Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Extinct Burrowing Bats Betray Biodiversity Loss
The fossilised remains of burrowing bats that lived millions of years ago shed light on this remarkable group of mammals while signalling loss of biodiversity in New Zealand.
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Credit: Artem_Egorov/iStockphoto
The Big Picture on Nanoparticle Safety
Nanoparticles are found in our food, cosmetics and tattoo inks, but regulations for their use aren’t keeping up with new research questioning their safety.
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An electron microscope image of mitochondria undergoing herniation. On the botto
The Rogue Molecule That Triggers Autoimmunity
Mitochondrial DNA has been implicated in diseases such as arthritis, but how it escapes from inside the mitochondria and triggers these disorders has remained a mystery. Now Australian scientists have captured video evidence of mtDNA...
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Credit: David Merritt
Southern Lights: The Unique Bioluminescent Chemistry of New Zealand’s Glowworms
Researchers have extracted the molecules that power the majestic glowworm displays in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves.
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Credit: MN National Guard
Cheerleaders Make Fools of Our First Impressions
The “cheerleader effect” ­– the observation that people appear more attractive when they are in a group – reveals some quirks about how the brain processes complicated visual information.
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Credit: Bernard Dupont
Know Your Enemy
An ingenious experiment has tested whether shared evolutionary history enables bilbies to detect threats from dingoes but not feral cats.
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Credit: Philip Roetman
The Koala Conundrum
Wildlife managers believe that overabundant koala populations need to be culled before they strip the manna gums in which they live and begin to starve, but will the public accept culling koalas and other wildlife species, such as...
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Credit: Phil Spark
What Do Genomes Have To Say About Marsupial History?
Marsupials have walked on Australia for tens of millions of years, and include iconic species like the kangaroo, wombat and bilby. New methods for studying the genomes of marsupials have revealed some surprising aspects of their evolution.
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Credit: Andrew Fox / Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions
Personal Deterrents Can Reduce the Risk of Shark Bites
A study tests how effectively commercial shark deterrents reduce the risk of shark bites.
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COVER STORY
Credit: Artem_Egorov/iStockphoto
Nanoparticles are found in our food, cosmetics and tattoo inks, but regulations for their use aren’t keeping up with new research questioning their safety.
FEATURES
The fossilised remains of burrowing bats that lived millions of years ago shed light on this remarkable group of mammals while signalling loss of biodiversity in New Zealand.
An electron microscope image of mitochondria undergoing herniation. On the botto
Mitochondrial DNA has been implicated in diseases such as arthritis, but how it escapes from inside the mitochondria and triggers these disorders has remained a mystery. Now Australian scientists have captured video evidence of mtDNA escaping for the first time.
Credit: David Merritt
Researchers have extracted the molecules that power the majestic glowworm displays in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves.
Credit: MN National Guard
The “cheerleader effect” ­– the observation that people appear more attractive when they are in a group – reveals some quirks about how the brain processes complicated visual information.
Credit: Bernard Dupont
An ingenious experiment has tested whether shared evolutionary history enables bilbies to detect threats from dingoes but not feral cats.
Credit: Philip Roetman
Wildlife managers believe that overabundant koala populations need to be culled before they strip the manna gums in which they live and begin to starve, but will the public accept culling koalas and other wildlife species, such as kangaroos and brumbies?
Credit: Phil Spark
Marsupials have walked on Australia for tens of millions of years, and include iconic species like the kangaroo, wombat and bilby. New methods for studying the genomes of marsupials have revealed some surprising aspects of their evolution.
Mark Oliphant. Courtesy Australian Academy of Science
Archival documents recently uncovered in the UK’s National Archives have revealed that Mark Oliphant, the Australian-born physicist, breached secrecy provisions during World War 2 to not only kick-start the Manhattan Project but also to attempt to prevent an American monopoly on nuclear technology.
Credit: Andrew Fox / Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions
A study tests how effectively commercial shark deterrents reduce the risk of shark bites.
UP FRONT
A meta-analysis of academic authorship has concluded that gender equity in science remains decades away.
conSCIENCE
A new meta-analysis has attempted to give a scientific grounding to claims about the risks and benefits of nano-agrochemicals, but knowledge gaps remain.
There is a legal basis for the United Nations Security Council to declare climate change as a threat to international peace and security.
THE BITTER PILL
Diet gurus are blaming Australia’s obesity problem on government dietary guidelines they claim are unhealthy, when the real issue is that too few people follow them.
NEUROPSY
Army research suggests that the timing of your caffeine hit is more important than the amount consumed.
QUANDARY
Liquid biopsies promise early detection of cancer, but some of their current limitations risk being overlooked.
ECO LOGIC
As declines in biodiversity accelerate we need to examine innovative ways to save threatened species. Conservation burials may be one solution, and the potential is enormous.
LOWE TECH
Taxonomists are so under-resourced it would take them 400 years to describe all of Australia’s species, which means that species are going extinct before we even know about them.
EXPERT OPINION
Global temperatures are on track to rise by 3.2°C by 2100. A new study estimates that if this occurs, 26% of vertebrates, 49% of insects and 44% of plants would be unable to survive in about half of the areas they currently inhabit, compared with just 4% of vertebrates, 6% of insects and 8% of plants if warming is limited to 1.5°C.
THE NAKED SKEPTIC
Legislators continue to either refute or ignore science when it clashes with their ideology.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Astronomers take a close look at planetary formation around a binary star and examine one of the biggest stars in our galaxy.
DIRECTIONS
Machine learning is intrinsically biased, but what can be done about it?
AUSTRALASIAN SKY
Your map of the night sky this month.