2014 News archive

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December 2014
Simulations rule. How computer learning can improve HSC science results   View Summary
19 December 2014
Students who used school-issued laptop computers at school and home perform better in their HSC exams than those not given them University of Sydney research has revealed.
Viral 'fossils' study on birds finds fewer infections than in mammals    View Summary
19 December 2014
Professor Edward HolmesProfessor Edward Holmes screened 48 avian genomes and found that historically the rate of viral infections was thirteen times less common than in mammals.
Rapid bird evolution after the age of dinosaurs unprecedented, study confirms   View Summary
19 December 2014
Credit: Jon FjeldsåAssociate Professor Simon Ho has used his expertise in evolutionary timescales to contribute to new understanding of bird evolution including their rapid diversification following the extinction of dinosaurs.
Slow rate of croc mutation revealed in major Science study   View Summary
19 December 2014
Crocodilians mutate at about a quarter of the rate of birds, new research has revealed.In research led by Texas Tech University, Professor Jaime Gongora, from the University's Faculty of Veterinary Science and his team have sequenced three crocodilian species and shown their rate of evolution is approximately four times slower than that of birds.
Maths stars shine in Australian Academy of Science awards   View Summary
8 December 2014
The Australian Academy of Science has honoured both early career and life-long achievement with awards to two University of Sydney academics in theSchool of Mathematics and Statistics.
$1.4 million gift celebrates an astronomer's life at the University   View Summary
8 December 2014
Professor Richard HunsteadProfessor Richard Hunstead and his wife Penny Hunstead have donated $1.4 million to the University of Sydney's Sydney Institute for Astronomy.
Urgent demand for better designed programs to halt Gen Y's growing waistlines   View Summary
8 December 2014
An apple and pear wrapped in a measuring tape.Researchers have uncovered surprising new leads in the worldwide obesity epidemic by examining the combination of our rapidly changing environment with our overwhelming appetite for protein. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the research from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre indicates that bottle-feeding, climate change and corporate bottom lines could be among the dark horses of global obesity.
November 2014
Industry partnership supports Australian production of next-generation photonics   View Summary
13 November 2014
Dr Simon Lefrancois holding an optical chip used in the terabit oscilloscope.CUDOS at the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Australian National University and Alnair Labs in Tokyo have developed an optical oscillope with 20 times the resolution of conventional instruments.
Year of honours for talented evolutionary biologist   View Summary
12 November 2014
Professor Trevor Hambley, Associate Professor Simon Ho and Clare McArthur.Associate Professor Simon Ho has won NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year for his work on evolutionary biology.
October 2014
Great ball of fire   View Summary
28 October 2014
Artistâs conception of a star system responsible for a nova. Credit: David A. Hardy/ astroart.orgAstronomers from the university are part of an international team that captured images of a fireball exploding from a nova star.
Two new Academy fellows elected from Faculty of Science   View Summary
28 October 2014
Professor Tony Weiss and Professor Anne Green, from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Science have been elected as fellows to the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
"Using a sledgehammer to kill a fly" : problems with dam water management plan   View Summary
28 October 2014
The federal government's suggested investement in new dams is poor policy says Associate Professor Willem Vervoort from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.
From beekeeping to robotics our scientists are NSW winners    View Summary
22 October 2014
Professor Ben Oldroyd, a honey bee specialist in the School of Biological Sciences.The 2014 NSW Science & Engineering Awards have recognised the achievements and contributions of two University of Sydney academics in a ceremony at NSW Government House on Monday night.
Researchers and councils building community resilience   View Summary
22 October 2014
Researchers and councils building community resilienceA collaborative project between the State's leading coastal Regional Organisation of Councils, the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, and the Natural Hazards Research Group in the School of Geosciences has been recognised for contributing to making communities safer, stronger, more resilient and better prepared to manage emergencies.
