Hobart, Australia
Hobart, Australia

The University of Tasmania is a public Australian university in Tasmania, Australia. Officially founded on 1 January 1890, it was the fourth university to be established in Australia. The University of Tasmania is a sandstone university and is a member of the international Association of Commonwealth Universities. It is currently the only university located in Tasmania.The University offers various undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of disciplines, and has links with 20 specialist research institutes, cooperative research centres and faculty based research centres; many of which are regarded as nationally and internationally competitive leaders. The University has a student population of nearly 26,800, including over 6,000 international students and 1000 PhD students. Wikipedia.

Time filter

Source Type

News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.sciencemag.org

The aluminum hatches are the only clue to what lies beneath. Buried amid the corn and wheat fields of Fürstenfeldbruck, a sleepy monastery village 20 kilometers from Munich, Germany, is an inverted pyramid of concrete, steel pipes, and precision sensors, as deep as a three-story building. Last month, when lasers began coursing around the edges of the tetrahedron, Rotational Motions in Seismology (ROMY), as it is called, began its reign as the most sophisticated ring laser in the world, capable of sensing how Earth itself twists and turns. "It's a structure that has never been built before," says Heiner Igel, a seismologist at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the principal investigator for the €2.5 million machine. "It's something so special." What makes it singular is the finesse needed to keep the lasers stable and to detect tiny changes in their wavelengths. In doing so, ROMY will measure minuscule changes in Earth's spin rate and spin axis. The speed and pace of those measurements promise to add an increment of precision to GPS navigation, and ROMY may even be able to detect a subtle effect predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity: the drag of the rotating planet on nearby spacetime, like a spoon turned in a pot of honey. ROMY also will be sensitive to the weak rotations that accompany earthquakes, long-ignored motions that contain clues to the interior structure of Earth. By showing the value of recording those motions, ROMY could pave the way for miniature sensors that could help oil and gas prospectors and even planetary scientists who want to listen for tremors on the moon and Mars. Ring lasers are exquisite rotation sensors thanks to an effect that French physicist Georges Sagnac demonstrated in 1913. He split light into two beams that traveled in opposite directions around the mirrored perimeter of a spinning tabletop. When he recombined the light, he saw interference "fringes"—dark and bright bands indicating that the light waves in the two beams were out of phase. The beam moving in the direction of the spin had traveled slightly farther than its counterpart, causing the phase shift. In the decades since, scientists put the Sagnac effect to work to track rotations. The principle underpins the laser and fiber optic gyroscopes that replaced finicky mechanical gyros in the 1970s and are now standard for navigation. The rotations they measure, like the turns and dives of a fighter jet, are fast and large. The idea of building a larger, more sensitive ring laser for geodesy—measuring Earth itself—didn't come around until the 1990s, when nearly perfect mirrors became available. One of the first such lasers was C-II, a ring laser in the shape of a square with 1-meter arms, built in New Zealand in the mid-1990s and housed in a disused World War II bunker, where temperatures are stable. Whereas Sagnac shone light into his experiment from an external source, the C-II's ring itself generated laser beams, its cavities filled with a lasing medium of neon and helium gas. As before, a rotation lengthened one light path, but the effect on C-II was to stretch the wavelength of the laser resonating along that path, like the coils in a stretched spring. For the beam running in the opposite direction, the path and wavelength were squeezed. When the beams were interfered, their slightly clashing wavelengths caused the optical equivalent of the pulsing beats that piano tuners try to eliminate as they strike a note and a tuning fork at the same time. "You have beats because you're out of tune," Igel says. The beat frequency is a direct measure of the rotation that causes it, and C-II was able to measure Earth's rotation rate to one part in a million. C-II also launched the career of Ulrich Schreiber, a laser physicist at the Technical University of Munich who led its design. Schreiber later worked on ring lasers in New Zealand, California, Germany, and Italy. "He is the lord of the rings," says Jacopo Belfi, a physicist at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics in Pisa, Italy, who works on GINGERino, a 3.6-meter square ring laser that is a forerunner to GINGER, a 6-meter, octahedral ring laser planned for Italy's Gran Sasso underground lab. Having won funding from the European Research Council, Igel offered Schreiber his biggest challenge: designing ROMY. With its 12-meter arms, ROMY is more sensitive than previous ring lasers, capable of sensing Earth's spin to better than one part per billion. And instead of one square ring, it has four triangular ones. Three of them are required to pin down rotations in any direction, and the fourth adds redundancy. Construction began in March 2016 and finished 6 months later. Last month, engineers achieved first light in all four rings at the same time—a sign that the geometry of the tetrahedron is precise enough to keep all the lasers resonating properly. "It's everything or nothing," Igel says. "Every time the red [laser] light is visible, people are screaming, really excited." The team is now working on interfering the lasers and measuring the Sagnac effect. They hope to present their first proof-of-principle measurements next week at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. Eventually, ROMY scientists will monitor changes in the length of the day and the position of the poles. Neither is as fixed as you might think, varying by milliseconds and centimeters each day. The sun and moon tug on the planet, while the drift of continents, changes in ocean currents, and the rebounding of the crust since the retreat of ice age glaciers all shift mass around, altering Earth's moment of inertia and therefore its spin. Even hurricanes and earthquakes can give a tiny nudge this way or that. Earth's little twitches have practical consequences. Precisely targeting a rocket, whether it is