Delivery day for this 3D printed bike

3D printed bike

Sam’s new 3D printed sweet ride.

By Angela Beggs

Today we joined designer Sam Froud at his studio to chat about the highly anticipated delivery of his new bike.

But it’s not just any bike that has had Sam eagerly waiting the postman; it’s one of the first ever 3D printed bikes – with parts manufactured by our 3D printing experts.

You may recall prototype #1, which we brought to you earlier this year.

Sam Froud has joined forces with the same bike company, Flying Machine, to come up with this gem, dubbed Prototype #2.

They contacted us, and once again, we used our 3D printer to make a sweet set of lugs, the small metallic components that join the tubular frame of the bike, for the two-wheeler.

The new 3D printed parts make for ‘infinite flexibility’ and generally give riders a better cycling experience.

Sam’s bike was on display all weekend at the Design Matters event in Melbourne, part of Melbourne International Design Week 2014.

Sam definitely knows design matters, especially when it comes to 3D printing bikes.  Check out our chat with Sam and watch his first ride.


Lighting up lives, literally.

When Dr Scott Watkins, one of our flexible solar cell experts, arrived in India last week, the task at hand was a very special one. He’s helping to shed light on the people of Bangalore – the country’s third most populated city.

Scott is working with the team from Pollinate Energy, a ground breaking group, whose mission is to provide solar lights to India’s urban poor.

Pollinate, founded in 2012, has a rapidly expanding team of ‘Pollinators’, local young entrepreneurs who can now grow a solid business selling solar lights to members of the community on low-cost payment plans.

Typically, kerosene lamps are used in villages to give light after dusk, however there are environmental and health issues associated with this type of lamp. Since Pollinate began, they’ve managed to save 111,572 litres of kerosene, not to mention almost 6,000,000 rupees that this kerosene would have cost.

Helping a family get a solar-powered light for their home for the very first time.

Helping a family get a solar-powered light for their home for the very first time. Photo credit: Megan Aspinall.

Scott, who was part of the team that created Australia’s largest printable solar cell last year, has ventured abroad to take part in a project to determine the impact of the new lights in the communities of Bangalore. Already, in week one, he’s come across some truly incredible stories of people whose lives have been improved by the project since its conception last year.

On his blog, Scott talks us through one of his first encounters with a community member who has one of the new lights.

Pollinate2

Photo credit: Megan Aspinall.

“I spoke with a man one night who had been living in a tent in the community for over 20 years. He has two young boys and they used to have travel to a relative’s house to occasionally read at night,” Scott said.

“Since buying the solar-powered light over a year ago the boys have been able to study at home and the father was so proud to tell me that his boys were both now ranked first in their class. The older one, aged about 10, loves science,” he added.

Inspired by the blackout which hit India last year and left millions of people without light, the Pollinate group have now overseen the introduction of 4,500 systems reaching over 20,000 people.

At CSIRO, we’re part of the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC). VICOSC brings together over 50 researchers across Victoria who are conducting research into new materials and processes to enable the production of flexible, large area, cost-effective, reel-to-reel printable, plastic solar cells. Our work is also supported by the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovolatics, ACAP, a research consortium that is focused on developing solar technologies in Australia and through international partnerships.

Get behind Scott Watkins and follow his blog to get all the updates on the Bangalore mission with Pollinate – we think it’s seriously inspiring stuff.


Explainer: What are vector-borne diseases?

By Fiona McFarlane

When one thinks of deadly animals, the likes of sharks, snakes and spiders probably come to mind. But there’s one pesky little critter that takes the cake, and believe it or not, it’s the mosquito.

Small but deadly: the Asian tiger mosquito is one of the world's deadliest pests.

Small bite, big threat: the Asian tiger mosquito is one pest you don’t want to mess with. Image: Susan Ellis.

Mozzies are responsible for more than one million deaths each year worldwide – that’s more than one hundred times the deaths caused by sharks, crocodiles and box jellyfish combined.

Mosquitoes are best known for carrying malaria, a ‘vector-borne’ disease that around 3.4 billion people – or half of the world’s population – are at risk of contracting.

Vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, are one of the world’s leading causes of death. So it’s no wonder the World Health Organization is focusing on the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases on this year’s World Health Day.

But what are they exactly, and do we need to worry about them here in Australia?’

What are vector-borne diseases?

Vector-borne diseases are caused by disease-producing microorganisms that are transmitted by blood-sucking mosquitoes, ticks and fleas known as vectors. When a vector bites another animal or human, it may transmit pathogens and parasites that can cause serious illness and even death.

The most deadly vector-borne disease, malaria, caused an estimated 660, 000 deaths in 2010. But the world’s fastest growing vector-borne disease is in fact dengue fever, with a 30-fold increase in incidence during the last 50 years. In fact 40 per cent of the world’s population is at risk of developing this disease.

With the globalisation of travel and trade, unplanned urbanisation and environmental challenges like climate change, the spread of vector-borne diseases is expected to increase around the world. We’re now seeing diseases such as dengue and West Nile encephalitis emerging in countries where they were previously unknown.

Malaria distribution across the globe. Image: BASF

Malaria distribution across the globe in 2010. Image: BASF

On the home front

Australia is in the fortunate position of not being home to some of the more serious vector-borne diseases like yellow fever, malaria, West Nile encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis and Rift Valley fever.

If you live in north Queensland chances are you will have heard of outbreaks of dengue fever transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. But you probably haven’t heard of Chikungunya – another virus transmitted by mosquitoes that causes severe joint pain and fevers for weeks, months and sometimes years.

While the virus is not here in Australia, 126 Australians caught Chikungunya after travelling to Indonesia, India, Malaysia and PNG during 2013 – that’s an increase from 19 cases reported in the previous year.

Other vector-borne diseases such as Ross River fever and Murray Valley encephalitis are already in Australia and are being closely monitored to reduce the spread and impact of on our people.

What are we doing about it?

A red blood cell infected with malaria parasites (blue). Image: NIAID.

A red blood cell infected with malaria parasites (blue). Image: NIAID.

Our scientists are well aware of the need to take action and be prepared. They are looking at ways to reduce the transmission of these viruses, develop more effective surveillance and intervention strategies and provide Australians with early warnings of new or exotic diseases.

Recently, we opened a new insectary for the study of vector-borne diseases at our very own Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong Victoria, which houses colonies of mosquitoes. Having access to this facility will allow us to assess the ability of Australian biting insects to transmit dangerous exotic viruses.

We are also investigating the factors that influence how vectors behave in the environment and what viruses they carry. This will help improve our understanding of the virus-vector-host interaction and disease transmission.

Another point of interest is how mosquitoes and other insects develop immunity to the diseases they carry and investigating how we might increase their immunity to stop the transmission of disease.

On the maths front, our mathematical experts are using complex algorithms to predict where mosquitoes might invade and how our resources may be best deployed to fight them. They are also undertaking scoping projects to assess new and innovative approaches to mosquito control.

Other members of the team are working with the Australian National University to reduce the risk of eastern Australia being overrun by the Asian tiger mosquito, also known as the BBQ stopper, which carries diseases like dengue fever and Chikungunya.

While the risk of new and exotic diseases – and the vectors which carry them – reaching Australian shores is very real, our research will continue to help keep Australia safe from harm.


From animals to humans: understanding Ebola virus

An artificially coloured electron microscope image of Ebola virus .

Ebola – an artificially coloured electron microscope image of the virus.

By Gary Crameri and John Lowenthal

There is growing global concern as the West African country of Guinea battles to contain a deadly outbreak of Ebola virus, yet another disease of animal origin, which is threatening the lives of their people.

Previous outbreaks of the virus have been localised in Africa, but there are growing concerns that it could spread further with cases now being diagnosed in the neighbouring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. So what exactly is known about this disease?

Ebola virus 101

Ebola virus, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a highly infectious and contagious illness with a fatality rate in humans of up to 90 per cent.

