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The 2015 Eureka Prizes: Dwarf galaxies, quolls and cheap hydrogen power for motorised bicycles

The Vela Super Nova Remnant By Paul Haese. Highly Commended, Eureka Prizes.

The finalists for the 2015 Eureka Prizes, Australia’s top awards for science, have been announced.

Among the discoveries by the 49 finalists for the 16 sections of Australia’s biggest science awards are:

  • A bizarre dwarf galaxy which harbours a supermassive black hole more than a thousand times larger than it should be.
  • How to teach Northern Territory quolls not to eat toxic cane toads: feed them smaller, less-toxic toads that make the quoll sick, but aren’t fatal.
  • The secret to viewing processes within a patient’s living tissues: nanocrystals with precise, in-built timers that may allow real-time disease diagnosis and the ability to watch drugs interact with living cells in real time.

The finalists have also taught astronomy in remote schools to students of the Wajarri Yamatji, the traditional owners of the land on which the Murchison radio-astronomy observatory sits, and presented the first science event for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

And they have helped wine growers, foresters and farmers from Cape York to Canberra in research to understand the effects of climate change on growth rates and crop quality.

Among their inventions:

  • Low-temperature, low-pressure hydrogen storage which can power a motorised bicycle over 120km on a single, small canister, producing only water as a by-product.
  • A system which efficiently stores solar power through the night hours, solving the mismatch between solar power generation and electricity demand.
  • Carpentry-type techniques to switch off key molecular weapons of some new, antibiotic-resistant superbugs, transforming them into harmless bacteria.

There’s a full list of finalists HERE.

The winners of the $160,000 in prize money will be announced next month.

And see The best Australian science photos of 2015, including the three finalists for the Eureka photography award HERE.

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