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Analysis and Comment (33)

Electricity from wood? We have the power. Electricity from wood? We have the power. Pixelbliss/Shutterstock

Bioenergy: Australia’s forgotten renewable energy source (so far)

When we think of renewable energy, it’s easy to picture spinning wind turbines or rooftop solar panels. But what about bioenergy? While wind and solar are now well established – in South Australia wind…
The Queensland town of Chinchilla is now home to a coal seam gas processing plant. The Queensland town of Chinchilla is now home to a coal seam gas processing plant. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Queensland survey reveals lukewarm view of coal seam gas

Residents in Queensland’s Western Downs region have mixed feelings towards coal seam gas (CSG) development taking place in their midst, according to our CSIRO survey. More than two-thirds of locals described…
A male Onthophagus vacca, the species of dung beetle being released this week in Western Australia. A male Onthophagus vacca, the species of dung beetle being released this week in Western Australia. CSIRO

French beetles flown in to clean up Australia’s cattle dung

The average cow drops between 10 and 12 dung pads (also known as “pats”) every day and just one of those cow pads can produce up to 3,000 flies in a fortnight. With more than 28 million cattle in Australia…
The Rufous Scrub-bird: will it have to move to Tasmania to survive? The Rufous Scrub-bird: will it have to move to Tasmania to survive? Allan Richardson

Finding new nests for birds threatened by climate change

Rufous Scrub-birds have been calling loudly from the mountains of eastern Australia ever since Australia parted from Gondwana 65 million years ago. They are still there today – as noisy as ever, though…
The Coalition government seems to take a very keen interest in medical science, but what about the other fields? The Coalition government seems to take a very keen interest in medical science, but what about the other fields? AAP/Dan Peled

Science funding is a national investment – not an expense

As a relatively small and young country, by population if not by landmass, Australia has played a noticeable role on the world stage when it comes to science. Contributions to new technologies, from Wi-Fi…
As part of the planned restructure, some CSIRO staff are being relocated to the Black Mountain Laboratories in Canberra. As part of the planned restructure, some CSIRO staff are being relocated to the Black Mountain Laboratories in Canberra. AAP/Alan Porritt

CSIRO in Australia: looking to the future

Taxi drivers often ask me what I do for a living, and when I say I work for CSIRO, they get animated and show they know and love us: “Yes, you did Wi-Fi and the plastic money.” It’s only part of the story…
CSIRO is contending with a A$111 million hit to its budget over four years. CSIRO is contending with a A$111 million hit to its budget over four years. Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons

CSIRO risks backing the wrong horse as it reacts to budget cuts

What happens to CSIRO when the federal government decides to strip away A$111 million over four years from its A$733 million annual contribution to the organisation’s budget? We are beginning to find out…
Good news, entomologists! Tiny insects, such as this Australian weevil, can be scanned and viewed in full colour and 3D from anywhere in the world. Good news, entomologists! Tiny insects, such as this Australian weevil, can be scanned and viewed in full colour and 3D from anywhere in the world. John Tann/Flickr

A big tick for entomologists: new 3D colour scans of insects

Observation is a cornerstone of science – we learn much about the universe and how it works just by looking at it. But observation can be a huge challenge. It’s easy to forget that human eyes allow us…
Tasmania’s alkaloid poppy industry was an Australian innovation success story - until it moved overseas. Tasmania’s alkaloid poppy industry was an Australian innovation success story - until it moved overseas. Glenn Schultes/Flickr

In Conversation: Australia needs tax breaks for innovation

Australian innovation has stagnated in the past 50 years, and could be reinvigorated by focusing on key areas, according to Donald Hector, President of the Royal Society of New South Wales in an interview…
Carp have spread throughout Australia’s waterways - but CSIRO is hoping to bring a new genetic weapon to bear on them. Carp have spread throughout Australia’s waterways - but CSIRO is hoping to bring a new genetic weapon to bear on them. Kletr/Sutterstcok.com

Male-only gene trick could leave invasive fish species floundering

A genetic modification that creates male-only populations could give us a new weapon against invasive fish such as carp that plague our waterways. “Daughterless technology”, which works by removing females…
Look into the future … what do you see for CSIRO, should its funding be reduced? Look into the future … what do you see for CSIRO, should its funding be reduced? griraffes/Flickr

