Tagged: CSIROscope Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • 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.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:52 am on May 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSIROscope, Synthetic biology-brings together principles from biology and engineering together to design and construct new biological entities (such as enzymes; genetic circuits; and cells) or to redesign existin, Synthetic jellyfish   

    From CSIROscope: “How synthetic jellyfish could be used to clean up toxic marine spills” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    1
    How synthetic jellyfish could be used to clean up toxic marine spills.Dr Nina Pollak holding up printed prototypes of the synthetic jellyfish.

    2
    The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is often cited as the worst environmental disaster in U.S.A’s history.

    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 was the largest and most destructive toxic marine spill in history. Almost 4.9 billion barrels of oil were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. The slick wreaked widespread havoc over oceans, beaches, wetlands and estuaries.

    The spill covered the habitat of more than 8,300 species of fish, crustaceans, birds and other wildlife. In the months after the spill, the area contained 40 times more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than it did before. PAHs include carcinogens and chemicals dangerous to human and animal life. This was a disaster on a monumental scale.

    Remediation efforts were intense but laborious, and in many cases had side-effects on the environment.

    3
    Seabird losses from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill estimated at hundreds of thousands. Photo: Office of Governor Jindal/ Louisiana Gohsep.

    Sci-fi or synthetic biology?

    Imagine an army of synthetic, jellyfish-like organisms that could be deployed to ‘hunt and kill’ pollutants like PAHs. They could be released in marine environments after toxic spills, breaking down toxins down as they move through the affected area.

    They would be immense in number, but non-replicating. Able to absorb the toxic chemicals before they cause any great harm.

    While it might seem like a sci-fi fantasy, this solution is actually closer to reality than you would think – thanks to the wonders of synthetic biology.

    Synthetic biology to the rescue

    Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing research area and industry. It brings together principles from biology and engineering together to design and construct new biological entities (such as enzymes, genetic circuits, and cells) or to redesign existing biological systems.

    Synthetic biology is used for important applications like bioenergy, sustainable biomaterials, new therapeutics, biosensors, and food production.

    We see a great future in synthetic biology, so we set up the Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP). One of our most exciting new projects is to create a multicellular structure, a bit like biological tissue, which can move and sense certain things in marine environments.

    A (multicellular) tissue for your (toxic spill) issues

    We want to create a new multicellular structure to detect toxins in aquatic environment. Once it has detected the toxins, it will mimic natural processes from our body’s detoxification organ, the liver. It will then produce animal liver enzymes that break down the toxins.

    The multicellular structures could be used to restore the balance of nature in the wake of pollution incidents.

    “It’s a non-invasive, environmentally sustainable solution for toxic spills. They could even be preemptively deployed in areas that are at risk for toxic spills without impacting the environment around them,” says project lead and SynBio FSP future fellow Dr Nina Pollak, who is also a researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where the research is undertaken.

    So should we worry about the possibility of a sea of self-replicating pseudo jellyfish going rogue and invading the ocean, nanobot–style?

    No, says Nina. “The pseudo jellyfish will be fully biodegradable and not able to reproduce. There may even be the possibility to implement a ‘kill switch’ into them for biocontainment.” In other words, our scientists could create a ‘self-destruct’ mechanism in these toxin-swallowing synthetic jellies.

    “We’re still in the proof of concept stage, but we hope that one day this technology could be used on a wide-spread scale,” said Nina.

    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 11:23 am on May 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What we learnt from spending winter under Antarctic sea ice", Argo float robots, CSIROscope   

    From CSIROscope: “What we learnt from spending winter under Antarctic sea ice” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    15 May 2019
    Fiona Brown

    1
    Our Argo float robots spent winter under the Totten Glacier. It’s a fast-melting glacier in East Antarctica.

    Okay, so our scientists didn’t actually spend their winter in the deep, dark waters under Antarctica’s sea ice. We’re not crazy! It’s really cold down there! But our scientists did develop a new mission for our fleet of autonomous oceanic robots called Argo floats. It may have been a long winter for these brave bots, but the data that they sent back made their mission worthwhile.

    What does an ocean robot do?

    There are currently around 3900 Argo floats bobbing around in the world’s oceans. We manage 360 floats as part of the Integrated Marine Observing System. These specialised instruments move up and down through the water column measuring ocean temperature and salinity as they go. They travel to depths of 1 to 2 kilometres, drifting with the ocean currents. When they surface they use satellite transmission to send their data back to scientists waiting to review results.

    (Fun fact: The Argo program is named after the Greek mythical ship, Argo, which Jason and the Argonauts sailed on a mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Measurements of sea surface height are called ‘Jason measurements’, complimenting ‘Argo measurements’ of ocean temperature and salinity.)

