Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue October 2016

Credit: Gino Santa Maria
Cover Story: Predicting Pandemics
Which factors determine whether an emerging virus is likely to burn out or spread like wildfire between people?
Feature: Mining Minerals in Space
Space is a vast source of valuable minerals that could soon propel an extraterrestrial mining industry that underpins a colony on Mars.
Credit: iStockphoto/ogalT
Feature: Cobalt Blues
The spring racing carnival commences this month, but behind the glitz and glamour is a bitter legal case as horse trainers appeal bans for allegedly doping their horses. Dave Sammut examines the effects of cobalt and the science underpinning allowable thresholds.
Credit: Andrés Castañeda
Feature: Habitat Highways Save Animals from Fire
Fire can act in a similar way to habitat fragmentation and restrict the movement of animals across the landscape.
Credit: ktsdesign/adobe
Feature: Autism Genes Exist in Us All
A new study has found that genetic factors underlying autism are present in everyone and are influencing our behaviour.
Credit: Monkey Business
Feature: Early and Delayed Motherhood Linked to Schizophrenia Risk
A mother’s age when she gives birth is associated with her child’s likelihood of developing schizophrenia, but is this because psychosocial factors associated with the mother's age affect her child's risk, or because women with a higher genetic risk for schizophrenia are more likely to have their first child at an early or late age?
Credit: koya979/adobe
Feature: Can Robots Replace Tradies?
To what extent will intelligent robots transform the construction industry within the next 20 years?
Credit: arsdigital
Feature: Light, Soap and Magnets Turn Graphene into “Black Gold”
Some clever chemistry is employing magnetism and a light-sensitive soap to turn simple graphene into a super-material with applications in water purification and electronic devices.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: Primate Research Issues Migrate from West to East
Primate research is shifting to China where animal welfare protocols are less rigid.
conSCIENCE: How to Get the Most out of Scientific Data
Researchers act as if they own their data, but this is counterproductive to the pursuit of science.
The Bitter Pill: Australian Chiropractors Manipulate the Evidence
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is dealing with more than 600 complaints about chiropractors. The majority of these cases involve caring practitioners who genuinely believe that their interventions are effective. The problem is their interpretation of evidence.
Directions: We Need Better Infrastructure Decisions and Planning
Leaders must think strategically about how to plan, fund and implement infrastructure projects.
Eco Logic: Restoring Urban Drains to Living Streams
A creek restoration in a Perth suburb has increased the median home price within 200 metres of the project by around 5%.
Expert Opinion: Climate Change Authority Report “Untrue and Dangerous”
The Climate Change Authority has called for the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, but two members of its board, David Karoly and Clive Hamilton, have since issued a dissenting minority report calling for stronger measures to reduce emissions.
The Fit: Biggest Loser Provides Food for Thought
Contestants on The Biggest Loser have provided some startling evidence explaining why it’s difficult to keep weight off after dieting.
Fossil File: Footprints in Time
Tetrapod trackways are helping to decode the behaviour of these Devonian creatures.
Lowe Tech: A Bullet Train to Somewhere
A strong case has been made for a high-speed rail network passing within 50 km of 60% of Australians.
Naked Skeptic: Why Did the Dog Go “Quack”?
People who reject evidence-based medicine also subject their pets to veterinary quackery.
Neuropsy: The Sleep Switch
Researchers have located a brain circuit that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Out of this World: The Earth Had Two Moons
There’s evidence that the Earth once had two moons, while light pollution obscures the Milky Way from one-third of the population.
Quandary: How IVF Is Changing Human History
Since IVF bypasses infertility it must also be having an effect on human evolution.
Up Close: Show me the data: Sifting pseudoscience from the real thing
In a world with a bewildering mix of fact and fiction, and in which social and mainstream media only add to the confusion, how do we separate out false or dubious claims from the well-founded and evidence-based? Research and clinical psychologist Prof Scott Lilienfeld joins science host Dr Andi Horvath to help us distinguish pseudoscience from the real thing by exploring popular myths that too often make fools of us.
Up Front: The Real Cost of Predatory Journals
Predatory journals not only scam genuine scientists, they provide plausible citations that promote pseudoscience.