A microscopic look at metal organic framework crystals Image: CSIRO / Dr Paolo Falcaro and Dr Dario Buso
Inside a small sample of powder, there hides a gigantic secret. In just a teaspoon of the stuff you’ll find the entire surface area of a football field. It sounds like something from Back to the Future, but for CSIRO scientists it’s the norm.
The sample contains Metal Organic Frameworks, or MOFs, and they are made up of crystals that grow in random directions. Because of this unpredictability, it is hard to make them useful. That is, until now. Continue Reading →
Many people know how to play solitaire or patience . But there are actually lots of different one-player card games. This version of patience has a bit of addition, and also some tricky strategic thinking.
Sea bird colonies are often covered in poo. Image: Emil Kepko via flickr.com
You might think we know everything there is to know about climate change. We know that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, are trapping heat. And we know that average temperatures are climbing worldwide. But there’s still lots for us to learn, and new discoveries are being made all the time. For example, did you know that arctic seabirds fight climate change? Well, it’s not the birds themselves. Actually, it’s their poo.
Huge colonies of sea birds often nest on rocky outcrops. And lots of nests means lots of bird poo! Technically known as guano, bird poo contains lots of ammonia, which is a chemical often found in the fertilisers that farmers use on plant crops. In fact, people used to mine bird poo to make fertiliser! If the poo is left out in the weather – and it always is, because birds aren’t very good at cleaning – some of that ammonia makes it into the air. Continue Reading →
Voyager, Pathfinder, Cassini. Humanity has sent out dozens of plucky little space probes to explore our solar system. But when these robots need to call home, who’s listening in?
Luckily for them, NASA has three deep space communication complexes scattered around the world. One of them is right here in Australia, operated by CSIRO. And they’re celebrating the opening of a brand new dish. Continue Reading →
Scientists have discovered a new Australian dinosaur, and it’s a big one! Several giant bones, some over one metre long, were uncovered near the town of Winton in central Queensland. But what’s got scientists all worked up isn’t what it looks like: it’s where it came from.
Scientists have named the new dinosaur Savannasaurus elliottorum. It was a big, four-legged plant eater, and looked a bit like a brontosaurus. Savannasaurus was as tall as a giraffe, but much heavier. Continue Reading →
Spare a thought for taxonomists. Their job is to separate life into groups, from the great kingdoms of plants to animals, all the way down to individual species. Sometimes they have an easy job. For example, brown bears are easy to distinguish from polar bears. Other times, the differences are harder to find, such as spotting the difference between giraffe species. Continue Reading →