Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue Nov/Dec 2017

Credit: Camilo Maranchón García /123RF
Cover Story: Neandertal Life Reconstructed One Bacterium at a Time
Fossilised dental calculus is revealing that Neandertals weren’t the oafish brutes we’ve long considered them to be.
Feature: The Light Bulb Moment for Brain Development
Some elegant experiments in zebrafish have revealed how sensory experience during infancy can have long-lasting effects on the brain.
Feature: Brain Training: Show Me the Evidence!
Many computer-based brain-training programs promise to improve cognitive capacity and delay age-related issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, but how credible is the evidence behind these claims?
Feature: Along Came a Spider
Genetic studies reveal that trapdoor spiders colonised Kangaroo Island after surviving a remarkable rafting journey from South Africa.
Feature: Cathedrals in the Desert
Termite mounds populate the northern Australian landscape like miniature skyscrapers, yet genetic analyses reveal that the first termites that rafted to our shores originally built their nests in trees. Why did they do this?
Feature: The Global Collapse of the Oncology Market
A new approach to cancer treatment promises the use of fewer drugs and shorter treatment periods, leading to a “big short” of stocks that profit from oncology.
Feature: The Secret Life of Dolphins
New underwater camera technology has captured the social lives of wild dolphins for the first time, revealing how deep and for how long they dive, how they nurture their young and even how they play with objects in the ocean.
Feature: A Plasmid Goes Viral
No one really knows how viruses evolved, but scientists looking for Antarctic viruses from extremely cold and salty lakes have discovered new clues.
Feature: The Art of Science
This downloadable pictorial of biomedical images reveals biological processes such as a mammary gland during lactation, deadly parasites that resemble neon flowers, and what happens when you grow a lung in a laboratory.
Only five percent of tyres are recycled locally in Australia. Picture: Boomerang
Feature: Turning Old Tyres into New Roads
With millions of tyres dumped in Australia, a new innovation could turn used tyres into permeable surfaces - helping the environment and our future infrastructure
A queue of logging trucks in Southeast Asia. Credit: Jeff Vincent
Feature: China’s growing footprint on the globe threatens to trample the natural world
China’s unprecedented development schemes are transforming the entire world, yet its leaders assure us these activities will be environmentally and socially sustainable. Should we trust the promises?
Feature: Top 10 science stories of 2017
2017 has been a bumper year for science yarns, from exploding neutron stars to a crashing spacecraft, and incredible advances in artificial wombs.
Feature: Top 10 weird science stories of 2017
Weird science was out in force in 2017 - someone named a planet Bernard, sheep were trained to recognise Baaarack Obaaama, octopuses marched out of the sea, and re-inflated dolphin dangly bits revealed some sea sex secrets, among many other peculiar science yarns.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: Appropriate Behaviour?
Plagiarism by academic reviewers is hard to prove, and even harder to punish.
The Bitter Pill: Follow the Money
The Chinese government is behind efforts to promote Traditional Chinese Medicine despite its lack of evidence.
Directions: Securing Our Digital Future
Our digital future depends on preparing industry and society for change.
Eco Logic: Grow Your Own
Collaborative wildlife gardening programs engage residents to manage their land and achieve landscape-focused conservation goals.
Expert Opinion: Musk’s Mission to Mars
Elon Musk provided an update on his quest to colonise Mars at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, where he described a reusable rocket to overcome cost barriers and an ambitious schedule to land cargo missions on Mars by 2022.
Fossil File: When Palaeontology and Philosophy Meet
The Cambrian explosion of animal diversity, evident at the Burgess Shale fossil site, is fertile ground for philosophers to ponder.
Lowe Tech: Lift-off for Space Agency
The re-establishment of an Australian space agency is expected to generate billions of dollars after decades of neglect of the sector.
Naked Skeptic: Counting the Opinions
The same-sex marriage survey repeats the statistical mistakes of most opinion polls.
Neuropsy: The Mystery of Agatha’s Amnesia
A popular fictional theme, psychogenic amnesia is a possible consequence of stress or trauma.
Out of this World: Bringing Building Blocks of Life to Earth from Space
New research supports the view that meteorites kickstarted life on Earth, and Australian astronomers have measured how a galaxy’s spin affects its shape.
Quandary: Last-Minute Complications
Botched executions provide a timely warning that assisted suicide does not necessarily lead to a peaceful death.
Up Front: Lost in Space
Australia’s space industry has been adrift in a vacuum of national neglect for more than 20 years, but that is about to change.