Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue October 2012

Propithecus diadema, the diademed sifaka.  Credit: Mitchell Irwin
Cover Story: Escape to Madagascar
Madagascar’s bizarre assemblage of fauna didn’t evolve from the fossils found on the island, so how did they get there?
Protesters called for no further expansion of coal and coal seam gas.
Feature: Is Coal Seam Gas Polluting Groundwater?
Landholders are adamant that coal seam gas is contaminating their groundwater, but natural geological processes make their accusations difficult to prove. Now science is starting to fill in the cracks.
A winter afternoon in the living hut at Commonwealth Bay.
Feature: A Century of Australian Antarctic Medicine
Medical care and research in Antarctica has come a long way since the first expeditions took place 100 years ago.
Comet McNaught
Feature: Collision Course
Rob McNaught discovered the brightest comet of recent years and alerted observers to a meteor storm, but is now struggling for funds to detect asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
Credit: iStockphoto
Feature: Dead Hands and Phantoms
Recent studies have highlighted how central signals in the brain can change our sensation of the position and movement of joints, and how phantom limbs form when sensory information is lost.
Credit: iStockphoto
Feature: Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Classic “Communicated” Disease
Is there any evidence that wind farms cause illness in the community?
Australasian Sky: October 2012 Star Chart
Your guide to the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: A Critical Juncture for Intellectual Property
Efforts to establish a global IP authority have provoked debate over where intellectual property becomes theft and piracy becomes community action.
The Bitter Pill: A Dose of Science
Alternative health practices pirate the terminology and titles of real science to gain credibility, but it is what their practitioners do, not what they say, that gives the game away.
Cool Careers: Early Autism Diagnosis
Josie Barbaro has pioneered a new method of autism diagnosis, and many children are already reaping the benefits.
Directions: Let’s Get Positive about Innovation
Recognition and acceptance that we will fail from time to time is a necessary part of belief that we can succeed.
Eco Logic: Bioperversity in the Plantation
A narrow focus on carbon in commercial plantations could yield a number of unwelcome surprises.
Eureka!: Costly Copulation
Wasps and bats upsize their meals when they catch prey that are in the act of mating.
Expert Opinion: Dark Chocolate and Cocoa May Reduce Blood Pressure
Australian researchers have found that dark chocolate and cocoa powder have a small but statistically significant effect in lowering blood pressure in the short term. The authors say there is a need for long-term trials to determine whether or not blood pressure is reduced on a chronic basis by eating cocoa every day.
Lowe Tech: Tasmania’s Logging Industry Cut Down to Size
A study has found that Tasmania’s forestry industry “is not economically viable”.
Naked Skeptic: When Religion and Medicine Disagree
Should doctors be able to overrule parents who refuse life-saving treatments for their children due to religious beliefs?
Out of this World: Black Holes Grow Fat by Eating Stars
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: The Canary in the Medical Coal Mine
A steroid is being used off-label early in pregnancy to “normalise” the gender of the foetus.
Simon Says: Two Tales from the City
The Nobel Laureate and the Minister choose different drinks at the Australian Innovation Bar.
Up Close: Toxic titbits? The effects of nanoparticles on our health
Bio-nanoscience investigator Prof Kenneth Dawson discusses current research into nanoparticles and their potential effects on our health.
Up Close: Tailings tidy up: How bioremediation can repair the damage done by mining
Biogeochemist Dr John Moreau and botanist Dr Augustine Doronila discuss how contaminated mining sites can be rehabilitated with the help of a biological approach using plants and bacteria.
Notice Board: Smartphone climate change app opens to public
Citizens can now contribute to climate change tracking for scientists by using their smartphones.
Odd Spot: Eunuchs outlive other men
Castrated men living in Korea centuries ago outlived other men by a significant margin.
Online Feature: Two degrees is too much for most coral reefs
A modelling study by an international collaboration of scientists has concluded that increasing global temperatures to 2 degrees above pre-industrial global temperatures will be too hot for two-thirds of the world's corals.
Online Feature: Helmets won't cure football's concussion headache
There is currently no evidence to show that helmets prevent concussion or more serious head injury in sports like AFL and rugby.