It’s amazing to think that in a country where almost half of adult Australians own a smart device, there are some people who simply don’t use the internet at all. Despite living in a country which is often known for early adoption of technology, there are still a staggering four million or one in five Australians who aren’t online.
For the past 12 months our researchers have been collecting fresh insights and evidence to better understand the impact and opportunities offered by next generation broadband as well as advice on the necessary steps needed to mitigate the associated risks. We’ve compiled our findings into the Broadband Impacts Report, a collection of comprehensive community surveys and interviews with businesses as well as detailed analyses of existing data sources and peer-reviewed economic and social research.
We found that by and large Australian households, businesses and governments are currently not prepared to fully take advantage of the services afforded by next generation broadband. However, across the board we also found that by giving more people and businesses the skills and confidence to use these broadband services effectively, will not only have a positive impact on their quality of life and business success, but also create broader economic benefits.
This infographic explains some of the key findings from the Broadband Impacts and Challenges Report (click for full size):
Learn more about our work in Broadband Innovation.
Media: Dan Chamberlain. P: +61 2 9372 4491 M: 0477 708 849 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s Tokyo Motor Show featured the full gamut of the car world’s creativity – from sporty tractors and sleek roadsters to minute commuter vehicles and hydrogen-powered prime movers. The next-generation Mars Rover and a giant statue of a toddler weeing even made an appearance.
But discreetly hidden amongst the glitz, glamour and occasional wackiness of this super-charged event – deep inside the bowels of the newly unveiled Honda Odyssey – was one of CSIRO’s quiet achievers: the UltraBattery.
The UltraBattery is a clever combination of the traditional lead-acid battery (found in cars) and a supercapacitor (like the one that powers your camera flash), resulting in an economical, super fast-charging battery with long-life power.
In its first commercial vehicle installation, the UltraBattery will give the Odyssey’s engine the oomph of power it needs when accelerating – previously a challenge for conventional batteries in cars with idle start-stop (that’s where a car’s engine turns off briefly when you’re idling at the lights, for example). This will save you fuel and reduce emissions without making you look like a loser stalled when the light turns green.
The UltraBattery produces 50% more power than conventional battery systems, with a life cycle that is at least four times longer. It’s also about 70% cheaper than batteries currently used in hybrid-electric vehicles, and up to 95% of the material in the battery can be recycled.
This little energy storage marvel has a range of applications, including hybrid vehicles, renewable energy storage, remote area power supply, emergency power backup and forklift trucks. It’s won its Melbourne inventors – recently retired Dr Lan Lam and his team – many accolades at home and abroad, and has been successfully installed in large-scale solar power plants in New Mexico, United States, and King Island off the coast of Tasmania as part of Australia’s largest renewable energy storage system.
In a nifty example of helping drive innovation in Australia, CSIRO’s technology has been licensed to the Furukawa Battery Company (Japan) and East Penn Manufacturing (United States) for motor vehicle applications through the US, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Canada and China; and to CSIRO spin-out company Ecoult for stationary applications.
Australians will have a chance to take the UltraBattery for a spin when the new Odyssey steers its way onto our shores early next year.
By John Smith
Over the past four years a pretty unique feat of architecture has grown on the northern edge of Adelaide’s CBD. Referred to as the cheese grater, the pineapple, the pine cone, the blue tongue, the mothership and even the air filter, its official name is the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, or SAHMRI for short.
But as one of its soon-to-be occupants we’re confident that the research which will take place within its walls, or should we say its ‘transparent skin‘, will be just as interesting, if not more interesting, as the building’s external appearance. Research that will address the most important health issues facing Australia.
So while the building itself may not save lives, what goes on inside certainly will.
Today the Prime Minister and SA Premier opened the new purpose-built home, at an intimate gathering of around 1000 of SAHMRI’s closest friends from the research, health and wider community.
While we’re not in there yet we’re getting excited as we count the months and weeks til moving day.
Our nutrition and health research clinic will take pride of place right on the ground-level public plaza. This is where many generous volunteers from the community will participate in our studies, testing the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions, such as diet and exercise.
