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Feature article

China’s growing footprint on the globe threatens to trample the natural world

A queue of logging trucks in Southeast Asia. Credit: Jeff Vincent

A queue of logging trucks in Southeast Asia. Credit: Jeff Vincent

By Bill Laurance

China’s unprecedented development schemes are transforming the entire world, yet its leaders assure us these activities will be environmentally and socially sustainable. Should we trust the promises?

Many observers of China’s escalating global program of foreign investment and infrastructure development are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. In an ideal world, China’s unbridled ambitions will improve economic growth, food security and social development in many poor nations, as well as enriching itself.

Such hopes are certainly timely, given the isolationism of the US Trump
administration, which has created an international leadership vacuum that China is eager to fill.

Death of Antarctic Physicist Marks End of Era

Dr Neville (“Nod”) Parsons in retirement.

Dr Neville (“Nod”) Parsons in retirement.

By Paul J Edwards

The death in Hobart on 30 December 2017 of 91-year-old Antarctic physicist and expeditioner Dr Neville (Nod) Parsons marks the end of an era of Australian Antarctic research and exploration.

Not many physicists have lent their names to a mountain as did Parsons to a “huge, sheer-sided” peak at the northern end of the David Range in Australian Antarctic Territory. This followed the first exploration of the David, Casey and Masson ranges in January 1956 by an Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition party of five led from Mawson by Antarctic explorer John Béchervaise over heavily crevassed ice. Béchervaise and Neville "Nod" Parsons were subsequently awarded Imperial Polar Medals for their work.

Top 10 science stories of 2017

By Joe Milton

2017 has been a bumper year for science yarns, from exploding neutron stars to a crashing spacecraft, and incredible advances in artificial wombs.

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Trump dumped Paris

Top 10 weird science stories of 2017

By Joe Milton

Weird science was out in force in 2017 - someone named a planet Bernard, sheep were trained to recognise Baaarack Obaaama, octopuses marched out of the sea, and re-inflated dolphin dangly bits revealed some sea sex secrets, among many other peculiar science yarns.

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Sheep recognised Baaarack Obaaama

A Scientist’s Defense of Free Will

By Mahir S. Ozdemir

Why scientists should not jump to the unwarranted conclusion that free will is just an illusion.

Our commonsensical view holds that everything we do in life is a choice and we are totally free to choose between the options which we think are available to us. Many scientists, however, see a fundamental problem with the conventional wisdom about free will and claim that it is nothing more than an illusion.

Top Ten Weirdest Science Stories of 2014

By Australian Science Media Centre

A recap of the weirdest science stories in 2014, from the attractiveness of hipster beards and the induction of a dream within a dream to the number of bacteria transferred during a kiss.

Sorry hipsters, we hit peak beard