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Luke McGregor’s Luke Warm Sex probes everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask

Luke McGregor, subject and star of the documentary series Luke Warm Sex. Photo: ABCYou present yourself as incredibly naive about sex, having been a virgin until age 25 and having “done it” just twice since then. Is this a character you’ve created for the show or is it really you?
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Unfortunately, that is all me. I thought before we started filming whether I should try to come across as a little cooler, a little more knowledgeable. But we thought, nah, it might be better to not try to educate myself prior, because that meant I might be asking questions that people my age still have but are too embarrassed to ask.

One of the big ones was about the clitoris – I knew it existed, and I knew you should pay attention to it, but I wasn’t sure where, or in what way. It was a conscious decision not to look it up on the net before I started interviewing an expert, because if anyone else is going through the same thing I am, I thought it would be more helpful. But it was a tough balance trying to write a show while not being too informed going in.

Do you think other people are going through what you were? Are there are others out there clamouring for this sort of belated sex education?

Universities say when they do sex surveys they’re not really sure if people are telling the truth or not; anonymous surveys are always very different than surveys where people think they are being logged. I know that right up until the point I did the doco I used to not let on or discuss how much sexual experience I had, or try to let on I’d had a bit more. So I think it’s common that maybe we’re slightly embarrassed as we get older to close those knowledge gaps we have about sex.

If someone learns something they were scared to ask, or there’s a couple who aren’t enjoying their sex life and start talking about it and enjoying it more [after watching this series], they would be the things I hope for.

In the series, you experience a whole range of workshops, many of them rather “hands-on”. Were you surprised to discover such a flourishing trade in sexual knowledge and practice out there?

I was, yeah, and there was a whole bunch of stuff we didn’t even have time to cover, like the future of sex and the role virtual reality will play in it. It was a real eye-opener; I had no idea this whole community of people was out there. There isn’t always a certificate in this stuff, so often we were trying to find people through word of mouth, because the community can be quite closed. But as soon as we started finding some experts, we started finding others.

One of those experts taught you how to pleasure yourself more expertly. How does one train to become a masturbation counsellor?

His background is giving people happy endings at massage parlours. He became well known for it, and was very popular, and then started teaching it as a way of supplementing his artistic income. The stuff he is teaching was great; I hadn’t thought of doing that with my genitals before.

Among the more shocking moments in the show is the revelation that your first instinct upon ejaculating for the first time as a kid was to run in and show your mother. Please explain.

Mum was really good about it. Because it was one of the few times where something had actually happened, she had to address it, and we talked quite openly about it, and she said it was normal. But that was pretty much the only sex-ed I ever had with my parents.

Starting there in the doc was pretty important because it was kind of a cycle of awkwardness that I wanted to break. I thought it would be good to go back to where it all started, when something happens with your body that you don’t understand, and I wondered if, now that we’re all older, that would still be awkward. And the answer was yes.

What was the most embarrassing moment for you in the show?

When I was at the naturist resort, and I was sitting there clothed with a glass of wine and I thought I should get changed now. Having to take my clothes off, then standing in the room naked, thinking, “What if I have to go to the toilet and don’t shake enough times and I drip everywhere?” That was probably the most confronting.

And the most liberating?

Probably the same moment.

Luke Warm Sex is on ABC TV on Wednesdays at 9pm from March 16.

Karl Quinn is on Facebook and on twitter @karlkwin

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Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham warns universities over ATAR entry standards

“I will defend the defensible but if I need to act, I will”: Minister Simon Birmingham. Photo: Daniel MunozGaming the system: The beginning of the end for university admissions
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Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has warned the nations’ universities that “he will act” if the university sector fails to address falling entry standards after a Fairfax Media investigation revealed the practice of admitting students below minimum entry cut-offs was endemic.

Speaking to the Universities Australia conference on Wednesday night Mr Birmingham criticised universities for defensively claiming there was “nothing to see here” and said that entry requirements are seen by students as “opaque as a double frosted window”.

