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Issue 19


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The Whale-bleak past, uncertain future
The history of whaling is a sorry one. Whalers have reduced populations of one species after another to fragments of their original levels, and then moved on to the next target. The blue whale, the largest animal that has ever lived — reaching lengths of 30 m and more — has been reduced this century to less than 5% of its initial numbers, and some species have suffered even worse fates. None has been driven to extinction, but this can be attributed more to luck than to foresight.
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Requiem for the rural gum tree?
?I have seen some thousands of acres, chiefly in the New England district of New South Wales, where a plague seems to have carried death through the forest . . .? The speaker was a politician, Mr Albert Norton, in an address to the Royal Society of Queensland on eucalypt dieback in sheep-grazing country. The year — 1886.
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Can we tap the power in the wind
We hear quite a lot these days about solar energy studies, but not so much about wind power, another alternative energy source. This may not seem surprising, since we all know that Australia is a sunny country but we don't necessarily think of it as a windy one. Nevertheless, it's interesting to think about whether we can contemplate obtaining a useful proportion of our electrical power needs by using wind power.
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Roughage and the heart
Did you have muesli and brown bread for breakfast? Do you eat a high-fibre diet to reduce, among other things, the risk of a coronary? It wouldn?t be surprising; the emphasis on dietary fibre for good health has been rather heavy in recent years. Lack of sufficient fibre has been held to contribute to a frighteningly long list of diseases common in modern western society — including heart disease, appendicitis, gallstones, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and tumours of the colon and rectum.
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Where does the sulphur dioxide go?
Sulphur dioxide is one of the main pollutants emitted into the air by industry. It changes gradually to sulphuric acid and other sulphur compounds, and can have a number of harmful effects if concentrations are high enough.
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Solar house checked out
Discussions about reducing the amount of energy we use often seem to create a sense of helplessness — there's so little that the individual can do to help. Yet about one-eighth of the nation's consumption goes on space heating, lighting, and heat for cooking and hot water in the home. That's a considerable fraction, and here perhaps the individual may be able to play his or her part.
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Solar energy research directory
The Department of National Development and CSIRO jointly produced their solar energy research directory some months ago. Entitled‘A Directory of Australian Solar Energy Research and Development’, the publication lists a total of 143 solar energy research projects currently under way in this country. Of these, 30 are in CSIRO, 80 in universities and other tertiary institutions, 19 in industry, and 14 in government organizations other than CSIRO.
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Learning about Landsat
NASA's Landsat satellites and their applications will be the subject of a 5-day conference in Sydney next May. A major aim will be to make potential users aware of the information they can derive from Landsat's views of the earth from 900 km out in space.
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Fishing the Bight
Around the Great Australian Bight, the continental shelf extends 100–200 km from the shore, making a vast area accessible to trawling along the ocean bottom. So far, the fish of the Bight have not been subjected to heavy commercial exploitation. However, this situation may change as a result of a new venture that has brought three large and well-equipped vessels to the area.
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The problem of disappearing beaches
Think on Warrnambool, that coastal city in western Victoria. Early this century it was an important port. As many as 27 ships used its harbour at once. Today, what remains of that silted-up harbour can cater only for small boats. The silting was the direct consequence of human error.
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Koalas hold on
‘There is another animal which the natives call Cullewine, which much resembles the sloths of America.’ John Wilson wrote this about the animals we now call koalas in his journal on an exploratory journey to the south-west of Sydney in 1798.
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