Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue September 2012

Credit:Henning Dalhoff / Science Photo Library
Cover Story: On the Crest of a Gravity Wave
Gravitational wave detectors may soon provide a new way of viewing the universe, but Australia has passed up the chance to have one located here – for now at least.
The data volume flowing from the SKA can’t possibly be stored and kept long-term
Feature: NBN to Crunch SKA
The National Broadband Network will help scientists access the huge amounts of data generated by the Square Kilometre Array.
When the pigeon pecks the image correctly a border is displayed and a short tone
Feature: Bird Brains? Pigeons Move Up the Pecking Order
Research into the intellectual abilities of pigeons reveals that the brains of birds, while very different to our own brains, are capable of much more than they’re given credit for.
Plants may be just as noisy as other organisms.
Feature: Green Symphonies
New research reveals plants emitting and responding to sounds.
Credit: Angus McNab
Feature: Conservation Needs More Bite
What role can devils and dingoes play in curbing Australia’s rate of species extinctions?
Credit: David Wachenfeld, Triggerfish Images
Feature: Demystifying a Sea Monster
The use of the sawfish’s saw has been widely speculated upon, but a recent study has finally revealed its dual purpose.
Credit: iStockphoto
Feature: Patently Mad About Patents
Recent changes in the US patent system have been promoted as a boon to the US economy, but are the benefits of these changes universal?
Feature: Bigger or Better?
A number of commentators and interest groups extol the need to increase Australia’s population, but how well do their arguments stand up to scrutiny?
Australasian Sky: September 2012 guide and star chart
Your guide to the night skies this month.
conSCIENCE: Are We Ready for the Next Drought?
After two La Niña summers, our level of concern about water security is inversely proportional to the water levels in our dams.
Cool Careers: The Earth Moves
Prof Mike Sandiford is putting recent earthquakes, and human activities, into geological context.
Directions: The “Good Enough” Education System
Does Australia have the education system it needs for a vibrant economic future?
Eco Logic: There’s Value in our Island Arks
Investing in conservation management on Australian islands yields a great return.
Wine dress
Eureka!: From Dresses to Dressings
Bacteria have been developed that can turn wine into a fabric that fits like a second skin, and the sexual health of female cyclists can be affected by cycling.
Expert Opinion: State of the Climate 2011 Report – Experts Respond
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a large global report on the state of the climate in July. The report involved 11 Australian scientists, and focused on extreme weather events and the strong La Niña that brought wet conditions to many parts of the world.
Expert Opinion: New Report Card for Australia’s Marine Environment
A massive effort involving 80 Australian scientists from 34 institutions has produced a report card for Australia’s marine environment.
Expert Opinion: New plain packaging research - experts respond
As New Zealand deliberates over the introduction of 'plain packaging' for cigarettes, a new study confirms that such measures reduce the appeal of tobacco products.
Lowe Tech: A Great Leap Backwards
Queensland’s new government has reduced support for solar energy and resolved to ban the teaching of climate science in schools.
Naked Skeptic: Homeopathy Watered Down?
Homeopaths are worried by changes to British and Dutch legislation, with Australia also under review.
Out of this World: Biggest Eye on the Sky
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: Fertility on Ice
Cryopreservation and eventual transplantation of ovarian tissue may delay menopause, but what are the consequences?
Simon Says: A Particular Challenge
The biggest science story of 2012 poses a riddle about a particle locked in a field, wrapped in a mystery and out of the ordinary.
Up Close: Stem Cell Therapy: The Hope and the Hype
Pioneering stem cell researcher Prof Martin Pera discusses where stem cell research has been and where it’s going, the therapeutic potential of stem cell technologies, and what we should and shouldn’t expect from this fast-developing research field. With host Dr Shane Huntington.
Up Close: Ageing's all the rage: The science behind growing old
In a wide ranging discussion on ageing, Professor Dame Linda Partridge delves into the research findings on longevity in humans and animals, and ponders evolutionary perspectives on the ageing process. Presented by Dr Shane Huntington.
Up Close: Not just the King's speech: Stuttering and its causes
Speech pathology researcher Prof Nan Bernstein Ratner discusses the condition of stuttering, how research into stuttering informs models of language acquisition, and possible therapies for the condition.
Up Close: Sexing the wallaby: Marsupial reproduction and what it says about us
Biologist Prof Geoff Shaw discusses research into the reproductive cycle of Australia’s Tammar Wallaby, how it contributes to our understanding of developmental biology, and the insights it provides into sex determination in humans.
The Funneled Web: Do Chief Scientific Advisors Speak Only to the Hand?
Does the Chief Scientist have any influence on the government or Opposition?
Online Feature: Taking over from evolution: how technology could enhance humanity
Technology offers great possibility of enhancing human capacity.
Online Feature: Cave of the Monkeys find complicates our Asia story
Did our Asian story just get more complicated?
Online Feature: Fishing in the Desert
Scientists have gone fishing in desert boreholes and found some unique ecosystems and evolutionary adaptations.
Online Feature: On the ball: does the AFL need to design a better footy?
The AFL commissioned has a comprehensive review of the critical performance characteristics of Australian Rules footballs – the first for more than 30 years.
Online Feature: How the cheetah got its stripes
Feral cat study identifies a biological mechanism responsible for both the elegant stripes on the tabby cat and the cheetah's normally dappled coat.