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Australia

There was more than a touch of irony about the University of Melbourne's old architecture building. As the breeding ground for generations of Australia's designers and builders, the plain brick building had come to be known as one of the campuses most drab and uninspiring structures. But a simmering discontent boiled over in 2009, when the university announced plans to knock it down and start again. Now standing in its place is a multi award-winning building that's as visually arresting as it is environmentally-friendly. The Melbourne School of Design places a premium on sustainability and collaborative education, and through an inventive architectural approach it has married the two to produce a truly unique learning environment.

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When we visited Australia's Blue Mountains earlier this year to feature this extraordinary clifftop cave, we had no idea that the cave itself might not be the most amazing piece of architecture on the property. Almost as an afterthought, Wollemi Cabins owner and master builder Lionel Buckett invited us down to yet another secluded pocket of the gigantic wilderness area to discover another gem: his treehouse cabin. Built around a turpentine tree and fireproofed against the harsh Australian bushfire season, it's a magical space with profoundly stunning views.

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Two expert martial artists, clad head to toe in high-tech articulated armor, going at each other full force with ancient and modern weapons. Staff against nunchuk, Kendo against Kali – the flag drops, the bullshit stops. An all-out, to-the-virtual-death contest to decide who is the greatest weapons martial artist in the world, and which fighting styles are more flash and form than function. That's the concept behind Unified Weapons Master, a futuristic new gladiator sport being developed out of Sydney, Australia. It's the first fighting sport that will be able to give its fighters a virtual health bar to show how much damage they'd be taking if they weren't in armor. Read More
It's safe to say that motoring has changed a bit since the early 1900s. Modern cars are more luxurious, cheaper and safer than ever – a fact that we often take for granted. Gizmag was recently given the chance to chart the progression of motoring at the Australian Motoring Festival, where we saw everything from the motorized marvels of the late 1800s through to today's luxurious chariots. Read More
Lionel Buckett squats barefoot on the stone outcropping that forms a natural verandah to his latest extraordinary creation. Weathered and weary with a shock of curly orange hair, he's looking out across a magnificent, pristine valley in Australia's Blue Mountains range, a view that probably hasn't changed in thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years. "It's an interesting thing with passive solar design," he muses, "that a cave facing north is probably the first passive solar building that humans ever lived in." Read More
Geophysicists conducting drilling as part of geothermal research claim to have stumbled across the largest asteroid impact zone ever found on Earth. Covering a 400 km (249 mi) wide area in Central Australia, the two ancient craters are believed to be the result of a single meteorite that split in two moments before crashing into the Earth. Read More
Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia have developed a new drug-like molecule with the ability to inhibit a key signal that triggers inflammation in the body. The scientists say the molecule has already shown promise for putting the brakes on the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). Read More
We've already witnessed Australian firm Andrew Maynard Architects' flair for the unusual with the Cut Paw Paw house. Tower House sees the practice up the ante by turning a typical weatherboard home in Alphington, Victoria, into a delightful "village" comprising a number of tower-like buildings. Read More
Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have carried out tests of the Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended Range (JDAM-ER), which showed a three-times increase in range while maintaining accuracy. The add-on guidance kit for bombs was put through its paces at Australia's Woomera Test Range, where the 500-lb (227 kg) ordnance was dropped by RAAF F/A-18 Classic Hornets from altitudes ranging from 40,000 ft (12,190 m) down to 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Read More
A new invention by two Australian beekeepers is claimed to be able to siphon honey straight from a beehive without opening the lid or disturbing the bees inside. When a tap attached to a specifically developed honeycomb "Flow" frame within the hive is opened, the bee-formed cells are split slightly open inside the comb, thereby allowing channels to form through which the honey flows down to a sealed trough and out of the hive straight into collecting jars. All the while, the bees are virtually undisturbed on the surface of the comb. Read More
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