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By Dave Sammut and Chantelle Craig

Last year’s three Nobel laureates in chemistry each had unique approaches and contributions to their prize-winning work.

In 1876, there were no effective treatment options for common bacterial infections, which were often lethal in the era before antibiotics. That year, John Tyndall published his findings that penicillin killed bacteria but his paper was ignored. In 1929, Alexander Fleming published his finding on penicillin and likewise it was initially ignored – until 1938 when Howard Florey came across his paper and decided to act. Until Florey proved otherwise, the prevailing attitude was that antibacterial drugs were a delusion. A similar attitude prevails today in relation to cures for neuroplasticity-related issues.

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Milestone gallery redevelopment to nurture STEM skills in 0–5 year olds

By ScienceWorks

Developing foundational science skills


Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together – a screen-free space where future innovators can develop foundational science, engineering and coding skills – is now open.

Part of a $6 million milestone gallery redevelopment at Scienceworks, Victoria, Ground Up is a new permanent exhibition created to immerse children in an imaginative world of sensory discovery and construction-play and ignite engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

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Research, development, demonstration and commercialisation

By Duncan Seddon

Economics

The thrust of most, but importantly not all, basic research is to develop a commercial process or product. In most instances, the path from basic research to commercialisation progresses through the intermediate stages of development, which aims to prove up the research on a small scale (often called bench scale), and demonstration in which larger process plant is used to produce product on sufficient scale for market evaluation.

For some commercial products, this process can take many decades while other basic research progresses to commercialisation within a decade.

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Also in this issue...

Isaac Newton drawings discovered

A drawing thought to have been scratched by a young Isaac Newton into the walls of his childhood home has been discovered at the National Trust’s Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, UK. The drawing is thought to have been inspired by the building of a mill nearby during Newton’s childhood.


Desert tales from a wandering analytical chemist

Picture a large Brahman cow, on a scorching day in remote Central Australia, blocking the road and looking decidedly menacing. The ute driver at the scene, Alf Larcher, explains that it’s all part of the job.


A view into musical history

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits are examining musical instruments using scientific ones.


Five fascinating books in 2017

In my mild-mannered persona as an academic in science education, I teach and research ways that science can be better taught in Australia and globally. But every year I also explore the world of science books. I scope what’s new and interesting for my not-for-profit science book blog, and the Big Ideas Book Club I help run in Melbourne.

In 2017, five books in particular grabbed my attention, covering the fields of psychology, biology, history and physics.


Previous issue

By Motty Sobol

A treasure trove of existing and emerging medical research findings beckons chemists to effect ground-breaking solutions to a wide array of medical issues.

In 1876, there were no effective treatment options for common bacterial infections, which were often lethal in the era before antibiotics. That year, John Tyndall published his findings that penicillin killed bacteria but his paper was ignored. In 1929, Alexander Fleming published his finding on penicillin and likewise it was initially ignored – until 1938 when Howard Florey came across his paper and decided to act. Until Florey proved otherwise, the prevailing attitude was that antibacterial drugs were a delusion. A similar attitude prevails today in relation to cures for neuroplasticity-related issues.

Read more

Machine learning uncovers large hidden job market for PhD graduates

By Australian National University

Highlighting the value of research skills

Researchers have developed machine learning to scan tens of thousands of job ads and found a large hidden job market for PhD graduates. The project, led by the Australian National University (ANU) and CSIRO’s Data61, developed a job-searching machine to help universities prepare graduates for non-academic work and show industry the value of PhD graduate research skills.

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Also in this issue...

Scientists get to grips with a tricky liquid

When warm candy cools and solidifies, the mass of thick, viscous liquid sets to hard candy – an edible glass. To physicists, glass is not just the stuff that we drink out of or look through. It is, more broadly speaking, a fluid that sets as a solid without crystallising. In a glass, molecules are arranged randomly, rather than in an ordered crystal lattice. But what actually happens during the setting process?


A cool visualisation breakthrough: the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Part 1

The limits of microscopy resolution have been smashed as part of work recognised by the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2017, the world’s most famous prize for scientific merit was awarded to three researchers – Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Joachim Frank (Columbia University, USA) and Richard Henderson (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK) – ‘for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution’


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To offer your services as a book or software reviewer for Chemistry in Australia, please contact Damien Blackwell at damo34@internode.on.net