Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue January/February 2015

evolution of man
Cover Story: Seven Discoveries that Changed the Course of Human Evolution
Seven discoveries made by our ancient ancestors were key cultural drivers that changed the course of human evolution in extraordinary ways.
Cover Story: Horse Racing Position Cuts Drag by up to 66%
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Feature: The Curious Story of the Human Backside
The human posterior is rather peculiar compared with the backsides of our close primate cousins. Its unusual form tells the story of our evolution like no other part of the human body.
Rosetta Stone
Feature: A Stone Age “Rosetta Stone”
Our ancestors had the edge over several other contemporary species of human that were headed for extinction by about 40,000 years ago. What were they doing differently? Archaeological scientists are trying to find out using modern techniques to study traces of use left on stone tools and other artefacts.
Acheulean handaxe
Feature: The Cutting Edge of Cognition
Modern brain scans are revealing whether Stone Age hominins planned to make specific tools or whether their craftsmanship determined the outcome of their endeavours.
rock art
Feature: Strangers on the Shore
New analysis of rock art and other artefacts found in northern Australia are revealing the timing and extent of an ancient aquaculture industry developed by South-East Asian mariners.
Feature: Australia’s First Dingo
Genetic analyses suggest that in a single colonising event the dingo reached Australia during the Holocene. Since rising seas had already inundated the land bridge connecting Australia to South-East Asia, the dingo must have been accompanying an ancient human sailor.
Credit: kapley/iStockphoto
Feature: Our Evolutionary Origins Expose Cancer’s Weakness
The evolution of cellular regulation has inspired a new model of cancer that predicts ways to attack its weaknesses instead of its strengths.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for this month.
conSCIENCE: Can Science and Religion Be Friends?
Some scientists would prefer religion to become extinct but it defiantly prospers – peaceful co-existence is the enduring paradigm.
The Bitter Pill: Evidence for Acupuncture: What Do Scientific Studies Show?
Advocates of acupuncture claim that it has been proven effective by scientific studies. Critics claim that it is only a placebo. They can’t both be right.
Directions: Gaps in the Government’s Energy Green Paper
The government’s energy Green Paper proposes reforms that will be difficult to deliver while ignoring several long-term issues.
Eco Logic: Tidal Flats Are Disappearing
The world is losing its tidal flats at an alarming rate, putting enormous pressure on threatened migratory birds.
Eureka!: The Unromantic Truth About Kissing
When couples kiss intimately for 10 seconds they transfer 80 million bacteria.
The Fit: What Two Experiments that Could Never Be Repeated Tell Us about Weight Loss
Starvation and overfeeding studies reveal extreme differences in how we gain and lose weight.
Fossil File: The Magic of Finding Fossils
As a child, John Long’s interest in fossils was first stoked when he discovered a trilobite. As an adult he discovered that the species was unknown to science at the time.
Lowe Tech: Sea Change Threatened by Coastal Development
Coastal communities are battling to retain their natural assets in the face of increasing tourism and residential developments.
Naked Skeptic: A Placebo Can Relieve a Skeptic’s Pain
Even when we are aware of it, a placebo can still produce a real effect.
Neuropsy: An Honest Face
The brain decides whether an unfamiliar face is trustworthy, even before it is consciously perceived.
Out of this World: Dwarf Galaxy Could Be an Ejected Black Hole
Astronomers have observed what could be a massive black hole that has been ejected into space after two galaxies collided.
Publish or Perish: A Scientist in Wonderland
A review of Edzard Ernst's autobiography.
Quandary: The Bio-Brick Revolution
While synthetic biology promises benefits such as glow-in-the dark trees that replace city lights, there are many more sinister applications that have many people worried.
Simon Says: Science Council’s Renovation Rescue
Remodelling the edifice that delivers science advice to the highest level of government seems to be an interactive work in progress.
Up Close: Margaret Wertheim: Confessions of a science communicator
Celebrated science writer and author Margaret Wertheim discusses the state of science journalism and communication in a world of fragmented social and digital media, as well as her craft-based efforts to foster scientific and mathematical awareness.
Up Close: Contagion calculation: Forecasting and tracking outbreaks of influenza
Epidemiologist Assoc Prof Jodie McVernon discusses research into tracking and predicting the spread of influenza and other viral diseases like Ebola.
Up Close: MRI: Window into the brain
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, has revolutionized modern medicine, allowing us to see detailed structure of the human brain. PhD students Charles Malpas and Bernd Merkel discuss their research into applying MRI as a tool to investigate diseased and healthy brains to help fine tune our understanding of how the brain works.
Up Close: Whatever happened to the ozone hole? Lessons in timely action to avert global disaster
Atmospheric scientists Prof David Karoly and Dr Robyn Schofield discuss the hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic, and what effect timely global action taken in 1987 seems to have had in reversing ozone degradation.
Up Close: From pole to pole: New research into treating bipolar disorder
Research psychiatrist Prof Allan Young discusses bipolar disorder, and examines leading edge research into finding new treatments for this condition. Presented by Sila Genc.