Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

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Helicobacter Protects Against Cancer

By Stephen Luntz

The bacterium that causes stomach ulcers provides protection against an increasingly common form of cancer.

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

Ice Loss Accelerates Warming

Image of Earth temperatures

The 28-year temperature trend for the autumn season. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

By Stephen Luntz

Climatologists believe they have confirmed what has been long suspected: the rapid loss of sea-ice from the Arctic is a result of a feedback cycle where global warming causes ice loss, which in turn causes more local warming.

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

Are Biodiversity Offsets Good for Biodiversity?

By Phil Gibbons

Policy-makers love biodiversity offsets while ecologists are wary of them. What's important is their impact relative to the status quo.

Dr Phil Gibbons is a Research Fellow at the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis centre at the Australian National University.

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

Climate Change or Natural Variability?

Image of barometer

The long-term trend in annual rainfall for Australia from 1900 to 2009 is upwards at a linear rate of 6.33 mm/decade.

By Robert E. White

Meteorological records since the 1950s reveal a decrease in rainfall that is consistent with anthropogenic climate change, but a different picture emerges when looking at records since 1900.

Robert E. White is Professor Emeritus of The University of Melbourne’s School of Land and Environment.

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

Evidence for Indigenous Australian Agriculture

Aboriginal village near the NSW/SA border in the 1840s.

An Aboriginal village near the NSW/SA border in the 1840s.

By Rupert Gerritsen

The assumption that indigenous Australians did not develop agriculture is highly contestable, with a body of evidence revealing that they developed food production systems and in some cases lived in large villages.

Rupert Gerritsen is a Petherick Reader at the National Library of Australia, and author of Australia and the Origins of Agriculture.

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

The Young Visionaries

Image of child wearing cataract goggles

Truen Ibbotson experiences what it’s like to have restricted vision using special goggles designed by the Young Visionaries. Photo: Sharyn Wragg

By Mandy Thoo

Early-career scientists are using goggles that mimic common eye diseases to teach primary school children about their vision research and the importance of eye care.

Mandy Thoo is a Masters student in science communication at the Australian National University.

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

A Matter of Taste

Image of tongue

While food preferences vary quite substantially in different cultures, hedonic responses to pure tastes in isolation are relatively independent of culture or diet in adults.

By John Prescott

Newborn babies will smile when they first taste sucrose and wrinkle their noses at the bitter taste of quinine. What is the adaptive significance of such innate responses to taste?

John Prescott is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Newcastle.

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

The True Believers

Image of crucifixion

Why do we believe in God, resurrection, UFOs, clairvoyants and alternative medicines?

By Krissy Wilson

Are we pre-programmed to believe in weird and wonderful things that lack any significant scientific basis, and are some of us more likely to believe than others?

Krissy Wilson is a lecturer in psychology at the University of Tasmania. This is an extended version of an article that appeared in The Skeptic.

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

The Biggest Losers

An artist’s reconstruction of some extinct Australian animals (clockwise from top left): Genyornis newtoni, Diprotodon optatum, Procoptodon goliah, the thylacine (which survived in Tasmania until 1936), Thylacoleo carnifex (the biggest marsupial carnivore) and the giant lizard Megalania prisca. Image courtesy of the artist Peter Trusler and Australia Post

An artist’s reconstruction of some extinct Australian animals (clockwise from top left): Genyornis newtoni, Diprotodon optatum, Procoptodon goliah, the thylacine (which survived in Tasmania until 1936), Thylacoleo carnifex (the biggest marsupial carnivore) and the giant lizard Megalania prisca. Image courtesy of the artist Peter Trusler and Australia Post

By Richard “Bert” Roberts & Barry Brook

New evidence tightens the noose on humans as the decisive factor in the extinction of the last of the megafauna in Australia and North America.

Prof Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts is an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow in the Centre for Archaeological Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong. Prof Barry Brook is the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change in The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide.

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

If You’re Not a Criminal, You’ve Got Nothing to Worry About

Image of crime scene

Over-reliance on DNA profiles in crime investigation is just one facet of a growing acceptance of genetic determinism – the assumption that we are our DNA. Credit: Jamie Tufrey

By Michael Cook

When the DNA profiles of innocent people are kept by law enforcement agencies it places them at risk of a lifetime of genetic surveillance.

Michael Cook is editor of the bioethics newsletter BioEdge.

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