Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Moral Machine
How can we program autonomous vehicles to make life-or-death decisions when our own moral values vary according to factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture?
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Platypus Venom Spurs Diabetes Treatment
Radical evolutionary changes in a hormone involved in glucose control might lead to a new treatment for type 2 diabetes derived from platypus venom.
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The Guts of the Captive Breeding Problem
The discovery that captivity affects the internal organs of animals has significant implications for their successful reintroduction to the wild.
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Obesity Drugs Could Mimic the Effects of a Cigarette in the Snow
A study has produced rapid weight loss by activating cold and nicotine receptors that stimulate the body to burn fat while also suppressing appetite.
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Brain Patterns Put ADHD in Focus
Brain scans are revealing the neurobiology underlying specific symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and raising the prospect of individualised treatments.
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Cloudy with a Chance of Earthquakes
The rupture of a megafault beneath New Zealand in 2016 has revealed a periodicity to earthquakes that may enable geologists to forecast seismic events based on satellite monitoring of the Earth’s movements.
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The Tree That Waters Itself
Island gigantism might have driven the evolution of one of the most bizarre adaptations in the plant kingdom.
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Evolution on an Ecological Scale
Darwin’s theory of natural selection may be simple and intuitive, but some of its key assumptions are now being called into question.
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How Oil Palm Can Become More Ecologically Friendly
Oil palm is not a suitable habitat for most terrestrial mammals, but there are ways to improve it and promote the conservation value of these landscapes.
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COVER STORY
How can we program autonomous vehicles to make life-or-death decisions when our own moral values vary according to factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture?
FEATURES
Radical evolutionary changes in a hormone involved in glucose control might lead to a new treatment for type 2 diabetes derived from platypus venom.
The discovery that captivity affects the internal organs of animals has significant implications for their successful reintroduction to the wild.
A study has produced rapid weight loss by activating cold and nicotine receptors that stimulate the body to burn fat while also suppressing appetite.
Brain scans are revealing the neurobiology underlying specific symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and raising the prospect of individualised treatments.
The rupture of a megafault beneath New Zealand in 2016 has revealed a periodicity to earthquakes that may enable geologists to forecast seismic events based on satellite monitoring of the Earth’s movements.
Island gigantism might have driven the evolution of one of the most bizarre adaptations in the plant kingdom.
Darwin’s theory of natural selection may be simple and intuitive, but some of its key assumptions are now being called into question.
Oil palm is not a suitable habitat for most terrestrial mammals, but there are ways to improve it and promote the conservation value of these landscapes.
The discovery that nanometre-scale cracks form in the cell walls of wood can be exploited to engineer high-performance floorboards from soft woods such as pine.
New research shows that extra nuclei gained during exercise persist even after a muscle shrinks from disuse, disease or ageing – and can be mobilised rapidly to facilitate bigger gains on retraining.
UP FRONT
If we won’t share our medical history across the health system, it’s hard to see Australians handing over their genetic profile.
conSCIENCE
While tobacco companies claim to be cooperating with health authorities to reduce smoking, new tobacco products are squarely aimed at recruiting new smokers.
QUANDARY
Conflicts of interest are rife in scientific research, but non-financial conflicts of interest are often overlooked.
NEUROPSY
A new study predicts the most amusing words in the English language.
ECO LOGIC
Crowdfunding is a new addition to the portfolio of conservation finance mechanisms with real potential to create valuable additional resources.
LOWE TECH
About 100 million hectares of forest have been lost globally in the past 25 years, but one Landcare group has increased a patch of rainforest lost to farmland by 40% in 20 years.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
The number of known fast radio bursts has doubled, and a patent has brought a space elevator one step closer.
DIRECTIONS
Nature is inspiring simple solutions to complex engineering problems.
THE NAKED SKEPTIC
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but that’s not always possible with science.
THE BITTER PILL
Despite a number of reforms, the TGA’s system of labelling therapeutic goods confuses consumers and its complaints resolution process fails to deter repeat offenders.
EXPERT OPINION
It is possible that amyloid beta pathology, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, can be transmitted through contaminated human growth hormone.
Exposure to traffic pollution during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of autism.
AUSTRALASIAN SKY
Your maps of the night sky for January and February.