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A round-up of the latest science and news from Australasia.

Supercapacitors Increase Battery Life

By Stephen Luntz

A team at Waikato University has demonstrated that supercapacitors can be used to capture electrical energy that would otherwise go to waste in portable electronic devices, significantly increasing the efficiency of high-tech gadgets.

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Size Matters for Dung Beetles

By Stephen Luntz

Certain species of female dung beetles have evolved horns that are remarkably similar to those of male mammals, with a few more reminiscent of dinosaurs. The females use these to compete with each other, but when males fight for mates they also stand to gain a resource that is vital to their reproduction – dung.

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Mountain Ash Can Resprout

By Stephen Luntz

Mountain ash shares with other eucalypt species the capacity to resprout after fires, but only if the blaze is relatively cool, according to new research.

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Aphid Genome Sequenced

By Stephen Luntz

The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is the latest species to have its genome published, thanks to an international collaboration including the University of Otago.

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Indigenous Migraine Treatment

By Stephen Luntz

Native lemongrass (Cymbopogon ambiguus) is used in indigenous medicine to relieve headaches. No clinical studies have been done to confirm its effectiveness, but in vitro research at Griffith University suggests that belief in its properties is credible.

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Cosmetic Passes Test

By Stephen Luntz

The belief that smearing oatmeal on your face is good for the skin is more than an urban (or rural) myth, according to Ms Becky Macdonald of The Biopolymer Network, who has found proteins in oats that are likely to work well in moisturising the skin.

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Gene Implicated in Kidney Stone Formation

By Stephen Luntz

Research on mice with a gene removed has unexpectedly shed light on the cause of kidney stones and liver failure.

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Gannets Divorce for Real Estate

By Stephen Luntz

Australasian gannets prefer to stay in long-term “marriages” to increase their chance of breeding success. However, a gannet will “divorce” in favour of another mate if it’s the only way to hold onto a prime bit of land.

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Quantum Dots Controlled

By Stephen Luntz

Developments in the production of magnetic quantum dots could increase the speed and power of computers.

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Devil in the Genetic Detail

By Stephen Luntz

Genetic diversity may save the Tasmanian devil in the wild, with increasing evidence that a genetically distinct population in the north-west of the island may have natural immunity to the facial tumour disease that is ravaging its cousins.

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