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Bioluminescence – Lighting Up The Night

Bioluminescence - Lighting up the night Residents of Tasmania! Did you know that, each night, tiny organisms called plankton are lighting up the waters right around your state? The phenomenon is called 'bioluminescence' -  light energy produced by a chemical reaction that occurs within a living organism. Bioluminescence can serve as a defense mechanism to confuse predators, or as a way to attract mates. Jamie Walker, Robert Moles and Ryan Shan are Tassie-based photographers who regularly go to their favourite spots around Hobart to photograph this amazing occurrence. If you are keen on joining them, you can read about their favourite spots here. (They do recommend proper cameras for taking photos though [...]

Bioluminescence – Lighting Up The Night2019-05-22T10:32:35+00:00

What is a Light Year?

What is a Light Year? Although it sounds like a unit of time, a light year is actually a unit of distance. The distances in space are so huge, they require special units to measure them in. One light year is 9.46 trillion km, which is the distance that light travels in one year.  (It might feel strange to think of light as 'travelling' anywhere, because the speed of light is so fast we do not observe this in everyday life.) Pictured above is Proxima Centauri - the closest star to Earth after the Sun. It is 4.25 light years, [...]

What is a Light Year?2019-04-26T11:54:54+00:00

What Is A Black Hole?

What is a Black Hole? A black hole is a region of space where the force of gravity is so extreme, everything – including light – cannot escape its pull. There are millions of ‘stellar’ black holes in the universe, formed by the collapse of giant stars. ‘Supermassive’ black holes, are far bigger, and are found at the centre of almost every galaxy.  We do not yet know how they form, however Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes in his theory of General Relativity over one hundred years ago. Einstein stated that objects with a massive gravitational force, [...]

What Is A Black Hole?2019-04-26T11:49:55+00:00

First EVER Picture Of A Black Hole

This image of a black hole has turned scientific theory into scientific fact.. Until now, all ‘pictures’ of black holes have been the impressions of artists or the simulations of physicists.  On 10th April 2019, a team of over 200 scientists from around the world unveiled this image, formed from five petabytes (that’s five million gigabytes) of data they collected whilst ‘staring’ into a black hole. The team effort was called the Event Horizon Telescope or EHT project, and used the combined power and resolution of eight radio telescopes at six locations around the world – Hawaii, Chile, Arizona, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole. The [...]

First EVER Picture Of A Black Hole2019-04-26T11:34:03+00:00

Good news for chocolate lovers… Bad news for pets

Researchers in the USA have found that eating dark chocolate has several benefits for both brain and body, according to the results of two new studies that were presented last year. Eating chocolate that is at least 70% cacao has positive effects on mood, memory, inflammation and immunity. One could almost say it reduces stress... but we knew that already, right?The effect of chocolate on cats and dogs, however, is very different. Chocolate can be poisonous to pets, due to the presence of a compound called theobromine. Humans can metabolise theobromine easily, but dogs and cats can not, resulting in a build-up of potentially toxic levels.Symptoms of [...]

Good news for chocolate lovers… Bad news for pets2019-04-08T12:17:37+00:00

Donna Strickland: 21st Century Physicist

In 2018, Canadian mum of two Donna Strickland became only the third woman ever to win the Nobel Prize for Physics, following in the footsteps of fellow science mums Marie Curie (1903) and Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963). Donna shared her prize with her collaborator Gerard Mourou, for their work on high intensity laser pulses, and with Arthur Ashkin for his work on 'optical tweezers'. In her acceptance speech, Donna quoted the Cyndi Lauper song 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun', saying 'I don't want to wait 'til the working day is done. I want to have fun at work.' You can read more [...]

Donna Strickland: 21st Century Physicist2019-03-12T10:50:31+00:00

Maria Merian: 17th Century Entomologist

Maria Merian was born in Germany in 1647. She began collecting caterpillars when she was 13, and later painted them in various stages of their life cycle. Her patient observations and detailed paintings provided the first evidence of the process of metamorphosis (when a caterpillar enters a cocoon and emerges as a butterfly).  Maria was the mother of two small children, and bore all of the responsibility of caring for them and managing her home, whilst remaining dedicated to her work. She also taught painting as a means of supporting herself and her children. You can read a longer article about Maria Merian here .

Maria Merian: 17th Century Entomologist2019-03-12T10:45:11+00:00

Precious dinosaur tracks in Queensland saved!

The town of Winton in outback Queensland is one of Australia's most important locations for dinosaur fossils. Last week it was revealed that a team of volunteers and paleontologists had worked together on nearby Karoola station to excavate a very rare find: a set of footprints belonging to three different types of dinosaur, including the first set of sauropod footprints found in Australia. They removed the prints just before the arrival of destructive monsoonal rains and took them to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum in Winton, where they will go on display. In this video, paleontologist Dr Stephen Poropat discusses how the [...]

Precious dinosaur tracks in Queensland saved!2019-03-12T10:51:39+00:00

Brontosaurus meets porcupine

In late 2013, palaeontologists in Patagonia, Argentina made an exciting discovery. Now, more than six years of careful work later, their discovery has finally been unveiled to the world: Bajadasaurus pronuspinax, a new species of dinosaur that lived approximately 140 million years ago. From the fossil evidence uncovered, it is believed that Bajadasaurus was a sauropod (the family of dinosaurs with long necks and long tails) with a very distinctive feature: A row of fearsome-looking spikes running down its spine that probably served as a deterrent to predators. This image is an artists impression of what Bajadasaurus may have looked like. [...]

Brontosaurus meets porcupine2019-02-21T13:09:43+00:00

Get your bananas! Just $3 – each?

In March 2006, Cyclone Larry smashed into North Queensland, right into the state’s prime banana-growing region. 90% of the crop was destroyed, creating a huge shortage of the fruit. Banana prices around Australia soared to as high as $14 per kg, or about $3 per banana. The industry recovered within a year, however, in 2011, Cyclone Yasi arrived and wreaked the same havoc all over again. Our thanks and respect goes to Queensland banana farmers - after weathering two huge storms in five years, they continue to produce beautiful bananas for the rest of us to enjoy. [...]

Get your bananas! Just $3 – each?2019-02-09T16:55:13+00:00