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What causes hot flushes during menopause?

Hot flushes are not 'in the head,' but new research suggests they may start there.

A University of Arizona research team has identified a region in the brain that may trigger the uncomfortable surges of heat most women experience in the first few years of menopause

Hot flushes affect millions of people, and not just women. Yet, it is still unclear what causes the episodes of temperature discomfort, often accompanied by profuse sweating.

What we could learn from Yasser Arafat's exhumation

By David Ranson

The remains of Yasser Arafat have been exhumed for “special testing” to determine whether he died from poisoning by a radioactive element or natural causes.

Investigators are looking for evidence of the presence of the radioactive element polonium-210, an alpha particle emitter that causes tissue damage if taken into the body. Polonium allegedly caused the agonised death of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 and it’s been alleged that it was found on some of Arafat’s clothing after his death.

Trading chemistry for ecology with poo transplants

By Dyani Lewis

As simple as the procedure sounds, we don’t yet fully understand how faecal transplants work.

Antibiotics joined our growing arsenal of weapons in the fight against disease over seventy years ago. Their target – the bacterial infections that putrefied our wounds, filled our lungs with pneumonia, and made our genitals less than appealing to our lovers. Bacteria were worthy opponents, and with antibiotics, the war against infection seemed ours to win.

NASA's Curiosity shows there's more to life than life

By Kevin Orrman-Rossiter and Helen Maynard-Casely

The Curiosity rover has landed on Mars, driven around, and started reporting integrated science results.

In a news conference at the American Geophysical Union NASA’s Curiosity mission team presented a measured, low-key and hype-free discussion about the first use of Curiosity’s full array of analytical instruments.

What they have found are chlorinated hydrocarbons – simple organic molecules made up of carbon, chlorine and hydrogen, sulphur-containing compounds, and calcium perchlorate.

Just out of Curiosity, did life on Earth come from Mars?

By Jonathan Borwein and David H. Bailey

In an announcement on 3 December 2012, NASA poured cold water on rumours that its Curiosity rover had found life on Mars.

Curiosity found evidence that it had landed on an ancient riverbed, and it identified some interesting chemical species involving chlorine, sulphur, water and organic compounds, but nothing that could be construed as clear-cut evidence for life on Mars, past or present.

All of this underscores Carl Sagan’s caution, reiterated in his final book Billions and Billions, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Alert: you may be living in a simulated universe

By Geraint Lewis

Are our lives real or is the universe just an enormous computer simulation?

As a cosmologist, I often carry around a universe or two in my pocket. Not entire, infinitely large universes, but maybe a few billion light years or so across. Enough to be interesting.

Of course, these are not “real” universes; rather they are universes I have simulated on a computer.

The basic idea of simulating a universe is quite simple. You need “initial conditions” which, for me, is the state of the universe just after the Big Bang.

Caring for Giants of the Deep

By South Australian Museum

The South Australian Museum's marine mammals team will study parts of a minke whale that has washed up at Ceduna on the state's west coast.

Locals spotted the four-metre long whale and contacted the Museum and Environment Department.

Museum zoologist Dr Catherine Kemper says it's the first Minke Whale to wash up on South Australian shores since 1998.

"This will have enormous scientific value. We haven't had a specimen in 14 years and we will be able to determine which species of Minke Whale it is. Our studies help to define whale behaviour and often lead agencies to develop management plans."

Drawing ahead of cancer

By Science in Public

Mark Shackleton has been awarded the Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year.

When he was five, Mark Shackleton’s grandmother asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. “I am going to cure cancer,” came the confident reply amid raucous family laughter.

Although he’s not there yet, the winner of the 2012 Science Minister’s Prize for Life Scientist of the Year, Dr Mark Shackleton, is already changing the way researchers view, approach and treat cancer.

The physics of a gas-powered world

By Science in Public

Eric May has been awarded the 2012 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

Fifty years ago, natural gas was usually burnt off because it was too expensive to transport it long distances to customers. Then liquefaction became practical. That made the exploitation of Western Australia’s remote gas reserves possible. The gas can be transported as liquid natural gas (LNG) at 1/600th the volume of the original gas.

Today, Australian LNG is powering the economic transformation of Asia. It’s the cleanest fossil fuel. And Professor Eric May is on a mission to make it cleaner still.

Astronomer Wins PM's Prize

By Science in Public

Ken Freeman's research has made a galactic impact.

In April 2010, an unusual party was held under the clear skies of the Namibian desert. It was an international science conference to celebrate the 70th birthday of Professor Ken Freeman, the Duffield Professor of Astronomy at the Australian National University’s Mt Stromlo Observatory, a man regarded internationally as Australia’s most renowned astronomer.