Latest Science


Antarctica bedrock rising rapidly as ice melts

Very fluid mantle pushing up ‘memory foam’ crust by four centimetres a year. The Earth’s crust in West Antarctica is rising at one of the fastest rates of any glaciated area on the planet, scientists using GPS data have found. They say the bedrock is being pushed up by the fluid mantle by 41 millimetres a year, compared with 30 millimetres a year in Greenland. And it is getting faster. In 100 years, the uplift rate […] See more

Published 11 hours ago. Author: Bill Condie
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Feral cats kill over a million reptiles a day in Australia

Felines feast on a quarter of all lizard species. Cats kill 1.8 million reptiles every day, a new study published in Wildlife Research finds “On average each feral cat kills 225 reptiles per year, with the highest toll in inland Australia,” said Lead researcher from Charles Darwin University Professor John Woinarski. “Some cats eat staggering numbers of reptiles. We found many examples of single cats bingeing on lizards, with a record of 40 individual lizards in […] See more

Published 11 hours ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Psychiatric disorders share many genetic variants

Having a common basis could help researchers home in on the biological mechanisms at play.  Some traits always seem to go hand in hand. A towering Dane weighs more than an Indonesian, for instance, because many of the same genes influence both height and weight.  Now, a massive study taking in genomic data from more than 1 million people has shown that the same genetic overlap occurs in certain brain disorders. The analysis, lead by […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Dyani Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Astronaut Peggy Whitson calls it a day

NASA’s most experienced astronaut retires after over 30 years of service. Legendary NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has hung up her wings, retiring from the space agency. Whitson, who has spent more time in space than any American and tops the list for women in space, left the NASA astronaut office for the last time on Friday 15 June. “Her determination, strength of mind, character, and dedication to science, exploration, and discovery are an inspiration to NASA […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Why drinking coffee is good for you

Caffeine protects the heart with help from mitochondria. Now we can say, with our hands on our hearts, that coffee is good for us. And not just one. Scientists have known for some time that caffeine consumption is associated with lower risks for multiple diseases, including heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes, but they haven’t been exactly sure how and why. Now a new German study using mice has shown that caffeine promotes the […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies aged 46

Gorilla made friends with Robin Williams and became a celebrity herself. Koko, the western lowland gorilla that famously learned sign language and befriend Robin Williams and other celebrities, has died aged 46. The Gorilla Foundation said she died peacefully in her sleep at the foundation’s estate in California. Koko was born in San Francisco Zoo in 1971, and was taught sign language by Dr Francine Patterson, a researcher, as part of a Stanford University project that began in […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Bill Condie
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New gibbon species discovered in ancient Chinese tomb

Lost gibbon is extinct, probably thanks to humans. Scientists have discovered an extinct gibbon in a royal ancient Chinese tomb. The animal was of a previously unknown species. The find is the first documented evidence of ape extinction following the last ice age and  also be the first to vanish as a direct result of human activity. The unlikely surprise was found in the tomb believed to belong to Lady Xia, the grandmother of China’s first […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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Eastern Quolls have a tough time on first release back on mainland

Cars and foxes take their toll. The first 20 Eastern Quolls released into the wild in NSW earlier this year have had mixed results, successfully feeding and gaining weight, but more than half were killed by cars and foxes. Eastern Quolls, once common, have been extinct on the mainland for 50 years. In March 2018, the group was released into the Booderee National Park in March. It’s not simply a matter of opening a box […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Why are bluetongue lizard tongues blue?

A last chance effort to avoid being eaten. Like the display of the Frilled Necked lizard, or the electric blue warning signal displayed by the Southern Blue Ringed Octopus, the ‘blueys’ blue tongue is what’s known in the biological world as a deimatic display.  The idea goes that the surprise appearance of something big or bright (or both) on an animal causes a reflexive startle and recoil in the predator. “Blue tongue lizards have a […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Without China importing plastic waste, we’re kinda stuffed

No longer can we sweep our plastic waste under the carpet – we’re going to need to do something ourselves. New research from the US has highlighted just how much trouble western countries are in following China’s recent ban on plastic waste imports. A team from the University of Georgia looked at the scale of the shuffling of waste around the globe, revealing just how much we’ll be affected by the change in policy. And […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Asylum seekers ‘not a burden’

It takes time, but data shows they have a positive impact. Science has thrown some new evidence into the emotional debate over asylum seekers. A French study suggests people fleeing to Western Europe to escape war and disaster positively affect the economies of the countries that accept them. While they take longer than other migrants to find their feet, ultimately they contribute more in tax revenues than is required of public spending to support them. […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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The nose knows: kangaroo face shape dictated by diet

Food, not body size, drives length of marsupial snouts. A study involving 16 species of kangaroos and wallabies has thrown into question one of the assumed rules governing the evolution of body shape. Among many families of mammals there is a general trend that links body size with facial shape: in any given species group, the ones with larger bodies generally have more elongated faces.  So common is this association, that it has long been […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Curiosity rover snaps a selfie as dust mega-storm moves in

Image shows comparatively better conditions compared to Opportunity darkness. The massive dust storm currently engulfing Mars has already seen NASA rover Opportunity shut down for lack of sunlight. And it has now spread towards the newer and more sophisticated Curiosity. But before it did, NASA took the opportunity to snap a rover selfie, thanks to the instrument called the Mars Hand Lens Imager on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm – effectively a sophisticated (and expensive) […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel
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Toothpaste and hand wash boost antibiotic resistance 

