Bowel cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer if found early. If the cancer is detected before it has spread beyond the bowel, the chance of surviving for at least five years after diagnosis and treatment is 90%. But bowel cancer can develop without early warning signs, so screening for it is important.
Screening for bowel cancer offers the best hope of reducing the number of Australians who die each year from the disease. In Australia about one in 19 men and one in 28 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 75. This is one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
Bowel cancer screens can detect bowel cancer in people who don’t have any obvious symptoms, which increases the chance of finding cancer early when it’s more treatable. We want to find out what Australians want to know about bowel cancer and screening tests.
So tell us, what would you like to know about bowel cancer screening?
We’d like you to answer that question (and a few related ones) for us by completing a survey. Our aim is to find out what information about bowel cancer and screening programs is most useful to 45-74 year old Australians.
By doing the survey you’ll contribute to our knowledge of people’s attitudes towards bowel cancer and bowel cancer screening.
And you can go in the draw to win an iPad Mini 16GB!
The survey and competition are now closed. Congratulations to Ivan Lazarus for winning the iPad Mini in the prize draw!
The survey results will contribute to research in our Preventative Health Flagship. We do a number of projects relating to bowel cancer every year, and we’re interested in people’s attitude towards the disease.
Remember, bowel cancer screening saves lives.
By Keirissa Lawson
We all know that the sewers of New York City, with their proximity to pizza shops and evil villains, provide a thriving habitat for teenage mutant ninja turtles.
But how much do we know about the habitat and movement of real turtles?
Scientists from CSIRO and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation, led by CSIRO’s Dr Mat Vanderklift, are capturing and tagging green sea turtles in the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area off Western Australia, to gain a better understanding of sea turtle ecology.
“This is the first time turtle tagging studies of this kind have been conducted in the Ningaloo area,” said Dr Vanderklift. “Understanding where the turtles forage for food and how far they roam will provide invaluable information for ongoing management of these iconic animals in this World Heritage Area.”
Since February this year, Dr Vanderklift and his team have fitted 17 green sea turtles with acoustic tags which track the movement of the turtles as they pass by specialised listening stations in Mangrove Bay. Another two turtles from the same area have been fitted with satellite tags. Each time the aerial on the tag breaks the sea surface a signal is sent to a satellite and used to pinpoint the turtle’s position.
The tags, attached to the turtle’s carapace (shell), will give scientists an insight into the range and foraging patterns of these threatened marine reptiles. In addition, scientists are using remote underwater video to observe turtle behaviour up close.
“So far we have looked at more than 140 hours of video and have found that turtles tend to spend quite a lot of time in seaweed patches in the lagoon during the day,” said Dr Vanderklift.
Local students from Exmouth Primary School are getting behind the turtle tagging study and will name the two satellite-tagged turtles.
You too can follow the turtles’ tracks in near-real time.
This project is a partnership between CSIRO, the Western Australian Departments of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and Fisheries (DoF) and the Cape Conservation Group. The research is supported by funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Caring for our Country initiative.
Today our latest robots come to life. The stars of our Museum Robot project, B1 and B2, will use telepresence technology to roam the galleries of the National Museum of Australia. Using high speed broadband, the robots will allow remote visitors to control their own view of museum exhibits while interacting with a museum educator.
“The Museum Robot is a fantastic initiative and a perfect example of some of the applications made possible by the NBN. This kind of rich and interactive experience, nationally accessible, depends on the type of synchronous communication made possible by high speed broadband,” Senator Conroy said.
The robot has a motorised base with wheels, a touch-screen display, and a ‘head’ that is a 360 degree panoramic camera. It also houses several on-board computers and Wi-Fi antennas. The robot accompanies an educator around the Museum, applying its navigational and sensing capabilities to plan its route and avoid obstacles and pedestrians.
The trial is being conducted at the National Museum’s Landmarks Gallery, which features national treasures such as Phar Lap’s heart and the Holden Prototype No 1, the original Holden motor car. During the trial, the robot will be accessible via schools and libraries with an NBN connection.
By Adam Harper
You might have heard the song ‘cows with guns’ in the noughties, but that’s old news. These days its cows with lasers! That’s right, lasers.
It might sound like science fiction, but don’t be fooled, it is scientific fact; although the researchers are the ones wielding the weapons this time. Okay so the lasers aren’t really weapons, but they are cutting edge in terms of their ability to measure methane emissions belched out by livestock in the open field.
You see, livestock are responsible for up to 12% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, and contrary to popular belief, that largely comes out of the front end, not the rear. Per day, per cow, that’s about 200-litres of methane. Nobody light a match!
