CSIRO Snapshot: February 2013
Issue 19 / 5 February 2013
  Ice sample Shower head Health Bites logo  
SoilMapp logo Telescope Young scientist

Investing in our digital future

Child playing digital

Last week we had the honour of hosting Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, as Senator Stephen Conroy launched Australia's largest publically-funded research activity focused on the digital economy.

The Digital Productivity and Services Flagship (DPAS) is a $40 million per annum research initiative to help address Australia's productivity challenge by focusing on the services sector and unlocking the value in national broadband infrastructure.  

The initiative is aimed at helping Australia transition from being a predominantly resource-focused nation by developing and delivering more efficient and innovative digitally-enhanced services.

I believe a successful digital economy is essential for Australia's economic growth and to maintain our international standing. The services sector represents about 80 per cent of Australia's GDP, so if we are to help Australia grow, we must help businesses and government deliver services in new, faster and better ways.

See more information on why we think Australia should invest in a digital economy as well as our top three technology predictions for the coming year.

Watch the video here or read more about DPAS here.

Dr Ian Oppermann, DPAS Director


Ice cores give us glimpse into future

Scientist with ice sample

Ice cores drilled in the Greenland ice sheet, recounting the history of the last great warming period more than 120,000 years ago, are giving scientists their clearest insight to a world that was warmer than today.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, scientists have used a 2540 metre long Greenland ice core to reach back to the Eemian period 115-130 thousand years ago and reconstruct the Greenland temperature and ice sheet extent back through the last interglacial.

This period is likely to be comparable in several ways to climatic conditions in the future, especially the mean global surface temperature, but without anthropogenic or human influence on the atmospheric composition.

More here.

Get the dirt on soil with our new iPad app

SoilMapp logo

Find out what's beneath your feet with SoilMapp, which taps into the best available soil information from Australia's national soil databases.

You can find out about the likely types of soil near you or you can look anywhere across the country.

SoilMapp for iPad enables you to:

  • learn about the likely soil types on your property
  • view maps, photographs, satellite images, tables and graphs of data about nearby soils
  • uncover your soil's physical and chemical characteristics, including acidity (pH), soil carbon, available water storage, salinity and erodibility
  • get soil information to put into the farm computer model APSIM, a model that can help with management decisions on crops and project likely crop yields
More here.

A shower nozzle that cuts water use by half

Shower head

Recently released in Australia, Oxijet is a shower nozzle that creates air bubbles that make your shower feel A-MAZ-ING, while cutting your water use by up to half.

It was developed by New Zealand company Felton, with the expert input of our fluids specialists.

The nozzle uses the flow energy of the water to draw air into the water flow, creating hollow water droplets while maintaining full water pressure, as this video demonstrates.

We're feeling a little bubbly over Oxijet and wanted to share the love with our Snapshot readers. We have a heap of shower nozzles to give away- all you need to do is share your best, or most creative, water saving tip with us.

Enter our competition by leaving a comment on the blog post here.

Taking the temperature of the Universe

Australia Telescope Compact Array

Astronomers using our radio telescope have taken the Universe's temperature, and have found that it has cooled down just the way the Big Bang theory predicts.

Using the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, an international team from Sweden, France, Germany and Australia has measured how warm the Universe was when it was half its current age.

“This is the most precise measurement ever made of how the Universe has cooled down during its 13.77 billion year history,” said Dr Robert Braun, Chief Scientist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science.

More here.


Doctor taking blood pressure

In partnership with Precedence Health Care, we have developed a new mobile application that is set to transform the care of chronically ill people.

The app can be used on smartphones and will increase connectivity between patient and healthcare professionals and enable patients to self manage their disease.

“A mobile application can help patients collect all their healthcare data in one place, they can easily log in and see their care plan, including various measurements that their doctor may have taken such as their glucose levels or blood pressure,” said Precedence Health Care CEO Professor Michael Georgeff.

“The value in this product is increased connectivity with the patient, as evidence indicates that greater patient engagement is key to better health outcomes in the long run,” he said.

This project was supported by the Enterprise Connect Researchers in Business program, an Australian Government initiative that provides funding to support the placement of researchers directly into businesses to develop and implement new commercial ideas.

For more information about how small and medium sized businesses can partner with us visit our SME Engagement Centre.




It's not every day that you discover a huge structure that stretches more than half way across the sky. But this exact thing happened to the international team of astronomers led by our own Ettore Carretti recently.

It may be the largest structure ever discovered in our galaxy and Ettore explains all in this piece for The Conversation.

We're a shore thing with marine science this summer. From fish identification to currents, coral and vanishing islands, we're doing a fair bit to keep your beaches (and seafood) safe, healthy and happy.

Start with Rich Hillary's blog post on our work paving a road to recovery for the iconic Southern Bluefin Tuna.

Then learn about our hydrocarbon sensor array system, effectively taking the guesswork out of oil spills.

That's the tip of the iceberg- there's marine debris, storm surges and otoliths here.

When you rely on shipping in the polar regions as a platform to conduct scientific research, sea ice can become a very big issue.

For many years we've been working with French colleagues to collect data on the yearly voyage between Hobart and the French Antarctic base of Dumont D'Urville.

Read more here and make sure you scroll down to the end to watch a range of videos by our oceanographer Steve Rintoul on the variety of our work in this area.





The world's first webcam was set up to monitor a coffee pot- and alleviate disappointing trips to the kitchen.

Read more here

Get more #4oclockfact

Cholesterol Health Bite snippet

Health Bites is live

We mentioned Health Bites in our last edition as a one-stop shop for food & health tips as well as selected recipes from our Total Wellbeing series.

We now have six bites to share with you:

Subscribe to our blog for more or bookmark our page on Pinterest.

Front cover of teachers guide

Teachers guide

If you're an educator working with kids in years 2-10, then let us help you out with this 34 page Teachers Guide to Earth and Space Science.

It contains an assortment of articles and activities that are linked with the Australian curriculum.

Download your PDF here.

This is one of four teachers guides we'll be producing this year. If you'd like to get on our notification list, subscribe here.

Awards logo

BHP Billiton Science & Engineering Awards

We gathered 26 students from across Australia, aged between nine and 19, to take part in a four-day science workshop with some of the top minds at CSIRO.

A big congratulations to the six finalists across engineering and investigations categories, and particularly to Sarah McArthur
Yaya Lu and Myles Buckley, who will have the chance to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, this May.

To learn more about the winners and their projects (ranging from child seat heat detectors to medicinal sponges) go here.

Dr Lewis Ball

Welcome to Doctors Ball and Blanco

Our astronomy and space science group welcomed the announcement that Dr Lewis Ball has been appointed their new chief.

Dr Ball comes to us from the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array in Chile.

More here.

We're also welcoming Dr Manual J Blanco who joined us recently as Director of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative, a newly formed A$87 million research initiative.

More here.

And lastly, a job vacancy.

We're looking for a Group Executive for our Food, Health and Life Science Industries team.

More here.

Young scientist

We have two competitions we wanted to tell you about. The first is 'Fresh Science', a communication boot camp for researchers no more than five years out from their PhD. 'Freshers' get taught essential communication skills and get their stories out to local, national and international media.

Applications close on the 1st of March and nominations can be made here.

We have another early career competition and the focus remains on the importance of communicating your research- using video.

If you work for any member of Cooperative Research Centres Association then you are eligible to apply here.

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