Scrimp now, pay later: CSIRO cuts could stifle long-term research

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, is said to be preparing for cuts of up to 20% of government funding – that’s around A$150…
Sorry mate, but unless the wireless spectrum has room for it, internet on your iPhone’s going to be pretty slow. Sorry mate, but unless the wireless spectrum has room for it, internet on your iPhone’s going to be pretty slow. aye_shamus/Flickr

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

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…
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex has played a major role in exploring space. Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex has played a major role in exploring space. CSIRO/NASA

Australia’s part in 50 years of space exploration with NASA

Who can forget the hit movie The Dish and Australia’s role in beaming the first live television pictures of man’s first landing on the moon? Well, the filmmakers did play with the truth a bit but it did…
Melbourne beachgoers battle January’s heatwave. They may need to get used to it. Melbourne beachgoers battle January’s heatwave. They may need to get used to it. AAP Image/David Crosling

Australia’s climate: time to act on rising heatwaves and fires

The State of the Climate 2014 report, released today by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, confirms that Australia is heating up. It has warmed by 0.9C since 1910, with more in store thanks to the…
More than half of Australians say they recycle for mostly environmental reasons. More than half of Australians say they recycle for mostly environmental reasons. Shutterstock/spwidoff

Most Australians overestimate how ‘green’ they really are

Most Australians overestimate how much they are doing for the environment compared to others, and are more concerned about water shortages, pollution and household waste than climate change, a new CSIRO…
There’s no one recipe for creating ‘innovation hubs’ but Australia can look to some of the success stories for answers. There’s no one recipe for creating ‘innovation hubs’ but Australia can look to some of the success stories for answers. Technology image from www.shutterstock.com

Could Australia ever have its own Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is a bit like the ancient city of Babylon. A confluence of the right geography, right timing, and the right mix in the melting pot allowed them both to thrive. Even the mythological status…
Lack of information and advice on climate change isn’t the problem. Lack of information and advice on climate change isn’t the problem. Steve Easterbrook

Government doesn’t need climate bodies: it needs commitment

In closing the Climate Commission, and introducing legislation to abolish the Climate Change Authority, the government has said it can instead rely on information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology…
Fundamental, wide-ranging and curious research is the basis of a country’s development. Cuts to CSIRO won’t help. Fundamental, wide-ranging and curious research is the basis of a country’s development. Cuts to CSIRO won’t help. CarbonNYC/Flickr

Australia needs fundamental research to build a great country

Like many scientists, I was apprehensive in advance about the Abbott government’s approach to science policy. Would it be pragmatic but fact-based or would it be ideological and politically driven? Sadly…
Australian gold mines can yield as little as 1g of gold per tonne of rock – but X-rays can detect minuscule amounts of gold and save billions of dollars. Australian gold mines can yield as little as 1g of gold per tonne of rock – but X-rays can detect minuscule amounts of gold and save billions of dollars. Ben Cooper

Eureka! X-ray vision can find hidden gold

Globally, the minerals industry is operating in an increasingly challenging environment. Lower and more volatile metal prices, declining ore grades, increasing production costs, environmental pressures…
Chat apps have overtaken text messaging for the first time and are projected to get even more popular – but this means wireless internet access becomes ever more important. Chat apps have overtaken text messaging for the first time and are projected to get even more popular – but this means wireless internet access becomes ever more important. Ed Yourdon

Say l8r to SMS: rise of chat apps means it’s time to talk wireless

The simple pleasure of sending a text message is almost a thing of the past - and shows it’s time we turn our attention to wireless technology. Chat apps such as Apple iMessage and Viber recently overtook…
Changes in the environment will be easier to automatically detect using new 3D mapping technology. Changes in the environment will be easier to automatically detect using new 3D mapping technology. JasonDGreat

Scanning for suspicious packages just got easier

Suspicious packages and public spaces go together like, well, like suspicious packages and public spaces. Sadly, they’re something we all know about, get warned about and, increasingly, have to worry about…
CSIRO’s ‘stealthy robot’, seen here observing a target through grass, will be able to discover much about natural wildlife. CSIRO’s ‘stealthy robot’, seen here observing a target through grass, will be able to discover much about natural wildlife. CSIRO

