Six STEM stories to read this week
By Carl Jackson
Chemical sensitivities’ impact on Australians, the discovery of the world’s oldest colour, a world-first transport trial and more – we’ve put together a wrap-up of some of the most interesting and important STEM news from Melbourne School of Engineering and beyond.
Important inclusion: a piece featuring astronauts falling over on the moon you definitely don’t want to miss.
1. Research shows nearly one in five Australians suffer from chemical sensitivity
Research recently released by Professor Anne Steinemann has shown that nearly one in five Australians suffer from sensitivities to a range of common chemicals, and up to a third of these suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). In Futurity, Professor Steinemann explained that “Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is a serious disease that is often caused and worsened by exposure to petrochemical sources such as pesticides, solvents, new building materials, and fragranced items.”
2. Scientists discover world’s oldest colour
If you’ve ever wondered what the world’s oldest colour looks like, a team at Australian National University have the answer you’re after. After crushing 1.1billion year old rocks sourced from the Sahara, the researchers discovered a bright pink pigment more than half a billion years older than previous pigment discoveries.
3. AIMES’ world-first connected transport trial
The Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES) saw a significant milestone this week with the largest connected transport trial ever undertaken. Conducted in conjunction with a range of partners, and attended by Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher, a number of sensors were placed around an intersection in Carlton and measured real-life use cases including speed management, intersection collision avoidance and vulnerable road user protection.
4. Scientists Invented AI Made From DNA
Synthetic DNA that’s able to recognize numbers coded in molecules sounds pretty sci-fi, but researchers at Caltech have made sci-re (that’s science reality). This incredible research replaced silicon and transistors with DNA and test tubes to create a truly unique machine-learning computer.
5. What is Novichok and how does it work?
Novichok has gained some notoriety lately as the nerve agent responsible for a number of poisonings in the United Kingdom. So what is it, how does it work, and how long does it stay toxic for? Dr Colin Scholes spoke to ABC Radio to fill us all in on this potentially lethal substance.
6. Astronauts falling over on the moon
There’s not much to say about this one. It’s astronauts falling over on the moon, with bonus science!
Got a STEM story you think we should feature next week?
For more Engineering & Technology research, visit Pursuit.