Sun stickers, killer dragonfly wings and other discoveries up for Eureka Prize

The smart sensor is cheap and can be printed from an ordinary inkjet printer using special ink made from food dye and titanium dioxide — the active ingredient in many sunscreens.Like dog poo baking in the Australian sun, the sensor will turn white when it is cooked.”It’s smart because when UV light hits the piece of paper, the ink loses its colour,” Professor Gooding said.Variations of the slap-on sticker can be made that take into account skin tone and whether you have put on sunscreen.Professor Gooding said he hoped the sensor would make it to store shelves in the next year or two.Dragonfly wings can kill even antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Dragonfly wings physically kill bacteria with tiny spikes. (Flickr: Virginia Sanderson)
Normally when you think about killing bacteria you think about attacking them with a chemical.But researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have discovered the surface of dragonfly and cicada wings will physically self-sterilise, with no chemicals necessary. (Supplied: ACES)
Surgeons will use the Biopen and its ink of living cells and growth factors to fill in damaged bone during surgery, giving them great control and precision.The stem cells are encased in gel when dispensed and an ultraviolet light on the pen hardens the “hydrogel” ink.It is being tested on sheep at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, where stem cells are delivered directly to a knee to regrow damaged cartilage.So far the testing is showing better results than any current treatment used on humans.”Although we have used this primarily for cartilage, we can already see how this can be used in a variety of other clinical situations,” St Vincent’s Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Professor Peter Choong said.Dialysis for just a few dollars a day with mini machine

The Affordable Dialysis System dramatically cuts the cost of treatment. (ABC News)
Operation Crayweed started more than five years ago and sought the help of volunteer citizen scientists to replant the seaweed in affected areas from Palm Beach to Botany Bay.The crayweed is installed on the reef floor in specially designed mats, and in just months new generations of the seaweed were sprouting and rejuvenating the coastline.Biopen doodles could erase arthritis

Professor Peter Choong says repairing cartilage is just the beginning for the Biopen. (Supplied: John Turnbull, Marine Explorer.)
Pollution, including sewage being pumped into the ocean off areas including Bondi Beach, is thought to have killed off a huge 70-kilometre stretch of underwater seaweed forests.The crayweed, which supported lobsters and abalone, disappeared and even an improvement in water quality in the 1990s could not bring back what was lost.So scientists at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science at UNSW decided they would do a large-scale transplant of the underwater forest. Photo:
The Biopen writes in a “hydrogel” ink. (Supplied: St Vincent’s Hospital)
Doctors might not be famous for their legible writing, but their penmanship will soon be put to the test repairing damaged or diseased bone during orthopaedic implant surgery.A team of scientists from Wollongong working with doctors in Melbourne have made a pen-like handheld 3D printer that can deliver stem cells right to where they need to go. (Supplied: Swinburne University of Technology)
They do that with tiny spikes called nanopillars that catch, stretch and rupture the bacteria.Scientists hope a new generation of nanotextured material based off the wings can provide an antibacterial surface for medical implants that will physically stop and kill bacteria.Swinburne researcher Professor Elena Ivanova said the new surfaces had exciting potential in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”Because this is a mechanical process it’s less likely that the bacteria will be able to develop resistance to this material,” she said.Balding Sydney coastline gets transplant

Crayweed is planted onto mats that are distributed along the coastline. Photo:
The UNSW invention fades in colour after sun exposure. It’s awe-inspiring, it’s a shocking thought,” Mr Garvey said.It is being heralded by the institute as the first major leap forward in dialysis design in more than 50 years. Video: Scientists say underwater seaweed forests along Sydney's coastline have made a remarkable recovery. From new ways to protect us from sunburn to a stem cell pen for surgeons, 45 finalists with groundbreaking projects are vying for one of Australia’s top science prizes.Tonight the Australian Museum Eureka Prize will be awarded across 15 categories.Until then, check out some of the best entrants on the frontier of Australian research.Smart sun sensor lets you know when you’re cooked

The stick-on sensor will fade to white when you’ve had too much sun. (UNSW/Grant Turner – Mediakoo)
Where else but this sunburnt country would scientists invent a sticker that changes colour when you have had too much sun.Professor Justin Gooding, Dr Parisa Khiabani and Dr Alexander Soeriyadi from the University of NSW created the simple sensor to alert people they need to get under shade or slap on more sunscreen. (The George Institute)
If you have kidney disease, you will find it can cost more than $50,000 a year to undergo dialysis.This creates a massive burden on many people and locks out millions worldwide who simply cannot afford the life-saving treatment.But a new portable invention can reduce that cost to just $1,000.UK engineer Vincent Garvey won a worldwide competition set up by Australia’s George Institute for Global Health to create an affordable dialysis machine.The winning entry is solar powered and miniaturises existing technology to fit the whole thing inside a suitcase.The Affordable Dialysis System uses the sun to power a small distiller capable of purifying water for use in the machine.It is a perfect design for use in remote locations where sunshine is plentiful but sterilised water is not.”We’re presented with an opportunity where you can save millions of lives. Photo:
A surface covered in nanopillars will bust bacteria.
By Daniel Miller


August 30, 2017 16:17:30

Meet Sydney’s oldest and longest-serving Meals on Wheels volunteer

Sydney 2000
(ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh) ABC Radio Sydney