Many of our volunteer studies have been integral to the scientifically supported lifestyle advice in our Total Wellbeing Diet, Healthy Heart Program, Wellbeing Plan for Kids and Diabetes, Diet and Lifestyle Plan books.
Not only will the research we conduct in this iconic building help Australians to make healthier food and lifestyle choices, it will also mean a stronger Australian food industry as we also test the validity of food health claims. These scientifically supported health claims are an opportunity for Australian food manufacturers to gain a competitive advantage in the increasingly health conscious and middle-class Asian market.
We’re always on the lookout for volunteers so if you live in Adelaide you can register your interest on our website. In fact we’re now recruiting for one of our first studies we’ll conduct at SAHMRI, on the effects of vitamin D on cognition.
Each study has different requirements for volunteers, such as age, health, medical conditions etc, so even if you don’t fit the bill on our current studies you might be able to help on future studies.
We’re looking forward to working in this exciting new hub of health research along with colleagues from the universities, hospitals and other health research organisations.
Along with the new Royal Adelaide Hospital currently being built next door and several other planned university and research buildings, our exciting new location promises to be the largest biomedical precinct in the southern hemisphere.
We think what will go on at SAHMRI is important, so forgive us if we be so bold to suggest that our new home should join the likes of the ‘coathanger’ in the club of iconic buildings with unique nicknames.
Imagine if we could better predict when Australia could be hit by that awful dry hot weather that makes us so vulnerable to bushfires? We could better prepare ourselves for disaster, potentially saving lives and property.
Well, thanks to our ocean research, we’re one step closer to doing just that.
Our scientists have uncovered the important connection between extreme weather events and the Indian Ocean. We now know the link, we know it’s happening more frequently and we also think we can now predict extreme weather up to six months (or two seasons) in advance.
The phenomenon we studied to find this important connection is called the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), and it refers to the difference in sea surface temperature between two areas (or poles, hence a dipole) – a western pole in the Arabian Sea (western Indian Ocean) and an eastern pole in the eastern Indian Ocean south of Indonesia.
These varying ocean temperatures can lead to a lack of rain and very dry weather in southeast Australia – a huge contributor to Aussie bushfires. And over in the Indian subcontinent and East Africa, it can also contribute to catastrophic wet weather and floods (we should add, in addition to very welcome seasonal rain, of course).
If you want to see a ‘dipole’ in action grab your rubber ducky, jump in the bath and slide back-and-forth – yep just like you did as a kid – and watch the water slosh all over one end of the bath, then slosh all over other end. Not only have you created a dipole, but also a big mess all over the floor. You can try and be tricky and add temperature to the mix by running the cold tap up one end – but that step is only for the advanced scientists out there.
On a slightly larger scale, the IOD is a natural phenomenon (no rubber ducky required) that was first identified back in 1999.
Until recently, it’s been one of the most influential but least understood natural forces affecting Australia’s climate. But in a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, we’ve confirmed the link between the Dipole and extreme weather events in southeast Australia – including the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009.
Knowing the effects of the IOD will help us to better predict drought and bushfire risk which helps farmers, industry, communities and governments better prepare for them.
How the Indian Ocean Dipole works
In the same way as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affects weather patterns across the Pacific Ocean, the IOD influences weather and extreme events across the Indian Ocean. Just like ENSO fluctuates between El Nino, neutral and La Nina phases, the Dipole fluctuates between positive, neutral and negative phases approximately every three to eight years.
The positive phase tends to cause droughts in East Asia and Australia, and flooding in parts of the Indian subcontinent and East Africa. Positive Dipole activity has, to date, amplified major wildfires in southeast Australia, coral reef death across western Sumatra, and malaria outbreaks in East Africa.
Over the last 30 years we’ve seen an unprecedented 11 positive Dipole events – and this number is set to increase in the future as the Earth’s surface temperature continues to rise.
As this warming pattern continues, we can expect dryer winter and spring seasons over southern Australia, particularly during positive Indian Ocean Dipole years.
Read more in our media release.
