Fill an awkward silence - with science

15 February 2019
Skip the small talk and break the ice with these real-research facts
Trying to start a new conversation? If you’re at a loss for a topic that isn’t the weather, try casually mentioning the ground breaking research taking place at this very University.

You might not always see them, but while you’re busy racing between lectures and tutorials, our researchers are uncovering new perspectives and fresh approaches to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Why not strike up a conversation with a stranger about the incredible discoveries occurring just a few doors down from your tutorial room?

Fact 1: Napping is good for your brain

Need a nap? Don’t think twice about it. Neuropsychologists from The Brain and Mind Centre have discovered that sleep is like the brains plumbing system. It drains the toxins associated with brain neurodegeneration and leads to the growth and integrity of our brain cells.

Our researchers are ahead of the game in uncovering how sleep could prevent dementia. As the world’s population continues to age, this revolutionary research could change the quality of life for millions across the world.

Fact 2: Carbs make you live longer

Yep, you heard it here first folks, bread is the secret to a long and healthy life. So, in the name of research, (carb) load up!

Well, it’s not quite as simple as that - and doesn’t necessarily mean that committing to a diet consisting solely of Cake Boy’s creations will provide optimum health (although it will bring you optimum happiness). Nutritionists at The Charles Perkins Centre have swept aside the fad diets to find that a diet high in ‘good’ carbs (veggies and wholegrains) and low in protein is in fact the best way to trim your waistline.

Fact 3: Diamonds might save your life one day

It’s true; diamonds really are worthy of best-friend status. Especially given that the Sydney Nano Institute has uncovered a way to utilise them in detecting early-stage cancers.

That's right; researchers have discovered that nanoscale diamonds can identify tumours in MRI scans before they become life-threatening. They also act as a ferry that is able to transport drugs through the bloodstream for targeted imaging or chemotherapy delivery.

This research is happening on the quantum scale, and requires seeing the laws of physics in a fundamentally new way.

Fact 4: Plastic can be recycled into fuel

The world produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastic each year, and most of it becomes trash. There’s no denying it, we’re in a global plastic waste crisis.

Rather than drowning in non-reusable sorrows, experts from the School of Chemistry challenged widely-held perspectives and discovered a new way to recycle plastic. Based on a chemical process, plastic waste can be transformed into fuel, or used to make new plastic again and again. By thinking beyond accepted methods, they have transformed the global perception of plastic to clean up the world.

Fact 5: Owning a house really is a privilege

That extra slice of avocado toast won’t necessarily ruin your chances of buying a house. The economy is much more complex than a delicious breakfast, and a new set of social classes is spreading like an economic condiment.

Political scientists from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have identified features of the economy that favour asset-ownership over high-paying jobs. It’s a reason for the surge of Uber drivers, all of whom own their own car, or AirBnb hosts, who own their own homes. This new perspective reimagines Australia’s economic situation, and calls for a shift in the way the country addresses financial issues.

Want to learn more about the University’s research that is making a real-world impact? Discover how we’re unlearning the world’s most pressing issues by re-imagining what’s possible.