Australia offered zero-emission coal partnership

June 24, 2006

This is a story on the ABC web-site – it's very good news – potentially having zero-emission coal-fired electricity plants… the story is here…

Harriet, Darwin’s tortoise, dies at 176

June 24, 2006

From yesterday's SMH:

"Giant Galapagos tortoise Harriet has died of a suspected heart attack at the ripe old age of 176 on the Sunshine Coast.


Her history is as colourful as the hibiscus flowers she lovingly munched on.

It is believed Harriet was one of three animals naturalist Charles Darwin brought back from his trip to the Galapagos Islands in 1835 and which led to his theories of evolution and natural selection.

A few years later, Sir Charles gave them to a Brisbane-bound friend."

The article is at

Winter solstice June 21

June 20, 2006

June 21 marks the Winter solstice for the Southern hemisphere.

I love the Winter solstice, as it means that the days will now get longer for six months. It’s interesting to observe how the days get longer – if you plot the day length versus date, you get something like a nice sinusoidal curve unless you’re in the land of the midnight sun/moon.

The wikipedia entry on the Winter solstice is here:

According to that article, the exact time of the Winter solstice is 12:26 Universal Time on June 21, so in Sydney it happens at 22:26. The article states that astronomically, a solstice occurs when a hemisphere has the greatest incline away from the Sun.

Aphelion, the point of farthest distance of the Earth from the Sun, occurs at 23:00 Universal Time on July 3 (thus 09:00 July 4 Sydney time).

Of course, as the Earth’s axis of rotation precesses (see and its orbit about the Sun gradually changes (in a cycle from elliptical to near-circular and back again), and the degree to which the tilt of the Earth’s axis changes, the solstices, equinoxes and aphelion and perihelion will all change.


June 12, 2006

I saw these jobs advertised on the weekend:

Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor in Applied Mathematics – School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sydney. See

I also saw a jobs with FASTS (federation of australian scientific and technological societies) for a policy officer (I think!) – in any event, the web-site for FASTS is here although it doesn't look as if they've put the job on it yet.

Earth system analysis for sustainability

June 11, 2006

Yesterday I bought a book on Earth System analysis that looks extremely interesting:

It's an edited collection of papers from the 91st Dahlem Workshop on Earth System Analysis for Sustainability held in Berlin, May 25-30, 2003. To quote from the front jacket:

"Earth System Analysis for Sustainability uses an integrated systems approach to provide a panoramic view of planetary dynamics since the inception of life some four billion years ago and to identify principles for responsible management of the global environment in the future."

It seems to me that it is an important goal to understand the Earth system and right now I feel like I want to work in this area!