Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Browse

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

Infrared Protects Eyes

By Stephen Luntz

A dose of near infrared light can protect the eyes of people exposed to bright light of shorter wavelengths.

“There’s a group of cells that look after our vision and work behind the scenes called Müller cells,” explains Ms Rizalyn Albarracin, a PhD student at The Vision Centre and the Australian National University. “They act to protect the retina by clearing toxins and inducing healing whenever there is injury to the vision cells.”

Diabetes Drug Prevents Parkinson’s

By Stephen Luntz

Diabetes is a major risk factor for developing Parkinson’s disease, with some diabetes drugs affecting the development of the latter.

An enormous study of the Taiwanese population has brought together two of the developed world’s fastest-growing diseases: Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. The good news is that the same medication may work against both.

Buying into Feelings of Insecurity

By Stephen Luntz

Women who are vulnerable to media-generated insecurity about their bodies buy more shoes and handbags.

Women who are vulnerable to media-generated insecurity about their bodies buy more shoes and handbags than those with higher self-esteem, but the same does not apply to trousers according to Jessica Boyce, a PhD student at the University of Canterbury’s Department of Psychology. Perhaps more surprisingly, women who are more insecure in general are less likely to buy accessories.

Solar Cells out of the Red

By Stephen Luntz

Low-energy photons of light have been combined to increase the efficiency of solar cells.

Low-energy photons of light have been combined to increase the efficiency of solar cells, marking a step towards panels with an efficiency ceiling of 43% in normal sunlight exceeding the previous theoretical maximum of 33%.

Long wavelength (red) light has less energy than shorter wavelengths, and all solar cells have a certain wavelength beyond which they cannot harvest. However, certain materials can combine two long wavelength photons into one shorter one, a process known as upconverting.

New Theory Explains Meteorite Mystery

By Stephen Luntz

Tiny components of meteorites have long posed a puzzle for astronomers, but researchers at the Australian National University believe they have an explanation that sheds light on our solar system’s birth.

Chondrules are spherical and just 1 mm in diameter, but can represent as much as 80% of the mass of a meteorite. They carry clear indications of having been formed at more than 1000°C, but are found next to other materials that have never been exposed to temperatures of a few hundred degrees.

Australian Ceratosaur Discovered

By Stephen Luntz

The ankle bone of an Australian ceratosaur has been found near San Remo on Victoria’s east coast, placing the major group of carnivorous dinosaurs on this continent for the first time.

“Until now, this group of dinosaurs has been strangely absent from Australia, but now at last we know they were here – confirming their global distribution,” says Dr Erich Fitzgerald, a palaeontologist at Museum Victoria.

The exact species of ceratosaur is unknown, although Fitzgerald says it was not a member of the genus Ceratosaurus, from which the group gets its name. “Unfortunately from relatively fragmentary parts of the skeleton we can’t identify the species, although we think it was potentially from the family of abelisauroids.”

Rogue Waves Confirmed

By Stephen Luntz

An Australian–German collaboration has created super rogue waves in a 10 x 1 metre wave tank, swamping a Lego pirate in the process.

To view this article subscribe or purchase a yearly pass here.

There’s More to Hen Health than Housing Style

By Stephen Luntz

A comparison of chicken stress levels has found that other factors are more important than whether they are housed in cages or allowed to roam free.

To view this article subscribe or purchase a yearly pass here.

Take a Break from Sitting

By Stephen Luntz

Overweight workers in sedentary jobs should take frequent short activity breaks to reduce the negative impacts of sitting for too long, a paper in Diabetes Care suggests.

To view this article subscribe or purchase a yearly pass here.

Blood Proteins Reveal Onset of Alzheimer’s

By Stephen Luntz

A selection of 11 proteins can collectively identify people with Alzheimer’s at a point where diagnosis is currently difficult, raising prospects for early intervention.

To view this article subscribe or purchase a yearly pass here.