Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue May 2013

Painting by Peter Schouten supplied by the University of Wollongong
Cover Story: Hobbit Saga Highlights a Science in Crisis
The latest salvo in the ongoing Homo floresiensis battle has placed the science of human evolution in deep conceptual crisis.
fotko/iStockphoto
Feature: Engineering the Climate
As global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continues to stall, can engineering the climate provide a feasible solution to climate change?
Feature: When the Ghost Gum Peels, Bull Sharks Are Fat in the River
With indigenous knowledge being lost, six Aboriginal language groups have documented up to 13 “seasons” that can be used by scientists to evaluate the impact of climate change.
A pygmy blue whale feeds on krill in waters off Australia. Credit: research team
Feature: Australian Blue Whales Now Call Antarctica Home
The first evidence of interbreeding between subspecies of blue whales suggest that their ecology is changing, possibly due to historic whaling or climate change.
PamelaJoeMcFarlane/iStockphoto
Feature: More Than Just a Game
Excessive video gamers have the same physiological disturbances and disrupted thought processes as those addicted to substances and gambling.
DNY59/iStockphoto
Feature: Scientists at Breaking Point
Australian researchers are finding their careers more difficult to manage, with job security, uncertainty of funding and workload at the top of their concerns.
Australasian Sky: Solar eclipse guide and May 2013 star chart
Your guide to the night sky this month, and details of this month's solar eclipse.
conSCIENCE: Bee Teams in the Food Bowl
Apiarists and conservationists are at loggerheads, with implications for food security and the fate of indigenous species.
The Bitter Pill: When “Healing Hands” Start Grasping
Esoteric breast massage claims “to heal many issues such as painful periods, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, bloating/water retention, and pre-menstrual and menopausal symptoms”.
Cool Careers: From Cleaning Fish to Cleaner Fish
Dr Alexandra Grutter has revealed the extraordinary importance of cleaner fish.
Directions: Design Network a Move in the Right Direction
Design thinking can help Australia change its approach to innovation.
Eco Logic: The Resilience of the Reef (and Reef Tourism)
The lifestyle values of reef tourism companies contribute to the resilience of those companies and to better conservation outcomes for the Reef itself.
Eureka!: Where Has All the Roadkill Gone?
Some birds are evolving shorter wings to help them avoid cars, and the stress of combat training leads to gastrointestinal issues.
Expert Opinion: Aspirin May Lower Melanoma Risk
New research has found that women who take aspirin have a reduced risk of developing melanoma, and that the longer they take it, the lower the risk.
Expert Opinion: Back Pain Can Be Treated with Antibiotics
New research finds that bacterial infection is the cause of 40% of chronic lower back pain.
Expert Opinion: Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
A new coronavirus – from the same group of viruses responsible for the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) – has been identified as the cause of an increasing number of illnesses and deaths in several countries.
Expert Opinion: Federal Budget 2013 – experts respond
Experts address how the latest announcements will impact on science, the Murray Darling Basin and the Great Barrier Reef.
The Fit: In Search of Lost Sleep
Are we getting less sleep than we did in the past? And how much do we really need?
Lowe Tech: “Shortcomings” Identified in Marine Park Network
A report finds that highly protected marine areas tend to be the least economically valuable rather than the most ecologically vulnerable.
Naked Skeptic: We Live in Fearful Times
Campaigns against fluoridation, vaccination and wind farms prove that if people think something is bad for them they will react badly.
Neuropsy: This Is Not My Beautiful Wife
The Capgras delusion raises interesting questions about how the brain attaches emotional responses to familiar faces.
Out of this World: The Universe’s Stellar Baby Boom
Dave Reneke’s wrap-up of space and astronomy news.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books
Quandary: Genetic Ancestry
The thriving business of DNA ancestry testing is hawking dreams, not science.
Simon Says: Tech Gains Outpace Peak Oil
Technological breakthroughs are setting the scene for the fossil fuel era to last longer and stronger.
Up Close: Carrots that stick: Rethinking pleasure and pain as human motivators
Social psychologist Prof E. Tory Higgins discusses his model of how humans interpret and appreciate reward and punishment, and offers unusual approaches to motivate people to action.
Notice Board: Volunteers needed for research into effectiveness of brain-training games
Curtin University researchers are seeking participants across Australia for a study examining the effectiveness of on-line computer brain training games designed to improve cognitive function through regular use.
CSIRO in bed with big tobacco
Pockley's Point: How a Communications Saga Rocked CSIRO
A "warts and all" account of CSIRO has sidestepped some of its most embarrassing failures. The first blog in a series published online this month outlines the documentary evidence behind CSIRO's appointment of a tobacco lobbyist as its Director of Communications, which led to a public black ban of Australasian Science.
Pockley's Point: How a Tobacco Lobbyist Won over CSIRO
In part 2 of this exclusive series, Freedom of Information requests of CSIRO internal correspondence reveal the machinations behind the eventual appointment of a former senior tobacco executive and lobbyist as the science organisation's Director of Communications.
Pockley's Point: Science Lost in CSIRO's Matrix
Part 3 of this series documents some of the glaring omissions from a “warts and all” account of CSIRO.
Online Feature: Quantum computing taps nucleus of single atom
A team of Australian engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has demonstrated a quantum bit based on the nucleus of a single atom in silicon, promising dramatic improvements for data processing in ultra-powerful quantum computers of the future.
Online Feature: Is the end to diabetic injections in sight?
Nasal gel reduces blood glucose levels.
Online Feature: Could Li-Fi spark a communications revolution like Wi-Fi?
Multi-tasking micro-lights now being developed could initiate an amazing transformation for the future of communications by using light to carry information over the internet.
Online Feature: New coatings extend life and safety of hip implants
New coatings have been developed for hip replacements to protect against post-operative infection and provide a barrier to minimise metal ion release into the body.
Online Feature: On academic efficiency and the 2013 federal budget
One of the casualties of the 2013 federal budget is the university sector.
Online Feature: Budget defers renewable energy development when it's needed most
The decision to link the Australia’s carbon price to the European Union emissions trading scheme has wiped A$6 billion from the federal budget.
Online Feature: Holy grilled cheese sandwich! What is pareidolia?
A few quirks of neural processing explain why religious devotees can see the face of the Virgin Mary in a slice of toast.
Online Feature: Gender-bending fish share their secrets
Local scuba divers are teaming with scientists to survey populations of sea dragons, which are classified as “near threatened” on the Red List of threatened species.