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Issue 25


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Soil erosion: can we dam the flood?
Last Australia Day should have been a time of rejoicing for the land-owners of Queensland's Darling Downs. For months there had been too little rain. The winter wheat crop had been poor, and only a thin stubble lay over the paddocks of those farmers who did not burn their straw. And now rain was forecast.
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Noise pollution and the cost of hearing loss
The finding that continual exposure to noise can lead to hearing loss was first reported in 1831 by a Dr J. Fosbroke. Writing in The Lancet, he described an affliction called ‘blacksmith's deafness’.
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Sugar beet can raise your spirits
The prospect of farmers growing their own fuel for vehicles is looking rosier, thanks to the invention of a new process for fermenting sugary crops to make alcohol. The new technique promises to save money and reduce pollution.
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Renewable fuel prospects
A CSIRO team has prepared a detailed assessment of t h e potential, over the next 20–40 years, for the production of liquid fuels from products of agriculture and forestry in Australia. It examines the likely sustainable levels of ethanol and methanol production from different plant materials, and the probable costs of the fuels. Raw materials considered include wheat, barley, sorghum, pine trees, eucalypts, sugar cane, and cassava.
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Using bacteria to get more oil
When an oil well stops gushing, the obvious thing to do is pump water or gas into it to force more oil out. This is now being done on a large scale in the United States and some other oil-producing countries.
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Using, and preserving, Perth’s groundwater
Perth is a city built on ancient sand dunes. Underfoot, topsoil is virtually non-existent; the rich yellow, grey, or vivid white grains are beach-clean. The natural vegetation, hardy enough to survive with a dearth of nutrients, also endures an annual 6-month drought.
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Design for a quieter lawn-mower
Those who curse the chorus of noisy mowers patrolling suburban lawns will be pleased to know that scientists at the CSIRO Division of Mechanical Engineering have invented a quieter rotary lawn-mower.
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New home for air-sampling station
A new home is being built on a windswept cliff-top for scientific instruments that for 4 years have been keeping an eye on the quality of our atmosphere.
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Letters to ECOS
We look forward to hearing from readers. In selecting letters for publication, preference is given to those dealing with research topics covered in ECOS — providing additional information or commenting on conclusions reached in articles. Please keep letters as brief as possible. When necessary, they will be edited for publication.
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How long is Australia’s coastline?
At first blush the question seems eminently reasonable, but it is as open-ended as the classical 'how long is a piece of string? The answer to both is the same: it all depends.
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