Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Cover Story

Cover Story

Final Resting Place of an Outlaw

The Baxter/ Kelly skull

The Baxter/ Kelly skull was stolen from the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1978, and handed in to authorities by Tom Baxter in 2009. A tooth, which had been in the family of a workman present at the gaol in 1929, fitted the skull perfectly. Credit: VIFM

By Samir S. Patel

Archaeological and forensic detective work led to the remains of Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s most celebrated, reviled and polarising historical figures.

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I Can Feel Your Pain

iStockphoto

Empathy for pain has conceptual commonalities with synaesthesia. Credit: iStockphoto

By John Bradshaw

Empathy for someone else’s pain shares common characteristics with synaesthesia, a sensory condition where individuals can smell music or taste colours.

John Bradshaw is Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at Monash University. This article is adapted from a script broadcast on Ockham’s Razor, and has been updated with additional information from Bernadette Fitzgibbon.

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The Language of Emotions in Music

The enjoyment of music differs across dementia types.

The enjoyment of music differs across dementia types and could be something important to consider in the application of music therapies.

By Sharpley Hsieh

Patients who have been diagnosed with dementia are helping scientists determine which areas in the brain are necessary for identifying emotions in music.

Sharpley Hsieh is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Frontier Frontotemporal Dementia Research Group at Neuroscience Research Australia.

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Escape to Madagascar

Propithecus diadema, the diademed sifaka.  Credit: Mitchell Irwin

Propithecus diadema, the diademed sifaka. Credit: Mitchell Irwin

By Karen Samonds

Madagascar’s bizarre assemblage of fauna didn’t evolve from the fossils found on the island, so how did they get there?

Karen Samonds is a palaeontologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland.

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On the Crest of a Gravity Wave

Credit:Henning Dalhoff / Science Photo Library

Credit:Henning Dalhoff / Science Photo Library

By Stephen Luntz

Gravitational wave detectors may soon provide a new way of viewing the universe, but Australia has passed up the chance to have one located here – for now at least.

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The Earth’s First Super-Predators

Anomalocaris

Spanning 1 metre in length, the Cambrian super-predator Anomalocaris patrolled the world’s oceans more than half a billion years ago. Credit: Katrina Kenny

By Allison Daley & John Paterson

The discovery of the world’s oldest apex predators in the oceans more than half a billion years ago is a puzzling story that began well over a century ago. We now have a much clearer picture of these spectacular animals, but the debate about their feeding habits continues.

Allison Daley is a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum in London. John Paterson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW.

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Losing Weight Subconsciously

The sympathetic nervous system subconsciously regulates blood pressure, metabolism, digestion, respiration and body temperature.

The sympathetic nervous system subconsciously regulates blood pressure, metabolism, digestion, respiration and body temperature.

By Nora Straznicky & Elisabeth Lambert

Individuals vary widely in their ability to lose weight, with new evidence suggesting that up to 45% of the variability in weight loss is caused by individual differences in subconscious nerve activity.

Nora Straznicky and Elisabeth Lambert are research scientists in the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute’s Human Neurotransmitters Laboratory.

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Out of Asia

Credit: Jamie Tufrey

Credit: Jamie Tufrey

By Sue O’Connor

The discovery of ancient fish hooks and the bones of offshore fish species reveals that the people living to the north of Australia more than 50,000 years ago had the maritime skills and equipment necessary to reach Australia.

Sue O’Connor is Professor of Archaeology and Natural History at The Australian National University.

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Botulism Paralysed

Botox injection

Botox acts by paralysing small groups of muscles when injected in the face.

By Callista Harper & Frederic A. Meunier

A new class of inhibitors could prevent infection by a neurotoxin classified as a Category A biological weapon.

A/Prof Frederic A. Meunier is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and head of the Neuronal Trafficking Laboratory at the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland. Callista Harper is a PhD student in his group.

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The Right Dose

Ethnic differences can have a significant impact on how people respond to drugs.

Ethnic differences in cooking styles, contraception, smoking, and caffeine and alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on how people respond to drugs.

By Vidya Perera & Andrew McLachlan

Diet and lifestyle are rarely considered when assessing how people respond differently to drugs, yet ethnic differences in cooking styles, contraception, smoking, and caffeine and alcohol consumption can have a significant impact – especially in treatments for mental health.

Vidya Perera is a doctoral student at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy. Professor Andrew McLachlan is Associate Dean of Research at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy, and Chair of Pharmacy (Aged Care) at Concord Hospital.

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