CSIRO Snapshot: March 2013
Issue 20 / 6 March 2013
  Vaccine animation Sunshine Oyster  
Scientist in forest Galaxy Google logo

Become a marine a-fish-ionado


Ever gazed out over the sea and wondered what creatures great and small lie beneath?

Wouldn’t it be great if the water was so transparent you could see all that swam by?

We may not have worked out how to make the ocean transparent, but we have developed FishMap.

With FishMap you can find out what fish occur at any location or depth in the waters of Australia’s continental shelf and slope. You can also create species lists for any region that include photographs and illustrations, distribution maps and current scientific and common names.

It has the known geographical and depth ranges of over 4500 Australian marine fishes – including our 320 sharks and rays.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics more than five million Australians take part in recreational fishing in Australia as a leisure activity.

There is also a large commercial seafood and aquaculture industry which is worth over $2 billion annually and employs around 16,000 people.

Combined with the number of people who love a good feed of fish, there are a lot of people with a direct interest in the oceans and seas of Australia and what is in them.

Huw Morgan

Check out a gallery of images from FishMap in this blog post.


A mighty fighting flu breakthrough

Vaccine animation

Like the appearance of Easter Eggs in the supermarket aisle, the Australian flu season is starting earlier and earlier.

In South Australia more than 230 cases of influenza have been diagnosed this year - four times more than the same time last year. The rest of Australia is in the same boat.

The predictions are that this year is going to be a bad one for flu and things are going to get worse – or are they?

Our scientists, led by Jenny McKimm-Breschkin who was also involved with the development of the very first flu drug, Relenza, have helped to design a new drug to protect against epidemic and pandemic flu strains.

The new drug has stopped the spread of virus strains in laboratory testing – even those resistant strains of the virus.

Listen to Jenny explaining this development in this blog post.

Seeing the forest for the trees

Scientist in forest

How would you feel about walking into a rainforest in the Wet Tropics of Queensland and measuring, mapping and identifying 23,000 different trees for us?

Well, our Matt Bradford can tell you that this walk in the forest is no walk in the park.

Over a three year period that's exactly what he's been working on with our partners at the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network.

Not only have we undertaken a mammoth 'tree census' on this plot at Robson Creek, but we're also using it as a supersite to learn more about how these ecosystems respond to change.

It's our version of putting the forest under the microscope.

Read more about this project in this blog post.

Suck it up, sunshine!


Using sunlight, we have developed a ‘solar sponge’ which captures and then releases CO2.

The 'sponge' is made from a new smart material called a MOF - metal organic framework – which adsorbs carbon dioxide, but when exposed to sunlight, instantaneously releases it.

The capture and release process can be compared to soaking up water with a sponge and then wringing it out. When UV light hits the material its structure bends and twists and stored gas is released.

This method is extremely energy efficient and uses renewable energy to drive the process. Traditional CO2 capture is more complex and the process itself is quite energy intensive. On top of that, MOFs can absorb as much as a litre of nitrogen gas in just one gram of material.

Read more about this development on our media page.

The Universe... and all that jazz


Where can you go to read about the taste of Martian rocks or to watch a NASA video of an ACTUAL solar flare on the sun... or to listen to our astrophysicist Ray Norris talking about the 'golden age of astronomy'?

World, welcome our new blog- Universe@CSIRO.

This blog is a destination for anyone who has looked up at the night sky and felt a chill down their spine.

Bookmark the site now and be sure to check it out when you want to be inspired- or amazed.


Australia on the map

We all know Australia competes with foreign interests in Australian and international markets and that this competition is increasing as technologies and changing demographics bring the world closer together.

To ensure Australia’s innovation system remains competitive we need to develop and evolve R&D capabilities that are not only of global standing and scale, but that are connected and collaborating with Australian industries.

Although the Federal Government’s Industry Innovation Precincts and our Global Precincts differ in their implementation, they are united in their goal of improving the competitiveness of Australia’s innovation system.

Our Global Precincts are focused on building R&D capability by bringing together universities, research organisations, and industry into sites with over 10,000 people and over $1B of infrastructure and capital.

But industry and research organisations are spread across Australia. Industry Innovation Precincts are aiming to establish essential networks that facilitate collaboration between business with researchers and other elements of the innovation system. 

By focusing on the physical and virtual aspects of innovation, these strategies will help to ensure our innovation system is coordinated, connected, and of the size and standing to compete internationally. 

Dr David Ireland,

Int'l Precincts & Innovation

For more information, check out the Aus Govt Precincts page.

Illuminated fish art

What better way to promote our research than to project it on to national attractions in our capital?

The Enlighten festival kicked off a few days ago and one of our resident artists has had her CSIRO-inspired art showcased.

Check out the wonderful images in our Facebook album.

It will come as no surprise that we work with a fair few partners- from the small to the multinational.

Our work with General Electric is a great example of how we're taking care of business.

To get a warm, fuzzy feeling that only a successful partnership can give, we have this shiny new video for you.

We have short-term memories. It's human nature. We don't want to be reminded of that horrific day over four years ago when bushfires claimed the lives of 173 people.

'Black Saturday' was the single most destructive bushfire to occur in Australia and for this reason alone we needed to understand the specifics of its behaviour.

Read more about the outcomes of our report in this blog post.






84% of an apple and 96% of a cucumber is water.

Get more #4oclockfact

GI infographic

Health Bites

What do carrots, chick peas, baked beans and peas have in common?

Find out if you've been riding the GI rollercoaster with our latest Health Bites infographic.


Oysters wear their hearts on their shells

Whether you prefer your oysters from the rock or the Pacific, served Kilpatrick or mignonette, there is one sound which will soon dictate if they are worthy of making it to our plate or not – a heartbeat.

We've developed bio-sensors that that can measure the heartbeat of an oyster to see how they respond to changes in their environment such as temperature and salinity levels.

Why? To help the aquaculture industry improve productivity and manage risks.

Read more in this blog post.

Child on mobile phone

Science with a heart

Most people wouldn’t pick science as a career that cares for people. Doctors? Tick. Counsellors? Tick. Social workers? Tick. But scientists – really? Well, yes. Science does have a heart.

We've profiled four projects that really highlight how our research has a social conscience, including a mobile-phone-based sensor to diagnose disease.

Read more in this blog post.

Dr Lewis Ball

Welcome to the team

Our Climate Adaptation Flagship has a new Director- welcome to Dr Paul Hardisty.

Paul has more than 20 years experience in the environmental and sustainability fields.

Read more on our website.

Don't miss
Young scientist

No inventor is too young

Marie Curie and Alexander Bell started at 18. Louis Braille at 16. And Ada Lovelace at the tender age of 13.

No one is ever too young to turn an idea into an innovation that can impact millions of people.

We love the Google Science Fair for inspiring kids aged 13-18 to 'change the world' by submitting project ideas and offering very cool prizes.

Previous winners have looked into improving the music experience for people with hearing loss, creating water-efficient toilets and unique simplified hydroponic methods (from two 14 yr olds in Swaziland).

Australian children, it's time to flex those brain cells!

You have 56 days to apply on the Google Science Fair website.

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