“I will defend the defensible but if I need to act, I will. I don’t want to micro-manage. I don’t want to be sitting in your Chancellery building negotiating on every place and mission change,” he said.

“Students need to have every confidence that they know what the real requirements for admission are, not some artificial measure that bears no resemblance to reality.”

Mr Birmingham also indicated that the government may pursue some form of fee deregulation – requiring students to pay a greater sharer of their degree costs – and reduce subsidies to universities.

“We do to reconsider the balance between public and private contributions and versus public and private benefits,” he said.

“People who participate in higher education still enjoy a significant wage premium over those who don’t.

“Those with a bachelor degree are likely to earn 75% more over their lifetime than someone without one.”

The government has twice attempted to deregulate university fees and cut course funding by 20 per cent, but its measures were rejected by the Senate.”

Mr Birmingham said: “Our government continues to believe that reform is necessary.

“Reform is necessary to support innovation, both within our universities and beyond.

“Reform is necessary to support the provision of pathways that enhance equitable access.

“Reform is necessary to protect our reputation for high quality – and yes, reform is necessary to support federal budget sustainability.”

Mr Birmingham said he would continue to consult with the sector, but did not say when the government would announce its higher education plans.

“I want to ensure that the next time we seek support of the Senate for a package of reforms they are not only generally supported amongst vice chancellors, but that the reasons for reform are well appreciated, the vision well enunciated and the implications well understood,” he said.

Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said the perception the government had abandoned deregulation was wrong.

“The government’s policies are not in abeyance, pending consultation,” he said.

“The consultation process serves a convenient political purpose – the Government can hope to get through the election without saying anything of substance, while maintaining its formal position of deregulation and budget cuts.”

In January, confidential data obtained by Fairfax Media from the top universities in NSW revealed that up to 60 per cent of students were being admitted to courses despite not scoring the required marks, while students were being accepted into courses with ATARs as low as 30.

At Western Sydney University 99 per cent of students offered places in their Bachelor of Construction management course failed to make the ATAR of 85, while at UNSW’s prestigious Bachelor of Laws course, 90 per cent of students failed to score the minimum entry mark.

He said that it was not enough for the sector to be happy with the processes it has in place.

“If the wider community lacks confidence or fears these processes may erode quality, then there is a role for all of us to address it.”

The warning comes as student numbers rise to record highs of 1.2 million under the demand-driven system. Since 2012 universities have been able to enrol as many students as they want, pushing out the total cost of university funding to $16 billion this year and driving down minimum entry standards.

Mr Birmingham has previously stated that there were no plans to reinstitute a limit on student places, despite the threat to the budget bottom line.

He has promised to keep a “watching brief,” as total drop-out rates reach the highest level in a decade.

On Wednesday he reiterated his instruction to the Higher Education Standards panel to examine methods for improving transparency in the sector.

“I will await considered views from the Standards Panel on what could and should be done to improve transparency,” he said. “In the meantime I expect all universities to take responsibility for the students they enrol, to ensure they are appropriately supported to succeed and complete their course”.

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Children to receive umbilical cord blood in world first cerebral palsy trial

Australian children with cerebral palsy will be infused with umbilical cord blood, in a world first medical trial at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
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The study hopes to find that stem cells from cord blood can repair brain injury that leads to cerebral palsy, the most common physical disability of Australian children.

The trial, led by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, has started recruiting children with cerebral palsy whose families have chosen to store a sibling’s cord blood at private banks.

Professor Iona Novak of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute said the importance of the study could not be underestimated.

“Unfortunately we hear of many Australian children with (cerebral palsy) and their families travelling overseas to receive unregulated stem cell treatments at great cost,” Ms Novak said. “This study, using cord blood which has been stored under Australian government-regulated conditions, is an important first step towards potentially improving treatment.”

Children aged 1 to 10 with cerebral palsy (a series of disabilities associated with movement and posture) will receive infusions of cord blood rich in stem cells, which have the ability to develop into other cells in the body.

The two-year study will investigate any changes in motor skills in these children.

