Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Cover Story

Cover Story

Food Facts & Furphies

Food

More than 50% of Australians are taking some form of vitamins, minerals, complementary or herbal supplements yet the average Australian household spends just $13.70 per week on vegetables and $9.60 on fresh fruit.

By Clare Collins

New diet fads and furphies seem to appear every day. While some of these have a scientific basis, for others the science has changed in response to new discoveries or the science is just not there yet. This special issue of Australasian Science explores the latest evidence for food and nutrition.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Science

9/11

When a component of the numerous 9/11 theories became untenable, it was nevertheless weaved into a larger 9/11 conspiracy. Credit: flickr/ 9/11 photos (CC by 2.0)

By Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles Gignac & Klaus Oberauer

Conspiratorial thinking is a major element in the rejection of a broad range of scientific findings, from climate change to tobacco, vaccinations, GM foods and the moon landing. But why?

Stephan Lewandowsky is a Winthrop Professor at the University of Western Australia. Gilles Gignac earned his PhD at Swinburne University, and now specialises in statistics and psychometrics. Klaus Oberauer is Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Zurich.

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Cosmic Hotspots for Life

asteroid

Crater cooling over at least half a million years could have given primitive bacteria enough time to evolve.

By Martin Schmieder & Fred Jourdan

New evidence reveals that large meteorite impacts took long enough to cool for microbial life to emerge and thrive in the wet and warm conditions of the impact crater.

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Species Are Shrinking

Credit: Romolo Tavani/Adobe

Credit: Romolo Tavani/Adobe

By Martino Malerba

An ingenious experiment has revealed the physiological reasons why many species are becoming smaller in response to global warming, overhunting and overfishing.

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Pyrodiversity vs Biodiversity

Fire is a key part of ecosystems in the Mallee. Credit: Peter Teasdale

Fire is a key part of ecosystems in the Mallee. Credit: Peter Teasdale

By Dale Nimmo

New research challenges conventional wisdom that the creation of a diverse mosaic of fire histories benefits biodiversity.

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Will Enhanced Soldiers Fight a Just War?

Revision Military’s prototype TALOS suit has a powered lower-body exoskeleton supporting a body armour system that can protect 60% of the body from rifle rounds. To relieve weight, motorised actuators pick up each leg and move them. The weight of the helmet, armour and vest is supported by a rigid articulated spine. The suit’s power pack has a cooling fan, and a cooling vest pumps water through 3 metres of tubing under the suit. Credit: Revision Military

Revision Military’s prototype TALOS suit has a powered lower-body exoskeleton supporting a body armour system that can protect 60% of the body from rifle rounds. To relieve weight, motorised actuators pick up each leg and move them. The weight of the helmet, armour and vest is supported by a rigid articulated spine. The suit’s power pack has a cooling fan, and a cooling vest pumps water through 3 metres of tubing under the suit. Credit: Revision Military

By Adam Henschke

Technologies may be able to enhance a soldier’s strength, endurance, stress tolerance and cognitive ability, but could they reduce their moral capacity to follow the laws of armed conflict?

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Seven Discoveries that Changed the Course of Human Evolution

rafting

The best early evidence of a modern human voyage across large stretches of open water is the colonisation of Australia at least 50,000 years ago, navigating 50–90 km stretches of water where land could not be seen. Credit: Jamie Tufrey

By Paul Taçon

Seven discoveries made by our ancient ancestors were key cultural drivers that changed the course of human evolution in extraordinary ways.

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Is an End to AIDS in Sight?

HIV virus attacking a cell. martynowi_cz/iStockphoto

HIV virus attacking a cell. martynowi_cz/iStockphoto

By David Harrich & Kirsten MacGregor

Gene therapy is showing promise as a way to turn HIV against itself and cure AIDS.

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Why Are Males More at Risk in the Womb?

foetus

Birth weight and poor growth in the womb are associated with conditions appearing decades later, such as heart disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and psychiatric disorders.

By Sam Buckberry & Claire Roberts

Subtle changes in the placenta before a child’s birth can affect its predisposition to chronic disease and premature death many years later – and unborn boys are most vulnerable.

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New Ideas about the Neanderthal Extinction

A modern human cranium (left) and a Neanderthal cranium (right). Modern humans have a globe-shaped braincase with steep sides, our foreheads lack a prominent bony ridge about the eye sockets, and our faces are shorter and flatter with scalloped cheeks. Credit: BirdImages/iStockphoto

A modern human cranium (left) and a Neanderthal cranium (right). Modern humans have a globe-shaped braincase with steep sides, our foreheads lack a prominent bony ridge about the eye sockets, and our faces are shorter and flatter with scalloped cheeks. Credit: BirdImages/iStockphoto

By Darren Curnoe

Were modern humans so superior that they drove Neanderthals to extinction, or did their lonely existence leave them genetically vulnerable?

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