Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue September 2013

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Cover Story: Small Fry
Fish are becoming smaller all over the world as oceans change and catches increase, with even small changes having great consequences for ecosystems and fisheries.
Altitude training
Feature: From the Mountain to the MCG
As the AFL season builds towards the Grand Final this month, Blake McLean outlines the performance enhancements Collingwood players gained by training at altitude last summer.
Mouse-ear hawkweed can clone itself through its seeds.
Feature: Sex without Seed
Plant biologists are finding ways to retain hybrid vigour in important crops by generating clonal seed.
Tiger snakes on Chappell Island
Feature: Shape-Shifters
Genetic analyses reveal that Australia’s land and sea snakes have rapidly evolved different body shapes and sizes to suit the local prey available, from fat muttonbird chicks to eels hiding in narrow crevices.
Casey presents his teeth during a dental inspection at Taronga Zoo.
Feature: Eat Prey, Sieve
The ability to ambush, capture and tear apart penguins at the water’s edge has earned leopard seals a fearsome reputation. However, new research suggests that these top predators are also able to “filter feed” on krill by using their ferocious-looking cheek teeth as a delicate sieve.
Credit: Elections ACT
Feature: Why We’re Still Voting on Paper
Electronic voting has been in place for more than a decade, so why are we still using pencil and paper for this year’s federal election?
Feature: Surviving Extinction in the Abyss
A new study finds evidence that deep-sea creatures survived periods when the oceans contained little or no oxygen.
Australasian Sky: September 2013 star chart
Your guide to the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: Science for Dummies
How concerned should we be that many Australians don't know some basic science facts?
conSCIENCE: Engineering Australia’s New Wealth
It’s time to connect the dots between invention, innovation and the role of engineering.
The Bitter Pill: Call Out the Quacks
Scientists often complain about the way the media treat their message, but journalists have reason to complain as well, since many scientists don’t help to get that message straight.
Cool Careers: Bringing Science to Afghan Women
In her spare time, cancer researcher Nouria Salehi runs an Afghan restaurant as well as programs to teach science to the women of Afghanistan.
Directions: Heal our Commercialisation Gap
Collaboration, industry links, secondments, metrics and tax can all help to take R&D to market.
Eco Logic: Grieving for the Past, Hoping for the Future
Many conservation scientists may be suffering from grief over the loss of species and habitats. If this is true, can an understanding of the grieving process be useful?
Eureka!: Flying in a Flock Tires Pigeons
Why pigeons shouldn’t fly as a flock, how urine can power your phone, and how moths use their genitals to beat bats.
Expert Opinion: IVF Increases the Risk of Mental Retardation
A Swedish study has found that IVF was associated with a small risk of mental retardation.
The Fit: A Typical Saturday with Mr and Mrs Average
How active is the average family on a typical weekend?
Lowe Tech: Science Literacy Falling
It’s little wonder that climate change science is misunderstood when nearly one-third of Australians believe that the Earth takes only a day to orbit the Sun.
Naked Skeptic: A Conspiracy of Conspiracists
Research into the psychology of conspiracy theorists has been withdrawn from publication following complaints that the research is itself a conspiracy.
Neuropsy: Scent of a Woman
Does the lack of a sense of smell affect personal and sexual relationships?
Out of this World: New Horizons Spots Pluto’s Largest Moon
David Reneke’s wrap-up of space and astronomy news.
Publish or Perish: New Books
Your guide to new books this month
Quandary: Genetic Privacy at Risk
US intelligence agencies may be analysing our communications on a massive scale, but genetic data is already proving just as vulnerable.
Simon Says: GM Approvals Score a Century
Almost 40 years after the genetic engineering revolution hit Australia, it is beginning to look like the establishment.
Up Close: Beyond exceptional: What makes a child prodigy?
Psychology researcher Dr Joanne Ruthsatz talks about the personality traits that set child prodigies apart from other children.
Up Close: Spin doctors: Identifying and treating human balance disorders
Neurologist Dr David Szmulewicz describes the human balance system, and what’s going on in our brains and ears when we experience vertigo.
