Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

foetus
Why Are Males More at Risk in the Womb?
Subtle changes in the placenta before a child’s birth can affect its predisposition to chronic disease and premature death many years later – and unborn boys are most vulnerable.
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The dwarves of a village in Ecuador never succumb to cancer or diabetes.
Why Don’t Some Dwarves Get Cancer?
Understanding the molecular mechanism that prevents dwarves from getting cancer and diabetes could lead to treatments for a range of diseases, and even hormone-free aquaculture.
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Credit: Bobby Tamayo
Top Dog: How Dingoes Save Native Animals
Dingoes are considered a pest by land managers in Central Australia, but it turns out they are effective pest managers of feral cats and foxes – until the rains come.
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Rescue workers after a bomb blast
Bomb-Proofing Buildings
A new form of reinforced concrete that can absorb the blast of an explosion is being developed for use in buildings that can withstand terrorist attacks.
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A large staghorn fern
Killer Vines Strangling the Rainforest
Woody vines are proliferating in Australia’s fragmented tropical rainforests and threatening the existence of ferns.
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heart
Getting to the Heart of  Size
The discovery that cardiac muscle cells can divide until adolescence opens the way to new approaches to treating heart disease.
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premature baby
Bated Breath
Medical advances are enabling increasingly premature babies to survive, but the health risks they face can persist well beyond childhood. Now a clinical trial in Melbourne is testing the use of foetal stem cells to ward off chronic lung...
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foetus
Subtle changes in the placenta before a child’s birth can affect its predisposition to chronic disease and premature death many years later – and unborn boys are most vulnerable.
FEATURES
Soil bacteria can survive lengthy periods without food or water by metabolising hydrogen. How they do this has wider implications for understanding the biology of soils, the chemistry of the atmosphere and the development of artificial catalysts to harness hydrogen as a fuel source.
The dwarves of a village in Ecuador never succumb to cancer or diabetes.
Understanding the molecular mechanism that prevents dwarves from getting cancer and diabetes could lead to treatments for a range of diseases, and even hormone-free aquaculture.
Credit: Bobby Tamayo
Dingoes are considered a pest by land managers in Central Australia, but it turns out they are effective pest managers of feral cats and foxes – until the rains come.
Rescue workers after a bomb blast
A new form of reinforced concrete that can absorb the blast of an explosion is being developed for use in buildings that can withstand terrorist attacks.
A large staghorn fern
Woody vines are proliferating in Australia’s fragmented tropical rainforests and threatening the existence of ferns.
heart
The discovery that cardiac muscle cells can divide until adolescence opens the way to new approaches to treating heart disease.
premature baby
Medical advances are enabling increasingly premature babies to survive, but the health risks they face can persist well beyond childhood. Now a clinical trial in Melbourne is testing the use of foetal stem cells to ward off chronic lung disease in premature babies.
NEUROPSY
Sleep experts and lawyers are wrestling over the criminal responsibility of sleepers.
THE FIT
Fitness devices that track our daily activity are now common, but do they live up to the hype?
QUANDARY
Reality TV has added a fresh perspective to the bioethical debate about the use of love drugs.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Mysterious signals have been detected from beyond our galaxy, and an exoplanet’s size has been measured to an accuracy of 1%.
THE BITTER PILL
Stringent regulations govern what is administered to us in the prime of our lives, but different values seem to apply when it comes to the terminally ill and the dying.
conSCIENCE
Drug treatments for behaviours that were previously not considered mental health conditions raise several unintended consequences.
EUREKA
Chip packaging is providing a cheap material for a water purification system in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and a “salmon cannon” is helping salmon swim upstream.
SIMON SAYS
The Minister responsible for Science has described scientists as “precious petals”. Crunch the numbers and he may be right.
LOWE TECH
The federal Government has called for volunteers to site a nuclear waste repository.
THE NAKED SKEPTIC
Milk is sold as full fat, low fat, fat-free, permeate-free, organic, A2 or unpasteurised, but do the health benefits match the marketing hype?
THE FOSSIL FILE
A synchrotron scan of a 400 million-year-old fish has revealed how far back our own facial structures evolved, and a 28 million-year-old toothed whale fossil has revealed the origins of echolocation in modern whales.
ECO LOGIC
Have you just published an important journal article? Why not turn it into a movie?
PARACELSUS' POISON
This morning I woke to the most disappointing headline ever. “A Bite to Remember? Chocolate Is Shown to Aid Memory” was prominent in my twitter feed, highlighting a recent paper...
UP CLOSE PODCAST
Infectious diseases expert Prof Sharon Lewin explains how the HIV virus disarms our immune system and multiplies within it. She also discusses what these discoveries mean for research efforts into future treatment.
Neuroscientist Prof Seth Grant explains how genetics gave rise to the modern human brain, and how the very complexity that characterises our brains makes them vulnerable to neurological diseases that reveal themselves in mental illness.
AUSTRALASIAN SKY
Your map of the night sky for December 2014.
EXPERT OPINION
Exposure to antidepressants in the womb may be linked to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in the child, but the risks of depressed mothers stopping their medication may be greater.
DIRECTIONS
Australia must improve its efforts in international collaboration to optimise its research investment.