Inbox and Environment News: Issue 269

June 26 - July 2, 2016: Issue 269

Drone Data Of Collaroy After The June 2016 East Coast Low

Published on 23 June, 2016 by UNSW Water Research Laboratory
Flythrough of 3D drone data of Collaroy Beach after damaging storms in June 2016

Floating Landcare at Elvina Bay

Monday 4th July 2016
Meet at: Church Point Wharf 8:15am and return 2:00pm
Join in the activities of the Rocky Point/Elvina Bay Bushcare Groups for a morning of controlling Asparagus Fern, Yuccas, Aloe vera and a few other pesky garden escapes.  We will be working beneath the Pittwater Spotted Gums with lovely views of the Bay to be enjoyed from this Bushcare site! 
Last year great progress was made at our Floating Landcare visit however some much needed follow up is due and some extra hands would be most welcome.
Return transport on the Church Point Ferry will be included as will morning tea, lunch, tools and gloves. 
RSVP is essential by Wednesday 29th June 2016.  To RSVP email your name and phone number to or call Rebecca Mooy at Greater Sydney Local Land Services on 02 4724 2120.  Confirmation details will be sent to all volunteers via email on 30.6.2016.

Biodiversity Legislation Review

The NSW Government has released a new draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill, a Local Land Services Amendment Bill, and information about proposed land clearing codes.

The proposed law and policy package is a serious retrograde step as it involves removing many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections.

Public submissions on the package close on Tuesday 28 June 2016.Below you’ll find information on how you can have a say about the proposed changes, resources to help you understand what the changes mean, and our analysis and recommendations on how the laws can be improved to protect NSW’s biodiversity. 

The 2016 NSW Biodiversity Reforms: 6 Things You Need To Know

By EDO NSW Policy and Law Reform Director Rachel Walmsley
9 June 2016

You may have heard that the NSW Government has proposed a legislative and policy package that removes many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections. If you are having trouble navigating the many reform documents, EDO NSW has identified six key issues you should know about.

These reforms propose significant and complex changes to laws and policies designed to regulate land clearing and protect our biodiversity. The Government has put 25 documents – around 657 pages – on public exhibition.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to trawl through all these complicated documents, but are wondering what the reforms may mean for the NSW environment, EDO NSW has summarised six key issues you may like to know about, in addition to our top 10 concerns with the reforms published on 13 May 2016. Read online below, or download details of all 6 issues as a PDF.

Check out our 6 issues below and find out how you can get involved. 

1. Land clearing and the rationale for reform

The NSW government has said the reform package is needed because our current vegetation and land clearing laws are not working.

We disagree. The current regime, based on the Native Vegetation Act 2003 and the scientific methodology that underpins it, has reduced land clearing, while also giving farmers and landholders freedom to clear land that is not environmentally sensitive.

The current system worked well – until funding cuts caused delays in land clearing approvals. But this doesn’t mean the current laws are ineffective, merely that the system has not been resourced to work effectively.

2. Offsets and ecologically sustainable development

According to the information on public exhibition, a key goal of the new laws is to ‘facilitate’ ecologically sustainable development (ESD), and the primary way of doing this is by expanding the biodiversity offset market (ie, the biodiversity impacts of clearing can be offset by managing vegetation elsewhere).

Our analysis suggests that the proposed reforms do not satisfy all the principles of ecologically sustainable development:

The precautionary principle: The proposed regime has no effective safety net for avoiding ‘serious or irreversible’ damage.

Inter-generational equity: Given that the proposed regime can allow local extinctions and irreversible impacts, it is unlikely to achieve equity for future generations.

Conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity: The proposed regime does not treat biodiversity conservation as a fundamental consideration, as required under ESD.

Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms: The proposed market-based offset scheme has unclear goals and does not effectively value ecosystem services and biodiversity – both necessary foundations for a well-functioning market mechanism. Also, the model on which the offset mechanism is based is arguably the weakest one available.

3. Private land conservation and funding

The reform package comes with a funding commitment for $240 million over five years to support private land conservation, with $70 million each subsequent year depending on performance reviews. Funds would be administered by a new Biodiversity Conservation Trust guided by a Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy.

We strongly support incentives for environmental stewardship and payments for landholders to manage land for conservation, and welcome the proposed investment. However, we are concerned that the system proposed relies too heavily on government funding, which can be subject to short-term imperatives – rather than on long-term protections enshrined in law.

4. Saving our species

We know that biodiversity in NSW is on the decline. Will the proposed reform package do anything to stop this decline? When you examine the overall reform package, it appears not.

The proposed regime has no effective safety net for avoiding ‘serious or irreversible’ damage. And while the proposed Biodiversity Conservation Bill retains many of the threatened species provisions of current laws, such as listing threatened species, the proposed Local Land Services Bill increases known threats to those species. These two key parts of the package are therefore in conflict.

There is also scant information about how clearing of native vegetation will be assessed and regulated in urban areas. The increased use of biodiversity offsetting is likely to allow more clearing to take place in urban areas, even those close to important or sensitive native ecosystems.

5. Equity?

The word ‘equity’ has appeared often during this reform process. But how fair are the proposed reforms? We explore three examples.

Miners and farmers: NSW Farmers have pointed out that their broadscale land clearing is currently restrained under Native Vegetation Act, while the mine next door can clear significant vegetation under different rules. We have consistently argued that a way to create equity in this case is to apply the same standard to all development - that development must maintain or improve environmental outcomes. The proposed system does not apply this crucial standard.

Current and future generations: The proposed reform package has no effective safety net for avoiding ‘serious or irreversible’ environmental damage. Also, we predict that the proposed system will lead to more land clearing, with carbon implications: future generations will need to dedicate greater resources to meeting carbon emission reduction targets to mitigate dangerous climate change.

Private and public interest: Under the proposed reforms, there will be less information on public registers compared to current laws, particularly in relation to land clearing. It will therefore be difficult for communities to analyse environmental outcomes and engage in the public interest.

6. Recommendations for effective biodiversity laws

Rewriting our biodiversity laws is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put in place laws that will actually address the most significant threats to biodiversity. EDO NSW has come up with ten recommendations for making our biodiversity laws effective.

To be effective, biodiversity laws should:

Be designed to prevent extinction.

Apply a ‘maintain or improve environmental outcomes’ standard to all development.

Address key threats such as broadscale land clearing of remnant vegetation and climate change.

Establish a NSW Environment Commission or a Biodiversity Commissioner to provide advice and oversight.

Mandate the use of leading practice scientifically robust assessment tools.

Invest in private land conservation over the longer term.

Clearly require comprehensive data, monitoring, reporting on condition and trends (environmental accounts).

Limit indirect offsetting.

Commit to compliance and enforcement.

Properly resource regional natural resource management bodies to work with landholders, have expertise to do assessments and make natural resource management plans that relate to clear targets.

Proposed Biodiversity Conservation Reform Package

NSW Government Dept. of Environment and Heritage
Draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill (PDF, 755KB)
Draft Local Land Services Amendment Bill (PDF, 394KB)
The submission guides provide detailed information for members of the public to provide constructive feedback. The guides contain specific consultation questions that can help to inform the development of the reforms.

Simplifying Land Management submission guide
Native Vegetation Regulatory Map submission guide
Ecologically Sustainable Development submission guide
Protecting Native Plants and Animals submission guide
Private Land Conservation submission guide

Written submissions can be submitted online using the form below or posted to:

Biodiversity Reforms - Have Your Say
PO Box A290 
Sydney South 
NSW 1232

The public consultation period ends on 28 June 2016 at 5pm.

When will the land management and biodiversity conservation reforms begin?
The government aims to introduce the legislation into the Parliament in October 2016. 

Subject to Parliament passing the proposed legislation, the government will commence the new laws in two stages in 2017. The government plans to commence some enabling provisions in January 2017.

Further consultation on more detailed components of the package will take place between now and the commencement of the proposed legislation including: 

making the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map available and providing landholders with an opportunity to seek a formal review of the map for their property if they believe it has been mapped incorrectly
exhibiting a draft SEPP (Urban Tree Removal) by the end of 2016
exhibiting draft instruments such as the Biodiversity Assessment Method and the Land Management Codes from early 2017. 

Following these preliminary steps, the government plans to start the full legislative changes from 1 July 2017.

NPWS Says Give Seals Space To Recover And Rest

Media release: 21 June 2016

It is seal season in NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are reminding people to give them the space they deserve to rest, digest and recover when they haul out of the ocean along our coastline.

NPWS Cetacean expert Geoff Ross said that while it is great news that fur seal populations are increasing in Australian waters, it does mean we are more likely to see sick or injured seals.

"Hauling out is a natural habit of these sea dwelling mammals and the vast majority of seals we see laying on rock shelves or beaches are just resting or digesting a belly full of fish," Mr Ross said.

"However some may be sick or injured and will haul out to rest and recover from whatever their ailment might be.

"In many cases these highly resilient animals can recover on their own without human intervention, even from what appear to be horrific injuries.

"As a result, it is important that these animals are reported to either NPWS or ORRCA so we can monitor them in the first instance and assess their ongoing condition before considering intervening.

"Through years of experience, wildlife experts including NPWS, ORRCA and Taronga Zoo have learnt that this period of observation is better than subjecting the seal to the extreme stress of capture especially if the animal is recovering from illness," Mr Ross said.

NPWS and ORRCA are currently monitoring a number of seals along the NSW coastline.

"The recent storms have no doubt resulted in an increase in the number of seals we are currently monitoring, including one at McCauleys Beach in Bulli," Mr Ross added.

"The juvenile New Zealand fur seal at Bulli has been continuously monitored by ORRCA and NPWS since it was first reported.

"The animal has also been assessed by a local veterinarian who is highly experienced in treating marine mammals, and although the seal appears to be a bit underweight and has a bite mark resulting from a cookie cutter shark, the injury is showing signs of healing.

"Cookie cutter bites are not uncommon for seals and ORRCA and the NPWS agree with veterinarian advice that the best medicine for now is rest and to continue monitoring to ensure its long term wellbeing.

"During this time, it is really important that people give these animals the space and time to fully rest and recover.

"As a wild animal, particularly if it is injured or unwell, it considers humans and dogs as a threat and will cause it distress, especially if people walk between the seal and the water," said Mr Ross.

For their own safety and the animal's welfare, the NSW approach distances stipulate people should not be closer than 40 metres to a seal when the animal is on land, as indicated by the warning signs in place. In the water, do not approach closer than 10 metres and stay at least 80 metres from seal pups at all times. 

"We always need to give these hardy animals every chance to continue surviving in the wild, with as minimal interference from humans as possible.

"And remember, seals can move very quickly on land and have sharp teeth. Even if it is an off leash dog beach, dogs must be kept on leads near seals and people must adhere to the approach distances," Mr Ross said.

If you are concerned about a seal or any marine mammal please call NPWS or the licensed volunteers at the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) on 9415 3333.

Heat Sickens Corals In Global Bleaching Event

June 20, 2016: University of Queensland/James Cook University
Death is only one possible outcome from coral bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures due to global warming. Australian scientists report that many surviving corals affected by mass bleaching from high sea temperatures on the northern Great Barrier Reef are the sickest they have ever seen.

"We measured the condition of surviving corals as part of our extensive underwater surveys of Australia's worst ever bleaching event. We found that coral bleaching has affected 93% of the Great Barrier Reef. While the central and southern regions have escaped with minor damage, nearly half of the corals have been killed by mass bleaching in the northern region," says Professor Terry Hughes from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, Queensland.

"Normally when bleaching kills corals it is a slow death, that progresses steadily when temperatures remain high," says Associate Professor Bill Leggat, also from the ARC Centre at JCU.

"The corals usually rely on mechanisms that help them fight and counteract the damage but this time, on some reefs, it looks like they have died very quickly.

Corals depend upon algae that live within their tissues. These algae, called zooxanthellae, utilise light to generate sugar and nutrients, which are transported to the coral host. It is this energy that allows corals to grow and produce reefs. The partnership between corals and the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) that lives in their tissues breaks down when temperatures are too high, causing coral bleaching. For corals to recover they need the tissues to remain intact while the remaining zooxanthellae slowly repopulate the tissues.

