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 [...]
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 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, [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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. [...]
Dr Jon Zawislak is a Hurricane Hunter. He is an atmospheric scientist whose laboratory is a specially-equipped plane that is flown right into severe storms to collect data on windspeed, air pressure, temperature and humidity. All the data is sent to his colleagues in the USA’s National Hurricane Centre to help form predictions and get information out to the public. And yes, it is a very bumpy ride. Jon described his most recent flight, right into the eye of Hurricane Michael, as ‘extreme’.
If you have ever wondered whether there is a way to slow down the aging process, then Elizabeth Blackburn has some answers for you. Blackburn is (so far) Australia’s only female Nobel prize winner. She was awarded the prize in 2009 for her work on telomeres. Telomeres are the sections of DNA that occur on the ends of chromosomes. (All of the DNA in each of your cells is organised into parcels called chromosomes. Each cell in the body has 46 chromosomes). Telomeres stop chromosomes from ‘unravelling’ in the same way that the plastic caps on the ends of shoelaces [...]
If you have ever taken a course of antibiotics to cure an infection, then you have Nobel prize winner Howard Florey to thank for your recovery. In the early 1940s, just as World War II was beginning to cause death and terrible injuries across the globe, Florey led a team of scientists that were the first to treat infected wounds with pencillin – a newly discovered substance that kills bacteria. The success of the treatments was seen as nothing short of miraculous, and paved the way for the commercial manufacture, not just of penicillin, but of a whole range of [...]
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – better known as the CSIRO – has scientists in laboratories and out ‘in the field’ all across the country, working on everything from developing better mining methods to controlling introduced species, , or collaborating with partners such as NASA in space exploration. The CSIRO also holds many public events throughout the years, from public talks and forums to tours of facilities or , Visit the CSIRO Events website to find something on near you.