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They’re waterproof and tough – not to mention colourful – but plastic notes were developed for their unforgeability. Lis Ferla/Flickr

Proceeds of crime: how polymer banknotes were invented

Welcome to CSIRO Inventions, a series looking at the discoveries and innovations borne from Australia’s national science agency. In this first instalment, we outline the story behind the plastic money…
When a material is mostly nothing, you can do interesting things with it. WildBear

To make gas-absorbing ‘sponges’, start with a whole lotta holes

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – awarded at Parliament House in Canberra tonight – recognise excellence in science and science teaching. This year, we asked four prizewinners to reflect on their…
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? 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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…

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