"Healthy corals have between one and two million zooxanthellae per square centimetre," says Leggat. "During past bleaching events, these numbers have dropped to about 200,000 cells per square centimetre. Now we are finding in this very severe bleaching event that some corals have no zooxanthallae remaining in their tissues at all."

The scientists found that severely bleached corals had an average of only 4,000 algae per square centimetre. This amount is 500 times less than in a healthy coral and 50 times less than reported for corals that survived previous bleaching events. This profound loss of algae means that many of the corals that have bleached, have little chance of recovering, because they have no zooxanthellae left to repopulate the coral tissue.
"These corals are amongst the most damaged I have seen," says Dr. Leggat.

"For some surviving corals in the Northern Great Barrier Reef, over 50% of the coral cells are dead. In some regions the corals were so badly damaged that we were unable to study their tissue because it was rotting away."

Tragically, the ongoing damage from bleaching has been highest in the northern 700km of the Great Barrier Reef all the way up to Papua New Guinea, the most remote and -- until now -- the most pristine section of the Great Barrier Reef," says Professor John Pandolfi from the ARC Centre at the University of Queensland.

Given the extent of morality and the damage observed to individual corals it is vital to understand the recovery processes of bleached coral. Even if they recover their color, scientists predict that the surviving corals will show other longer-term symptoms, including reduced growth rates and lower reproduction.

The above is reprinted from materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. 

Wet Weather Welcomes Winter

22 Jun 2016: DPI
The wet start to winter has significantly changed the outlook for primary producers across the state.

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Seasonal Conditions Coordinator Ian McGowen said following the extended hot, dry autumn the rainfall received during late May and early June has made a vast difference across the landscape.

“Late May provided above average rainfall across 68 per cent of the state covering the western, southern and central areas,” Mr McGowen said.
“Widespread follow-up rainfall was received in early June across inland NSW and an east coast low produced heavy rainfall and flooding across coastal areas and the adjacent ranges.

“During May pasture growth across most of inland NSW had improved dramatically as a result of the rainfall and warm temperatures. Annual and perennial pastures across western, southern and central NSW responded well to conditions in late May, with good establishment of newly sown pastures.

“Relative to historical records, May pasture growth was above average across areas of the far west, central west, Riverina, far south and the central and southern tablelands, providing valuable winter feed.

“Stock condition remains reasonably good, with supplementary feeding being reduced as pasture and forage crop production increases.

“Grazing of dual purpose cereals and canola has commenced, although growth has slowed with the onset of frosts and cooler wet weather in late May and early June.

“Sowing of most winter crops is nearly completed, with some late planting of cereals and chickpeas continuing in north western NSW following the early June rainfall.

“The wet conditions have restricted early weed control and topdressing. Weed control now remains a priority for growers due to the lack of control opportunities prior to sowing.

“In the south, the cotton harvest is nearing completion, but has been delayed by the wet conditions.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall outlook for June to August indicates wetter than normal conditions are likely cross NSW.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) outlook status is at La Niña watch, with many climate models indicating a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event is likely to begin in late winter.

La Niña and negative IOD events increase the chances of above-average rainfall across NSW in winter and spring

High Flying Technology Helping Conserve WA’s Threatened Black Cockatoos

June 20, 2016
In a world first, researchers at Murdoch University have teamed up with industry to track endangered Carnaby’s cockatoos in the southwest of Western Australia, using state-of-the-art technology developed in the Netherlands that will provide insight into threats to the endangered species.

The Black Cockatoo Ecology Project is funded by Newmont Boddington Gold, South32, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth Zoo and PTI Architecture and involves intensive tracking and data capture, which will monitor Carnaby’s cockatoos and forest red-tailed black cockatoos over a five-year period.

The research team has fitted birds with uniquely numbered and coloured leg bands, satellite transmitters and solar powered UvA-BiTS GPS trackers, a world first combined tracking method for a parrot species.

Tracking devices are fitted to wild black cockatoos that have been treated for injury at Perth Zoo and undergone rehabilitation for release back into the wild at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre and Native Animal Rescue.

The tail mounted satellite tag will gather data eight times a day, with the back mounted GPS transmitter providing valuable data every 10 minutes. This precise tracking allows the research team to follow the birds during the long-term project, and to gain a better understanding of their habitat use across their distribution range.

“The accelerometer GPS tracker allows us to get a three dimensional reading of the bird’s activity at any time, providing us with detailed fine-scaled information,” said Dr Jill Shephard, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.

“We know exactly where they are and what they are doing from the tracking data and our research team spends a lot of time in the field following the flocks and visually observing the birds. Across the life of the project we will generate huge amounts of data, with more than 36 thousand location fixes and nearly eight thousand kilometres of movement already recorded.”
Associate Professor Kris Warren of Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences said researchers know from previous releases and earlier studies that the birds will join wild flocks.

“By following the wild flocks, we’re able to better understand the ecology of the species,” she said.

“By tracking black cockatoos from as far north as Jurien right down to Esperance, we will be able to identify critical feeding and breeding habitat and how the birds move within those landscapes.

“The tracking data will make an invaluable and unique contribution to decision-making about the conservation management efforts to save Western Australia’s threatened black cockatoos.”

The Black Cockatoo Ecology Project is being undertaken in conjunction with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth Zoo, the University of Amsterdam, BirdLife Australia, Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre and Native Animal Rescue.

Camden Gasfields Petition

AGL still have 96 coal seam gas production wells in South Western Sydney, surrounding Camden, some between 40m - 200m from family homes and schools.

While the Eastern suburbs, electorates for Mike Baird and Malcolm Turnbull MP, have zero.

As the largest growth center in Sydney there are current plans to build 35,000 new homes as close as 20m from AGLs existing coal seam gas wells.

AGL plans to stop all production in this area by 2023.  This is not acceptable. These families do not deserve 7 more years of these horrific health effects.  35,000 new homes in the same area is a health epidemic in the making.

Australian Mothers-Against-Gas started this petition with a single signature, now they need more support to help protect Camden and shut down those wells NOW.

Petition here

2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards - Registrations Open

June 7: Landcare Australia

We are pleased to announce that registrations are now open for the 2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards, to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 21-23 September 2016.

Themed ‘Collaborative Communities – Landcare in Action’, the 2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards is your opportunity to contribute to, engage with, and learn from your community and peers.

Held over three exciting days, the 2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards will deliver an engaging programme, as well as offer you the opportunity to attend a variety of informative and educational field trips within close proximity to Melbourne CBD. To recognise the hard work and innovation of the Landcare community, the Landcare Awards gala dinner provides you the chance to let your hair down and celebrate the achievements of peers with the announcement of the National Landcare category winners, the People’s Choice Award winner, and the ultimate acknowledgement of the 2016 Bob Hawke Landcare Award and $50,000 prize winner.

We officially welcome Landcarers across the country, who grow our food and protect our environment, to register for the 2016 National Landcare Conference and Awards. The Conference represents the diversity of Australia’s leading volunteer movement, providing an opportunity for all to join in the discussion on how we can build a resilient agricultural and environmental future.

The diverse conference programme focuses on the theme of Collaborative Communities – Landcare in Action, with keynote speeches being delivered by Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd), as well as Don Bourke, Presenter and Executive Producer of Australia’s beloved Burke’s Backyard.

Register now for your Early Bird discount and save. For further details or to register, go to the official National Landcare Conference website:

Nominations open for the 2016 NSW Green Globe Awards

Media release: NSW OEH

Nominations are now open for the 17th Green Globe Awards celebrating NSW's exceptional environmental achievements.

Ian Hunter, Deputy Chief Executive, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) said the Green Globe Awards are NSW's biggest sustainability awards, with ten award categories covering a range of resource, business, community and individual sustainability initiatives.

"The Awards are a chance to showcase NSW's green game changers nationally, internationally and celebrate the people behind the successes," Mr Hunter said.

"They provide a platform for participants to showcase innovative work, initiate projects, network and reach new audiences."

Previous winner, Chris Bins of City of Sydney, said their Green Globe Award had opened further opportunities to share their experiences and give them licence to push harder into the new horizons of sustainability.

"We've offered our Green Globe experience as an open invitation for discussion and knowledge sharing," Mr Bins said.

Brookfarm, winner of the 2015 Small Business Sustainability and Premier's Award for Environmental Excellence said since winning both awards they have implemented a rainwater harvesting system and energy management initiatives to meet new environmental certification goals.

Winner of last year's Young Sustainability Champion Award, Seda Hamoud, said her award has given her school Environmental Club an even stronger cross-school component and has allowed for greater membership.

Robin Mellon, Green Globe Award judging panel chair of chairs said the judges are excited to see this year's nominations and how nominees are reducing their environmental impacts in a diverse collection of ways.

"We look forward to seeing how their initiatives are really 'leading the pack' around NSW, Australia and hopefully around the world and how their actions are having a positive effect on businesses, people and communities," Mr Mellon said.

The NSW Green Globe Award winners set the gold standard in becoming a cleaner and greener state.

The Awards will be judged by a panel of independent experts and presented at a gala night at The Art Gallery of New South Wales in late October 2016.

Nominations are open until 11 July 2016. To enter your project, program or nominate, please go to:


Would you like to know more about our local birds and explore our bushland reserves? Then join us on one of our bird walks:

21 August, Chiltern Track, Ingleside (birds and wildflowers)

25 September, Irrawong Reserve, North Narrabeen

27 November, Warriewood Wetlands

Most walks start at 7.30 or 8am and last a couple of hours. Bring binoculars and morning tea for afterwards if you like. for details of each walk.

Ballinas Koalas Update

Works on Section 10 Out to Contract Despite Federal Government in Caretaker Mode and Decision Pending

On May 17 the Save Ballina Koalas team were advised from the Federal Environment Minister's office (via EDO) that the review and evaluation process is still underway.

Readers will recall that a huge objection to the Pacific Highway upgrades were concerns that directing this through a vulnerable koala population's habitat  (the Ballina 200), when an alternate route had been proposed, with residents both for and against that too, would result in the extinction or at least decimation of this koala colony. The matter was addressed by  Federal Minister Greg Hunt, who then required "The NSW Roads and Maritime Services must prepare a Ballina Koala Plan that includes peer reviewed population modelling for the Ballina koalas. 

Prior to proceeding with the construction of the 13km, section 10 of the highway upgrade, concerns around the impact of the Ballina koala population need to be addressed."

In February 2016 this Report was finished and submitted - no announcement on this report's findings, apart fro the April 2016 statement above, has yet been released or determined. 

In the meantime...

June 20, 2016
The Federal Government might be in Caretaker mode but that hasn't stopped NSW's RMS from holding industry briefings which have included multi-million enabling contracts for work associated with Section 10.

Works, apart from 'clearing and grubbing', for kilometres, include:

See Document: (PDF: 1.72MB) - 'Industry Briefing
Woolgoolga to Ballina Upgrade'

From page 14: 'Enabling Works Contracts'
Section 10 – Koala Revegetation
Out to Tender May 2016
Contract Award July 2016
Estimated Value: $2m-$3m
• Establishment of 130 hectares of Koala habitat revegetation
• Creating a new habitat for koalas;
• Includes plant supply, planting and maintenance of new habitat
• Subject to Ballina Koala Plan requirements

Section 10 – Koala Fencing
Out to Tender June 2016
Contract Award October 2016
Estimated Value: $2m-$3m
• 10km of various fencing types
• Culverts
• Clearing and Grubbing
• Subject to Ballina Koala Plan requirements


Ballina Koala Plan now available for Pacific Highway Upgrade
16 February 2016: RMS Media Release

Pacific Highway General Manager Bob Higgins today announced the Ballina Koala Plan and Population Viability Analysis (PVA) prepared for the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade has been endorsed by the Koala Expert Advisory Committee and is now available.

Mr Higgins said the plan and PVA had been submitted to the Federal Minister for the Environment and the Federal Department of the Environment for consideration and approval after months of careful research.

