Latest Science


VR rides on the edge of obscurity

VR thrill rides need more than technology to sell them, shows new study revealing riders want a story without the hype. If creators don’t get virtual reality right for thrill rides the concept of VR as entertainment could be set back years; mirroring its habit of riding waves of popularity before falling into obscurity over the past two decades. That’s the conclusion by QUT researcher Malcolm Burt, known as  Dr Coaster, who is close to […] See more

Published 14 hours ago. Author: QUT Newsroom from Queensland University of Technology

Blood pressure, vampire bats and drug traffickers

Research on a bat with a scary image is interrupted by the arrival of genuinely scary humans. Scientists researching potential medical applications of vampire bat venom have hit an unexpected hazard – drug traffickers A team led by Bryan Fry from Australia’s University of Queensland is looking to take advantage of the species’ highly specialised feeding habit. Like other animals that consume blood – fleas, for instance, or leeches – vampire bats (Desmondus rotundus) secrete […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Cosmos Magazine
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How does pill testing work?

Evidence shows that it can be an effective approach, but what actually happens during a pill test? Pill testing is back in the headlines after the deaths of 5 young people in 4 months, and the release of more studies and expert opinions about the effectiveness of the harm minimisation approach. Australia’s first legal pill testing program was run at Canberra’s Groovin The Moo in April 2018. Here’s how it worked. Pill testing at a […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Poo transplants could be the answer for chronic bowel conditions

Poo transplants sound disgusting, but have been shown to be an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis. Poo transplant or “Faecal microbiota transplantation” (FMT) can successfully treat patients with ulcerative colitis, new research from the University of Adelaide shows. The randomised, double-blind study – published in the journal JAMA – was a collaboration between the University of Adelaide, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), CSIRO and CALHN (SA Health). It involved 73 adults with […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: University of Adelaide Newsroom from The University of Adelaide
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Risky drinking by Baby Boomers on the rise

Risky drinking behaviour is rising, but not by the age group you’d expect. In fact, it’s dropping amongst millenials. More older Australians are drinking at “risky levels” as the Baby Boomer generation ages, Flinders researchers warn. The rise in problem drinking is coming up against a health-care system already struggling with an ageing population, say Professor Ann Roche, Director of the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University, and NCETA […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: News Desk from Flinders University
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Should you have the right to know you've been hacked?

German MPs were outraged after not being told they had been hacked. The same would happen in Australia. Should we have the right to know if it happens to us? In Germany this week, the legal limbo that defines cyberspace around the world was on full display. The country’s Federal Office for IT Safety (BSI for its German initials) had been tracking a cyber attack targeting some of the country’s parliamentarians since early December. It […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Greg Austin from University of New South Wales

A letter to a Year 10 student from Australia’s Chief Scientist

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, has some advice for a high school student who sent him a letter. Dear Julie You lamented that you are anxious about your subject choices for Years 11 and 12. You’re not alone! These are important decisions and there’s lots of confusing advice around. In my career I’ve been an academic researcher, a businessman, a university chancellor and now a government adviser. Based on this experience, some warm advice … […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Alan Finkel from Cosmos Magazine

What killed a million Darling River fish?

Around a million fish die, but government and scientists are at loggerheads why. Reports that around one million fish have died along the Darling River in New South Wales have caused a stir this week, among conflicting reports about the roots of the problem. This is the second incident in a few months – the first occurred upstream just before Christmas last year, resulting in the death of 10,000 fish along a 40km stretch of the […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Olivia Henry from Australian Science Media Centre
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Expert opinion: Evidence clearly shows the benefits of pill testing

Evidence is growing that pill testing encourages young people to reconsider their drug use — and new forms of testing can provide even more benefits. In 2014, I wrote an article for The Conversation outlining six reasons why Australia should pilot pill testing. Those reasons included: strong public support for such measures, including among young people evidence of impact on the black market impact on consumption choices in a less harmful direction potential to be used for early […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Alison Ritter from University of New South Wales
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Could smart wearables prevent dangerous sunburn?

While UV monitors help people reduce their UV exposure, many young people would refuse to wear them. Getting sunburnt could be another rebellious rite of passage for young people, says QUT public health researcher Dr Elke Hacker who is testing new UV detection wearables to try to make sun safety part of daily routine. “Throwing off the ‘rashie’ Mum’s made you wear or not putting on a hat after years of ‘no hat, no play,’ […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: QUT Newsroom from Queensland University of Technology
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What is to blame for childhood cancer? We often misunderstand the reality

A new study by UNSW medical researchers sheds light on an understudied area – community beliefs about what causes cancer in children. Most members of the community who have not been affected by childhood cancer mistakenly believe that childhood cancer is caused by genetic or environmental factors, rather than simply bad luck, a new study by medical researchers at UNSW has shown. The study – published in Acta Oncologica this week – explores survivors’, their […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Prawn shells: from waste to wonder wound healer

A molecule found in waste prawn and lobster shells could be the secret to a new bandage that battles superbugs. The stinkiest waste item ever – prawn, crab and lobster shells – could soon be made into an anti-microbial wound cover to combat superbugs and help faster healing with less scarring, and potentially a haemostatic bandage that rapidly stops bleeding. Dr Phong Tran, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, has tested chitosan, a […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: QUT Newsroom from Queensland University of Technology
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Call put out for public help to trace endangered sawfish

