Published Articles

Richard Musgrove — CSIRO — xray tech

How mining scan technology can be applied to other industries

Moving artifacts on CT (computer tomography) scans proved to be the key to a major innovation in biosecurity threat detection for CSIRO's Dr Maryam Yazdani and Dr Ben James. Ben leads the X-Ray Imaging team in the Mineral Resources team, based at Lucas Heights, NSW. His focus is on minerals imaging, including development of real-time ore-sorting—pre-processing scans to reject any rock without target minerals, that would otherwise go through intensive and costly processing. "Ore-sorting is the holy grail of the mineral industry," he says. His targets are tiny valuable mineral particles (<1mm) embedded in rock. But this time was different. Ben was imaging apples for signs of codling moth, a cross-domain application in collaboration with Maryam, who leads the Pest Detection Technologies in the Health and Biosecurity team, based in Brisbane.

How the coral crisis affects other marine wildlife

Marine heatwaves are killing coral and denuding reefs of their colourful beauty – but in a world where everything is food for something else, these heatwaves also pose a major threat to biodiversity. How? Lets start with coral spawning, which is always in the news around Christmas. A tropical phenomenon, blizzards of eggs and sperm — billions of sex cells disgorged by uncountable polyps. Last year gave us a split spawning on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), after full moons in October and November. Slicks of egg and sperm bundles washed over the reef and combined to produce tiny ‘planula’ larvae. Now settled, these planulae are new corals that will eventually replace reefs lost to storms, bleaching and predation. I was also interviewed about this article on the ABC Illarawarra morning show. Listen here:

Richard Musgrove — Cosmos — Culturally aware survey

Culturally aware survey gets to the heart of Pacific climate mobility

Pacific islanders have been on the move for 50,000 years, as explorers, as settlers and as traders. But now that cultural phenomenon has an existential edge, particularly for those on vulnerable, low-lying islands, as the insidious effects of climate change manifest – heat stress, cyclones, floods, and droughts, fisheries decline, sea level rise and salt-water intrusion into soils and drinking water. Hard choices must be made. Do the region’s 13 million people stay and adapt, or leave ancestral homelands for safer, drier, shores? The majority would choose to stay, according to ‘Regional population dynamics and mobility trends in the Pacific‘, the recently-released first report of the 2-year Pacific-lead Climate Mobility research programme.

Richard Musgrove — Cosmos — Communicating Covid 19

Communicating COVID-19

It was overwhelming, say immunologist Dr Chris Puli’uvea and virologist Dr Natalie Netzler. The New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) had called to say the pair had won New Zealand’s most coveted science communication prize, the 2023 Cranwell Medal, for their community engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was such a privilege and an honour,” Netzler says. We all remember the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic — the fear and the lockdowns, the loneliness, and perhaps the losses of those we loved. The quiet cities. The variants and the vaccinations. Working from home, the toilet paper wars.

Richard Musgrove — Cosmos — Concentrated Solar Thermal

Concentrated solar thermal and the power of ceramics

There’s a rush on to capture the sun with mirrors. Fields, deserts, and areas the size of capital cities, are being covered in big shiny heliostats, and sunlight focussed on troughs, tubes and towers, designed to bring us out of the fossil-fuel age and into a greener, more sustainable future. Australia’s concentrated solar power (CSP) plans have so far met with mixed success. Two demonstration plants are now turning heat into electricity for the grid.

Richard Musgrove — Cosmos — Quantum Computing

So, you want to study quantum computing?

Quantum computers were always a little like fusion reactors – always ten to thirty years away – but, if you have been paying attention, you’ll know that both are creeping closer. But are we ready? Fusion reactor research is showing promise, but quantum technology is undergoing a revolution, with the rise of quantum computing. And the field needs bright new minds – how about you?

Richard Musgrove — Cosmos — The impact of sea level rise

The impact of sea level rise – don’t say you weren’t warned

Sea level rise, due to climate change, is inexorable and accelerating, but regional impacts are sometimes difficult to separate from seasonal trends. A new report has estimated the impacts of rising seas on coral reefs, tidal marshes and mangroves around the world – ecosystems on which millions of people depend for their livelihoods and safety.

