Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue April 2012

Cover Story: Botulism Paralysed
A new class of inhibitors could prevent infection by a neurotoxin classified as a Category A biological weapon.
Credit: Paula Bronstein / iStockphoto
Feature: New Life for Ancient Malaria Remedy
The parasite responsible for malaria is developing resistance to a frontline drug that was first used in China more than 2000 years ago. By determining how artemisinin works, scientists may have just opened a new battlefront in the war against malaria.
Photo: Ruth Arcus
Feature: Enzyme Evolution Reveals Earth’s Inhospitable Past
The reconstruction of a one-billion-year-old enzyme paints a picture of a hot and hostile past.
Photo: Fotostudio Enjoy, Ingrid van Heteren (NL)
Feature: Identical Genes, Individual Twins
Identical twins essentially have the same DNA sequence, but the way they use their DNA can be vastly different. Photo: Fotostudio Enjoy, Ingrid van Heteren (NL)
Goldtail damselfish. Credit: Mary Bonin
Feature: A Reef Too Far?
Coral reefs are being subjected to more disturbances than ever before, but a new study has surprisingly found that reef fish can benefit from habitat fragmentation.
Feature: A Reproductive Riddle
They look cute and even like to cuddle, but what do the small testes and spikey penis of the spinifex hopping mouse tell us about their ability to survive and thrive between periods of drought and flooding rain?
Feature: Of Mice & Men
Are mouse models of immune disorders of the human gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease, reliable? And can probiotic supplements keep us healthy?
Australasian Sky: Dazzling Local Autumn Sky Show
A spectacular alignment will occur on 26-27 March.
conSCIENCE: Shifting the Watermarks
The draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan is confused at best and deceptive at worst.
Cool Careers: A Time To Dance
Joel Miller is seeking to create better bone implants, and turned his PhD into a competition-winning dance.
Directions: Enhancing Women’s Career Prospects
Women need better career options and more control over their professional lives.
Eco Logic: Opinions Under Fire
An analysis of Victoria’s Black Saturday fires has provided important evidence about which factors save houses. The study highlights the difference between opinion and evidence.
Eureka!: How a Woman’s Fertility Affects Men’s Speech
Men become more creative in their conversations when they detect subtle signals that a woman is fertile.
Expert Opinion: Is Sugar as Toxic as Alcohol?
Experts evaluate a commentary published in Nature* arguing that added sweeteners pose dangers to health that justify controlling them like alcohol.
Lowe Tech: Like a Rinehart Cowboy
Will more anti-climate change cowboys ride into the media spotlight following Gina Rinehart’s purchase of a stake in Fairfax?
Naked Skeptic: Checking the Facts
How much can you rely on what you read without checking the facts yourself?
Out of this World: “Ping Pong” Planets
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New Books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: Jagged Little Pill
If a morality pill can induce moral behaviour, what could governments do with an “immorality pill” to control its citizens, law enforcers and soldiers?
Simon Says: Battle of the Basin
Differences between farmers and scientists are being heightened by a process designed to reconcile them.
The Funneled Web: To be an Effective Chief Scientific Advisor You've Got to be Lucky: Robert May
Despite the hype about Prof Ian Chubb's appointment last year, the Chief Scientist doesn't have the influence afforded to his UK counterpart.
Online Feature: Bill to stop misuse of dangerous technology could hit uni research
The Defence Trade Controls Bill 2011, which restricts the use of materials that could be used in weapons, will inhibit a wide range of scientific research.
Online Feature: Genome–Disease Association Studies Defended
"Failure of candidate gene studies showed how little we knew about the basic causes of most common diseases."
Online Feature: Swisse Vitamins highlights the failure of industry self-regulation
Encouraging GPs to “on-sell” products to patients is likely to produce unnecessary or inappropriate prescribing