Science News

This film opens exclusively in Melbourne’s IMAX theatre on February 8th for a limited season of one month.

 Harrison Ford narrates breathtaking film from National Geographic Studios on how aviation has changed the world. Shot in 7 continents, 18 countries, 95 locations.

On February 8, IMAX Melbourne will premiere LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES, an immersive new giant screen film experience from National Geographic Studios. Narrated by actor and pilot Harrison Ford, it offers a fresh perspective on a modern-day miracle that many of us take for granted: flying.

Using spectacular aerial and nature photography, LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES takes audiences around the globe on an epic journey to 95 locations in 18 countries spanning all seven continents to remind us how, in a single century, aviation has changed our world forever.

Produced and directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (“One Six Right”), LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES features an original score by the late Academy Award®-winning composer and pilot James Horner (“Avatar,” “Titanic”) and cinematography by Andrew Waruszewski.

The film highlights the astonishingly rapid advancements that have led to a world in which 100,000 flights take off and land every day. During the vast majority of mankind’s existence, walking was the fastest means of travel. Yet today, just 175 years after the introduction of the steam engine, boarding a jet to travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours is more often viewed as an inconvenience than a world-changing technological marvel.

“We are thrilled to be screening this film in IMAX 2D. There are scenes that will take your breath away,” says IMAX Melbourne General Manager Richard Morrison.

Melbourne’s IMAX is an independent, single screen theatre located in the Melbourne Museum’s west wing. The screen measures 32 metres wide by 23 metres high and has very recently been upgraded to ensure the best possible on-screen presentation in the global market. IMAX Melbourne is home to the world’s largest cinema screen.

Join the conversation online using #AirplanesMovie. Follow on Instagram @IMAX.Melbourne

To all members of our TAT family, readers and contributors, who celebrate Diwali..

We wish you Safety, Good Health, Happiness, Prosperity and Good Fortune.

May they all be with you in the coming year.


An Australian research breakthrough is set to revolutionise agriculture by eliminating a time-consuming and costly headache for the nation’s farmers, through the creation of self-weeding crops.

A report in leading science publication COSMOS showcases ground-breaking work being conducted at Charles Sturt University, with two varieties of canola able to stop weeds by releasing their own form of herbicides into the ground.

Weeds are not just irritating. They are a problem that sees Australian grain growers lose an estimated $3.3billion and 2.76 million tonnes of harvest every year.

“Weeds are still largely being controlled with synthetic herbicides, but many species are evolving resistance,” notes agricultural scientist and research team leader Professor Jim Pratley.

“Farmers are starting to run out of options, and there is a strong need to find other approaches.”

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1. Travel 300 million years back in time at Melbourne Museum

Dive into the Devonian sea for a prehistoric Virtual Reality experience or fly into the Carboniferous era and create a Meganeura (massive dragonfly).

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2. Extended opening hours for Jurassic World: The Exhibition

Jurassic World: The Exhibition will be opening earlier and closing later these school holidays from 9:30am – 6pm starting 17 September – 2 October.

Get in quickly as the exhibition must close 2 October!

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IMAX Melbourne Museum is thrilled to welcome retired Astronaut Marsha Ivins to Melbourne this September 7-10 to celebrate the release of highly-anticipated IMAX space documentary film, A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D.


Marsha retired in 2010 after 37 years with NASA and 1,318 hours in space. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Science (Aerospace Engineering), Marsha began her employment with the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas in 1974, working in human factors and man-machine engineering on the development of Orbiter cockpit layout, displays and controls, and the Head-Up Display. In 1980 Marsha was assigned as a flight engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft and as a pilot on the NASA administrative aircraft.

“Any opportunity to introduce this film to a new audience is a special privilege and a great joy for me. I am thrilled to be able to introduce A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D to audiences in Melbourne and Sydney. Many of the scenes in this film are ones that have been impossible to capture in previous IMAX space films so we are very excited to bring them to the IMAX screen and share them with audiences all over the world. To be able to immerse the audience in the experience of living and working in space is the best way to answer the hardest question any astronaut is ever asked – what’s it like”, says Marsha.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Toni Myers (HUBBLE 3D, SPACE STATION 3D – in which Marsha appears), A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D is narrated by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence and filmed on ultra-high resolution IMAX cameras from the International Space Station in cooperation with NASA.

“A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D is the most advanced space film ever produced and one that we are very proud to present in IMAX 3D”, says IMAX Melbourne Museum General Manager Richard Morrison.

A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D opens exclusively in Australia’s two IMAX theatres – Melbourne Museum and Darling Harbour – on September 8. Tickets will go on sale early September.



