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How to store surplus renewable energy

Scientists calculate the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid.

Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution, but a new study from Stanford University suggests that might not always be the case.

Futile Research or Stealthy Censorship?

By Ian Musgrave

It's hard to see the Coalition's plans to weed out "futile" research as anything other than a cynical attempt to defund topics the Coalition doesn’t like.

It hasn’t been a very inspiring election from the point of view of research. Research hasn’t really featured at all. That slightly changed today with a front page article in the Advertiser (also in The Daily Telegraph), under the title of “Abbot’s Waste Disposal”. The article claimed a Coalition government would target “futile” research projects.

Guess who defines 'waste' in ARC-funded research

By Rod Lamberts

A Coalition government would reign in wasteful spending on research, but are their decisions based on evidence of waste or merely the Coalition’s funding priorities?

I doubt anyone truly believes governments are infinitely resourced. Even the most rabid, single-issue monomaniac can appreciate that to add public money from bucket X, it must come from bucket Y.

So it’s perfectly understandable the Coalition, like any party, must prioritise government spending of taxpayer money. The question is, how to prioritise.

What are the criteria for good spending versus bad spending? More specifically, what constitutes wasted spending?

UN forecasts rising reuse of wastewater for agriculture

World lacks data on "massive potential resource", with only 4% of wastewater reused.

UN-backed study says annual treated wastewater in North America roughly equals volume of Niagara Falls; less than 4 percent is reused

Amid growing competition for freshwater from industry and cities, coupled with a rising world shortage of potash, nitrogen and phosphorus, an international study predicts a rapid increase in the use of treated wastewater for farming and other purposes worldwide.

First estimate of total viruses in mammals

Scientists estimate there are at least 320,000 mammalian viruses, and identifying them could help mitigate disease outbreaks for a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.

Scientists estimate that there is a minimum of 320,000 viruses in mammals awaiting discovery. Collecting evidence of these viruses, or even a majority of them, they say, could provide information critical to early detection and mitigation of disease outbreaks in humans. This undertaking would cost approximately $6.3 billion, or $1.4 billion if limited to 85% of total viral diversity -- a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.

This psychoactive drugs trip isn't working

By Craig Motbey

The increasing pace and diversity of recreational drug development makes conventional approaches to drug control dangerous.

Recreational drug use has been with us forever, and so have the challenges that this use brings to medicine and society. But the nature of the modern drug scene has changed to such an extent that the health systems of the developed world face catastrophe if we fail to respond.

How antibiotics enable pathogenic gut infections

Study pinpoints ways to counter the effects of the antibiotics-driven depletion of friendly, gut-dwelling bacteria.

A number of intestinal pathogens can cause problems after antibiotic administration, said Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and the senior author of a study published in Nature.

"Antibiotics open the door for these pathogens to take hold. But how, exactly, that occurs hasn't been well understood," Sonnenburg said.

Shroom to grow: Australia's missing psychedelic science

By Stephen Bright (Curtin University) and Martin Williams (Monash University)

A recent Norwegian study on psychedelic drugs and psychological well-being not only highlighted fewer mental health issues among users of these drugs but also underscored the reinvigoration of scientific research in a field maligned since the moral panic of the 1960s.

A recent Norwegian study on psychedelic drugs and psychological well-being not only highlighted fewer mental health issues among users of these drugs but also underscored the reinvigoration of scientific research in a field maligned since the moral panic of the 1960s.

Frankenfooty: Essendon's mixed bag of supplements

By Ian Musgrave

Essendon's players were exposed to worthless or unproven treatments at best, and rank pseudoscience at worst.

The list of charges by the AFL against the Essendon Football Club for its alleged supplements program makes for compelling reading. Early on in the Essendon charge sheet is this paragraph, which sets the stage for the tragedy that is the whole doping scandal:

Australian Antarctic science is being frozen out by budget cuts

By Matt King, University of Tasmania

Despite rising costs, the government this year handed an 8% budget cut to the Australian Antarctic Division.

A hundred years after Australian explorer and geologist Douglas Mawson returned from his epic scientific adventures in Antarctica, Australia’s scientific exploration of the icy southern continent has all but ground to a halt, for reasons I’ll discuss below.