It is voting time again

17 08 2010

That’s right, I am crawling back to blog about important happenings this week in Australia.

It’s National Science Week.

It seems I’ve missed out on alerting you to vote for your favourite Aussie scientist for the Eureka prize (I would have been supporting Evans and Smith for proving the intellectual and communicative exploits of chickens).

But it is not too late to start voting for your favourite new Aussie species discovered this past year. Given that this year’s theme is biodiversity it’s a pretty appropriate poll.

Place your vote here.

Nominees are:

  • Opera House Barnacle (Calantica darwinii)
  • Kimberly Froglet (Crinia fimbriata)
  • Sea Spider (Paranymphon bifilarium)
  • Steve Irwin’s Tree Snail (Crikey stevirwini – I kid not!)
  • Spinifex Ant (Camponotus triodiae)
  • Pink Handfish (Brachiopsilus dianthus)
  • Cape York Amber Fly (fossilized) (Chaetogonopteron bethnorrisae)
  • Bacchus Marsh Wattle (Acacia rostriformis)
  • The Bandalup Buttercup (Hibbertia abyssa)
  • Truffle-like Mushroom (Cribbea turbinispora)

More new species and biodiversity stuff at the bushblitz website including a free teacher booklet (just in case your school somehow missed out, or your from another country).

More farming scams

16 11 2009

There has to be some sort of catch … surely …

The wallabies are wasted

29 06 2009

You’ve probably all heard it by now. Tasmanian wallabies are getting wasted in poppy fields and creating crop circles.

I was gonna blog this way back in last week. But then I had a farewell from work, a farewell from friends, social lounge, someone else’s farewell, clean, pack, uniquest, and then today I had to scramble to unpack and scan identifying documents in the vain hope of proving that I can afford to pay for potential accomodation (I can… I hope).

But man… those wallabies… that is awesome.

I wonder if that means there may be a grant out there on doing some studies on marsupials and drugs/addiction?

Image credit: mrmanc on flickr (CC by attribution & share-alike)

Roughhousing Aussie Youth

1 06 2009

004, originally uploaded + © maisierevenge.

… must … resist … urge … to … post … cuteness …

It’s Alive in Sydney: My own private taxonomy fail

2 05 2009

Just so that we are clear I’m not afraid of kickin’ my own moronic ass sometimes.

I thought I was all clever adding this picture to an Agamid group in Flickr as a bearded dragon:
Physignathus lesueurii lesueuri (Eastern Waterdragon)

Turns out it is Physignathus lesueurii lesueuri, an Eastern Waterdragon. If I’d paid any attention, I should have noticed the complete absence of beard.

I saw this little fella, and a few more (and a massive goanna, coming up) along Lane Cove River, in the Lane Cove National Park in North Ryde/Macquarie Park.

Thank you Jen 64 for pointing out my error. More on identifying subspecies of waterdragon over at Australian National Botanic Gardens website – note the face stripe goes eye-to-ear in this critter, distinguishing it from the Gippsland sub-species, you can also see some of the red underbelly if you look hard  (plus it was taken in Sydney, not Gippsland)

Pine in the lungs

2 05 2009

Creepiest story ever over at i09.

Some commenters over there havepointed out the original source for the story is an unreliable Russian tabloid, but still, inhaling a branch of a pine tree is a pretty big effort. And that’s a good 8 inches of lungs they seem to have cut out.

It’s just more proof that if we don’t kill those trees, they will kill us.

It’s Alive in Sydney: Mystery Bug

26 04 2009

White Crawly Bug

A crawly bug I spotted on a sign in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

It was so white, I wasn’t sure if it had been accidentally covered in paint (under the outer plates still looked dark).

Under the house is not a cancer clinic

26 04 2009

The definition of quackery – offering cure for cancers bought of the internet being supplied by untrained staff in someone’s garage.

Choice quotes:

“We haven’t announced it yet, we haven’t told the world, it’s very secret.” (Naturopaths don’t care about curing cancer, they care about making money).

“It’s not a garage, Chris, it’s under the house*, okay” (In response to why she was not operating but in her “backyard, garage”).

You’ll all be quite thankful that successful investigation and prosecution has seen Ms Newlands fined $12,000 and banned from “making any claims she is able to treat, cure, or benefit any person suffering from cancer”.

I must say, it is good to see some action, but it is awfully lenient (especially seeing as she was charging $2,000 per client). And I don’t think I’m alone in being a little perturbed that making such claims (when not a registered medical practitioner) is not already an offense of some kind.

