infections like pneumonia, food poisoning, and even surgery-related infections.

    For a little light reading, check out the World Health Organization’s list of the most critical antimicrobials for human medicine.

    2

    The rise of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs

    Antimicrobial resistance (or AMR for short) is a resistance that a microorganism can develop against the treatments we use to wipe them out.

    Infections such as tuberculosis, sepsis and pneumonia are becoming harder to treat as bacteria develop resistances to existing treatments and spread themselves globally through their human hosts. Even surgery and cancer chemotherapy would become less successful if we lost the ability to prevent or treat related infections.

    It’s a scary thought.

    Why are bugs getting stronger?

    There is a range of reasons why AMR is spreading. While a certain level of resistance does naturally occur over time, it’s been accelerated by the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials, giving bacteria more opportunity to build up resistance.

    Because of their effectiveness, antibiotics have sometimes become the go-to answer for illness, even when they don’t work (such as for colds and flu) and people sometimes self-medicate with antibiotics from old prescriptions they haven’t used. Even something as seemingly harmless as not finishing the full course of antibiotics can be a problem: this can leave a small leftover bunch of bacteria and give them the opportunity to build up a tolerance to the drug.

    Antibiotics have also been widely used for animal health, including preventing disease in healthy animals. And the problem with AMR microbes is that they’re not fussy about where they live – they can be found in humans, animals, our food, and even in our water, air and dirt – so they’re good at spreading across environments.

    It’s estimated that resistant bugs could kill 10 million people every year by 2050. We’re essentially in a race against AMR superbugs to develop new treatments for life-threatening infections before existing treatments stop working.

    Resistance isn’t useless: The resistance against resistance

    3

    Antimicrobial resistance is a huge and immediate challenge faced not only by Australians but by everyone around the world. So we’re forging ahead in the effort to find ways to manage or overcome it.

    A team of our researchers, specialising in areas including biosecurity, digital health and risk assessments, are all contributing their expertise to a new collaboration called OUTBREAK. It’s funded by the Medical Research Future Fund and led by the University of Technology Sydney, in partnership with other organisations around Australia, the UK and New Zealand.

    Over the next year, the OUTBREAK project will scope out an Australia-wide, artificial intelligence-powered knowledge engine against AMR, based on a “One Health” approach – the interconnection between human, animal and environmental health.

    This knowledge engine would aim to pull together streams of data from people, animals and the environment so we can get real-time information about AMR hotspots, track the spread of superbugs and infectious diseases, and provide early warnings and other critical information to help leaders make informed decisions about public health and biosecurity.

    In the long term, the engine could be a powerful tool for improving our understanding of AMR and finding ways to work around it.

    Big data and biosecurity are key

    4
    We’re harnessing big data to find big solutions in the fight against superbugs

    The amount of information OUTBREAK is hoping to pull together is huge. It could include bacterial genome sequences, land use, location of specific facilities such as waste water recycling plants and hospitals, data about antibiotic prescriptions, and infection data, alongside geospatial mapping to link data to its physical location. We’ll then need some way to make sense of all that data.

    And that’s where transformational bioinformatics comes into the fold! Our Australian e-Health Research Centre’s Dr Denis Bauer and her Transformational Bioinformatics team use AI and machine learning to find new ways to make sense of huge amounts of data.

    “Finding the tell-tale signs of acquired resistance in the genome of micro-organisms is computationally intensive, especially since we don’t want to miss anything or raise a false alarm,” Denis says.

    “It’s like trying to find a specific and unique grain of sand on the beach.”

    So Denis and her team will channel their combined knowledge in helping to analyse the data from OUTBREAK, which ultimately could also be applied to detecting and tracking emerging infectious disease.

    Dr Paul De Barro, our Risk and Evaluation Preparedness Program Director and an infectious disease guru, is also part of the OUTBREAK project and says biosecurity will play a massive role in the resistance against resistance.

    “Strengthening our people, animals and environments against emerging diseases in the face of growing populations, climate change and increased international trade is critically important,” Paul says.

    “Antibiotic resistance threatens to totally up-end our existing medical approaches to managing infectious diseases, so we’re hopeful OUTBREAK has the potential to become an important tool in the race against antimicrobial resistance.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    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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