1980s aircraft helps quantum technology take flight   View Summary
21 October 2014
The Grumman X-29, an American experimental aircraft.What does a 1980s experimental aircraft have to do with state-of-the art quantum technology? Lots, as shown by new research from the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney, and published in Nature Physics today.
Maths professor appointed to Commonwealth Science Council   View Summary
15 October 2014
Professor Nalini Joshi from the University of Sydney's School of Mathematics and Statistics.Professor Nalini Joshi from the University of Sydney's School of Mathematics and Statistics has been appointed to the Federal Government's newly-created Commonwealth Science Council.
Managing plant diseases which affect global hunger   View Summary
14 October 2014
The University of Sydneyâs Professor Robert Park.Efforts to control plant diseases which contribute significantly to global hunger will be the centerpiece of tomorrow's Sydney Science Forum lecture at the University of Sydney.
Mapping the seafloor from space   View Summary
13 October 2014
Professor Dietmar Muller - mapping the seafloor from spaceA new high-resolution marine gravity map that reveals tiny seafloor features has been created by an international scientific team using satellite radar measurements of the ocean surfaces.
Cane toads that move in lines most responsible for their deathly spread   View Summary
9 October 2014
Image of a cane toadHow are cane toads taking over Australia with such alarming haste? New research from the University of Sydney offers new insight into the pervasiveness of one of the nation's most reviled pests.
September 2014
Recognition for an evolutionary master clockmaker: 2014 Eureka Prize for Early Career Researcher   View Summary
11 September 2014
Eureka Prize winner Associate Professor Simon HoShowing that the strain of fungus responsible for the Irish potato famine still exists is only one of the insights the University of Sydney's Associate Professor Simon Ho has achieved through his ground-breaking work with 'molecular clocks'.
August 2014
Ground-breaking research awarded ARC Laureate Fellowships   View Summary
22 August 2014
Physics buildingAdvances in our understanding of the brain using maths and physics concepts and the creation of a new Australian technology to discover the formation of galaxies will result from two Australian Laureate Fellowships awarded to the University of Sydney.
How physics revolutionises medicine   View Summary
19 August 2014
How physics revolutionises medicineProfessor Zdenca Kuncic will discuss how physics revolutionises medicine at a Sydney Science Forum on Wednesday 20 August.
A celebration of the scientific achievement that transformed our view of matter   View Summary
18 August 2014
Image of snowflake crystalWhat area of science has earned 28 Nobel Prizes, was instrumental in determining the structure of DNA, turns 100 this year and continues to be of fundamental importance to researchers? Congratulations if you answered X-ray crystallography, one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century, established by a father and son working with table salt crystals 100 years ago.
The University joins Australia's celebration of science   View Summary
14 August 2014
Mass Selfie at Sleek Geeks for National Science WeekA crowd of science enthusiasts joined the University of Sydney's Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence and its sleek geeks Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Adam Spencer, to launch the start of National Science Week at a packed Sydney Town Hall last night.
July 2014
Scientists and community collaborate to secure future of Australia's ecosystems   View Summary
18 July 2014
Image of Australian desert stormThe University of Sydney's Faculty of Science has been part of a major collaboration to create Australia's first national strategy to ensure the future of Australia's managed and natural ecosystems.
June 2014
New support for responsible gambling research   View Summary
17 June 2014
Image of coinsThe University of Sydney will embark upon one of the most comprehensive research programs around problem gambling and harm-minimisation measures everconducted in Australia.
Catching Particle Fever: the Sydney scientists who helped track down the Higgs boson   View Summary
17 June 2014
Image of the large hadron colliderAs Particle Fever premieres at the Sydney Film Festival this weekend, Australian audiences have an opportunity to watch the story of the groundbreaking search for the Higgs boson.
$5.4 million funds hi-tech approach to studying geology of basins   View Summary
13 June 2014
Image of the researchersA radical new approach to analysing sedimentary basins also harnesses technology in a completely novel way.