Melbourne mother, Carly Stewart, said she was glad she chose to store the cord blood of siblings to her eight-year-old Lachlan, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth.

“We are excited about this Australian trial commencing and the promising future of this much-talked about treatment,” Stewart said. “I encourage other families to store their children’s cord blood.”

The foundation and Cell Care, Australia’s largest private cord blood bank, are funding the study.

Researchers will be unable to access cord blood from a public bank, which collects blood to treat blood disorders such as leukaemia, and cannot be used for untested new therapies.

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Bring back the big names

STAR BILLING: Emile Heskey scored nine goals and was instrumental in average crowd numbers at Hunter Stadium increasing by nearly 2000 in his first season at the Jets. Picture: Getty ImagesGREG Inglis, Jonathan Thurston, Sam Burgess, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith. It took just one round of the competition tospell out the advantage that the NRL has over the A-League.
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Compare them to the A-League’s best, Aaron Mooy, Alex Brosque, even imports Bruno Fornaroli, Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha.Unfortunately our players don’t have the same traction, the same star billing. Yes, they are household names in football but how many non-A-League fans would know them if they walked throughthe Hunter St Mall.

Therein lies the battle facing the A-League in its attemptto win the hearts and minds of the Australian public, let alone luremulti-national corporations.

Don’t get me wrong, thequality of football in the A-League has been good. There is just not enough people watching it.One of the answers is marquees. Not just blue-ribbon players, but bignames who will be familiar to theaverage Joe in the street.Only two seasons ago, Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono set the league alight. On the field they lived up to their reputation. Off it their presence was immeasurable. In Heskey’sfirst season at the Jets the average home crowdjumpednearly 2000.

This week Football Federation Australia unveiled a four-year strategic plan. Central to the plan is a treasure chest or fighting fund tolurebig names to the A-League. Hallelujah!The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the next broadcast deal.

Why take four years?Get on the front foot. Act now.Rather than spend money on FFA executives flying first-class and needless camps for national youth teams, make the money count.I’m not suggesting wethrow cash around like they are in China. The US Major League Soccer is an example we could follow. In the MLS clubs work together to bring out a top player to each franchise. They realise a strong league with recognised stars is good for everyone. Good for the bottom line.I’m not talking about 40-year-olds past theirexpiry dateand here for a holiday. The A-league hasmoved beyond that.You need players who have just tipped over from their best.

In recent seasons, clubs havefocused on findinghidden gems – another BroichorBerisha. For every diamond there are10 rocks.Likewise there is an argument that imports shouldn’t take the spot of local kids. I’m all for local talent.If they are good enough, they will finda place in any 23 man roster.

The marquees I’m talking about are proven performers. They come with a name and a profile. Not to mention the experience and professionalism they bring to a dressing room

Imagine a league that featured the likes ofNicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba, Robbie Keane, RioFerdinand and Arjen Robben,

The rights would skyrocket. You couldn’t keep the fans away.

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Ayman Omran, son of Melbourne Muslim leader Sheikh Mohammed Omran, dies in Syria

Sheikh Mohammed Omran, photographed in 2004, is the leader of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association of Australia. Photo: Ken IrwinThe son of a leading Melbourne-based Islamic sheik has died in unexplained circumstances in Syria, while providing “humanitarian aid” in the war zone.
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The death of Ayman Omran was confirmed on Wednesday in a statement by the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association of Australia, of which his father Sheikh Mohammed Omran – also known as Abu Ayman – is the leader. The statement did not address an unconfirmed report that he died in a bombing.

“It is with deep sorrow and sincere regret we confirm the sad news of our beloved brother Ayman Omran has passed away,” the association’s vice-president Sheikh Kalid Issa said in the statement.

“Ayman travelled as a volunteer to provide humanitarian aid, an act consistent with his soft heartedness and caring demeanour.”

The association, which preaches a strict form of Sunni religion, asked the media and public to respect the privacy of Mr Omran’s family.

It is believed Sheikh Omran is overseas and was told of his son’s death on Tuesday night.

