Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue January and February 2013

The Baxter/ Kelly skull
Cover Story: Final Resting Place of an Outlaw
Archaeological and forensic detective work led to the remains of Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s most celebrated, reviled and polarising historical figures.
iStockphoto / dwphotos
Feature: A Party Worth Remembering
Euphoric and highly addictive, a popular party drug also causes long-term memory loss.
AP via AAP/Pier Paolo Cito
Feature: Guilty?
The conviction of Italian scientists at the centre of the tragic L’Aquila earthquake was not an attack on the sanctity of science.
Feature: Normal Syndrome
What was once considered normal is becoming medicalised due to broader diagnostic criteria and the concoction of new disorders, but Julian Savulescu argues that this is merely biological enhancement by another name.
iStockphoto / 4FR
Feature: From Suntans to Cyborgs
Melanin protects us from the Sun’s radiation, but as it also conducts electricity it could be used in bioelectronic devices and prostheses.
Feature: Stimulating Approaches to Depression
New forms of brain stimulation are offering hope to a substantial group of depressed patients who don’t get better with standard medical and psychological treatments.
Australasian Sky: January Star Chart
Your guide to the night skies this month.
iStockphoto / mstay
conSCIENCE: Take a Summer Time Trip
Backwards time travel, parallel universes and temporal paradoxes – take a ride with the best time travel movies.
The Bitter Pill: Cap, Gown and Wand
Are there any good arguments for teaching complementary medicines in tertiary institutions?
Cool Careers: How to Breed Echidnas
Andrea Wallage is discovering what makes an echidna frisky in preparation for efforts to save the endangered long-beaked species.
Directions: Australia Needs an “Assistive Technology” Network
We must address the disconnect between assistive technology research and its translation into commercialisation and practice.
Eco Logic: Are Two Fences Better Than One?
Conservation fences are very effective in allowing threatened animals to breed, but when the population grows too much, managers must decide between extending the existing fence or building a new enclosure.
Eureka!: Midlife Crisis in Great Apes
Chimpanzees suffer a midlife crisis, and psychologists explore why we get itchy when we see someone else scratching.
Expert Opinion: High Levels of Methane Around Coal Seam Gas Fields
Southern Cross University academics have reported unusually high levels of methane around coal seam gas fields in northern NSW and the Tara gas fields in southern Queensland.
Lowe Tech: Coal Seam Gas Expansion Ignores Serious Issues
Coal seam gas extraction is expected to expand despite a cautionary report into the risks.
Naked Skeptic: What Science Isn’t
Scientific credibility requires more than a white coat, a laboratory and machines that go “ping”.
Out of this World: The Most Distant Object in the Universe
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New books
New books published this month
Quandary: The New Eugenics
In the last century eugenics involved sterilisation or murder. This century it is more likely to involve genetic enhancement.
Simon Says: Debugging Trade
As our neighbours seek to sell us more fresh produce, biosecurity is becoming a busier battleground for science and politics.
Up Close: Susan Greenfield: Fifty shades of grey matter
Neuroscientist and synaptic pharmacologist Prof Baroness Susan Greenfield discusses how neuroscience sheds light on our understanding of consciousness.
Up Close: Contentedly caged? Researching the behaviour of animals in captivity
Doctoral students Sally Sherwen and Megan Verdon describe their investigations of animal behaviour in enclosures, from animals on display at the zoo, to pigs being bred for food.
Odd Spot: Mussel goo inspires blood vessel glue
A gel based on the mussel's knack for clinging to rocks, piers and boat hulls can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels and stay put, forming a protective barrier with potentially life-saving implications.
Online Feature: 2012: The Biggest (and Weirdest) Science Stories
The year's ten biggest science stories, and ten of the most weird and womderful science stories.
Online Feature: Numbers game: the Australian Open and predicting success
Most of the focus of the Australian Open will be on the contenders for the men's and women's singles championships, but behind the superstars are the journeys of younger, less-experienced players. Who is on their way to the top ten in the next few years? And who will never make it into the top 100? Michael Bane writes that sports data science provides some insight into the potential for future success - and failure.
Online Feature: Laundry additive cleans air pollution
Within just two years, we could all be wearing clothes that purify the air as we simply move around in them.
Online Feature: Mining with Liquids
New minerals research at the South Australian Museum is set to change the face of the mining industry, with Head of Earth Sciences Professor Allan Pring and his team working on the concept of ‘liquid mining’.
Online Feature: The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Jared Diamond provides personal insights into his decades of field work in the Pacific Islands of New Guinea in an extensive interview about his latest book, which examines tribal societies’ approaches to universal human issues including, peace and war, child-rearing, treatment of the elderly, language, religion and health.
Online Feature: Head banging to bird song
Can different bird species understand what each other are saying?
Online Feature: Tiny reef speedster challenges tuna in the ocean sprint
Tiny coral reef wrasses can swim as fast as some of the swiftest fish in the ocean – but using only half as much energy to do so.
Online Feature: Abnormal proteins imaged in concussed footballers' brains
Technique may lead to earlier diagnosis and tracking of brain disorders in athletes.
Online Feature: DNA data storage: 100 million hours of HD video in every cup
Shakespeare's sonnets, Martin Luther King's and Watson and Crick's seminal paper have been encoded in DNA and decoded successfully.
Online Feature: Coldest journey on Earth for explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes
UK explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is taking on one of the world’s most hostile environments and last remaining polar challenges by attempting to cross Antarctica in winter - the coldest journey on Earth.
Online Feature: Environmental effects of fracking unclear
CSIRO scientists have highlighted concerns that chemicals produced by hydraulic fracturing could be affecting ground and surface waters.
Online Feature: Cryptic Clues: Spot the Difference with DNA
Scientists at the South Australian Museum are using molecular techniques to unlock one of nature's secrets – cryptic species.