    2
    Up and down and up and down – the Argo robotic float cycle process.

    Watch out for the ice

    Because Argos need to surface to transmit data, until now, they’ve only been able to collect data about the ocean around Antarctica in summer, when there is no sea ice blocking their path.

    But we’re really curious about what’s happening under the sea ice in winter, especially at places like Totten Glacier, a fast-melting glacier in East Antarctica. Collecting measurements in winter, when the ocean surface freezes to form sea ice, has required our scientists to come up with a cunning new approach.

    To collect winter measurements near the Totten Glacier they ‘parked’ the floats on the sea floor between water column profiles (so that they didn’t drift away). Then, the team programmed the Argo robots to check for sea ice as they floated up to the surface.

    “We programmed the floats to check the water temperature as they were getting close to the surface,” explains Dr Steve Rintoul from our Centre for Southern Hemisphere Oceans Research.

    “If the temperature was so low that ice could form, the float would go back down and attempt to resurface after five days, hopefully this time somewhere free of ice. Each water column profile collected under the ice was stored to be transmitted when the float was able to surface.”

    3
    Argo floats ready for deployment.

    And watch out for the boulders and mud!

    However, it wasn’t just sea ice that the Argo floats had to contend with. ‘Parking’ these sensitive instruments on the sea floor also put them in peril.

    Steve puts it simply:, “Crashing sensitive oceanographic instruments into the sea floor isn’t generally recommended.”

    It’s a confusing life for Argo floats. When they’re on board the ships that send them overboard, Argos are treated with lots of TLC. They have special covers to protect the sensitive instruments from dust, and are transported in soft padding before being every-so-gently lowered into the water.

    But once they hit the sea floor, it’s a different story.

    “Firstly, hitting the sea floor itself knocks them around a bit, and then there are pretty strong currents down there that cause them to bump along the bottom,” explains Steve.

    “In places there are large boulders that they could get washed into, and in other places there’s soft mud, which can be equally damaging as it sticks to and fouls the float’s sensors.”

    4
    Dr Steve Rintoul with another kind of Argo float (a ‘deep Argo float’) in front of the RV Investigator.

    The Argos answered mysteries from the deep

    Our scientists sat nervously through the Argo’s first winter under ice. When spring arrived and the sea ice started to melt, the team waited in anticipation as the golden floats returned to the surface. Would they be ok? Would their sensors be battered and bruised? What secrets would they reveal? Would they successfully transmit their winter data?

    Well we are happy to report that the Argos returned unscathed, as bright and buoyant as ever. They were also full of stories (data) to tell (transmit) about their time under the ice.

    “We immediately noticed that the ocean was warmer in autumn and winter than we had found in our previous summer measurements,” said Alessandro Silvano from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), who led the study.

    “The new measurements confirm that this part of East Antarctica is exposed to warmer ocean waters. These warmer waters can drive rapid ice melt, with the potential to make a large contribution to future sea level rise.

    “The floats also provided new measurements of ocean depth in the region, revealing a previously unknown deep trough that allows warm water to approach the glacier year-round,” Alessandro said.

    Previously, it was thought that most of the glacial melting was happening in West Antarctica, while East Antarctica was thought to be more stable. The data collected by the floats shows that (at least) this part of East Antarctica is also exposed, something that requires further exploration.

    “These results show that profiling floats can be used in novel ways to measure the ocean near Antarctica, a critical blind-spot in the global ocean observing system,” said Steve.

    “But much work remains to be done and we need more measurements to assess the vulnerability of the ice shelf to changes in the ocean, including in the ocean beneath the floating Totten Glacier.”

    Thankfully, we have a trusty fleet of Argo floats who are clearly up to the challenge.

    Science paper Seasonality of warm water intrusions onto the continental shelf near the Totten Glacier JGR Oceans

    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 11:29 am on May 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Invasive species are Australia’s number-one extinction threat", , Australia has the highest rate of vertebrate mammal extinction in the world and invasive species are our number one threat., , CSIROscope, , Invasive species are found in almost every part of Australia from our rainforests to our deserts; our farms; to our cities; our national parks and our rivers., It’s not all bad news. Australia actually has a long history of effectively managing invasive species., The effects of invasive species are getting worse, These affect our unique biodiversity as well as the clean water and oxygen we breath – not to mention our cultural values.   

    From CSIROscope: “Invasive species are Australia’s number-one extinction threat” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    10 May 2019
    Andy Sheppard
    Linda Broadhurst
    Asaesja Young

    1
    Feral foxes and cats are known predators of the eastern pygmy possum, which is threatened with extinction. Photo by Phil Spark.

