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Making Martian clouds on Earth

Cloud-chamber experiments show that clouds on Mars form in much more humid conditions than clouds on Earth

At first glance, Mars' clouds might easily be mistaken for those on Earth. Images of the Martian sky, taken by NASA's Opportunity rover, depict gauzy, high-altitude wisps, similar to our cirrus clouds. Given what scientists know about the Red Planet's atmosphere, these clouds likely consist of either carbon dioxide or water-based ice crystals. But it's difficult to know the precise conditions that give rise to such clouds without sampling directly from a Martian cloud.

Care and consent: the fraught ethics of international clinical trials

By Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, University of Münster

Two large US-funded studies on cervical cancer screening in India are being investigated by the US Office of Human Research Protection for ethical violations. Concerns were raised about the trials after a large number of women in the control groups died from cervical cancer.

Extraordinary 'missing link' fossil fish found in China

By John Long

Discovery gives us powerful new insights about the building of the human body plan, which began seriously with these ancient fossil fishes.

A spectacular new “missing link” fossil has been unearthed in China. The 419 million year old armoured fish, called Entelognathus, meaning “complete jaw” solves an age-old debate in science. For palaeontologists this fish is as big as finding the Higgs-Boson particle because of its immense significance to our understanding of early vertebrate evolution.

IPCC report sets a conservative carbon budget

By Will Steffen

The evidence for the continued warming of the planet is overwhelming, according to the IPCC's latest report.

With the release of its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphatically set the record straight on what the most recent scientific research says about climate change.

Pasta shape provides better LED

'Rotelle' molecules depolarise light and are more efficient than 'spaghetti'

One problem in developing more efficient organic LED light bulbs and displays for TVs and phones is that much of the light is polarized in one direction and thus trapped within the light-emitting diode, or LED. University of Utah physicists believe they have solved the problem by creating a new organic molecule that is shaped like rotelle – wagon-wheel pasta – rather than spaghetti.

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: more certainty, not much news

By Steve Sherwood and Lisa Alexander

What new does the IPCC's fifth report have to say about our climate problem?

The part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report dealing with the physical basis of climate change has now been released.

David Suzuki: Australian scientists should be up on the ramparts

By David Suzuki

The Abbott government's abolition of the Climate Commission places Australia on the same path as Canada, where climate research has been abandoned and scientific papers need to be approved by the PM's office prior to submission for publication.

Despite the enormous success of the environmental movement in the 1960s and 70s, we have fundamentally failed to use each of those battles to broaden the public understanding of why we were battling. It wasn’t just the power of environmentalists against developers, environmentalists against the oil industry. It was because we had a different way of looking at the world.

Axing the Climate Commission Splits Australians from Science

By Jenni Metcalfe

Australians need people of this calibre to explain the science and economics of climate change, especially when the debate has become so politically polarised.

The new Abbott Government decided today, just one day into governing, to axe the Climate Commission. This decision demonstrates to the Australian public the government is not interested in talking to them about climate change science or climate change action.

Take science brief across government, science chief urges

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In this podcast and article, Michelle Grattan speaks to Chief Scientist Ian Chub about the absence of a Science Minister in the new government's structure.

Tony Abbott’s treatment of science has sparked another controversy over his ministry, with a backbencher slamming the absence of a dedicated minister for the area, and the Chief Scientist calling for a “coherent strategic approach” towards its development.

Chief Scientist Ian Chubb said today he did not object to the spread between portfolios – pointing out that science was already across 14 portfolios – provided there was a “whole-of-government” attitude.

Tarantula venom: a new selective, effective edible insecticide

By Margaret C. Hardy

An environmentally-friendly insecticide has been developed from the venom of a native Australian tarantula.

Insecticide resistance is the quieter, lesser-known relative of antibiotic resistance. Anyone who has been to a hospital recently knows about antibiotic resistant bacteria. But how many people think about insecticide resistance when they spray their home garden with insecticides?