“As part of the conditions of approval, Roads and Maritime Services is required to complete the Ballina Koala Plan and PVA before major work can start on the section between Broadwater and Coolgardie,” he said. 
“Months of work, including a thorough review by independent experts has led to the preparation and submission of the documents.

“The PVA found extra mitigation measures on existing roads near the project would offset any impact of the upgrade on the local koala population and further proposed mitigation could improve the situation for koalas based on current predictions.

“The study found the Ballina koala population will decline with or without the upgraded highway due to disease, predators and koala deaths on roads other than the highway.

“The upgrade would be fully fenced to prevent animals from entering the road corridor and koala grids would be installed on interchange ramps to stop animal strikes from occurring.

“Additional fencing will also be provided on key sections of Wardell Road near the new highway and the existing Pacific Highway north of Wardell and Coolgardie where the risk of koala strikes is higher.

“About 26 wildlife crossings would also be installed as part of the upgrade, substantially increasing safe crossing points and about 130 hectares of koala feed trees will be planted to provide additional habitat.

“The koala feed trees will be planted early so there can be good growth before the highway opens in 2020.”

Meetings will be held with community groups to discuss the outcomes of the PVA and Ballina Koala Plan.

See the Woolgoolga to Ballina Koala page for more information.

Ballina Koalas protected in Pacific Highway upgrade

Media release: 15 August 2014 - The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment
Today, I have approved the Pacific Highway Upgrade, Woolgoolga to Ballina, project subject to 26 strict environmental conditions.

The 155km Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade is Australia's largest regional road infrastructure project.

There has been a high level of public interest in the project, particularly in relation to impacts on the important koala population near Ballina.

I have considered the assessment report from the New South Wales Government, public submissions, the findings of the Ballina Shire koala study, and further koala population modelling that was submitted to me late in the process.

The conditions that I have applied require the NSW Roads and Maritime Services to demonstrate that impacts to the Ballina Koala population will be acceptable, before section 10 of the highway can be undertaken.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services must prepare a Ballina Koala Plan that includes peer reviewed population modelling for the Ballina koalas. 

Prior to proceeding with the construction of the 13km, section 10 of the highway upgrade, concerns around the impact of the Ballina koala population need to be addressed.

For the remaining sections of the upgrade, approval has been given with 26 strict conditions to minimise environmental impacts, including a range of mitigation measures on the proposed route which are critical to avoid impacts to koalas and other threatened species.

The Pacific Highway upgrade will deliver a range of benefits at the national, state, regional and local level including improved safety, reduced travel times, increased freight carrying capacity and reduced freight transport costs, and improved access to regional centres, and connectivity between agricultural and industrial centres.

The project will also provide a direct investment into the economy of $4.4 billion and create up to 4,100 full time construction jobs.

An estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in our waterways and marine environment in Australia every year.

Plastic pollution is killing our marine life. 30% of the world’s turtles and 90% of seabird species have now ingested plastic debris. We have to act now to clean up our oceans.

Petition - Plastic bag in mangroves - Careel Creek, June, 2016

How Floodwaters Can Turn Cars Into Death Traps

June 20, 2016: UNSW by Wilson Da Silva
Engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have discovered just how easily cars can be washed away by even the smallest currents – making the crossing of floodwaters a dangerous and potentially life-threatening decision

A team at the UNSW Water Research Laboratory has been testing how small and large cars behave when they encounter flash floods, replicating scenarios faced by many stranded motorists, but doing so in an especially configured test tank in Manly Vale, in northern Sydney.

“What was surprising was just how little water it took to make even a large vehicle unstable,” said principal engineer Grantley Smith, who led the research. “They became vulnerable to moving floodwaters once the depth reached the floor of the vehicle. Even in low water depths and slow flow speeds, floodwaters had a powerful enough force to make them float away.”

In just 95 cm of water, a 2.5 tonne 4WD can be pushed by hand: Principal engineer Grantley Smith, of the UNSW Water Research Laboratory, led the team that conducted the world first experiments. Photo:Grant Turner/Mediakoo/UNSW

The tests are a world first: previous experiments to understand the force of floodwaters have relied on using vehicle miniatures, rather than actual cars. Even the engineers were surprised how easily cars weighing more than a tonne quickly became buoyant and unstable.

A small car like a Toyota Yaris, weighing 1.05 tonnes, was moved by water only 15 cm deep and with a flow speed of just 3.6 km/h. It completely floats away in 60 cm of water.

Even a 2.5 tonne Nissan Patrol 4WD can be rendered unstable by floodwater 45cm high, and a similar flow speed. Once the water reaches 95 cm, the four-wheel drive can completely float, and needs almost zero force to move it by hand.

By contrast, an able-bodied adult is much more stable in flowing water than the 4WD vehicle.

Part of the reason – modern cars are made so airtight (for comfort reasons) that they more easily float when encountering water. Another factor is that people underestimate the power of a swathe of moving water.

“People don’t realise that even slow-moving water packs a powerful punch,” said Smith. “Water is heavy: each cubic metre weighs about 1,000 kg.
“If a house is exposed to floodwaters two metres deep and 20 metres wide – travelling at a steady 1 metre/second – the force is equivalent to being hit by a 40-tonne semitrailer every 15 seconds.”

Three men died recently after being swept away while trying to drive through floodwaters in separate incidents in the ACT, the NSW southern highlands and Sydney's southwest, and the NSW State Emergency Services launched more than 80 rescues of stranded cars.

NSW SES Acting Commissioner Greg Newton said the high number of flood rescues was distressing. “People need to re-think their actions and not drive into floodwater, because by doing this they are not only placing their lives at risk, but the lives of our volunteers who have to go out and rescue them,” he said. “Entering floodwater is the number one cause of death and injury in a flood, so everyone should stay out and stay alive.”

Robert McDonald, Insurance Australia Group (IAG) Road Safety Expert, agreed: “With more storms predicted over coming days, it’s a timely reminder for people to be aware of the dangers of driving through flood water. “Common sense – and now research – says regardless of the size of your car, even a big 4WD can very quickly float like a boat. So the message is very clear – it’s never safe to enter flood water,” McDonald said.

The experiments were funded by UNSW and the NSW State Emergency Service, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, with IAG providing the cars.

“The Office of Environment and Heritage co-sponsored this research as part of the NSW government’s  ongoing efforts to better understand and manage the devastating impacts of flooding on local communities,” a spokeswoman said. “As fatalities and near misses continue to remind us, floodwaters are dangerous and can be deadly. This research highlights that drivers should avoid even shallow depths of still water.”

New Bacteria Discovered In Australian Ticks

Murdoch University researchers have detected a new species of bacteria in echidna-biting Australian ticks.

The recent discovery was published by Dr Charlotte Oskam, from Murdoch University's Vector & Water-borne Pathogen Research Group (VWBPRG), in the parasitology journal Parasites and Vectors. To date, little has been documented about microorganisms harboured within Australian native ticks or their potential to transmit disease.

The study concentrated on ticks removed from echidnas on Australia's east coast of Australia, with researchers discovering the presence of a Borrelia bacteria species separate to a group of bacteria which causes Lyme disease in the northern hemisphere.

While the new species is genetically related to the Borrelia group causing tick-borne Relapsing Fever (RF) overseas, its discovery has the potential to form its own major bacteria group.

"Just like our native wildlife, the new bacterium discovered is unique to Australia and unique to ticks that bite echidnas," said Dr Oskam.

The new bacterium was found in ticks removed from echidnas in Queensland and New South Wales, but not in Victoria, with Dr Oskam admitting further research was needed to uncover the disease potential and consequences of the bacteria.

"We don't know at this stage whether this new bacterium can cause disease or if this bacterium can be transmitted by ticks. It's too early to say," she said. "Also of note is this type of tick doesn't bite humans – it prefers echidnas – so we need more information about this particular Borrelia. For example, it's present in echidna ticks but can we find it in the echidnas themselves?"

Ticks transmit the most diverse range of animal-to-human pathogens of any arthropod – a major concern to the health and wellbeing of humans, wildlife, livestock and companion animals. For many pathogens transmitted by overseas ticks to wildlife, the animal is rarely affected.
"But when people go into these environments and get bitten, they can get sick," Dr Oskam explained.

This is why the VWBPRG at Murdoch University is looking at bacteria in native ticks and their wildlife hosts.

"By looking at the wildlife, we can start piece together a view of what could cause illness in humans," added Dr Oskam.

The discovery of the new bacterium in ticks was made possible thanks to next generation sequencing technology, first investigated by PhD student Alex Gofton. Mr Gofton's recent molecular survey of bacteria associated with native Australian human-biting ticks identified a Borrelia related to the RF group removed from an echidna host. This technology enabled Dr Oskam and PhD student, Siew-May Loh, to tailor their research to look specifically at echidna ticks.

Three borreliae have been previously reported in Australia, transmitted ticks associated with cattle, poultry and longhaired rats.

Telleasha L. Greay et al. A survey of ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) of companion animals in Australia. Parasites & Vectors (2016). DOI:10.1186/s13071-016-1480-y 
Siew-May Loh et al. Novel Borrelia species detected in echidna ticks, Bothriocroton concolor, in Australia. Parasites & Vectors (2016). DOI:10.1186/s13071-016-1627-x 

The Australian Bird Feeding & Watering Study

The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study is a citizen science initiative being conducted by researchers at Deakin University and Griffith University. Our interests are the interactions people have with birds in their own backyards, as this can have a huge impact on bird diversity and abundance. One of the most common ways people interact with birds is through providing food and water.

Why do we find this interesting? For the simple reason that we do not know how providing food and water might impacts on bird ecology and diversity in Australia. While providing food and water to birds is a popular activity, little is known about what species are attracted to these resources and why people like to provide them. Most importantly we need to understand the ecological and behavioural effects of bird feeding as almost all information from other countries regarding bird feeding simply does not apply here. We acknowledge that feeding of wild birds is an important activity for large numbers of people and that the practice may be a significant way for many to connect with nature. 

The Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study aims to gather quantitative data on the effects of supplementary feeding and providing water for birds and the reasons why people provided food and/or water. In doing so we aim to develop purpose guidelines for people who feed birds to do so with minimum risk to birds.

If you provide food or water for birds and would like to take part in this exciting study, Sign up today! We would love to have you involved

$50 Million More For Environment And Heritage

21 June 2016
The 2016-17 NSW Budget delivers an extra $50 million to protect and preserve the State’s environment and heritage, bringing total funding to a record $1.7 billion, Environment and Heritage Minister Mark Speakman announced today.

This investment will go towards keeping the State’s environmental watchdog strong, the protection and preservation of NSW’s national park estate, preparing and adapting for climate change,  Australia’s pre-eminent private land conservation program, clean energy investment and the protection of Aboriginal and other cultural and historic heritage.
Mr Speakman said it was a NSW Government priority to support a healthy environment.

“This year’s budget shows the NSW Government puts its money where its mouth is on conservation and environmental protection,” Mr Speakman said.

“The forward estimates include the Government’s commitment to a $240 million investment in private land conservation over five years to help farmers protect and restore high value biodiversity.”

Other Budget highlights include:

Environmental protection
• $175 million has been allocated to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to ensure it continues to operate as a modern, independent and respected regulator, including:
• $67 million towards transforming waste management in NSW and increased education around better waste management practices
• $6.2 million to bolster the NSW Government’s response to the Williamtown Royal Australian Air Force Base contamination
• $2.8 million towards introducing a container deposit scheme to help deliver the Premier’s priority to reduce litter volume by 40 per cent by 2020
• $2.4 million ($10.1 million over five years) allocated for the EPA to address lead contamination and elevated blood lead levels in children in Broken Hill.

Climate change
$49 million will be set aside to improve energy productivity, which includes:
• $15 million for energy efficiency programs for households including support for people on low incomes
• $6 million for energy efficiency programs supporting business
• over $9 million for National Energy Market regulation
• $2 million for state-wide gas efficiency programs
• $1.4 million towards renewable energy programs.
• $31 million will be allocated to support councils to develop and implement coastal and floodplain management plans and to restore and protect the NSW coastline and its estuaries.