Amanda Hoh


August 30, 2017 10:11:14

John Karlick has been a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for 15 years.
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I enjoy it rather than messing around at home,” Mr Karlick said.”We make sure that if people don’t answer the door, and that certainly does happen, we’ve got to check and follow up.”Wednesday marks National Meals on Wheels Day, but it is also the 60th anniversary of the first Meals on Wheels operation in New South Wales. (Supplied: City of Sydney archives)
In 1957 eight volunteers in the Sydney Town Hall kitchen cooked 150 meals in its first week to deliver to older residents and people with a disability.Today, there are 30 volunteers in the City of Sydney service who deliver 1,000 meals per week across the local area.”The meal is probably the least important thing with the service,” chief executive of Meals on Wheels NSW Les MacDonald said.”The most important thing is the social support for frail people confined to their own home. At 86 years old, John Karlick says he has “nothing better to do” with his time but to get involved in community groups and charities.He might be flippant about his work, but his dedication has seen him spend 15 years volunteering for the City of Sydney’s Meals on Wheels service.It makes him the oldest and longest-serving volunteer in the program’s history.”It gives me something to do. Photo:
Meals on Wheels not only deliver food but give wellbeing support to residents. Photo:
Volunteers provide company and support to elderly and disabled clients. But he’s come to the realisation that the Meal on Wheels is good for his body, not as rich as what he used to cook.”More choice in mealsThere are 700 Meals on Wheels services around the country operated by local councils or community services.Most meals are delivered in regional areas where there is often less support for the elderly, Mr MacDonald said.Due to stringent food regulations over the years, very few services now cook their own meals but have them provided by not-for-profit suppliers or commercial food companies. Photo:
The first Meals on Wheels service in NSW operated out of Sydney Town Hall in 1957. “Our volunteers also monitor the health and wellbeing of the client and report any issues to their supervisor.”Keeping others companyMarina Ferrari said she was grateful to volunteers like Mr Karlick who kept a close eye on her father when they delivered meals to his home in Glebe twice a week.Sergio Ferrari is about to turn 90, and if he happens to go for a walk or doesn’t answer the door, the volunteers get in contact with Ms Ferrari to let her know. (Supplied: City of Sydney archives)
Some of the biggest changes to the service over the years is the variety of foods on offer.”Those choices range from across different cultural cuisines so we can meet most of those needs of migrants that use the service,” Mr MacDonald said.”When we started the only choices we were offering people in the way of drinks was an apple or orange juice.”Now we’ve done some great deals with wineries which now supply piccolo bottles to our clients on a once-a-week basis, so they now have a choice of a red or a white.” (ABC Radio Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
“At least they come and make sure whether I’m alive or not,” Mr Ferrari joked.”The food is good and fresh.”My favourite is the fish on Fridays.”Ms Ferrari said that as her father became more frail, the family did not want him cooking over a stove when he was home on his own.”He won’t admit it but he can’t cook like he used to,” she said.”It’s very demoralising because he used to love cooking Italian food.

Rescued barn owl chicks ready for release

Adelaide 5000
ABC Radio Adelaide


Brett Williamson


August 30, 2017 11:02:57

Video: Barn owls saved and ready to be released

(ABC News)
An owl tilts its head to listen to something to the right of the perch. Photo:
Five of the six owls, all of which will soon be released. (Minton Farm: Bev Langley)
Ms Langley said by using the puppet, the owls would not associate humans with food and would have a better chance of survival in the wild.She and volunteers at the centre have been caring for the chicks for the past four weeks.”We think they were about three or four weeks [old] when we got them,” she said.Now the chicks are feeding independently. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
“They are all absolutely flourishing, they are all eating like mad,” Ms Langley said.With no larger pens to move the birds into, Ms Langley said they would soon be returned to the farm where they were found for release.”The drawback with this pen is they can’t do more than a couple of wing beats,” she said. Photo:
The young owls have grown well in the small enclosure. Photo:
The chicks were taken to the Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
Ms Langley said she was confident the owl chicks would reunite with their parents when taken back to the farm.She said she was waiting for the farmer to return to the property where the chicks were found so they could pinpoint the location of their nest.They will then be all set for a night release. Photo:
The tiny owl chicks were still covered in natal plumage. (Minton Farm: Bev Langley)
“When they were tiny I had to chop up their food and feed them with tweezers,” she said.”I made a glove puppet that looked like an owl so that they didn’t imprint to me.”

Bev Langley used a barn owl hand puppet to feed the owls so they would not connect with her. (Minton Farm: Bev Langley)
With no way to pick up the animals, Ms Langley put out a call for help via their Facebook page.By the end of the afternoon Ms Langley said she had the six chicks in the centre’s intensive care rooms. Photo:
An owl chick in the intensive care unit. When a local farmer near Auburn, north of Adelaide, spotted six tiny barn owls bunkered down in a partially destroyed nest, hopes weren’t high for their survival.A large branch near the nest had fallen, exposing it to weather and predators.The farmer dutifully fetched a ladder, collected the chicks and handed them to a local animal carer. (Minton Farm: Bev Langley)
But the carer was faced with more than she could cope with, so Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre was contacted — some 120 kilometres away.”She didn’t want to take on six feisty little ones with pointy bits at both ends,” centre manager Bev Langley said. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Brett Williamson)