Justin Cooper-White is a chemical engineer. He began his career designing petrochemical refineries, drawing on his knowledge of how single components function within large interconnected systems.
That was until Justin decided to apply his engineering strengths elsewhere. Instead of working on petrochemical plants, he wanted to engineer and design human tissue.
While this may seem like a radical career change, Justin explains that in many ways petrochemical plants and human bodies are similar. They are both extremely complex systems that are made up of a multitude of intersecting processes and rely on many small parts coming together to achieve a function.
Instead of pumping crude oil through pipes, you’re pumping blood throughout your body.
Now Justin is applying his engineering skills to the fight against heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in Australia. His aim is to be able to engineer heart tissue and use it to replace dead tissue that has been damaged. Essentially, he’s trying to learn how to mend a broken heart.
In this Tedx talk in Brisbane, Justin describes the journey that changed his career direction and outlook on life.
Justin is a global leader in using engineering to solve problems in biology. He is a professor of Bioengineering at the University of Queensland and an Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader at CSIRO.
Remember the ol’ days of dial-up internet? When you got disconnected every time the phone rang and used up all your drive space to download one little file? Man, life was hard.
Luckily in the 90s our peeps came up with a little something called WiFi – and hallelujah all of our first world problems were solved.
Using the same mathematics that astronomers initially applied to piece together the waves from black holes, the potential of WiFi became ‘patently’ clear to its inventors. Today, its myriad of applications have fundamentally changed how we think of and use technology in our daily lives. In fact, by the end of this year more than 5 billion devices will be connected to our WiFi patented technology. The discovery is one of our most successful inventions to date and is internationally recognised as a great Aussie science success story.
This infographic explains how WiFi technology was created and how it actually works (click for full size):
While WiFi was developed as part of our previous ICT Centre and Radiophysics Research Division, our main wireless networks laboratory is now a part of our new Computational Informatics Research Division and has approximately 50 researchers located at our Marsfield site in Sydney.
These days, we are working with industry partners around the world on new challenges such as using wireless tracking tools to help improve the performance of athletes and ensuring the safety of miners, firefighters and emergency service personnel. We’re also helping farmers monitor soil fertility, crop growth and animal health by integrating wireless networks with centralized cloud computing.
Learn more about how we patented Wireless LAN technology.
Media: Dan Chamberlain. P: +61 2 9372 4491 M: 0477 708 849 Email: email@example.com
By Wee Tek Tay, Research Scientist, CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship
We often speak of the risks of new invasions in our increasingly interconnected world, and stress the need for a strong and reliable biosecurity system to safeguard our borders.
As global trading and markets increase, it’s essential to develop our ability to detect incursions using new and innovative surveillance techniques combined with rapid identification capabilities. This is important because Incursions by exotic pests and diseases have the potential to seriously impact Australia’s people, agricultural industries and unique environment.
And right now, a team of Australian and international scientists are working closely with colleagues in Brazil as one of the most destructive pests known to agriculture – the cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) – worms its way into Brazilian agricultural fields.
Helicoverpa armigera has long been recognised as a serious biosecurity threat to the Americas, where it has the potential to establish across the South and North American continent with far greater anticipated potential economic loss to corn and cotton than the closely related Helicoverpa zea which is endemic to the Americas.
Incredibly, despite being intercepted at US Ports of Entry a staggering 4431 times since 1985, this mega-pest had not been previously reported to take hold on the American continents.
In Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe, where cotton bollworm is considered native, the damage it causes is estimated to cost $US 2 billion each year. In the last two growing seasons, high infestations of Helicoverpa species larvae were found in different regions of Brazil, resulting in substantial economic losses of up to 10 billion Brazilian Reals ($US 4.4 billion).
At first it was assumed that the damage was being caused by Helicoverpa zea, because the cotton bollworm had never previously been detected within the country. However, as the scale of spread and destruction was monitored, the Brazilian scientists knew that something was different and suspected that maybe the dreaded incursion of Helicoverpa armigera had indeed begun. At this point, Brazilian scientists from the Mato Grosso Cotton Institute approached CSIRO researchers to assist in the careful identification of the species attacking their crops.