Findings ‘a wake-up call’ on hidden chemical impact. A common ingredient in toothpaste and hand wash could be contributing to antibiotic resistance, new research suggests. Scientists identified the chemical triclosan, a compound used in more than 2,000 personal care products, which finds its way into the water system. “Wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Bizarre “platypus-fish” inhabited Australia’s original reef

Scientists in Australia have discovered a remarkable ancient fish fossil with a long snout, reminiscent of a platypus bill. The fossil, named Brindabellaspis after the nearby Brindabella Ranges, belong to an extinct group called the placoderms and was first found in 1980 in limestone around Lake Burrinjuck in NSW, an area containing some of the the world’s earliest known reef fish fauna. Now palaeontologies from Flinders University and Canberra’s Australia National University have reconstructed two […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: News Desk from Flinders University
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Longevity is in the genes (for trees)

Immune system helps oaks ward off disease. Some of the world’s most majestic trees have been around for centuries, which raises the question of why something doesn’t kill them off earlier. The answer, if the English or common oak is any guide, may be disease-resistance gene expansion. An international team led by from Christophe Plomion from Université de Bordeaux in France sequenced, assembled and annotated the oak’s genome then compared it with existing whole-genome sequences […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Atmosphere is holding Venus back

And that makes it hard to define a day. Atmospheric waves could be slowing Venus’ rotation by a few minutes per day, possibly explaining why it is difficult to pin down exactly how long a day is, according to international researchers. Venus rotates only once about every 243 Earth days, but its atmosphere moves much more quickly – taking four Earth days for a rotation. Despite this, when Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft recently observed a giant […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Stop and smell the diesel

Research points to fresher-smelling fumes. Perfumed diesel is, perhaps, more an aesthetic improvement than an environmental or atmospheric one, but if it makes life more bearable for people who have to endure polluted air then that’s no bad thing. Research by a team led by Queensland University of Technology scientist Ashrafur Rahman and published in the journal Energies demonstrates that waste oils from eucalyptus, tea tree and orange processing can be added to diesel fuel, changing […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel

Why the General Theory of Relativity is not just for physicists

It’s about time engineers learnt the value of Einstein’s practical mathematics, too. General relativity is one of humanity’s greatest intellectual leaps. Special relativity, arguably, would have been discovered without Einstein. It was ripe for it. The speed of light had been measured to be constant in a vacuum, and the mathematics of the Lorentz transformations had already been developed. But general relativity – and the idea that gravity wasn’t a force but the curvature of […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Sam Drake from Defence Science and Technology Group

Space pic of the week: Valentina Tereshkova

On 16 June 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first female to ever fly in space during the Vostok 6 mission. Valentina Tereshkova immediately became a worldwide household name by becoming the first woman in space on this day in 1963. Launching from Baikonur in the morning of 16 June 1963, Tereshkova with the callsign “Seagull” orbited Earth onboard the Vostok spacecraft for 3 days, returning to the Altai region on 19 June 1963. The mission […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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At last! We now know how this anti-cancer gene works

Mutations in this gene are responsible for half of human cancers. Nearly 40 years ago, a gene was discovered which laid the foundations of our understanding of how our own bodies stop rogue cells turning into cancerous ones.  The gene, called p53, regulates how cells react to various stresses and can instruct an out of control cell to stop multiplying or die.  It is so effective at doing so, it has earned the name of […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Andy Stapleton from Australia's Science Channel
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A new baby planet sighted in Milky Way

Missing link in knowledge of planet formation. In a world first, astrophysicists at Monash University have spotted a new planet inside a protoplanetary disc of space dust and gas, giving new insights into the way planets form. “Discs of gas and dust surrounding young stars are the birthplace of planets,” co-lead author Dr Christophe Pinte said. “However, direct detection of protoplanets forming within discs has proved elusive to date. The observation was made using the ALMA telescope […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel
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Platypus hormone has potential to treat diabetes

Peptide has dual function in venom and digestion. A key metabolic hormone found in the venom and gut of Australia’s iconic platypus holds potential to treat type 2 diabetes, new research led by the University of Adelaide suggests. The peptide-1 (GLP-1) is similar to glucagon, that is secreted in the gut of humans and animals, stimulating the release of insulin. The discovery stems from the sequencing of the platypus genome in 2008. “One of the […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel

No news from Opportunity in Martian mega-storm

Rover shuts down as raging dust clouds blot out sunlight. NASA engineers believe Opportunity rover is out of power as a dust storm cuts it off from enough sunlight to recharge its batteries. They sent a signal to the 15-year-old rover in Perseverance Valley earlier today, but did not hear back from it. When Opportunity’s batteries dip below 24 volts it enters low power fault mode, in which all subsystems, except a mission clock, are […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Eavesdropping on the mysterious narwhal

Scientists record the sounds of the Arctic’s ‘unicorn whale’. US and Danish scientists have gone right to the source in a bid to start monitoring how human activity affects one of the Arctic’s most mysterious creatures – the narwhal or “unicorn whale” with the large protruding tusk. They captured 533 hours of audio recordings that revealed three distinct types of sound – clicks, buzzes and calls – used in specific ways. Clicks and buzzes were produced […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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