    This week many people across the world stopped and stared as extreme headlines announced that one eighth of the world’s species – more than a million – are threatened with extinction.

    According to the UN report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which brought this situation to public attention, this startling number is a consequence of five direct causes: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasion of alien species.

    It’s the last, invasive species, that threatens Australian animals and plants more than any other single factor.

    Australia’s number one threat

    Australia has an estimated 600,000 species of flora and fauna. Of these, about 100 are known to have gone extinct in the last 200 years. Currently, more than 1,770 are listed as threatened or endangered.

    While the IPBES report ranks invasive alien species as the fifth most significant cause of global decline, in Australia it is a very different story.

    Australia has the highest rate of vertebrate mammal extinction in the world, and invasive species are our number one threat.

    Cats and foxes have driven 22 native mammals to extinction across central Australia and a new wave of decline – largely from cats – is taking place across northern Australia. Research has estimated 270 more threatened and endangered vertebrates are being affected by invasive species.

    Introduced vertebrates have also driven several bird species on Norfolk Island extinct.

    3
    The introduction of the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has been disastrous for our wildlife. Image: Harlz_

    The effects of invasive species are getting worse

    Although Australia’s stringent biosecurity measures have dramatically slowed the number of new invasive species arriving, those already here have continued to spread and their cumulative effect is growing.

    Recent research highlights that 1,257 of Australia’s threatened and endangered species are directly affected by 207 invasive plants, 57 animals and three pathogens.

    These affect our unique biodiversity, as well as the clean water and oxygen we breath – not to mention our cultural values.

    When it comes to biodiversity, Australia is globally quite distinct. More than 70% of our species (69% of mammals, 46% of birds and 93% of reptiles) are found nowhere else on earth. A loss to Australia is therefore a loss to the world.

    Some of these are ancient species like the Wollemi Pine, may have inhabited Australia for up to 200 million years, well before the dinosaurs.

    But invasive species are found in almost every part of Australia, from our rainforests, to our deserts, our farms, to our cities, our national parks and our rivers.

    4
    Feral cats are a major driver of biodiversity loss, contributing to 26% of bird, mammal and reptile extinctions. Image credit: Mark Marathon via Wikimedia Commons

    The cost to Australia

    The cost of invasive species in Australia continue to grow with every new assessment.

    The most recent estimates found the cost of controlling invasive species and economic losses to farmers in 2011-12 was A$13.6 billion. However this doesn’t include harm to biodiversity and the essential role native species play in our ecosystems, which – based on the conclusions of the IPBES report – is likely to cost at least as much, and probably far more.

    Rabbits, goats and camels prevent native desert plant community regeneration; rabbits alone impacting over 100 threatened species. Rye grass on its own costs cereal farmers A$93M a year.

    Aquaculture diseases have affected oysters and cost the prawn industry $43M.

    From island to savannah

    Globally, invasive species have a disproportionately higher effect on offshore islands – and in Australia we have more than 8,000 of these. One of the most notable cases is the case of the yellow crazy ants, which killed 15,000,000 red land crabs on Christmas Island.

    6
    The yellow crazy ant is one of the world’s top 100 most invasive pests. They can form huge colonies, totally displacing native animals and seriously disrupting ecological processes.

    Nor are our deserts immune. Most native vertebrate extinctions caused by cats have occurred in our dry inland deserts and savannas, while exotic buffel and gamba grass are creating permanent transformation through changing fire regimes.

    Australia’s forests, particularly rainforests, are also under siege on a number of fronts. The battle continues to contain Miconia weed in Australia – the same weed responsible for taking over 70% of Tahiti’s native forests. Chytrid fungus, thought to be present in Australia since 1970, has caused the extinction of at least four frog species and dramatic decline of at least ten others in our sensitive rainforest ecosystems.

    Myrtle rust is pushing already threatened native Australian Myrtaceae closer to extinction, notably Gossia gonoclada, and Rhodamnia angustifoliaand changing species composition of rainforest understories, and Richmond birdwing butterfly numbers are under threat from an invasive flower known as the Dutchman’s pipe.

    Australia’s rivers and lakes are also under increasing domination from invasive species. Some 90% of fish biomass in the Murray Darling Basin are European carp, and tilapia are invading many far north Queensland river systems pushing out native species .

    Invasive alien species are not only a serious threat to biodiversity and the economy, but also to human health. The Aedes aegypti mosquito found in parts of Queensland is capable of spreading infectious disease such as dengue, zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.

    And it’s not just Queensland that is under threat from diseases spread by invasive mosquitoes, with many researchers and authorities planning for when, not if, the disease carrying Aedes albopictus establishes itself in cooler and southern parts of Australia.

