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Feature article

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.

The Top 10 WEIRD Science Stories of 2018

By AusSMC

There was no shortage of weird and wonderful science in 2018.

There was no shortage of weird and wonderful science in 2018 - octopuses were high on ecstasy, a billionaire shot a car into space, scientists injected memories between sea snails and someone started a petition to drink the 'mummy juice' found in a 2,000-year-old sarcophagus, among many other peculiar science tales.


Scientists gave octopuses ecstasy and they started hugging

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.

How Can Heartburn End Up As Anaemia?

By An Duy Tran

Research finds a link between some of the most popular heartburn treatments and iron deficiency, which can lead to anaemia

If you studied chemistry at school, you would probably be aware of the dangers of touching hydrochloric acid. This hazardous, corrosive and smelly chemical comes with a lot of safety requirements including wearing gloves and masks when you’re handling it.

What you may not know is that this toxic substance plays an essential role in our own bodies.

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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Muscle Memory Discovery Ends “Use It or Lose It” Dogma

New research shows that extra nuclei gained during exercise persist even after a muscle shrinks from disuse, disease or ageing – and can be mobilised rapidly to facilitate bigger gains on retraining.

The old adage “use it or lose it” tells us: if you stop using your muscles, they’ll shrink. Until recently, scientists thought this meant that nuclei – the cell control centers that build and maintain muscle fibers – are also lost to sloth.

Melbourne Observatory Celebrates 150th Anniversary

The Melbourne Observatory celebrates its 150th anniversary this month with a weekend of activities on 23 and 24 November.

Stargazers and history lovers are in for a treat this November when the Melbourne Observatory celebrates its 150th anniversary with a weekend of activities on 23 and 24 November.

A special, colourful historic re-enactment of the opening of the Melbourne Observatory in
1863 will open the weekend’s festivities.

Dressed in period costume, the re-enactment will include the original speeches from the
opening with appearances by the Governor of the day Sir Henry Barkly, Director of the
Gardens Ferdinand von Mueller, and the Government Astronomer Robert Ellery.

Turning Old Tyres into New Roads

Only five percent of tyres are recycled locally in Australia. Picture: Boomerang

Only five percent of tyres are recycled locally in Australia. Picture: Boomerang Alliance

By Holly Bennet, University of Melbourne

With millions of tyres dumped in Australia, a new innovation could turn used tyres into permeable surfaces - helping the environment and our future infrastructure

A staggering 51 million used tyres are discarded annually in Australia, causing environmental and health problems like the sea of stockpiled tyres in Stawell in western Victoria.

Only five per cent of used tyres are recycled locally in Australia, but researchers from the University of Melbourne have teamed up with Tyre Stewardship Australia and Merlin Site Services to come up with an innovative way to reuse the rubber.