The team at IMAX Melbourne Museum is thrilled to invite VCE students to register for

IMAX Bright Young Minds: A Beautiful Planet 3D + Q & A with Astronaut Marsha Ivins,

taking place on September 7 at 4pm.


This free event screening is the first in the all-new IMAX Bright Young Minds series of events aimed at providing STEM-facing VCE students with an educational and entertaining afternoon out in the Melbourne Museum precinct, at no cost.

“Here at IMAX we are keen to provide senior students with the opportunity to meet an aspirational individual and watch a related documentary film in the very best format available. We are proud to welcome the extraordinary NASA veteran Marsha Ivins to Melbourne and to introduce her to some of our brightest young minds.

“A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D is a spectacular film – it aligns to the Victorian STEM curriculum. Our aim is to inspire the students to really consider a career in the STEM fields”, says IMAX Melbourne Museum General Manager Richard Morrison.

Students are invited to arrive after school on September 7 at 3.45pm for a 4pm screening of A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D followed by a 30 minute Q & A with Marsha. At the time of registration, students can submit a question for the Q & A session.

Registrations can be made on Eventbrite. Join the conversation online! #IMAXBrightYoungMinds

IMAX Bright Young Minds will run quarterly with the next screening to take place in January, featuring David Attenborough’s MUSEUM ALIVE 3D.



IMAX Melbourne Museum will this year be participating in the Melbourne International Film Festival, providing film-lovers with two advanced screenings of the smash hit IMAX documentary, A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Toni Myers (HUBBLE 3D, BLUE PLANET 3D), the 47 minute film is narrated by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence and filmed on ultra-high resolution IMAX cameras from the International Space Station.

 A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D is a breath-taking portrait of Earth from space, providing a unique perspective and increased understanding of our planet and galaxy as never seen before.

Made in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the film features stunning footage of our magnificent blue planet — and the effects humanity has had on it over time — captured by the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

“We are thrilled to be able to show this spectacular film during MIFF, it showcases both the beauty of our planet and the incredible technology we are capable of harnessing and creating film magic with”, says IMAX Melbourne Museum General Manager Richard Morrison.

The documentary film opened in the US earlier this year to rave reviews.

“The result is the best kind of spectacle: that which encourages us to look up and beyond ourselves – and does so using only organic special effects.” – Mike McCahill, The Guardian

“Fulfils its inspirational function with screen-filling, soul-filling views of the main space station in the story-the one that harbours all our lives and hopes.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

MIFF ticket holders can see A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D at IMAX Melbourne Museum ahead of its scheduled September 8 release on August 7 at 1pm and August 10 at 6pm. Join the conversation online using #MIFF2016!

Tickets are available at, Search term: ‘A BEAUTIFUL PLANET 3D’

Home to Australia’s only IMAX Laser Projector (technology only available in 15 theatres worldwide), Melbourne’s IMAX is an independent movie theatre with a single screen – the second largest on the planet, offering patrons an unparalleled viewing experience.

Image care of NASA and IMAX Corporation

This month the scientific community celebrated the 155th birthday of the late Nettie Stevens.

 Nettie Maria Stevens, born July 7 1861, discovered that male sperm are the key to determining the gender of offspring.

In a time when career choices for women were limited to teaching, nursing or secretarial work, Nettie strove to defy the norm and realise her passion: scientific research. A passion which made her one of the most prolific researchers of the late 19th century, she published around 40 papers in her field in 11 years.

Nettie was a biologist, with a particular interest in gender determination. She studied mealworms, examining their sperm and ova (egg cells) under a microscope. She discovered that where the female’s eggs only carry X chromosomes, the male’s sperm carry both X and Y. Nettie was the first to realise the significance of this, that the gender of offspring is determined by fertilisation of the egg by the sperm.

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The Sydney Science Festival kicks off on Thursday 11 August at the Powerhouse Museum with a FREE, adults-only celebration of astronomical proportions at MAASive Lates: Science.

The Museum doors will be flung open for a full-on night-time science celebration where you can expect the unexpected. Enjoy an in-conversation with astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy, speed meeting a geek (or two), hands-on science encounters, science-inspired dance and music, periodic table scrabble, plus so much more.

You’ll also have the chance to be one of the first to take a tour of the Museum’s brand new Collider exhibition, from the Science Museum, London*.

Last year’s MAASive Lates: Science event booked out so be sure to get your tickets now.

Powerhouse Museum, Thursday 11 August, 6–9pm. Adults 18+ only.

FREE, bookings essential. Limit of four tickets per booking.

*Tickets must be purchased to enter Collider and are discounted for the night.

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White roses are my favourite flower, because you can turn their petals into rainbows with some simple science.

 It’s common in high schools to teach transpiration using a stick of celery in water coloured with blue food dye. This is because the xylems in celery are very big, large enough to see with the naked eye.

