Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue January and February 2012

Cover Story: Is It a Bird or a Dinosaur?
As a new specimen of Archaeopteryx is unveiled, scientists argue whether this famous creature is a true bird or just another bird-like dinosaur.
Feature: How Jumping Genes Drove Primate Evolution
Jumping genes have been important in the evolution of higher primates, leading to faster brain function, improved foetal nourishment, useful red-green colour discrimination and greater resistance to disease-causing microbes – and even the loss of fat storage genes in gibbons.
The Hatpack simulator. Image: Monash Vision Group
Feature: The Bionic Eye Is In Sight
After conquering the bionic ear more than 30 years ago, Australian scientists have set their sights on the bionic eye.
Image: iStockphoto
Feature: A Taste for Fat
Desensitisation to the taste of fat may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic.
cosmic filaments
Feature: The Missing Matter
Cosmic filaments are the largest structures in the universe, and are the most likely places where the universe’s missing matter resides.
Agave crop
Feature: Tequila Sunrise
Agave is most popularly known for its use in tequila, but it could also usher in the dawn of a sustainable biofuel industry that does not compete with food crops for arable land.
Example of a modern rammed earth house in Western Australia.
Feature: Remote Housing Need Not Cost the Earth
Building and maintaining houses in remote Aboriginal communities is difficult and expensive, but engineering improvements to rammed earth constructions offer a viable alternative.
Australasian Sky: Stargazing, January/February 2012
Your guide and star chart for the night skies this month.
conSCIENCE: Cargo Cult Communication
Science communication necessarily focuses on outcomes, but what about the process?
Cool Careers: A Career Begins by Candlelight
Robyn Arianrhod studies general relativity and writes books on the history of science, but it is her own history that is most unusual.
Directions: Boosting Our Innovation Dividend
It’s time for urgent action to drive productivity and prosperity.
Eco Logic: Efficiency vs Sufficiency in Conservation
Comparing how much money is needed to ensure a conservation outcome with how to deliver the biggest outcome for a fixed investment are two sides of the same coin.
Eureka!: Beer Can Be Good For Burns
A case study documents the use of beer as a rehydration fluid for a burns patient.
Expert Opinion: Do Soft Drinks Lead to Teen Violence?
A study published in Injury Prevention suggests a link between high fizzy soft drink consumption and violence among teenagers, but how strong is the evidence?
Expert Opinion: ATLAS and CMS experiments present Higgs search status
It's far too early to say whether ATLAS and CMS have discovered the Higgs boson, but updated results are generating a lot of interest in the particle physics community.
Lowe Tech: Some Spice Added to the Uranium Export Debate
Do Australian uranium exports to India set a precedent for exports to other non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?
Lowe Tech: Plimer’s climate change book for kids underestimates science education
Ian Plimer says kids are being taught activism, not science.
Naked Skeptic: A Close Run Thing at the Chemist
The engagement of pharmacy and pseudoscience was broken before they could get to the altar, but it would have been a one-sided marriage anyway.
Out of this World: Lightning Sprites Are Out Of This World
David Reneke brings news from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New Books
Your guide to new books
Quandary: Is the End Coming for Embryonic Stem Cells?
Embryonic stem cell research is looking increasingly like a dead end as clinical trials are cancelled in favour of adult stem cells.
Simon Says: Our Niche Pharming Future
Australia’s biggest exporter of value-added products, the pharmaceuticals industry, is struggling to remain competitive.
The Funneled Web: The Wonderful World of CSIRO
To lose one outstanding researcher, Dr Clark, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness, but to lose THREE?
Notice Board: Volunteer divers needed to survey Great Barrier Reef coral and help assess climate change impacts
Research will review how the reef is recovering from recent cyclones and how such extreme physical stress on the reef systems influence coral disease outbreaks.
Notice Board: Researchers seek people who have been aware during anaesthesia
Researchers are seeking people who have been aware during anaesthesia to investigate whether there could be a genetic link to this uncommon experience.
Odd Spot: Levitating flies, smelly birds, leaping lizards and time cloaks
Weird and wonderful science
Odd Spot: Beyoncé is a fly … but why?
What’s in a name? A whole lot of booty, and some Latin.
Online Feature: First glimpse of the Higgs boson
How to interpret CERN’s announcement.
Online Feature: Logging does not cause ‘tipping points’ for Mega Fires
An alternative view to a report published in Australasian Science last month.
Online Feature: Science advice and policy making
Lord May examines the challenges facing tomorrow’s world: anthropogenic climate change; feeding more people; and designing a financial system that allocates capital in a responsible and effective way.
Online Feature: Social Media Tracks Disease Epidemic More Effectively
New Study on Cholera in Haiti Demonstrates for First Time Tweets, Blogs and News Feeds Can Track a Disease Epidemic in Disaster Setting More Rapidly than Traditional Methods
Online Feature: Protecting Top-Priority Habitats Can Also Ease Poverty
First global estimation of biodiversity benefits from habitats to humans
finds flows valued at $1 trillion per year to poor communities.
Online Feature: Censoring influenza research: gagging scientists could put lives at risk
Tying the arms of our scientists behind their backs will put lives at stake and set a dangerous precedent.