Science Writer Robotics

Flies and robot eyes

We’ve all seen insect eyes portrayed in movies (The Fly, Monsters Vs Aliens). Bizarrely beautiful, almost other-worldly, such compound eyes are the oldest and most dominant vision system on Earth, used by 75% of all animals, including 10 million species of insects. And Australian robotics researchers are tapping this well of visual expertise to make smarter machines. Researchers such as Prof Brinkworth, and collaborators Prof. Matt Garratt, Dr Sridhar Ravi of UNSW Canberra and Prof. Mandyam Srinivasan of UQ.

Science Writer, Moles, melanoma

Moles, the spin of the Earth and the kids.

We all know about UV, and ‘Australia has the worst skin cancer rate in the world’ has become a cliché after forty years of sun-safe campaigns.
It’s all in the spin. Our summer sun is 7-10% stronger than similar northern latitudes during the same season, as Earth’s elliptical orbit brings the Southern Hemisphere closer to the sun than it does the Northern.

Kiwis can fly… rockets

4am, Launch Day, 21 June, 2023 Alicia Smith wakes with a surge of adrenaline. Excitement! Its Launch Day – time to go! Smith, a fourth-year Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Aerospace) student at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and her team, are far from home. It’s been hot overnight – almost 30oC – and sleep was patchy after a late-night checking and re-checking their one precious rocket. Today, after eighteen months of work, they will launch their rocket into the clear blue New Mexico sky, hoping to win a coveted Spaceport America Cup prize. “We aim to win”, says Smith, also Team Leader.

The complexities of mapping Pacific and Asian reefs

Des and Kelvin of Gladstone, Katy and Filimone of Fiji and Victor and Christina of Palau all have the same issue – reefs under their care face unprecedented threats. Reefs that have protected shores and supported local fisheries for thousands of years. Fisheries sustained through customary management rooted in traditional ecological knowledge accumulated over millennia, reflecting local peoples’ deep understanding of their ecosystems. They are not alone...

On the frontline of the mosquito wars in the Pacific

hat high-pitched whine in your ear signals the world’s deadliest animal – a female mosquito. Disease-causing parasites in her gut kill at least 670,000 people each year. She brings malaria, Ross River virus, dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, Japanese encephalitis and lymphatic filariasis, also called elephantiasis. All in the Pacific, some on our doorstep, and some have even reached Australia’s mainland.

Why add carbon dioxide to concrete?

The world is desperate for solutions to the crisis brought on by the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N₂O), hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and ground-level ozone (O3), these gases trap heat, and are causing global earth and ocean temperatures to rise to unsustainable levels. They are acknowledged by-products of mining, manufacturing, transport and agricultural industries, but these sectors cannot simply shut up shop. So, industries seek new answers, including capturing and burying emissions, called ‘sequestration’.

Wanted: a climate-focused leader to secure Australia’s future

Almost 60% of voters want “much more” cuts to emissions with 79% supporting further action, as we approach the 2022 federal election, although major differences

Carbon offsets

Your Business with Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsetting, carbon credits, and the booming carbon market have been in the news a lot, lately. And if your business has emissions which you can’t otherwise reduce, you may be curious about the potential for offsetting the remainder. (Co-authored with Warren Bradey)

Was COP26 a success?

COP26* was described by Chairman, Alok Sharma, as “our last best hope to keep 1.5oC in reach”. The COP had to deliver on its four main objectives to be considered a success, but failed, with emissions reduction pledges by the 197 attending countries leaving us on track for a dangerous 1.8 – 2.4oC global warming.

COP26 — Holding back climate catastrophe?

The 30th of October will be a hopeful day, the opening of COP26 — the two weeks that follow will determine our future and that of our only planet.

Climate Change

Climate and Hope

Your well-being and happiness are underpinned by financial security, and all depend on a stable, liveable environment. Think about that, as you read on. It is IPCC time again. I’ve been digesting the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report over the last few days, and it is a little terrifying, to be honest. There is no easy way to put this — we are facing a threat to our social well-being and financial security the likes of which we have never seen before. ‘Business as usual’ is unsustainable.