• An unprecedented investment of $240 million over five years, with up to $15 million in 2016-17, will facilitate strategic biodiversity conservation on private land
• A major investment of $16 million this year ($100 million over five years to 2020-21) to protect threatened species across NSW through the expansion of the Saving Our Species program.
National parks
• $40 million has been allocated to manage fire risks in the State’s national parks
• The iconic Royal Coast Track will undergo another $3.7 million in upgrades in the next 12 months plus $5.3 million over following three years, which includes installing a viewing platform at Wedding Cake Rock and expanding the Wattamolla car park.

More than $287 million has been set aside for the State’s public parklands, zoos and gardens to improve community enjoyment, scientific research, education, sport, recreation, leisure and cultural experiences. 

This includes the following capital programs:
• $46 million in capital expenditure will be set aside to deliver inspiring new visitor experiences at both Taronga Zoo and Western Plains Zoo, and to develop the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning
• As part of a $22 million capital program for Western Sydney Parklands, $5 million will be directed to the 200 hectare Bungarribee super park which will include regional play and recreational areas, a bushland corridor, and an outdoor event and entertainment space
• More than $17 million in capital investment will be made in Centennial Parklands for upgrading park facilities
• $4.7 million will be set aside for the Royal Botanic Garden and Mount Annan and Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens to upgrade amenities and infrastructure, and to create an online booking and customer relationship management system.

• $48 million to conserve and protect the state’s Aboriginal and other cultural and historic heritage
• $8.7 million in capital funding has been allocated to improve public safety, amenities and other infrastructure under the care of the Historic Houses Trust.

Environmental Trust
• $100 million has been allocated to the Environmental Trust to increase opportunities for the community, industry and agencies to protect the environment through restoration, research, education and support programs.  

Sweet Addiction - The Botanic Story of Chocolate: Live at The Calyx

Sweet Addiction is the inaugural exhibition at The Calyx, Sydney's newest attraction. Find out more and book tickets at

11 Jun 2016 - 17 Apr 2017, The Calyx, Sydney

See another side of nature and experience its stories in an unexpected way through Sweet Addiction – the botanic story of chocolate.

Sweet Addiction is the first exhibition to open in The Calyx, a world-class horticultural space and Sydney’s newest must-see attraction. 

An exhibition you can taste, touch, see, hear and smell, this is an opportunity to experience chocolate like never before. 

From the depths of a South American rainforest, journey through chocolate plantations, ancient history, a Lindt chocolate mill, and a delightful chocolatier room. See the awe-inspiring interior green wall – the southern hemisphere’s largest contiguous green wall complete with over 18,000 plants! And learn amazing things you never knew about chocolate.

Sweet Addiction is designed as a self-guided 45 minute experience. Suitable for chocaholics of all ages. Tickets on sale now, pre-purchase online to save!

The exhibition opens 11 June with interactive chocolate-themed events taking place throughout the exhibition period. 

Watch the video to get your first taste of the exhibition.


Some history of this wonderful garden which celebrates 200 years this June is in: The Royal Botanical Garden Sydney Celebrates 200 Years in 2016

Exhausting Our Green Shipping Options

June 24, 2016
Scientists in Singapore have developed a revolutionary emissions abatement system that removes pollutants from exhaust gas to help the international shipping industry meet ambitious emissions targets.

In 2013, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) introduced new regulations to reduce exhaust emissions attributed to the shipping industry. Shipping is responsible for around 90% of global trade and the effect of reducing emissions such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrous oxides (NOx), particulate matter and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) will have a huge impact on global totals.

Researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) together with Sembcorp Marine Ltd and Ecospec Technology Pte Ltd have risen to the challenge of finding ways to meet the IMO's new emissions targets.

The team from Sembcorp Marine Ltd and Ecospec Technology Pte Ltd has developed an exhaust gas treatment system, called cSOx, which removes SOx and CO2 from ships' diesel engine and boiler exhaust emissions. It uses ultra-low-frequency electromagnetic waves to treat seawater, thereby optimising the system's ability to absorb sulphur dioxide and CO2.

Leveraging on the high performance computing capability of IHPC and its computational fluid dynamics (CFD) expertise, the team gained a better understanding of the flow of exhaust gases within the system and optimised the design without expensive and time-consuming physical experiments. Verification of the CFD analysis was carried out with site measurements, and this, in turn, enabled design improvements to be developed for better performance.

In early 2015, a memorandum of understanding was signed by IHPC, Sembcorp Marine Ltd and the University of Glasgow to collaborate to make ships more eco-friendly. Plans include designing vessels with improved hydrodynamics for better fuel efficiency and further enhancing the exhaust gas cleaning and ballast water treatment systems developed by Sembcorp Marine Ltd and Ecospec Technology Pte Ltd. Shipping is currently responsible for approximately 3 million tons of sulphur dioxide emissions, 4.5 million tons of nitrogen dioxide emissions and 900 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions yearly. Technology such as the cSOx exhaust gas cleaning system may soon begin to reduce shipping emissions and give us hope for a more sustainable future.

Moving forward, the team plans to utilize the IHPC computational fluid dynamics model to evaluate the scaled-up cSOx exhaust gas cleaning system's geometric parameters for better performance.

The above is reprinted from materials provided by The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). 

Shipping is currently responsible for approximately 3 million tons of sulphur dioxide emissions, 4.5 million tons of nitrogen dioxide emissions and 900 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions yearly.
Credit: Agency for Science, Technology and Research

Sunburn Sensor Among Top Techs At Sydney Nanomedicine Conference

21 June, 2016:  MYLES GOUGH: UNSW
A ‘smart’ paper-based patch that changes colour in sunlight could provide an affordable tool to help prevent sunburn and deadly skin cancers, researchers say.

A ‘smart’ paper-based patch that changes colour in sunlight could provide an affordable tool to help prevent sunburn and deadly skin cancers, researchers say.

Chemists from the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine (ACN) at UNSW have developed a low-cost sensor that warns people if they’ve had too much exposure to ultraviolet sunlight.

The paper sensors can be worn like stick-on patches and use food dyes that visibly change colour after sun exposure. Importantly, they can be tuned to individual skin types.

When the sunburn sensor is exposed to UV light it gradually changes from blue to colourless, due to the photo-degradation of food dye contained in the sensor (Photo: Supplied)

“Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, and too much exposure to ultraviolet light is the primary cause,” says developer Parisa Sowti Khiabani, a PhD candidate at UNSW.
“We wanted to develop a technology that could address this serious health problem, and we wanted it to be safe, affordable and easy to use,” she says.

UNSW Scientia Professor Justin Gooding, who supervised the research, says the technology is ready to be commercialised immediately: “It’s so simple it could be fabricated at home using an inkjet printer, and tested in your backyard.”

The UV sensor is one of many experimental technologies and research projects set to be discussed at the 7th International NanomedicineConference   in Sydney next week (June 27-29).

The Conference is hosted by the ACN – an interdisciplinary partnership between the UNSW Faculties of Engineering, Science and Medicine, and Children’s Cancer Institute. It brings together some of the world’s top scientists and clinicians working in the field.

“We know the vast majority of cancers are curable if they can be detected early enough, and if you can deliver drugs to the precise areas where they need to go. Nanomedicine gives us the power to do both,” says Professor Gooding, who is co-director of the ACN.

He says the field of nanomedicine has progressed enormously over the last decade: “It’s gone from a stage where we were showcasing amazing capabilities, to a stage where we are now working with clinicians at ground-level to solve targeted problems.”

“This type of collaboration makes sure we’re asking the right questions. It enables a more strategic approach to research and means the output will be more practical for the end-user,” he says. “It means our work will have a real-world impact sooner.”

Conference highlights
• Professor George M. Whitesides – Harvard University, USA.  A winner of the U.S. National Medal of Science, Whitesides helped pioneer the “lab on a chip” technology. His talk will focus on paper-based diagnostic tools, which can improve public health in the developing world and resource constrained environments.
• Professor Fiona Wood – University of Western Australia. A former Australian of the Year, Professor Wood is a plastic surgeon who worked with survivors of the Bali bombing. She will discuss ways that nanotechnology can be used to engineer tissue, and treat serious burns and other skin injuries.
• Professor Vincent Rotello – University of Massachusetts, USA. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Rotello will address research around self-assembling nanomaterials, and the development of nanoparticles that can go inside individual cells to assess the effectiveness of drugs.

Other speakers and research stories to watch
• Clinical Challenges Series (Monday June 27) – this session will feature some of the real-world challenges faced by clinicians and medical practitioners.
• Social aspects of nanomedicine (Monday June 27) – delve into the legal and ethical issues associated with nanotechnology and the future of medicine.
• Can computers predict the behaviour of nanomaterials in the body? – Professor David Winkler, CSIRO Manufacturing – this talk will focus computational models, which have been used to accurately predict the behaviour and biological responses of untested nanoparticles.

What: UNSW presents the 7th International Nanomedicine Conference
Where: Crowne Plaza, 242 Arden Street, Coogee Beach, Sydney
When: Monday 27 to Wednesday 29 June 2016

What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is focused on engineering incredibly tiny particles and devices. The term gets its name from the nanometre, a miniscule unit of measure equal to one-billionth of a metre – or about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Nanomedicine works with materials at the same scale, but is focused on developing technologies with specific medical applications. These could be devices that interact with biological systems in highly controlled ways to better diagnose and monitor diseases, or deliver drugs to targeted sites in the body.

$1.6 Billion Building Boom For NSW Hospitals 

Tuesday June 21, 2016: NSW Health Media Release
Almost $1.6 billion will be spent in the coming year to continue the NSW
Government’s unprecedented health capital works program.

“There’s a hospital building boom underway across NSW and today’s Budget confirms our determination to deliver first-class facilities for patients and staff,” Health Minister Jillian Skinner said.

“Over two terms of Government, we will spend a record $10 billion to deliver state-of-the-art hospitals and health services across Sydney and the state.”

Highlights of the NSW Government 2016-17 health capital works investment include:
  • $99 million towards the Westmead Hospital redevelopment (including the car park) 
  • $167 million towards the Acute Services Building at St George Hospital
  • $133 million towards the Gosford Hospital redevelopment (including the car park) 
  • $25 million towards the next stage of the Dubbo Hospitalredevelopment 
  • $12 million towards the Tweed Hospital redevelopment
  • $75 million towards the next stage of the Lismore Hospitalredevelopment
  • $73 million to continue building NSW Ambulance superstationsacross Sydney 
  • $126 million for Information Communication Technology (ICT)and digital enhancement 
  • Almost $90 million for carparks at Westmead, Royal Prince Alfred, Gosford and Blacktown hospitals and to plan a car park at Tweed Hospital 
  • $41 million to continue the roll-out of Multipurpose Services (MPSs) at Barham, Bonalbo, Molong and Walgett and to plan and commence new MPSs at Coolah, Tocumwal and Holbrook 
  • $26 million towards the Armidale Hospital redevelopment 
  • $4 million towards the new Forensic Pathology and NSW Coroner’s Court at Lidcombe 
  • $10 million towards the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle 
  • $11 million to plan future capital works at Campbelltown, Coffs Harbour, Concord, Inverell, Hornsby, Mudgee and Nepean hospitals

Record $22 Billion Health Budget Boosts Frontline Care 

Tuesday June 21, 2016: NSW Health Media Release
Record health funding in the NSW Budget will allow an extra 79,000 people to be treated in emergency departments and 43,200 extra hospital admissions, including 4,500 additional elective surgeries.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said recurrent spending on health in 2016-17 will be almost $20.6 billion - up $972 million (or 5%) on the previous year to enable NSW Health to meet increased demand.

Almost $1.6 billion will be spent on the capital program in 2016-17, including $128 million from the Ministry of Health expenses budget, taking the total health budget to over $22 billion.