Stealth robots: spying on wildlife just got real

The ability to track wildlife in natural environments while remaining undetected poses many technological challenges. The goal of CSIRO’s “robotic stealthy tracking” project, however, is to directly address…
Assistive robots could help save Australia’s beleaguered manufacturing industry. Assistive robots could help save Australia’s beleaguered manufacturing industry. CSIRO

Why the Australian manufacturing industry needs the next generation of robots

Amid the gloom about the prospects for manufacturing in Australia — and the difficulties facing an economy dominated by small businesses (nearly 90% of Australian manufacturing capacity) — there is some…
Scientists worked with Hendra virus at the highest level of biosafety within CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Scientists worked with Hendra virus at the highest level of biosafety within CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory. CSIRO

How we developed the Hendra virus vaccine for horses

Today we are launching Equivac® HeV, the world’s first commercially available Hendra vaccine for horses. This breakthrough is the culmination of a scientific journey that dates back to the emergence of…
The CSIRO’s last and most ambitious megatrend: that people of the future will have a greater expectation of happiness through experiences over material consumption. The CSIRO’s last and most ambitious megatrend: that people of the future will have a greater expectation of happiness through experiences over material consumption. Flickr/Goodncrazy

Megatrends: great expectations and the quest for happiness

Welcome to The Conversation’s series on megatrends, on six of the most compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with, according to the CSIRO…
Technology has already transformed how many of us work and shop - and left unwary businesses behind. Technology has already transformed how many of us work and shop - and left unwary businesses behind. Flickr/Baddog

Megatrends: the world is virtually here

Welcome to The Conversation’s series on megatrends. What are the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with over the coming decades? In…
By 2050, 22% of the world’s population - more than 2 billion people - will be over 60 years old. By 2050, 22% of the world’s population - more than 2 billion people - will be over 60 years old. Flickr/außerirdische sind gesund

Megatrends: preparing for a ripe old age

Welcome to The Conversation’s series on megatrends. What are the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with over the coming decades? In…
By 2030, China is projected to be at the centre of the world’s economic activity. Just how Australia positions itself will be crucial. By 2030, China is projected to be at the centre of the world’s economic activity. Just how Australia positions itself will be crucial. Syzmon Kochanski/Flikr

Megatrends: the Silk Highway and the ‘Switzerland’ of Asia

Welcome to The Conversation’s series on megatrends. What are the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with over the coming decades? In…
While the number and extent of protected areas has increased, the impact on biodiversity isn’t yet known. While the number and extent of protected areas has increased, the impact on biodiversity isn’t yet known. Flickr/Tony Rodd

Megatrends: biodiversity - going, going … gone?

Welcome to The Conversation’s series on megatrends, exploring the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological issues facing Australia, as part of the CSIRO’s new report, Our…
The United Nations estimates the world must increase food production by 75% by 2050 to cope with a projected population of 10 billion people. The United Nations estimates the world must increase food production by 75% by 2050 to cope with a projected population of 10 billion people. p3anut/Flickr

Megatrends: do we really need more from less?

Welcome to The Conversation’s series on megatrends. What are the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with over the coming decades? In…
What are the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with over the coming decades? What are the compelling economic, social, environmental, political and technological changes Australia must grapple with over the coming decades? Flickr/Tim Donnelly

What are the future megatrends all Australians need to know about?

If hindsight is such a wonderful thing, surely foresight would be better. What if we could see what was coming at us and could position ourselves, our organisations and society to make the most of it…
Little penguins are among a number of species that are threatened by climate change. Little penguins are among a number of species that are threatened by climate change. AAP/Rick Stevens

Ocean winners and losers revealed in Marine Report Card

Fish are on the move in Australia’s waters. In southern Australia, scientists, commercial and recreational fishers, divers and beach-goers are reporting the presence of new species. The movement of species…

Research and News (6)

Research Briefs (7)

Methane emissions found to be underestimated

The USA’s methane emissions, a type of greenhouse gas, have been found to be severely underestimated according to new research…