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Events

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WA: Celebrate International Year of Biodiversity

If you live in Western Australia, it’s time to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity. Head down to the Western Australian Museum to hear Andrew Hosie, the curator of aquatic zoology, talk about what species have been discovered in Western Australia over the last ten years. Find out what lives in the Dampier Archipelago, Northwest Atolls and the Kimberley.

  • When: 6 pm, Friday 7 May 2010
  • Where: NWS Shipping Theatre, Western Australian Maritime Museum , Fremantle

Entry by gold coin donation. Bookings essential on (08) 9427 2845.
More information on this lecture and a range of other lectures at the Western Australian Museum’s website.

Did you know?

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Batteries often use potentially toxic chemicals such as nickel and cadmium to create electricity. It is estimated that around 94 per cent of dead batteries end up in landfill, which could lead to water pollution and damage soil microorganisms.

The National Solar Energy Centre (NSEC) in Newcastle is the only multi-collector facility of its type in Australia and home to the largest high-concentration solar array in the Southern Hemisphere.

Be aware of your water footprint. It can take as much as 16 000 litres of fresh water to produce one kilogram of beef.

Of all of the rubbish that makes it to the ocean, 15 per cent floats on the surface, 15 per cent remains near the shore and the rest sinks to the floor.

Of the 8000 animal-related insurance claims made to NRMA in NSW during 2008, over 6000 were caused by kangaroos. Motorists should drive carefully in country areas at dusk and dawn to reduce these casualties.

Shredded tyres contain metal and can not be reused as rubber without substantial expense. This problem is a key reason for the low percentage of tyres currently used for rubber recovery, despite worldwide demand.

One in four Australians buys a new television each year. If current trends continue, by 2020 the energy used by televisions in this country will double that used by refrigerators.

Places on the Earth’s crust that conduct heat from below are called ‘hot rocks’. Australia has some of the richest sources of hot rocks in the world, in the form of high-heat producing granites. These could prove to be useful energy sources in the future.

Buy recycled paper. Every tonne of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 32 000 litres of water and enough electricity to heat a house for six months.

There is clear evidence that feral cats have had a heavy impact on the fauna of many Australian islands, and have probably contributed to the extinction of a number of native species.

Kangaroos use 5000 kilojoules per day while sheep require 15000 kilojoules. Lower energy requirements mean that kangaroos have less environmental impact and therefore may be better for human and pet food. Continue reading Did you know?

Cloud crystals packed with life

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Next time you’re outside, look up. Is there a cloud in the sky? You might know that these clouds are made of drops of water or ice, but that’s not all. Scientists in the US have now directly measured the biological material and mineral dust in the ice crystals found in clouds.
When the temperature is just right, clouds form around aerosols such as dust, smoke, salt, bacteria, plant matter and even the spores of fungi. Water and ice in the atmosphere grow around these aerosols and eventually this leads to rain or snow.
The scientists sampled clouds while flying at high speeds in an aircraft to find out more about these aerosols. They had a scientific instrument onboard called a mass spectrometer. This allowed them to measure the chemicals that make up ice particles in the clouds.

“By determining the chemical composition of the very cores of individual ice particles, they discovered that both mineral dust and, surprisingly, biological particles play a major role in the formation of clouds,” says Anne-Marie Schmoltner of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric Sciences. Previously this could only be predicted from laboratory experiments and measurements on the ground.
The team of scientists found that biological matter made up 33 per cent of the particles in ice crystals and mineral dust made up 50 per cent.
It was impossible for the scientists to determine whether the plant matter, fungal spores and bacteria they found were alive. This is because the mass spectrometer they used ionised the samples, smashing the samples to bits, in order to work out what chemicals were in the ice crystals.
Working out the exact composition of clouds will help scientists produce more accurate predictions about climate change. It may also lead to new ways of producing rain clouds to lessen drought.

Article and photo source: CSIRO Science by Email