Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue December 2012

Cover Story: I Can Feel Your Pain
Empathy for someone else’s pain shares common characteristics with synaesthesia, a sensory condition where individuals can smell music or taste colours.
Feature: The Last of the Flying Giants
For 55 million years, giant seabirds with serrated beaks successfully soared above the waves before vanishing 2.5 million years ago. Now fossils uncovered in Melbourne show for the first time that these bizarre birds called Australia home and reached every continent, deepening the mystery of their extinction.
Feature: Know Your Enemy
New research has revealed a key mechanism by which our immune system turns against us.
Credit: Frederic Sierro
Feature: How Hepatitis Escapes the Immune System
Recent discoveries about the unusual behaviour of immune cells in the liver could open the way to new strategies for transplantation and the treatment of viral hepatitis.
Photo: Denice Askebrink
Feature: Garbage Guts
Why are turtles attempting to eat shopping bags, balloons and other forms of human rubbish in preference to natural food sources?
Credit: iStockphoto
Feature: Ozone Protection Is a Warming Issue
Ozone-depleting chemicals may have been phased out under the Montreal Protocol, but the global warming potential of their replacements is thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.
Australasian Sky: Advice for First Time Telescope Buyers, and December Star Chart
Get it right when you put a telescope under the Christmas tree.
conSCIENCE: Super-Seeded Science
The increase in compulsory superannuation contributions provides an opportunity to commercialise our research efforts.
The Bitter Pill: When ARTG and CAM Spell SFA
Recent moves to improve the regulation of alternative medicines looked promising until the Therapeutic Goods Administration caved under pressure from the industry.
Cool Careers: Green Is Mean and White Is Nice
Public understanding of rip research is saving Australian lives each summer.
Directions: Four Academies Are Working Together
Australia’s four learned academies are integrating their expertise in science, technology, social science and humanities to form a better evidence base for advice to government.
Eco Logic: The Value of an Old Tree in the City
Large old trees provide a significant biodiversity benefit that should be factored in by governments when managing biodiversity.
Eureka!: Take a Closer Look at that Christmas Card
Many Christmas cards and decorations have incorrect depictions of the Moon and snowflakes.
Expert Opinion: Too Much Added Sugar for Young Australians
Preliminary research presented at the annual congress of the Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society suggests that intake of “added” sugars is above recommended levels for more than half of young Australians.
Lowe Tech: Wind Energy Blows Strong
South Australia’s wind farms are generating almost one-quarter of the state’s energy needs.
Naked Skeptic: Will Your Smart Meter Make You Less Smart?
The introduction of smart electricity meters has led to some silly public misconceptions.
Out of this World: Citizen Scientists Find Exoplanet
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: Stem Cell Researchers Win Nobel Prize
The development of induced pluripotent stem cells overturned conventional thinking and removed the ethical issues associated with the destruction of embryos.
Simon Says: Scientists Told to Get Dirty
Science Minister Chris Evans is a no-nonsense, tough-talking coach who has given Team Science a reality check.
Up Close: Pump it up: Exercise, your muscles, and type 2 diabetes
Cell biologist and sports physiologist Prof Mark Febbraio discusses research that uncovers the relationship amongst exercise, muscular activity, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Up Close: Mild to severe: What's behind the rise in food allergies in children?
Childhood allergy expert Prof Katie Allen discusses the emerging epidemic of food allergies in children and its causes.
Up Close: Radicals in the gallery: Scientists contend with nature's art vandals
Chemistry professor Carl Schiesser and art conservator Caroline Kyi discuss how understanding the effect of free radicals on pigment helps art galleries and museums preserve important works of art.
Notice Board: An Unsung Hero of Science Communication
The Australian Science Communicators has named the Editor of Australasian Science, Guy Nolch, as the 2012 Unsung Hero of Science Communication.
Online Feature: Alert: you may be living in a simulated universe
Are our lives real or is the universe just an enormous computer simulation?
Online Feature: Just out of Curiosity, did life on Earth come from Mars?
In an announcement on 3 December 2012, NASA poured cold water on rumours that its Curiosity rover had found life on Mars.
Online Feature: NASA's Curiosity shows there's more to life than life
The Curiosity rover has landed on Mars, driven around, and started reporting integrated science results.
Online Feature: Trading chemistry for ecology with poo transplants
As simple as the procedure sounds, we don’t yet fully understand how faecal transplants work.
Online Feature: What we could learn from Yasser Arafat's exhumation
The remains of Yasser Arafat have been exhumed for “special testing” to determine whether he died from poisoning by a radioactive element or natural causes.
Online Feature: What causes hot flushes during menopause?
Hot flushes are not 'in the head,' but new research suggests they may start there.
Online Feature: 'Tis the season to get food poisoning
Research reveals food poisoning risk for the festive season, especially from raw egg dishes.
Online Feature: Anti-vaccination network told to change its name or be shut down
The heated battle between Australia’s anti-vaccine lobby, the Australian Vaccination Network, and those fighting against its misinformation has taken a positive turn with the New South Wales Department of Fair Trading ordering the AVN to change its name or risk being shut down.