Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Online Feature

Helium rationing, a looming crisis – and a sinking feeling

By Brent McInnes, Curtin University

With helium demand rapidly outpacing supply and rationing inevitable, Macquarie University has launched a helium recovery system.

Helium demand is rapidly outpacing supply, cheap helium is gone forever and rationing is inevitable.

More disturbingly is that a global helium supply crisis is looming this year. The fact is that the US Senate has until October 1 2013 to pass a bill overturning a current law that stipulates that on that date the US Federal Helium Reserve (35% of current global supply) will be closed to non-government users.

2013 shaping up to be one of Australia's hottest years on record

By David Jones, Karl Braganza and Rob Smalley

The last 10 months have been abnormally warm across Australia and we’ve seen a notable lack of unusually cold weather this winter. Are we heading for the hottest year on record?

  • Australia’s hottest day on record
  • Australia’s hottest week on record
  • Australia’s hottest month on record
  • Australia’s hottest summer on record
  • Australia’s hottest September to June (10 months) on record

Neuroscientists plant false memories

Researchers have implanted false memories into mice, potentially illuminating the mechanisms underlying the human phenomenon of "recalling" experiences that never occurred.

The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented. In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction.

In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice. They also found that many of the neurological traces of these memories are identical in nature to those of authentic memories.

Scientists model 'extraordinary' performance of Bolt

Mathematical model accurately depicts the extraordinary feats of Usain Bolt during his 100 metre world record sprint.

A group of researchers from Mexico has provided an insight into the physics of one of the greatest athletic performances of all time.

In a paper published in the European Journal of Physics, the researchers have put forward a mathematical model that accurately depicts the truly extraordinary feats of Usain Bolt during his 100 metre world record sprint at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

Epilepsy in a Dish

Stem cell research reveals clues to disease's origins and possible treatment.

Epilepsy in a dish: Stem cell research reveals clues to disease's origins and possible treatment

U-M-led study of neurons created from skin of patients with Dravet syndrome

A new stem cell-based approach to studying epilepsy has yielded a surprising discovery about what causes one form of the disease, and may help in the search for better medicines to treat all kinds of seizure disorders.

The findings, reported by a team of scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School and colleagues, use a technique that could be called "epilepsy in a dish".

Starburst wind keeps galaxies 'thin'

A feast and fast sequence explains how large galaxies can keep their mass down.

Unlike humans, galaxies don't have an obesity problem. In fact there are far fewer galaxies at the most massive end of the galactic scale than expected and scientists have long sought to explain why. A new University of Maryland-led study published in the journal Nature suggests that one answer lies in a kind of feast and fast sequence through which large galaxies can keep their mass down.

Psychopaths Understand Victims' Pain

Brain research shows psychopathic criminals do not lack empathy, but fail to use it automatically.

No link between mercury exposure and autism-like behaviours

Pre-natal mercury exposure from fish consumption eliminated as cause of later autism-like behaviours.

The potential impact of exposure to low levels of mercury on the developing brain – specifically by women consuming fish during pregnancy – has long been the source of concern and some have argued that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. However, a new study that draws upon more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles reports that there is no association between pre-natal mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors.

'Dead' gene comes to life and puts chill on inflammation

Discovery may explain how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work, leading to entirely new classes of anti-inflammatory treatments without some of the side effect of steroids.

A gene long presumed dead comes to life under the full moon of inflammation, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have found.

The discovery, described in a study to be published July 23 in eLife, may help explain how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work. It also could someday lead to entirely new classes of anti-inflammatory treatments without some of steroids' damaging side effects.

Is sexual addiction the real deal?

Researchers have measured how the brain behaves in "hypersexual" people who have problems regulating their viewing of sexual images.

Controversy exists over what some mental health experts call "hypersexuality," or sexual "addiction." Namely, is it a mental disorder at all, or something else? It failed to make the cut in the recently updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, considered the bible for diagnosing mental disorders. Yet sex addiction has been blamed for ruining relationships, lives and careers.