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This week Siouxsie talks about why you probably shouldn't take vitamin D supplements, the satellite made by South African teenage girls and how a predatory bacteria could fight superbugs. Siouxsie also tells us about a science-art exhibition she's running at Wynyard Quarter in Auckland this weekend…
Cane toad sausages are being trialled to try to prevent wild animals from chowing down on the toxic amphibians as they spread across Australia. The toads have become a major invasive threat to Australian wildlife since they were introduced to Queensland in the 1930s to control the sugar-cane beetle. The toxic toads have been marching across the country at a rate of about 50kms a year. The toad-meat sausages are being used in a taste-aversion therapy trial in Western Australia. Wild animals are being given the snarlers laced with a salt chemical that will make them feel sick, teaching them to steer clear of them. Corrin Everitt from Western Australia's Department of Parks and Wildlife told Nine to Noon the programme has previously been successfully trialled with captive animals in the Northern Territories. Goannas, lizards, snakes and a species of native cat called the northern quoll are susceptible to being poisoned by the toads, she says.
State-of-the-art technology mimicking muscle movement has been recognised by the Royal Society in appreciation of its potential. Iain Anderson has been awarded the Pickering Medal for leading innovation in electro-active polymer technology, and for excellence leading to significant recognition and influence in New Zealand and overseas. He has set up a company called StretchSense, along with two of his former students, Todd Gisby and Ben O'Brien, to develop the material for use in wearable gadgets and soft robotics. The company describes these wearable applications as like rubber bands with Bluetooth. Along with gaming, the technology could help change the face of robotics, sports and motion capture. Anderson who is a bioengineer at the University of Auckland, says such mimicry makes a great deal of sense. “There’s been hundreds of millions of years of experimentation going on to try and perfect mechanisms for survival.” He says the material his company is commercialising does two key things: acts as a sensor and harvests energy. The mimicked muscle movement drew inspiration from jelly fish, Anderson says, which use small paddles as means of movement. “One little paddle moves and it touches the next one, and that moves and you get this roll of actuation.” Energy harvesting takes energy from human motions and turns it into electricity which can then be put back into a device that’s worn on the body to monitor, for example, a physiological function. Anderson says there is a “wearable technology explosion” going on around the world at the moment.
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