This week in Science 21/4/13

This week Australian scientists demonstrated the world’s first functional quantum bit, which will one day build super-powerful quantum computers. They also found a mysterious ray species that hasn’t been spotted in 60 years, uncovered insight into the moonlight diving behaviour of sharks and discovered that introducing a bacteria into mosquitoes could stop the spread of dengue and malaria. Thank you science! Catch up on the top Australian science stories of the week:

→ Researchers make quantum breakthrough: http://bit.ly/XS6dQw
→ Mysterious ray specimen found: http://bit.ly/10Nu1TS
→ Sharks dive deeper on bright nights: http://bit.ly/Zn9F3V
→ Bacteria could stop malaria: http://bit.ly/10PwZFJ

(Content from the ‘Science Alert‘ facebook group.)

Why so happy?

Xylem and phloem have never looked so happy!

These are cells inside a blade of Marram grass. Xylem cells are responsible for sucking water and nutrients up from the roots to the rest of the plant. Phloem cells allow the sugar products (glucose) from photosynthesis to flow down to the root cells. Together these tubular cells act similar to veins and arteries in humans (transporting vital nutrients around the organism to every cell), but are able to push these fluids around without the help of a heart!

This unique image is from: http://prostheticknowledge.tumblr.com/post/24610859805/cross-section-tissue-of-marram-grass-leaf

In the Classroom

Floating Golf BallsEarlier this year, year 7 completed an investigation titled ‘To Float or Not to Float?’. They were experimenting to determine whether salt affects the ability for objects to float in water. Each group was provided with a golf ball (that sank in tap water), a beaker and some salt. Students added and dissolved salt into the water, which causes the density of water to increase. The golf ball was more dense than tap water and hence sunk in the water, however, the golf ball is less dense than very salty water and hence floats in salt water. Our groups found that 200 mLs of water needed on average around 10 large tea spoons of salt fully dissolved to cause the golf balls to float.

So what do you think, if we removed the salt from the ocean, would most boats sink?

2012 End of Year Staff Dinner Table

At the end of each year the staff have a dinner to farewell any staff that are leaving and celebrate the successes of the year together. During this dinner there is a competition run for the best decorated dinner table. Each year the science department are top contenders and have won the competition several times.

Last year we were a bit exhausted, but in a last minute attempt we decorated our table with ‘build-your-own’ circuits with christmas themed playdough conductors and insulators to make the circuit and LED lights.

scitable2012

Find out more about ‘squishy’ circuits here: