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We Will Never Cure Cancer, So Should We Even Try?

Credit: dcleomiu/Adobe

Credit: dcleomiu/Adobe

By Nial Wheate

Billions of dollars are spent on cancer research each year for minimal gains. Would that money be better invested elsewhere?

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Our Human Right not to Be Poisoned

CSA-Printstock/iStock

Credit: CSA-Printstock/iStock

By Julian Cribb

Thousands of new chemicals are released each year, and the toxic effects are mounting. What can we do about it?

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Engineering Australia’s New Wealth

By Marlene Kanga

It’s time to connect the dots between invention, innovation and the role of engineering.

The decline of traditional manufacturing and the waning resources boom require Australia to develop new sources of wealth generation. As a developed nation with high wage costs and high standards of living, Australia needs to develop new industries that use advanced technologies, require high levels of education and have high barriers to entry. There is no alternative.

Appropriate Behaviour?

By Stephen Moston

Plagiarism by academic reviewers is hard to prove, and even harder to punish.

Most academics will be familiar with the processes for dealing with a case of suspected plagiarism by a student. The plagiarism is typically flagged by software such as Turnitin or SafeAssign. The lecturer can then view the submission, with passages containing suspected plagiarism highlighted with links to original sources. Often the plagiarism is an innocent mistake. Blatant cheating is rare.

Given this limited exposure, it comes as quite a shock when you suspect that your own work has been plagiarised by another academic. My own experience here might be informative.

It’s Time We Had a Conversation About Net Neutrality

Credit: Henrik5000/iStockphoto

Credit: Henrik5000/iStockphoto

By Matthew Rimmer

Net neutrality is more than an issue about consumer internet access and speeds. It also has implications for freedom of speech, competition and innovation.

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Bursting the News Filter Bubble

Credit: niroworld/Adobe

Credit: niroworld/Adobe

By Simon Knight

Online technologies can create echo chambers that reinforce our world views, but does this necessarily mean we need to open ourselves up to alternative facts?

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Post-Truth and the Rejection of Science

By Leigh Ackland

In an age of "alternative facts", it may not be feasible to expect people to understand the details of scientific studies, but it is crucial that they respect the importance of evidence-based information underpinning scientific analysis.

We are surrounded by science, more than at any other age in human history. Despite this, in the current political environment, science is often dismissed and scientists are ignored. This is not a situation without precedent. Historically, scientists and their ideas came into conflict with the beliefs of the time, particularly religious beliefs.

Roads to Ruin

Credit: Google Earth

Some 95% of all deforestation in the Amazon occurs within 5.5 km of a road, while for every kilometre of legal road there are nearly 3 km of illegal roads. Credit: Google Earth

By Mason Campbell, Mohammed Alamgir & William Laurance

Can we build roads that benefit people while not destroying nature?

We are living in the most aggressive era of road-building in human history. The International Energy Agency projects that by 2050 we will have another 25 million kilometres of paved roads on Earth – enough to encircle the globe more than 600 times. Nine-tenths of these roads will be built in developing nations, mostly in the tropics and subtropics, which sustain the planet’s most biologically rich and environmentally important ecosystems.

Timber Certification Can’t See the Wood for the Trees

By Eleanor Dormontt

There are many laws that govern the harvesting and trading of timber yet illegal logging is rife and prosecution rates are low. It’s time for science to modernise timber certification schemes.

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Career Concerns Could Bust the Ideas Boom

By Chris Walton

A survey of professional scientists has uncovered worker fatigue and broad dissatisfaction with remuneration and reduced scientific capability as a result of cost-cutting.

With the launch of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) at the end of 2015, the Australian government reiterated its commitment to innovation and science. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that the NISA recognises that the “talent and skills of our people is the engine behind Australia’s innovative capacity”.

However, the latest Professional Scientists Employment and Remuneration Report (http://tinyurl.com/hopb4e8) suggests that recognition and reward issues underpin a range of serious systemic issues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).