Posts Tagged ‘Australia’
An amateur Australian prospector who hadn’t had much luck searching for gold has struck it rich, unearthing a nugget heavier than a newborn baby and worth more than $300,000.
The anonymous prospector discovered the 5.5 kg nugget near the country town of Ballarat and in an area known as the “Golden Triangle” due to its rich veins which sparked a gold rush in the 1850s.
The find came to light on Wednesday when the man walked into the Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop and told owner Cordell Kent: “Mate, I found a good one”. He then revealed the nugget, adding that he had weighed it on the bathroom scales at home…
The Y-shaped nugget, 22 centimeters long and 14 centimeters wide, was found by the prospector using an Australian-made gold detector.
“The intrinsic gold value is about $301,100, but because it’s a natural raw specimen and they’re extremely rare it’s got a value far in excess of that,” Kent said…
Kent said the find was likely to create a new, mini gold rush. “It’s given a lot of prospectors great hope that there still are great pieces out there,” said Kent.
A new study of DNA has found that Indian people may have come to Australia around 4000 years ago, an event possibly linked to the first appearance of the dingo.
Australia was first populated around 40,000 years ago and it was once thought Aboriginal Australians had limited contact with the outside world until the arrival of Europeans.
However, an international research team examining genotyping data from Aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians found ancient association between Australia, New Guinea, and the Mamanwa group from the Philippines.
“We also detect a signal indicative of substantial gene flow between the Indian populations and Australia well before European contact, contrary to the prevailing view that there was no contact between Australia and the rest of the world. We estimate this gene flow to have occurred during the Holocene, 4,230 years ago,” the researchers said…
“This is also approximately when changes in tool technology, food processing, and the dingo appear in the Australian archaeological record, suggesting that these may be related to the migration from India…”
Professor Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, said the research team’s discovery of “a previously unsuspected episode of gene flow with populations from mainland India, estimated to take place around 4,200 years ago… coincides with significant changes in the Aboriginal archaeological record, around 4000 to 5000 years ago.”
“It does not necessarily indicate direct contact with mainland India. For example it could be via populations elsewhere whose original source was mainland India,” said Professor Cooper, who was not involved in the research…
“Australian people were, for tens of thousands of years, a part of the human population of the world exchanging both genes and cultural information with their neighbours.”
Our species has always been carriers of that awesome trait – curiosity. We always want to know what’s around the next bend in the road, over the next hill.
Queensland researchers believe they’ve hit upon a “light switch” protein within the HIV virus, which can be flicked off to stop it developing into full-blown AIDS…
“This has the possibility – not to eliminate the virus – but hopefully to allow us to reconstitute a human immune system that is resistant to HIV,” Associate Professor David Harrich said.
He said they experimented on a normal protein usually used by the HIV virus to replicate itself in human cells and mutated it to create the “Nullbasic” protein.
“We now have a very potent protein that can stop HIV from growing in cells,” he said…“Instead of being an activator of HIV, it’s an inhibitor of HIV…”
“The reason we got so encouraged was because of just how well this protein worked in the cell culture, so we’re fairly convinced the animal model study will be successful,” he said.
With animal then human trials predicted to take five to 10 years, Associate Professor Harrich said the ultimate goal would be to develop a gene therapy treatment – similar to therapies provided to people with cancer – that would replace current regimes of antiretroviral drugs.
“With a single therapy that you would have long-lasting protection from the virus and could lead a drug-free life,” he said.
Step by step the longest march can be won.
Australia’s “dome of heat” has become so intense that the temperatures are rising off the charts – literally. The air mass over the inland is still heating up – it hasn’t peaked
The Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees C.
The range now extends to 54 degrees C – well above the all-time record temperature of 50.7 degrees reached on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia – and, perhaps worryingly, the forecast outlook is starting to deploy the new colours…
While recent days have seen Australian temperature maps displaying maximums ranging from 40 degrees to 48 degrees – depicted in the colour scheme as burnt orange to black – both Sunday and Monday are now showing regions likely to hit 50 degrees or more, coloured purple…
“The air mass over the inland is still heating up – it hasn’t peaked,” Dr David Jones said.
Australia’s first six days of 2013 were all among the hottest 20 days on record in terms of average maximums, with January 7 and today likely to add to the list of peaks. That would make it four of the top 10 in a little over a week…
The idea of an automated farm has probably been around since rural electrification started in the early 20th century. Replacing back-breaking labor with robots has an obvious appeal, but so far cheap labor in many countries and the insistence of agriculture on being so darn rural has made automation limited in application. Despite this, Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies of the University of Sydney, is heading a team working on developing robotic systems for farms with the aim of turning Australia into the “food bowl” of Asia…
With its abundant arable land, Australia has the potential of profiting by meeting this need, but Australian labor costs are high, so automation has the potential to increase yields and improve efficiency by eliminating many manual tasks. The current project is more than just a mechanized farm with robots added. It’s an approach that involves developing intelligent machines that not only carry out manual tasks, but can observe their surroundings and assess situations.