    7
    We have been testing in quarantine a new virus to control invasive carp. CSIRO

    What solutions do we have?

    Despite this grim inventory, it’s not all bad news. Australia actually has a long history of effectively managing invasive species.

    Targeting viruses as options for controlling rabbits, carp and tilapia; we have successfully suppressed rabbit populations by 70% in this way for 50 years.

    Weeds too are successful targets for weed biological control, with over a 65% success rate controlling more than 25 targets.

    The IPBES report calls for “transformative action”. Here too Australia is at the forefront, looking into the potential of gene-technologies to suppress pet hates such as cane toads.

    Past and current invasive species programs have been supported by governments and industry. This has provided the type of investment we need for long-term solutions and effective policies.

    Australia is better placed now, with effective biosecurity policies and strong biosecurity investment, than many countries. We will continue the battle against invasive species to stem biodiversity and ecosystem loss.

    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 12:18 pm on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fill up on fish & ships with RV Investigator", , CSIROscope, Going back to the future, , SS Carlisle, SS Macumba, The SS Barrabool collides with the SS Queensland   

    From CSIROscope: “Fill up on fish & ships with RV Investigator” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    RV Investigator Australia

    1
    The SS Barrabool collides with the SS Queensland. Because of how new the SS Queensland was, we don’t have a photo of what it looked like. But this is where we come in.

    The year was 1876. The University of Adelaide began classes that year and the Melbourne Cup was run for the first time on the first Tuesday of November.

    It was also the year that SS Queensland sank off Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, after colliding with the steamer Barrabool in the early morning of 3 August.

    SS Queensland was en route to Fuzhou, China from Melbourne, and was heading towards Sydney with a cargo of Chinese tea.

    But the second mate of Barrabool mistook the masthead light of Queensland for the Wilson’s Promontory lighthouse. It was going full speed ahead until it struck Queensland’s starboard (or right) side.

    Queensland was so badly damaged that it sank in only 35 minutes.

    143 years later in 2019, our research vessel (RV) Investigator is using the wreck of SS Queensland to give us higher quality maps for safe navigation, and test other equipment ahead of a program of historic shipwreck surveys in the area. The survey program brings together experts from the Australian National Maritime Museum, Heritage Victoria and the Australian Hydrographic Office, who will work with our team on board to search for other ships whose resting location is currently unknown.

    3
    The seafloor map of SS Queensland from our multibeam echo sounders

    Going back to the future

    The Australian coastline is dotted with shipwrecks, some known and others yet to be discovered. One part of the mission of our RV Investigator is to help fill in the gaps in our seafloor maps to aid in ensuring safe shipping and navigation.

    On many voyages, we also seek to work with maritime heritage agencies to solve the mystery and pinpoint the location of long-lost ships.

    This brings our super science ship to the Bass Strait on a voyage to map the seafloor and survey for historic shipwrecks.

    The wreck site of SS Queensland, which is nearly 100m long and was found in 2005, provides RV Investigator with the perfect location to use, calibrate and test its multibeam echo sounders on a known target. This equipment delivers colourful images of the seafloor and its surrounding structures, as well as showing the unexpected and tell-tale shapes of possible shipwrecks.

    But it only gives a rough image of what the wreck and the area surrounding it looks like. The image is so rough that it sometimes looks like it has icicles on the boat! Definitely not correct when we’re off the Victorian coast. To fix this, the scientists on our ship have to clean up this interference which often takes days.

    There’s nothing like taking a closer look though!

    4
    The camera gives us a closeup look of the wreck to aid in identification and wreck site mapping.

    Getting the drop on history

    Once the initial mapping of SS Queensland is complete, a drop camera is then lowered from RV Investigator to take a closer look at the wreck. This special underwater camera is lowered to sit just above the wreck. Investigator then sailed parallel to the wreck at low speed to capture close up vision of the ship and build a composite picture of the whole site.

    Doing multiple passes over a site allows mapping technicians to build more detailed maps of features and objects, which can then be used to confirm if that unexpected something is a shipwreck.

    Along the way, the drop camera also captures footage of a lot of curious fish and other marine life.

    With these surveys completed and equipment tested, Investigator departed to begin its program of shipwreck surveys in Bass Strait.

    With proven successes in the past, including the discoveries of SS Macumba and SS Carlisle in 2017, Investigator’s freshly calibrated mapping systems have all on board excited about what they might find.

    We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with the fish and ships they find in the deep!