The health highlights in the 2016-17 NSW Budget are:
. $375 million for increased hospital activity, including:
- 79,000 extra emergency department attendances
- 43,200 extra admissions (including 4500 additional elective surgeries)
. Almost $1.6 billion in capital works funding to continue the unprecedented program of building hospitals, health facilities and ambulance superstations
.  $1.8 billion for mental health services
. 900 extra nurses, doctors, allied health and hospital support staff($120 million) and 20 new medical training positions ($2.3 million)
. 65 new specialist nurses and midwives and 30 clinical support staff ($9.8 million)
. An extra 85 paramedics ($12.8 million) and the delivery of the promised35 extra specialist paramedics two years ahead of schedule ($5.1 million)
. Almost $5 million to improve security in hospitals, including $2.5 million to recruit and train extra security staff, $1.5 million to train emergency department staff to manage disturbed and aggressive behaviours and $600,000 to provide existing security staff with skills specific to hospital environment 
. $17 million towards the new NSW Ambulance Helicopter Retrieval Network which commences in January 2017 and will provide 12 new helicopters and doctors on every flight operating out of bases at Newcastle, Tamworth, Orange, Wollongong, Canberra, Lismore and Bankstown
.  $11 million for health services for Syrian refugee resettlement in NSWincluding nurse screening on arrival and in schools, catch-up vaccinations, specialist paediatric care and age-appropriate psychological and emotional therapeutic intervention
. $14 million to tackle childhood obesity
. $20 million for integrated care to create a sustainable and connected health system, including through the Health Care Homes initiative, in partnership with the Commonwealth’s Primary Health Networks (PHNs)
. The Health Care Complaints Commission will receive nearly $600,000 extra to employ five additional staff to improve complaints handling

“With a record health budget of more than $22 billion, the NSW Government will fund record activity in our hospitals, bolster our clinical workforce and continue our massive hospital building program,” Mrs Skinner said.

'Holy Grail' Of Breast Cancer Prevention In High-Risk Women May Be In Sight

June 20, 2016: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

A potential new strategy to prevent breast cancer in women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene has been discovered by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers (L-R) Professor Geoff Lindeman, Ms. Emma Nolan, Professor Jane Visvader. Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia

Australian researchers have discovered that an existing medication could have promise in preventing breast cancer in women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene.

People who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene are at high risk of developing aggressive breast cancer. Currently many women with a gene mutation choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

By pinpointing the cells that give rise to breast cancers in women who have inherited a faulty version of the BRCA1 gene, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have identified that the drug denosumab may have potential to prevent breast cancer from developing. If confirmed in clinical studies, this would provide a non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with elevated genetic risk.

Using samples of breast tissue donated by women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene, Ms Emma Nolan, Professor Jane Visvader and Professor Geoff Lindeman were able to pinpoint the cells that give rise to breast cancer. The research, which also involved researchers at the Australian familial cancer consortium kConFab and US biotechnology company Amgen was published inNature Medicine.

Cancer precursor cells in BRCA1-mutant breast tissue had many similarities to aggressive forms of breast cancer, said Ms Nolan, who is a PhD student at the institute enrolled through The University of Melbourne's Department of Medical Biology. "These cells proliferated rapidly, and were susceptible to damage to their DNA -- both factors that help them transition towards cancer," she said. "We were excited to discover that these pre-cancerous cells could be identified by a marker protein called RANK."

Professor Lindeman, who is also a medical oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the discovery of RANK as a marker of cancer precursors was an important breakthrough, because inhibitors of the RANK signalling pathway were already in clinical use. "An inhibitor called denosumab is already used in the clinic to treat osteoporosis and breast cancer that has spread to the bone," he said. "We therefore investigated what effect RANK inhibition had on the cancer precursor cells in BRCA1-mutant breast tissue."

The research team showed that RANK inhibition switched off cell growth in breast tissue from women with a faulty BRCA1 gene and curtailed breast cancer development in laboratory models.

"We think this strategy could delay or prevent breast cancer in women with an inherited BRCA1 gene mutation," Professor Lindeman said. "A clinical trial has already begun to investigate this further."

"This is potentially a very important discovery for women who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene, who have few other options. Current cancer prevention strategies for these women include surgical removal of the breasts and/or ovaries, which can have serious impacts on people's lives. To progress this work, denosumab would need to be formally tested in clinical trials in this setting as it is not approved for breast cancer prevention," Professor Lindeman said.

Professor Visvader said the discovery had its basis in more than a decade of investigations of breast stem cell function. "By thoroughly dissecting how normal breast tissue develops, we have been able to pinpoint the precise cells that are the culprits in cancer formation," she said. "It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the 'holy grail' of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk."

Emma Nolan, François Vaillant, Daniel Branstetter, Bhupinder Pal, Göknur Giner, Lachlan Whitehead, Sheau W Lok, Gregory B Mann, Kathy Rohrbach, Li-Ya Huang, Rosalia Soriano, Gordon K Smyth, William C Dougall, Jane E Visvader, Geoffrey J Lindeman. RANK ligand as a potential target for breast cancer prevention in BRCA1-mutation carriers. Nature Medicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nm.4118

Mice fed more fiber have less severe food allergies

June 21, 2016
The development of food allergies in mice can be linked to what their gut bacteria are being fed, reports a study published June 21 in Cell Reports. Rodents that received a diet with average calories, sugar, and fiber content from birth were shown to have more severe peanut allergies than those that received a high-fiber diet. The researchers show that gut bacteria release a specific fatty acid in response to fiber intake, which eventually impacts allergic responses via changes to the immune system.
"We felt that the increased incidence of food allergies in the past ten years had to relate back to our diet and our own microbiome rather than a lack of exposure to environmental microbes--the so-called 'Hygiene Hypothesis'," says Laurence Macia, co-senior author on the study with Charles Mackay, both immunologists at Monash University in Australia. "Most researchers in this field look at excess fat as the problem--we were one of the first looking specifically at fiber deficiency in the gut."

Gut bacteria are known to break down dietary fiber into their byproducts--primarily short-chain fatty acids. Macia and Mackay take this a step forward and show that these fatty acids support the immune system by binding onto specific receptors on T regulatory cells--immune cells known to suppress the immune response. This binding promotes a cascade of events that regulate inflammation in the gut--something that can be out of flux during an allergic reaction to food.

In the study, mice that were bred to have an artificially-induced peanut allergy were fed a high-fiber diet to produce a healthy population of gut bacteria. The bacteria were then given to a group of "germ-free" mice that had no gut microbes of their own. Despite not having consumed any fiber themselves, this second group of mice was protected against allergy, showing a less severe response when exposed to peanuts. In short, their microbiota was "reshaped" by having this transplant, says Mackay, adding that these mice clearly evolved mechanisms for responding to fiber and its byproducts. "It's almost an essential component of their nutritional health," he says.

"My theory is that the beneficial bacteria that predominate under consumption of fiber promotes the development of regulatory T cells, which ensures the bacteria have a healthy, anti-inflammatory system to thrive in," says Macia. "So it's a win-win for everybody."

This anti-inflammatory effect was even seen with an artificial administration of these fatty acid byproducts. When the researchers gave groups of allergy-induced mice a water supply that was enriched with short-chain fatty acids for three weeks prior to exposure to peanuts, the mice had a reduced allergic response, even in the absence of a "protected" microbiota.

Both researchers expressed cautious optimism that their results can be effective in humans, and further preclinical trials would be required before studying the fiber-allergy relationship in people. "Right now, we need to identify what form of fiber to give," says Macia. "That's the main limitation at this stage."

"It's likely that compared to our ancestors, we're eating unbelievable amounts of fat and sugar, and just not enough fiber" says Mackay, "And these findings may be telling us that we need that high-fiber intake, not just to prevent food allergy, but possibly other inflammatory conditions as well."

Tan et al. Dietary fiber and bacterial SCFA enhance oral tolerance and protect against food allergy through diverse cellular pathways. Cell Reports, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.05.047
Some plant-based therapies associated with modest improvement in menopausal symptoms

June 21, 2016
An analysis of more than 60 studies suggests that some plant-based therapies are associated with modest reductions in the frequency of hot flashes and vaginal dryness but no significant reduction in night sweats, according to a study appearing in the June 21 issue of JAMA.

Medical treatments for symptoms associated with menopause are available, including hormone replacement therapy. However, given the potentially negative health consequences of hormone replacement therapy on cardiovascular health and breast cancer, 40 percent to 50 percent of women in Western countries choose to use complementary therapies, including plant-based therapies. A broad range of plant-based therapies may improve menopausal symptoms. These therapies include the oral use of phytoestrogens such as dietary soy isoflavones and soy extracts; herbal remedies such as red clover and black cohosh; and Chinese and other medicinal herbs. Although associations of these therapies with menopausal symptoms have been evaluated in randomized trials, most of these studies were limited by sample size, a short follow-up period, suboptimal quality, and inconsistent findings.

Taulant Muka, M.D., Ph.D., of Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, conducted a review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials that assessed plant-based therapies and the presence of hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. The researchers identified 62 studies (6,653 women) that met criteria for inclusion in the analysis.

Use of phytoestrogens was associated with a decrease in the number of daily hot flashes and vaginal dryness score between the treatment groups but not in the number of night sweats. Individual phytoestrogen interventions such as dietary and supplemental soy isoflavones were associated with improvement in daily hot flashes and vaginal dryness score. Several herbal remedies, but not Chinese medicinal herbs, were associated with an overall decrease in the frequency of vasomotor symptoms. There was substantial variation among the available studies in terms of scientific rigor and quality.

"Because of general suboptimal quality and the heterogeneous nature of the current evidence, further rigorous studies are needed to determine the association of plant-based and natural therapies with menopausal health," the authors write.

Taulant Muka, MD, PhD et al. Use of Plant-Based Therapies and Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.JAMA, June 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.8012  
High levels of education linked to heightened brain tumor risk

June 20, 2016
A university degree is linked to a heightened risk of developing a brain tumor, suggests a large observational study, published online in theJournal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Gliomas, in particular, were more common among people who had studied at university for at least three years than they were among those who didn't go on to higher education, the data show.

The researchers base their findings on more than 4.3 million Swedes, all of whom were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991.

They were monitored between 1993 and 2010 to see if they developed a primary brain tumor, and information on educational attainment, disposable income, marital status, and occupation was obtained from national insurance, labour market,and national census data.
During the monitoring period, 1.1 million people died and more than 48,000 emigrated, but 5735 of the men and 7101 of the women developed a brain tumor.

Men with university level education, lasting at least three years, were 19% more likely to develop a glioma--a type of cancerous tumor arising in glial cells that surround and support neurons in the brain--than men whose educational attainment didn't extend beyond the period of compulsory schooling (9 years).

Among women, the magnitude of risk was 23% higher for glioma, and 16% higher for meningioma--a type of mostly non-cancerous brain tumor arising in the layers of tissue (meninges) that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord--than it was for women who didn't go on to higher education.

Taking account of potentially influential factors, such as marital status and disposable income, only marginally affected the size of the risk, and only among the men.

High levels of disposable income were associated with a 14% heightened risk of glioma among men, but had no bearing on the risk of either meningioma or acoustic neuroma--a type of non-cancerous brain tumor that grows on the nerve used for hearing and balance.

Nor was disposable income associated with heightened risk of any type of brain tumor among the women.

Occupation also seemed to influence risk for men and women. Compared with men in manual roles, professional and managerial roles (intermediate and high non-manual jobs) were associated with a 20% heightened risk of glioma and a 50% heightened risk of acoustic neuroma.

The risk of glioma was also 26% higher among women in professional and managerial roles than it was for women in manual roles, while the risk of meningioma was 14% higher.

Single men also seemed to have a significantly lower risk of glioma than married/co-habiting men, but, on the other hand, they had a higher risk of meningioma. No such associations were evident among the women.
This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the researchers point out that they were not able to glean information on potentially influential lifestyle factors.

But they emphasise that their findings were consistent, and they point to the strengths of using population data.

