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Issue 35


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What’s happening to our barramundi?
Some people call it Australia’s national fish. Its bright sheen, defiant yellow eyes, and fighting behaviour challenge the sporting angler; its fine flavour delights the palate.
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Trying to forecast tropical cyclones
Tropical cyclones are great whirlwinds, dangerously destructive in their ferocity. In the Australian region, about a dozen of them manifest every year, and residents of our tropical coast live in a state of preparedness, ready to seek cover and batten the storm windows whenever the radio indicates that a cyclone is on the loose nearby.
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Fossil magnets: clues to the past
If you wander about the coast of New South Wales — anywhere between Newcastle, say, and the Victorian border — looking at the landscape with a geologist's eye, you'll identify the local rocks as old underwater sediments laid down in Palaeozoic and Triassic times. You'll see no sign of anything younger.
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Australia's insect collection
If you were not among the 2200 visitors to the Australian National Insect Collection on its open day last June, you possibly imagine it as a large hall full of cabinets, whose drawers are crammed with rows of labelled specimens. Perhaps your memory involuntarily revives childhood impressions of a sombre 19th Century building in some Australian or overseas city.
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Seaweed: stinking problem or natural asset?
The stench of rotting seaweed, piled up to 2 m high on many of Western Australia's long wide beaches, annoys seaside residents, holiday-makers, and amateur fishermen. In response, some municipal councils provide temporary relief by taking the stuff away by the truckload. As often as not, the next tide makes good the deficit.
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How rational can planning be?
A recently published book edited by two CSIRO scientists asks the question: what does it mean to be 'rational' about environmental planning?
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PSZ: a formula for saving energy
Instead of having glass-like brittleness, a ceramic developed at the Advanced Materials Laboratory of the CSIRO Division of Materials Science is so tough it can be struck with a hammer without shattering. The material, partially stabilized zirconia (PSZ ) , is the world's toughest ceramic.
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Investigating concrete's durability
Concrete buildings poured in recent years appear to start crumbling earlier than their predecessors.
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Letters to ECOS
I was very interested to read the article on fossil birds in ECOS 33. However, any reader in the Mount Gambier district would take exception to your stating that the most recent volcanic eruption in Australia occurred about 8000 years ago, when we take pride in residing with equanimity around a crater which last came to the boil (literally — the underlying aquifer produced steam-ejected ash rather than a massive lava flow) about 1410 ± 90 years B.P. (before present).
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Satellite images of volcanic ash clouds
Eruptions last year of Mt Galunggung in western Java choked the engines of two jet aircraft flying overhead, and passengers on board knew they had escaped catastrophe only when, at lower altitude, they heard the welcome sound of the engines restarting.
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