Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue March 2016

Credit: nobeastsofierce
Cover Story: Should Australia Allow Mitochondrial Donation?
Is there any ethical reason why legislation should prevent the use of donor mitochondria in cases where children are likely to inherit mitochondrial disease from their mothers?
Credit: Yurok Aleksandrovich
Feature: Sugar Cravings
We all differ in our sensitivity to natural and artificial sweeteners, but how much of this is genetic and how much due to the influences of our sugar-fuelled culture?
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SDSS
Feature: Dark Matter in the Life of Dead Galaxies
A recent discovery in the Coma Cluster highlights the important role of dark matter in transforming galaxies.
Credit: lassedesignen
Feature: High Society
GPS collars have revealed that koalas are more social than previously realised.
Photo: Si-Chong Chen
Feature: All Creatures Great and Small
Many large animals are rare or under threat, so the discovery that they ingest and disperse both large and small seeds has widespread ecological consequences.
Credit: Mopic
Feature: Welcome to the Anthropocene
Say goodbye to the Holocene. Later this year a new epoch might be formally recognised.
Credit: Sangoiri
Feature: Scanning for Empathy
From the reassuring psychologist to the panicked parent, we experience empathy for others in different ways. Brain scans have revealed why.
Platypus in the Waterhole by Megan Porter
Feature: The Art of Pregnancy
Low birth weight affects one in eight indigenous Australian babies. To counter this and the ongoing health issues it causes, an art program is attracting pregnant indigenous women into a research project that also educates them and monitors their health.
Artwork by Scot Nicholls, Domokun Design, reproduced from Chemistry & Biology
Feature: Protein Scissors that also Learned to Glue
An enzyme found in plants has some remarkable abilities that have drug designers excited.
A pygmy blue whale. Credit: research team
Feature: DNA Gives Hope to Blue Whales
A DNA study has determined whether the low genetic diversity of Australia’s blue whales was caused by past natural events or recent whaling, and offered hope for their long-term survival.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for this month.
conSCIENCE: Confucius Was Not a Qualified Career Adviser
Turning your hobby into your job may not necessarily lead to happiness.
The Bitter Pill: What The Egg Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know
The health claims of the egg industry rely on a red herring and a half-truth.
Directions: We Need to Come to Terms with Unconscious Bias
Training that increases our awareness of unconscious bias is useful but insufficient.
Eco Logic: Bias in Natural Resource Management
Natural resource managers must acknowledge the presence of bias and make a conscious effort to minimise its influence in their decisions.
Expert Opinion: Gravitational Waves Detected
Australian astronomers involved in the detection of gravitational waves discuss the significance of the discovery 100 years after Einstein predicted them.
Expert Opinion: How Safe Is Australian Honey?
A study has reported that Australian honey has liver-damaging toxins at levels that exceed European standards. How concerned should we be?
Fossil File: A New Cause for Three Global Mass Extinction Events
Dangerously lows levels of trace elements might be implicated in three mass extinctions.
Fossil File: Solving the Mysteries of the Australian Megafauna
Two new papers have narrowed the date of Australia’s megafauna extinctions as well as the cause of their demise.
Lowe Tech: CSIRO Cools on Climate Science
The science of climate change might now be accepted by world governments, but it’s short-sighted of CSIRO to short-change its research capabilities in this area.
Naked Skeptic: What Is a PhD Worth?
The University of Wollongong has tarnished its reputation by accepting a PhD thesis that presents anti-vaccination dogma in place of primary evidence.
Neuropsy: Faces in the Crowd
Can naturally gifted face-recognisers improve the detection of lawbreakers?
Out of this World: Most Earth-Like Worlds Are Unborn
Astronomers have peered behind the Milky Way and determined that 92% of habitable planets have not yet been born.
Quandary: Royal Paternity Tested in the Modern Age
A royal paternity test in Belgium has far-reaching implications for fertility clinics.
Up Close: The social life of algorithms: Shaping, and being shaped by, our world
Informatics researcher Professor Paul Dourish explains how algorithms, as more than mere technical objects, guide our social lives and organization, and are themselves evolving products of human social actions.
Up Front: CSIRO Weathers a New Storm
CSIRO’s climate scientists are used to being gagged and bound, but now they have also been thrown overboard.
Notice Board: Pandemic
A five part web-series about a deadly virus, engineered in a lab, and the people at the frontline fighting bioterrorism.
Odd Spot: Marble Music
Gotta love a good marble run. This one makes music!
Odd Spot: Waste in space: how do astronauts go to the toilet?
You're in space, you've had your space coffee and space breakfast, and now you need the toilet. How does that work?
Online Feature: Fossil fuel growth centre harks back to old ideas about climate costs
Online Feature: Why is it so hard to recruit good maths and science teachers?