 The xylem is a vessel. Much like how our blood vessels carry blood from our heart to our lungs, around our body, and back, plants have vessels too.

 The xylem is a plant’s water vessel. It allows water to move from the root to the leaves, a process called transpiration.

 You can see this in action using celery over a day or two, but if you have the patience you can get some very impressive results using a white rose.

 The way the water moves is very simple, but very clever. The movement of water out of the leaf to evaporate in the air, causes the water behind it to move up to take its place.

 Much like a conga line, the water molecules adhere to each other and the sides of the xylem. They can only go forwards to where more room is made for them – the exit. This action allows water to be pulled up from the roots to replace the water lost from the leaves.

 The xylem runs through the entire stem and all the leaves, which is why cut flowers can last a few days before they wilt – they can continue to pull water up through the xylem for a short time before the plant begins to die.

 If you take a long stemmed white rose, carefully split the bottom few centimeters of the stem into two or three and place each end into a different colour water, the coloured water will be pulled up through the xylem as water escapes the leaves through transpiration.

 This water has to be provided to the petals too, so eventually the petals will take on the colour of the water they are being provided with.

There is more than one xylem in every plant, in flowering plants like roses they are so small you can’t see them without a microscope. The petals are supplied with water by different xylems, so you should see a very colourful pattern emerge as the coloured water reaches them.

 Take the time to teach your kids a little about transpiration this school holiday, and decorate your home with multi-coloured roses too!

Margaret began writing at high school, and wrote on and off while working to attain a Master of Science degree. After working as an analytical chemist for ten years, participating in activities with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard and raising a family, she moved on to study writing and editing, and achieve a Diploma in Library and Information services. She entered her first novel The Wild One in the Fellowship of Australian Writers Jim Hamilton Award (2011) and received a highly commended, this award being for an unpublished novel of sustained quality. Now with her boys grown up, she has begun to rewrite her early novels. Editor in Chief and Science Editor for The Australia Times, she lives with her three men in Melbourne, Australia, in a house with a metal roof that is used as a runway by possums.

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05/05/2016 04:33 PM EDT

After delivering almost 7,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is set to leave the orbital laboratory with valuable science research and return to Earth on Wednesday, May 11. NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure beginning at 9 a.m. EDT. (Wednesday, 11 May 2016 at 11:00:00 PM AEST)

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A survey of more than 780,000 cattle slaughtered in New South Wales between 2013 and 2015 revealed that 5.5 per cent were infected with hydatid disease. Hydatid disease results from accidental ingestion of eggs of the tiny “hydatid” tapeworm that infects domestic and wild canids.

According to Dr David Jenkins, who will discuss the impact of the disease at the Australian Veterinary Association’s Annual Conference, these figures represent a financial loss to the abattoir of more than $450,000 from disposal of offal not fit for human consumption.

“Other annual losses included $1,200,000 due to reduced body weight of animals infected with hydatids –an unrealised loss for farmers.

“These results suggest that there are important financial impacts in cattle production due to hydatid disease. A vaccine developed for sheep against the disease has been trialled with cattle but it will be sometime before this vaccine could become commercially available,” Dr Jenkins said.

Hydatid disease leads to fluid-filled cysts in the lungs and liver, and less commonly in the spleen and heart. The major source of infection in cattle is from worm eggs shed by wild dogs and foxes, not domestic dogs.

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03/02/2016 12:10 AM EST

NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Tuesday after a historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. They landed in Kazakhstan at 11:25 p.m. EST (10:25 a.m. March 2 Kazakhstan time).

001_Pfitzner Family with their Tesla Powerwall


Australian solar company Natural Solar, has led the charge when it comes to battery power, as one of the first authorised installers to install the highly anticipated Tesla Daily Powerwall into a residential home in Australia this week. 


Attracting worldwide attention, Australia has been one of the first regions globally to receive the Tesla Powerwall Home Battery. This long awaited installation, the first of many scheduled around the country, has occurred after the initial Tesla Powerwall shipment arrived in Australia this week. 


“Since being announced as a Tesla Powerwall installer at the tail end of last year, Natural Solar has received an unprecedented number of enquiries about the Tesla Powerwall, indicating the Australian public is well and truly ready for this new frontier in renewable energy,” says Chris Williams, Managing Director of Natural Solar. 


One of the first Australian families to have their very own Tesla Powerwall installed is the Pfizner family, based in Sydney’s Hills District. Their personal renewable energy solution includes the Tesla Powerwall Home Battery, an array of 5kWp, a SolarEdge inverter and monitoring software to see the direct output of energy from the entire system and the Tesla Powerwall. 

Australians will have the chance to have their very own Tesla Powerwall installed with or without solar panels. Alternatively, for those with panels already installed, there is the opportunity for a retro-fit to occur allowing a Tesla Powerwall to be added along with a compatible inverter to an existing solar system. 