    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 3:27 pm on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CSIROscope, Mapping the deep dark seafloor, Marine Geophysics, , Microbial Science, , , The Ship's Doctor, The Ship’s Captain, Vessel construction, Voyage Management,   

    From CSIROscope: Women In STEM-“Seafaring superstars: Six women shining on our national science ship” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    8 March 2019
    Kate Cranney

    1
    Toni Moate lead the construction of the massive research vessel, Investigator. Image: Chris McKay

    This International Women’s Day, we’d like you to meet the talented women on board our research vessel Investigator.

    Investigator travels from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge, delivering up to 300 research days a year. And on each voyage you’ll find female scientists, ship’s crew and support staff answering big questions, whether they’re studying ancient microbes or they’re ensuring the health and well-being of the people on board.

    The six women you’ll meet include an oceanographer, a doctor, a marine geophysicist, a voyage manager, a captain and—last boat not least!—a leader who oversaw the construction of the ship itself. Some of these women knew, when they were young, that science floated their boat. Others took a more sea-nic route. But one thing’s for shore: they’re all smart, adventurous, competent, courageous and hard-working.

    So steady your sea legs, you bunch of landlubbers, and let’s meet the women on board!

    Martina Doblin studies the first organisms on the planet
    2
    Martina Doblin studies microscopic organisms called microbes – the first organisms on the planet. Image: Doug Thost

    “When I was studying in Hobart I had the opportunity to volunteer on a voyage to Antarctica. I was really moved to see this pristine part of the planet. It changed me. I came back and the world looked different. I knew I’d chosen the right career path.”

    Martina is a biological oceanographer. She looks at microscopic organisms called microbes—the first organisms on the planet. As she points out, “If there were no microbes on the planet there’d be no people!” It’s important science, especially in the face of a changing climate: Martina seeks to understand what climate change and a warmer ocean will mean for these microbes.

    Martina has been on Investigator several times, including as the ship’s Chief Scientist. For Martina, “the Chief Scientist helps to make sure the scientists leave the ship with the data that they need to solve the big questions.”

    But it’s not just about her science. “I’ve been able to train several female biological oceanographers, which has been really satisfying, partly because it’s still a pretty male-dominated profession,” she says. “For young female scientists, it’s a very empowering thing to be able to do experiments on a big ship, to work at sea and use the equipment. It can be life changing”. Learn more about tiny organisms and big voyages!

    Fun fact: Martina’s identical twin also works in environmental science—she’s a plant biologist!

    Sheri Newman is the Ship’s Doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, counsellor…
    3
    Dr Sheri Newman was a ship doctor during a voyage to Antarctica, aboard RV Investigator.

    “As the Ship’s Doctor, I have to be the doctor, the dentist, the physiotherapist, the mental health counsellor and of course all the science roles. It’s a huge responsibility and one that I cherish.”

    When Sheri Newman was young, she knew she wanted to be a doctor and a surgeon. Jump ahead to 2016, and Sheri is a doctor and a surgeon. In Australia, women accounted for 50 per cent of all medical graduates, but women make up just 12 per cent of all surgeons—the smallest proportion of any medical speciality.

    But Sheri was resolute. “Going through the training is particularly intense, brutal even! The hours you have to put in, the mental and physical fatigue, can be quite a difficult and challenging career.” Mid-way through her training, Sheri decided that she “hadn’t had enough adventure” in her life at that point, so she took a year off and went to Antarctica as medical officer. “The experience was incredible.”

    The Antarctic experience got under skin. After her time on Investigator, she decided to become a wilderness doctor. She’s since been the Ship’s Doctor on many vessels in remote and exciting locations: she’s been to more than 17 countries, as a doctor, medical student and intrepid traveller.

    “[Through my work] I get the opportunity to work in a place that’s so isolated and so untouched … And my role is so varied: I get to be around the science crew, to be involved in what they do. And there are fabulous vistas … and whales! It’s truly special.”

    Tara Martin maps the deep, dark, mysterious seafloor
    4
    Tara Martin’s work links her back to the explorers: she maps the deep dark seafloor, as a marine geophysicist aboard RV Investigator.

    “I get immense satisfaction in my job. It’s not a normal job—I like that.”

    Tara is a marine geophysicist. She maps the deep ravines, plateaus and peaks of our uncharted seafloor, up to 11 000m below the ocean’s surface.

    “We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the sea floor … Australia has the third largest ocean zone in the word, and we’ve only mapped 25 per cent of it,” she explains. Each time Investigator goes to sea, Tara’s team maps more of this underwater world. Recently, Tara’s team revealed a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts located in deep water about 400km east of Tasmania. “Our job links us back to the explorers,” she remarks.