One of the most lethal infectious diseases known, it was first discovered in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks – one in Nzara, Sudan and the other near the Ebola River in Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then over 1600 deaths have been recorded.

The Ebola virus is feared for its rapid and aggressive nature. When the virus gains access to the human body, it starts attacking the vascular system and the walls of the blood vessels. This prevents blood from clotting causing internal or external bleeding.

Diagnosing Ebola in its early stage is difficult. Its early flu-like symptoms such as headache and fever are not specific to Ebola virus infection and are seen often in patients with more commonly occurring diseases in the region like malaria and cholera.

Where does it come from?

Ebola virus is a zoonotic disease, meaning it passes from animals to people. As with the respiratory diseases SARS and MERS and the Hendra virus, bats have been identified as the reservoir host. Four of the five subtypes of Ebola virus occur in an animal host which is native to Africa.

There is good evidence that other mammals like gorillas, chimpanzees and antelopes are probably the transmission host to humans but the mechanism of their infection from the fruit bats is not certain.

Ebola can then spread to humans through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals or through people consuming an infected animal.

Once a person is infected, the virus can only be spread to other people by very close contact, including direct exposure with bodily fluids or through exposure to objects that have been contaminated with blood or infected secretions. Infected individuals can be infectious for weeks after recovery from the acute illness.

There is no vaccine or known cure for Ebola virus infection. As with many emerging infectious diseases, treatment is limited to pain management and supportive therapies to counter symptoms like dehydration and lack of oxygen. Public awareness and infection control measures are vital to controlling the spread of disease.

Scientists working on zoonotic agents wearing biosafety suits

Scientists working on zoonotic agents require the highest level of biosafety

The next big virus?

A number of emerging infectious diseases are causing issues on a global scale. We’ve also seen outbreaks over the past few months of Hendra virus, MERS and two avian influenza viruses, H7N9 and H5N1.

Recent growth and geographic expansion of human populations and the intensification of agriculture has resulted in a greater risk of infectious diseases being transmitted to people from wildlife and domesticated animals. Moreover, increased global travel means there is a greater likelihood that infectious agents, particularly airborne pathogens, can rapidly spread among the human population. Together, these factors have increased the risk of pandemics – it’s not so much a matter of if, but when.

The World Health Organization has warned that the source of the next human pandemic is likely to be zoonotic and that wildlife is a prime culprit.

While the current list of known emerging infectious diseases is a major concern, it’s the unknown viruses, with a potential for efficient human-to-human transmission that pose the biggest threat.

Fortunately Australia has a robust system to deal with an emergency disease outbreak, including our very own Australian Animal Health Laboratory, a globally recognised biosecure zoonosis laboratory, and scientific and medical experts linked via a national veterinary and public health laboratory network.


We’re running out of wireless spectrum… so what can we do?

Guy with mobile

Sorry mate, but unless the wireless spectrum has room for it, internet on your iPhone’s going to be pretty slow. Image: Flickr / aye_shamus

By Ian Oppermann, Digital Productivity & Services Director

While discussions around closing oil refineries in Australia bring talk of future economic security, our economic future also depends on a less visible, but finite resource.

We can now foreshadow a time of “peak data”, when the radio spectrum is so crowded, we will reach a limit on how much data can be used for wireless services – at least in urban environments. Today we released a report World Without Wires on the threat of “peak data” and what that could mean for the way we connect and access essential services in the future.

The report points out that wireless communication relies on the availability of radiofrequency spectrum, inherently a finite resource.

In a recent article in The Conversation, I explained how we in Australia expect more and better digital services to be delivered to our smart devices anytime, anywhere and how this burgeoning data demand is putting stress on the networks that deliver those services wirelessly.

Man with mobile

Image: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Future increases in demand, both in terms of speed and volume, for wireless data and services over coming decades will severely test technologies and infrastructure.

Based on our current body of research and the trajectories of technological innovation across the world, we expect wireless technology to underpin a massive range of socio-economic developments that will significantly impact the modern world.

We envision a future in which consumers and other stakeholders will expect high-speed wireless connectivity to enable a range of future applications and social developments.