destined for Mars or geostationary orbit, requires taking them into account. And the data from GPS satellites—which businesses and consumers the world over use—would drift into irrelevance within weeks if their exact positions in relation to Earth's surface were not constantly corrected. Currently, the best measurements of those variables come from a system called very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI), which uses radio dishes spaced across Earth to stare at quasars—brilliant beacons in the distant universe that occasionally flicker. By clocking when widely spaced dishes record a change in brightness, geodesists can calculate the planet's spin rate and its axis. But the system requires dozens of observatories to give up valuable astronomy time, and for the best timing comparisons, hard drives have to be shipped overnight from remote locales to supercomputer centers. It can take days to turn observations into a published measurement. ROMY will try to match the precision of VLBI—and outdo it in speed. In theory, ROMY could monitor Earth's spin rate and axis constantly, updating measurements in real time, says Lucia Plank, a geodesist at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, who helps provide the VLBI service. "The advantage of ROMY is you have an instantaneous result," Plank says, though she adds that the VLBI technique, being more stable, is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Whereas VLBI measures Earth's rotation with respect to markers billions of light-years away, ROMY measures it right at the surface—and the difference could be telling. That's because Einstein's frame-dragging effect, in which the gravity of Earth's rotating mass warps and twists nearby spacetime, should cause an infinitesimal shift in the rotation rate as measured close to Earth. It's the same test that was done, famously and expensively, by Gravity Probe B, a $750 million NASA mission that put gyroscopes on a satellite and measured the frame-dragging. Belfi says that doing it again, from the ground, is worthwhile. "In physics this is not a trivial result," says Belfi, who wants to use GINGER to do the test if ROMY cannot. Being so new, ROMY is plagued by experimental drift. The structure is still settling in the soft sediments of Fürstenfeldbruck. Unlike other ring lasers, which were fixed to blocks of Zerodur—a ceramic resistant to temperature changes—ROMY's steel tubes flex with the temperature swings of day and night. It also is prone to shifting after rains saturate the ground. Igel eventually wants to eliminate those drifts by putting small motors behind each of ROMY's mirrors to make tiny adjustments to the rings in real time. But he is keen to embrace one type of fast-moving "drift": earthquake shaking. In the past, seismologists have measured only translation—the displacement of the ground along any of the three cardinal axes. But seismic waves also drive tilt motions, which rotate points without shifting their positions. Traditional seismometers could not measure tilt motions, but theory suggested, reassuringly, that they are small enough to ignore. As Charles Richter, the seismologist who developed the famous magnitude scale for earthquakes, wrote in 1958, "such rotations are negligible." "But they are there," Igel says. Indeed, experiments in recent years have suggested that the motions can actually be large. Soft soils can amplify them to 10% or more of the magnitude of translational motions. Engineers have been designing buildings only for translational shaking, but they should take tilts into account as well, says John Evans, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Santa Cruz, California. "It's best to know what [shaking] actually goes into a building to make its response within tolerable limits." Measurements of tilt also could pay dividends for earth science. Traditional seismometers can misclassify tilting as translational motion—a problem especially acute for ocean bottom sensors that sit on soft muds, Evans says. By measuring tilt directly, researchers could limit such "data contamination." Tilt measurements also might sharpen 3D models of the interiors of volcanoes, where swelling magmas create tremors with larger-than-normal rotations, Igel says. "If you do not take into account these tilt motions, your model might be wrong," he says. ROMY should help earth scientists explore this new seismological frontier—if only by showing that it exists. Soon after the team turned on its first triangular ring, it sensed rotations from the magnitude-6.6 Norcia earthquake in Italy last October. Eventually, scientists will want to get closer to the source. "You cannot move ROMY," says Frédéric Guattari, head of seismic rotation sensors at iXBlue, a navigation sensor company in Paris. "Now, we need a portable device." The answer from iXBlue is a compact sensor that relies not on lasers but on a fiber optic loop 5 kilometers long, wound into a coil just 20 centimeters across. The device sends photons in opposite directions through the loop, interferes them, and tracks phase shifts to detect rotations. Guattari has already placed prototypes astride the Stromboli volcano and in the Florence cathedral. At up to €50,000 each, the sensors will be much more expensive than a traditional seismometer, but Guattari says they will ultimately offer a cheaper way to map the subsurface. Typically, geoscientists search for oil and gas traps deep in Earth by laying out dozens or even hundreds of sensors in an array. The array listens for the echoes of seismic waves—generated by distant earthquakes or small explosions detonated nearby—as they bounce off subsurface structure. But by measuring rotation as well as translation, seismologists can get not only the displacement of earthquake waves but also their velocities, which are a powerful probe of subsurface structure. "You can do a lot more with this point measurement," Igel says. Technology from iXBlue might allow the oil and gas industry to get by with fewer sensors. It also could prove useful in situations when deploying even one sensor is challenging—such as on missions to other planets. Evans predicts that tilt sensors could flourish. "I think we're going to see slow adoption," he says. "In 20 years they could be standard." But Igel and Schreiber hope that it won't be just the small fry that proliferate—they also want ROMY to spawn offspring. With multiple large ring lasers scattered around the globe, geodetic measurements could be coordinated, calibrated, and checked against one another to create a richer and more precise picture of our planet's twists and turns. Plank, though loyal to VLBI, says she shares the hope that Germany's great ring won't reign alone. "The ultimate goal would be to have more of these around the globe."

