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If it looks like a Kangaroo and hops like a Kangaroo, it could be a sophisticated robot powered by electric drives and pneumatic pumps.

After two years of research German engineers have unveiled a “bionic Kangaroo” which closely emulates the marsupial’s unique hop.

Standing about a metre tall and weighing seven kilograms, the robot can reach heights of 40cm and distances of 80cm in a single bound.

And mimicking the animal, it can recycle kinetic energy from one jump to the next via an elastic “achilles tendon” and compressed air valves.

In nature, the Kangaroo’s ability to reuse energy allows it to cover vast distances at speed. Without it, they’d tire quickly.

In the industrial world, the same principle could improve the automation technology used to manufacture products such as cars and computers, according to the researchers from the Bionic Learning Network.

The network, a collaboration between European universities and researchers at German automation firm Festo, looks to nature for new ways to improve industrial technology.

Robotic penguins, seagulls and jellyfish are among their previous projects.

When standing, the Kangaroo touches the floor with both feet and its tail, giving it a stable three-pointed base.

Before the first hop, the elastic tendon is made tense with pressurised gas. Motors near the “hip” then kick in and the electronic animal leans forward.

When it reaches a certain angle, the energy is released and it hops.

The tail moves to keep the robot’s body balanced horizontally in mid-air. It then lands, converting force from the impact into energy for the next hop.

The robot is controlled with a sophisticated arm band which communicates a wearer’s gestures via Bluetooth up to a range of 50 metres.

Summon it with a “come here” gesture and along it will dutifully hop.

But it won’t be coming to Australian any time soon. Festo says it is a proof-of-concept model.

Engineers unveil bionic Kangaroo

The Seven Network has announced an access-all-areas documentary about Bali that promises to change people’s perspective on the popular holiday destination.

Titled What Really Happens in Bali, the series is described as an observational-documentary, with behind-the-scenes footage of hospitals and nightclubs.

Seven says it gained unprecedented access inside Bali’s busiest international emergency rooms at BIMC and Sanglah Hospitals as well as permission to film inside Kerobokan Prison for the series, which will air later in 2014.

What Really Happens in Bali covers schoolies’ celebrations, detoxing celebrities and even a self-confessed Aussie lothario who claims he’s slept with over 100 women in 90 days.

There’s also the emotional return of the families of the 2002 Bali bombings victims.

Seven’s head of factual programming Dan Meenan said some of the footage was “almost hard to believe, with the show’s cameras capturing serious accidents and injuries as they happen”.

New TV series to reveal the ‘real’ Bali

Missy Higgins, John Butler and jazz band Cat Empire are singing to save the Great Barrier Reef.

They are among 21 artists who have written and recorded music to fund legal action against plans to turn Abbot Point, in Queensland’s north, into one of the world’s largest coal ports.

WWF Australia campaign director Richard Leck said proceeds from Songs for the Reef could help overturn Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s decision last year to allow dredging near the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

“The sales of this album will support legal action that will argue federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt failed in his obligation to protect the environment,” he said.

The artists are also hoping to overturn the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s decision in January to allow three million cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped inside the park’s boundaries.

Activist group GetUp! is funding two separate legal cases against the dredging and dumping approvals.

The album can be downloaded for $10 from the internet.

Missy Higgins sings for Barrier Reef fight

Easter is not all about chocolate…really!

Nicola Moore, Wesley LifeShape Clinic manager and dietician has some tips to help you stay on track this Easter:

1) Instead of chocolate eggs, Oxfam offer a range of gift cards which donate items to developing countries like a carrot vegie garden!

2) Get some “Eggstra” exercise. Did you know that one 150g Cadbury Bunny takes 77 minutes of moderate jogging to work off?

3) Quality over quantity – the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you (try 70% cocoa). Portion size is also crucial.

4) “Eggstravagant” get-togethers – Easter means catching up with loved ones, so try to sip water or consume at least one glass for every alcoholic drink. Watch your food intake…on the positive side, Easter Friday is the time for fresh seafood.