A collaboration of six universities, CSIRO and researchers from Canada is now looking at how to help put a cork in it. The collaboration is called the Livestock Methane Research Cluster (LMRC) and it brings together some of the world’s leading scientific experts to develop accurate and practical methods to measure and reduce livestock methane emissions in northern Australia.
Why just measure the emissions? Well, in order to reduce, minimise and mitigate, you first have to measure. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now at a CSIRO owned test site near Armidale.
Members from all six universities, CSIRO and Canada are testing different types of lasers as well as GPS collars on an unsuspecting herd of 32 beasts. The lasers and measurement equipment is detecting methane emitted from each animal as well as from the entire herd. This information is then used by the Federal Government to help develop a methodology for the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) where farmers can earn carbon credits if they show (using an approved methodology) reduced emissions from their herds – cash cows.
In order to earn credits though, farmers can’t just reduce the number of livestock on their farm, so reducing the amount of methane each animal produces is critical. The process of producing methane in livestock also consumes energy. By reducing that methane production, more energy can be directed to producing meat, milk and wool.
It’s a win-win.
By Mikayla Keen
Contrary to popular belief watching grass grow is awesome.
For Rasha Kardo it won her the opportunity to visit CSIRO’s High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre. The HRPPC is a high-tech research hotel which studies plant function and performance under controlled conditions (in the lab) and in the field.
Rasha, a South Australian secondary student, was the student winner of the 2012 Battle of the Plants – a national battle to grow the biggest, greenest, meanest Brachypodium plant (the equivalent of a lab rat for plant scientists). Rasha wasn’t able to outgrow CSIRO’s Richard Poiré whose job entails growing many thousands of ‘Brachy’ a year.
“It was a close call, Rasha really gave me a run for my money, but luckily my Brachy was the biggest,” Richard said. “Having Rasha in the lab for a week was a great experience.”
Rasha was able to experience every aspect of the Centre, from meeting the Director to helping Richard collect seeds for the 2013 Battle of the Plants.
“I was quite surprised they weren’t all biologists. It’s an amazing team of all sorts of scientists, students and engineers working together on global issues like world hunger,” Rasha said.
“Working with instruments like PlantScan, which the team built and helping out with different projects was a real eye opener, biology has so many applications.”
Rasha has come full circle. Her Battle of the Plants adventure began and ended with a seed and a pot of dirt.
By Luisa Volpato
Many of you may enjoy a cold one on Australia Day, but as you sip that schooner spare a thought for the science behind the taste of your favourite beer.
The Food Futures Flagship’s work in the area of quality biosensors draws on research into the smell and taste receptors of microscopic worms and bacteria and how they so accurately detect different chemicals.
Inspired by nature and a result of years of pioneering research, a bio-electronic nose, or CYBERNOSE instrument, has been developed to help detect and measure odours and chemicals in a whole range of substances, including food and drinks.
To give you an idea of how sensitive it is, it can detect one drop of a particular chemical in a body of water equal to 20,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
In the case of beer, a maltose biosensor has been created that measures the concentration of maltose, or malt sugar, in beer during the fermentation process, which is what contributes to the taste, quality and body of the beer. It’s more sensitive, quicker and cheaper than testing methods currently available.
Besides beer, maltose is found in other beverages, cereal, pasta, and in many processed products which have been sweetened.
While better tasting beer is not the aim of our research, the good news about this biosensor in maltose is that it’s a good example that can be adapted to a range of other uses across the food supply chain.
That’s because the maltose binding protein used in the biosensor is similar to other binding proteins, which can be used to detect levels of such things as carbohydrates and amino acids in foods.
So for example, a similar tool might help measure lactose in a food or beverage so manufacturers can adapt their products to make them suitable for people who are lactose intolerant.
Similarly, it could be used to check food safety and quality by detecting toxins or contaminants.
In the same way, this technology can be adapted to detect a wide range of soluble or volatile chemicals, potentially leading to these super sensitive smelling devices being used for medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, pest control and protecting Australia’s security and biosecurity.
Who knows, the sniffer dogs at the airport might one day be out of a job.
By Adam Harper
Deep in the woods of regional Victoria, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d walked onto the set of Star Wars as the night sky is filled with lasers being fired into the treetops. Pew pew!
But don’t worry, these lasers aren’t harmful and sadly it’s not a rave. In fact under normal conditions the lasers can’t even be seen.
What these lasers are doing is setting the global standard in forest vegetation monitoring. They’re called VegNET, world first scanners that have been developed by our Sustainable Agriculture Flagship to measure the change in forest canopies over time.
