Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue May 2014

Cover Story: Genes that Cuddle in the Cold
An ingenious experiment has allowed scientists to observe how plant genes move around the nucleus to locations that either stop or stimulate flowering depending on temperature.
Kilwa coins
Feature: The Ancient African Coins of Arnhem Land
Indigenous knowledge is informing a scientific expedition that hopes to uncover the origins of medieval African coins that may have been left in Arnhem Land hundreds of years before the arrival of Cook.
Feature: The Boring Billion
Trace element levels in the ocean over the past 3.5 billion years explain important evolutionary events such as the Cambrian explosion of life and a “boring” billion years when evolution stood still.
Feature: Crowded Space: The Problem of Orbital Debris
The orbiting detritus of humanity’s exploration and exploitation of space poses a growing threat to operational space systems and crewed spaceflight activities.
Feature: A Fine Balance for Dementia Drugs
Since too much or too little of a key protein expressed in the brain can accelerate brain ageing, drugs developed to regulate its levels face a fine balancing act.
Feature: Survival of the Different
If evolution is about survival of the fittest, why does diversity emerge instead of perfectly evolved organisms that are fit in all environments? Now the complex trade-offs that shape the evolution of diversity have been measured.
Feature: Electric Fish Short-Circuit Blackouts
Electric fish have inspired a new technology that can wirelessly detect where faults in the energy grid are likely to occur before they lead to blackouts.
Australasian Sky: Star Chart, May 2014
Your map of the night sky for May 2014.
conSCIENCE: A Burning Solution
A revival of indigenous fire management in the Gulf country is restoring environmental integrity and reducing carbon emissions.
The Bitter Pill: Balance Returning to Vaccination Information
The Australian Vaccination Network’s status as a charitable organisation has been stripped and its web of half-truths and outright lies damned by authorities.
Cool Careers: Learning about Life from Waves
Nail Akhmediev believes that the creation of rogue waves at sea could be a useful template for the conditions that gave rise to life on Earth.
Directions: Chasing the Low Carbon Energy Solution
No single policy will achieve sustainable and affordable energy.
Eco Logic: Fossil Fuel Footprint Stepping on Biodiversity
The footprint of fossil fuels is encroaching on biodiversity hotspots that are currently undeveloped.
Eureka!: Bacteria from Baby Poo Used to Make Sausages
Tasmanian devil facial tumour is evolving, and scientists have created a low-fat sausage using bacteria harvested from infant faeces.
Expert Opinion: Scientists Detect Echoes of the Big Bang
Astronomers have found evidence that the Universe underwent a period of rapid inflation in the very first moments of its existence. If confirmed, the tell-tale signature of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang will open a new chapter in astronomy, cosmology and physics.
Expert Opinion: National Commission of Audit’s recommendations for scientific research
The National Commission of Audit has suggested a major overhaul of the way scientific research is carried out in Australia, including greater government control over the work undertaken by CSIRO and abolishing the Cooperative Research Centre Association.
Expert Opinion: Federal Budget 2014-15
Experts address how the latest announcements will impact on research, health and science.
The Fit: The Truth about Screen Time and Kids’ Health
A number of health outcomes have been attributed to the amount of time children spend in front of screens, but look a little deeper and a different picture emerges.
Fossil File: Scans Reveal Our Fishy Ancestry
A synchrotron scan of a 400 million-year-old fish has revealed how far back our own facial structures evolved, and a 28 million-year-old toothed whale fossil has revealed the origins of echolocation in modern whales.
Lowe Tech: Australia Remains Two-Faced in Climate Negotiations
Australia is adopting double-speak as UN climate negotiations become more urgent.
Naked Skeptic: A TKO for Anti-Vax Network
Australia’s anti-vaccination lobby group has been dealt a body blow – and a few jabs.
Neuropsy: The Man that Hath No Music in Himself
A study of people who don’t respond to music finds differences in the brain’s reward system.
Out of this World: Scientists Detect the Cause of the Sun’s “Perfect Storm”
Astronomers have deduced the cause of a massive solar storm, and set standards to prevent profiteering from the naming of space objects.
Quandary: Scan My Embryo’s Barcode
IVF “mix-ups” could be avoided by barcoding embryos, but at what point is a new life reduced to a manufactured product?
Simon Says: Chief Scientist’s Bid to Fill the Void
The Chief Scientist could take on greater responsibilities if the government accepts his plan.
Up Close: Cardiac quest: Insights from simulating the heart’s geometry and function
Computational biologist Prof Edmund Crampin examines the challenges of creating a computational model of the human heart, and discusses what scientists have learned about the actual organ from this enterprise.
Up Close: Curve your expectations: Observing planets and galaxies with the help of gravity
Cosmologist Dr Bart Pindor explains gravitational lensing, in which the curvature of space by gravity allows us to investigate galaxies and other astral bodies.
Up Close: Linking childhood diarrhoea and the onset of type I diabetes
Virologist Associate Professor Barbara Coulson explains how a common childhood infection could hasten the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Online Feature: Powdered alcohol, seriously? A health risk we don't need
What are the potential dangers of the marketing of alcohol in powdered form?
Online Feature: What about science in the Commission of Audit report?
The federal government’s Commission of Audit treats science, research and education as expenses to be trimmed rather than investments to be nurtured.
Online Feature: Getting to the Root of Enamel Evolution
Scientists have identified how natural selection may have acted to give modern human teeth their thick enamel, one gene at a time.
Online Feature: Temper trap: the genetics of aggression and self-control
A new study concludes that people who are genetically predisposed toward aggression have inefficient functioning in brain regions that control emotions.
Online Feature: The state of Australia: our environment
The state of Australia’s environment is a real worry – and we have the report cards to prove it.
Online Feature: And now the bad news: red wine is not great for health after all
A new study discounts the notion that a compound found in red wine has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and potential anticancer effects.
Online Feature: The state of Australia: science innovation and research
In the lead up to the federal budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home. How is Australia's science and innovation faring?
Online Feature: Federal Budget 2014: health experts react
The Abbott government has announced a A$20 billion medical research “future fund”, to help discover what Treasurer Joe Hockey calls the “cures of the future”, paid for with money generated as a result of major changes to health policy.
Online Feature: Budget 2014: there's more to science than medical research
Apart from the medical research fund, almost all other news for research and education is bleak.
Online Feature: Judgement day for Abbott on science and research funding
This Budget lacks any overall long-term strategy for science.
Online Feature: Top ten species reveal process of discovery and further mysteries about life on earth
The top ten species of 2014 have been released by the International Institute for Species Exploration.