Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

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Thank God for the New Atheists

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is one of the New Atheists who are fulfilling the traditional role of prophets. Getty Images

By Reverend Michael Dowd

Religious people of all backgrounds and orientations need to heed what atheists such as Richard Dawkins are saying if they want their traditions to remain relevant to modern society.

Rev. Michael Dowd is the author of Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World (2009, Plume). See http://ThankGodforEvolution.com

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Turning Water into Fuel

Environmental footprint

A major challenge facing the world is to develop sustainable, non-carbon-based sources of energy. One of the most obvious, renewable and non-carbon-based sources of energy is sunlight.

By Zhiguo Yi and Ray Withers

A simple inorganic semiconductor could deliver an artificial photosynthesis process that will convert sunlight and water directly into hydrogen and oxygen, thus providing the renewable fuel of the future.

Zhiguo Yi is a Postdoctoral fellow and Ray Withers is Professor of Materials Chemistry at the Research School of Chemistry, Australian National University. The assistance of Tim Wetherell in the writing of this article is acknowledged.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Dangerous Ground

Tim Inglis searching for B. pseudomallei in the Kimberley.

Tim Inglis searching for B. pseudomallei in the Kimberley.

By Tim Inglis

A deadly bacterium lies dormant in tropical soils until it is disturbed by natural disasters, mining operations or even gardening.

Tim Inglis is a medical microbiologist with PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, QEII Medical Centre, Perth.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

New Tactics in the War on Weeds

The native herb Lomandra stands in front of the invasive weed African lovegrass

The native herb Lomandra stands alone in front of the invasive weed African lovegrass, which was introduced into Australia for pasture improvement but was found to be unpalatable to grazing livestock and native animals.

By Jennifer Firn

Sometimes fertilisers can be more effective than herbicides when it comes to controlling weeds.

Dr Jennifer Firn is OCE Postdoctoral Fellow at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

How Does a Black Hole Eat Its Breakfast?

A large black hole

A large black hole located at the centre of an active galaxy. An accretion disk forms as matter falls inwards from the galaxy. The matter forms a spiral disc that is compressed and heated so that it begins emitting photons. The accretion disk becomes so hot that its radiation physically pushes matter away from the black hole, and accelerates gas into the jets that emerge from its poles.

By David Floyd

The bending of space–time by mass allows astronomers to peer deep into the universe, and they have begun to use this to probe one of the most enigmatic phenomena in the universe: the explosions of light surrounding black holes known as quasars.

David Floyd is an Australian Astronomical Observatory “Magellan Fellow” and researcher at the University of Melbourne.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

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Good Science Done Properly

Sackett

Professor Penny Sackett is Chief Scientist for Australia.

By Penny Sackett

Scientists have a social responsibility to maintain high ethical standards in their work.

Professor Penny Sackett is Chief Scientist for Australia.

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The Straw Men of Climatology

scarecrow

The contrarian critique of climatology in the media, popular books and blogs is based on a “straw man” version of science. Image: iStockphoto

By James Risbey

The straw man arguments of climate contrarians portray a brittle image of climatology that ignores how science produces robust knowledge by embracing and correcting errors.

James Risbey is a senior research scientist in the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Capturing Carbon with Membranes

emissions

By 2030, 80% of world energy will still be supplied by fossil fuels because the global energy demand during this period is expected to grow by 45%.

By Colin Scholes

Membrane technologies being developed in Australia hope to cut the cost of capturing industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

Colin Scholes is a Research Fellow at the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC), the University of Melbourne.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.