Latest Science


The Flinders Ranges look incredible from space

The folded mountain ranges of the Flinders Ranges have rarely looked better than this incredible image from ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellite. The many colourful curves and folds of the northern Flinders Ranges are a feature of this false-colour image captured by the ESA Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. The Flinders are a classic example of a folded mountain range. Folded ranges form when two or more of Earth’s tectonic plates collide – folding and pushing layers of land […] See more

Published 23 hours ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Under climate change, winter will be the best time for burn-offs – but that could be bad news for our health

Climate change may shift the window of opportunity for prescribed burns to the winter months, but that could increase the health impacts from smoke. Why This Matters: Climate change will make it more complex to mange the risk of bushfires. At the height of last summer’s fires, some commentators claimed “greenies” were preventing hazard reduction burns – also known as prescribed burns – in cooler months. They argued that such burns would have reduced the bushfire intensity. Fire […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: Giovanni Di Virgilio from University of New South Wales
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Antarctica is the perfect place on Earth for stargazing

Antarctica’s Dome A is officially the best place on Earth for astronomy – letting scientists see the universe without a twinkle. Why This Matters: Twinkle twinkle little star, now we can clearly see what you are. Have you ever wondered why stars twinkle? It’s because turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere makes light emitted from the star wobble as it completes it’s light years-long journey to the lenses in our eyes and telescopes. But now scientists […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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My talk with Jane Goodall: vegetarianism, animal welfare and the power of children’s advocacy

“The harm we inflict on the environment and the devastation we’ve caused so many species, we now have an obligation to try and change things so animals can have a better future.” Why This Matters: She changed out understanding of animal behaviour. July marked 60 years since Dame Jane Goodall first ventured into the wilds of Gombe, Tanzania, at the tender age of 26 to study the behaviour of chimpanzees. She has devoted her life to […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Clive Phillips from The University of Queensland
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A whale's snot shows migration takes a toll on their health

By using whale snot, researchers find microbial diversity, an indicator of overall health, is depleted on the return leg of their annual migration. Why This Matters: Many whale populations are endangered, yet scientists still know fairly little about their physiology. Whale-watching season is usually a delight for scores of whale watchers along the east coast of Australia. For scientists too, it’s an opportunity to study the mega creatures up close. But for the whales themselves, it’s […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Tim Jarvis – Trees are more important now than ever before

Trees are not only useful for mitigating carbon emissions, they play many critical roles. Yet we are not doing enough to protect or restore them, writes environmental scientist Tim Jarvis. Why This Matters: Don’t miss the wood for the trees. COVID-19 has had many consequences, not least of all in eclipsing Australia’s terrible ‘Black Summer’ fire season in the Australian public consciousness. Go back less than six months and the news was dominated by overwhelming […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Tim Jarvis from Australia's Science Channel
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The mystery of the Top End’s vanishing wildlife, and the unexpected culprits

Vast savannas in northern Australia were once considered a safe haven for many native mammals, but now their numbers are quickly declining. Why This Matters: Action needs to be taken before we lose some of our native mammals. Only a few decades ago, encountering a bandicoot or quoll around your campsite in the evening was a common and delightful experience across the Top End. Sadly, our campsites are now far less lively. Northern Australia’s vast uncleared […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Alyson Stobo-Wilson from Australia's Science Channel
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Perseverance: the Mars rover searching for ancient life and the Aussies who helped build it

Perseverance is set to search Mars for evidence it ever hosted life, and Aussie scientists played key roles getting the rover on its way to the red planet. Why This Matters: We’re well placed to make important contributions to future space exploration missions. Every two years or so, when Mars passes close to Earth in its orbit around the Sun, conditions are right to launch a spacecraft to the red planet. Launches during this period […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: David Flannery from Queensland University of Technology
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CSIRO's newly named species are something to Marvel at

CSIRO scientists have created quite a buzz with their annual list of newly named species, drawing inspiration from the Marvel universe. Why This Matters: Naming species can be a superpower in itself. CSIRO has released its annual list of newly named species and this time it’s paying homage to the good guys. After last year’s tribute to Game of Thrones villain Night King, the fantasy loving scientists have turned to a bit of comic book hero worship from the […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Amelia Nichele from Cosmos Magazine
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A massive sh*tfight between taxonomists may have reached a conclusion. Finally.

For years battle has raged about the rules of taxonomy. Scientist vs scientist. Comparisons to Stalin. But a conclusion may have been reached, with both sides happy. Why This Matters: Teamwork makes the dream work (and brings in support for endangered species). Taxonomy, or the naming of species, is the foundation of modern biology. It might sound like a fairly straightforward exercise, but in fact it’s complicated and often controversial. Why? Because there’s no one […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Stephen Garnett from Australia's Science Channel
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Coal phase-out must overcome "us and them" mentality

“Success requires looking after the interests of workers, local communities as well as the energy industry, but not forgetting the interests of energy users and taxpayers.” Why This Matters: Let’s be prepared for change. Coal will need to be phased out of the world’s economy to meet the climate change challenge, but this can work properly only if social objectives and local stakeholders are involved in the process. That’s the argument from an international group of […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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As if space wasn't dangerous enough, bacteria become nastier in microgravity

Research from space flight missions has found that bacteria seem to become more resistant to antibiotics and mutate quicker in space. Why This Matters: There are unknown risks to consider as humans spend more time in space. China has launched its Tianwen-1 mission to Mars. A rocket holding an orbiter, lander and rover took flight from the country’s Hainan province yesterday, with hopes to deploy the rover on Mars’s surface by early next year. Similarly, the launch of […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Vikrant Minhas from The University of Adelaide
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The COVID-19 lockdown caused the Earth to go quiet - literally