Sheikh Issa said the association, with centres in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, had a policy that travelling to the Syrian war zone was “to be avoided”.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general Duncan Lewis told a Senate hearing last month that up to 49 Australians may have been killed in Syria and Iraq during the current conflict there.

Mr Lewis said 110 Australians were overseas fighting and almost 200 Australians were actively supporting the terrorist group Islamic State at home.

“The demographic is young. If I was talking to you a couple of years ago typically we would have been talking about people in their late 20s, early 30s,” he said.

“By the start or middle of last year we were … down to the teens.

“Untrained and naive young Australians are being drawn into the conflict and finding themselves in what I would describe as highly expendable, highly dangerous positions of low importance amid the [IS] effort,” he said.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the Australian government could not usually confirm reports of deaths in Syria and Iraq because of the danger in those countries.

It is also unable to provide consular assistance such as help to repatriate remains.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Tips for Australian visitors

Hogwarts castle, with a view of Flight of the Hippogriff, Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster.The Wizarding World of Harry Potter officially opens at Universal Studios Hollywood on April 7. For Pottermaniacs looking to be among the first to see it, Australia and New Zealand Universal Studios Hollywood representative Tristan Freedman offers these tips:
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Best time of the day and week to visit? 

Typically, the best time is midweek, when the Los Angeles locals aren’t visiting. It is also really worth checking if your visit is going to coincide with any US school vacations and try to avoid weekends and public holidays.

Can they pre-order tickets?

Absolutely. Universal Studios Hollywood works directly with all of Australia’s travel agencies, so customers can purchase their tickets before departing for the US. Particularly, once Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens, it is highly recommended that people purchase tickets ahead of their travels.

Is there a way to avoid the big queues with a VIP access or some such?

The two premium ticketing options that are really popular with Australians are the Front of Line ticket and the VIP Experience. Front of Line, as the name suggests, gets you one-time Front of Line access to all the major rides and attractions. The VIP Experience is a full-day experience with all the bells and whistles. You get a VIP lounge arrival, a private Studio Tour (where you actually get to walk through working sets and sound stages), and lots more.

How long should they plan for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? 

For Aussies, Universal Studios Hollywood is a fantastic one-day experience. If you’ve got Front of Line or VIP Experience tickets, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy all of the rides and attractions. Of course, if you’ve got Harry Potter fans in tow, then two days might be a good option.

And how about packages for accommodation? 

There are two fantastic accommodation options within Universal City. The Sheraton Universal and Hilton Universal are within stone’s throw of the park entry. It’s also worth noting that Hollywood itself is connected to Universal City by the Los Angeles Metro for just $1.75. iTravel has packages starting at $379 a person twin share for two nights’ accommodation at the Garland Los Angeles, plus entry to Universal Studios Hollywood. Contact iTravel on (02) 8880 7540.

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Brumbies wait on Ita Vaea as Tom Staniforth edges closer to comeback game

Ita Vaea has been ruled out of the Brumbies’ trip to Perth, but is expected to travel with the team to South Africa. Photo: Graham Tidy Brumbies back-rower Jarrad Butler is set to be injected into the starting team to play the Western Force. Photo: Graham Tidy
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The ACT Brumbies remain hopeful powerhouse forward Ita Vaea will be able to link up with the team in South Africa after having surgery on a dislocated finger, which has ruled him out of the clash against the Western Force on Friday night.

But Vaea’s absence has opened the door for a one-game rookie to make his comeback almost two years after his debut Brumbies match.

Lock Tom Staniforth is set to be included on the Brumbies’ bench to play the Force with Jarrad Butler expected to move into the No. 8 jersey following Vaea’s injury and Rory Arnold to be recalled to the second row.

Canberra junior Staniforth hasn’t played a Super Rugby match since being plucked out of his job as a part-time pub glassy in April, 2014 to play against the Queensland Reds.

The 21-year-old has toiled away at training and will be rewarded 700 days after bursting on to the scene as a teenager.

The Brumbies flew to Perth on Wednesday night aiming to continue their perfect start to the Super Rugby campaign after beating the Wellington Hurricanes and NSW Waratahs in the opening two rounds.

