Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue December 2014

Fire is a key part of ecosystems in the Mallee. Credit: Peter Teasdale
Cover Story: Pyrodiversity vs Biodiversity
New research challenges conventional wisdom that the creation of a diverse mosaic of fire histories benefits biodiversity.
James Randi
Feature: James Randi: An Honest Liar
James Randi discusses his greatest achievements, disappointments, what woo annoys him the most, and the challenges fracturing the skeptical movement.
Feature: Dr Who Meets Professor Heisenberg
Researchers have simulated in the laboratory how quantum particles could overcome the “grandfather paradox” of time travel.
Feature: New Defence Act Handcuffs Science
Australian scientists risk huge fines and even imprisonment under new laws that will give Defence bureaucrats extraordinary powers over their research.
The first act of copulation in vertebrates
Feature: A Kink in the History of Sex
The discovery of the first vertebrate to have copulated reveals not only the genesis of different male and female forms but also some surprising kinks in how sex has evolved.
A school of vetulicolians swimming in the Cambrian ocean
Feature: Meet Our Weirdest Ever Cousins
Strange-sounding and even stranger-looking, vetulicolians are close relatives of vertebrates.
Feature: Climate Records Reveal North–South Divide
The first comprehensive reconstruction of the Southern Hemisphere’s temperature over the past millennium reveals that Northern Hemisphere warm and cool periods were not global. But what about late 20th century warming?
Misplaced fear of radiation and accidents is impacting our response to climate d
Feature: The High Price of Obsolete Science
The anti-nuclear movement co-opted the environment movement on the strength of theories about DNA, radiation and cancer that have long been proven false.
Feature: Top 10 Science Stories of 2014
A recap of the top science stories in 2014, from Ebola's spread and a Facebook experiment that wasn't "liked" to the discovery of Richard III's remains and the world's largest dinosaur.
Feature: Top Ten Weirdest Science Stories of 2014
A recap of the weirdest science stories in 2014, from the attractiveness of hipster beards and the induction of a dream within a dream to the number of bacteria transferred during a kiss.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for December 2014.
conSCIENCE: It’s Time to Prepare for Peak Phosphorus
A looming global shortage of an important fertiliser necessitates the development of phosphorus-efficient crops, recycling of phosphorus from sewage and even separating it from urine.
The Bitter Pill: Everything You’ve Heard about Acupuncture Is Wrong
Acupuncture is often cited as an effective alternative method of treating a range of ailments, but few people are aware of the origins, philosophies and contradictions involved.
Directions: “Dr Who” Products Are the Future of Manufacturing
Mass production is dying, opening up manufacturing opportunities for a high-tech bespoke industry.
Eco Logic: A Call to Better Protect Antarctic Biodiversity
As “the last wilderness on Earth” Antarctica requires a better system of protected areas.
Eureka!: How Slippery Is a Banana Peel?
The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes had a focus on weird science involving food.
The Fit: Animal vs Human
How does the fitness of humans compare with other animals?
Fossil File: The Mystery of Deinocheirus Solved
With gigantic arms, a beer belly, a humped back and a duck bill, Dinocheirus is one bizarre dinosaur.
Lowe Tech: University’s Share Portfolio Makes Coal Industry Dirty
Selling shares in fossil fuel companies may seem an ethical choice but it may equally be sound investment practice.
Naked Skeptic: Stem Cell Promises Give Way to Abuses
Stem cell tourism employs the same tactics as the cancer quackery industry to exploit the hopes of people desperate for cures of serious medical conditions.
Neuropsy: Diagnosis, Dissent and the DSM
The publication of the DSM-5 prompts debates over the science of diagnosing and treating mental illness.
Out of this World: Hubble Finds Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons
The Hubble has found Kuiper Belt targets for the New Horizons program, and monster galaxies are gaining weight by cannibalising neighbours.
Quandary: Mars Mission Bioethics 101
A one-way trip to Mars, funded from the rights to a reality TV show, raises many bioethical issues.
Simon Says: No, Prime Minister
Almost three decades of high-level engagement between the government and the research sector has reached a dead end.
Up Close: Mind shift: How always-on digital technologies are changing our brains
Neuroscientist Prof Baroness Susan Greenfield examines the scientific bases of how constantly-on digital environments may bring about changes in our brains.