“There are already 1.5 million Australian households that are using solar energy. The Tesla Powerwall is highly developed technology that will allow users to save money, and reduce their residential carbon emissions from day one,” continued Mr Williams.  


The functionality of the Tesla Powerwall Home Battery is simple, with this device storing solar energy during sunlight hours allowing homeowners to use it at night, avoiding the need to sell excess energy back to the grid. 


The Powerwall, which carries an impressive 10-year warranty period, has such a range of new and varied functionalities. It is also extremely affordable, with a number of payment plans and options from Natural Solar allowing customers to be cash flow positive from day one. 


“Installations have been scheduled in each of the major states and territories starting from as early as next week,” commented Mr Williams. “For Natural Solar, as one of the first installers to bring the Tesla Powerwall to mainstream Australia is truly exciting and invigorating, and cements our position as leading experts in renewable energy and battery power. We are delighted to be working with Tesla Energy to drive the growth of battery power in Australia.” 


Wednesday 09 December 2015

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Researchers at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre are pioneering the development of a new combination drug therapy to treat advanced blood cancers which has doubled survival times in pre-clinical laboratory models.

Their study, published overnight in Cancer Discovery, builds on a world-first clinical trial already underway at Peter Mac which uses the drug CX-5461 to treat patients with incurable blood cancers such as myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia.

The trial has shown promising results to date, however the research team has found that CX-5461 could be even more effective when used in combination with another drug, Everolimus, which is already used to treat other cancers.

According to Professor Rick Pearson, Head of Peter Mac’s Cancer Signaling Laboratory, the research findings significantly enhance understanding of pre-emptive strategies to kill off cancer cells before they have the chance to become resistant to therapy.

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Fifty years of space technology at the University of Melbourne-A Symposium

Monday 5 October, from 5.30 till 7.00 pm

Brown Theatre (Room 108), Electrical and Electronic Building, University of Melbourne

To find out more about the University of Melbourne Space Program:

Nearly fifty years ago, a group of University of Melbourne engineering students began construction of the first earth satellite built in Australia.

Construction of the satellite (Australis Oscar 5 –AO5) was completed in 1967, and it was launched into orbit by a US Air Force rocket in 1970.

AO5 carried out a number of measurements in space, and successfully responded to commands from earth. The satellite was tracked by a group of amateur radio operators around the world. In the 45 years since then, no Australian university has repeated this. Continue reading

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Meet the Scientists at Museum Victoria

To celebrate National Science Week in August, Museum Victoria is holding a special series of Meet the Scientists education events aimed at high school students in Years 8 to 10.
Held over four days, at Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks, the Meet the Scientists program is aimed at educating students on the varied careers and endless opportunities open to them within the world of science.
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When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, the spacecraft’s high-resolution cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet’s unexplored surface. They are all going to need names—and NASA wants you to help.

All of us at The Australia Times are saddened by the death of Lizz Rice, a talented young jockey, and a contributor to our Science and GEO magazines.

Lizz suffered serious head injuries in a freak fall at Caulfield race course on January 12th. For two weeks, she was in an induced coma, but her condition did not improve. At the end of January, the decision was made to withdraw the life support medication and she died on the 31st of January.

At The Australia Times, we recognised Lizz as a talented young science writer, who delighted in sharing the wonder of science in a style that everyone could understand. Her seven months with us will not be easily forgotten.

On behalf of everyone at The Australia Times, I would like express our deepest condolences to Lizz’s family and friends.

Margaret Gregory

Science Editor and Editor-in-Chief

The Australia Times

The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light (IYL) by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining together for this year long celebration to help spread the word about the wonders of light.   To recognize the start of IYL, the Chandra X-ray Center is releasing a set of images that combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light.   In this image, an expanding shell of debris called SNR 0519-69.0 is left behind after a massive star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. Multimillion degree gas is seen in X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in blue. The outer edge of the explosion (red) and stars in the field of view are seen in visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope.


On the evening of Wednesday October 8th, Australia will experience a total lunar eclipse as the moon rises shortly after sunset. This will cause the Moon to darken and turn a red colour.


Read more in the latest Tangent Magazine


Image Attribution: from Flickr, by A. Lee © 2014, under attribution licence.


The Australia Times wants passionate writers interested in Science who wish to gain some first-hand experience in the world of journalism.

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One of the most celebrated of all the celestial fireworks, the Perseid Meteor Shower every year puts on a spectacular light show from the edge of space.

Earth will pass through the shower from 17th of July until the 24th of August, with peak activity between August 12th and 13th.

For more information check out the latest issue of the Science Magazine.

Image courtesy of Astrophotographer Stefano De Rosa,