Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue March 2014

Haunted house
Cover Story: Brilliant Memories for Dark Places
We are usually not aware of it, but emotions exert a powerful influence over our memories by playing a key role in determining what we remember and what we forget.
Feature: Jumping Genes and the Spectacular Evolution of Flowering Plants
The emergence and rapid rise of flowering plants is one of the most extraordinary and yet still not fully explained phenomena in evolutionary history. Could what Darwin himself called an “abominable mystery” be caused by jumping genes?
Feature: Could an Algal Toxin Cause Motor Neurone Disease?
It’s long been thought that blue-green algae might cause several brain diseases. Now a missing piece in the puzzle has been found.
Feature: Out of the Darkness
Researchers find that light therapy and saffron can protect us against the leading stealers of sight.
Feature: Science Funding Attracts a Crowd
Crowdfunded scientific research has hit Australia as researchers communicate and engage with the public in exchange for their funds and their faith.
Feature: The Amazing Bubble
Bubbles may seem fleeting and fragile but scientists are getting closer to finding the right conditions to turn them into tiny fusion reactors and to recreate the genesis of life itself.
Feature: The Outback Needs More People
Fewer people now live in the outback than before European settlement, so conservation efforts are aiming to attract more people who can actively manage the landscape.
Australasian Sky: March 2014 star chart
Your guide to the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: How Significant Is P?
Questions over the significance of P values requires the adoption of a new and transparent approach to validating research data.
The Bitter Pill: Getting to the Bottom of Colon Cleansing
Colonic cleansing has persisted as an alternative therapy for centuries despite a lack of evidence.
Cool Careers: Underwater Acid Lab
The discovery of carbon dioxide seeps surrounded by coral reefs has given Dr Katharina Fabricius a chance to investigate our oceanic future. The news is not good.
Directions: What Is the Future of Shale Gas in Australia?
A review by ACOLA has weighed up the risks and rewards of shale gas extraction.
Eco Logic: The Gap Between Conservation Scientists and Managers
Collaboration is the key to getting managers and decision-makers to better engage with conservation science. What are the problems and some possible solutions to make it happen?
Eureka!: People Who Buy Organic Foods are Meaner
Does buying organic food make you more judgemental, and why is it better to fart on a plane than hold it in?
Expert Opinion: Australia Tops World Cancer Charts
The cancer agency of the World Health Organization has revealed that Australian men have the highest incidence of cancer in the world. The data reveals striking patterns of cancer in women and highlights that preventing and controlling breast and cervical cancers globally should be prioritised.
Expert Opinion: Hazelwood coal fire health impacts
The Victorian government may announce a partial evacuation of residents from the smoke-affected town of Morwell. Australian experts comment on the health impacts of coal fires.
The Fit: Health through Housework
We do more vigorous exercise through housework than walking, but is it enough to keep you in shape?
Lowe Tech: Tasmania Bans GM Indefinitely
The Tasmanian government has turned its moratorium on genetically modified crops into an indefinite and complete ban.
Naked Skeptic: Philosophy Versus Science, and Vice Versa
Has philosophy outlived its usefulness or does it still provide a framework enabling trust in science?
Neuropsy: Curiouser and Curiouser
A new case of Alice in Wonderland syndrome draws attention to how little is known about perceived distortions of body size.
Out of this World: Dusty Surprise around Giant Black Hole
The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer has gathered the most detailed observations ever of the dust around the huge black hole at the centre of an active galaxy.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books published this month
Quandary: A Modern Vomitorium
A portable stomach pump has been developed so that morbidly obese people can continue to gorge themselves and still lose weight.
Simon Says: Curriculum Wars
The troubled saga of the national school curriculum has more turmoil ahead, and perhaps an unhappy ending.
Up Close: The data cure: The changing science of biology and its impact on your health care
Molecular biologist and science policy leader Professor Keith Yamamoto discusses the current revolution in biological sciences and the emerging field of precision medicine.
Up Close: Fur and against: Scrutinizing the efficacy of animal testing and its alternatives
Toxicologist and pharmacologist Prof Thomas Hartung explains why animal testing is often unnecessary or of questionable efficacy. He discusses the emerging protocols and technologies that enable development of safe products without the need to conduct animal testing. Presented by Dr Dyani Lewis.
Up Close: Refracted brilliance: How nature’s structures produce colour
Physicist Professor Ullrich Steiner explains how nature generates vibrant colors, as seen in many butterflies and beetles, through the structure of materials, and how these properties can be usefully reproduced.
Online Feature: In the eye of a chicken, a new state of matter comes into view
The unusual arrangement of cells in a chicken's eye constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter.
Online Feature: Study finds no evidence wind turbines make you sick – again
An NHMRC review finds no evidence for wind turbine syndrome.
Online Feature: First hints of gravitational waves in the Big Bang's afterglow
Scientists in the US have announced what they believe is the indirect detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang.