Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue November 2013

T. rex
Cover Story: Were dinosaurs warm-blooded?
An analysis of muscular power reveals that cold-blooded crocodiles are poor models for our beliefs about dinosaur physiology.
Usian Bolt
Feature: Tendon Injury Rehabilitation Under Review
A review finds poor evidence for a common rehabilitation intervention used by physiotherapists to treat tendon injuries.
Tiny bumps on cicada wings repel water and dirt.
Feature: The Genius of the Cicada Wing
The nanostructure of cicada wings is inspiring new materials that are self-cleaning, repel water and can kill bacteria.
Superb fairy-wren
Feature: Learning Before Birth
Superb fairy-wrens sing to their chicks before they hatch, teaching them a begging call that identifies them before cuckoo chicks can predate the nest.
Male joeys are born bigger and stronger than females after receiving milk that i
Feature: Mummy’s Boy
An analysis of wallaby milk finds that male joeys receive better nutrition than their sisters.
Neurons
Feature: Stem Cells Short-Circuit Nerve Diseases
Brain stem cells can be stimulated to produce cells that insulate neurons, offering hope for patients with multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Source: iStockphoto
Feature: When the Immune System Forgets
A mutation is revealing the basis behind an immunodeficiency syndrome that stifles the antibody response to vaccination.
Feature: Melbourne Observatory Celebrates 150th Anniversary
The Melbourne Observatory celebrates its 150th anniversary this month with a weekend of activities on 23 and 24 November.
Australasian Sky: November 2013 Star Chart
Your guide to the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: A “Better Than Ever” R&D Tax Incentive?
Some advice for the government as it sets its sights on revamping support for innovation.
The Bitter Pill: Darwin’s Diagnoses
The father of modern biology suffered much at the hands of alternative medical practitioners.
Cool Careers: Hazardous Outreach
Bob Muir is taking chemistry to the public but says safety regulations prevent him from doing the sorts of things he would really like.
Cool Careers: Is it possible to add statistics to science? You can count on it
The 2013 winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, Terry Speed, reflects on the factors that influenced his career.
Directions: No More Studies: It’s Time for STEM Action
The STEM situation is desperate and needs to be addressed as a high priority.
Eco Logic: All for One and One for All
Human behaviour plays an enormous role in the spread or control of invasive weeds.
Eureka!: Dung Beetles Navigate Using the Milky Way
Dung deetles navigate using the Milky Way, and scientists analyse a dead whale’s ear wax to reveal its exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Expert Opinion: Stem Cells Reset Inside Mice
Spanish researchers have successfully reset stem cells so they can become any cell type within the bodies of live mice, bypassing the need for transplantation.
The Fit: The Science of Sitting
Sitting for extended periods increases mortality, but is it worth working at a treadmill desk?
Lowe Tech: Canberra Lowers the Flag on Science
Science has already disappeared from sight in the new Abbott government.
Naked Skeptic: It’s All Happening, and It’s All Connected
This spring sees the decadal anniversaries of two favourites among conspiracy theorists.
Neuropsy: Face Off
Do motoring enthusiasts recognise cars in the same way people recognise faces?
Out of this World: Probing Stellar Nurseries
David Reneke’s wrap-up of space and astronomy news.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new books this month.
Quandary: The Secret of Morality
Does thinking about science improve morality?
Simon Says: Democracy vs Science
The people have spoken – and given science a backhander.
Up Close: Useful imperfections: Nanodiamonds for quantum sensors in living cells
Physicist Prof Lloyd Hollenberg explains how quantum technologies are leading to the development of sensors of only a few atoms’ size – small enough to be placed inside living cells to enable monitoring of biological processes.
Up Close: Pore me another: Understanding how toxins target and overcome membranes
Chemistry researchers Prof Frances Separovic and Prof Terry Lybrand discuss the biology of membranes, how toxins interact with membranes, and how these processes can be modelled.
Online Feature: Saving young lives by the million
Professor Ruth Bishop has been named the 2013 CSL Florey Medallist for her discovery of the rotavirus responsible for the deaths of half a million children each year.
Online Feature: Fighting cancer by the numbers
Terry Speed doesn’t expect to see headlines reading “Statistician cures cancer” any time soon. But he knows that the right mathematics and statistics can help researchers understand the underlying causes of cancer and reduce the need for surgery.
Online Feature: It’s not a jungle out there: rocking the ecological boat
If you were a pharmaceutical company searching for a natural plant compound to use as the basis for a new line of drugs, where would you begin?
Online Feature: Quantum computing becomes more than just spin
The building blocks of a quantum computer have been created and tested in a high tech basement at the University of NSW, and within a few years Andrea Morello and his colleagues expect to have a small working prototype.
Online Feature: Viewing Catalyst's cholesterol programs through the sceptometer
Was the ABC wrong to air a program that might encourage people at risk of heart disease to stop taking cholesterol-reducing medications without consulting their GP?
Online Feature: Big Australian media reject climate science
One third of articles in Australia’s major newspapers do not accept the consensus position of climate science: that human beings are contributing to climate change.
Online Feature: To dye for? Jury still out on tattoo ink causing cancer
There is no doubt some of the chemicals in tattoo ink have been associated with cancer. But should we be worried?
Online Feature: Study links intestinal bacteria to rheumatoid arthritis
Bacterial disturbances in the gut may play a role in autoimmune attacks on the joints, pointing the way to novel treatments and diagnostics
Online Feature: Australia needs fundamental research to build a great country
It's taken only 2 months for misgivings about the Abbott government's approach to science policy to be confirmed.