Our scientists, together with French and Indian colleagues from CIRAD and IRD in France and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research used evolutionary and population genetics to confirm that the cotton bollworm has now successfully invaded Brazil.
Along with the confirmation that the Brazilians are indeed dealing with a new incursion of a serious exotic pest, the international team led by scientists from the CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship and Matto Grosso Cotton Institute is providing further vital data that will assist Brazil to manage this new menace.
The next steps for the research team are to investigate where the moth originated, where they are currently distributed, its spread across the South American continent, and the incidence of resistance to key pesticides. This information, coupled with CSIRO’s extensive expertise in insecticide resistance management will assist Brazil to develop effective strategies to manage this mega-pest.
You can read the full research paper at PLOS ONE.
For media enquiries contact Emma Pyers: +61 3 5227 5123, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Flo Conway-Derley
Today marks the official operational launch of the iVEC Pawsey Centre — Australia’s newest supercomputer facility in Perth, Western Australia.
Supercomputing resources at iVEC’s Pawsey Centre will be available for data-intensive projects across the scientific spectrum, including radio astronomy, geosciences, biotechnology and nanotechnology.
In particular, a significant portion of the supercomputing power will be dedicated to processing radio-astronomy data from major facilities, such as our Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope.
ASKAP will need the processing power of the Pawsey Centre to crunch some serious data. When fully operational, about 250 terabytes per day will stream from the telescope, data which the supercomputer will need to process in more-or-less real time.
In 2009, our astronomers used the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) in Narrabri to create a picture of the galaxy Centaurus A. This galaxy is large — around 200 times the size of the full moon — and it took more than 1200 hours of data collection and 10,000 hours of computing to make the image.
With ASKAP and the Pawsey Centre, the image would take around ten minutes.
Some other interesting facts about the Pawsey Centre:
- It was named after Dr Joseph Pawsey, who is widely acknowledged as the father of Australian radio astronomy.
- It houses a supercomputer able to exceed one quadrillion operations every second, or one “petaflop”.
- It has 40 petabytes of storage capacity — that’s 40,000,000,000,000,000 bytes, or 223,000 DVDs.
- Once finished, the Centre will house 20 tonnes of computer equipment and 400 km of fibre optic cable within the 1000 sqm building.
- Half of the Pawsey Centre’s floorspace has been earmarked for the computing needs of the future international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project.
- A groundwater cooling system, developed by our CSIRO Geothermal Project, is used to cool the supercomputer, rather than water towers. This system brings water up from groundwater bores 140m deep and cycles 90 litres a second to cool the machine.
- The amount of water saved by using a groundwater cooling system to cool the Pawsey Centre supercomputer is equivalent to the amount of drinking water consumed in South Perth.
Note: CSIRO, as centre agent for iVEC, has led the development of the Pawsey Centre. It owns and maintains the building, which is constructed on CSIRO-owned land adjacent to the Australian Resources Research Centre facility. For more information about iVEC, visit http://www.ivec.org
After 3,372 days of stress and studying, it’s time for year twelves to ditch the books and celebrate.
Over 28,000 school leavers will take to the Gold Coast this week for the annual Schoolies Festival. And while so-called ‘toolies’ might be unwelcome guests at this party – there’s a different kind of tool that is.
It’s called the Patient Admission Prediction Tool (PAPT) - and it could make a world of difference to those who party a little too hard.
PAPT allows staff in emergency departments to see what their patient load will be like in the next hour, the rest of the day,the next week or busy periods like Schoolies week.
The technology tells staff how many patients will be coming through the door, what they’ll be suffering from and how serious their condition will be.
Gold Coast Health are using PAPT to plan the staff, medical supplies and beds needed to care for Schoolies. It will also help them manage waiting times for our other patients who are still arriving with other serious injuries.
Perhaps not surprisingly, PAPT has predicted that most hospital admissions during Schoolies will be from alcohol intoxication.
We can also expect to see cuts and bruises to the head and feet, sprains to hands, wrists and ankles, asthma attacks, reactions to severe stress, drug poisoning and a few broken thumbs, toes and noses.