    But Tara wasn’t always so keen on science. “It wasn’t until I was much older that I looked at changes of career [and studied marine geophysics]. I didn’t know what physics was before then … so I worked hard at university. I worked really, really hard!”

    When she started working, life at sea wasn’t as female-friendly as it is now. “Over my 20 year career, I’ve certainly experienced moments where I’ve not been allowed to do work that my male colleagues were doing out on the back-deck, because I’m a woman. Things have changed.”

    Working at sea isn’t for everyone: Tara talks of long shifts, seven days a week. But then, she says, she’ll get to work with cutting edge science, or someone will make an exciting new discovery. For Tara, “Those are the moments you go to sea for!”

    Tegan Sime keeps the voyage science on course
    5
    Tegan Sime is a Voyage Manager aboard RV Investigator. She keeps the crew and scientists singing from the same sea-shanty songbook.

    “I’ve never really followed the same path as everybody else. Being a late bloomer isn’t necessarily a bad thing … I’ve just taken my time to really figure out what I want to do. And I’m there now. I’ve got a great job, a great career, and I love it.”

    When Tegan finished Year 12, she didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she volunteered at a sailing school. She loved the adrenaline and excitement of sailing, so volunteered on Young Endeavour. It was her first taste of tall ship sailing. “Being out on the middle of the ocean, in the quiet, on a creaky ship that was designed hundreds of years ago—there’s a romance to it. And it was so much fun! I just loved it.”

    At 23, Tegan was eager to study marine biology at university, but she hadn’t done so well the first time around at school. Determined, she did Year 12 again, got her high school certificate, started university, and did her honours aboard our former research vessel, Southern Surveyor.

    Years on, Tegan is a Voyage Manager on Investigator. She is the key liaison between the crew of the ship and the scientists—she brings their work together. She also plays a key role in the mood of the people aboard the ship: “I guess I’m a bit of an amateur counsellor and I try to help people get through the tougher times when we’re out there.”

    There’s no typical day at sea. She tells a story about her recent birthday. “We were down near the ice-edge in the Antarctic. I woke up at 3am, it was pitch black, but when I peeked through my curtains I could see the Aurora lighting up the sky! I raced up the bridge and there were a couple of people taking photos and footage, and they all started singing happy birthday to me under the Aurora. It was a really special experience.”

    Madeleine Habib is the captain of our ship (aye, aye!)
    6
    Madeleine Habib is a Ship’s Captain. She is part of a very small group of women seafarers in Australia: less than 1% of the workforce.

    “I am drawn to working on ships that have a purpose—I want my work to have purpose. Being a captain…it’s not always easy. There are times when you are literally making decisions that affect the survival of the people on board the vessel.”

    Madeleine is a Ship’s Captain. She began her seafaring career at 22: “I was enchanted—suddenly I’d found this mix between a physical and mental challenge and I felt really confident that that’s what I wanted to pursue.” But she had to break down some entrenched gender biases. “Everybody just assumed I was a cook, and I really resented that—just because I was a young woman on a boat, that shouldn’t be the only role open to me. So when I returned to Australia, I went for my first Captain’s licence. I wanted to be taken seriously in the maritime industry.”

    Women currently represent less than 1 per cent of the total number of seafarers in Australia. Madeleine is part of this pioneering group. “To young women I’d like to say that a life at sea is a viable career. It’s so important to believe in your own potential, and only be limited by your own imagination.”

    Toni Moate oversaw the building of our world-class research vessel Investigator
    7
    Toni Moate stands proud in front of Investigator. She oversaw the creation of this $120 million state-of-the-art research vessel.

    “Like many women, when I was first offered the opportunity to lead the project, I didn’t think I had the skill set. Now, when I see the Investigator, I feel incredible pride.”

    Not many people can say they were responsible for building Australia’s biggest state-of-the-art research vessel.

    In 2009, Toni was chosen to lead the build of Investigator. She spent the next five years propelling the creation of the $120 million ship. It took 3 million (wo)man hours, and some tense discussions in a male-dominated industry to build the ship. Toni is so familiar with Investigator that it “feels like I’m walking around my house!”

    Toni left school at 15, at the end of Year 10. At that stage, she’d never left Tasmania. She went into the public service, and hoped to be a secretary one day.

    Through her leadership role with the ship-build project, she’s shown her young daughters “that women can do a lot more than they think they can do.” As Toni says, “My daughters took away a lot of life lessons—I think they learned that hard work pays off; that you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. They feel as proud of that ship as I do.”

    And we couldn’t be prouder of Toni. In 2017, she was awarded the Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year. She is now our Director, National Collections & Marine Infrastructure. Her ambit includes RV Investigator, so she can still step on board and walk around her second home!

