Helix @ CSIRO

20 May 2016
by David

Dogs don’t like hugs

A lady hugging a dog.

Hugging your dog may make it stressed.
Credit: ©iStock.com/Milan Stojanovic

Australians love dogs. About 40 per cent of Australian households have a dog. And if you love your dog, you should give it a hug, right? Probably not, new research shows.

Stanley Coren, a psychologist and dog expert at the University of British Columbia, searched the internet for pictures of people hugging dogs. In more than 80 per cent of the pictures, the dogs were showing multiple signs of stress. Only 10 per cent looked to be having a good time. Continue Reading →

12 May 2016
by David

Try this: How full is choc-full?

A slice of rocky road.

Do some maths and end up with some tasty rocky road!

You will need

  • A small dish, about 2 cups in size
  • Baking paper
  • Butter or spray oil
  • 2 cups of marshmallows
  • ½ cup of peanuts
  • ½ cup of snake lollies, cut into small pieces
  • Scissors or a sharp knife
  • 400 g of dark chocolate
  • Microwave container or saucepan

SAFETY: You don’t need to use peanuts. If you’re making this for someone with a peanut allergy, use more snakes instead of peanuts.

Continue Reading →

2 May 2016
by David

Zippy zappy cars

An electric car outside a big building.

Our new electric cars were built with CSIRO tech!

It’s been really busy at Double Helix headquarters in the last few weeks. We’ve moved office, to the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra. There are lots of cool things at our new workplace, including a whole museum of CSIRO science! And when CSIRO staff need to zip into town or out to a research station, we get to drive around in brand new electric cars.

Most cars burn petrol, releasing pollutants into the air including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. Electric cars run on electricity, stored in batteries. They don’t directly emit any gases into the air – they don’t even use tailpipes! Continue Reading →

28 April 2016
by David

Play Go

You will needA board covered in black and white stones.

  • Lots of black and white counters
  • A Go board. You can download a go board here, or use a chessboard and play on the corners rather than middles of the squares.
  • Someone to play against

How to play

  1. Choose who goes first. The first player plays with black pieces and the second player plays with white.
  2. On your turn, put a piece onto one intersection (a space) on the board. Remove any pieces you’ve captured (see ‘capturing stones’). Then your opponent has a go.

Continue Reading →

19 April 2016
by David
1 Comment

A cracking look at the world of fossilized dinosaur eggs

A big red rock with lots of smaller gray lumps in it.

Dinosaur eggs by the dozen!
Image: The Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Almost two years ago, we reported on the discovery of a special fossilized dinosaur specimen – the first pterosaur egg preserved in 3D! Pretty impressive, huh? Since then, there have been some other interesting finds. So we thought it was time to crack open the fossil files and take a look at some of the most egg-citing dinosaur egg finds!

Dr Thomas Rich is Senior Curator in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the Melbourne Museum. He says: “Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single egg found in Australia. But fossilized dinosaur egg discoveries aren’t all that rare, if you know where to look. Argentina, Montana and China are some of the most significant discovery sites.” Continue Reading →

11 April 2016
by David

Coins around the equator

A jar with a slot in the top and a sign saying 'silver coins for maths'.

Label your jar clearly and start collecting coins!

How much money would it take to put a line of coins around the equator? With a bit of research and a bit of maths, you’ll soon know the answer!

You will need

  • Silver coins
  • Jar
  • Cardboard
  • Fine marker
  • Paper

    Silver coins in a line going off into the distance.

    Make a one-metre line of coins.

  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure

Collecting coins

First, collect some silver coins to measure. If you don’t have enough, here’s a handy technique to try.

Continue Reading →

6 April 2016
by David

Feral fences’ funny fail

A dark, spotty quoll.

Quolls such as this were once common all over south-eastern Australia.
image: Wikimedia Commons/Ways CC-BY-SA

The Aussie bush was once full of cute, furry creatures. But these days, quolls, bandicoots and bettongs have a hard time keeping safe from feral foxes and wild dogs. So how can we protect our native animal friends?

Out at Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary on the outskirts of Canberra, the rangers built fences to protect the native wildlife. The fences are great at keeping ferals out – bettongs and bandicoots are safe in the reserve. But the rangers discovered a flaw in their fence when they recently added quolls to the population. Fences will keep the nasties out, but they don’t keep the natives in. Continue Reading →

30 March 2016
by David

How tall are you, really?

Someone is sticking tape to the wall.

Put a line of masking tape up the wall.

You will need

  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Bookend (or something with a right angle, such as a set square or hardback book)
  • Tape measure
  • An adult to help, and to experiment on
  • If you’re much shorter than your adult, you’ll need a small ladder, so you can reach the top of their head

What to do

Continue Reading →

27 March 2016
by David

Magic calculator

Some one is cutting up a piece of paper with numbers on it.

Cut out the six rectangles.

You will need

What to do

  1. Cut out the six rectangles on the magic calculator sheet.
  2. Ask your partner to think of a number between 1 and 63.

    Three cards with the number 11 circled on them.

    Ask them to find all the cards with their number.

  3. Hand the six rectangles to your partner. Ask them to look for their number and separate the cards that have their number on from the ones that don’t.
  4. When your partner is finished, pick up all the cards that have their number on them.
  5. Take the first number on each of those cards and add them together. This sum will be their number!

Continue Reading →