Amal R Khanolkar, Rickard Ljung, Mats Talbäck, Hannah L Brooke, Sofia Carlsson, Tiit Mathiesen, Maria Feychting. Socioeconomic position and the risk of brain tumour: a Swedish national population-based cohort study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2016; jech-2015-207002 DOI: 10.1136/jech-2015-207002

Creation Of A Leading Centre For Visual Art And Design

21 June, 2016:  University of Sydney/UNSW
UNSW and the University of Sydney have signed a Heads of Agreement for the Sydney College of Arts to merge into UNSW Art & Design.

The University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and the National Art School have been exploring opportunities since last year for a closer association between the three institutions, with the aim of strengthening the delivery of visual art and design education in NSW.

In an important step the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney have signed Heads of Agreement for the Sydney College of Arts (SCA) to merge into UNSW Art & Design. The agreement envisages that undergraduate students currently studying at SCA will have the opportunity to transfer to one of the courses offered by UNSW Art & Design, or to continue to graduation with their SCA course, delivered at the UNSW Art and Design campus in Paddington. Arrangements will also be made for all research students and postgraduate coursework students. The arrangements will allow currently enrolled SCA students to graduate with a degree from the University of Sydney. Discussions with the National Art School about increasing its involvement with the arts program will continue once this first step is implemented.

The agreement also supports greater engagement between the two universities with the broader arts community and promotion of the flexible arrangements for students at both UNSW and Sydney to study individual subjects at the other institution, providing more student choice.
The University of Sydney is working with UNSW to ensure that as many of its current SCA staff as possible have employment opportunities at UNSW.  A consultation and communication process is underway with SCA staff. The University of Sydney will continue to engage with SCA staff in accordance with its Enterprise Agreement.
Arrangements will be operational from Semester 1 2017. 

Commenting on the discussions, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence said, “This proposed arrangement will help to ensure a strong future for visual art and design education in NSW”.

“Both institutions have strengths in the visual arts that can be enhanced through a greater concentration of students and resources, with the result being better visual arts education and research outcomes.”

UNSW Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs said, “This is an exciting step towards the creation of a national centre of artistic excellence that will put NSW at the forefront of art and design education and research in Australia, building on the best qualities of both centres.”

Based in inner-city Paddington with interconnectivity throughout Sydney’s dynamic cultural and creative industries, this expanded art and design centre has been made possible by co-operation between the University of Sydney and UNSW.

Both art and design schools have played a central role in the rich fabric of our nation, producing some of the most significant names in Australian art and design, past and present.

UNSW Art & Design alumni include Del Kathryn Barton who has twice won the Archibald Prize, Hany Armanious, Melissa Chiu, Brenda Croft, Shaun Gladwell, Bronwyn Oliver and the Blake Prize winner Angelica Mesiti. SCA alumni include Marc Newson, Archibald Prize winners Ben Quilty and Cherry Hood, Jane Campion, Lindy Lee and Bronwyn Bancroft.

Proposed Young Offenders Regulation 2016

By NSW Government

What's this about?
The Department of Justice invites people who are interested in the proposed remake of the Young Offenders Regulation 2016 to tell us what they think.
The Young Offenders Regulation is under the Young Offenders Act 1997.
The draft Young Offenders Regulation 2016 and the Regulatory Impact Statement will help you understand the proposed changes.

Have your say
Submit your feedback by the end of the day on 8 July 2016 via with the subject 'Young Offenders Regulation'.

Or write to:
Young Offenders Regulation Public Consultation
Executive Director
Justice Strategy & Policy
Department of Justice
GPO Box 31

Please note that all submissions and comments will be treated as public, and may be published, unless the author indicates that a submission is to be treated as confidential.

Formal Submission
Date: Jun. 14 - Jul. 8, 2016
Submission address 
Young Offenders Regulation Public Consultation
Executive Director
Justice Strategy & Policy
Department of Justice
GPO Box 31
Proposed Changes Documents at: HERE

Fish Out Of Water Are More Common Than Thought

June 22, 2016: University of New South Wales

A land-dwelling blenny from Mauritius that leaps around in the splash zone on intertidal rocks and hides in moist crevices when the tide is low.
Credit: Dr. Georgina Cooke

Fish have evolved the ability to live on land many times, challenging the perception that this extreme lifestyle shift was likely to have been a rare occurrence in ancient times, new UNSW Australia research shows.

"A fish out of water might seem an extraordinary thing, but in fact it is quite a common phenomenon," says study first author and UNSW evolutionary ecologist Dr Terry Ord. "Amphibious behaviour has evolved repeatedly in a wide diversity of present day fish, and the move onto land does not appear to be as difficult as has been presumed."

In the first study of its kind, Dr Ord and Dr Georgina Cooke looked at the evolutionary relationships of all living fish reported to be active on land. They also examined the environmental factors that might have promoted their emergence from the water. The study is published in the journal Evolution.

The UNSW researchers found that 33 different families of fish have at least one species that demonstrates some terrestrial activity and, in many cases, these behaviours are likely to have evolved independently in the different families.

"These forays onto land have occurred in fish that live in different climates, eat different diets and live in range of aquatic environments, from freshwater rivers to the ocean," says Dr Ord, of the UNSW Evolution and Ecology Research Centre.

"While many species only spend a short time out of water, others, like mudskippers and some eels can last for hours or days."

The researchers also conducted detailed observations of the behaviour of one remarkable group of intertidal fish called blennies, which include some species that never emerge from water and others that stay full-time on land as adults, leaping around in the splash zone on intertidal rocks and hiding in moist crevices when the tide is low.

The researchers studied blennies in seven locations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans -- in Guam, Okinawa, Taiwan, Rarotonga, Tahiti, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

"In this one family of fish alone, an amphibious lifestyle appears to have evolved repeatedly, between three and seven times," says Dr Ord.
The emergence of fish onto land more than 350 million years ago was a critical step in the history of life on Earth, leading to the evolution of all land vertebrates, including humans.

"Because of the challenges fish face in being able to breathe and move and reproduce on land, it had been thought this was a rare occurrence. Now we have shown this initial transition to land is quite common, it seems these challenges can be readily overcome," says Dr Ord.

"The real difficulty in developing a fully-fledged terrestrial lifestyle may be in preventing drying out. This has direct consequences for them breathing on land because they still require their gills, which need to stay moist to function properly."

Terry J. Ord, Georgina M. Cooke. Repeated evolution of amphibious behavior in fish and its implications for the colonisation of novel environments. Evolution, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/evo.12971

See blennies leap about
Australia 20 years after gun reform: No mass shootings and declining firearm deaths

June 22, 2016: University of Sydney
Since gun law reform and the Firearms Buyback program 20 years ago, Australia has seen an accelerating decline in intentional firearm deaths and an absence of fatal mass shootings, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports in a landmark study.

"The absence of mass shootings in Australia in the past two decades compares to 13 fatal mass shootings in the 18 years prior to these sweeping reforms," says the University of Sydney's Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman, who led the study with colleagues Philip Alpers and Macquarie University's Professor Mike Jones.

The introduction of Australia's unprecedented gun laws followed the mass firearm shooting in April of 1996, when a man used two semiautomatic rifles to kill 35 people and wound 19 others in Port Arthur, Tasmania.
In June 1996 the federal government enacted new gun laws banning rapid-fire long guns, including those already in private ownership, explicitly to reduce their availability for mass shootings. These gun laws were progressively implemented in all six states and two territories between June 1996 and August 1998.

In addition, by 1 January 1997, federal and all state governments commenced a mandatory buyback at market price of prohibited firearms. From 1 October 1997, large criminal penalties, including imprisonment and heavy fines, applied to possession of any prohibited weapon.
A handgun buyback followed in 2003, and thousands of gun owners also voluntarily surrendered additional, non-prohibited firearms without compensation. Since 1996, more than a million privately owned firearms are known to have been surrendered or seized, then melted down.
Also, despite a surge of post-law gun buying to replace destroyed semiautomatic and other rapid-fire weapons with single-shot rifles and shotguns, in a trend that preceded the Firearms Buyback program -- which seems to have been accelerated by this initiative -- the proportion of Australian households reporting private gun ownership declined by 75 per cent between 1988 and 2005.

Key findings
In the 18 years prior to federal and state government gun reforms (1979-1996) Australia saw 13 fatal mass shootings in which 104 victims were killed and at least another 52 were wounded. There have been no fatal mass shootings since that time. 'Mass shootings' were defined as five or more victims killed by gunshot, not counting the perpetrator(s).

From 1979 to 1996, total firearm deaths in Australia were declining at an average 3 per cent per year. Since then, the average decline in total firearm deaths has accelerated significantly to 5 per cent annually.
Over the same comparison period, there was a significant acceleration in the downward trend for firearm suicides and a non-significant acceleration in the downward trend in firearm homicides.

The researchers also examined total all-cause homicide and all-method suicide data to assess the possibility that reduced access to firearms permitted the substitution of other lethal methods, such as knives or hanging, to commit suicide or homicide.

From 1979 to 1996, the average annual rate of total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths was rising at 2.1 per cent per year. Since then, the average annual rate of total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths has been declining by 1.4 per cent, supporting a conclusion that there has been no substitution of other lethal means for suicides or homicides.
"Opponents of public health measures to reduce the availability of firearms often claim that 'killers just find another way.' Our findings show the opposite: there is no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and the same is true of suicide," said co-author Philip Alpers.

Finally, researchers compared changes in firearm deaths and nonfirearm deaths and suicides before and after the gun law reforms to assess whether the observed change in firearm deaths can be attributed to gun law reforms.

While there was a more rapid decline in firearm deaths from 1997 to 2013 compared to before 1997, there was also a greater acceleration in the decline in total nonfirearm suicide and homicide deaths. Because of this, it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearm deaths can be attributed to gun law reforms.

Macquarie University's Professor Mike Jones says: "To me there are two key findings from this study. One is that in the 20 years after the passage of gun control laws there has not been a mass shooting in Australia despite an average of two every three years for some time before that. The other is that the acceleration of the decline in gun-related deaths means lives saved. We can argue over how many but the data says lives have been saved."

Professor Simon Chapman said: "Australia's experience shows that banning rapid-fire firearms was associated with reductions in mass shootings and total firearm deaths. In today's context, these findings offer an example which, with public support and political courage, might reduce gun deaths in other countries."

Michael Jones, PhD et al. Original Investigation | June 22, 2016Association Between Gun Law Reforms and Intentional Firearm Deaths in Australia, 1979-2013. JAMA, June 2016 DOI:10.1001/jama.2016.8752

Making Computers Reason And Learn By Analogy

June 21, 2016
Northwestern University's Ken Forbus is closing the gap between humans and machines.

Using cognitive science theories, Forbus and his collaborators have developed a model that could give computers the ability to reason more like humans and even make moral decisions. Called the structure-mapping engine (SME), the new model is capable of analogical problem solving, including capturing the way humans spontaneously use analogies between situations to solve moral dilemmas.

"In terms of thinking like humans, analogies are where it's at," said Forbus, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering. "Humans use relational statements fluidly to describe things, solve problems, indicate causality, and weigh moral dilemmas."

The theory underlying the model is psychologist Dedre Gentner's structure-mapping theory of analogy and similarity, which has been used to explain and predict many psychology phenomena. Structure-mapping argues that analogy and similarity involve comparisons between relational representations, which connect entities and ideas, for example, that a clock is above a door or that pressure differences cause water to flow.
Analogies can be complex (electricity flows like water) or simple (his new cell phone is very similar to his old phone). Previous models of analogy, including prior versions of SME, have not been able to scale to the size of representations that people tend to use. Forbus's new version of SME can handle the size and complexity of relational representations that are needed for visual reasoning, cracking textbook problems, and solving moral dilemmas.

"Relational ability is the key to higher-order cognition," said Gentner, Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "Although we share this ability with a few other species, humans greatly exceed other species in ability to represent and reason with relations."

Supported by the Office of Naval Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Forbus and Gentner's research is described in the June 20 issue of the journal Cognitive Science. Andrew Lovett, a postdoctoral fellow in Gentner's laboratory, and Ronald Ferguson, a PhD graduate from Forbus's laboratory, also authored the paper.

