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Questions over effectiveness of flu drugs

Researchers call for guidance on use of Tamiflu in light of most recent evidence about efficacy and side-effects.

Tamiflu shortens symptoms of influenza by half a day, but there is no good evidence to support claims that it reduces admissions to hospital or complications of influenza according to an updated Cochrane evidence review published by The Cochrane Collaboration and the British Medical Journal.

Evidence from treatment trials confirms increased risk of suffering from nausea and vomiting. And when Tamiflu was used in prevention trials there was an increased risk of headaches, psychiatric disturbances and renal events.

No evidence homeopathy is effective: NHMRC review

By Ian Musgrave

An NHMRC review concludes that there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released its long-awaited review of homeopathy, as well as a tip sheet for doctors to talk to their patient about complementary medicines in general. The review should spell the end of rebates for the practice currently available through some private health insurance companies.

Ancient viruses sound scary, but there's no need to panic

By Jennifer McKimm-Breschkin

Can ancient human viruses uncovered by drilling in permafrost cause a modern pandemic?

You may have seen recently that scientists recovered and “revived” a giant virus from Siberian permafrost (frozen soil) that dates back 30,000 years.

The researchers raised concerns that drilling in the permafrost may expose us to many more pathogenic viruses. Should we be worried about being infected from the past? Can human viruses survive in this permafrost environment and come back to wreak havoc?

First, we need to examine the properties of viruses.

First hints of gravitational waves in the Big Bang's afterglow

By Krzysztof Bolejko and Alan Duffy

Scientists in the US have announced what they believe is the indirect detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang.

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the US have announced overnight what they believe is the indirect detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang.

Study finds no evidence wind turbines make you sick – again

By Simon Chapman, University of Sydney

An NHMRC review finds no evidence for wind turbine syndrome.

There is no reliable or consistent evidence that proximity to wind farms or wind farm noise directly causes health effects. That’s the finding of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) much-anticipated draft systematic review of the evidence on wind farms and human health, released yesterday.

In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view

By Morgan Kelly

The unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken's eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter.

Along with eggs, soup and rubber toys, the list of the chicken's most lasting legacies may eventually include advanced materials such as self-organizing colloids, or optics that can transmit light with the efficiency of a crystal and the flexibility of a liquid.

An insider's story of the global attack on climate science

By Jim Salinger

The conclusion of a 4-year saga has cast light on the tactics employed by the climate denial lobby.

A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand.

It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, USA and elsewhere around the world.

The exclusive on exclusion diets

By Margaret Allman-Farinelli

What is the evidence for diets that focus on food exclusion?

As a dietitian, I’ve often wondered what makes Australians embrace fad diets with such zeal.

Of course, the lure of instant success and the so-called “science” behind such diets can sound very convincing. And with a growing number of people overweight, it’s little wonder record numbers have attempted some kind of diet at some stage.

The simplest way to lose weight is to eat less and move more. But that’s not a very exciting message and we don’t tend to hear Hollywood stars claiming it to be the secret of their triumph.

Sweet enough? Separating fact from fiction in the sugar debate

By Chris Forbes-Ewan

What is the scientific evidence for reducing the WHO's recommended maximum sugar intake?

Forget lemon detox diets and soup fasts, sugar-free was the fad diet choice of 2013. But while it’s wise to limit the foods and drinks you consume that contain added sugars, this doesn’t mean you need to eliminate sugars from your diet altogether.

In 2003 the World Health Organisation (WHO) considered recommending limiting intake of “free sugars” to 10% of total energy intake. Free sugars are sugars added to the food by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

Can We Turn Unwanted Carbon Dioxide Into Electricity?

By Pam Frost Gorder

Researchers are developing a new kind of geothermal power plant that will lock away unwanted carbon dioxide (CO2) underground – and use it as a tool to boost electric power generation by at least 10 times compared to existing geothermal energy approaches.

The technology to implement this design already exists in different industries, so the researchers are optimistic that their new approach could expand the use of geothermal energy in the U.S. far beyond the handful of states that can take advantage of it now.

At the American Geophysical Union meeting on Friday, Dec. 13, the research team debuted an expanded version of the design, along with a computer animated movie that merges advances in science with design and cognitive learning techniques to explain the role that energy technologies can have in addressing climate change.