Professor Sukkarieh’s team is testing the new automated systems at the Horticulture Australia regional center in Mildura. The first phase is the development of robots that can patrol orchards and gather data for a “comprehensive in-ground and out-of-ground model…”
Next year, the team will start the second phase, which will see the technology applied to standard tractors to allow them to automatically carry out tasks like applying fertilizers and pesticides, watering, sweeping and mowing.
The third phase is to develop harvesting robots. “The devices we’ve developed already can identify each individual fruit on the tree and its degree of ripeness, which is about 80 percent of the job done. But being able to harvest them is our ultimate goal,” he said.
Would have been happening in the US – and Oz – long ago if farmers didn’t have easy access to cheap migrant labor. And robots don’t distribute e.coli bacteria.
Last November, a fleet of four small autonomous Wave Glider aquatic robots set out from San Francisco to sail across the Pacific ocean. They reached Hawaii this March, at which point they parted ways – as according to plan, one pair struck out for Japan, while the other two headed for Australia. The first of the two Australia-bound Wave Gliders has reached its destination, setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.
Made by California- and Hawaii-based tech firm Liquid Robotics, each Wave Glider consists of a floating surf board-like “boat” tethered to an underwater winged platform. The motion of the waves causes these wings to paddle the boat forward, while solar cells on the deck of the boat provide power to its sensors and transmitters.
These sensors measure oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, wave characteristics, weather conditions, water fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen. GPS and a heading sensor also help the craft to orient themselves.
Papa Mau, which is the name of the Wave Glider that has reached Australia, was pulled from the ocean in Hervey Bay near Bundaberg, Queensland. It was the end of a one-year journey that spanned approximately 16,668 kilometers, and that saw the robot withstanding challenges such as gale force winds and inquisitive sharks. Along the way, it also gathered and transmitted an assortment of oceanographic data, including measurements of a chlorophyll bloom along the Equatorial Pacific.
Bravo! And this was only a startup demonstration.
It’s also nice to see the trial work. I blogged about the beginning.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a national inquiry into the Catholic church’s responses to child sex abuse after a series of scandals involving paedophile priests.
Gillard made the announcement on Monday in the wake of claims by a senior policeman that a Catholic Church in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales destroyed evidence and silenced investigations.
“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil,” Gillard said. “I believe in these circumstances that it is appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission…”
Gillard had been under growing pressure to establish a national inquiry after the recent allegations but she said the probe would be broader than just the Catholic Church.
“This is not a royal commission targeting any one church,” Gillard said…
In early November, a senior police investigator…alleged that the church had covered up sexual abuse of children in the Hunter Valley, just north of Sydney, to protect paedophiles and its own reputation.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said it was his experience that the church not just covered up, but silenced victims, hindered police, alerted offenders, destroyed evidence and moved priests to protect the church…
Gillard said the more recent allegations were heartbreaking.
“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” she told reporters in Canberra.
Gillard said she did not yet know how far back the commission would investigate. She commended victims for speaking out.
Overdue. Long justified. Something you cannot count on churches to do on their own.
But, then, self-policing usually concerns itself more with “self” than “policing”.
A Brazilian student is set to sell her virginity for a staggering $780,000 after she put it up for auction online.
A man called Natsu, from Japan, fended off strong competition from American bidders Jack Miller and Jack Right, and Indian big-spender Rudra Chatterjee, to secure a date with 20-year-old Catarina Migliorini.
The auction closed 28 October and the physical education student – who said she will use the cash to build homes for poverty-stricken families – was the subject of 15 bids. Catarina’s move sparked outrage across the globe, with many claiming she was little more than a prostitute. She also caused controversy when she revealed she would be followed every step of the way by an Australian crew for a documentary film called Virgins Wanted.
But she said: ‘I saw this as a business. I have the opportunity to travel, to be part of a movie and get a bonus with it. ‘If you only do it once in your life then you are not a prostitute, just like if you take one amazing photograph it does not automatically make you a photographer. ‘The auction is just business, I’m a romantic girl at heart and believe in love. But this will make a big difference to my area,’ she told Folha newspaper.
Catarina will be ‘delivered’ to her buyer on board a plane between Australia and the U.S. – being interviewed before and after the sexual act. The intercourse itself will not be filmed and Natsu will retain a right to be anonymous, without his picture appearing in the media. Sex toys will be banned from use and a condom will be compulsory, with Catarina saying she was prepared to prove to any sceptics that she has not had sex before. Natsu will be tested for sexually transmitted diseases prior to the encounter.
Ah, me. Life in the fast lane, eh?