Eggstra thought this Easter

Australians are being warned against buying a potentially dangerous diet pill linked to an increased risk of heart attacks.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on Tuesday issued a warning over the use of the herbal slimming pill, Ya Buk, over concerns it posed a serious risk to health.

The product contains the prescription-only substance sibutramine, which was withdrawn in 2010 after a study found it raised the risk of major cardiac events.

While the supply of Ya Buk capsules is illegal, the TGA says it understands some Australians may have bought the product online.

It is working with Customs to stop shipments from entering Australia.

Aussies warned over online diet pill

The tobacco plant could be a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer, say Australian scientists.

They have found a molecule in the plant that targets cancer cells and rips them open, according to an article in the journal eLife.

“There is some irony,” says lead researcher Dr Mark Hulett. “But this is a welcome discovery, whatever the origin.”

A promising feature of the molecule is that it targets cancer cells and does little damage to healthy cells.

“One of the biggest issues with current cancer therapies is that the treatment is indiscriminate,” say Dr Hulett of the La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science in Victoria.

He is confident the research will result in new drugs to fight cancer and possibly in a new type of antibiotic to fight infections.

The molecule is found in the colourful flower of ornamental tobacco plants, which are in the same family as the commercial variety.

“It’s an unexpected way to fight disease,” says Dr Marc Kvansakul, whose team was tasked with explaining how the process works.

“We have found gold in an unexpected place. The actual tobacco plant is not bad. Just what we do with it is bad.

“We are very excited about this research. It has taken several years and it has been a very exciting ride.”

The research adds to knowledge about molecules in all plants and animals that form the first line of defence against disease.

“Until now nobody has known how the molecules actually do their job,” says Dr Hulett.

Tobacco plant joins fight against cancer

The Great White Shark has appealed for investors to back a billion-dollar redevelopment of a Great Barrier Reef island.

Golfing great Greg Norman is the global ambassador for a $2 billion multi-faceted tourism project on Great Keppel Island, off central Queensland’s coast.

The Tower Holdings development includes an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Norman, 700 luxury villas, 350 luxury apartments, a beachfront hotel, a marina, an airstrip and a retail village.

The company also wants to build a casino on the island.

Norman launched a global campaign to lure investors on Tuesday April 1.

“Australia has lost a little of its panache in our international tourism market,” he said in Brisbane.

“This project is important for Australia, for our locals and for attracting luxury visitors back to Australia.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said there hadn’t been a development of this scale in the state for more than 25 years.

The resort island closed in 2008 after 40 years of operation.

Norman hopes for QLD island revival

A turtle, a snail and now a spider have been named after members of the Irwin family.

Terri Irwin now has a namesake – a determined, quick-thinking spider which is said to have similar characteristics to the environmentalist.

The brown and white-stripped arachnid has been named Leichhardteus terriirwinae by the Queensland Museum scientists who recently discovered it in the state’s northeast.

Irwin, wife of the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, says she’s delighted.

“The Queensland Museum continues to inspire us all with new species regularly discovered,” she said.

The spider was found in the Mount Aberdeen region by museum researcher Dr Barbara Baehr and senior curator Dr Robert Raven.

Dr Baehr says the fast-moving spider was named after Irwin because “she’s a fast and straight-thinking woman”.

Scientists from the museum have discovered 221 species in the past 12 months, including 104 species of spiders.

In 1997, Mr Irwin discovered a new species of turtle which he named Elseva irwini and in 2009 a snail was named Crikey steveirwini in his honour.

‘New’ Qld spider named after Terri Irwin

Australia faces a “spectrum crunch” that could leave millions with sluggish wireless internet by 2020, the CSIRO has warned.

Several capital cities are already approaching so-called “peak data” – where demand for wireless services outstrips the finite capacity of the radiofrequency spectrum.

Left unaddressed, it could create a new digital divide in which remote Australians will struggle to access basic online services, an agency report says.

“Some estimates suggest that spectrum demand will have almost tripled by 2020,” said CSIRO digital productivity and services flagship director Dr Ian Oppermann.

