Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue June 2012

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Cover Story: Losing Weight Subconsciously
Individuals vary widely in their ability to lose weight, with new evidence suggesting that up to 45% of the variability in weight loss is caused by individual differences in subconscious nerve activity.
Two Tasmanian tigers in Hobart Zoo prior to 1921. Photographer unknown.
Feature: The Thylacine Myth
A new study of the biomechanics of the Tasmanian tiger’s skull debunks the hysteria behind the campaign that led to its extinction.
Platelets are produced in the bone marrow by cells called megakaryocytes.	iStock
Feature: A Matter of Life & Death
Discovering the factors that control the lifespan of the cells that form blood clots could improve cancer treatments and extend the shelf-life of blood donations.
The results of a computer simulation of a cold dark matter universe.
Feature: The Cosmic Ties that Bind Us
Astronomers have found a filament of ancient stars and galaxies that joins us to neighbouring clusters of galaxies and beyond to the vast interconnected universe.
Brian Schmidt
Feature: What Illuminated Dark Energy?
Science rarely overturns existing paradigms, so why was the astonishing announcement that a mysterious “dark energy” was accelerating the expansion of the universe so quickly accepted by cosmologists?
A great bowerbird at his bower.
Feature: Masters of Illusion
Male great bowerbirds construct visual illusions that enhance mating success by altering female perception of their displays.
Legionella causes about 300 infections per year in Australia.
Feature: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bug
The public may think of Legionella as a deadly disease, but Michael Taylor sees parallels with the structure of the universe in the slimes he examines under the microscope.
Phytoplankton
Feature: Sugar’s Role in Climate Change
Marine plankton account for up to 40% of carbon absorbed by all living things, but their growth is limited in half of the world’s oceans by iron bioavailability. New research has found that marine plankton can produce sugars that improve iron bioavailability – and hence plankton growth.
Australasian Sky: Star Chart for June
Find out about the transit of Venus and download the Sydney Observatory's star chart for June.
Climate change protest
conSCIENCE: Rise Up, Citizen Scientists
What passes for debate over technological priorities to decarbonise energy production needs to be better informed – and scientists need to lead the discussion.
Cool Careers: Lessons from Abroad
After teaching science in developing countries, Scott Daniel has returned home to develop teaching strategies for large class sizes here.
Directions: Technology Underpins Better Water Management
Water policy needs to accelerate the development and uptake of efficient technologies that can adapt rapidly to changing climate and population.
Eco Logic: A Corridor to Where?
Connectivity conservation has been framed as a positive contribution that individuals can make in the face of the dual crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change. What is it and why should we pay attention?
Eureka!: Nomadic Gnome Solving Weighty Problem
A gnome is travelling the world to test for subtle differences in gravity.
Expert Opinion: National Greenhouse Accounts Released
The latest National Greenhouse Accounts, which compare Australia’s emissions to our Kyoto Protocol obligations, show that Australia’s carbon pollution is currently tracking at 104% of 1990 levels. Australia’s Kyoto Protocol target is to limit emissions to 108% of 1990 levels, on average, over the period from 2008–12.
Lowe Tech: Laying Clean Energy Foundations
A review finds that Australia is a late adopter of clean energy.
Naked Skeptic: Close Enough Is Better Than Nothing
Peer review may not be perfect but it’s better than the alternative of being able to say, claim and publish anything at all.
Out of this World: Dying Stars Leave Dusty Trails
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: Is It Better Never to Have Been Born?
Bioethicists are questioning legal judgements that dismiss “wrongful birth” cases by challenging the belief that it is better to be born than not born.
Simon Says: Deselecting “Evolition”
A report that whooping cough had evaded the current vaccine by mutating epitomises misconceptions about evolution.
Notice Board: New program invites citizen science on the cosmos
Public can take part in meteorite research.
Odd Spot: During war, the old guy will win the elections
Candidates’ age can predict leadership during war
Online Feature: Science under Siege
When the denial machine goes after climate scientists it is, as one of them said, like the marines going into battle against boy scouts.