Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue July and August 2012

Cover Story: The Earth’s First Super-Predators
The discovery of the world’s oldest apex predators in the oceans more than half a billion years ago is a puzzling story that began well over a century ago. We now have a much clearer picture of these spectacular animals, but the debate about their feeding habits continues.
Feature: Spoilt by Choice
Our supermarkets provide a wide variety of foods, so why do more than a billion people worldwide eat more poorly than hunter-gatherers? A study conducted in a Swiss chalet was the starting point to test a theory.
Feature: A Burning Question
For thousands of years, indigenous Australians modified the landscape of the continent through regular and widespread burning of vegetation. Their use of fire was in part for hunting purposes and also for clearing pathways, for signalling other tribal groups and for promoting grass regrowth. Results from a recent climate modelling experiment suggest that these traditional burning practices may have been of sufficient magnitude to change the climate of northern Australia.
Feature: The Evidence for Meditation
Meditation has traditionally been associated with Eastern mysticism, but science is beginning to show that cultivating a “heightened” state of consciousness can have a major impact on our brain, the way our bodies function and our levels of resilience.
Dara Perales' tattoo shows Rutherford's model of the atom.
Feature: SCIENCE INKorporated
His body may be adorned by tattoos of snakes, Komodo dragons and an adrenaline molecule, but Bryan Fry is only one of many scientists whose research interests are glorified in ink.
Feature: Where to look for life on the red planet
By determining the minimum criteria for life, researchers have narrowed down the locations where life may lurk on Mars.
Artist's impression of SKA static, low frequency aperture arrays
Feature: Our Last-Gasp Share of Giant Telescope
What was the back story behind the decision to split the Square Kilometre Array between southern Africa and Australia?
conSCIENCE: Global Outlook for Nuclear Energy
Despite the Fukushima disaster, Australian uranium miners are confident that the growing demand for electricity in a carbon-constrained world will drive an increase in nuclear power generation.
Cool Careers: After Fukushima
A close encounter with Japan’s tsunami and nuclear meltdown led Candice Raeburn to develop new ways to tackle radiation.
Directions: How to Address the Engineering Shortage
Shaping the future of a thriving Australia means addressing the national opportunity cost by building engineering capacity.
Eco Logic: What Next for the Stock Route Network?
Eastern Australia could lose one of its greatest environmental and heritage assets, and many of us are not even aware of it.
Eureka!: Dinosaur Farts May Have Warmed the Earth
Scientists estimate that sauropods emitted substantially more methane than modern ruminants.
Expert Opinion: SKA Site Shared
After many months of deliberations, the Square Kilometre Array Organisation has announced that the massive telescope will be shared between Australia/NZ and South Africa.
Expert Opinion: Higgs Boson Particle Discovered
CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) has announced that the long-sought Higgs boson exists after experiments conducted in the Large Hadron Collider yielded results that are consistent with its existence. The Higgs boson is the final particle in the Standard Model of physics, and has remained hidden from scientists’ reach until a series of experiments confirmed its presence.
Lowe Tech: Chubb Reviews the Health of Australian Science
Australia’s Chief Scientist has found that the Australian science system is healthy and robust, but there are some serious challenges – particularly regarding student enrolments.
Naked Skeptic: Citation Cold Case
Advocates of quackery realise that their misquotes of credible sources will not be checked, so that information that is wrong or taken out of context becomes copied until it is considered fact.
Out of this World: New Super-Earth May Be a Waterworld
News from the space and astronomy communities around the world.
Publish or Perish: New books
Your guide to new science books this month.
Quandary: Cracks in the Edifice of Science
A tenfold increase in the number of retractions over the past 10 years raises questions about the infallibility of peer review of scientific research.
Quandary: Should Olympic athletes be allowed to use performance-enhancing drugs?
Some bioethicists are arguing that athletes should be allowed to take performance-enhancing drugs.
Simon Says: Healthy, But Needs Leadership
The Chief Scientist has established a role at the centre of science policy formulation, and flagged his intentions.
Up Close: Particles of doubt: What if it wasn't the Higgs boson?
Physicists Dr Serguei Ganjour and Dr Martin White delve into the details around the "likely" discovery of the Higgs boson and discuss the uncertainties that still surround the newly observed particle. They ask what it means for our understanding of the universe and of physics if it turns out not to be the Higgs.
Online Feature: Rio+20: Who Owns The Green Economy?
The Rio+20 summit has raised a number of difficult questions about law and technology.
Online Feature: Turf War Over Who Can Claim The Title Of Acupuncturist
Doctors and complementary medicine practitioners are at loggerheads over who can use the title acupuncturist.
Online Feature: CERN discovers a Higgs-like particle: let the party (and head-scratching) begin
The discovery of the Higgs boson is the most significant finding in particle physics for decades and is potentially capable of solving a long-standing mystery concerning the origin of mass.
Online Feature: New Study Maps Hotspots of Human-Animal Infectious Diseases and Emerging Disease Outbreaks
Maps Reveal Animal-borne Disease as Heavy Burden for One Billion of World’s Poor and Emerging Disease Hotspots in US and Western Europe.
Online Feature: The Dope on DMAA
DMAA is found in many weight loss and performance enhancement supplements, but it has now been classified by the TGA as a prohibited substance with no therapeutic potential.
Online Feature: New Species Found in World's Harshest Continent
First new species found on continental Antarctica for 34 years.
Online Feature: Marijuana a risk in early pregnancy
High potency and synthetic marijuana pose real dangers in first weeks of pregnancy