Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue October 2015

Credit: Barnaby Norris
Cover Story: Aboriginal Astronomy & the Natural World
Australia’s magnificent night sky is a fresco of narratives that has inspired and informed Aboriginal peoples’ exploration and understanding of the natural world.
Has performance increased since the introduction of systematic doping?
Feature: Has Doping Harmed Athletic Performance?
An investigation of sporting performance over the past 125 years throws into doubt the assumption that doping improves athletic performance. Could it even have jeopardised it?
shironosov/iStock
Feature: Running for your Life
Exercise can improve the way the brain functions, even in cases of brain trauma. Here’s why.
Ljupco/iStock
Feature: The Beauty of Obsolete Oil Rigs
The ear bones of reef fish are telling marine ecologists which decommissioned oil rigs are creating a vibrant habitat and which need to be brought back to land for disposal.
A lake in the moraine wall of Jichu Drake glacial lake.
Feature: How Yak Farmers Can Hold Back a Glacial Tsunami
As Himalayan glaciers melt, the natural dams formed beneath them become a dangerous threat to villages below. However, local yak farmers could soon have a simple solution.
The giant wood spider
Feature: You Are What You Weave
A spider web’s architecture and the properties of its silk are a consequence of environmental conditions and the nutrients that the spider extracts from its prey.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky for this month.
conSCIENCE: Economics on an Even Keel
Can economics balance its books with the limits of ecology?
The Bitter Pill: Does Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have a Neurological Origin?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may result from damage to a small but critical brain structure.
Directions: Vision for a Science Nation Opens the Door to Our Future
We need to develop an overarching vision for innovation in Australia.
Eco Logic: Looking after Our Nomadic Species
The range of many Australian nomadic birds can contract to a very small area, making them much more vulnerable to extinction.
Expert Opinion: Genetic Sprays Use RNA Interference to Combat Pests
Monsanto is developing sprays to control weeds and insect pests by temporarily altering their genetics through RNA interference as an alternative to developing new GM crops, and could also be used to introduce traits like drought resistance.
Expert Opinion: Liquid water on Mars
Salty streaks identified by an orbiting spacecraft could be the first solid evidence of liquid water - a key ingredient for life as we know it - on Mars.
The Fit: Trust Me, I Have a White Hat
Can you trust obesity research funded by the interests of Big Food?
Fossil File: Australia Needs More State Fossil Emblems
Official fossil emblems connect a state to its deep past, yet only two Australian states have them.
Lowe Tech: Drink Deposits Recycled
Deposits on recyclable containers are returning despite the packaging industry’s protests.
Naked Skeptic: Are All Placebos Equal?
Is the placebo effect the same whether you receive it as a pill, a needle or an ointment?
Neuropsy: No Matter Who You Vote For
A new study sheds light on how your brain decides your vote.
Out of this World: A Village on the Moon
The ESA wants to build a Moon base, and the search for ET scales up
Quandary: Pinker Takes on Bioethics
Steven Pinker has attacked bioethics as “moralistic grandstanding” that restricts research. Is he right?
Simon Says: Rebooting Computing at School
We can devote more early-stage teaching effort to computing but will Aussie kids click onto it?
Up Close: Weeds girdle the globe: The marauding march of invasive plant species
Plant population specialist Prof Roger Cousens talks about how the spread of undesirable plants, or “weeds”, has dramatically redefined the world’s natural landscapes and coastlines, and what this means for us economically, aesthetically and environmentally.
Up Close: Cell Sell: The ethics of the transnational human tissue market
Stem cell expert Megan Munsie and bioethicist Dominique Martin discuss medical tourism and the hidden transnational trade in transplant organs and stem cells, considering their ethics, legislative implications and what the future might hold.