Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue March 2012

Ethnic differences can have a significant impact on how people respond to drugs.
Cover Story: The Right Dose
Diet and lifestyle are rarely considered when assessing how people respond differently to drugs, yet ethnic differences in cooking styles, contraception, smoking, and caffeine and alcohol consumption can have a significant impact – especially in treatments for mental health.
Muscle fibre
Feature: Microdevices Muscle Up
Artificial muscles are evolving from laboratory curiosities to serious applications in surprisingly diverse areas, from cochlear implants to robotic fish.
Gavin Prideaux excavating an extinct kangaroo skull from beneath the Nullarbor.
Feature: What Lies Beneath
A small pit in the ancient Nullabor woodlands proved to be a deathtrap for ancient Australian marsupials, birds, reptiles and frogs – and a treasure trove of intact skeletons for palaeontologists.
Smell and taste disorders compromise the health of children.
Feature: Smell & Taste Disorders in Children
The rate of taste disorders in children exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines, and combined with smell disorders compromises the nutritional health of a significant proportion of young Australians.
A fairy-wren feeds a hungry Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo fledgling.
Feature: Masters of Disguise
To avoid rejection by their hosts, Australian bronze-cuckoo chicks are near-perfect visual and vocal mimics that can quickly modify their call to match the species they are parasitising.
Feature: Warmer Does Not Mean Drier
A warmer climate causes grasslands to dry out faster, but a new study has found that more efficient water use by plants in response to rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere could completely offset the drying effect caused by warming.
Feature: Fooling Nemo
Clownfish use their sense of smell to warn them of the presence of predators, but the pH conditions expected as a result of climate change fool them into swimming towards impending danger.
Elderly man falling
Feature: Catch ‘Em Before They Fall
Biomedical engineers are developing a sensor that can predict when elderly people are going to fall.
Australasian Sky: Star Chart for March 2012
Read about some special features in the night sky from February 23, and download the Sydney Observatory's star chart for March 2012.
conSCIENCE: Science Is Sinking in the Murray–Darling Basin
Applied research suffers cuts while science loses farmers’ trust.
Cool Careers: Scientist Survives The SLAPP
Ken Harvey risked expensive litigation to fight the promoters of SensaSlim weight loss products.
Directions: Focus on Education to Feed the Future
Agricultural science education is a national priority for the nation’s food security.
Eco Logic: To Monitor or Not to Monitor
At its heart, good environmental monitoring needs a clear justification for acquiring information in the first place. What we strive to know should be driven by what we need to know.
Eureka!: Nuns Would Benefit from the Pill
Interesting experiments and quirky research findings.
Expert Opinion: Gas Drilling Affects Animal Health
US scientists have documented cases of animal health problems they believe have possible links to gas drilling.
Expert Opinion: Fukushima: one year on
A year since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the coast of Japan, triggering a powerful tsunami and resulting in the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl, nuclear and disaster experts examine the current situation and what lessons can be learnt.
Lowe Tech: White Washing Energy Policy
The draft energy white paper would have looked out of date 25 years ago, when we already knew about the problems of “peak oil” and climate change.
Naked Skeptic: Magic Wands for Pain Relief
Sometimes an easy solution to pain is one of those things that looks too good to be true. And is.
Out of this World: A Telescope as Big as the Earth
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: Civilizations Beyond Earth
How does the public feel about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and what will happen if we actually discover that we’re not alone?
Quandary: The Bioethics of Geoengineering
Ethical guidelines are urgent when considering high-risk technologies to avert the climate crisis.
Simon Says: Science Student Enrolments: The Glass Is Half-Full
Fewer science students at school is better than more. It’s what they do next that matters.
The Funneled Web: Teaching Real Science
Are we teaching difficult concepts too early in the science curriculum?
The Funneled Web: Unhealthy Science?
Ian Dobson Delivers the First of Three Studies Commissioned by Australia's Chief Scientist.
reminiSCIENCE: Immersed in Chemistry
Arguably Australia’s most internationally experienced and prominent chemistry researcher, Professor John White continues to produce original research long after normal retirement age, and he is, unshakeably, a committed Christian.
Notice Board: Voluntouring Opportunity
An opportunity to help golden bandicoots in north-western WA in May.
Notice Board: Volunteering opportunity in the Daintree
‘Blue forests’ the key to species survival on the Great Barrier Reef
Pockley's Point: Scientists, Media and Society
Peter Pockley reports from a conference held by the Australian Science Communicators.
Odd Spot: Tsunami Wipes out Science
A new study has examined the effect of the 2011 Japanese tsunami on research output.
Odd Spot: Text messages help HIV patients stick to antiretroviral drug therapy
Patients less likely to miss doses if they were sent weekly mobile phone text message reminders.
Online Feature: Research in Practice
What does a scientist do day-to-day? Barry Leviny talks to a biomedical researcher to find out.
Online Feature: Innovation in China: The best and worst of times
Research misconduct is "serious and widespread" among Chinese scientists.
Online Feature: Inventing life: patent law and synthetic biology
The field of synthetic biology poses a number of challenges for patent law.
Online Feature: Desalination: Priorities for research in the Pacific
‘Desal’ technology has been in place on Pacific atoll nations since as early as the 1980s, so why did recent droughts invoke a state of emergency? Current reverse osmosis desalination research focuses on the needs of the industrial world, which are far removed from the challenges faced in developing tropical nations.
Online Feature: Next generation of pharmaceuticals might make good use of shark antibody proteins
International collaboration evaluates new antibody technology
Online Feature: State of the Climate 2012
The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO have released an updated summary of Australia’s long term climate trends.
Online Feature: Defining ‘human’ – new fossils provide more questions than answers
Study finds evidence for new evolutionary line of prehistoric humans in East Asia.