Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue December 2015

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Cover Story: Survival of the Sexiest
“Survival of the fittest” never applied to beards, so why did they evolve and what role do they play in mate selection in modern society?
A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper drone
Feature: Remote Weapons: Ethics from a Distance
Are military drones that launch lethal attacks by remote control of any more concern than traditional warfare capabilities?
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Feature: What’s the Key to Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue has a range of debilitating symptoms that have defied a pathological explanation. Now researchers are zeroing in on receptors with a role in the immune system.
Credit: Nick Valmas (QBI)
Feature: Does a Fly Know If It’s in Control?
What do the brain waves of a fly placed in a virtual reality arena tell us about self-awareness in animals?
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Feature: Off the Grid
Australians have taken to solar energy, but much of the electricity they generate cannot be stored and is returned back to the grid. However, commercial residential battery systems are now available, with new technologies on the horizon.
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Feature: A Renewable Solution to the Problem of Peak Power
Despite the rapid uptake of solar and wind energy worldwide, fossil fuels are still required when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. However, a cheap and proven storage option, in combination with wind and solar energy, could replace the need for fossil fuels within 15 years.
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Feature: This Little Piggie Went Wee Wee Wee
Microalgae strains that can survive the extreme conditions in piggery effluent could not only clean up the wastewater but also reduce greenhouse emissions, provide a source of biofuel and even be fed back to the pigs.
Credit: Stuart Harris
Feature: How to Recruit 23 Million Scientists
Partnerships between scientists and everyday Australians are changing the face of scientific discovery and exploration.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for this month.
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conSCIENCE: We Will Never Cure Cancer, So Should We Even Try?
Billions of dollars are spent on cancer research each year for minimal gains. Would that money be better invested elsewhere?
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conSCIENCE: Our Human Right not to Be Poisoned
Thousands of new chemicals are released each year, and the toxic effects are mounting. What can we do about it?
The Bitter Pill: The Needles Are as Thin as the Evidence
Practitioners of dry-needling swear by it, yet there is no evidence it will relieve your muscular aches and pains.
Directions: Our Wastewater Is a Valuable, Recoverable Resource
Australia can quickly turn our wastewater from a burden to a benefit.
Eco Logic: Chytrid and Frogs in Australia’s High Country
Science is helping conservation managers deal with the curse of chytrid fungus. While the threat has devastated many frog species, there is reason to be hopeful.
Expert Opinion: Epigenetic Markers Predict Male Sexual Orientation
Epigenetic differences between male twins has been used to identify sexual orientation with up to 70% accuracy, according to unpublished results presented at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 annual meeting.
Expert Opinion: 2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year on Record
2015 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Expert Opinion: Climate Deal Signed in Paris
After two weeks of negotiating, the representatives of more than 190 nations have settled on a agreed plan to tackle climate change.
The Fit: The Rich Get Healthier
We’re getting healthier and living longer, but the rich more than the poor.
Lowe Tech: Nuclear Waste Returns, But Where Will It Be Stored?
Australia’s nuclear waste is being returned from France, and New Zealand is finally reporting on the state of its environment.
Naked Skeptic: Things Change. Get Used to It
How concerned should we be that only 39% of psychology research can be replicated?
Neuropsy: Transcranial Brainwashing
Is it possible to significantly change a person’s beliefs by stimulating the brain?
Out of this World: Pulsar Glitches Help to Weigh a Star
Pulsar glitches help to weigh a star, and Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is shrinking.
Publish or Perish: Southern Surveyor: Stories from Onboard Australia's Ocean Research Vessel
Michael Veitch dives into Australian marine research in his new book about the former CSIRO Marine National Facility research vessel Southern Surveyor.
Quandary: This Little Piggy Went to Market
Gene editing promises to enable the safe use of pig organs to transplant into humans. Who could object to that?
Simon Says: The Abbot Experiment
A political career is different to any other in the highs and lows it offers, and it almost always ends badly.
Up Close: Hello, Pet! Our love can hurt our animal friends
Bioethicist Peter Sandøe discusses our complicated relationship with animals and the associated moral dilemmas, including how our love for companion animals can actually cause harm and the difference between society’s treatment of pets and production animals.