Up Close: Vigor in the ville: Creating cities that promote health and well-being
Urban public health expert Billie Giles-Corti discusses how a rigorous, evidence-based approach to urban policy and city planning can help bring long-term benefits for physical and mental health and well-being.
Up Close: Sequencing seizures: Discovering new genetic mutations behind epilepsy
Neurologist Prof Sam Berkovic and molecular geneticist Prof David Goldstein describe their work uncovering chance mutations that cause childhood epilepsy.
Up Close: Hormones in a hurry: Uneasy passages through puberty and adolescence
Psychiatrist and adolescent health specialist, Prof George Patton, discusses why puberty – especially early puberty – and adolescence can be so tough, but how most of us survive the journey.
Chemical Solutions: Expert Q&A on alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria
An expert on the effects of exposure to chemical warfare agents and the field investigation of alleged chemical warfare incidents answers questions on the Syrian chemical weapons attack.
Odd Spot: Bad dads have big balls
Men’s testes size negatively tied to parenting involvement.
Recruitment: Lecturers in High Temperature and Low Temperature Synchrotron Geosciences
Applications are invited for two continuing academic teaching and research positions at Monash University in the application of synchrotron methods to geoscience research.
Online Feature: Australian Antarctic science is being frozen out by budget cuts
Despite rising costs, the government this year handed an 8% budget cut to the Australian Antarctic Division.
Online Feature: Frankenfooty: Essendon's mixed bag of supplements
Essendon's players were exposed to worthless or unproven treatments at best, and rank pseudoscience at worst.
Online Feature: Shroom to grow: Australia's missing psychedelic science
A recent Norwegian study on psychedelic drugs and psychological well-being not only highlighted fewer mental health issues among users of these drugs but also underscored the reinvigoration of scientific research in a field maligned since the moral panic of the 1960s.
Online Feature: How antibiotics enable pathogenic gut infections
Study pinpoints ways to counter the effects of the antibiotics-driven depletion of friendly, gut-dwelling bacteria.
Online Feature: This psychoactive drugs trip isn't working
The increasing pace and diversity of recreational drug development makes conventional approaches to drug control dangerous.
Online Feature: First estimate of total viruses in mammals
Scientists estimate there are at least 320,000 mammalian viruses, and identifying them could help mitigate disease outbreaks for a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.
Online Feature: UN forecasts rising reuse of wastewater for agriculture
World lacks data on "massive potential resource", with only 4% of wastewater reused.
Online Feature: Guess who defines 'waste' in ARC-funded research
A Coalition government would reign in wasteful spending on research, but are their decisions based on evidence of waste or merely the Coalition’s funding priorities?
Online Feature: Futile Research or Stealthy Censorship?
It's hard to see the Coalition's plans to weed out "futile" research as anything other than a cynical attempt to defund topics the Coalition doesn’t like.
Online Feature: How to store surplus renewable energy
Scientists calculate the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid.
Online Feature: Electric cars at blazing-fast speeds
Electric cars can already compete on some racecourses with the world's best petrol-powered cars.
Online Feature: Modern-day alchemy: a recipe for a new superheavy element
How did scientists go about discovering the short-lived superheavy element 115?
Online Feature: Tarantula venom: a new selective, effective edible insecticide
An environmentally-friendly insecticide has been developed from the venom of a native Australian tarantula.
Online Feature: Take science brief across government, science chief urges
In this podcast and article, Michelle Grattan speaks to Chief Scientist Ian Chub about the absence of a Science Minister in the new government's structure.
Online Feature: Axing the Climate Commission Splits Australians from Science
Australians need people of this calibre to explain the science and economics of climate change, especially when the debate has become so politically polarised.
Online Feature: David Suzuki: Australian scientists should be up on the ramparts
The Abbott government's abolition of the Climate Commission places Australia on the same path as Canada, where climate research has been abandoned and scientific papers need to be approved by the PM's office prior to submission for publication.