$5.4 million funds hi-tech approach to studying geology of basins   View Summary
13 June 2014
Image of the researchersA radical new approach to analysing sedimentary basins also harnesses technology in a completely novel way.
May 2014
All mother's fault! - exploring why males die younger and are less fertile    View Summary
29 May 2014
Image of a motherOne clue to why males die earlier and are less fertile than females across many species, including humans, has been explored by a study led by the University of Sydney.
The short but eventful life of a Higgs boson particle   View Summary
29 May 2014
Image of a motherRecent results from the ATLAS experiment at CERN have given a clearer picture of the short but eventful life of a Higgs boson particle.
Accelerating NSW's position in the space race    View Summary
13 May 2014
Image of the teamThe chances of NSW companies being able to compete in the highly specialised global space industry have been strengthened with the creation of delta-V, Australia's first space startup accelerator.
New telescopes will see sky bubbling with stellar explosions   View Summary
2 May 2014
Image of the stellar explosionIt is hard to imagine that any astronomical phenomenon could escape our latest and most powerful telescopes, but an international research team has now forecast some of the exotic discoveries that will only be able to be studied with the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
April 2014
Study asks if recovery tales help those with anorexia   View Summary
30 April 2014
Image of a girl in jeansMany mental health organisations, including those treating people with anorexia nervosa, feature testimonials on their websites from survivors and sufferers who describe the road to recovery. But how helpful are recovery stories to dealing with anorexia?
Sydney named top destination in the world for international students   View Summary
29 April 2014
Image of international studentsSydney is the most popular city in the world for international university students, beating more than 83 cities including London, Paris and New York to the coveted spot, a new global ranking reveals.
Changes in sea level repeatedly connected the Galapagos Islands and affected biodiversity   View Summary
28 April 2014
Image of the Galapagos Islands The birds and reptiles that inhabit the Galapagos Islands famously provided Charles Darwin with key insights into evolution by natural selection, but there's been little research into how the animals came to be distributed across the different islands.
TEDxSydney: Maths is in all of us    View Summary
28 April 2014
Image of the Galapagos Islands At every stage of human history mathematics is there to explain our behaviour, says Dr Clio Cresswell, from the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney.
Probing the sound of a quantum dot   View Summary
24 April 2014
Image of computerPhysicists at the University of Sydney have discovered a method of using microwaves to probe the sounds of a quantum dot, a promising platform for building a quantum computer.
Computers beat brainpower when it comes to counting stars    View Summary
22 April 2014
Image of the sunA team of University of Sydney astronomers has developed a new way to automatically classify huge numbers of astronomical objects, and to discover new, exotic ones almost as soon as they happen.
NSW Land clearing law saves native mammals, but more could be done   View Summary
9 April 2014
Image of dingoA new report estimates the New South Wales Native Vegetation Act, which prohibits broad-scale clearing of forests,has saved 265,000 native mammals in just five years.
Top physicist Harry Messel recognised with prestigious Academy Medal   View Summary
2 April 2014
Image of Harry MesselThe creator of one of Australia's best-remembered high school text books, Professor Harry Messel AC CBE, has been awarded one of the Australian Academy of Science's highest honours, the Academy Medal.
Dingo defined thanks to scientists' museum search    View Summary
1 April 2014
Image of dingoThe dingo has been definitively classified as a distinct Australian animal thanks to new research led by the University of Sydney.
March 2014
An advance in understanding drug 'habits' and their treatment    View Summary
26 March 2014
Image of cocaineCocaine promotes habitual behaviours and these can potentially be reversed with the use of an antioxidant, research at the University of Sydney has shown.
Planet terror: we all have a role to play in disaster response    View Summary
19 March 2014
Image of Planet Terror posterOn 19 March Professor Dominey-Howes will present 'Planet Terror: Is Earth Becoming More Dangerous?' at a Sydney Science Forum and will discuss what we can we do about preparing for, and responding to, natural disasters.