Many artificial intelligence systems -- like Google's AlphaGo -- rely on deep learning, a process in which a computer learns examining massive amounts of data. By contrast, people -- and SME-based systems -- often learn successfully from far fewer examples. In moral decision-making, for example, a handful of stories suffices to enable an SME-based system to learn to make decisions as people do in psychological experiments.
"Given a new situation, the machine will try to retrieve one of its prior stories, looking for analogous sacred values, and decide accordingly," Forbus said.

SME has also been used to learn to solve physics problems from the Advanced Placement test, with a program being trained and tested by the Educational Testing Service. As further demonstration of the flexibility of SME, it also has been used to model multiple visual problem-solving tasks.

To encourage research on analogy, Forbus's team is releasing the SME source code and a 5,000-example corpus, which includes comparisons drawn from visual problem solving, textbook problem solving, and moral decision making.

The range of tasks successfully tackled by SME-based systems suggests that analogy might lead to a new technology for artificial intelligence systems as well as a deeper understanding of human cognition. For example, using analogy to build models by refining stories from multiple cultures that encode their moral beliefs could provide new tools for social science. Analogy-based artificial intelligence techniques could be valuable across a range of applications, including security, health care, and education.

"SME is already being used in educational software, providing feedback to students by comparing their work with a teacher's solution," Forbus said. But there is a vast untapped potential for building software tutors that use analogy to help students learn."

Kenneth D. Forbus, Ronald W. Ferguson, Andrew Lovett, Dedre Gentner.Extending SME to Handle Large-Scale Cognitive Modeling.Cognitive Science, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12377

Caribbean Sea Acts Like A Whistle And Can Be 'Heard' From Space

June 21, 2016
A study of the Caribbean Sea by University of Liverpool ocean scientists has revealed that, in the midst of all the noise of the ocean, this region behaves like a whistle, which blows so loudly that it can be 'heard' from space in the form of oscillations of the Earth's gravity field.

The Caribbean Sea is a part of the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Gulf of Mexico. It is a bounded by South America, Central America and the Caribbean islands, and covers an area of approximately 2,754,000 km2 (1,063,000 square miles).

Researchers analysed the sea levels and pressure readings taken from the bottom of the Sea using four different models of ocean activity in the Sea over the period 1958 up to 2013 as well as using information from tide gauges and satellite measurements of gravity.

They noticed a phenomenon which they have called a 'Rossby Whistle' which happens when a Rossby wave -- a large wave which propagates slowly to the west in the ocean -- interacts with the seafloor.

This causes the wave to die out at the western boundary and reappear on the eastern side of the basin, an interaction which has been described as a 'Rossby wormhole'. Only waves of particular lengths can survive this process without cancelling themselves out, but these particular waves reinforce themselves, producing an oscillation with a sharply-defined period.

As a result, water sloshes in and out of the basin every 120 days. This mass change is sufficient to make changes to the Earth's gravity field which can be measured from satellites. The 120 day period means this whistle plays a note of A-flat, although it is many octaves below the audible range.

Professor Chris Hughes, an expert in Sea Level Science at the University, said: "We can compare the ocean activity in the Caribbean Sea to that of a whistle. When you blow into a whistle, the jet of air becomes unstable and excites the resonant sound wave which fits into the whistle cavity. Because the whistle is open, the sound radiates out so you can hear it.
Similarly, an ocean current flowing through the Caribbean Sea becomes unstable and excites a resonance of a rather strange kind of ocean wave called a 'Rossby wave'. Because the Caribbean Sea is partly open, this causes an exchange of water with the rest of the ocean which allows us to 'hear' the resonance using gravity measurements."

"This phenomenon can vary sea level by as much as 10 cm along the Colombian and Venezuelan coast, so understanding it can help predict the likelihood of coastal flooding."

Small sea level changes can greatly increase the probability of flood losses and Barranquilla, in Colombia, has been identified as a city in which flood losses will sharply increase with as little as 20 cm of sea level rise.

Scientists believe that the `Rossby whistle' may also have an impact on the entire North Atlantic, as it regulates the flow in the Caribbean Current, which is the precursor to the Gulf Stream, an important cog in the ocean's climate engine.

Chris W. Hughes, Joanne Williams, Angela Hibbert, Carmen Boening, James Oram. A Rossby Whistle: A resonant basin mode observed in the Caribbean Sea. Geophysical Research Letters, 2016; DOI:10.1002/2016GL069573

The Rossby Whistle
Published on 21 Jun 2016
A strange sound discovered by researchers emanating from the Caribbean Sea. This has been pitched up several octaves so it can be heard by human ears.

Present-Day Subsurface Ocean On Pluto?

June 21, 2016

The New Horizons spacecraft spied extensional faults on Pluto, a sign that the dwarf planet has undergone a global expansion possibly due to the slow freezing of a subsurface ocean. A new analysis by Brown University scientists bolsters that idea, and suggests that ocean is likely still there today. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

When the NASA's New Horizons spacecraft buzzed by Pluto last year, it revealed tantalizing clues that the dwarf planet might have -- or had at one time -- a liquid ocean sloshing around under its icy crust. According to a new analysis led by a Brown University Ph.D. student, such an ocean likely still exists today.

The study, which used a thermal evolution model for Pluto updated with data from New Horizons, found that if Pluto's ocean had frozen into oblivion millions or billions of years ago, it would have caused the entire planet to shrink. But there are no signs of a global contraction to be found on Pluto's surface. On the contrary, New Horizons showed signs that Pluto has been expanding.

"Thanks to the incredible data returned by New Horizons, we were able to observe tectonic features on Pluto's surface, update our thermal evolution model with new data and infer that Pluto most likely has a subsurface ocean today," said Noah Hammond, a graduate student in Brown's Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, and the study's lead author.

The research, which Hammond coauthored with advisors Amy Barr of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona and Brown University geologist Marc Parmentier, is in press in Geophysical Research Letters.
The pictures New Horizons sent back from its close encounter with the Kuiper Belt's most famous denizen showed that Pluto was much more than a simple snowball in space. It has an exotic surface made from different types of ices -- water, nitrogen and methane. It has mountains hundreds of meters high and a vast heart-shaped plain. It also has giant tectonic features -- sinuous faults hundreds of kilometers long as deep as 4 kilometers. It was those tectonic features that got scientists thinking that a subsurface ocean was a real possibility for Pluto.

"What New Horizons showed was that there are extensional tectonic features, which indicate that Pluto underwent a period of global expansion," Hammond said. "A subsurface ocean that was slowly freezing over would cause this kind of expansion."

Scientists think that there may have been enough heat-producing radioactive elements within Pluto's rocky core to melt part of the planet's ice shell. Over time in the frigid Kuiper belt, that melted portion would eventually start to refreeze. Ice is less dense than water, so when it freezes, it expands. If Pluto had on ocean that was frozen or in the process of freezing, extensional tectonics on the surface would result, and that's what New Horizons saw.

There aren't many other ways on Pluto to get such features. One way might have been through a gravitational tug of war with its moon, Charon. But the active gravitational dynamics between the two have long since wound down, and some of the tectonics look fairly fresh (on a geologic timescale). So, many scientists believe that an ocean is the strongest scenario.

But if Pluto had an ocean, what is its fate today? Could the freezing process still be going on, or did the ocean freeze solid a billion years ago?

That's where the thermal evolution model run by Hammond and his colleagues comes in. The model includes updated data from New Horizons on Pluto's diameter and density, key parameters in understanding the dynamics in Pluto's interior. The model showed that because of the low temperatures and high pressure within Pluto, an ocean that had completely frozen over would quickly convert from the normal ice we all know to a different phase called ice II. Ice II has a more compact crystalline structure than standard ice, so an ocean frozen to ice II would occupy a smaller volume and lead to a global contraction on Pluto, rather than an expansion.

"We don't see the things on the surface we'd expect if there had been a global contraction," Hammond said. "So we conclude that ice II has not formed, and therefore that the ocean hasn't completely frozen."
There are a few caveats, the researchers point out. The formation of ice II is dependent on the thickness of Pluto's ice shell. Ice II only forms if the shell is 260 kilometers thick or more. If the shell is thinner than that, the ocean could have frozen without forming ice II. And if that were the case the ocean could have frozen completely without causing contraction.
However, the researchers say there's good reason to believe that the ice shell is more than 260 kilometers. Their updated model suggests that Pluto's ice shell is actually closer to 300 or more kilometers thick. In addition, the nitrogen and methane ices that New Horizons found on the surface bolster the case for a thick ice shell.

"Those exotic ices are actually good insulators," Hammond said. "They may be helping Pluto from losing more of its heat to space."
Taken together, the new model bolsters the case for an ocean environment in the furthest reaches of the solar system.

"That's amazing to me," Hammond said. "The possibility that you could have vast liquid water ocean habitats so far from the sun on Pluto -- and that the same could also be possible on other Kuiper belt objects as well -- is absolutely incredible."

Noah P. Hammond, Amy C. Barr, Edgar M. Parmentier. Recent Tectonic Activity on Pluto Driven by Phase Changes in the Ice Shell.Geophysical Research Letters, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069220
David Bowie - Life On Mars?

Album: Hunky Dory
Released: 1971

RedEye Could Let Your Phone See 24-7

June 20, 2016

The RedEye team from Rice's Efficient Computing Group includes (from left) Robert LiKamWa, Yuan Gao, Yunhui Hou, Mia Polansky and Lin Zhong.
Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Rice University researchers have just the thing for the age of information overload: an app that sees all and remembers only what it should.
RedEye, new technology from Rice's Efficient Computing Group that was unveiled today at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA 2016) conference in Seoul, South Korea, could provide computers with continuous vision -- a first step toward allowing the devices to see what their owners see and keep track of what they need to remember.

"The concept is to allow our computers to assist us by showing them what we see throughout the day," said group leader Lin Zhong, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice and the co-author of a new study about RedEye. "It would be like having a personal assistant who can remember someone you met, where you met them, what they told you and other specific information like prices, dates and times."

Zhong said RedEye is an example of the kind of technology the computing industry is developing for use with wearable, hands-free, always-on devices that are designed to support people in their daily lives. The trend, which is sometimes referred to as "pervasive computing" or "ambient intelligence," centers on technology that can recognize and even anticipate what someone needs and provide it right away.

"The pervasive-computing movement foresees devices that are personal assistants, which help us in big and small ways at almost every moment of our lives," Zhong said. "But a key enabler of this technology is equipping our devices to see what we see and hear what we hear. Smell, taste and touch may come later, but vision and sound will be the initial sensory inputs."

Zhong said the bottleneck for continuous vision is energy consumption because today's best smartphone cameras, though relatively inexpensive, are battery killers, especially when they are processing real-time video.

Zhong and former Rice graduate student Robert LiKamWa began studying the problem in the summer of 2012 when they worked at Microsoft Research's Mobility and Networking Research Group in Redmond, Wash., in collaboration with group director and Microsoft Distinguished Scientist Victor Bahl. LiKamWa said the team measured the energy profiles of commercially available, off-the-shelf image sensors and determined that existing technology would need to be about 100 times more energy-efficient for continuous vision to become commercially viable. This was the motivation behind LiKamWa's doctoral thesis, which pursues software and hardware support for efficient computer vision.

In an award-winning paper a year later, LiKamWa, Zhong, Bahl and colleagues showed they could improve the power consumption of off-the-shelf image sensors tenfold simply through software optimization.

"RedEye grew from that because we still needed another tenfold improvement in energy efficiency, and we knew we would need to redesign both the hardware and software to achieve that," LiKamWa said.

He said the energy bottleneck was the conversion of images from analog to digital format.

"Real-world signals are analog, and converting them to digital signals is expensive in terms of energy," he said. "There's a physical limit to how much energy savings you can achieve for that conversion. We decided a better option might be to analyze the signals while they were still analog."
The main drawback of processing analog signals -- and the reason digital conversion is the standard first step for most image-processing systems today -- is that analog signals are inherently noisy, LiKamWa said. To make RedEye attractive to device makers, the team needed to demonstrate that it could reliably interpret analog signals.

