In this issue

Issue 73

Better mixing for better roads
Making a bituminised road last depends heavily on ensuring good adhesion between bitumen and gravel during construction. Researchers have improved the process by improving the coating of gravel with diesel fuel oil.
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Tales from the warm pool
A $42 million meteorological experiment is planned for 1992 in the western Pacific Ocean. The Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) aims to gather an unprecedented amount of data on ocean mixing and the water's interaction with the atmosphere.
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Genetic engineering and the public
Public accountability in science is emerging as an important theme in a parliamentary report on genetic manipulation. The report concluded that, although some applications entailed risks, the potential economic, environmental and health benefits of gene manipulation research make its pursuit worthwhile.
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Methane change may slow the global greenhouse
The long-term build-up of atmospheric methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, appears to be slowing globally. The causes of the apparent slow-down are unknown. Recent international efforts to conserve energy may be having a significant impact on methane trends. If a slow-down is occurring, it raises new hopes for limiting or delaying possible climate change due to the enhanced greenhouse effect.
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Soil clues to koala country
Plants growing in nutrient-poor soil produce chemical weapons - toxins - as defence against being eaten, since the poor quality of the soil means they cannot mobilise nutrients quickly enough to replace leaves eaten by herbivores such as koalas. The koalas' digestive system has evolved to cope with the defences produced by eucalypts.
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Understanding arid Australia
Australia's vast deserts and arid lands differ fundamentally from similar environments in the Northern Hemisphere. While Australia's arid zone has attracted considerable research, surprisingly little effort has been devoted to attempting to understand how it works on a broad scale. Researchers have developed a theoretical framework that is a major contribution to our appreciation of the uniqueness of arid Australia.
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From the sheep's back ...
As much as two-thirds of the weight of raw, unwashed wool can comprise grease, dried sweat, skin flakes, dirt and vegetable matter, and getting wool clean or scoured requires billions of litres of water, detergent and chemical solvents. Researchers are developing smart new ways to ensure that this does not cause pollution problems when the wool in processed.
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Rehabilitating degraded rangelands
Strategies for sustainable management of Australia's rangelands, and rehabilitation of degraded areas, need to be based on an appreciation of the complex ecological processes at work in the arid zone.
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Compost from abattoir waste
CSIRO researchers estimate that nationally abattoirs and feedlots produce more than 100,000 tonnes of cattle manure, meat scraps and stomach contents a year. A study is investigating turning these wastes into high-grade compost.
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Water management aid
Researchers have developed computer software called SWAGMAN (Salt Water and Groundwater MANagement) to demonstrate how irrigation managers can limit crop losses while also avoiding salination and shallow water tables.
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Saving fuel on time
Because of unexpected delays or poor driver performance, trains that are running late often expend excessive amounts of energy trying to catch up with the timetable. Research has found a solution known as Metromise. The computer-aided system provides en route advice for the suburban train-driver on when best to accelerate, coast or brake.
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Using tiny wasps to control pests
Researchers are studying a tiny native wasp of the genus Trichogramma as a control for the native stem girdler moth, Maroga melanostigma.
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Lupins - good for you and the environment
Research has found that lupins can significantly cut cholesterol levels and can comprise up to 30 per cent dietary fibre. Lupins have also found to have environmental advantages over other crops.
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