This will include:

  • internet-based personalised streaming services to replace TV and phones
  • minute-by-minute updates from widespread sensing technologies embedded in our environment
  • driverless cars and “virtual concierges” made possible by wireless location services
  • a whole new world of government and business teleservices being delivered to us via private digital networks and beyond.

A worldwide phenomenon

In many global cities, including in Australia, we’re rapidly approaching the point of “peak data”, where user demand for wireless internet, telephony and other services can no longer be fully accommodated by the available radiofrequency spectrum.

Currently bands of frequencies (measured in megahertz: MHz) are allocated for a wide range of uses such as TV/radio broadcast, emergency services and mobile phone communications.

How frequency modulation works.

While we continue researching new ways to make spectrum use more efficient, and future allocation of spectrum blocks may change over time, the fundamental situation is that spectrum is an increasingly rare resource.

Our estimates are that spectrum demand will almost triple by 2020, implying that existing infrastructure will need to rapidly expand available capacity to meet this demand.

With more and more essential services delivered digitally and on mobile devices, finding a global solution to “peak data” will become ever more important. The solution could start here.

Home-grown solutions

Australia is strongly positioned to be leader in the wireless world. We have a small population but our research and development community has consistently punched above its weight in wireless innovation. We’ve drawn on our traditional expertise in radioastronomy as well as the fields where technology is applied, such as agriculture, services and mining.

Since CSIRO’s development of high-speed wireless local area network (WLAN) in the early 1990s, our wireless labs have continued to push the boundaries in areas such as wireless positioning and antenna design, complementing equally exciting developments emerging from Australia’s top universities and research institutions.

This appetite for technological change and innovation is not limited to the labs. Australians, as a whole, are early technology adopters. There are more mobile phones today in Australia than there are Australians, and, according to the OECD’s latest figures, Australia now has more wireless broadband subscriptions per capita than any other country in the world.

In June 2013, around 7.5 million Australians were using the internet via their mobile phone – a staggering 510% more than did just five years ago.

Bench of people using mobile devices

We’re demanding more and more data to mobile devices.

To continue on this trajectory, however, wireless communications must become:

  1. scalable, to overcome the threat of spectrum crunch posed by breakneck adoption and growth in demand
  2. ubiquitous, to ensure that access to wireless-enhanced digital services that improve – and sometimes save – lives is available to all regardless of geography or demography.

Australia is in a prime position to address these challenges and develop world-leading applications for ubiquitous wireless connectivity. The pedigree of our wireless laboratories and researchers in all parts of the country is second to none.

To maintain momentum, though, Australia’s scientists and researchers must partner with industry leaders – not just in telecommunications, but health, mining and any other sector which can apply wireless connectivity to improve its performance and reliability.

They must also ensure they develop technologies which directly boost the capabilities and applications of personal mobile devices, which increasingly constitute the single most accessible and relevant digital platform for everyday people.

Australia’s geography, our scattered population, and the nature of some of our major industries provide challenges which are uniquely suited for harnessing ubiquitous wireless connectivity.

Any new technology which can take root here, and bring long-term benefit for both economies and people, is likely to flourish the world over.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.


Saving daylight

Bird on branch

Don’t be a confused cuckoo. Turn back your clocks this weekend. Image: Flickr / Sean MCann

This coming Sunday when the clocks are wound back one hour, the curtains will stop fading faster, birds and cows will no longer be confused by the ‘extra’ sunshine and life will return to its natural rhythm.

For those living in South Australia, NSW, Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT, Daylight Saving comes to an end this week.

Daylight Saving has caused much debate since it was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784.

Not that “adjusting” time to suit our needs was new then.  Ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun – often dividing daylight into 12 hours regardless of day length, so that each daylight hour was longer during summer.

Roman water clocks had different scales for different months of the year. In Rome the third hour after sunrise started just after 9am and lasted 44 minutes at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it started just before 7am and lasted 75 minutes.