"We needed to show that we could tell a cat from a dog, for instance, or a table from a chair," he said.

Rice graduate student Yunhui Hou and undergraduates Mia Polansky and Yuan Gao were also members of the team, which decided to attack the problem using a combination of the latest techniques from machine learning, system architecture and circuit design. In the case of machine learning, RedEye uses a technique called a "convolutional neural network," an algorithmic structure inspired by the organization of the animal visual cortex.
LiKamWa said Hou brought new ideas related to system architecture circuit design based on previous experience working with specialized processors called analog-to-digital converters at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"We bounced ideas off one another regarding architecture and circuit design, and we began to understand the possibilities for doing early processing in order to gather key information in the analog domain," LiKamWa said.

"Conventional systems extract an entire image through the analog-to-digital converter and conduct image processing on the digital file," he said. "If you can shift that processing into the analog domain, then you will have a much smaller data bandwidth that you need to ship through that ADC bottleneck."
LiKamWa said convolutional neural networks are the state-of-the-art way to perform object recognition, and the combination of these techniques with analog-domain processing presents some unique privacy advantages for RedEye.

"The upshot is that we can recognize objects -- like cats, dogs, keys, phones, computers, faces, etc. -- without actually looking at the image itself," he said. "We're just looking at the analog output from the vision sensor. We have an understanding of what's there without having an actual image. This increases energy efficiency because we can choose to digitize only the images that are worth expending energy to create. It also may help with privacy implications because we can define a set of rules where the system will automatically discard the raw image after it has finished processing. That image would never be recoverable. So, if there are times, places or specific objects a user doesn't want to record -- and doesn't want the system to remember -- we should design mechanisms to ensure that photos of those things are never created in the first place."

Zhong said research on RedEye is ongoing. He said the team is working on a circuit layout for the RedEye architecture that can be used to test for layout issues, component mismatch, signal crosstalk and other hardware issues. Work is also ongoing to improve performance in low-light environments and other settings with low signal-to-noise ratios, he said.

The above is reprinted from materials provided by Rice University.  

Inspirational Men - David Unaipon

David Unaipon (born David Ngunaitponi) (28 September 1872 – 7 February 1967) was a well-known Indigenous Australian of the Ngarrindjeri people, a preacher, inventor and writer. Unaipon's contribution to Australian society helped to break many Indigenous Australian stereotypes, and he is featured on the Australian $50 note in commemoration.

Born at the Point McLeay Mission on the banks of Lake Alexandrina in the Coorong region of South Australia, Unaipon was the fourth of nine children of James and Nymbulda Ngunaitponi. Unaipon began his education at the age of seven at the Point McLeay Mission School and soon became known for his intelligence, with the former secretary of the Aborigines' Friends' Association stating in 1887: "I only wish the majority of white boys were as bright, intelligent, well-instructed and well-mannered, as the little fellow I am now taking charge of."

Unaipon left school at 13 to work as a servant for C.B. Young in Adelaide where Young actively encouraged Unaipon's interest in literature, philosophy, science and music. In 1890, he returned to Point McLeay where he apprenticed to a bootmaker and was appointed as the mission organist. In the late 1890s he travelled to Adelaide but found that his colour was a bar to employment in his trade and instead took a job as storeman for an Adelaide bootmaker before returning to work as book-keeper in the Point McLeay store.

On 4 January 1902 he married Katherine Carter (née Sumner), a Tangane woman. He was later employed by the Aborigines' Friends' Association as a deputationer, in which role he travelled and preached widely in seeking support for the Point McLeay Mission.

Unaipon took out provisional patents for 19 inventions but was unable to afford to get any of his inventions fully patented. His most successful invention (provisional patent 15 624), a shearing machine that converted curvilineal motion into the straight line movement which is the basis of modern mechanical shears, was introduced without Unaipon receiving any financial return and, apart from a 1910 newspaper report acknowledging him as the inventor, he received no credit.

Other inventions included a centrifugal motor, a multi-radial wheel and a mechanical propulsion device. He was alsoknown as the Australian Leonardo da Vinci for his mechanical ideas, which included pre World War I drawings for a helicopter design based on the principle of the boomerang and his research into the polarisation of light and also spent much of his life attempting to achieve perpetual motion.

Unaipon was obsessed with correct English and in speaking tended to use classical English rather than that in common usage. His written language followed the style of John Milton and John Bunyan.

Unaipon was the first Aboriginal author to be published after he was commissioned in the early 1920s by the University of Adelaide to assemble a book on Aboriginal legends. He published three short booklets of Aboriginal stories in 1927, 1928 and 1929. In this time he wrote on topics covering everything from perpetual motion and helicopter flight to Aboriginal legends and campaigns for Aboriginal rights.

Unaipon was inquisitively religious, believing in an equivalence of traditional Aboriginal and Christian spirituality. His employment with the Aborigines' Friends' Association collecting subscription money allowed him to travel widely. The travel brought him into contact with many intelligent people sympathetic with the cause of Aboriginal rights, and gave him the opportunity to lecture on Aboriginal culture and rights. Although he was much in demand as a public speaker he was often refused accommodation and refreshment due to his race.

Right: From frontpiece of Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines (1924) by David Unaipon, courtesy the State Library of New South Wales

Unaipon was the first Aboriginal writer to publish in English, the author of numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, retelling traditional stories and arguing for the rights of Aborigines.

Some of Unaipon's traditional Aboriginal stories were published in a book, Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals, under the name of anthropologist William Ramsay Smith FRSE, a Scottish physician, naturalist, anthropologist and civil servant, active in Australia later in his career. Some sources state David sold a manuscript of the work to Smith to finance other works. Smith subsequently attributed the work to himself when he published it. The stories have recently been republished in their original form, under the author's name, as Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines. 

Unaipon was also involved in political issues surrounding Aboriginal affairs and was a keen supporter of Aboriginal self-determination, including working as a researcher and witness for the Bleakley Enquiry into Aboriginal Welfare and lobbied the Australian Government to take over responsibility for Aboriginals from its constituent states. He proposed to the government of South Australia to replace the office of Chief Protector of Aborigines with a responsible board and was arrested for attempting to provide a separate territory for Aboriginals in central and northern Australia.

In 1936, he was reported to be the first Aboriginal to attend a levée, when he attended the South Australian centenary levée in Adelaide, an event that made international news.

An interpretive dance based on Unaipon's life, Unaipon, was performed by the Bangarra Dance Theatre, while the David Unaipon Literary Award is an annual award presented for the best of writing of the year by unpublished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors.

The David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education And Research at the University of South Australia is named after him, as is Unaipon Avenue in the Canberra suburb of Ngunnawal.

21 years after Unaipon's death in 1988, the annual national David Unaipon Award was established for unpublished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers.

Information sourced from Wikipedia, Trove and Internet archives websites.

Inspirational Women - Maria Sklodowska Curie

On June 25th in 1903, Marie Curie defended her doctoral thesis on radioactive substances – at Université de la Sorbonne in Paris – becoming the first woman in France to receive a doctoral degree.

The examination committee expressed the opinion that Curie's findings, including the determination of Radium’s atomic weight, represented the greatest scientific contribution ever made in a doctoral thesis. Of the committee’s three members, were two future Nobel Laureates Gabriel Lippmann (Physics 1908) and Henri Moissan, (Chemistry 1906).

Right: Thesis cover: Recherches sur les substances radioactives (Research on Radioactive Substances). 

In December 1903, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Pierre Curie, Marie Curie, and Henri Becquerel the Nobel Prize in Physics, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel." At first, the Committee intended to honour only Pierre and Becquerel, but one of the committee members and an advocate of woman scientists, Swedish mathematician Magnus Goesta Mittag-Leffler, alerted Pierre to the situation, and after his complaint, Marie's name was added to the nomination. Marie was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Marie Curie, née Maria Sklodowska (1867–1934), was awarded the ‪Nobel Prize‬ in Physics (1903) for pioneering research on radiation, and the Prize in Chemistry (1911) for the discovery of the elements radium and polonium.

Her achievements included the development of the theory ofradioactivity (a term that she coined, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. Born Maria Salomea Skłodowska  in Warsaw, in what was then the Kingdom of Poland, part of the Russian Empire, studing at Warsaw's clandestine Floating University, Marie began her practical scientific training in Warsaw. In 1891, aged 24, she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain major centres of medical research today.

During World War I, Curie saw a need for field radiological centres near the front lines to assist battlefield surgeons. After a quick study of radiology, anatomy, and automotive mechanics she procured X-ray equipment, vehicles, auxiliary generators, and developed mobile radiography units, which came to be popularly known as petites Curies ("Little Curies"). She became the director of the Red Cross Radiology Service and set up France's first military radiology centre, operational by late 1914. Assisted at first by a military doctor and by her 17-year-old daughter Irène, Curie directed the installation of 20 mobile radiological vehicles and another 200 radiological units at field hospitals in the first year of the war. Later, she began training other women as aides.

Marie Curie - Mobile Military Hospital X-Ray-Unit

In 1915 Curie produced hollow needles containing 'radium emanation', a colorless, radioactive gas given off by radium, later identified as radon, to be used for sterilizing infected tissue. She provided the radium from her own one-gram supply. It is estimated that over a million wounded soldiers were treated with her X-ray units. Busy with this work, she carried out very little scientific research during that period. In spite of all her humanitarian contributions to the French war effort, Curie never received any formal recognition of it from the French government.

Promptly after the war started, she attempted to donate her gold Nobel Prize medals to the war effort but the French National Bank refused to accept them. She did buy war bonds, using her Nobel Prize money. She was also an active member in committees of Polonia in France dedicated to the Polish cause. After the war, she summarized her war time experiences in a book Radiology in War (1919).

The physical and societal aspects of the Curies' work contributed substantially to shaping the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Cornell University professor L. Pearce Williams observes:

The result of the Curies' work was epoch-making. Radium's radioactivity was so great that it could not be ignored. It seemed to contradict the principle of the conservation of energy and therefore forced a reconsideration of the foundations of physics. On the experimental level the discovery of radium provided men like Ernest Rutherford with sources of radioactivity with which they could probe the structure of the atom. As a result of Rutherford's experiments with alpha radiation, the nuclear atom was first postulated. In medicine, the radioactivity of radium appeared to offer a means by which cancer could be successfully attacked.

If Curie's work helped overturn established ideas in physics and chemistry, it has had an equally profound effect in the societal sphere. To attain her scientific achievements, she had to overcome barriers that were placed in her way because she was a woman, in both her native and her adoptive country. This aspect of her life and career is highlighted in Françoise Giroud's Marie Curie: A Life, which emphasizes Marie's role as a feminist precursor.

She was known for her honesty and moderate life style. Having received a small scholarship in 1893, she returned it in 1897 as soon as she began earning her keep. She gave much of her first Nobel Prize money to friends, family, students, and research associates. In an unusual decision, Curie intentionally refrained from patenting the radium-isolation process, so that the scientific community could do research unhindered. She insisted that monetary gifts and awards be given to the scientific institutions she was affiliated with rather than to her. She and her husband often refused awards and medals. Albert Einstein reportedly remarked that she was probably the only person who could not be corrupted by fame.

Curie visited Poland for the last time in early 1934. A few months later, on 4 July 1934, she died at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, in Haute-Savoie, from aplastic anemia believed to have been contracted from her long-term exposure to radiation.The damaging effects of ionising radiation were not known at the time of her work, which had been carried out without the safety measures later developed. She had carried test tubes containing radioactive isotopes in her pocket, and she stored them in her desk drawer, remarking on the faint light that the substances gave off in the dark. Curie was also exposed to X-rays from unshielded equipment while serving as a radiologist in field hospitals during the war. Although her many decades of exposure to radiation caused chronic illnesses (including near blindness due to cataracts) and ultimately her death, she never really acknowledged the health risks of radiation exposure.

Pierre and Marie Curie, c. 1903 from Smithsonian Institution (USA)
Information sourced from Wikipedia, Trove and Internet archives websites.

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