Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Australasian Science Magazine Issue September 2016

Credit: hobbymb/
Cover Story: The Emerging Potential of Video Games
A growing body of research is finding that video games stimulate the brain, but are the skills acquired transferable and is violence in games really an issue?
Adnan Riaz speed breeding wheat varieties.
Feature: Russian Revolution Could Save Aussie Wheat
Ancient wheat varieties that survived the Siege of Leningrad have rare genes that offer resistance to important diseases affecting Australian wheat.
The ingestible gas sensor
Feature: A Capsule to Look Inside an Irritable Bowel
The impact of diet and illness on the gut can finally be revealed by swallowing an ingenious capsule that directly measures intestinal gases.
Little penguins
Feature: Predator in a Penguin Suit
Miniature video cameras and GPS have given an underwater bird’s-eye view of the hunting behaviours of the world’s smallest penguin.
Heathland in the Stirling Ranges National Park
Feature: Ancient Rainforests or Burning Bush?
New fossil evidence is forcing a rethink of whether rainforest or fire-prone shrubland prevailed in Australia during the age of the dinosaurs.
A healthy female Tasmanian devil.
Feature: When the Devil’s Away the Possums Will Play
Brushtail possums are boldly venturing away from the safety of trees to forage on the ground as an unprecedented transmissible cancer removes their major predator, the Tasmanian devil.
Credit: Johan Larson/Adobe
Feature: Genetic “Backburning” Can Stop Cane Toads
Could the cane toad’s march through the Kimberley be stopped in its tracks by introducing less-dispersive toads ahead of the invasion front?
Feature: Indigenous Genomics
Mistrust is a significant but not insurmountable barrier to the acceptance of genomics by Indigenous people.
Australasian Sky: This Month's Star Chart
Your map of the night sky this month.
conSCIENCE: Reinventing the Lucky Country
The challenges facing Australia in the 1960s have not been addressed, and a new challenge will need to be overcome before we can really become a lucky country.
conSCIENCE: Can Journal Publishing Be Democratised?
An experiment in academic publishing has tested journal practices and questioned whether the autocratic power of editorial boards needs to be returned to researchers.
The Bitter Pill: The Ultimate Placebo
The placebo effect is usually invoked with pharmaceutical treatments, but why not surgery?
Directions: Can Australia Meet the Paris Climate Challenge?
We need to accelerate our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Eco Logic: Making More of Mangrove Ecosystem Services
Different mangrove areas in the same region provide different ecosystem services. Mapping these is important when deciding where conservation investment should go.
Expert Opinion: Who to Kill? An Ethical Dilemma for Driverless Cars
A study published in Science has found that people generally approve of autonomous cars that have been programmed to sacrifice their passengers if it will save others, yet these same people aren’t keen to ride in such “utilitarian” vehicles themselves.
The Fit: The “Obesity Paradox” Paradox
Three recent studies have cast new darkness on the paradox that overweight adults are more likely to get diseases such as diabetes yet seem to live longer.
Fossil File: Fossil Sites Can Co-exist with Ecotourists
Palaeo-ecotours could generate income for research and conservation at fossil sites.
Lowe Tech: An Energy Wolf in Greens’ Clothing?
Is the creation of a single government portfolio encompassing energy and the environment a fatal conflict of interest?
Naked Skeptic: School Daze
Is there any science behind the theory that a child’s visual, auditory or kinesthetic learning style should determine how they’re taught?
Neuropsy: Childhood Trauma and the Developing Brain
A new study has identified the neurological basis for why some adolescents who have experienced childhood trauma are resilient while others are prone to mood disorders.
Out of this World: How Much Does the Milky Way Weigh?
How much does the Milky Way weigh?
Quandary: Acting Absolutely Beastly
Charles Foster has tried to reconnect with the animal world by living as a badger, a fox, a swift, a deer and an otter.
Up Close: Ear to the ground: Preparing for and recovering from earthquakes
Earthquake researcher Assoc Prof Mark Quigley explains the lessons learned from recent major earthquakes into how to better prepare regions at risk, the value of strong science communication to affected populations during crisis, and the importance of developing appropriate building codes in anticipation of the Next Big One.
Up Front: Too Many Science Graduates
A new report finds that the increasing number of science graduates are having difficulty finding relevant employment.
Odd Spot: Discovering the unknown: the world's largest radio telescope
What did the Universe look like when the first galaxies formed? What is dark matter? And is there life out there? These are some of the big questions the Square Kilometre Array will be trying to answer.
Odd Spot: The Greatest Archaeological Discoveries Of All Time
Over the centuries there have been some amazing archaeological discoveries. Let's take a look at the greatest ones.