Latest Science


A meteorite that fell on Australia 50 years ago contains the oldest material on Earth

A meteorite found in Victoria was made up of material that formed even before the Sun. Why This Matters: Like a tiny time capsule, the Murchison meteorite tells us about the formation of the solar system. Scientists say a meteorite that landed in Australia half a century ago contains the oldest solid material ever found on Earth – stardust that formed five to seven billion years ago. That’s exciting – “one of the most exciting […] See more

Published 16 hours ago. Author: Nick Carne from Cosmos Magazine
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Yes, native plants can flourish after a bushfire. But there's only so much they can take

The recent bushfires will push many native plants to their limits. If we want to avoid losing them, we need to monitor their recovery. Why This Matters: Australia may have been irrecoverably changed by the recent bushires. In a fire-blackened landscape, signs of life are everywhere. A riot of red and green leaves erupt from an otherwise dead-looking tree trunk, and the beginnings of wildflowers and grasses peek from the crunchy charcoal below. Much Australian […] See more

Published 20 hours ago. Author: Lucy Commander from Australia's Science Channel
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Six million hectares of threatened species habitat has gone up in smoke

Some of our threatened species have been pushed to the brink, but their struggle to survive is only beginning. Why This Matters: While we count the human cost, our flora and fauna are also badly hit by bushfires. More than one billion mammals, birds, and reptiles across eastern Australia are estimated to have been affected by the current fire catastrophe. Many animals and plants have been incinerated or suffocated by smoke and ash. Others may have escaped the […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: April Reside from The University of Queensland
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A SARS-like coronavirus is spreading through Asia and could make it to Australia

The second case of a new coronavirus has been confirmed outside of China, with experts warning we should prepare for cases in Australia. Why This Matters: Global connections mean we need to stay vigilant to prevent viruses spreading. A confirmed case of a new coronavirus that originated in China has been detected in Japan, the second confirmed case outside China’s borders. A previous case of the virus, known as 2019-nCoV, was identified in Thailand earlier […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: Olivia Henry from Australian Science Media Centre
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Apps could soon predict your life expectancy, but do you want to know?

Apps that predict your life expectancy could have many benefits, but it could also pose major risks to security and wellbeing. Why This Matters: Would knowing when you die change how you live your life? When will I die?  This question has endured across cultures and civilisations. It has given rise to a plethora of religions and spiritual paths over thousands of years, and more recently, some highly amusing apps. But this question now prompts a […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: James Jin Kang from Edith Cowan University

Whooping cough is evolving into a superbug and we need a new vaccine to tackle it

“Put simply, the bacteria that cause whooping cough are becoming better at hiding and better at feeding – they’re morphing into a superbug.” Why This Matters: We need to future-proof our vaccines against evolving strains to avoid another deadly outbreak. Australia needs a new whooping cough vaccine to ensure our most vulnerable are protected from the emergence of superbug strains, new UNSW research has shown. The current vaccine, widely used since 2000, targets three antigens in the bacteria […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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The fear of bugs and lice affects whether women find beards attractive

Some women may dislike beards because they think they’re potential homes to bugs and lice, suggests new study. Why This Matters: Be like Lizzo: “I like a big beard, I like a clean face, I don’t discriminate” 🎶 Beards are a weirdly commonly studied topic. Researchers around the world have long examined the effect a bit of bristle has on people other than the wearer – and in particular if it helps men woo potential partners. […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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A billion animals are dead. What do we do with them now?

“Whatever option we choose, it’s clear there’s more we can do with carcasses than simply burying them.” Why This Matters: Risk or resource? What we do know is we need to stop doing nothing and start managing animal carcasses. Bushfires this season have left an estimated 1 billion dead animals in their wake, their carcasses dotting the blackened landscape. Adding to the toll, farmers are being forced to euthanise injured and starving livestock and there are also calls to […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Emma Spencer from Australia's Science Channel
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Bacteria shredding liquid metal could take the fight to superbugs

A shape-shifting liquid metal has been used to ruthlessly rip apart bacteria and could be the answer to antibiotic resistance. It’s basically the Terminator T-1000. Why This Matters: Antibiotic resistance is a huge threat globally, and without further action it could become even more deadly. Researchers have created nano-sized particles of magnetic liquid metal to shred bacteria and bacterial biofilm – the protective layer that bacteria thrive in – without harming good cells. A shape-shifting liquid […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from RMIT University

In fact, there’s plenty we can do to make future fires less likely

The argument that reducing Australia’s emissions does little to the world’s total emissions ignores the influence we have over other countries. Why This Matters: When it comes to global emissions, we’re more important than you think. One of the dominant ideas buzzing around the internet is that there’s little we can do to escape the prospect of more frequent and worse bushfires – ever. That’s because there’s little we can do to slow or reverse the […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Peter Martin from Australian National University
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Dr Karl - Where do bacteria go when we boil water?

