Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue Jan/Feb 2019

Cover Story: The Moral Machine
How can we program autonomous vehicles to make life-or-death decisions when our own moral values vary according to factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and culture?
Feature: Platypus Venom Spurs Diabetes Treatment
Radical evolutionary changes in a hormone involved in glucose control might lead to a new treatment for type 2 diabetes derived from platypus venom.
Feature: The Guts of the Captive Breeding Problem
The discovery that captivity affects the internal organs of animals has significant implications for their successful reintroduction to the wild.
Feature: Obesity Drugs Could Mimic the Effects of a Cigarette in the Snow
A study has produced rapid weight loss by activating cold and nicotine receptors that stimulate the body to burn fat while also suppressing appetite.
Feature: Brain Patterns Put ADHD in Focus
Brain scans are revealing the neurobiology underlying specific symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and raising the prospect of individualised treatments.
Feature: Cloudy with a Chance of Earthquakes
The rupture of a megafault beneath New Zealand in 2016 has revealed a periodicity to earthquakes that may enable geologists to forecast seismic events based on satellite monitoring of the Earth’s movements.
Feature: The Tree That Waters Itself
Island gigantism might have driven the evolution of one of the most bizarre adaptations in the plant kingdom.
Feature: Evolution on an Ecological Scale
Darwin’s theory of natural selection may be simple and intuitive, but some of its key assumptions are now being called into question.
Feature: How Oil Palm Can Become More Ecologically Friendly
Oil palm is not a suitable habitat for most terrestrial mammals, but there are ways to improve it and promote the conservation value of these landscapes.
Feature: Cell Walls in Wood Crack Like Concrete
The discovery that nanometre-scale cracks form in the cell walls of wood can be exploited to engineer high-performance floorboards from soft woods such as pine.
Feature: Muscle Memory Discovery Ends “Use It or Lose It” Dogma
New research shows that extra nuclei gained during exercise persist even after a muscle shrinks from disuse, disease or ageing – and can be mobilised rapidly to facilitate bigger gains on retraining.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your maps of the night sky for January and February.
conSCIENCE: Big Tobacco’s Innovative Smokescreen
While tobacco companies claim to be cooperating with health authorities to reduce smoking, new tobacco products are squarely aimed at recruiting new smokers.
The Bitter Pill: Therapeutic Goods Administration Challenged to Do Its Job
Despite a number of reforms, the TGA’s system of labelling therapeutic goods confuses consumers and its complaints resolution process fails to deter repeat offenders.
Directions: Biomimetics Draws from Nature’s Genius
Nature is inspiring simple solutions to complex engineering problems.
Eco Logic: Crowdfunding Biodiversity Conservation
Crowdfunding is a new addition to the portfolio of conservation finance mechanisms with real potential to create valuable additional resources.
Expert Opinion: Autism Link to Traffic Pollution Exposure During Pregnancy
Exposure to traffic pollution during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of autism.
Expert Opinion: More evidence that Alzheimer's-like brain damage can be 'caught'
It is possible that amyloid beta pathology, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, can be transmitted through contaminated human growth hormone.
Lowe Tech: From Little Things Big Things Grow
About 100 million hectares of forest have been lost globally in the past 25 years, but one Landcare group has increased a patch of rainforest lost to farmland by 40% in 20 years.
Naked Skeptic: But Is It Science?
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but that’s not always possible with science.
Neuropsy: What Makes Words Funny?
A new study predicts the most amusing words in the English language.
Out of this World: Aussie Telescope Almost Doubles Known Number of Fast Radio Bursts
The number of known fast radio bursts has doubled, and a patent has brought a space elevator one step closer.
Quandary: Should Scientists Declare Non-Financial Conflicts of Interest?
Conflicts of interest are rife in scientific research, but non-financial conflicts of interest are often overlooked.
Up Front: Cold Case for a National Genetic Database
If we won’t share our medical history across the health system, it’s hard to see Australians handing over their genetic profile.