Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue March 2013

Credit: iStockphoto
Cover Story: The Obesity Paradox
In the past 10 years there has been no increase in the fatness of kids, either in Australia or in many developed countries. At the other end of life, fatter adults are living longer than lean adults. What can be going on?
Nimbadon skulls representing developmental ages
Feature: Ancient Swingers
Skeletons unearthed in a fossil cave in north-western Queensland reveal that 15 million years ago Australia’s ancient forest treetops were home to mobs of 70 kg wombat-like marsupials – the largest tree-dwelling marsupial herbivores to have ever lived.
Curiosity using its Chemistry and Camera instrument
Feature: Life Beneath Mars
The continual discovery of water on other planets raises the hope that now is our time to find life beyond Earth.
Andromeda Galaxy
Feature: Cosmic Choreography
A newly discovered form of circle dancing is perplexing astronomers, not due to its complex choreography but because it's unclear why the dwarf galaxies are dancing in a ring around the much larger Andromeda Galaxy.
A remote-operated vehicle explores the deep reef. © Catlin Seaview Survey
Feature: Deep Impact
The shallow reefs of the Great Barrier Reef are under stress, with a recent report estimating that half of the coral cover has been lost within the past three decades. However, scientists are now discovering healthy coral communities lying in deeper waters adjacent to these disturbed areas. Could these deep reefs hold the key to the survival of the Great Barrier Reef?
Credit: Rodrigo Hamede, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Feature: Devil Is in the DNA
Ancient DNA is helping shed light on why the Tasmanian devil is being driven to extinction.
Feature: Beating the Global Food Crisis
In the first of a two-part series Julian Cribb looks at what is driving global food insecurity – and how we can overcome it.
Australasian Sky: Star chart and guide for March 2013
Your guide to the night skies this month.
conSCIENCE: View from the Top
The new head of the ARC looks ahead at changes to funding programs and an open access regime.
The Bitter Pill: Science Advocacy and Social Media
The ever-changing media landscape is continuing to affect the role of science communication. How can scientists and medical practitioners be expected to respond to social media?
Cool Careers: Geology on the Up
Prof Jonathan Aitchison is rewriting the story of the world’s greatest mountain chain. Soon textbooks may need to follow.
Directions: Moving Our Focus from Innovation to Productivity
Innovative businesses achieve better productivity and profitability.
Eco Logic: Cooperation and Conflict in Conservation
Different groups are all “fighting” for the environment, but each group does it in its own way and with its own specific priorities – sometimes leading to negative conservation outcomes.
Eureka!: Sloppy Barnacle Sex
What does a barnacle do when its penis isn’t long enough? And how can Coca-Cola save you from gastric surgery?
Expert Opinion: Getting Stoned May Not Be Making Teens Stupid
A previously reported causal link between teenage marijuana use and a reduction in IQ may be erroneous. A Norwegian researcher re-examined data from the Dunedin longitudinal study of cannabis users in New Zealand and found that the decrease in IQ observed may instead be linked to lower socioeconomic status.
Lowe Tech: Researchers Frustrated by Career Prospects
A new survey finds that researchers like their work but are frustrated by limited career paths.
Naked Skeptic: We’re Still Here
It’s not surprising that the world didn’t end on 21 December, as predictions about the end of the world are nothing new.
Out of this World: Siding Spring Observatory Survives Fire Threat
Most of Australia stood mesmerised in January as a fire raged across the Warrumbungle National Park in NSW, which is home to Australia’s world-class optical and infrared telescopes at Siding Spring Observatory.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books
Quandary: No Joy for Addicts
Neurosurgeons in China are treating drug addicts by destroying a part of the brain responsible for feeling pleasure.
Simon Says: Is Gas Really Better Than Coal?
Despite the best current knowledge and intentions we could be accelerating climate change.
Up Close: It's alimentary: The brain, the gut’s nervous system, and links to autism
Neuroscientist Dr Elisha Hill and Gastroenterologist Dr Kent Williams discuss the complex interactions between our brain and neurons found in the gut, and consider the over-representation of gastrointestinal disorders in children with autism.
Up Close: Mercury rising: The impact of distant human activity on Antarctica
Atmospheric chemist Dr Robyn Schofield discusses how industrial pollution makes its way to the pristine Antarctic continent, and explains the chemistry behind the resulting annual mercury deposition events.
Up Close: Maps and minds: Making car and mobile navigation systems people friendly
Geospatial scientist Professor Stephan Winter explains the intelligence behind car navigation systems and the challenges of digitising map data.
Notice Board: Seafarers can help track effects of climate change
Seafarers are being encouraged to take part in a unique global study, using a mobile phone app to record the effects of climate change.
Online Feature: Goodbye, for a while, to the Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider has temporarily shut down, but will return stronger than ever.
Online Feature: Why some people get zits and others don't
The bacteria that cause acne live on everyone's skin, yet one in five people is lucky enough to develop only an occasional pimple over a lifetime.
Online Feature: De-extinction is about as sensible as de-death
Efforts to attempt to bring extinct animals back to life are fanciful.
Online Feature: Biodiversity in a Pellet
The South Australian Museum is tracking the biodiversity of our outback wildlife species in a curious manner – by studying regurgitated food pellets from owls.