Our Valuable Waste

In a collaboration between researchers, the government, and production manufacturers, materials can be recycled and reformed into new products. We talk about three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Professor Veena Sahajwalla offers a fourth: reform. Instead of shipping waste offshore, we could be harvesting the high value materials in our waste. Each year, 50 million tonnes of e-waste is produced globally. In Australia, fewer than 1.5% of the 4 million computers sold a year are recycled. The total value of the resources embedded in them approximates $70 billion.

Stories from the Cosmos

Indigenous cultures have a deep emotional investment and attachment to the landscape that acts as both almanac and encyclopaedia. It’s amazing that different cultures separated by vast oceans and continents have independently perceived the patterns in constellations in strikingly similar ways, despite being geographically and temporally separated. Stories from the cosmos give both practical guidance and spiritual comfort, and this way of telling stories and reading the stars is a way of keeping knowledge constant across generations.

Self-Cleaning Clothes, Wound-Healing Textiles and Real-Time Biological Imaging – The 2019 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award

With Dr Rajesh Ramanathan, we encounter a special example of a scholar exploring the knowledge base from traditionally separate field of scientific inquiry. First trained as a biologist, Rajesh combined his PhD work in materials science to consolidate expertise across the chemical, physical and biological sciences, enabling him to develop and contribute to research projects across disciplinary boundaries, leading work in the exciting new field of nanobiotechnology.

Victoria’s Environment: Adapting to the New Normal

Our climate is already changing. Under the Paris Agreement, Australia and the world’s great nations have committed to reducing global temperatures to a 1.5-2°C rise over pre-industrial levels. Should this exercise prove successful, a 2°C rise will still have far-reaching climate effects, with major implications for the State of Victoria. This panel of senior scientists were gathered together by the Governor of Victoria to showcase some of the work in climate adaptation produced in our state and, most importantly, share actions we could all take in our personal and professional lives to adapt to the “new normal.”

One, Two, BEE

The brains of bees are comprised of 960,000 neurons and are the size of a sesame seed. The human brain is 20,000 times bigger, and therefore insects were thought to have constrained neural processing capabilities in comparison.  But 100 years ago, Nobel Laureate, Karl von Frisch changed this mindset: he showed that bees indeed have colour vision by training honeybees to collect a sucrose sugar solution associated with coloured cards, and they continued to return to the same coloured cards in the absence of sucrose. Since then, we’ve learned that bees can even perceive ultraviolet wavelengths, which are beyond what we can see.