So while we have the tools to treat these injuries more efficiently, schoolies are still encouraged to be responsible and look after their mates.
Learn more about our work in health services.
Media: Sarah Klistorner, P: +61 2 9372 4662, M: +61 477 716 031, Sarah.Klistorner@csiro.au
The NSW Rural Fire Service is using new apps developed by CSIRO to conduct a critical assessment of the recent bushfires that devastated communities in the state, and to plan for future climate adaptation scenarios. The two android tablet apps are being used for the first time in the Blue Mountains towns of Winmalee, Lithgow and Mount Victoria. The towns are among those severely affected by the recent bushfires.
Improved technology for post-bushfire surveillance is crucial, as bushfires are likely to increase in frequency. Australia has just had its warmest 12-month period on record, and NSW has just had its warmest period from January to September.
Bushfires have long been a key part of Australia’s environment and are influenced by many factors – including warmer and drier conditions, extreme heat, strong winds and low humidity, housing design and materials, and fuel loads and management.
Read more about the new apps and watch a video with Justin about how they are being used on CSIRO Climate Response.
For media enquiries contact Roger Nicoll: +61 2 6246 4040, email@example.com
It’s been a big year for RMIT students, winning two of the three prizes on offer at CSIRO’s annual Titanium Challenge.
Since 2011, the Titanium Challenge has called on university students to learn about the incredible properties of titanium and come up with innovative ideas to demonstrate the material’s potential. Titanium is both lightweight and strong, so it can be used for a wide range of applications.
There were three prizes on offer for students keen to get their cranium around titanium – an undergraduate award, a graduate award and a brand new category to encourage the link between design and 3D printing. Through 3D printing technology, we’re able to make things out of titanium that we never could have through ‘conventional’ manufacturing processes.
RMIT aerospace engineering student Nathan Snoxall won the undergraduate award for his re-design of a standard titanium aerospace bracket for additive manufacture. His idea resulted in average material savings of more than 70 per cent for each design. With aircrafts containing thousands of brackets, lugs and fasteners, this demonstrates the huge potential for savings using this technology.
RMIT PhD student Inam Ullah was awarded the graduate prize for his work using additive manufacture to enable an advanced titanium core design for aerospace composite sandwich materials.
The pair will travel to the United States as part of their awards – Nathan to Boeing in Seattle and Inam to Las Vegas, where he will present at a top international conference.
The new 3D printing prize was taken out by Swinburne University PhD candidate Afshin Hosseini thanks to his concept of a unitised (incorporating several parts into one) impeller, which could be used to drive personal watercraft like jet skis. Afshin will receive a UP! Personal 3D printer.
The 2013 Titanium Challenge was sponsored by CSIRO, Boeing, the International Titanium Association (ITA) and Coogee Chemicals.
CSIRO supports a range of initiatives to advance the development of an Australian titanium industry, through the Future Manufacturing Flagship, Titanium Technologies research program.
Flies aren’t only a nuisance for beach goers, some species can cause havoc for Australia’s agricultural industries and threaten the production and export opportunities of our fresh fruit and vegetable produce.
Queensland Fruit Fly (Q-fly) is one of these species. It’s the highest priority pest for a broad range of horticultural industries and can inflict significant costs on producers through management costs, lost production and reduced export opportunities, and on government and industries through eradication campaigns in areas where fruit fly does not regularly occur. These costs all eventually flow through to consumers and taxpayers.
An outbreak of Q-fly in a major fruit or vegetable production area, such as the Riverland in South Australia, has the potential to impact Australia’s export and domestic horticulture markets.
CSIRO’s Biosecurity Flagship together with Horticulture Australia Ltd, Plant & Food Research Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia are joining forces to find a solution to this Q-fly problem.
Today marks the beginning of this partnership with the South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announcing the establishment of a $3 million facility to breed male-only sterile Q-flies for use in Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) programs.
SIT is a scientifically proven method for suppressing or eradicating fruit fly populations and managing their potential impacts in horticulture production areas.
