Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Cover Story

Cover Story

Should Australia Allow Mitochondrial Donation?

Credit: nobeastsofierce

Credit: nobeastsofierce

By Ainsley Newson & Stephen Wilkinson

Is there any ethical reason why legislation should prevent the use of donor mitochondria in cases where children are likely to inherit mitochondrial disease from their mothers?

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Inside the Lair of a Mysterious Cosmic Radio Burster

A flash from the Fast Radio Burst source FRB 121102 travelling towards the 100-metre Green Bank telescope in the USA.  The burst shows a complicated structure, with multiple peaks that may be created during the burst’s emission or imparted during its 3-billion-light-year journey to us. This burst was detected using a new recording system developed by the Breakthrough Listen project. Credit: Danielle Futselaar/Shutterstock

A flash from the Fast Radio Burst source FRB 121102 travelling towards the 100-metre Green Bank telescope in the USA.  The burst shows a complicated structure, with multiple peaks that may be created during the burst’s emission or imparted during its 3-billion-light-year journey to us. This burst was detected using a new recording system developed by the Breakthrough Listen project. Credit: Danielle Futselaar/Shutterstock

By Charlotte Sobey

Two of the world’s largest radio telescopes have unveiled the astonishingly extreme and unusual environment of a mysterious source of repeating radio bursts emanating from 3 billion light-years away.

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Neandertal Life Reconstructed One Bacterium at a Time

The complete jaw of Spy II, with small and thin dental calculus deposits that pr

The complete jaw of Spy II, with small and thin dental calculus deposits that provided usable DNA sequences. Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Nature Sciences

By Laura Weyrich

Fossilised dental calculus is revealing that Neandertals weren’t the oafish brutes we’ve long considered them to be.

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How You Can Weigh Black Holes

Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major 11.4 million light years away. The pitch angle of its spiral arms is 13.4°, which correlates with the black hole at its centre being 67.6 million times more massive than our Sun. Credit: © Ken Crawford http://www.imagingdeepsky.com/Galaxies/
M81/M81.htm

Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major 11.4 million light years away. The pitch angle of its spiral arms is 13.4°, which correlates with the black hole at its centre being 67.6 million times more massive than our Sun. Credit: © Ken Crawford http://www.imagingdeepsky.com/Galaxies/ M81/M81.htm

By Ben Davis

The largest invisible monsters in our universe are hidden at the centres of galaxies, and we can predict how massive they are by the shape of spiral arms in their host galaxies. Here’s how you can take part in a global “citizen science” census of black holes.

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Oz Mammal Genomics

The fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) is a model marsupial species that’s frequently used in laboratory studies, and has the ancestral marsupial arrangement of chromosomes.

The fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) is a model marsupial species that’s frequently used in laboratory studies, and has the ancestral marsupial arrangement of chromosomes.

By Sally Potter & Mark Eldridge

A large project to sequence the genomes of Australia’s mammals will provide the first complete picture of their interrelationships and evolutionary history – and aid their conservation.

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Alchemists of Catastrophe: How Disasters Deliver Data

Scientists could never have justified dumping more than 500,000 tonnes of methane into the ocean to study the effects of climate change on deep-sea habitats, but they didn’t have to – Deepwater Horizon did it for them.

Scientists could never have justified dumping more than 500,000 tonnes of methane into the ocean to study the effects of climate change on deep-sea habitats, but they didn’t have to – Deepwater Horizon did it for them.

By Shanta Barley & Jessica Meeuwig

Ecologists are treating oil spills, species invasions and other environmental calamities as natural experiments on a scale that could never be attained by normal laboratory or field studies.

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Ancient Australia’s Super-Eruptions

Credit: Microstocker/Adobe

Credit: Microstocker/Adobe

By Milo Barham

Sediments beneath the Nullarbor Plain have revealed that super-eruptions in eastern Australia more than 100 million years ago were powerful enough to blast crystals right across the country.

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Skeletons Come out of the Closet to Fight Cancer

Cancer cells divide rapidly and uncontrollably.  Anticancer drugs that target the microtubule cytoskeleton work by preventing cancer cells from dividing correctly, but they also affect other rapidly dividing healthy cells and some aggressive cancers are resistant to their effects. New insights are revealing how specific features of the microtubule cytoskeleton are making cancer cells more aggressive and difficult to treat, paving the way for new anticancer therapies. Credit: Mopic/adobe

Cancer cells divide rapidly and uncontrollably. Anticancer drugs that target the microtubule cytoskeleton work by preventing cancer cells from dividing correctly, but they also affect other rapidly dividing healthy cells and some aggressive cancers are resistant to their effects. New insights are revealing how specific features of the microtubule cytoskeleton are making cancer cells more aggressive and difficult to treat, paving the way for new anticancer therapies. Credit: Mopic/adobe

By Amelia Parker

Cells have skeletons that hold their shape and help them move around. Recent discoveries have revealed that a protein in some cytoskeletons is making cancer cells more deadly, fundamentally challenging our understanding of the function of the cell’s skeleton and offering new hope for the development of targeted and effective cancer therapies.

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Predicting Pandemics

Credit: Gino Santa Maria

Credit: Gino Santa Maria

By Jemma Geoghegan

Which factors determine whether an emerging virus is likely to burn out or spread like wildfire between people?

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