“Existing infrastructure will need to rapidly expand its currently available capacity if it’s to meet this demand.”

As more and more essential medical, educational and governmental services move online, the need for a solution becomes increasingly pressing, Dr Oppermann said.

Fuelling the crunch is the rapid uptake of wireless data. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows downloads on mobile devices doubled in 2013 as more people embraced smartphones and 4G networks.

To squeeze more out of available spectrum, the report suggests that space currently allocated to broadcast TV and mobile voice networks be handed over to wireless internet.

TV and radio could be delivered solely as streaming content, sharing frequency with all other forms of internet traffic.

Phone calls, which currently have their own spectrum band, could instead be carried out over the internet using mobile data, making phone numbers redundant.

CSIRO warns of wireless crisis

The comedy show Potted Potter is returning to Australia after a sell-out season two years ago.

The parody, created by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, condenses all seven Harry Potter books into an entertaining 70-minute show. It kicks off in Perth on October 14, before travelling to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Clarkson and Turner first created Potted Potter in 2005 for an appearance at a London bookshop as a five-minute entertainment for fans awaiting the release of the sixth book in the series.

The show grew from there into a full-length stage production, first seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006, and then later at the Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Comedy Festival and New Zealand Comedy Festival.

The finalised list of Australian tour dates will be announced in April.

Potted Potter comedy returning to Aus

New statistics released by Roy Morgan Research reveal that Virgin Australia is getting up to more business in Queensland.

Queensland’s business travellers are evenly divided in their choice of airline, moreso than any other state across Australia.

The national average reveals 77% of business travellers consider flying Qantas or Qantaslink, while 54% consider Virgin Australia and 29% Jetstar.

However in Queensland, Qantas rests on 74% while Virgin closes the gap with 63% – 9% higher than the Australian average.

Jane Ianniello from Roy Morgan Research says that although Qantas is still dominant in the domestic business market, Virgin is well considered.

“Virgin Australia has its headquarters in Queensland and services many regional Queensland destinations,” says Ianniello.

“The airline industry is very competitive and Roy Morgan’s new profiling tool, Helix Personas, can assist marketers to understand and communicate to business travellers.”

Virgin Australia closing the QLD gap

Kiwis are returning home to look for work according to Canterbury-owned industrial recruitment specialists Tradestaff.

Tradestaff Waikato area manager reports that as employment opportunities are drying up for Kiwis in Australia, New Zealanders are looking back across the ditch for solid work leads. 

“It’s just really hard at the moment; 90 per cent of the Kiwis coming home say they’re lacking the family support close by that comes in handy during those hard times.”

A recruitment consultant in Tradestaff’s Tauranga branch says candidates have decided to come back and raise their children closer to home.

“We’re seeing entire families coming back,” she adds.

If you are thinking of heading across the way, visit for more information and job opportunities.

Kiwis returning home

Do you know who lives next door to you? What about across the road or down the street? Sunday 30 March is Neighbour Day, an opportunity to get in-touch with your local community.

Logan City Council has partnered up with Relationships Australia to celebrate the day by offering a free hamper to the first 40 streets in Logan city to register a Neighbour Day event.

Logan Mayor Pam Parker says she is proud of Logan’s community spirit and events like Neighbour Day offer opportunities to strengthen bonds further.

“Neighbours have a big part in our day-to-day lifestyles, and the impact they have can leave a lasting impression,” she says. “The celebration of Neighbour Day is all about getting to know the people around you; whether they’re next door, across the street, or around the corner.”

Parker says our time-poor and technology-saturated lives make it more difficult to maintain close communities, but that a little effort goes a long way.

“I think it’s as simple as getting together and getting to know the people you share your street with; showing off that genuine sense of community we Australians are renowned for,” says Parker. “Whether it is carpooling to school, taking the bins in, or mowing the lawns while your neighbours are away, let’s join together and celebrate those all-important relationships with our neighbours.”

To be eligible for one of the free hampers Logan residents must register a daytime event with less than 20 people at

Feel the community spirit on Neighbour Day