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Issue 5


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Making oil from coal
When will the world's oil-fields run dry? It's impossible to predict; we don't know how much oil remains to be discovered. But although less than a third — perhaps much less — of the world's crude oil has been used, demand seems likely to outstrip supply within decades rather than centuries.
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Troubles aplenty in our cotton fields
They aren't growing any cotton commercially this year on the Ord — only one or two experimental crops have been planted. Yet a few years ago this area was producing a lot of cotton. Then insect pests got out of control.
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Coming to terms with cyclones
By about 9 p.m. the breeze had become a gale; it increased steadily. The first really strong gust struck just before 1 a.m., but the very strongest winds of cyclone Tracy did not really set in for another hour. By 5 a.m., when the winds abated, Darwin lay in ruins.
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A key to our climate
Dr Garth Paltridge is a physicist. For the past 8 years he has been studying what happens to the energy reaching us from the sun, and how it produces our climate and supports living things.
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A paper crop
Although trees provide the raw material for about 95% of the world's paper production, many other plants can also be used in papermaking. Sugar cane, bamboo, and wheat and rice straw, which are now pulped in some parts of the world, are just a few of the alternatives.
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A baby echidna conserves its energy
A very young echidna nestles in the warmth of its mother's pouch, but after a period of somewhere between 50 and 80 days it gets too big. At this age, the little echidna is still far too small to fend for itself, and it still depends on its mother's milk for food.
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Finding land’s potential
One of the main activities of scientists at the CSIRO Division of Land Use Research over the years has been their land resources surveys. These set out the principal characteristics of areas and enable people to make rational decisions about how land should be used. Since 1947, the scientists have surveyed about 2 million square kilometres of northern Australia and most of Papua New Guinea.
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International trade, and conserving our wildlife
On July 1 this year, the International Convention on Trade in Certain Species of Wildlife came into force — 3 months after the tenth country had signed it. Australia, although not among those first 10, almost certainly will be a signatory by the time we come into print.
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Keeping a watch on cadmium
After water, superphosphate is probably the substance added in greatest quantity to Australia's soil. Phosphorus deficiency is a fact of life in most of Australia's food-producing areas, and fertilizers that remedy it — mainly superphosphate — account for at least 85% of our fertilizer consumption. Unfortunately, when superphosphate is spread across the land, so are small amounts of the impurities it contains, one of which is the toxic metal cadmium.
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Ozone and bushfire smoke
Photochemical smogs occur in cities when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, mostly from car exhausts, react together under the stimulus of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Scientists from CSIRO have recently found that similar reactions can take place when the sun shines on smoke from bushfires or from controlled burning in forests.
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