Dr Karl tackles another question from an Australian school student about the ways to sterilise water. When you boil water to make it safe to drink, where does the bacteria actually go? Why This Matters: Unsafe drinking water is one of the biggest health issues in the world. Here’s what happens when you sterilise water. Also: Bushfires are threatening our drinking water The World Health Organization estimates that around 1-in-3 people around the world don’t […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: from Australia's Science Channel
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Some say we've seen bushfires worse than this - but they're ignoring a few key facts

“Climate change is making extreme events even more severe, resulting in unprecedented conditions that are rewriting our nation’s history.” Why This Matters: It’s important to look at the past, but we need to keep the current bigger picture in mind. Every time a weather extreme occurs, some people quickly jump in to say we’ve been through it all before: that worse events have happened in the past, or it’s just part of natural climate variability. The recent […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Joelle Gergis from Australian National University
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Aussie scientists need your help keeping track of bees (please)

There’s a good chance the bees buzzing around your backyard are an unwanted exotic species, and researchers need your help to identify them. Why This Matters: Exotic intruders can fly under the radar and wreak havoc on our native species. Bees get a lot of good press. They pollinate our crops and in some cases, make delicious honey. But bees around the world face serious threats, and the public can help protect them. Of more […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Mark Hall from Western Sydney University
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Bushfires have caused extinctions before - and it'll happen again

The full impact of the current bushfires are not yet clear, but we do know fires have re-shaped life on Earth in the past. Why This Matters: These bushfires may have far-reaching impacts, years after they’ve been put out. The catastrophic bushfires raging across much of Australia have not only taken a huge human and economic toll, but also delivered heavy blows to biodiversity and ecosystem function. Already, scientists are warning of catastrophic extinctions of animals and plants. Humans have […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Mike Lee from Flinders University
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4½ myths about sunscreen and why they’re wrong

Fuelled by myths about its safety, many Australians are reluctant to use sunscreen – here’s what the evidence actually says. Why This Matters: Slip, slop, slap, slide! 🌞 With beach season well and truly upon us, many turn to sunscreen to protect their skin. But, some Australians are reluctant to use sunscreen, even though it’s an important element in preventing the skin cancers that affect about two in three of us at some time in our lives. […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Monika Janda from The University of Queensland
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Wild idea - let's rethink the typical Aussie summer holiday

“What’s truly absurd is the business-as-usual approach that sees thousands of holidaymakers heading directly into forests and national parks right in the middle of peak bushfire season.” Why This Matters: We need to adapt to a new lifestyle as a result of climate change. For 40 years I have studied bushfires in Australia. It has been my life’s work to try to better understand Australian landscapes and the interaction of humans and landscape fire. As we […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: David Bowman from University of Tasmania
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The epic journey of waves is way more interesting than we thought

There’s much more to waves than the part you see at the beach. And it all starts hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres from the shore. Why This Matters: If there’s a will, there’s a wave. 🌊 It’s a cliché, but Aussies love the beach. And little wonder: with 36,000 kilometres of coastline, Australia is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world. Around 20 million Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast. […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Shane Keating from University of New South Wales
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Artificial sweeteners may be doing more harm than good

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but artificial sweeteners may be causing weight gain and contribute to type 2 diabetes. Why This Matters: Sticking to a healthy diet is a better option than artificial sweeteners. A $2.2 billion industry to help people lose weight through artificial sweeteners may actually be contributing to type 2 diabetes. A review, by researchers from the University of South Australia, reveals that people who use low-calorie sweeteners (LCS) are more likely […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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2020 promises to be a better year for meteor showers - here's when to look up

The big three aren’t the only meteor showers lighting up our night skies this year. Here’s a guide of the showers to watch in 2020. Why This Matters: Why not treat yourself to a night of meteor showers? Where 2019 was a disappointing year for meteor showers, with two of the big three (the Quadrantids, Perseids and Geminids) lost mainly to moonlight, 2020 promises to be much better. The year starts with a bang with […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Jonti Horner from Australia's Science Channel
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Bushfires are threatening our drinking water

Bushfires pose a serious risk to the quality of our drinking water – expert Stuart Khan explains the immediate and long-term effects. Why This Matters: The effects of bushfires last well after the fire is put out. Regional and metropolitan areas around NSW are facing water quality concerns in the face of the bushfire crisis. In some areas of the state, drinking water treatment plants have been physically damaged by fire or impacted by fire-related power […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Meet Chax - turning reality virtual

VR technical artists like Chax combine skills in tech and art to recreate real world objects in a virtual world – putting the real into virtual reality. Why This Matters: Boosting the reality of virtual reality makes it a far more useful tool. From Disney to Deakin University’s VR/AR research lab, Chax Rivera’s love of art and technology has helped him put the real in virtual reality. While he admits that as a student maths […] See more

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

Nine things you love that are being wrecked by climate change

From your daily caffeine hit to the risk of extreme weather interrupting your travel plans, climate change is ruining a lot of things we love. Why This Matters: Even your coffee and wine aren’t safe. There are so many stories flying around about the horrors already being wrought by climate change, you’re probably struggling to keep up. The warnings have been there for decades but still there are those who deny it. So perhaps it’s time to look […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Rod Lamberts from Australian National University
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Six things you can do to keep safe from bushfire smoke

As our cities are blanketed with smoke, there are some basic things you can do to keep yourself safe from its effects. Why This Matters: We’re going to be dealing with this more and more. For the second time this week, Canberra is the world’s worst city for air pollution as it is blanketed by smoke and hazardous haze from the ongoing bushfire crisis. Here are six ways you can deal with and protect yourself […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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Hunter or hunted? When the world catches on fire, how do predators respond?

Millions of animals have perished in the bushfires ravaging our country – those that survive will feel the effects long after the fires are put out. Why This Matters: How bushfires affect predator species is vital to restoring destroyed ecosystems. 2019 might well be remembered as the year the world caught fire. Some 2.9 million hectares of eastern Australia have been incinerated in the past few months, an area roughly the same size as Belgium. Fires in […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Euan Ritchie from Deakin University
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In 2019 a whole bunch of awesome Aussie women in STEM got Wikipedia pages

If you want to talk about merit, these women have it in spades and deserve to be recognised. Why This Matters: Science isn’t just old white dudes – raising visibility for women in STEM because you gotta see it to believe it. A group of Australian science icons have had their achievements recognised on the world’s biggest information repository thanks to an intrepid group of volunteers. And because profiles of women in STEM are woefully […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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