Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue March 2015

Cover Story: Brain Stimulation & Memory: How Strong Is the Evidence?
For nearly 15 years, scientists have reported that running a weak electric current through the brain can improve learning and memory. What if we got it wrong?
Feature: New Ways to Split a Headache
Chronic headache is poorly understood and notoriously difficult to manage, but immune-targeted medications and electrical stimulation could provide fresh insight into the root cause and treatment of this debilitating condition.
Feature: The Psychology of Misinformation
Misinformation affects our reasoning and decision-making. Unfortunately, a number of cognitive factors limit the effectiveness of retractions and refutations, ensuring that misinformation sticks.
The large Lark Quarry footprints were made by a herbivorous dinosaur.
Feature: Dinosaur Stampede Stopped in its Tracks
A forensic analysis of ancient footprints has cast doubt on claims that a dinosaur stampede took place at Lark Quarry.
whale shark
Feature: Hide & Seek
Whale sharks may be the largest fish in the ocean but they are particularly elusive. Researchers are now using photographic and genetic methods to find out their migration patterns and determine the best conservation strategies to protect them from threats posed by shipping accidents and unregulated fishing.
Feature: Sex with Strangers
An invasive honey bee species is mating with local honey bees in Far North Queensland. What are the consequences for the Australian honey bee industry?
Feature: The Chlorophyll Conundrum
A scientist’s 50-year research journey is finally about to reveal not only that high chlorophyll levels don’t improve wheat yields through more efficient photosynthesis, but that the opposite may be true.
Feature: A Scientist’s Defense of Free Will
Why scientists should not jump to the unwarranted conclusion that free will is just an illusion.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for this month.
conSCIENCE: How to Get Girls into Physics
Research from the UK has identified several impediments that discourage girls from studying physics, with new interventions now being trialled.
The Bitter Pill: Why Do We Pay Parents Who Won’t Vaccinate their Kids?
The federal government wrestles with the cost of health care for Australians, so isn’t it time they stopped paying parents not to vaccinate their children?
Directions: We Need Better Collaboration to Optimise Our Research
A proposed metric of industry engagement seeks to reward research impact as well as excellence.
Eco Logic: Balancing Species Numbers and Phylogenetic Diversity
The current extinction crisis can be thought of as a fire in the genetic library of life. In the scramble to save as much as we can, we want to save as many books (i.e. species) as possible but we also want to save as much total information (i.e. unique genes) as possible.
Eureka!: An App Knows You Better than Your Real Life Friends
Facebook “likes” can profile your personality more accurately than your friends and co-workers.
Expert Opinion: The Call for Nuclear Energy to Stop Biodiversity Loss
Adelaide ecologists Prof Barry Brook and Prof Corey Bradshaw have called for the promotion of nuclear power to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity in an open letter published in Conservation Biology.
The Fit: Stress, the Iceman and Us
The release of stress hormones may have helped our ancient ancestors to survive dangerous situations, but modern stresses are killing us slowly. How do you rate on a common stress scale?
Fossil File: An Amazing Year of Record-Breaking Fossil Discoveries
The past year has seen some literally enormous palaeontological discoveries, from the dinosaur with the largest BMI to an ichthyosaur that left land to live like a dolphin.
Lowe Tech: The Lucky Country – 50 Years Later
How much has changed since Donald Horne labelled Australia “the lucky country” as a warning about its “second-rate leaders”?
Naked Skeptic: Abuse of a Sound Principle
The Precautionary Principle has been abused in debates about climate change, vaccination and genetically modified food.
Neuropsy: The Walking Dead
People with the Cotard delusion are convinced that they are dead.
Out of this World: Dawn Closes in on Ceres
A spacecraft is about to enter the orbit of Ceres, and construction of the world’s biggest optical and infrared telescope has been approved.
Quandary: When Do We Become Autonomous?
It’s more important for a child to live to become an autonomous adult than to die to defend her mother’s prejudices against medicine.
Simon Says: Not Understanding Terror
Science is not up to the challenge of divining the behavioural roots of Islamic terrorism.
Up Close: Go with the gut: Our symbiotic relationship with our intestinal bacteria
Chemistry researcher Assoc Prof Spencer Williams talks about the rapidly emerging understanding of human microbiota - the diverse and numerous microorganisms that reside on and within our bodies - and particularly how the composition of our gut flora can determine the state of our own health.
Up Close: False findings: The rise in retraction of scientific results
Medical journalist and educator Prof Ivan Oransky talks about research misconduct that, once uncovered after publication, leads to retractions of scientific papers, damaged careers, and an undermining of the scientific process. Prof Oransky suggests why retractions are on the increase, and how technology is being enlisted in the fight against fraud.