Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Online Feature

An Australia–NZ travel bubble needs a unified COVID contact-tracing app. We're not there

New Zealand’s coronavirus contact-tracing app COVID Tracer was revamped yesterday.

It now uses the Bluetooth-based Google/Apple exposure notification (GAEN) framework. This allows Android and Apple (iOS) devices to communicate via a contact-tracing mechanism built into the devices’ operating systems.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Tasmanian devils look set to conquer their own pandemic

Alecia Carter, Author provided

In the midst of a human pandemic, we have some good news about a wildlife one: our new research, published today

Originally published in The Conversation.

Upheaval at Google signals pushback against biased algorithms and unaccountable AI

TechCrunch, CC BY-SA

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of science fiction.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Bad space weather may make life impossible near Proxima Centauri

Artist's depiction of a flare-coronal mass ejection event on Proxima Centauri. Mark Myers, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), Author provided

If you look up in the southern sky you can see the “pointer” stars, pointing towards the Souther

Originally published in The Conversation.

Alan Finkel: how a late-night phonecall in 2016 triggered 'incredible progress' on clean energy

Like so much of what I have done as Australia’s Chief Scientist, the electricity market review of 2017 was unexpected.

I was driving home after delivering a speech late one night in October 2016 when then federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg called and asked if I would chair a review of the National Electricity Market.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Expect delays and power plays: Google and Facebook brace as news media bargaining code is set to become law

The long-awaited mandatory code that will force Google and Facebook to pay Australian media companies for news content was finally unveiled yesterday.

The Treasury Laws Amendment Bill 2020 (news media and digital platforms mandatory bargaining code) will be introduced to parliament today, before being referred to a Senate committee.

Many of Australia’s news businesses have been on a hiding to nothing for more than a decade, as their revenue is undercut by the targeted advertising business model used by major digital platforms.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Introducing Edna: the chatbot trained to help patients make a difficult medical decision


Allow us to introduce Edna — Australia’s first “genomics chatbot”.

Originally published in The Conversation.

We found algae-farming fish that domesticate tiny shrimp to help run their farms

Longfin damselfish (left) have domesticated mysid shrimps (right). Rohan Brooker, Author provided

Humans are experts at domesticating other species and our world would be unrecognisable without it.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Nothing like the mafia: cybercriminals are much like the everyday, poorly paid business worker


New research is questioning the popular notion that cybercriminals can make millions of dollars from the comfort of home — and without much effort.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Mystery monoliths: why conspiracists are 'meh' about the phenomenon — and how you can start a better conspiracy

The three recent appearances (and two subsequent removals) of “monoliths” in Romania, Utah and California are intriguing examples of what can capture the public’s imagination.

Originally published in The Conversation.