“By comparing weather and soil information to changes in the forest canopy we can better understand how things like climate change will affect our forests,” said our research scientist, Dr Glenn Newnham.
Forests are the lungs of the earth, they provide us with our oxygen rich atmosphere, filter our waterways and provide shelter for our wildlife; land managers need to understand how best to protect them.
We have been working with the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) in Victoria on the Victorian Forest Monitoring Program. This will see about 500 plots set up in forests across the state. If current trials are successful, VegNET technology may form an important part of forest monitoring programs in the future.
“The technology is an adaptation of a piece of equipment you can buy in the hardware store, the laser rangefinder. It measures the distance between two points and with a few modifications can be set to take measurements automatically,” Dr Newnham said.
Late at night, when most of the state is sleeping, these scanners are waking up for work, which involves taking a 360 degree scan over about 40-minutes to record 1,000 measurements of the forest above. This information is sent wirelessly to a data logger and made available online for scientists to access and analyse. Over several years this will become an extremely valuable record of the state of Victoria’s forest environment.
The next step of the program is to calibrate the technology with satellite observations. This will allow the DSE to monitor forest health and condition on a large scale with great ease.
“Traditional methods of forest measurement are still used but some of these sites take hours to get to. This technology is helping to provide more information in less time and is setting world standards,” Dr Newnham said.
The other advantage of such rapid monitoring of forests is that it can alert land managers to issues such as pest and disease outbreaks which may have gone unnoticed for months otherwise.
To find out more about the VegNET technology, it’s creator Dr Darius Culvenor and the partnership with DSE Victoria, we have this video for you :
By Keirissa Lawson
We have developed a hydrocarbon sensor array system that can detect different types of hydrocarbons in marine waters at varying sensitivities and in real time.
The sensors were originally used to explore for oil and gas resources, but are also being applied to study ocean changes, monitor our marine environments and measure the human impact on them.
The hydrocarbon sensor array has been deployed in a number of surveys, including to help monitor the extent of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, study natural oil and gas seeps, and for petroleum exploration in the Perth Basin.
Here are some great pics of our work in this field.
By Crystal Ladiges
On the surface, Australia doesn’t seem to have a great deal in common with the Republic of Chile, our friend from across the Pacific.
Australia is an island. Chile controls Easter Island.
Australia’s mainland is the smallest, flattest continent on Earth. Chile is home to the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range.
Recently, a Victorian man discovered a Corn Flake shaped like Australia. I’m yet to come across any credible reports of Chilean-shaped cereal.
While we are seemingly different in many ways, two things our nations do have in common are a dry climate and a large mining sector that requires an abundant supply of water.
That’s why water is a major focus of the CSIRO Chile International Centre of Excellence in Mining and Mineral Processing, which has two research nodes – one in the capital Santiago and another in the industrial centre of Antofagasta.
Antofagasta has one of the driest environments in the world, meaning freshwater is a scarce commodity. This is why pumping seawater to copper mines (a very expensive process) might become an unavoidable reality.
For this to be achieved several barriers must be overcome: equipment and pipelines will have to be improved to cope with the corrosive nature of seawater; water rights management systems will have to be put in place; and cost and energy offsets will have to be found. These are the problems that the Centre of Excellence is trying to solve.
While we do have our differences, both Australians and Chileans understand the importance of managing our scarce water resources.
Read more about our minerals research in resourceful magazine.
By Fiona Henderson
With summer just around the corner, many of us will be shaking out our beach towels, grabbing our buckets and spades, and heading to the beach. But sand and surf may not be all you find at the beach this summer.
Marine debris. It’s ugly, pervasive and threatening our ocean critters. Thank the stars for Dr Denise Hardesty.
Denise leads a team of scientists, school students and community members who have been working their way around the Australian coastline taking note of the garbage that has washed up on the beach.
From light globes to cigarette butts, you name it, they’ve probably found it. And now Denise is offering her time to talk about the project LIVE on the CSIRO events Ustream channel from 10am till 10.30am AEDST tomorrow, Friday 16th November.
“Marine debris is a major threat to Australia’s wildlife,” said Denise. “So that we can better manage this problem, we’re studying its sources and effects.”
One such effect is ocean birds carrying 7% of their body weight in plastic that is eaten off the ocean surface, as this ABC Catalyst video explains:
As a result of their research the team are hoping to achieve three things.
- Compile a list of which species are more or less likely to be affected by marine rubbish
- Estimate the effects that things like currents, local population, council and state waste management policies (e.g. rubbish bins and bottle refunds) and other factors have on the amount of rubbish in the ocean; and
- Identify a set of sites that can be used to monitor both marine rubbish and its impacts on wildlife over the long-term and at a low-cost.
