There’s no reason to leave your scientific curiosity at home when you take a holiday.
Charles Darwin gave us more than On the origin of species. He invented science tourism. What else should we call a five-year voyage aboard a sailing ship with stops in over 20 ports of call? On shore, Darwin roamed the local countryside, collecting thousands of souvenirs. He called them ‘specimens’. He even wrote a travel memoir that was hugely popular at the time and remains in print.
Today, we can do something similar.
Autophagy, secrets of exotic matter and molecular machines
This year’s Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying autophagy, a fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components. This year’s Nobel Laureates in Physics opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded ‘for the design and synthesis of molecular machines’.
Leadership in Innovation and Science
Professor Gordon Wallace FRACI CChem has won the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science. Recognised for his work as an internationally renowned researcher at the University of Wollongong’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), Wallace was commended at the Eureka Prize gala dinner in Sydney, for his cultivation of a research vision in the area of ‘intelligent polymers’.
Ronald J. Clarke traces the development of biophysical chemistry and its emergence in Australia.
Dave Sammut takes a light-hearted look at some of this year’s chemistry highlights.
In Big fat myths, self-professed ‘physics nerd’ Ruben Meerman reveals an ancient, secret formula for weight loss. Eat less, move more. Yes folks, it is that simple. The diet gurus are going to hate this book.
Our summer season is a good opportunity to explore some of the sparkling wines from Italy.
Researchers at the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute have discovered a new group of molecules showing promising results against multidrug-resistant cancers.
Natural products or direct derivatives from them have provided nearly half of all clinically useful cancer chemotherapeutics, and the search for new potent and selective agents continues. Multidrug resistance, whereby cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs and are no longer responsive to treatment, is a major limitation to the current management of the disease.
Sniffing out substances
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Melbourne in the late 1950s, and for some years afterwards, there was a strong ‘chemical’ smell in the foyer of the Chemistry building. Nobody seemed to worry about it – chemistry departments just smelled like that. Years later, when I was at Monash, the staff working in the chemistry store complained about the smell, on the grounds of amenity, of course, but also on health grounds. Were they being slowly poisoned as they went about our business?
Molecular mechanism discovered
We all know that a brush with poison ivy leaves us with an itchy painful rash. Now, Monash and Harvard researchers have discovered the molecular cause of this irritation. The finding brings us a step closer to designing agents to block this mechanism and sheds light on other serious skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
The Australian native plant Scaevola spinescens has an interesting back story of bush medicine and chemical research.
Martin Gellender discusses his approach to teaching science to mature-age students.