The mark of Zorro

“A nine-month-old puppy called Zorro has been flown in from Tasmania to the University of the Sunshine Coast this week to learn the art of finding owl vomit,” USC provides the lead of the year, yesterday.  The masked pup is a veteran of the ANU Difficult Bird Group’s crowd-funded search for owls (CMM September 12 2018).

Reaction to Ramsay at UniQueensland

The University of Queensland tocsin did not sound Tuesday, well not loudly, following Monday evening’s release of VC Peter Hoj’s discussion paper on why Ramsay western civ centre degrees would be a good thing for the university, (CMM yesterday).

Certainly, the Keep Ramsay out of UQ Facebook page was back, arguing the Ramsay Centre’s core purpose was unacceptable and allowing it on campus would infringe academic freedom and independence. But overall there was no denounce-a-thon. While National Tertiary Education Union leader Andrew Bonnell said Monday Professor Hoj must make any MOU public overall there was no denounce-a-thon, with the union considered in its response.

Yesterday Associate Professor Bonnell called on the university to deliver on its “promise of transparency in negotiations with Ramsay,” adding institutional autonomy and academic freedom are “non-negotiable.” He also warned, “members are already expressing their concerns about the inclusion of the Ramsay Centre CEO on selection panels for staff teaching into the program.” The union also called on members to  meet in a fortnight, a bare week before management’s prescribed consultation closes.


Aced with AI

QUT researchers have analysed thousands of tennis shots by Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to create an algorithm predicting where they will hit the ball next. But won’t stopping play to check a lap-top annoy referees?

Protecting peoples’ data: private, if not secret

People tend to trust government, certainly more than business, with personal on-line information and have a nuanced attitude to digital privacy. “The challenge for governments is to focus on what it means to be competent in protecting privacy, in the context of it being impossible to guarantee complete secrecy,” researchers from the ANU’s National Security College, writing with a university colleague suggest.

Certainly, university staff are trusting, and forgiving, of managements who hold data. The ANU community appeared relaxed last year after reports that the university had been comprehensively hacked. VC Brian Schmidt assured everybody no personal or financial data had been stolen, suggested staff and students change their passwords, and that was about that (CMM July 16).  And when UK HR software provider PageUp announced it was hacked Australian university clients, U Tas, Uni Melbourne and Uni Adelaide were frank and up-front about what happened (CMM June 8) with no apparent campus complaints.

Governments need to, “focus on what it means to be competent in protecting privacy, in the context of it being impossible to guarantee complete secrecy,” Adam Henschke, Ryan Young, Maia Gould and Hannah Smith, write.

MOOCs of the morning

Curtin U’s MOOC (via edX), “Social media: how media got social” is on again, starting Tuesday. Tama Leaver and Gwyneth Peaty, taught it this time last year.  Dr Peaty and colleagues, have a new MOOC “Disability and digital media,” set to begin on February 4.

Really average earnings

Average earnings by industry for May are out, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Professional, scientific and technical workers had the fourth highest average weekly earnings (around $1800 pw), behind, miners, the utilities sector and people in finance and insurance.  The education and training systems paid bang on the $1300 national average.

Labor’s hydrogen research commitment: the ARC has been on it for years

Labor has committed $1.4bn in government to, “make Australia a world leader in the burgeoning hydrogen industry.” Hydrogen is the energy flavour of the month, with Chief Scientist Alan Finkel a  fan of its fuel potential, especially if greenly extracted.

The Opposition says it will allocate $1bn from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to “support clean hydrogen”. A Labor government will also make “hydrogen production, storage and transport a funding priority of the Australian Research Council.”

Good-o, but the ARC is already on to it, supporting dozens of projects on hydrogen’s potential. In 2004, the ARC funded University of Wollongong’s Hua Kun Liu to develop a “high reversible hydrogen storage capacity to meet all the demands required for energy conversion applications, in particular, for hydrogen storage/fuel-cell vehicular applications.”


Rosie Hicks will become CEO of the Australian Research Data Commons in April. She moves from the Australian National Fabrication Facility, (micro and nano materials research) after 11 years plus as chief executive.  Her appointment follows the announcement of two new directors on the ARDC board (Anne-Marie Lansdown, Universities Australia) and Toni Moate (CSIRO), (CMM, Monday).