Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938


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

Tonsil and Adenoid Removal Resolves Sleep Apnoea Issues in Children

Children experiencing sleep difficulties continue to suffer health problems even during periods of so-called “normal” sleep, but new research has found that surgical removal of adenoids and tonsils reverses these problems and may lead to improvements in brain development and behaviour.

Supernovae Dust on Ocean Floor

Scientists examining heavy metals on the ocean floor have made a surprising discovery that could change the way we understand supernovae.

“Small amounts of debris from these distant explosions fall on the Earth as it travels through the galaxy,” explained Dr Anton Wallner of The Australian National University. “We’ve analysed galactic dust from the last 25 million years that has settled on the ocean and found there is much less of the heavy elements such as plutonium and uranium than we expected.”

Decaf Coffee May Be Good for the Liver

Researchers from the US National Cancer Institute report that decaffeinated coffee drinking may benefit liver health. Results of the study, published in Hepatology, show that higher coffee consumption, regardless of caffeine content, was linked to lower levels of abnormal liver enzymes. This suggests that chemical compounds in coffee other than caffeine may help protect the liver.

Star Formation Reduced in Galactic Groups

By Stephen Luntz

Galaxies in groups lose hydrogen gas as they move through the intergalactic medium, making it harder for them to form stars.

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Burial Site Reveals Pre-history

By Stephen Luntz

A burial site in Vietnam provides insights into a hunter-gather population that inhabited South-East Asia more than 4500 years ago and is closely related to indigenous Australians and Melanesians.

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Turkey-Sized Dinosaur Found in Ancient Log-Jam

A dinosaur species discovered a decade ago in south-eastern Australia is giving fresh insights into the diversity of dinosaurs that inhabited the Australian–Antarctic rift valley.

The species, described in Peer J, was identified from fossilised tail and foot bones found in 113-million-year-old rocks that form a sea platform near Cape Otway in Victoria. The dinosaur has been named Diluvicursor pickeringi, meaning “Pickering’s flood-running dinosaur”. The species name honours the late David Pickering of Museums Victoria.

Introduced Megafauna Are Rewilding Ecosystems

Researchers have called for a reassessment of conservation values and attitudes surrounding introduced species following a study suggesting that large herbivores introduced to new regions are rewilding modern ecosystems.

When Neanderthals Walked with Modern Humans

Archaeologists at The Australian National University and The University of Sydney have opened a window into one of the most exciting periods in human history – the transition between Neanderthals and modern humans.

Nearby Star Offers New Insight into Earth’s Sun

After nearly a decade of intensive searching, an international team of astronomers has discovered the first star that varies its magnetic field like our own Sun.

The “BCool Project”, an international collaboration studying the dynamo generation of magnetic fields in cool stars, has been mapping the magnetic fields of a number of nearby stars using the Bernard Lyot Telescope in the French Pyrenees.