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University of Melbourne

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 campus' 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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An international team of researchers claim to have uncovered how human immune cells remember previously encountered strains of influenza. This discovery may pave the way to the development of a single universal flu shot to immunize people against all strains of the infectious disease for their entire lives.

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The skin is the body's first line of defense against infection, with an extensive network of skin-based immune cells responsible for detecting the presence of foreign invaders. However, in addition to pathogens, an immune response can be triggered by allergens or even our own cells, resulting in unwanted inflammation and allergies. Researchers have now shed new light on the way the immune system in our skin works, paving the way for future improvements in tackling infections, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Read More
Roundworms, or nemotodes, can be found in practically every ecosystem on Earth and are thought to account for 80 percent of all individual animals on the planet. Making up some of these numbers is Toxocara canis, a roundworm that, although more commonly found in dogs, can infect humans. An international team of scientists has now sequenced the genetic code of T. canis, opening the door for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tests applicable to a wide range of roundworms to be developed. Read More
Epilepsy seizures can range from something as subtle as a passing localized numbness to something as noticeable and potentially dangerous as wild involuntary thrashing. While some people experience symptoms before a seizure that indicate one is about to occur, others have no warning at all. A new device that is designed to be implanted between the skull and the brain surface has been found to accurately predict epilepsy seizures in humans and can indicate the risk of a seizure occurring in the coming hours. Read More
The world's narrowest silicon wires with a cross section of a mere four atoms by one atom have been created by a team of developers from the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne and Purdue University. The wires are fully functioning, with current-carrying capacity equivalent to that of a microprocessor's copper cable, despite being 20 times thinner - and 10,000 times narrower than a human hair. Read More
Viruses can enter the body via a number of pathways and while scientists have known how to block the main one used by viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Dengue Fever and West Nile virus for some time, these viruses are able to bypass this main pathway to replicate and cause disease via a second pathway by hijacking an enzyme known as endomannosidase. Now an international team of researchers has determined the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme endomannosidase, opening the door for new treatments to a variety of deadly viruses through the development of inhibitors that block this bypass route. Read More
Ants. What a pest. Once you get them in your house it can be a real mission to get rid of them. But it seems the Golden orb web spider has developed a way to keep its home clear of the little buggers. The secret uncovered by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Melbourne relates to a chemical compound the spider adds to its web that appears to repel ants. So not only are spider webs providing inspiration for better adhesives and stronger materials, they may also provide the basis for new, environmentally friendly, ant-repelling pesticides. Read More
Want to make a ship move faster through the water? Well, one thing that you can do is paint its hull with low-friction or anti-biofouling paint, to keep barnacles and other marine organisms from growing on it. According to Prof. Derek Chan, from the University of Melbourne's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, another approach that should work is to heat that hull up to a temperature of over 100C (212F). His proposed method is based on a 255 year-old principle known as the Leidenfrost effect. Read More
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