Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue May 2012

Credit: Jamie Tufrey
Cover Story: Out of Asia
The discovery of ancient fish hooks and the bones of offshore fish species reveals that the people living to the north of Australia more than 50,000 years ago had the maritime skills and equipment necessary to reach Australia.
Credit: Geoffrey Wyatt, Sydney Observatory/Powerhouse Museum
Feature: The Transit of Venus, 2012
Transits of Venus allowed astronomers to calculate the scale of the solar system, and led to the discovery of Australia. On 6 June this year Australians and New Zealanders will have a ring-side view of one of the most famous events in astronomy – and the last one for another 105 years.
© Yukon Government, Art by George "Rinaldino" Teichmann
Feature: Frozen in Time: What Caused the Extinction of the Ice Age Megafauna?
A new study of ancient DNA preserved in permafrost has revealed that Ice Age megafauna varied considerably in their ability to survive climate change and the spread of humans.
Credit: iStockphoto
Feature: The Future of GPS
With jammers now available for only $20, civilian and military use of GPS is no longer secure. Has the GPS had its day, or will a competing system soon take over?
Credit: iStockphoto
Feature: Can We Program Safe AI?
Tomorrow’s software will compute with meaning and be much more autonomous. But a thought experiment with a chess robot shows that we will also need to carefully include human values.
Some reef fish require large table corals to conceal them.
Feature: Shade & Light
Climate change is reducing the complexity of coral reefs, with implications for the reef fish that require large table corals to conceal them from predators, prey, and even ultraviolet light.
Aerial view of several Himalayan glaciers.
Feature: The Lost Riches of the Himalaya
Most of the world’s gold and copper deposits are formed at tectonic plate boundaries. It’s a pity, then, that geologists find it difficult to locate the ancient plate boundaries in the Himalayan mountains.
conSCIENCE: Lessons from Space Camp
Fascination with space travel can launch primary students into a life of maths and science discovery.
Cool Careers: Darwinian Relic Survives
DNA analysis reveals that a species with a significant place in scientific history may not be extinct after all.
Directions: Energy Future Needs a Portfolio Approach
Nuclear options must be part of the low-carbon discussion.
Eco Logic: An Elephant out of the Box
Is the suggestion of introducing elephants to control gamba grass in Australia such a ridiculous idea?
Eureka!: Looking at a Photo of Pizza Could Make Food Taste Better...
... and eating cake at breakfast can help you keep weight off.
Expert Opinion: Australia's Megafauna Extinctions: Cause and Effect
Australian research has found new evidence that human hunters were primarily responsible for the disappearance of Australia’s giant vertebrates about 40,000 years ago, and concluded that the extinctions caused changes to the Australian landscape.
Lowe Tech: A Short-Cut to Milford Sound
Locals are sceptical of the benefits of plans to increase tourist accessibility to a World Heritage area in New Zealand.
Naked Skeptic: Seven Signs of a Quack
How does an expensive cancer clinic measure up against seven signs of pseudoscience?
Out of this World: Rare Rectangular Galaxy Found
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New Books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: Eugenics Tackles Climate Change
Can a proposal to genetically modify children that are smaller to reduce their carbon footprint be taken seriously?
Simon Says: Solar Blockout
Governments have won big headlines for big money allocated to big solar projects – but kept the money.
Pockley's Point: Budget Analysis
Chief Scientist Ian Chubb scores for science education.
Odd Spot: Height Associated with Longevity
A study of Sardinians finds that shorter men live longer.
Online Feature: Scientific research spending lags behind smaller countries
Nations half the size of Australia spend more on scientific research, have higher employment levels for scientists, and greater appeal to foreign investors, according to a report on Australia’s global standing in science.