The $3 million State investment is in addition to a collaborative $15 million research and development consortium which will focus on new technologies to produce the male-only sterile Q-flies, and then the most effective release strategies and monitoring technologies needed to underpin effective area-wide control of Q-fly.
SIT approaches have already been used with great success around the world and in South Australia to combat Mediterranean fruit fly. However, the development of male-only sterile Q-fly will be a world first and will significantly enhance the cost effectiveness of SIT.
SIT is environmentally friendly and can be used in orchards, urban and environmentally sensitive areas, where application of conventional chemical treatments isn’t possible or is intrusive.
For media enquiries contact Emma Pyers: +61 3 5227 5123, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Australian Academy of Science has announced their new President, and hooray, he’s one of our own!
Professor Andrew Holmes can now add a new presidential feather to his highly decorated cap.
Already a CSIRO Fellow, Laureate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute and Distinguished Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the Imperial College London, Professor Holmes will take on the top job of promoting science in Australia in May 2014.
In the 1990s, Professor Holmes achieved international prominence when, in collaboration with Cambridge physicists in England, the team developed a new class of light-emitting polymers. These polymers transformed technology for TVs and computers with lightweight, super-thin, flexible video screens bright enough to be viewed even in direct sunlight.
He has gone on to receive so many honours, even a Royal Society Medal in 2012.
His current research addresses the global energy crisis by developing efficient, flexible solar cells through the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium – which he was instrumental in forming.
So, please put your hands together for the 18th President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Andrew Holmes.
Read more on the Australian Academy of Science website.
We all know the Melbourne Cup as the race that stops the nation; bringing together punters, public holiday enthusiasts and those of us who like to don a fancy hat.
One day shy of the race, we’re bringing together an iconic Thoroughbred.
For many years Phar Lap, Australia’s most famous horse, has been in pieces. Phar Lap’s heart—currently preserved in a jar of formaldehyde—is at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, his hide is at the Melbourne Museum, and his skeleton is at the Museum of New Zealand.
Today, students from three schools around the country will see all the pieces of Phar Lap at once, without leaving the classroom.
This is where the robot comes in. Our Museum ‘bot, who lives at the National Museum of Australia, is driving the reunion of Phar Lap’s pieces across the Tasman with the help of an expert guide from the National Museum of Australia.
Logging in through their classroom smart board or computers, students will control their own view of Phar Lap’s heart using the 360 degree panoramic camera on the robot’s head. They can ask the museum guide questions and can click on items in the exhibit to bring up images and more information. Phar Lap’s other pieces, his hide and skeleton, will be seen on the same screen as fast broadband hooks the students up with museums in Canberra, Melbourne and New Zealand simultaneously.
“While the classroom sweep can be a bit of fun on Melbourne Cup day, we are giving students a much richer cultural and educational experience that they’ll hopefully remember for a long time” said Robert Bunzli, manager of the museum robot program at the National Museum.
“The students absolutely love hearing about animals and the part they have played in Australian history. Horses are a particular favourite of course, and most of them have heard of Phar Lap but don’t know anything about him. ”
And from what the students have told us, they agree. ”The tour was good and we enjoyed seeing the massive heart. It was better than flying to Canberra,” a student said. And our favourite, “OMG whoever invented the robot is a genius”.
Our robotics expert, Dr Jonathan Roberts, says the museum robot has shown the combination of immersive learning technology and fast broadband can deliver educational experiences to students no matter where they live.
“We are now looking to extend the application of our mobile telepresence system into other areas including remote training, retail, mining and manufacturing industries. At the moment we are investigating how this system could be used to remotely deliver health services such as providing specialist services to regional and remote communities, conducting medical training or facilitating remote ward rounds.”
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Media: Sarah Klistorner, Communications Advisor. +61 2 9372 4662, Sarah. Klistorner@csiro.au
“Food pills" were a staple of science fiction for decades. For our Galaxy, they may be real.
The Galaxy has been making stars for the last 8 billion years. What’s kept it going all that time?
When old stars die, some of their gas goes back into the galactic “soup” for star making. But in the long run a lot of it gets locked up in long-lived dwarf stars.