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INT-04-2015 | Award Amount: 3.72M | Year: 2016

This Project aims to address an increasingly pressing global challenge: How to achieve the EUs development goals and the UNs Sustainable Development Goals, while meeting the global target of staying within two degrees global warming and avoid transgressing other planetary boundaries. EU policies must align with sustainable development goals (Article 11 TFEU). The impacts of climate change and global loss of natural habitat undermine the progress achieved by pursuing the Millennium Development Goals and threaten the realisation of EU development policy goals. Our focus is the role of EUs public and private market actors. They have a high level of interaction with actors in emerging and developing economies, and are therefore crucial to achieving the EUs development goals. However, science does not yet cater for insights in how the regulatory environment influences their decision-making, nor in how we can stimulate them to make development-friendly, environmentally and socially sustainable decisions. Comprehensive, ground-breaking research is necessary into the regulatory complexity in which EU private and public market actors operate, in particular concerning their interactions with private and public actors in developing countries. Our Consortium, leading experts in law, economics, and applied environmental and social science, is able to analyse this regulatory complexity in a transdisciplinary and comprehensive perspective, both on an overarching level and in depth, in the form of specific product life-cycles: ready-made garments and mobile phones. We bring significant new evidence-based insights into the factors that enable or hinder coherence in EU development policy; we will advance the understanding of how development concerns can be successfully integrated in non-development policies and regulations concerning market actors; and we provide tools for improved PCD impact assessment as well as for better corporate sustainability assessment.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INT-01-2015 | Award Amount: 1.06M | Year: 2016

Mesopelagic Southern Ocean Prey and Predators The underlying concept of MESOPP is the creation of a collaborative network and associated e-infrastructure (marine ecosystem information system) between European and Australian research teams/institutes sharing similar interests in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, its marine ecosystem functioning and the rapid changes occurring with the climate warming and the exploitation of marine resources. While MESOPP will focus on the enhancement of collaborations by eliminating various obstacles in establishing a common methodology and a connected network of databases of acoustic data for the estimation of micronekton biomass and validation of models, it will also contribute to a better predictive understanding of the SO based on furthering the knowledge base on key functional groups of micronekton and processes which determine ecosystem dynamics from physics to large oceanic predators. This first project and associated implementation (science network and specification of an infrastructure) should constitute the nucleus of a larger international programme of acoustic monitoring and micronekton modelling to be integrated in the general framework of ocean observation following a roadmap that will be prepared during the project.

