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University of Sydney

Science

World's oldest axe fragment found in Australia

A thumbnail-sized fragment of a ground-edge axe found in Australia predates previous discoveries by more than 10,000 years. The axe fragment, which was discovered in a remote area of Western Australia, is estimated to be between 45,000 and 49,000 years old. Archeologists from the University of Sydney believe it was invented soon after humans arrived in Australia around 50,000 years ago in response to new environmental contexts. Read More

Science

Detailed seafloor gravity map brings the Earth's surface into sharp focus

Not so long ago the ocean floor was as unknown as the far side of the Moon. Now, an international team of scientists is using satellite data to chart the deep ocean by measuring the Earth's gravitational field. The result is a new, highly-detailed map that covers the three-quarters of the Earth's surface that lies underwater. The map is already providing new insights into global geology.Read More

Space

First images ever taken of a planet being formed, 450 light-years from Earth

Of the many new exoplanets discovered over the past two decades, all have been identified as established, older planets. Some with incredible winds raging across their surfaceand others that may be able to support life because of their position in the habitable zone, but none have been acknowledged as newly-forming protoplanets. Now scientists working at the Keck observatory have spied just such a planet in the constellation of Taurus, some 450 light-years from Earth, that is only just beginning its life, collecting matter and spinning into a brand new world.Read More

Physics

Researcher's experimental ion drive outperforms NASA's HiPEP engine

It seems as if the age of the bench-top breakthrough in rocket science is not a thing of the past. Dr Patrick Neumann of the University of Sydney has developed a new ion drive as part of his PhD thesis that is claimed to outperform the best one devised by NASA. According to Neumann, his new drive, which is still in the experimental stage, is more efficient than the latest High Power Electric Propulsion (HiPEP) ion engine and holds the promise of "Mars and back on a tank of fuel."Read More

Physics

University student maps plasma tubes in the sky

Using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in the Western Australia desert, a Sydney University student, Cleo Loi, has discovered enormous plasma pipes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Thought to be responsible for possible radio interference with satellite navigation systems, the presence of these objects has been predicted for over 60 years, but never before seen. By imaginatively using the radio telescope to observe in 3D, Loi was able to image large areas of the sky using the fast photography capabilities of the MWA to produce a movie that shows the motions of the plasma in real-time.Read More

Medical

Love hormone shows promise as a sobriety pill by helping drunken rats see straight

Oxytocin is often called the "love hormone" due to its role in encouraging social behaviors, love and long-term bonding. Now, scientists have discovered that it might have something to offer those with weak knees of a different kind. Research carried out at the University of Sydney has established that the hormone can curtail the intoxicating effects of alcohol in rats, suggesting that a sobriety pill for humans could one day become a reality.Read More
Architecture Feature

Creative AI: Algorithms and robot craftsmen open new possibilities in architecture

Computers have transformed architecture in remarkable ways. They've made it possible to visualize designs in fully-rendered 3D graphics and to automatically check designs against building codes and other standard specifications. And they've made designs possible that were unthinkable or unimaginable 50 years ago, as they can crunch the numbers on complex equations and even generate plans or models from high-level requirements. Architecture, like music, art, games, and written stories can be created algorithmically. Read More

Robotics

"Ladybird" autonomous robot to help out down on the farm

Ladybirds are happily welcomed by gardeners into their yards, knowing that they will consume the most prolific plant pests like white flies, mites, and aphids. Imagine, then, how useful an autonomous, solar-powered, intelligent robotic ladybird could be on a farm. Enter the University of Sydney’s "Ladybird," not actually an eater of insect pests, but a robot capable of conducting mobile farm reconnaissance, mapping, classification, and detection of problems for a variety of different crops. Read More

Medical

Injected microparticles shown to greatly reduce heart attack damage

After a heart attack has occurred, inflammatory cells known as monocytes rush to the damaged tissue. This causes the heart to swell, reducing its ability to pump blood, and further damaging the tissue – a potentially lethal situation. Now, however, scientists have discovered that injectable microparticles can help stop that from happening. Read More

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