Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue November 2016

Cover Story: Skeletons Come out of the Closet to Fight Cancer
Cells have skeletons that hold their shape and help them move around. Recent discoveries have revealed that a protein in some cytoskeletons is making cancer cells more deadly, fundamentally challenging our understanding of the function of the cell’s skeleton and offering new hope for the development of targeted and effective cancer therapies.
Credit: Peter Trusler
Feature: An Ancient Case of Mistaken Identity?
The megafaunal bird Genyornis was six times larger than an emu. Why, then, was its egg the same size? Or was it?
The skull of a woma python
Feature: Out of the Mouths of Snakes
DNA analysis and 3D imaging have revealed how snakes evolved their huge gape independently across different lineages.
Credit: alphaspirit/adobe
Feature: Time Flies When You’re Having Phone
Have modern communications technologies increased the pace of life or merely affected our ability to judge how much time has passed?
Feature: Robo-Doc
Researchers have unleashed swarms of nanobots that can deliver drugs directly within tumours.
Credit: iStockphoto/Андрей Юдин
Feature: Drugs and the Death Penalty: Breaking the Supply Chain
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has banned the sale of its drugs for use in executions, but this has led some US states to experiment with lethal injection protocols.
Credit: alphaspirit/Adobe
Feature: How Much Science Does a Citizen Need?
While many believe that there’s a set of basic scientific facts that people should know, they are spectacularly unsuccessful at being able to nominate just what those facts should be.
Credit: flairimages/Adobe
Feature: Alternative Career Options for Scientists
A research career doesn’t suit everybody, but the skill sets of scientists can lead to rewarding careers beyond academia.
Credit: Bahudhara / CC by 4.0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emma_Johns
Feature: Women in Science: A New Frontier in Australia
The role of women in Australian science has been a contested arena, a place of major contributions yet of cultural disparity. The recent adoption of the SAGE initiative offers a route to greater gender equity in an innovative nation.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: Australia’s Iconic Top Predator Must Be Protected
Lethal control programs treat dingoes like pests, yet the evidence is mounting that this damages ecosystems by enabling foxes and feral cats to thrive.
conSCIENCE: The Miner’s Myth
Several myths have been propagated to counter compelling evidence for community health issues arising from mining and smelting operations in Mount Isa and Broken Hill.
The Bitter Pill: Anti-Vaccination and CAM Reflect a Common Worldview
A study has explored the psychosocial factors driving anti-vaccination attitudes.
Directions: Cost, Reliability and Scale: Can Renewables Deliver?
The science of climate change is more certain than the economics of how to tackle it.
Eco Logic: An Agreement Forever?
There’s a growing trend in many parts of the world for land owners to enter into conservation covenants and easements. These formal agreements are an increasingly popular strategy for conserving biodiversity on private land but how effective are they? Our analysis of covenants in Australia has revealed there’s much to commend in these agreements but there’s also work needed to ensure their ongoing effectiveness.
Expert Opinion: On Blackouts and Renewable Energy
Politicians have blamed South Australia’s recent blackout on its reliance on renewable energy. Is this a valid concern for the state’s energy security?
Fossil File: Explorer’s Tragic Burden Transformed Geology
Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition sowed the first seeds of Gondwana.
Lowe Tech: Bombs Away!
Australia has been obstructing international efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
Naked Skeptic: Skeptics Aren’t Always Skeptical
Skeptical minds aren’t always applied when it comes to colonies on Mars and self-driving cars.
Neuropsy: How Strong Is the Evidence for Brain Training Programs?
The quality of research supporting brain training programs has been questioned.
Out of this World: Astronomers Pinpoint How Milky Way Was Formed
Astronomers have produced the clearest picture yet of how our galaxy formed more than 13.5 billion years ago.
Quandary: Grim News for Immortals
A recent paper in Nature has cast a wet blanket over the dreams of immortality researchers.
Up Close: Recovery from stroke: Harnessing the brain's capacity to overcome disability
Stroke rehabilitation researcher Prof. Julie Bernhardt discusses the state of the science in stroke recovery. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Prof Bernhardt and her team develop and test new exercises and rehabilitation measures that aim not only to reduce disability but promote recovery. This includes renewed attention to precise timing of therapeutic interventions, and to environmental enrichment of clinical spaces.
Up Front: Evidence Is “Not Like It Used to Be”
Donald Trump’s hair is a metaphor for how people misuse evidence to fit their worldview.