Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

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Why Our Brain Craves Random Noise
Sensory deprivation, dreams, hallucinations and the detection of familiar patterns in clouds and repetitive sounds reveal our brain’s determination to make meaning from random noise.
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Chasing the Meaning of Zero
It took early mathematicians until 400 BC to determine the concept of zero, yet the simple bee brain can be trained to recognise an “empty set” within a few hours.
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Keeping Up with the Kids
Children seem to be able to play for hours without tiring. Only now are we beginning to understand the physiological reasons why.
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Credit: Caleb Dawson
The Art of Science
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has created an exhibition of gorgeous images revealing biological processes such as breast and lung cancer, blood vessel development and embryogenesis.
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What’s Jumped Into Your DNA?
DNA elements that can transfer between species make up an astonishing 17% of the human genome, and have been associated with schizophrenia and cancer.
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Cultural Evolution in Darwin’s Finches
A new study is analysing the songs of Darwin’s finches to determine the role of cultural evolution in speciation.
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Under the Shade of Eucalypt Trees
Eucalypt trees are iconic in Australia, with around 900 species spread around the continent. However, a new study has found that toxic compounds in their leaves are having undesirable ecological impacts when eucalypt plantations have been...
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Different phytoplankton species, including diatoms and algae. Image courtesy of
The Ghosts of Climate Past – and of Climate Future
Ancient plankton DNA is revealing how marine ecosystems have responded to long-lasting changes in past climate – and enabling us to predict the future.
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Magnetic Particles Make Wine Fine
Magnetic polymers have been applied to winemaking to demonstrate their potential as a treatment to remove off-flavours. How does it work and what is the effect?
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COVER STORY
Credit: George Peters/iStockphoto
Sensory deprivation, dreams, hallucinations and the detection of familiar patterns in clouds and repetitive sounds reveal our brain’s determination to make meaning from random noise.
FEATURES
Credit: Rainer Fuhrmann/Adobe
Just as we check the weather forecast to plan our daily activities, people with epilepsy will soon be able to check personalised seizure forecasts to determine their risk and take necessary precautions.
Credit: peter_waters/Adobe
It took early mathematicians until 400 BC to determine the concept of zero, yet the simple bee brain can be trained to recognise an “empty set” within a few hours.
Credit: natasnow/Adobe
Children seem to be able to play for hours without tiring. Only now are we beginning to understand the physiological reasons why.
Credit: k_e_n/Adobe
DNA elements that can transfer between species make up an astonishing 17% of the human genome, and have been associated with schizophrenia and cancer.
A new study is analysing the songs of Darwin’s finches to determine the role of cultural evolution in speciation.
Credit: mraoraor/Adobe
Eucalypt trees are iconic in Australia, with around 900 species spread around the continent. However, a new study has found that toxic compounds in their leaves are having undesirable ecological impacts when eucalypt plantations have been established in other parts of the world.
Credit: Caleb Dawson
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has created an exhibition of gorgeous images revealing biological processes such as breast and lung cancer, blood vessel development and embryogenesis.
Different phytoplankton species, including diatoms and algae. Image courtesy of
Ancient plankton DNA is revealing how marine ecosystems have responded to long-lasting changes in past climate – and enabling us to predict the future.
Credit: ugurv/Adobe
Magnetic polymers have been applied to winemaking to demonstrate their potential as a treatment to remove off-flavours. How does it work and what is the effect?
2018 was another big year for science yarns, from outrage at the creation of the world's first genetically modified babies and dire warnings from the world's top climate science organisation, to a successful Mars mission and a huge setback for driverless cars. Scroll down to see 2018's best and biggest science tales.
There was no shortage of weird and wonderful science in 2018.
Research finds a link between some of the most popular heartburn treatments and iron deficiency, which can lead to anaemia
Their wooden homes are stuck together with pee and have stood longer than the pyramids.
UP FRONT
Corporate interests have a heavy hand in how research is designed, conducted and reported.
conSCIENCE
A disabled student’s story reveals the huge systemic barriers faced by minority groups seeking a science education.
QUANDARY
Alongside the question of whether we can treat ageing is the question of whether we should.
NEUROPSY
Decisions are most easily made when the right number of options are available.
ECO LOGIC
Cities planning to adapt to climate change should take biodiversity along for the ride.
LOWE TECH
Australia has been ranked third-worst in the developed world for environmental protection, and medical professionals are increasingly concerned about the health impacts of climate change.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Astronomers have spotted the most distant star ever seen as well as stunning auroras on Saturn.
DIRECTIONS
Australia is well-placed to use the expertise, networks and infrastructure of our science, technology and innovation sectors to leverage international influence.
THE NAKED SKEPTIC
Predictions of a tsunami hitting Sydney should not have made the news.
THE BITTER PILL
The problem of over-hyped science news is undermining public trust in science.
EXPERT OPINION
Australia’s Space Agency will touch down in Adelaide by mid-2019. It is hoped that it will help triple Australia’s space economy to $12 billion by 2030.
NASA's InSight lander has touched down on Mars after spending almost 7 months travelling through space. Its mission is to measure the temperature of the red planet and listen out for any earthquakes to help scientists understand more about the interior of the planet.
Killer whales are at risk due to PCB contamination despite a near-global ban more than 30 years ago. The threat affects more than half of the world’s orcas, and whale populations near industrialised regions and at the top of the food-chain are at a high risk of population collapse over the next 100 years.
AUSTRALASIAN SKY
Your map of the night sky this month.