Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue April 2013

Cover Story: The Sacrificial Urge
A study finds that atheists will offer sacrifices to appease a higher being even if they experience no benefit – or even a punishment.
DNA analysis of moa bones
Feature: DNA Points to Human Role in Moa Extinction
A new study of ancient DNA has revealed that New Zealand’s giant flightless moa were well-adapted to deal with the effects of climate and habitat change, leaving only overhunting and habitat destruction by humans as reasons for their extinction
Omega Centauri
Feature: Clusters of Colour
Determining why some globular clusters are blue while others are red is at the heart of understanding how galaxies assembled.
Feature: Windows Can Power City Skyscrapers
City skyscrapers could soon be powered by windows that deflect infrared light passing through them to solar panels.
Sensors fitted to yellowfin bream revealed behavioural changes after rain.
Feature: Fish Bite at Night After Rainfall
Bream in an estuary near Sydney become nocturnal following rainfall, adding to the growing body of evidence that environmental changes can influence the behaviour of species.
Kevin Trenberth
Feature: In the Firing Line of a Hot Debate
Kevin Trenberth is finding the signal of global warming in extreme weather events while dodging the abuse of those who wish to silence him.
Feature: Hormone Linked to Male Bias in Autism
Anti-Müllerian hormone affects the rate of development of boys, leading to a male bias in autism spectrum disorders.
Algae could become the world’s biggest cropping industry.
Feature: Solutions to the Global Food Crisis
Julian Cribb continues last month’s review of global food security issues by looking at some of the big-picture solutions that can make the world’s food and energy more secure.
Australasian Sky: April Star Chart
Your guide to the night sky this month
conSCIENCE: A Fishery Called Murray
Improved water flows have reopened the Murray River’s flow to the sea, but much more needs to be done to restore the fisheries in Australia’s largest estuary.
The Bitter Pill: What’s the Evidence?
The terms “evidence-based” and “peer-reviewed” have become touchstones for reliability, but why should the views of peers count so much and what does “evidence-based” medicine really mean?
Cool Careers: DNA Survives the Heat
Ancient DNA in the Pilbara may give us unprecedented insights into past climate.
Directions: The Pace of Technology
The common impression of an increase in technology has been due to the sheer volume of new technologies released, but now the pace of the technology life cycle is about to catch up.
Eco Logic: Fall of the Leviathans
Three of the world’s top forestry ecologists have warned that the planet’s stock of large, old trees is experiencing an accelerating decline.
Eureka!: The Rise of Zombie Tits
Scientists have discovered bat-eating birds and sea slugs with disposable penises.
Expert Opinion: Court Upholds Patent for Breast Cancer Gene
A landmark decision by the Federal Court has upheld the validity of patents on the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, with Cancer Voices Australia and cancer survivor Yvonne D’arcy losing their case against US-based Myriad Genetics Inc and Melbourne-based Genetic Technologies.
The Fit: Death on the Instalment Plan
How much does watching TV, having a beer or walking to work alter your life expectancy?
Lowe Tech: Bushfire Research Burnt
The discontinuance of funding for the Bushfire CRC is a prime example of bureaucratic myopia.
Naked Skeptic: The Girl in the Iron Lung
With Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan the last remaining refuges of polio, most people today haven’t lived through a polio endemic and can’t truly appreciate the importance of vaccination.
Out of this World: Stars Can Be Late Parents
Astronomers weigh a proto-planetary disk while miners set their sights on passing asteroids for gold and other valuable minerals.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books
Quandary: Care in Ancient Societies
Archaeologists are documenting evidence that ancient humans cared for disabled members of their community.
Simon Says: Generation Breakthrough
The latest take on innovation policy actually offers something new.
Up Close: Rice futures: Biofortifying food crops for better nutrition
Plant molecular biologist Dr Alex Johnson explains how genetic engineering of rice grain could help to stave off malnutrition in the developing world.
Up Close: Enquiry on exhibit: Enlisting art to help communicate science
Science historian and Science Gallery director Dr Michael John Gorman talks about how we can do better in communicating science to the public. He also describes how the Science Gallery, based at Trinity College Dublin, attracts a diverse audience by bringing together art and science.
Up Close: Mass nebulous: Our evolving understanding of dark matter
Cosmologist Dr Katherine Mack delves into the mysteries of dark matter, examining the evidence and scrutinizing current explanations of the phenomenon.
Up Close: Peak performance: Should elite athletes train at high altitudes?
Exercise physiologist Prof Jerome Dempsey discusses how the human body responds to lower oxygen concentrations at high altitudes and whether elite athletes really benefit from training under such conditions.
Notice Board: HEALTH STUDY - Are brain training games effective?
PLay online games to help researchers determine the effectiveness of brain training programs.
Online Feature: Chemical looping: a carbon capture technology for the future
Chemical looping, a low carbon technology for the fossil fuel industry, is increasingly been viewed as a competitive technology in carbon capture and storage, with the successful completion of pilot plant trials in the USA.
Online Feature: Don't bury the benefits of research to improve the health system
The McKeon review sets out a ten-year strategy to better integrate health and medical research into the public health system.
Online Feature: New evidence lifts the stakes on the meat vs fish debate
Two recent papers have shed more light on the benefits of fish oils and the reasons why red meat might be bad for you.
Online Feature: Colour-changing dragons to reveal their secrets
A study of why animals change colour could enable scientists to develop bandages that change colour in response to slight changes in the temperature of the wound.