Vaea and Blake Enever are the only injury concerns in the squad, with Robbie Coleman also flying to Perth and James Dargaville recovering from a knee problem.

Vaea will have more tests later this week before a decision is made on whether he will be fit in time to play the Cape Town Stormers or Free State Cheetahs.

The 27-year-old was back at training on Wednesday but restricted to fitness duties as he aims to rejoin the squad for part of its three-week tour.

The Force threw a curve ball at the Brumbies before kick-off, rotating out some of their key players and injecting Wallabies workhorse Ben McCalman to the starting side for the first time this season.

McCalman is set to match up on highly-rated forward Butler, who is on Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s radar for future selection, while Jordan Smiler can also inject himself in the back row.

“The Force have certainly tweaked a few things and they’ve got some things up their sleeve,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham.

“We’re not putting too much emphasis on them. It’s not that we’re underestimating them. It’s just the fact we’ve got a lot to work on. Our focus is what we need to do to improve from last weekend.”

The Force drifted dramatically in betting markets on Wednesday afternoon when speculation swirled that they were expected to rest key players from the match.

Coach Michael Foley said earlier this week, “we don’t think anybody will rate us a chance but that’s OK” when asked about the contest against the Brumbies.

Foley has shifted scrumhalf Alby Mathewson to the bench with former Brumby Ian Prior getting the No. 9 jersey, while hooker Nathan Charles and lock Steve Mafi have been dropped to the bench.

But the Brumbies are refusing to be lulled into a false sense of security, adamant they have plenty of room for improvement despite scoring 11 tries in two games and sitting at the top of the table.

“We’re still trying to find our shape in attack a bit better and there are lots of little attention to detail thing that are so important in our game and they haven’t been quite where they needed to be,” Larkham said.

“The game against the Waratahs was tough and we found a way to win, we kept our focus and managed to defend really well. You’ll always make mistakes, but it’s the way you recover or move on.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND THREE

Friday: ACT Brumbies v Western Force at nib Stadium, Perth, 10.05pm (AEDT). TV: Live on Fox Sports 2.

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A new story for Mount Beauty Library

A new touch screen booking system for meetingrooms and steel bicycle stands are set to become some of the features of theMount Beauty Library.
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Alpine Council has released its concept plans for the library.

The old building was damaged in January when strong winds during aviolent storm,which some described as a mini tornado,ripped away the roofandblew out a window.

Rain thendamaged a sixth of the readingcollection.

But readers were able to get back to their books in a temporary locationin the auditoriumadjacent to the Mount BeautyVisitor Information Centre.

Councilasset development managerWill Jeremy asked for public comment into the new library plans so they could be part of the design process.

“The Mount Beauty Library is a key hub for the local communityand it is important that we consult with the community during the design process to ensure that we deliver facilities which best support the community needs,” he said.

“The draft concept plan is now on public exhibition and I encourage residents to have a look at it, and if they want to make a submission to council they will need to do so byMarch 18.”

The new library willfeature an improved control desk for staff, a large areafor books and a children’s section.

The outside will also be redeveloped with a verandaand large balcony.

Library staff have reassured the community insurance willcover the long-term replacement of damaged books andstorytime reading sessions have already resumed.

Alpine Council will put itsdraft concept planon public exhibition for 14 days at the council offices in Brightandthe temporarylibrary.

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Local solutions to our national problem

THE latest national suicide statistics cannot be read with anything but deep concern.
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Released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week, the figures reveal thatAustralia’s suicide rate rose to 12 per 100,000 people in 2014,the highest level since 2001.

Further, the numbers showthat in the 10years to 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44, and that while men in that age group are almost twice as likely to take their own lives aswomen, the rate of suicide in women aged 15 to24 jumped by 50 per cent inthe same period.

The statistics in the Hunter are similarly sobering.

In a summary paper, the Black Dog Institute, a mental health research not-for-profit organisation, identifies the Newcastle local government area as having the highest hospitaladmission rates for suicide attemptsin the state, as well as one of the highest suicide rates.

