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Feature article

Bioprinting of Human Organs

Credit: Ugreen/iStockphoto

Credit: Ugreen/iStockphoto

By Luiz E. Bertassoni

While bioprinting of living tissue has been possible for some time, the creation of functional organs has been limited by the ability to vascularise these tissues – until now.

Imagine walking into a hospital and asking your doctor: “Could you please print me a new liver?” It may sound like science fiction, but this is essentially the objective of our work. And every day we are closer to bringing it into reality. For instance, we have developed a way of printing out a network of blood vessels that could support the growth and maintenance of such an organ.

Patients around the world are placed on long organ transplant lists to have another chance in life. In the US alone a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 12 minutes.

The Masculinity Paradox

Feminine and clean-shaven faces are considered most attractive.

Many studies have found that more feminine and clean-shaven faces are considered most attractive.

By Barnaby Dixson

Does being “manly” make you a better mate or does it signal undesirable characteristics?

Physical appearance matters a lot. Whether we like it or not, we make quick and lasting judgments of people based upon how they look. While a good sense of humour and kind disposition are important, judgements about the physical attractiveness of faces and bodies occurs within the first 200 milliseconds of meeting. That’s faster than the time it takes to snap your fingers.

Barnaby Dixson is a postdoctoral researcher in the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of NSW.

The Diversity of Dingo Diets

Dingoes eat more than 200 different species of birds, mammals and reptiles, as well as fish, frogs, beetles, grasshoppers, moths and even crabs.

Dingoes eat more than 200 different species of birds, mammals and reptiles, as well as fish, frogs, beetles, grasshoppers, moths and even crabs.

By Tim Doherty

From crustaceans to camels, Australia’s top predator dines out on hundreds of vertebrate species, including threatened animals and pests.

The Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole: A Harbinger of Doom?

Figure 1. Two galaxies in the process of merging. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Figure 1. Two galaxies in the process of merging. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

By Michael Cowley

Contrary to popular belief, new work from an Australian-led study suggests that supermassive black holes may not be starving galaxies like the Milky Way to death.

Located in the centre of most massive galaxies, supermassive black holes are objects of extreme density that can be billions of times more massive than our own Sun. When surrounding gas and dust falls into these monster black holes, vast amounts of energy is released, evidence of which is observed on scales far beyond the galaxy itself. Astronomers have long suspected that this energy may stop galaxies from forming new stars.

Genetic “Backburning” Can Stop Cane Toads

Credit: Johan Larson/Adobe

While rabbits have tens of babies, cane toads have tens of thousands. Credit: Johan Larson/Adobe

By Ben Phillips

Could the cane toad’s march through the Kimberley be stopped in its tracks by introducing less-dispersive toads ahead of the invasion front?

It’s been a long day. The sun set an hour or so back, and since then the only thing we’ve managed to drag from the car is the cask wine and three tin cups. We are sitting there, in the dark, in the dust among the saltbush, going over the highs and lows of the past 3 days. We will camp here, next to one of the 600-odd bores between Broome and Port Hedland, and tomorrow is going to be more of the same: driving the long distances necessary to meet the pastoralists and indigenous folk that call this part of the world home.

Personal Genomics: What Do Consumers Want?

Credit: vege/adobe

Credit: vege/adobe

By Sylvia Metcalfe

Are Australian consumers excited or cynical about the promises of personal genome tests, and are they adequately prepared for the information they’ll receive?

Are you intrigued by what your genes can tell you? Do they contain information that piques your curiosity about your ancestors or whether you should undertake certain types of sport? Or which diet is best for you and which medications will or won’t work? And what about which illnesses you might develop in the future?

These are the marketing claims of the companies selling personal genomic tests online, but what do you, the reader, think about this as a potential consumer? What would you want to know and how much?

The Boys Are Not OK

Credit: alex-mit/iStock

Credit: alex-mit/iStock

By Moira O’Bryan & Rob McLachlan

Not only is male infertility a determining factor in a couple’s ability to start a family, it is also associated with a higher risk of early death.

One in six Australian couples is infertile, and male infertility is the sole or a contributory cause in half of these. Treatment sought by infertile couples leads to 70,000 assisted reproductive technology cycles each year at a cost of $600 million, with each couple paying approximately $4000 per cycle out of pocket.

A Renewable Solution to the Problem of Peak Power

Credit: Kletr/Adobe

Credit: Kletr/Adobe

By Andrew Blakers

Despite the rapid uptake of solar and wind energy worldwide, fossil fuels are still required when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. However, a cheap and proven storage option, in combination with wind and solar energy, could replace the need for fossil fuels within 15 years.

A renewable energy revolution is in progress, driven by rapidly decreasing prices. Together, new photovoltaic (PV) and wind electricity generation capacity is being installed at a greater rate worldwide than the combined amount of new coal, gas, oil and nuclear (Fig. 1). Within a few years, new PV and wind generation capacity installed each year worldwide may each be larger than the rest of the electricity generation industry combined.

The Criminal Underbelly of 3D Printing



By Colin Scholes

While 3D printing promises to revolutionise manufacturing and biomedicine, it also stands to benefit criminals through the printing of guns, drugs and counterfeit goods.

While 3D printing promises your children the ability to print their own toys at home, they can also print their own guns. And now all a criminal needs to break into your home is a 3D printer and a photo on social media showing you holding your keys – in and out without a window smashed. This is the darker side of 3D printing.

Dr Who Meets Professor Heisenberg

Example of a CTC.

A space-time structure exhibiting closed time-like curves. Here a wormhole connects two points at the same location in space (horizontal) but at different times (vertical). A quantum particle travelling on such a path might interact with its older self.

By Martin Ringbauer

Researchers have simulated in the laboratory how quantum particles could overcome the “grandfather paradox” of time travel.

From HG Wells through to Dr Who, the possibility of time travel is ubiquitous in science fiction. Yet it poses puzzling questions for physicists and philosophers alike.

According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, space and time are not two separate concepts but one and the same thing: coordinates in four-dimensional space-time. Gravity is a consequence of the curvature of this space-time. A very heavy body, such as a star or a black hole, can bend space-time around it, causing other nearby objects to fall towards it.