George Vernon Hudson

The granddaddy of Daylight Saving, Mr George Vernon Hudson

Modern Daylight Saving never really got off the ground until 1895 when an entomologist from New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson, wrote a paper that proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March. He followed up his proposal with an article in 1898, and although there was interest in the idea, it was never followed through.

Some places in Argentina, Iceland, Russia, Uzbekistan and Belarus have introduced permanent Daylight Saving and the United Kingdom stayed on it from 1968 to 1971.

There are also apparently some health issues related to Daylight Saving.

People who are already vulnerable to heart disease may be at greater risk right after sudden time changes.

Recently a study was released in the US which showed that people who were already vulnerable to heart disease may be at greater risk right after sudden time changes.

According to the study, turning clocks forward an hour for Daylight Saving time was followed by a spike in heart attacks on the Monday following. Monday is traditionally the day when most heart attacks occur  – it is suggested that the stress of returning to work may be a cause. There was a 25 per cent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after the spring time change – or a total of eight additional heart attacks. But when clocks fall back and people gain an hour of sleep, there was a drop (21 per cent) in heart attacks on the Tuesday.

So, it seems the odds are increased that I will live a bit longer – at least until Daylight Saving comes back.

While it seems that every article about Daylight Saving has to have the curtain fading gag, is there ‘extra’ sunshine?

In the 1950s scientists in our Division of Physics were using a flare-patrol telescope to observe disturbances in the Sun’s chromosphere. It showed the appearance and growth of several flares and surges. Some of these disturbances are observed against the disk of the Sun. Those too faint for this are studied at the limb, or edge, of the Sun.

Aurora over the frozen forests of Sweden

Aurora over the frozen forests of Sweden. Image: RainbowJoe

Coronal mass ejections on the Sun release huge amounts of matter and electromagnetic radiation which can cause particularly strong aurorae (Northern and Southern Lights), disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission line facilities.

Coronal mass ejections reach velocities between 20km/s to 3200km/s with an average speed of 489km/s. They take between one and five days to reach Earth.

So is that extra sunshine?


Shrine of the times

Picture this. It’s a beautiful autumn day in Melbourne. You’re about to embark on a walking tour to discover some of the city’s finest architecture. My name is Carrie and I’ll be your tour guide.

We begin at one of the city’s more stately buildings – the Shrine of Remembrance. This grand temple-like structure was built back in 1926 and is located right next to the Botanic Gardens. It’s a focus for the city’s ANZAC Day ceremonies each year and in this ANZAC Centenary commemorating the start of WW1.

3D map of The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

3D map of The Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

This month our scientists at CSIRO brought high tech to history by mapping the Shrine using a 3D laser scanner, preserving it digitally with a tool called Zebedee.

As you can see, it’s very timely. Major renovations at the Shrine are underway to get ready for commemorations of the Gallipoli landing’s 100th anniversary in 2015. It’s part of the $45M ‘Galleries of Remembrance’ project.

The Shrine joins a select group of heritage sites mapped in 3D by the Zebedee scanner, along with Brisbane’s Fort Lytton, and even the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Now I personally get quite excited about architectural drawings, but these 3D maps add detailed information for building managers and heritage experts by measuring the actual built spaces. Zebedee technology offers a new way for recording some of our priceless treasures.

Let me show you one of the interior images of the Shrine. These amazing ‘point clouds’ are created by a handheld laser scanner bouncing on a spring as the user walks through corridors, up stairs and round about. As long as it takes to walk through the building is about how long it takes to make the map. You can watch it online afterwards.

Aerial section view from 3D map of the Shrine's undercroft showing columns

Aerial section view from 3D map of the Shrine’s undercroft showing columns

Despite their almost X-ray look, Zebedee can’t see through walls as the laser bounces off solid surfaces. But when you put all the data in one place you get a sliceable, zoomable, turnable map with architectural details like stairs, columns, voids, ceilings all measured to the nearest centimetre. But . . . no roof! That’s because our scientists are developing a flying laser scanner that scans rooftops from the air. Secret attics may be secret no longer.

That concludes our tour for today. If you’d like to take home your very own Zebedee souvenir, head to our website.


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