Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Briefs

By Stephen Luntz

Brief bites of science news

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Cat-proof Kakadu
The importance of feral cats to the decline of native species in Kakadu is being tested with the creation of a cat-proof fence.

“A 2012 government assessment lists 17 mammal species extinct in the wild in the Northern Territory and a further 100 animal species as threatened. While a combination of factors is almost always at play, we believe feral cats to be the biggest threat currently,” said Northern Territory government scientist Dr Graeme Gillespie.

Scientists, traditional owners and volunteers fenced off two 64-hectare sites, removed any cats inside and established motion sensor cameras to observe the native animals inside. The fence has a floppy top that cats cannot get over, with gaps suitable for small native animals.

Lasers by Wire
Gallium arsenide nanowires that produce room temperature lasers could form the basis of future generations of computer chips. Their creation has been announced in Nature Photonics.

“We have a substrate covered in gold particles which act as catalysts, or seeds,” said Dr Sudha Mokkapati of the Australian National University’s Research School of Physics and Engineering. “We provide gases containing gallium and arsenic and raise the temperature of the substrate up to 750°C. At these temperatures the elements react and nanowires start growing.

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The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.