Six STEM stories to read this week

By Carl Jackson

Robot on futuristic background

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

Perfume bottles on white background

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.”

Read more about this research on Futurity.

2. Scientists discover world’s oldest colour

abstract background with multicolored paper

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.

Learn all about the world’s oldest colour in The Guardian.

3. AIMES’ world-first connected transport trial

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP and AIMES team at Carlton intersection

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.

Read more about this trial in the Herald Sun.

4. Scientists Invented AI Made From DNA

3D illustration. Colorful DNA molecule. Concept image of a structure of the genetic code.

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.

Get some more details on this DNA AI at Motherboard.

5. What is Novichok and how does it work?

Man in hazmat suit with clipboard

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.

Listen to Dr Scholes on ABC Radio.

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!

Get ready to laugh and learn at Science Alert.

Got a STEM story you think we should feature next week?

We’re always interested in cool new research – if you’ve seen a story you think is awesome let us know on Facebook or Twitter and we may feature it here next week!

For more Engineering & Technology research, visit Pursuit.