Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue December 2013

HIV virus attacking a cell. martynowi_cz/iStockphoto
Cover Story: Is an End to AIDS in Sight?
Gene therapy is showing promise as a way to turn HIV against itself and cure AIDS.
Feature: Why Don’t Mozzies Get a Fever?
Understanding how mosquitoes protect themselves from the viruses they carry could lead to new ways of controlling the spread of viral diseases like dengue or yellow fever.
Sea squirt
Feature: What Speed Sperm Should a Sea Squirt Squirt?
Sea squirt sperm is revealing how a male’s environment affects his sperm’s quality, with implications for the health of offspring that could also improve the success of human IVF procedures.
cane toad
Feature: Tolerate Thy Neighbour
Cane toads have been wiping out native species, but one fish species has learnt to avoid toxic toadpoles.
Two juvenile false killer whales off north-eastern New Zealand.
Feature: False Killers
The false killer whale appears to form long-term relationships with another dolphin species.
social media
Feature: What Happened to Privacy?
What we search, browse, like, friend, tag, tweet and buy enables Big Data to automatically work out what we’re doing, when, where and with whom. Is privacy already dead, and should we care?
Feature: PM Takes a Stalinist Stance on Science
By pandering to anti-science, Australia’s Prime Minister is repeating the mistakes of Socialist Russia.
Australasian Sky: December 2013 Star Chart
Your guide to the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: Towards a Healthier PNG
Medical researchers in Papua New Guinea face unique scientific and public health challenges.
The Bitter Pill: How Charles Darwin Was Cured by Water
The “water cure” relieved Charles Darwin of periods of nausea, but why didn’t it work at home?
Cool Careers: Chronology from the Depths
Aimee Komugabe has abandoned a career in finance to examine deep water corals for evidence of climate change 4000 years ago.
Directions: Water Recycling: It’s Time to Go “Direct”
Water supply and wastewater systems are kept separate, but a report into water recycling finds this is no longer the best option.
Eco Logic: Where’s the Evidence for Adaptive Management?
Everyone talks about how important adaptive management is but few are actually doing it.
Eureka!: Suicidal Sex Explained
Sex is suicidal for some marsupials, and termites communicate by headbaging.
Expert Opinion: Designer Baby Patent Makes Scientists Uneasy
A private company, 23andMe, has patented a method of creating “designer” babies by allowing the selection of sperm and eggs that are most likely to produce traits chosen by the parents, such as eye colour or athleticism, and also allows screening out of sperm and eggs likely to lead to genetic disease.
The Fit: When Can Weight Loss Be Dangerous?
Unless they are extremely obese to start with, people who lose weight die younger.
Lowe Tech: CSG Regulation Is “Frackmented”
The coal seam gas industry in NSW is arguing against the need for buffer zones, while it’s “open slather” in Queensland.
Naked Skeptic: Filtering Science through Conspiracy
A new study finds that people who tend to believe in conspiracies are also likely to reject a consensus of scientific opinion on issues like climate change and vaccination.
Neuropsy: Consciousness Revealed
Can consciousness be detected by neuroimaging?
Out of this World: The Weather on Kepler-7b
Dave Reneke’s wrap-up of space and astronomy news.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new books this month.
Quandary: Third World Bioethics
Poverty overcomes informed consent in India, where nearly 2900 people died in India during clinical trials of drugs between 2005 and 2012.
Simon Says: What Would Pockers Think?
Abolishing the Science portfolio would not have pleased Dr Peter Pockley, but all is not lost.
Up Close: Life by numbers: Systems biology and its approach to researching disease
Biologist Dr Michael Inouye describes the emerging field of systems biology – how it integrates large amounts of diverse data to take an encompassing approach to the study of life processes, and how it can be applied to the study of disease.
Up Close: Tick-tock tussles: Why physicists can't agree on time
Prof Craig Callender tells us how physics has changed our understanding of time and why some even argue that the notion of time is unnecessary.
Issues: Superbug Resistance to Antimicrobial Nanosilver
A group of widely-occurring bacteria has been able to overcome the antimicrobial activity of nanosilver upon prolonged exposure.
Online Feature: Your first hug: how the early embryo changes shape
Video showing how the early embryo changes shape will help selection of embryos for IVF.
Online Feature: Rewilding the Devil
What evidence is there that reintroducing Tasmanian devils to mainland Australia will affect the number of feral cats, rabbits and foxes?
Online Feature: How to prevent shark attacks
Are shark attacks on the rise, and what can you do to minimise your risk this summer?
Online Feature: Trial complete: electric vehicles can work in Australia
Perth trial finds few technological barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles in Australia, but government incentives for early adopters and government programs for the roll-out of fast-DC charging stations would help Australia fully embrace these cars.
Online Feature: Top 10 science stories of 2013
From leaving the solar system to resurrecting a frog, we highlight just some of the science stories that generated headlines around the world this year.
Online Feature: The 10 weirdest science stories of 2013
From farts on a plane to fake fingers, this list of the weirdest science stories of the year contains stories that will make you squirm and some that will have you scratching your head.
Online Feature: Concussion secrets unveiled in mice and people
Scientists film early concussion damage and describe brain's response to injury
Online Feature: Peer-reviewed science takes off on Twitter
But who is tweeting what and why?
Online Feature: Surprising diversity in ageing revealed in nature
Not all species weaken and become more likely to die as they age.
Online Feature: Scientists discover quick recipe for producing hydrogen
New formula for fast, abundant H2 production may help power fuel cells and helps explain expansive chemical-eating microbial communities of the deep
Online Feature: New results from inside the ozone hole
NASA scientists have revealed the inner workings of the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica and found that declining chlorine in the stratosphere has not yet caused a recovery of the ozone hole.
Online Feature: Can We Turn Unwanted Carbon Dioxide Into Electricity?
Researchers are developing a new kind of geothermal power plant that will lock away unwanted carbon dioxide (CO2) underground – and use it as a tool to boost electric power generation by at least 10 times compared to existing geothermal energy approaches.