Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Expert Opinion

Experts pick apart the veracity of claims made in research papers and the media.

2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year on Record

By Science Media Centre New Zealand

2015 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

This year's global average surface temperature is likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era, according to a statement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This is due to a combination of a strong El Niño and human-induced global warming, the UN agency says.

The years 2011-2015 have been the warmest 5-year period on record, with many extreme weather events - especially heatwaves - influenced by climate change, according to a WMO five-year analysis.

Epigenetic Markers Predict Male Sexual Orientation

By Australian Science Media Centre

Epigenetic differences between male twins has been used to identify sexual orientation with up to 70% accuracy, according to unpublished results presented at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 annual meeting.

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Liquid water on Mars

By AusSMC

Salty streaks identified by an orbiting spacecraft could be the first solid evidence of liquid water - a key ingredient for life as we know it - on Mars.

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Professor Geraint Lewis is Professor of Astrophysics & ARC Future Fellow at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and Associate Head for Research in the School of Physics, The University of Sydney.

“Mars appears to be a cold, dry planet, but observations over the years have revealed streaks on the surface that come and go with the seasons. In this new paper, Ojha have uncovered the signature for salts in the streaks, critical evidence for the streaks having formed by flowing, or at least dribbling, water.

Can You Catch Alzheimer’s from Growth Hormones?

Brain damage found in autopsies of patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease acquired from growth hormone injections is strikingly similar to the damage done by Alzheimer’s disease.

Compiled by the Australian Science Media Centre

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Genetic Sprays Use RNA Interference to Combat Pests

Monsanto is developing sprays to control weeds and insect pests by temporarily altering their genetics through RNA interference as an alternative to developing new GM crops, and could also be used to introduce traits like drought resistance.

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Should Doctors Recommend Homeopathy?

By AusSMC

A debate in the British Medical Journal has argued about whether the report into the evidence for homeopathy by Australia’s NHMRC omitted key pieces of evidence.

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2015 Federal Budget: Announcements and Expert Responses

By Australian Science Media Centre

Experts comment on how the 2015 federal Budget will impact research, health and science.

Federal budget: summary of major announcements

Australian Consensus Centre
$4.0 million over four years from 2014-15 to help establish the Australian Consensus

NCRIS
The Government will provide $150.0 million in 2016-17. $150 million had already been allocated for 2015-16

University research block grants
The Sustainable Research Excellence component of the university block grant will be cut by $260 million over the forward estimates, and by $150.0 million in 2016-17 alone

Antarctic science

Can You Outrun an Unhealthy Diet?

By Australian Science Media Centre

An editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has blamed excess sugar and carbohydrates, and not a lack of exercise, behind the surge in obesity.

Source: tinyurl.com/o7tf3dj

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WHO Releases Sugar Guidelines

The World Health Organization has recommended that adults and children reduce their daily intake of sugars, excluding sugar in fruits, vegetables and milk, to less than 10% of their total energy intake. Halving this to six teaspoons per day would provide additional health benefits.

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Organic Pollutants Linked to Early Menopause

By Australian Science Media Centre

A new study has found that women who are exposed to high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals begin menopause 2–4 years earlier.

“A number of chemicals that are persistent pollutants in the environment, such as polychlorinated biphenyl’s (PCB’s) and phthalates, can weakly mimic oestrogen or testosterone. As they are easily absorbed and can accumulate in the body, these chemicals may accumulate to levels that have adverse effects on human health.