Category Archives: Science – General

General Public health and other interesting cross-topic subjects.

Researchers accidentally create material that sucks mercury out of water

ABC News : The World Today Lucy Carter 19 October 2015

Researchers at Flinders University have accidentally discovered a way to remove mercury from water using a material made from industrial waste and orange peel.  The substance could be used to literally suck up mercury at sites where it is contaminating water.

The substance changes colour when it comes into contact with and absorbs mercury, which means it could also be used to detect whether waterways are polluted.   Dr Jack Ng sees big potential for this new substance.

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Nobel Prize for Chemistry awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for studies into DNA

ABC News AFP/Reuters 7 October 2015

Three scientists have won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work on mapping how cells repair damaged DNA, giving insight into cancer treatments.
Sweden’s Tomas Lindahl, US-based Paul Modrich and Turkish-born Aziz Sancar were announced the winners by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
“Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments,” the academy said.
DNA — deoxyribonucleic acid — is the chemical code for making and sustaining life.
When cells divide, molecular machines seek to replicate the code perfectly but random slip-ups in their work can cause the daughter cells to die or malfunction.
DNA can also be damaged by strong sunlight and other environmental factors.

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The Conversation October 8, 2015

Kidneys in a dish: Scientists reprogram adult skin cells to make mini kidneys

ABC News Anna Salleh 8 October 2015

Adult skin cells have been reprogrammed to make the most mature human kidneys yet to be grown in a dish, say researchers.
The mini kidneys have hundreds of filtering units and blood vessels and appear to be developing just as kidneys would in an embryo.

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Brisbane grandmother Yvonne D’Arcy celebrates High Court victory in battle over BRCA-1 cancer gene patent

ABC News 7 October 2015

A two-time cancer-surviving grandmother from Brisbane has won her “David and Goliath” battle against a US biotech firm that wanted to patent the BRCA-1 cancer gene.
Myriad Genetics had argued it held the patent over the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes which, if present, dramatically increase a woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
But Yvonne D’Arcy, 69, argued the genes existed in nature, so were discovered rather than invented.
The company succeeded twice in the Federal Court, but the High Court overturned those decisions as it ruled unanimously in Ms D’Arcy’s favour.

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Universities Australia: Fund research to seize the future

The Australian 7 October 2015

Universities are the only institutions that can facilitate the transition to a new agile, innovative and creative economy, but are hamstrung by underfunding of research and ad hoc policy arrangements and political opportunism, peak group Universities Australia says.

In a robust and vibrant pitch, UA pushes the political, strategic and economic potency of universities during a period of economic upheaval.

“In an era of sweeping change, other nations are seizing the future with investments in higher education, research, innovation and skills,” the major policy statement, Keep It Clever, says.

“Australia now faces a stark choice: we either make our own investment — or we fall behind those nations that do.”

Emboldened by Malcolm Turnbull’s comments about being prepared for a volatile future, UA says research and innovation must be at the heart of this vision.

These include firm backing for Chief Scientist Ian Chubb’s call for a national research and science strategy that would “provide long-term, predictable and secure funding for university research, research training and national and landmark research infrastructure”. It would also provide a five-year timetable to “increase the resources available to fully fund the indirect costs of research”. Other suggestions include the creation of a major technology and innovation program similar to Britain’s Catapult initiative, the creation of an innovation board to provide leadership on an integrated national research effort and the establishment of a student innovation fund to promote student entrepreneurship.

Unconventional Gas: Managing Risks and Impacts

Victorian Auditor-General’s Office 19 August 2015

In 2012, the government placed a moratorium on coal seam gas exploration—later expanded to all onshore gas.    This audit examined whether Victoria is well placed to effectively respond to the potential environmental and community risks and impacts of onshore unconventional gas activities in the event that these proceed in this state.

Access full report Unconventional Gas: Managing Risks and Impacts

View video presentation (9 min)

What do we really know about the history of biological weapons use?

(Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News 1 September 2015) Few comprehensive, definitive histories of biological warfare have been written, many events reported in the literature never happened, and few details are available about some uses of biological weapons that most certainly did occur. A review of the literature on actual and alleged instances of biological warfare finds that the incidence of illicit biological agent use has been greater than many people may realize, even as the effects have been relatively limited, as described in an article published in Health Security.

Read EurekAlert Summary

View full-text article (free until 1 October 2015)