    Women and science—why do we need to rock the boat?

    If we’re going to build a healthy, prosperous Australia, we need all of the talented women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) to be part of the team.

    But women in STEMM face a number of barriers in their careers, some obvious, some covert. In STEMM fields, only 18 per cent of leadership positions are held by women. Since the 1980s, more than half of all students graduating with a Bachelor of Science or a life science PhD are women, but women make up less than 20 per cent of lead researchers at senior levels in universities and research institutes.

    So what are we doing to get more women on board … and on boards?

    So what are we doing to address gender equity?

    We’re part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot and the Male Champions of Change (MCC) initiative.

    We were one of the first cohort members of Australia’s SAGE Athena Swan pilot program, and were recently awarded an Institutional Bronze Award. And we’re continuing to roll out our SAGE Action Plan, designed to drive systemic, long-term change towards gender equity within our organisation. You can read it here.

    And it’s not just an internal mission. We’re also addressing gender inequality in the research and projects that we deliver in developing nations.
    Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

    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 12:16 pm on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Using technology to better understand our Antarctic marine life", AAD-Australian Antarctic Division of Australian Antarctic Program, Antarctic blue whales, “We’ve now got so much more information about the fine-scale three-dimensional structure of krill swarms that we can start to get a better idea of the sort of swarms Antarctic blue whales hunt”, Can you imagine living life without your phone? But mobile technology isn’t confined to our cities: it’s also helped scientists working in some of the most remote places on Earth, CSIROscope, For the first time on an Australian research vessel echo sounders were used to construct three-dimensional pictures of giant krill swarms., More than 250 underwater listening devices were deployed during the voyage. They were used to detect the low frequency calls of the whales, One was an old friend: the researchers spotted a whale which had been recorded on an expedition six years ago, Over 300 hours of whale watching led to 36 encounters with these magical creatures leading to the identification of 25 individual whales., Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Program were looking at the complex relationship between krill and whales and their roles in maintaining the health of the Southern Ocean, Several swarms extended over one kilometre in length and hundreds of metres across containing many millions of krill, The first challenge for the team of scientists on this epic 13000 kilometre journey was to find the Antarctic blue whales in the vast waters of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, The technology used in this research has gathered data that will lead to ecosystem-based management of Antarctic krill and conservation of endangered species such as Antarctic blue whales, This is the first time a survey of Antarctic blue whales has been conducted together with a structured survey of their prey- tiny crustaceans called Antarctic krill, We monitored over 750 hours of underwater recordings and measured over 33000 bearings to blue whale calls which enabled us to home in on whale ‘hotspots’   

    From CSIROscope: “Using technology to better understand our Antarctic marine life” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    6 March 2019
    Kashmi Ranasinghe

    1
    Researching these endangered Antarctic blue whales could improve future conservation efforts © Elanor Miller AAD

    Can you imagine living life without your phone?

    If you think about it, it was only about a decade ago when smartphones entered our lives, changing forever how we interact with each other and the world around us.

    But mobile technology isn’t confined to our cities: it’s also helped scientists working in some of the most remote places on Earth. Like a team of scientists on our RV Investigator, who have just returned to Hobart after a seven-week voyage across 200,000 square kilometres of the icy Southern Ocean.

    RV Investigator Australia

    Scientists from the Australian Antarctic Program were looking at the complex relationship between krill, whales, and their roles in maintaining the health of the Southern Ocean.

    Krill ecologist with the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr So Kawaguchi, said this is the first time a survey of Antarctic blue whales has been conducted together with a structured survey of their prey, tiny crustaceans called Antarctic krill.

    But how do you measure data in such a large area for two species in a short amount of time? This is where technology comes into the picture— a team of scientists have used innovative technology to uncover the distribution of endangered blue whales and krill.

    2
    The krill team in action © AAD

    Listening in while they drone on

    Antarctic blue whales may be big … but the Southern Ocean is bigger! The first challenge for the team of scientists on this epic 13,000 kilometre journey was to find the Antarctic blue whales in the vast waters of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

    Lead whale acoustician, Dr Brian Miller, said that more than 250 underwater listening devices were deployed during the voyage. They were used to detect the low frequency calls of the whales.

    “We monitored over 750 hours of underwater recordings and measured over 33,000 bearings to blue whale calls, which enabled us to home in on whale ‘hotspots’,” Dr Miller said.

    Over 300 hours of whale watching led to 36 encounters with these magical creatures, leading to the identification of 25 individual whales. One was an old friend: the researchers spotted a whale which had been recorded on an expedition six years ago.