Given thatcontext, it might seem foolish to suggest that there is reason for hope.

But there is.

Practical strategies toaddressthesuicide rate alreadyexist, and at present, because of its high rate of suicide attempts, Newcastle is a candidate for the trial of a multi-pronged“systems-approach” which incorporates nine strategies, fromtraining GPs to continuity of care after a hospital discharge.

Manyof thesestrategies are simple, and couldeasily implementable.For example, as Dr HelenChristensen from the Black Dog Institute points out, whilea past suicide attempt is one ofthe best indicators of a future attempt,more than half of the people who are admitted to an emergency department after attempting suicidesee less than 15 minutes of medical care after they leave.

The institute estimates the new program wouldreduce suicide rates by 20 per cent, meaning saving 28 lives per year across the Hunter New England district, and preventing 450 self-harm related hospital admissions, based on data held by NSW Health.

Perversely, the statistics also show with stark clarity the truthat the heartof themessage that mental health professionals have been stressing for many years.

That is,you are not alone.

Issue: 48,179

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 224 636

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

MensLine Australia 1300 789 978

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How busy bees and ants could help save our cities

By studying the behaviour of bees, town planners may learn a thing of two. Photo: Ben Rushton Ants may provide some of the answers that elude our best minds. Photo: SMH contributor
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Much can be learnt from bees at work. Photo: magic1278南京夜网419论坛

Insect researcher Eliza Middleton of Sydney University. Photo: Rex Walton

Next time you’re stuck in a frustrating traffic jam, spare a thought for the humble ant. The behaviour of these tiny but tenacious creatures might hold the key to better traffic management systems.

Ants, along with bees and other social insects, could help town planners solve bottlenecks in city infrastructure and urban renewal, Australian scientists have revealed.

The business of foraging for food, building nests and trails and growing colonies were all skills from which city planners could learn.

“I think of insects as efficient, almost intelligent, in some ways,” Sydney University biologist Eliza Middleton said. “We could use the lessons from these creatures to inform and improve our town planning.”

An ant colony, for example, might be trading off between the costs of efficiency and redundancy, said Dr Middleton, who reviewed a range of insect studies for an upcoming publication.

In the ant known as Lasius niger, traffic congestion was prevented by actively redirecting traffic to additional trails, she explained.

“If humans could develop a similar strategy, perhaps as a part of our online navigation systems – think of Google Maps – we could achieve a more even spread of traffic across our road networks,” Dr Middleton said. “In this way, we could potentially lower or prevent congestion in some areas.”

The lessons to be learnt from the social insect realm did not end there.

Several species have inactive workers with the potential to replace lost workers, for instance.

In honeybees, when working members are lost, the remaining individuals can switch tasks to fill the labour gaps.

“In honeybees, individuals can mature faster to help with foraging tasks earlier in life if workers are lost,” Dr Middleton said. “This could be useful in human infrastructure if our systems had a level of flexibility that allowed units to be temporarily reassigned to other tasks in the event of a disturbance.”

Honeybees resist the degradation of their communication networks using anything from a waggle dance to auditory, vibrational, tactile and olfactory cues.

“In a human system, the presence of inactive servers or power grids would allow us to better respond to disturbances, such as a natural disaster, as the inactive units become activated,” Dr Middleton said.

This comes at a price. The high cost of building and maintaining such technologies needed to be weighed against the potential benefit of such systems, she cautioned.

“With the rise of ‘smart’ electronics and appliances that can collect and exchange data, our infrastructure systems are becoming more self-organised and less centralised,” she said. This is also observed in social insect systems.

“These smart systems have the potential to revolutionise sustainable energy, but they pose unique problems that, perhaps, insect systems can answer,” Dr Middleton said.

So how do we build self-healing systems that respond quickly to damage? The answer, she believes, might lie in the self-healing nature of ant trails of pheromones, chemical substances used in communicating.

“Argentine ants constantly lay new pheromone trails as they walk, allowing them to repair broken trails,” Dr Middleton said.

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