Physics Foundation reaches 60-year milestone   View Summary
17 March 2014
Image of H MesselThe year 2014 marks the 60th year of the University of Sydney Physics Foundation.
Safe, nutritious food for all - the challenge of food security in the 21st century   View Summary
12 March 2014
Image of people in a villageThe University of Sydney is holding a public event to explore the many complex challenges to achieving global food security.
Nacho pops science   View Summary
10 March 2014
Nacho Pop in the labParticle physics, astronomy, bioethics - Nate 'Nacho Pop' Mendelsohn's interests are as varied as his mastery of dance styles, from hip hop to boogaloo, from puppet style to Harlem shaking.
How the world missed out on a Saharan Atlantic ocean    View Summary
5 March 2014
Image of the EarthWhen dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, land could have torn apart to create a Saharan ocean in the middle of Africa, University of Sydney research explains.
Master and servant relationships among nations   View Summary
4 March 2014
Master nationsMore people are working from outside Australia to provide Australians with consumer goods, than are working within Australia.
February 2014
America and Australia in partnership to save the Tassie devil   View Summary
26 February 2014
Catherine GrueberAn American zoo is partnering with an Australian university to save the Tasmanian devil in the wild.
Lotus leaves and gecko hairs - how nature makes materials    View Summary
19 February 2014
Professor Ullrich SteinerFrom lotus leaves to geckos' feet, the intricate structures of natural materials still hold many secrets that intrigue humans, and can benefit them.
Maths and Science Ambassador a perfect post for Adam Spencer   View Summary
13 February 2014
Adam SpencerAdam Spencer has been appointed as the University of Sydney's Mathematics and Science Ambassador, the first time such a role has been created at an Australian university.
January 2014
Scientists reveal the cause of one of the most devastating pandemics in history   View Summary
28 January 2014
Image of grave goodsModern science has solved a historical cold case by revealing that two of the world's most devastating plagues, the Black Death and Plague of Justinian - each responsible for killing as many as half the people then in Europe - were caused by distinct versions of the same pathogen, Yersinia pestis.
Loner lizards don't light up - the social side of lizards   View Summary
22 January 2014
Image of chameleonOne of the first studies conducted on young reptiles reared without contact with their siblings is challenging the assumption that only mammals and birds are shaped by social interactions.
Scientific excellence recognised with awards    View Summary
21 January 2014
Image from Nature Communications paperThe early-career achievements of three University of Sydney academics, conducting research in veterinary science, geoscience and chemistry, have been recognised with prestigious awards from the Australian Academy of Science.
A first in silicon photonics research   View Summary
16 January 2014
Image from Nature Communications paperAn international research team, led by researchers from the University of Sydney, has observed an on-chip soliton compression in a silicon photonic crystal for the first time.
220 marine scientists raise alarm about NSW recreational fishing   View Summary
14 January 2014
FishMore than 220 marine scientists from across Australia and internationally, including from the University of Sydney, have raised concerns for NSW's marine life if the state government moves to permanently allow recreational fishing in no-take sanctuary zones.
Scapegoating steroids is harmful   View Summary
13 January 2014
Scott GriffithsScapegoating steroid use for violent behaviour distracts us from the debate on alcohol abuse and makes it more difficult for steroid users to come forward, says Scott Griffiths from the University of Sydney's School of Psychology.
Dancing with the stars - astronomy meets choreography at the Sydney Festival    View Summary
8 January 2014
dancers"I might have thought about cosmic choreography, but I never thought I'd be involved in the creation of a dance work," said Dr Helen Johnston, an astronomer from the University of Sydney, commenting on her role in the development of a Sydney Festival production.
Pots and pot shots to benefit Sydney's marine life    View Summary
6 January 2014
FishAre you ready for your close-up, is the question for the starfish and crabs being photographed by submerged cameras on Sydney's foreshore. The images are part of an innovative project by the University of Sydney, to boost marine life on Sydney's foreshore.