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Feature article

A Mystery of Astronomical Proportions

By Christine Nicholls

At least one-third of all red giant stars have a mysterious variation in brightness that has astronomers stumped.

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Rise of the Machines

By Trevor Lithgow

The cells in our body work because of the many "molecular machines" within them – but where did these machines comes from?

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Sea Slugs Turn up Heat on Bleaching

By Ingo Burghardt

Symbiotic sea slugs employ similar zooxanthellae species as corals, offering fresh insights into why heat-stressed corals bleach.

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NASA's Uncharted Future

By Morris Jones

What does the scrapping of NASA's plans to revisit the Moon mean for space exploration?

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Can Mimicking Nature Quench Our Thirst?

African Stenocara beetle

photo: Hans Hillewaert

By Stuart Thickett, Chiara Neto and Andrew Harris

Patterned polymer surfaces based on the African Stenocara beetle could be applied to our roofs to collect drinking water from the atmosphere.

Maintaining a stable supply of drinking water in Australia is a continual challenge. In 2006 the drought that gripped most of the Australian mainland was termed “the worst drought in 1000 years”, with the once-ferocious Murray River receiving only 5% of its average inflow.

A Matter Of Time

image of woman holding her bowed and bald head in hands

photo: iStockphoto

By Martin Ashdown and Brendon Coventry

Successful treatment of cancer may depend on the accurate timing of chemotherapy or vaccine therapies to match fluctuations in each patient’s immune system.

Not all cancer patients are cured by chemotherapy, biological therapies, radiotherapy or surgery. Some patients can have complete regression of all cancer, while others do not appear to be responding or show some level of clinical response but not enough to overcome the tumour.

This variability has remained unexplained for many decades, and at the end of this week about 800 Australians with cancer will be dead. In the US the numbers will be close to 12,000 per week.

Birth of the Red Sea

Peter Betts standing on exposed coral reef on the Farasan Islands

Peter Betts standing on exposed coral reef on the Farasan Islands in the southern Red Sea. The coral has been uplifted by upwelling of a salt diapir beneath the reef.

By Peter Betts

New evidence about the creation of the Red Sea has fundamentally changed how geologists understand the birth of oceans.

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Australian sugary drinks tax could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes and save 1600 lives

Credit: Daniel Oines/Flickr CC BY 4.0

Most Australians exceed the recommended maximum levels of sugar. Credit: Daniel Oines/Flickr CC BY 4.0

A 20% rise in the price of soft drinks and flavoured mineral waters would save lives and reduce cardiovascular disease in Australia.

By Gary Sacks, Jane Martin and Lennert Veerman

Earlier this year the United Kingdom announced a sugar tax on soft drinks. The tax will come into effect in 2018, with the funds to be used to address childhood obesity.

Indigenous Genomics

Indigenous Genomics

By Emma Kowal, Simon Easteal & Mick Gooda

Mistrust is a significant but not insurmountable barrier to the acceptance of genomics by Indigenous people.

In 1994 Indigenous people around the world raised the alarm about scientists who wanted to steal their biological material, patent it and make drugs from it. The scientists were part of the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), a companion project to the Human Genome Project that completed sequencing of the entire human genome in 2001.

A New Basis for Nuclear Structure

Evidence being sought that the structure of the bound proton and neutron has changed in a nucleus would herald a new paradigm for the structure of atomic nuclei.

Evidence being sought that the structure of the bound proton and neutron has changed in a nucleus would herald a new paradigm for the structure of atomic nuclei.

By Anthony Thomas

The idea that the internal structure of protons might change under certain circumstances is being put to the test, and could help to explain some inconsistencies in theoretical physics.

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