Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue November 2014

Cover Story: Why Are Males More at Risk in the Womb?
Subtle changes in the placenta before a child’s birth can affect its predisposition to chronic disease and premature death many years later – and unborn boys are most vulnerable.
Feature: Living on Thin Air
Soil bacteria can survive lengthy periods without food or water by metabolising hydrogen. How they do this has wider implications for understanding the biology of soils, the chemistry of the atmosphere and the development of artificial catalysts to harness hydrogen as a fuel source.
The dwarves of a village in Ecuador never succumb to cancer or diabetes.
Feature: Why Don’t Some Dwarves Get Cancer?
Understanding the molecular mechanism that prevents dwarves from getting cancer and diabetes could lead to treatments for a range of diseases, and even hormone-free aquaculture.
Credit: Bobby Tamayo
Feature: Top Dog: How Dingoes Save Native Animals
Dingoes are considered a pest by land managers in Central Australia, but it turns out they are effective pest managers of feral cats and foxes – until the rains come.
Rescue workers after a bomb blast
Feature: Bomb-Proofing Buildings
A new form of reinforced concrete that can absorb the blast of an explosion is being developed for use in buildings that can withstand terrorist attacks.
A large staghorn fern
Feature: Killer Vines Strangling the Rainforest
Woody vines are proliferating in Australia’s fragmented tropical rainforests and threatening the existence of ferns.
Feature: Getting to the Heart of  Size
The discovery that cardiac muscle cells can divide until adolescence opens the way to new approaches to treating heart disease.
premature baby
Feature: Bated Breath
Medical advances are enabling increasingly premature babies to survive, but the health risks they face can persist well beyond childhood. Now a clinical trial in Melbourne is testing the use of foetal stem cells to ward off chronic lung disease in premature babies.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for December 2014.
conSCIENCE: Is “Mentally Ill” the New Normal?
Drug treatments for behaviours that were previously not considered mental health conditions raise several unintended consequences.
The Bitter Pill: Is Evidence-based Medicine in Palliative Care Doing More Harm than Good?
Stringent regulations govern what is administered to us in the prime of our lives, but different values seem to apply when it comes to the terminally ill and the dying.
Directions: International Engagement Is an Essential Strategy
Australia must improve its efforts in international collaboration to optimise its research investment.
Eco Logic: Complex Ideas in Ecology Made Simple
Have you just published an important journal article? Why not turn it into a movie?
Eureka!: How a Chip Packet Can Sterilise Water
Chip packaging is providing a cheap material for a water purification system in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and a “salmon cannon” is helping salmon swim upstream.
Expert Opinion: Antidepressants during Pregnancy Linked to ADHD in Kids
Exposure to antidepressants in the womb may be linked to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in the child, but the risks of depressed mothers stopping their medication may be greater.
The Fit: Quantify Thyself
Fitness devices that track our daily activity are now common, but do they live up to the hype?
Fossil File: Australian World Heritage Fossil Sites Celebrate 20 Years
The renowned fossil sites at Riversleigh and Naracoorte celebrate a milestone this month.
Lowe Tech: Hands Up If You Want to Store Our Nuclear Waste
The federal Government has called for volunteers to site a nuclear waste repository.
Naked Skeptic: Milks Ain’t Milk
Milk is sold as full fat, low fat, fat-free, permeate-free, organic, A2 or unpasteurised, but do the health benefits match the marketing hype?
Neuropsy: The Crimes of Sleepwalkers
Sleep experts and lawyers are wrestling over the criminal responsibility of sleepers.
Out of this World: Mysterious Signals from Beyond Our Galaxy
Mysterious signals have been detected from beyond our galaxy, and an exoplanet’s size has been measured to an accuracy of 1%.
Quandary: Married at First Sight
Reality TV has added a fresh perspective to the bioethical debate about the use of love drugs.
Simon Says: On Feeling Precious
The Minister responsible for Science has described scientists as “precious petals”. Crunch the numbers and he may be right.
Up Close: The cost of cognition: The blessing and curse of human brain complexity
Neuroscientist Prof Seth Grant explains how genetics gave rise to the modern human brain, and how the very complexity that characterises our brains makes them vulnerable to neurological diseases that reveal themselves in mental illness.
Up Close: Infected: How HIV works at the cellular level to overwhelm the immune system
Infectious diseases expert Prof Sharon Lewin explains how the HIV virus disarms our immune system and multiplies within it. She also discusses what these discoveries mean for research efforts into future treatment.
Online Feature: Australian crystals set to take over industry
Online Feature: Regulating genes to treat illness, grow food, and understand the brain Online Feature: The genetics of epilepsy: bringing hope to families