Australia makes its mark in biotechnology

From Nature, 10 May 2018: In 1999, an Australian federal government briefing paper on biotechnology in the country concluded that the sector “hardly rates as an economic force” because of its small size and the financial challenges that it faced in getting products to market. Now, barely two decades later, Australia has ranked in the Continue reading Australia makes its mark in biotechnology

Making the unpalatable palatable

From A*STAR Research Highlights, August 25, 2017 (not bylined): Encapsulating the antioxidant quercetin in carnauba wax could mask its bitterness and enable its use in a wide range of food products, according to new research from Singapore. Quercetin is a type of plant pigment called a flavonoid, and is one of the most abundant antioxidants Continue reading Making the unpalatable palatable

Talking science on Triple J with Linda Marigliano and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I got to join Dr Karl and astrophysicist Professor Tara Murphy in the Triple J studio with Linda Marigliano, and talk science with Triple J callers. We had questions coming in on everything from whether burning hydrocarbons in fossil fuels add water to the hydrosphere to why some people Continue reading Talking science on Triple J with Linda Marigliano and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Milky Way’s fast-moving galactic hypervelocity stars may have come from another galaxy

From ABC Science, 5 July 2017 The fastest-moving stars in our galaxy may have been shot off the bow of a passing smaller galaxy. These so-called “galactic hypervelocity stars” are large and short-lived but travel up to 1,000 kilometres per second. Strangely, most of them appear to be in an unusual cluster in the northern Continue reading Milky Way’s fast-moving galactic hypervelocity stars may have come from another galaxy

DNA shows no trace of contact between ancient Easter Islanders and South America

From ABC Science, Friday 13 October 2017: Mystery and intrigue surrounds the life and times of people who created the famous Moai statues on Rapa Nui off the coast of Chile — and a new study suggests they were more isolated than previously thought. While it is widely accepted that the remote island, dubbed Easter Continue reading DNA shows no trace of contact between ancient Easter Islanders and South America

Australian trapdoor spider may be a seafaring castaway from Africa

From ABC News in Science, 3 August 2017: Trapdoor spiders are reluctant travellers, but millions of years ago one species appears to have made an epic journey from Africa across the vast Indian Ocean to call Australia home. The Australian trapdoor spider — Moggridgea rainbowi — which is found on Kangaroo Island is famously provincial, Continue reading Australian trapdoor spider may be a seafaring castaway from Africa

Molecule found in Titan’s atmosphere may form cell-like membranes

From ABC News in Science, 29 July 2017 A compound that may form cell wall-like structures has been detected in the dense atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The discovery, reported today in Science Advances, was made using the highly sensitive Atacama Large Millimeter Array radio telescope in Chile. Saturn’s largest moon has long been considered Continue reading Molecule found in Titan’s atmosphere may form cell-like membranes

Einstein’s ‘impossible’ hope: Light bending theory directly observed in distant stars for first time

From ABC Science, 8 June 2017: Astronomers have used the gravitational warping of light, predicted by Einstein nearly a century ago, to measure the mass of a distant star for the first time. The team, led by Kailash Sahu of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, measured the mass of a white dwarf star Continue reading Einstein’s ‘impossible’ hope: Light bending theory directly observed in distant stars for first time

Who were the ancient Egyptians? Mummy DNA reveals surprising clues

From ABC Science, 31 May 2017: Mummies from ancient Egypt have revealed another secret — some of them share very little of the sub-Saharan African ancestry that dominates the genetic heritage of modern Egyptians. The discovery, published today in Nature Communications, suggests the African heritage evident in modern Egyptian populations may have been the result Continue reading Who were the ancient Egyptians? Mummy DNA reveals surprising clues

Australian funding agency announces new chief

From Nature Index, 28 April 2017: The appointment of Sue Thomas as head of the Australian Research Council adds to a growing number of women at the helms of Australia’s key scientific agencies and funding bodies. Thomas, currently the provost and deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of New England, will take over from Aidan Byrne Continue reading Australian funding agency announces new chief