“Our goal is to support people, both politicians and consumers, in making decisions about their behaviour and their investments that are based on scientific information,” said Denise.
Interested to learn more? Get your questions ready and join us on our Ustream channel tomorrow from 10am till 10.30am AEDST. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with #marinedebris. All you need is a computer and internet connection, so no excuses.
Contact: Fiona Henderson
The national marine debris research is part of TeachWild, a national three-year research and education program developed by Earthwatch Australia together with CSIRO and Founding Partner Shell.
By Oona Nielssen
You could spend years in Australia’s Central Desert and still understand very little about its ecology. And that’s just one reason why inter-generational desert knowledge is so important to science and to the communities that live in the region.
Science, language and literacy
CSIRO Education is supporting a project which brings the desert knowledge of local people to life for their kids, giving them new appreciation for their environment, reviving knowledge that is threatened with being lost, and building literacy through teaching this knowledge in schools in local languages.
One example of how this works was witnessed during a project visit to Ikuntji school. This school in a community, 250km west of Alice Springs teaches in English and the dominant local language Luritja. The classroom teacher asked the kids to name several local birds, in language and then spell out those names phonetically by identifying the correct syllables.
Then they were asked to draw a bird of choice in its correct environment. The kids drew accurate pictures and could correctly place the birds in their usual environment by a creek, in a tree, on an escarpment or in a grassy plain.
It was a vivid and exciting demonstration of how learning is validated when it is relevant and in a child’s first language. From a scientific point of view, the observations and insights that are part of the culture are invaluable.
A long term commitment
The indigenous ecological knowledge project has been running in three primary schools in the western desert, and is based on a scientist, Meg Mooney, providing in-class resources and time to each school. The resources include bird, animal and plant cards, as well as experiments and bush excursions.
In partnership with Tangentyere Council, and with interest from NT Department of Education Central Land Council and Bankmecu, the success of this project has encouraged the team to investigate extending it to more schools east of Alice Springs.
At a recent Central Land Council women’s land management forum, women rangers nominated teaching two-way science in schools as one of their highest priorities. Meg Mooney and NT education department staff conducted a workshop on teaching two-way science for the forum participants.
Two-way science knowledge in central Australia has the potential to benefit communities in the same multi-layered way that art has.
For more information about this project, contact Marian Heard from CSIRO Education.
Chuck on a lab coat, slap on some safety glasses and take a little peek into the world of chemistry. George Feast is one of our chemists. Here he is talking to Angela (and you) about what he does in the world of drug design.
A bunch (what is the collective noun?) of scientists and locals from Bermagui on the NSW south coast are going to “blitz” the area next weekend (March 30/31) to try and find out just what makes up their local environment.
Called the Bermagui Bioblitz, the explorers will comb the foreshore, sand dunes, forest, estuary and mangroves to discover which species are present, and make detailed descriptions of what they find. They will use cameras, smartphones and laptops to photograph and record their findings.
The data and photos will then be uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia, where it is freely accessible to everyone. The ALA is a partnership between the CSIRO and a number of organisations, that provides a national database of Australia’s biodiversity.
The Atlas is a versatile tool that is valuable to both scientists and ‘citizen scientists’. Citizen scientists will love the ability use the Atlas to explore the flora and fauna already discovered in their neighbourhood, and to be able to add their observations to the database.
Scientists can use the Atlas to find detailed information, records and images about Australia’s flora and fauna, and to view the recorded information spatially.
A great way to access all this information is on a smartphone via the mobile website. If the smartphone has a built-in GPS, the Atlas can use it to find wildlife around your current location.
Volunteers (guinea pigs) needed in Adelaide for “Health benefits of Probiotics and Citrus Nutrients” studyPosted: January 10, 2012
Probiotics: Composite of the Latin preposition pro (“for”) and the Greek adjective βιωτικός (biotic), the latter deriving from the noun βίος (bios, “life”).
They are live microorganisms thought to be beneficial to the host organism.
According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be helpful. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements.
So, are you:
- Aged between 18 and 70 years, healthy and a non-smoker?
- Able to attend the CSIRO Clinical Research Unit on Kintore Ave in the city on four occasions over seven weeks, and prepared to change/monitor your diet for part of this time?
- Enjoy a healthy diet and have a stable body weight?
If this sounds like you, and you do not regularly consume probiotic supplements or foods containing probiotics, we would love to hear from you.
For further information, call 08 8303 8863, or email: Vanessa.Courage@csiro.au
You will be given a $250 gift voucher in recognition of completing the study.
To register your interest for other studies, please visit the CSIRO Nutrition Trials page HERE.