Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue March/April 2017

Cover Story: Oz Mammal Genomics
A large project to sequence the genomes of Australia’s mammals will provide the first complete picture of their interrelationships and evolutionary history – and aid their conservation.
Credit: Michael Johnson, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Feature: A Pri¢e for Wildlife
Can market-based incentives and private ownership of wildlife remedy shortfalls in government funding for conservation?
Echidnas move in the wild at an average speed of 1.3 km/h
Feature: Echidnas Have a Nose for Ecological Engineering
Activity loggers have revealed that echidnas turn over 200 cubic metres of soil each year, making them one of Australia’s most important remaining ecosystem engineers.
Feature: Were Termites the World’s First Farmers?
New trace fossils from the African Rift Valley reveal evidence for the origins of agriculture, not by humans but by insects.
Feature: Presumed Guilty
A study of 100 cases of doping in sport has concluded that the system is flawed.
Credit: Dmitry Lobanov/Adobe
Feature: Why Size Matters at Birth
A large genetic study has determined why small babies are at greater risk of disease as adults.
Feature: Back from the Dead
Resurrection plants can survive for years in an air-dry state before growing at full capacity when the rain comes. How do they do it, and can this trait be transferred to improve the tolerance of crops to drought, heat, salinity and infection?
Feature: The Data Detective
Michael Aitken made his name developing software to detect stockmarket fraud, and now believes he can save the health sector $20 billion by detecting fraud and waste.
Credit: Peter McDonald
Feature: Something New, but Old, from Australia’s Dead Heart
The identification of an ancient gecko species discovered hiding in Central Australia has provided new insights into how and when Australia’s deserts began to form 10 million years ago.
Credit: Aidenvironment/CC BY-SA 2.0
Feature: It Pays to Grow Trees
When economic forces threaten irreplaceable ecosystems in developing countries it makes sense to employ economic incentives that place a value on forests.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky this month.
Credit: Google Earth
conSCIENCE: Roads to Ruin
Can we build roads that benefit people while not destroying nature?
The Bitter Pill: Protecting Your Health in a Post-Truth World
As scientific literacy declines and “post-truth” and “alternative facts” take centre stage, how can you ensure that you get proper health treatments that will actually do some good?
Directions: Changing the Way We Do Things
We need to have a critical mass of women in key roles.
Eco Logic: The Feasibility of a Cane Toad Barrier
Preventing the spread of cane toads into Western Australia’s Pilbara could cost less than $100,000 per year.
Fossil File: Getting a Palaeontology Job in Australia
Australia’s funding system disadvantages students attempting to turn their palaeontology studies into a career.
Lowe Tech: Yes, Science Minister
The merry-go-round of science ministers raises concerns about instability.
Naked Skeptic: Don’t Let Straw Men Give You Hay Fever
Be prepared to face these straw man arguments when arguing with climate change deniers, anti-vaccination advocates and creationists.
Neuropsy: Personality Influenced by Brain Structure
Individual differences in personality have been associated with structural variation in the cortex.
Out of this World: Census Finds Universe Has Ten Times More Galaxies
The universe has ten times more galaxies than previously thought, and the Earth may have had more than one moon.
Quandary: Locked-in’s Challenge to Autonomy
Four patients with locked-in syndrome have communicated that they are happy as long as they receive adequate care at home.
Up Close: Genetic find and replace with CRISPR: Technology that will revolutionize medicine and agriculture
Molecular biologist Prof Jacob Corn describes how gene editing is carried out with CRISPR-Cas9. He explains why this technology has the potential of revolutionizing the treatment of diseases such as sickle cell anemia and malaria. Besides human health, CRISPR-Cas9 can also contribute to improving agriculture and, consequently, food security. Jacob also discusses the possible ethical challenges posed by the widespread application of gene editing.
Up Front: “We Have Always Been at War with Science”
An Orwellian dystopia is upon us when scientists are muzzled and their expertise disappears into a memory hole.
Online Feature: Year-on-year bleaching threatens Great Barrier Reef's World Heritage status
Online Feature: Snowy Hydro gets a boost, but 'seawater hydro' could help South Australia Online Feature: Global Immunisation Constrained by Outdated Vaccine Delivery Systems