[ASC-media] Fresh Science media conference today

niall at scienceinpublic.com niall at scienceinpublic.com
Wed Aug 18 08:41:17 EST 2004

Here are the first batch of this year's Fresh Science stories.

We're holding a press conference at 12 noon today in Melbourne - details below.

The others will be released from next Sunday.

*  - Global climate change: a load of poo?
*  - Microwaving wood
*  - The seven day weather forecast - for Mars
*  - Geneballs to revolutionise disease testing

Media conference 12 noon, 18 August, Experimedia Studio, State Library of

Media contacts: Niall Byrne - 0417 131 977, Sarah Brooker - 0413 332 489

Four Fresh Scientists present their discoveries to the media and public. Full
press releases and background information online from 10 am at

Global climate change: a load of poo? Beta SP vision and photos available

Plankton poo could be the key to understanding how much carbon dioxide our
oceans can store according to Tasmanian researcher Dr Karin Beaumont.

"We need to understand where and how carbon dioxide is stored in the oceans.
Part of the answer lies in the poo of microscopic zooplankton: does it float or
does it sink?" said Karin.

"Heavy poo that sticks together and sinks to the ocean floor is good. It locks
up carbon dioxide for thousands of years."

Karin has discovered that the poo from the most abundant plankton floats. And
she has co-authored an internet-guide to zooplankton poo.

GeneBalls: millions of genetic tests using just one drop of blood
Queensland PhD student Angus Johnston has invented a unique technology with the
potential to test for hundreds of diseases, cancers and genes in one cheap
test. He hopes that within five years the technology will be available in a
desktop unit.

Microwaving trees speeds up coffee table production
At present it can take a year or more to convert some Australian timber into top
quality furniture or flooring. Much of this time is needed to dry the wood after
it has been sawn.

Microwave technology, developed by a team in the Australian Cooperative Research
Centre for Wood Innovations, could reduce the time needed to dry wood to just
months or less.

"A brief burst of high powered microwave energy before drying drastically
shortens solar timber-drying time without changing the visual appearance of the
wood", said Mr. Graham Brodie, one of the CRC team members.

Another fine day on Mars

Sarah Chamberlain, of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie
University, has developed a way to forecast the weather on Mars - without
leaving Earth. The technique, which has already given rise to the clearest
images of Mars ever taken from the Earth, could improve the survival prospects
for future Mars probes.

More information on all these stories online at www.freshscience.org by 10 am,
or call Sarah Brooker on 0413 332 489.

Fresh Science is supported by the Australian Government through the Departments
of Education, Science & Training and Industry, Tourism & Resources for Science
Week. Further support is provided by the Victorian Department of Innovation,
Industry & Regional Development, British Council Australia, the State Library
of Victoria and New Scientist magazine.

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