Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue October 2014

Credit: NASA/JPL
Cover Story: Rock around the Cosmic Clock
Astronomers examine pulsar emissions for signs of gravitational waves, but now they believe that an asteroid may have affected the accuracy of one of these “cosmic clocks”.
Feature: Human Races: Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion?
Is the concept of racial groups a sociopolitical construct or is there scientific evidence that races exist in humans?
B cells
Feature: Hitting the Brakes When Cells Get out of Control
By creating a “traffic jam” in the transport pathway of B cells, researchers have found a potential drug target to slow the proliferation of cancerous cells.
Feature: Power Failures in Our Cells
Severe defects in mitochondrial function affect at least one in every 5000 births, but mitochondrial disorders can reveal themselves at any age through a wide range of symptoms and as contributing factors to conditions as disparate as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
Feature: Breath of Life: How a Jetlag Treatment Could Prevent Permanent Newborn Brain Damage
A common jetlag treatment in a simple skin patch could be the key to improving the lives of babies all around the world.
Feature: Is Milk Causing Breast Cancer?
Is there any basis to claims that a dairy-free diet can prevent breast cancer?
By the 1980s there were as few as 40 individual northern hairy-nosed wombats.
Feature: The Elusive Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat
Creative sampling and DNA techniques have allowed scientists to keep track of one of Australia’s most endangered and elusive marsupials.
© Peter Schouten from Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds
Feature: Survival of the Littlest
Birds co-existed with their dinosaur ancestors for nearly 100 million years, but eventually outlived them. Two new studies have revealed why.
Feature: The Doping Age
A new study finds that doping in sport has spread to Australian athletes as young as 12 years of age.
conSCIENCE: Burying CO2 Is Cool
Carbon capture and storage is a necessary component of any realistic effort to control global warming.
The Bitter Pill: Vitamins: Perception versus Reality
Which vitamins are backed by scientific evidence and which don’t live up to the hype?
Directions: Time for a New Measure of Research Impact
We need to measure industry engagement as well as publications.
Eco Logic: Priorities for Koala Recovery
There is no “silver bullet” solution to declining koala numbers. Successful koala recovery is likely to require very different recovery strategies in different places.
Expert Opinion: Prostate Cancer Screening: Do Benefits Outweight Risks?
Screening for prostate cancer could reduce deaths from the disease by about one-fifth, according to long-term results of a European study involving over 162,000 men. Despite this new evidence for the efficacy of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, the authors question whether the benefits of screening outweigh the harms, and recommend against routine PSA screening programs.
The Fit: Go Hard or Go Home
Is high intensity interval training the latest exercise fad or is there a physiological basis to it?
Fossil File: The Cutting Edge of Palaeontology
New techniques are enabling palaeontologists to test hypotheses about major evolutionary transitions.
Lowe Tech: Sensitivity to Smart Meters and Water Bills
The Victorian state election will feature a new party opposed to smart electricity meters on health grounds, while others are campaigning against wifi in schools.
Naked Skeptic: Keeping Your Skepticism out of Court
While corporations can no longer sue for defamation, they can instead attack skeptics by arguing for intellectual property infringement or practices that damage their business.
Neuropsy: The Demise of Dyslexia
Leading scholars argue for the abandonment of a flawed concept.
Out of this World: The Search for Alien Polluters
Astronomers search for alien air pollution, and Earth-based lasers could zap space junk.
Quandary: Ethics in a Time of Ebola
The Ebola outbreak has revealed a number of ethical issues that need to be sorted urgently.
Simon Says: Of Hobbits and Hoodies
The main critic of the view that a now-extinct human species inhabited the island of Flores has a good record for media coverage but not so good for scientific judgements that bear scrutiny.
Up Close: Molecular gaze: How discoveries in the life sciences are changing our identities and politics
Prof. Nikolas Rose explores how scientific developments have changed conceptions of human identity and governance, and what this means for our political, socio-economic and legal futures.
Online Feature: Chief Scientist CSG report leaves health concerns unanswered