Scientists have taken advantage of the longest quiet period of seismic noise ever recorded, listening to the Earth’s natural vibrations without interference. Why This Matters: The lockdown highlights the impact of humans on the Earth. The lack of activity during the COVID-19 lockdown between March and May caused human-linked vibrations in the Earth to drop by up to 50%. According to a study involving researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), the net effect of […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Nick Carne from Cosmos Magazine
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Vaccine progress report: the projects closing in on a COVID-19 vaccine

Teams around the world are closing in on a vaccine to control COVID-19. Here’s where they’re up to. Why This Matters: A global effort is needed to overcome the pandemic The race is on to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. There are now more than 140 vaccines being tested around the world, according to the World Health Organisation. Australian researchers are leading several major clinical trials that might help bring an end to the deadly […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Kylie Quinn from RMIT University
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Flu numbers may rise as COVID-19 restrictions ease

COVID restrictions and increased hygiene have also slashed flu cases this year, but experts need to say we need to ensure we don’t let it bounce back when restrictions ease. Why This Matters: When COVID restrictions ease we need to avoid a rise in flu. Social distancing and the hygiene measures to restrict coronavirus infections have cut the number of influenza cases in Australia dramatically. But experts have warned that the relaxing of restrictions could […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Lyndal Byford from Australian Science Media Centre
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Which mask works best? We filmed people coughing and sneezing to find out

Surgical masks are best, but when it comes to cloth – the more layers the better is the advice to stop the spread of COVID-19. Why This Matters: Stay safe out there. If you’re not sure whether wearing a face mask is worth it, or you need to wear a mask but are unsure which type, our new research should help you decide. We took videos of what happens when you talk, cough and sneeze […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Raina MacIntyre from University of New South Wales
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Is it a bird, a plane? Not superman, but a flapping wing drone

A mad flapping wing drone is agile, versatile and safe, and will leave quadcopters in their dust, say researchers. Why This Matters: Taking inspiration from nature can give technology a new range of abilities. A drone prototype that mimics the aerobatic manoeuvres of one of the world’s fastest birds, the swift, is the latest example of engineers taking inspiration from nature. The team from South Australia, Singapore, China and Taiwan has designed a 26 gram […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia

Australia wants to build a huge concrete runway in Antarctica. Here’s why that’s a bad idea

Australia has traditionally been considered an environmental leader in Antarctica. But an Antarctic aerodrome would clash with that goal. Why This Matters: Australia needs to show it is a genuine leader. Australia wants to build a 2.7-kilometre concrete runway in Antarctica, the world’s biggest natural reserve. The plan, if approved, would have the largest footprint of any project in the continent’s history. The runway is part of an Antarctic aerodrome to be constructed near Davis Station, one of Australia’s […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Julia Jabour from University of Tasmania
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Which is more creative, the arts or the sciences? Research confirms it's key for both

Creativity will be a vital component of jobs of the future – and it needs to be taught across STEM and arts at school, says an expert. Why This Matters: Creativity needs to be given an environment to thrive. Australian schools and universities need to increase their emphasis on teaching creativity, says internationally renowned expert Professor David Cropley. The call comes as new research shows it is more than ever a core competency across all […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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Meet Moss, the best boy helping Tassie devils find love

“Detection dogs are the perfect intermediary between people and wildlife — they can sniff out what we can’t and communicate with us as a team.” Why This Matters: Moss may go from being man’s best friend to devil’s best friend. Moss bounds happily through the bush showing the usual exuberance of a young labrador. Despite this looking like play, he is on a serious mission to help fight the extinction of some of our most critically endangered […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: La Toya Jamieson from La Trobe University
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Bushfires could trigger 14 per cent rise in threatened native species

The impact of last summer’s catastrophic bushfires is continuing to be felt with burnt  habitat being rendered ‘useless’ for native species. Why This Matters: Bushfires continue to affect wildlife long after the flames are extinguished. The damage caused by the catastrophic 2019-2020 Australian bushfires could lead to a dramatic jump in the number of native species at risk, according to new research. The University of Queensland-led research identified 21 threatened species – including the Kangaroo […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Aussie attitudes towards drugs are changing

Fewer Australians are smoking daily than ever before and more are giving up alcohol… but the use of some illicit drugs is up. Why This Matters: Policy-makers need to keep up with the changing attitudes towards drug use. Attitudes towards illicit drug use are changing in Australia, according to results from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, which also found fewer Aussies are smoking daily than ever before. The three-yearly survey of more than […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Olivia Henry from Australian Science Media Centre
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Eradication, elimination, suppression: let's understand what they mean before debating Australia's course

Australia’s response to COVID-19 is back in the spotlight, with experts debating whether we should shift gears from a suppression strategy to an elimination strategy. Why This Matters: The right response to COVID-19 can effectively guide us through the COVID-19 pandemic. The current surge in community transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria has brought renewed discussion of whether Australia should maintain its current “suppression” strategy, or pursue an “elimination” strategy instead. But what do these terms actually mean, and […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Raina MacIntyre from University of New South Wales
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The team changing how we view eye conditions

Virtual reality is not just for entertainment – this Australian team of vision scientists and artists are using it to treat eye conditions. Why This Matters: The arts and sciences combined will create our future. Growing up we were always told too much TV would make our eyes go square. But fast forward a few years and researchers are increasingly turning to virtual reality headsets as a way of fixing eye conditions. Internationally, vision scientists […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Deakin University

What is love?

Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. Why This Matters: Fundamental human behaviour still remains a mystery. From songs and poems to novels and movies, romantic love is one of the most enduring subjects for artworks through the ages. But what about the science? Historical, cultural and even evolutionary evidence suggests love existed during ancient times and across many parts of the world. Romantic love has been found to exist in 147 of […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Gery Karantzas from Deakin University
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