Research organisation needs citizen science photos and information in a quest to save remarkable species. Researchers at Sharks and Rays Australia (SARA) are enlisting the public to collect data in an effort to study and protect sawfish in Australia. Sawfish, belonging to the family Pristidae, are most easily identified by the long, flattened rostrum with protruding jagged teeth which resembles a saw. They are a type of ray with a shark-like body and have been […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Brian Pulling from Cosmos Magazine
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Model predicts "impossible to put out" firestorms

The shape of a bushfire, not just its intensity, determines whether it will become a catastrophic firestorm, say researchers. Facing another potentially catastrophic summer of bushfires, Australian scientists have been able to predict what makes a bushfire develop into a ‘nightmare’ firestorm. Contrary to previous work which pointed the finger solely at the energy of the bushfire, the team from the University of New South Wales and the ACT Emergency Services found the shape of […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Turning trams into playable musical instruments

Augmented reality has turned Melbourne’s longest tram into a musical instrument. Games and Interactivity lecturer Troy Innocent explains why he did it. Playable cities connect people and place in creative ways. They appropriate urban environments and infrastructure and provide ways for citizens to participate in smart cities. While people may be aware of smart cities, these are perceived to be more about technology and corporate interests, rather than about people. Play invites participation. And the […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Swinburne University of Technology Newsroom from Swinburne University of Technology
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Giddy up: help for plump ponies is fast on its way

Plump ponies are no laughing matter, putting them at risk of the second biggest killer of domestic horses. But help is on its way. Help is on the way for plump ponies at risk of the painful, often deadly, condition of founder or laminitis which is the second biggest killer of domestic horses. QUT Professor Martin Sillence, from QUT’s School of  Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, said a new veterinary drug related to one used to […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: QUT Newsroom from Queensland University of Technology
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Cheaper, more efficient solar technology a step closer

Australian researchers have boosted the efficiency of solar cells by combining silicon and perovskite – and that could mean cheaper solar energy. A new study led by The Australian National University (ANU) could lead to cheaper and more efficient solar technology. Study co-author Dr Heping Shen from the ANU School of Engineering says the current solar cell market is dominated by silicon-based technology, which is nearing its efficiency limit. “In order to continue the transition […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University

Benefits of pill testing shown, again

Pill testing that shows ecstasy users contaminants in their pills would make them reconsider future use. In news that comes as zero surprise to anyone except, seemingly, those who make drug policy decisions, pill testing has been shown once again to potentially be an effective harm minimisation strategy. A new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, which surveyed people as they entered nightclubs and music festivals in New York, has shown that […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Top 10 weird science stories of 2018

There was no shortage of weird and wonderful science in 2018 – octopuses were high on ecstasy, a billionaire shot a car into space, scientists injected memories between sea snails and someone started a petition to drink the ‘mummy juice’ found in a 2,000-year-old sarcophagus. Scientists gave octopuses ecstasy and they started hugging In a classic piece of “who funded this?” science, in September we learned that US scientists had been dosing-up a species of […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Joseph Milton from Australian Science Media Centre
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Turning old clothes into high-end building materials

Waste alchemist Professor Veena Sahajwalla and her team have turned old clothing and glass into high-quality building products. Researchers at UNSW Sydney have developed an effective process to turn old clothing and textiles into high-quality building products such as flat panels. These high-end composite products can have a wood veneer look or a ceramic-style finish and were lab tested for qualities such as fire and water resistance, flexibility, acoustic and load-bearing capabilities, but are yet to undergone […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Robot makes world-first baby coral delivery to Great Barrier Reef

Ecology and technology have combined to give nature a helping hand, using a robot to deliver heat-tolerant coral larvae directly onto the Great Barrier Reef, in the first small scale pilot of a new technique to help restore and recover coral reefs. In a world first, an undersea robot has dispersed microscopic baby corals (coral larvae) to help scientists working to repopulate parts of the Great Barrier Reef during this year’s mass coral spawning event. […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Queensland University of Technology
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'Fossil' from the Big Bang discovered in distant universe

The rare relic, seemingly untouched since the Big Bang, is only the third pristine gas cloud ever discovered. The universe today is a very different place to what it was straight after the Big Bang, however Australian astronomers have found a ‘fossil’ that may give an insight into those early moments in time. The researchers, from Melbourne’s Swinburne University, have announced the discovery of a relic cloud of gas in the distant universe, described as […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Critical find in understanding sex disorder development

Unusual ovary and testes formation may be triggered by ‘genetic regulator’. Australian researchers have discovered a genetic regulator that plays a key role in determining a baby’s sex and, crucially, whether it will become one of the one in every 4500 people with a disorder of sex development. Led by Andrew Sinclair at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, the team isolated a group of so-called “enhancers” that act on a gene that […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Paul Biegler from Cosmos Magazine
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Good corporate behaviour boosts sales

Study shows reputation influences consumer choices. Maintaining the good name of a company isn’t just a matter of feel-good brand politics but actually has a quantifiable, and positive, impact on the bottom line, research shows. In a paper published in the Journal of Marketing Management, researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia, calculate that companies viewed by consumers as having a good reputation can command an average 9% premium for products compared to […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Cosmos Magazine
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New program helps GPs tackle obesity

A new program by ANU provides a toolbox for GPs to help patients with obesity. A new program to help Australian GPs treat patients with obesity has been unveiled by the Australian National University. The Change Program, developed at the ANU Medical School, is based around implementing long-term lifestyle changes. Taking five years to develop, the program incorporates psychology techniques and collaborative goal setting. Consisting of a how-to workbook for GP’s and patients, it covers […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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