(Press release and more info at Sceptic’s book of Pooh-Pooh)

*For those of you not familiar with Queensland architecture. Most older “Queenslander” style homes are built up on stilts to promote airflow. “Under the house” is usually an semi-enclosed space not fully protected from the elements that can be used as a storage area, carport, laundry and/or tool shed.

Synergy in Nature

24 04 2009

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Synergy fails.

It’s Alive in Sydney: Sexy legs, sees

22 04 2009

Bandangi Millipede 001

A millipede on a rock – in Badangi Reserve on the Lower North Shore of Sydney.

Taking this photo with a flash prompted me to ask Alex Wild (currently featured at SciBorg’s Photo Synthesis) if flash photography can harm or distress insects and other invertebrates. His answer – not that he knows*.

This critter did not curl up and die afterwards, at least not that I saw, so my conscience feels fine.

More millipede shots below the fold as I tested my camera out in the field.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Alive in Sydney: Skink

19 04 2009

I can’t remember if I mentioned my new camera purchase.

A Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD. It was a little more than what I was planning on purchasing, but I got a good deal on a ex-display stock.

Now, I have a flickr account to go along with it. And thanks to my dad, it’s now an unlimited pro account, which is good seeing as though it took 48 hours to fill up the complementary storage.

Here’s the first in a series of critters taken around a Sydney.


Townsville 1; Bolivia 18

7 03 2009

Not quite the competition you want to be winning though.

Northern Queensland is currently suffering the worst dengue fever epidemic “since WWII“. Last reports I heard, cases were over 200, outbreaks of all four types of dengue have been reported, and the first casualty had occured last week.

Hopefully it will serve as a reminder that appropriate anti-mosquito health regulations on domestic gardens, water tank filters and other breeding grounds do need to be followed – or there can be dire consequences.

However it also important to note that Bolivia is currently suffering from its own dengue epidemic. Wikipedia puts cases around 31,000 and deaths at 18.

Koala cuteness tragedies

23 02 2009

via F U Penguin (language)

Do not share your water bottle with koalas kids, you could get Chlamydia…

Michael Manuel and his wife used a soup ladle to feed this koala in their yard at Upper Sturt.

Click through for a larger picture. AdelaideNOW (News Ltd) has a complete gallery of thirsty koalas snapped while the Victorian bushfires raged.

Donations can be made to the RedCross bushfire appeal here. Donations can also be made to the RedCross to assist floodstruck North Queensland.

Inside the tomato

16 02 2009

I can vaguely make out this is meant to be Tomato sapiens, it has a mouth, heart, lungs, gizzards, and I don’t know much of the other kanji, but I think there is at least one kidney.

How ethical is you vegetarianism now, huh!?


Hattip Alan and Danny Choo.

Answer to Danny’s question: In a tomato’s sweet delicious heartbeat.

Armchair biologists

30 12 2008

Can armchair biology work?

Armchair science is where science began. Before organised and well funded institutes were about, a lot of scientists were self funded home-based ventures.

Science at home has suffered a few setbacks. They took the fun stuff out of chemistry kits. And even if you do find a decent kit, you might be arrested for making drugs and/or explosives under terrorism laws.

So chemistry as a hobby is expensive, hazardous and possibly illegal.

What about biology?

There is a little discussion at the sci-borg collective about recent news that people are attempting molecular biology (cloning, design-your-own organisms) at home.

Pure Pedantry thinks it won’t end the world. Which is fair to say. But Discovering Biology in a Digital World points out some of the real dangers. Namely, cloning usually involves potential pathogenic organisms and antibiotic resistance – not the best things to be playing around in your kitchen.

While it’s cool that people are enthusiastic about science and wanting to engage in future technologies, it’s good to remember there was a reason further than mere regulation and technophobia over why chemistry kits got dumbed down. Some science stuff isn’t safe to be messing about with at home. Particularly in your kitchen where you prepare your food.

Science that deals with microbes, carcinogens and cold storage really needs a dedicated space. That’s why I like the idea of Community Centers with lab-rooms and storage for hire, along with amateur training courses. This sort of activity should definitely be encouraged.

The best thing about future technology though is that these days biology can be done on a computer over the internet. Bioinformatics at home is a very safe, low labour activity that really only needs a computer and an internet connection.

While I too am skeptical of amatuers making “new vaccines”. I do think some more “simple” breakthroughs are possible –  bio-based tools such as biofuels, indicators and environmental solutions – remember that Canadian kid who developed bacteria that break down plastic bag polymers.


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