Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue October 2011

Cover Story: How HIV Hides in the Brain
With the introduction of the latest drugs and treatments, infection with HIV no longer represents a death sentence. However, HIV-positive people are particularly susceptible to the early onset of dementia and several other conditions of ageing, such as cardiovascular disease, frailty, cancers and bone disease. New research has found that when the HIV virus gets into the brain, it infects a key cell type, the astrocyte, leading to its dysfunction. This, in turn, triggers the development of HIV dementia, and at the same time provides HIV with a hideout where it is protected from the immune system and antiviral drugs.
Not all T-reg cells are equally effective in policing immune responses.
Feature: Policing the Immune System
The discovery of cells that regulate the body’s immune response will help scientists to interpret the effectiveness of newly developed drugs and have wide-ranging repercussions for the treatment of conditions including cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Aboriginal group gazing towards the Southern Cross.
Feature: Aboriginal Skies
How do indigenous cultures interpret the constellations above?
Dolphin mother and calf
Feature: Raising the Kids: Do You Need Good Genes or Good Friends?
Genetic and social influences on reproduction have never before been studied together in one wild species, but a new study of dolphins shows that not only do genetic and social effects both matter, but they interact synergistically.
The smallest camaenid snail in the Pilbara
Feature: Heat Cheats
The diverse snails of the hot, dry Pilbara region survive by selecting the best microhabitats and through adaptations of shell form, reproduction and behaviour.
Genetic research
Feature: Biological Patent Amendment: Good Intentions, Unnecessary Risk
Dangerous uncharted waters lie ahead if our politicians vote to support the proposed amendment of Australia’s Patents Act to ban patents on biological materials and genes.
Feature: Meet Our New Chief Scientist
Professor Ian Chubb says he expects to do his best work behind closed doors, but he has already made a significant mark on the public debate about science.
Australasian Sky: Stargazing October 2011
Your guide to the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: The Progressive Education Fallacy
The failure of curriculum reforms in Papua New Guinea prove that formal teaching practices are best for developing nations.
Cool Careers: Kuru Was No Laughing Matter
Michael Alpers’ work in Papua New Guinea helped to explain one of the strangest known diseases, and opened the way to understanding several related infections.
Directions: Productivity, Competitiveness and the Missing Link
The debate about Australia’s flagging productivity and competitiveness has overlooked one vital factor – and some local role models.
Eco Logic: Evidence-based Conservation Could Be NICE
Conservationists need to take some cues from evidence-based medicine to determine the most appropriate strategies.
Eureka!: Fooling Fingerprint Scanners Foiled
Magdeline Lum reports on quirky experiments and research findings.
Expert Opinion: What Does the Hyabusa Asteroid Sample Tell Us?
Last year the Hayabusa capsule landed in South Australia with a sample of dust collected from the Itokawa asteroid. The dust has now been analysed and the results of the preliminary investigation published in Science. Here the only Australian involved in the research outlines its significance.
Lowe Tech: Coal Industry Uses the Dope Dealer’s Defence
The coal industry needs to take responsibility for the consequences of selling their product.
Naked Skeptic: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Science Books
Texas is the most important market for textbooks in the USA, making it a pivotal place for creationists to influence what the rest of the nation is taught in science classes.
 Retrieval of the capsule at Woomera. Credit: JAXA/ISIS
Out of this World: Extraterrestrial Body Brought Back to Earth
What do the samples from the Itokawa asteroid tell us about the history of our solar system?
Quandary: Stem Cell Tourism
Can a quick trip overseas for stem cell therapy really cure your diabetes and hair loss?
Simon Says: It’s Not a Party, Don
A key Labor reformer pads up again in the Department of Innovation.
Online Feature: The future of Australian science – a Nobel Prize winner’s view
Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt reflects on the state of Australian science.