Ambrose M.,University of Tasmania
Blood | Year: 2013

In 1988, the gene responsible for the autosomal recessive disease ataxia- telangiectasia (A-T) was localized to 11q22.3-23.1. It was eventually cloned in 1995. Many independent laboratories have since demonstrated that in replicating cells, ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is predominantly a nuclear protein that is involved in the early recognition and response to double-stranded DNA breaks. ATM is a high-molecular-weight PI3K-family kinase. ATM also plays many important cytoplasmic roles where it phosphorylates hundreds of protein substrates that activate and coordinate cell-signaling pathways involved in cell-cycle checkpoints, nuclear localization, gene transcription and expression, the response to oxidative stress, apoptosis, nonsense-mediated decay, and others. Appreciating these roles helps to provide new insights into the diverse clinical phenotypes exhibited by A-T patients-children and adults alike-which include neurodegeneration, high cancer risk, adverse reactions to radiation and chemotherapy, pulmonary failure, immunodeficiency, glucose transporter aberrations, insulin-resistant diabetogenic responses, and distinct chromosomal and chromatin changes. An exciting recent development is the ATM-dependent pathology encountered in mitochondria, leading to inefficient respiration and energy metabolism and the excessive generation of free radicals that themselves create life-threatening DNA lesions that must be repaired within minutes to minimize individual cell losses.

McGuinness D.S.,University of Tasmania
Chemical Reviews | Year: 2011

Recent advances in the area of Olefin Oligomerization via metallacycles that include dimerization, trimerization, tetramerization, and beyond, are reviewed. Studies have found that metallacyclopentane decomposition to 1-butene many not be particularly facile due to the absence of metallacycle expansion. Follow-up studies concentrated on the N-H functionality and the Cr oxidation state and role of MAO show that activities and selectivities to 1-hexene are similar to the original Cr(III) complexes. Nenu and Weckhuysen prepared silica-supported triazacyclohexane complexes, by treating the reduced Phillips polymerization catalyst with triazacyclohexane ligands in dichloromethane. The influence of N-aryl functionality investigated by Killian et al. shows that the selectivity was mainly dependent upon the steric bulk attached to nitrogen, and less so on the group's basicity.

Cheung W.W.L.,University of British Columbia | Watson R.,University of Tasmania | Pauly D.,University of British Columbia
Nature | Year: 2013

Marine fishes and invertebrates respond to ocean warming through distribution shifts, generally to higher latitudes and deeper waters. Consequently, fisheries should be affected by 'tropicalization' of catch (increasing dominance of warm-water species). However, a signature of such climate-change effects on global fisheries catch has so far not been detected. Here we report such an index, the mean temperature of the catch (MTC), that is calculated from the average inferred temperature preference of exploited species weighted by their annual catch. Our results show that, after accounting for the effects of fishing and large-scale oceanographic variability, global MTC increased at a rate of 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade between 1970 and 2006, and non-tropical MTC increased at a rate of 0.23 degrees Celsius per decade. In tropical areas, MTC increased initially because of the reduction in the proportion of subtropical species catches, but subsequently stabilized as scope for further tropicalization of communities became limited. Changes in MTC in 52 large marine ecosystems, covering the majority of the world's coastal and shelf areas, are significantly and positively related to regional changes in sea surface temperature. This study shows that ocean warming has already affected global fisheries in the past four decades, highlighting the immediate need to develop adaptation plans to minimize the effect of such warming on the economy and food security of coastal communities, particularly in tropical regions. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Waterlogging affects large areas of agricultural land, resulting in severe economic penalties because of massive losses in crop production. Traditionally, plant breeding for waterlogging tolerance has been based on the field assessment of a range of agronomic and morphological characteristics. This review argues for a need to move towards more physiologically based approaches by targeting specific cellular mechanisms underling key components of waterlogging tolerance in plants. Also, while the main focus of researchers was predominantly on plant anoxia tolerance, less attention was given to plant tolerance to phytotoxins under waterlogged conditions. This paper reviews the production of major elemental and organic phytotoxins in waterlogged soils and describes their adverse effects on plant performance. The critical role of plasma membrane transporters in plant tolerance to secondary metabolite toxicity is highlighted, and ionic mechanisms mediating the this tolerance are discussed. A causal link between the secondary metabolite-induced disturbances to cell ionic homeostasis and programmed cell death is discussed, and a new ethylene-independent pathway for aerenchyma formation is put forward. It is concluded that plant breeding for waterlogging tolerance may significantly benefit from targeting mechanisms of tolerance to phytotoxins. © 2010 The Author. New Phytologist © 2010 New Phytologist Trust.

This review uses proxies of past temperature and atmospheric CO 2 composition based on fossil leaves to illustrate the uncertainties in biologically based proxies of past environments. Most leaf-based proxies are geographically local or genetically restricted and therefore can be confounded by evolution, extinction, changes in local environment or immigration of species. Stomatal frequency proxies illustrate how genetically restricted proxies can be particularly vulnerable to evolutionary change. High predictive power in the modern world resulting from the use of a very narrow calibration cannot be confidently extrapolated into the past (the Ginkgo paradox). Many foliar physiognomic proxies of climate are geographically local and use traits that are more or less fixed for individual species. Such proxies can therefore be confounded by floristic turnover and biome shifts in the region of calibration. Uncertainty in proxies tends to be greater for more ancient fossils. I present a set of questions that should be considered before using a proxy. Good proxies should be relatively protected from environmental and genetic change, particularly through having high information content and being founded on biomechanical or biochemical principles. Some current and potential developments are discussed, including those that involve more mechanistically sound proxies and better use of multivariate approaches. © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.

Breadmore M.C.,University of Tasmania
Journal of Chromatography A | Year: 2012

Capillary electrophoresis (CE) has long been regarded as a powerful analytical separation technique that is an alternative to more traditional methods such as gel electrophoresis (GE) and liquid chromatography (LC). It is often touted as having a number of advantages over both of these, such as speed, flexibility, portability, sample and reagent requirements and cost, but also a number of disadvantages such as reproducibility and sensitivity. Microchip electrophoresis (ME), the next evolutionary step, miniaturised CE further providing improvements in speed and sample requirements as well as the possibility to perform more complex and highly integrated analyses. CE and ME are seen as a viable alternative to GE, but are often considered to be inferior to LC. This review will consider the strengths and weaknesses of both CE and ME and will challenge the common conceptions held about these. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Background Global annual losses in agricultural production from salt-affected land are in excess of US$12 billion and rising. At the same time, a significant amount of arable land is becoming lost to urban sprawl, forcing agricultural production into marginal areas. Consequently, there is a need for a major breakthrough in crop breeding for salinity tolerance. Given the limited range of genetic diversity in this trait within traditional crops, stress tolerance genes and mechanisms must be identified in extremophiles and then introduced into traditional crops. Scope and Conclusions This reviewargues that learning from halophytes may be a promisingway of achieving this goaL. The paper is focused around two central questions: what are the key physiological mechanisms conferring salinity tolerance in halophytes that can be introduced into non-halophyte crop species to improve their performance under saline conditions and what specific genes need to be targeted to achieve this goal? The specific traits that are discussed and advocated include: manipulation of trichome shape, size and density to enable their use for external Na+ sequestration; increasing the efficiency of internal Na + sequestration in vacuoles by the orchestrated regulation of tonoplast NHX exchangers and slow and fast vacuolar channels, combined with greater cytosolic K + retention; controlling stomata aperture and optimizing water use efficiency by reducing stomatal density; and efficient control of xylem ion loading, enabling rapid shoot osmotic adjustment while preventing prolonged Na + transport to the shoot. © The Author 2013.

Loading University of Tasmania collaborators
Loading University of Tasmania collaborators