Science

Proceeds Of Crime: How Polymer Banknotes Were Invented

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and CSIRO’s 20-year “bank project” resulted in the introduction of the polymer banknote — the first ever of its kind, and the most secure form of currency in the world.

The project commenced in 1968 and continued until 1988 with the release of the A$10 bicentennial commemorative banknote. But it’s the story behind this story – a personal note of forgeries, underworld figures and CSIRO – that is just as impressive.


Scientists Say These Mysterious Prawns May Hold Keys To Alien Life

According to exobiologists at NASA, these mysterious prawns and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues “about what life could be like on other planetary bodies”. It’s life that may be similar — at the basic level — to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon.


This Machine Turns Water And CO2 Into Petrol

Despite all the efforts to the contrary, it’s an uncomfortable truth that our world mostly still runs on oil, made from dead little creatures and pumped from under the ocean. So a machine that could generate oil, without the need for drills or rigs or pipelines, just by combining hydrogen and CO2, sounds quite attractive.


7 Of Mankind's Biggest Screw-Ups In Space

Space isn’t having a great few months — from the exploding mishaps of Orbital Science’s Antares rocket, to the terrible tragedy of Virgin Galactic’s test flight, and the yay-but-oh-shit rollercoaster that’s been the ESA’s comet landing, things aren’t going entirely to plan. This isn’t without precedent, though: if you shoot enough things into the sky on top of volatile rockets, some of them are going to let you down. Or blow up.


This 3D Printer Produces Biopolymers From Orange Juice And Bacteria

3D printers can make all sorts of great things, but they don’t do it out of thin air. First, there’s the model and then there are the materials. In most cases this is some sort of thermoplastic that can be heated and squirted from the printer’s head. But 3D printers don’t have to be the mechanical, polymer-ejecting gadgets we’re familiar with. What if all you needed was some genetically-modified bacteria and orange juice?


The Last Ditch Attempt To Prolong Philae's Life On A Comet

With Philae’s battery dying, the Rosetta mission’s ground controllers have decided to make one last go at it. The probe had ended up in the shadow of a cliff after a botched touchdown, unable to gather enough energy with its solar panels. Ground control is going to try rotating Philae so one of its larger panels catches the light.


Would You Buy A 3D Replica Of Yourself?

3D printing, once an arcane technology used mainly for developing industrial prototypes, is rapidly moving into everyday life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the phenomenon of the 3D self replica.


Inside The Colourful World Of Animal Vision

As humans, we live in a colourful world, but differences in visual systems means that not all animals see the world in the same way. Unlike other aspects of an object such as size or mass, colour is not an inherent property of an object but a result of the sensory system of the viewer. In other words, colour is a construct of the mind.


Would You Live In A 3D Printed House?

The potential of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, to change the way buildings are made is indisputable. It’s being touted as a solution to challenges in our cities ranging from the need for affordable housing to infrastructure modernisation. The process has been slow, but it may well be a key ingredient in the future of the building industries.


All The Asteroids Found To Date In One Cool Animated Visualisation

Video: Here’s a cool visualisation that, even knowing how much empty space is out there, still freaks the hell out of me: All the ~600,000 asteroids discovered in the Solar System since 1980 to 2014, animated through time by Scott Manley. Amazing video. Bonus: How Jupiter shepherds them away from us.


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