    3
    A sonobuoy is deployed to listen in to Antarctic blue whales © Peter Shanks CSIRO

    For the first time on an Australian research vessel, echo sounders were used to construct three-dimensional pictures of giant krill swarms. Several swarms extended over one kilometre in length and hundreds of metres across, containing many millions of krill.

    “We’ve now got so much more information about the fine-scale three-dimensional structure of krill swarms that we can start to get a better idea of the sort of swarms Antarctic blue whales hunt,” Dr Kawaguchi said.

    “This opens a window into understanding the relationship between the world’s largest animal and one of the world’s most abundant organisms, Antarctic krill.”

    4
    A drone used in this research in flight © Paula Olson AAD

    If listening to the whales and 3D mapping of krill wasn’t enough, drones were also used overhead to measure whale size, capture their “blow” (the air exhaled explosively from their blowholes), and sample trace metals in surface water.

    5
    A drone flies over a blue whale, capturing its “blow” © AAD

    The technology used in this research has gathered data that will lead to the improvement of ecosystem-based management of Antarctic krill and conservation of endangered species such as Antarctic blue whales.

    This research was supported by a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility.

    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 10:47 am on February 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A data-driven energy future is NEAR", CSIROscope, NEAR-National Energy Analytics Research   

    From CSIROscope: “A data-driven energy future is NEAR” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    21 February 2019
    Claire Ginn

    1
    CSIRO’s NEAR Program is collecting, storing and analysing energy data to support Australia’s electricity system of the future.

    Summer is a time when our energy system is put to the test. Long, warm days mean air conditioners running at full force, and the high temperatures can put our electricity generation technologies under stress. Like the power running to our homes and businesses, streams of data about how these hot days translate into Australia’s energy use are pouring out. There’s a vast amount of incredibly useful data, but it’s stored in different formats, by different organisations, and sometimes it never sees the light of day.

    At the same time, we’re trying to figure out how the electricity system of the future will look. We’re seeing a rise in distributed energy technologies (like household solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles) and a growing complexity in the way we use energy (like air conditioners being switched on and off as temperatures wax and wane). So how can we stay on top of ongoing changes, and know where to invest in infrastructure? We’ve found a way to corral a lot of that data (and lots of smart research) into one central platform so the right information is available when it’s needed.

    We’re calling it the National Energy Analytics Research (NEAR) Program – a collaboration between us, the Australian Government and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

    2
    Dr Nariman Mahdavi Mazdeh is part of the research team centralising Australia’s energy data into the NEAR Program.

    It’s all in the detail

    When we say ‘data platform’, what we really mean is a huge online warehouse. It contains energy consumption patterns, characteristics of buildings where we live and work, information on how we use fridges and clothes dryers, statistics about weather patterns, and much more! It’s a range of different data sources that can deliver answers to really complex energy problems. So it’s a data warehouse and a data workhorse.

    For example, using NEAR Program research, we could anticipate how a 35 degree day will drive air conditioner use across Victoria and where the energy will most need to flow as a result. Being able to marry that sort of information with statistics on which houses have solar panels or battery capabilities, for instance, means being able to direct funding for electricity infrastructure to the right place.

    3
    We’re shedding light on Australia’s energy use, with the NEAR Program.

    Centralised data, and then what?

    We’re currently undergoing a period of major energy transformation and the electricity network of the future will require billions of dollars of investment to get us to where we need to be. That’s why it’s so important that decisions about our energy future are underpinned by the very best data and research.

    Over periods of extreme heat or system stress, outputs from the NEAR Program will help identify areas of risk and provide evidence to support appropriate decisions (like whether to apply ‘load shedding’ – more commonly known as ‘rolling blackouts’). This will mean a better bird’s eye view of what happens on those 35+ degree days, helping make sure the lights stay on and we all stay cool and calm.

    The NEAR Program will also address increasing energy costs, linking consumer patterns with energy sector data to build a fuller picture of the modern Australian energy user. This will support research focused on simultaneously increasing comfort and lowering costs for Australian homes.

    Already plugged in

    Project leader Dr Adam Berry is a man who lives for data. He and the team are already off and running, contributing really important data to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Retail Electricity Prices Inquiry about how energy costs impact Australian households.

    The team will keep working with government, regulators, operators and distributors, to drive data innovation needed by industry, researchers and policy makers to secure the best energy future possible for Australia.

    We’re energised

    Do you want to contribute to our understanding of household energy use? Our CSIRO Energise app has collated a veritable stack of information about how you use your appliances and react to weather fluctuations. This anonymised data comprises part of the NEAR Program too. It provides us with rich insight into the experiences of modern Australian energy consumers. And it’s not too late to participate, in fact, you can download the app right here.

    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.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: