Latest Science


Report turns up the heat on climate policymakers

IPCC points out the big difference half a degree could make. We’re facing a dire future unless we act on climate change, according to a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released this week. The report, featuring contributions from thousands of experts worldwide and containing over 6000 scientific references, highlights several impacts of climate change that could be avoided if we take steps to limit global […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Big drought could cause gastro problems

Study links drier rivers to rises in dangerous pathogens. Australia’s crippling drought could have more than the obvious consequences. Scientists have warned of a possible spike in gastroenteritis around the country. Researchers from the Australian National University say reported cases of the gastro bug cryptosporidiosis rose significantly in parts of the Murray Darling Basin during the last big drought, then quickly fell again once it ended in 2009. Dr Aparna Lal from ANU’s Research School […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Nick Carne
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Toxic chemical pollutant spells doom for killer whales

PCBs, chemicals that were banned across most of the globe over 30 years ago, are still wreaking havoc on orca populations today, according to international researchers. Research published in Science today has found polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are negatively affecting killer whales’ immune systems and ability to reproduce. In an Expert Reaction to the AusSMC, PhD Candidate Rebecca Wellard at Curtin University said the findings are “heartbreaking” because while killer whales once thrived in all […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Bill Condie
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Meet the grandparent of the Brontosaurus

South African discovery reveals an ancestor of one of the world’s favourite dinos. The largest vertebrates to ever walk the Earth were doing so as far back as the Early Jurassic period, more than 200 million years ago, South African researchers have discovered. A 12-tonne dinosaur skeleton found on the border of South Africa and Lesotho is one of the first four-limbed sauropods, and an older relative of the universally known but often misunderstood Brontosaurus. […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Nick Carne
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Girls and boys perform the same in STEM subjects

A new study puts paid to old attitudes to gender aptitude for science. For years the male dominance of STEM-related careers has been explained away as women having less aptitude for the relevant subjects.  But a new study challenges this view, finding a high similarity between male and female performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It even goes so far as to suggest that the top 10% of a class was, on average, equal […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Rebekah Harry
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Gene drive causes collapse in captive mosquito population

Technique targets the development of females. A CRISPR-based gene drive has caused the collapse of a population of caged malaria-carrying mosquitoes, UK researchers report. The study, published today in Nature Biotechnology, targeted a gene that determines whether an individual mosquito develops as a male or a female.  Previous attempts have been thwarted by the mosquitoes developing resistance to the gene drive, but the researchers say this didn’t happen and within eight generations no females were […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Rebekah Harry
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558-million-year-old fossil is oldest animal on Earth

Fossil find pushes back the emergence of animals by millions of years. The earliest known animal to exist on Earth did so 558 million years ago – millions of years earlier than thought. A study published in the journal Science confirms that a mysterious and much debated fossil species, called Dicksonia, was unequivocally an animal, and not an ancient lichen or giant amoeba as previous analyses have suggested. The discovery – which researchers have dubbed “the […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Andrew Masterson
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Cane toad genome offers hope for eventual control

Sequencing of its DNA may provide the answer. A genetic solution for the eradication of one of the world’s most destructive and, so far, uncontrollable introduced pests is one important step closer, following the successful sequencing of the genome of the cane toad (Rhinella marina). In Australia, the giant, poisonous South American toad was introduced in 1935, intended as a biological control for a native beetle (Dermolepida albohirtum) that was laying waste to the sugar […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Andrew Masterson
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Is this the world’s oldest drawing?

South African discovery pushes the emergence of visual art back 30,000 years. A faint, red, cross-hatched design discovered in a cave in South Africa just might be the oldest known drawing in history, researchers say. In a paper published in the journal Nature, a team led by Christopher Henshilwood from the University of Bergen in Norway reveals the discovery of a decorated piece of stone – of a type known as silcrete – excavated at an archaeological […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Faster-than-light detection following cosmic collision not what it appears

Jets moving super-fast were an optical illusion, but could explain the highest energy explosions in the universe. The first cosmic collision to be seen in both gravitational waves and light has also produced jets that appear to travel four times faster than light itself. As if the encounter between the two neutron stars, known as GW170817, wasn’t an extreme enough event, it might also help explain the nature of the highest energy explosions in the universe, […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Alan Duffy from Australia's Science Channel
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AI and optics combine to produce picky robots

New approach points to more efficient machines that require less training to achieve more. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the US, have linked advances in computerised artificial intelligence (AI) with breakthroughs in optical technology to enable machines that could revolutionise robot workforces in jobs such as warehousing, manufacturing and even housekeeping. Peter Florence, Lucas Manuelli and Russ Tedrake say they have achieved breakthroughs in computer vision that enable robots to inspect random […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Jeff Glorfeld from Australia's Science Channel

Switch to fish and veg to save water, report urges

Water-usage analysis in Europe points to the urgent need to reform diet habits. Switching from a meat-heavy diet to one full of vegetables and seafood will substantially reduce water consumption – at least, if lots of people do it – according to research conducted by members of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, based in Italy. In a paper published in the journal Nature Sustainability, Davy Vanham and colleagues report the results of an analysis […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Stand down. Binary star system is not about to explode

A 2017 prediction of twin-star self-destruction turns out to be based on a 20 year-old mistake. A typographical error has been blamed for a spectacular 2017 prediction that the stars comprising a binary system 1800 light-years from Earth were about to merge and create a titanic explosion. The prediction, made by a team led by astrophysicist Lawrence Molnar from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, US, was published in The Astrophysical Journal. The scientists looked at a binary system […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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The proteins that pull your cells apart

World-first mitosis map shows the mechanics of cell division. Researchers have created the first interactive map showing the actions of the proteins that govern the process of cell division, a process known as mitosis. The map, published in the journal Nature, builds on a 2010 study by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) – a research institute comprising specialists from 25 countries, with facilities in Germany, Spain, Italy and France – which identified which parts of the human genome are […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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The mathematics of mass extinction

Biodiversity catastrophes can be understood as emergent properties, researchers find. With the exception of the asteroid-induced Cretaceous–Paleogene event 66 million years ago, mass extinctions tend not to have clearly delineated start-points. Investigating how and why they happen, therefore, is a challenging business. Now mathematicians and biologists have joined forces in an attempt to identify the factors and forces that combine to tip broadly stable ecosystems into chaos. In a paper in the journal Science, the team, led […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Ancient cosmic rays mapped in close galactic neighbours

Australian-led team estimates star formation rate in Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Cosmic rays from exploding stars in Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbours have been mapped for the very first time by Australia’s Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope. The measurements also reveal the rate at which the galaxies are producing new stars. An international team of astronomers, led by Bi-Qig For of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), based in Western Australia, have used […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Alan Duffy from Australia's Science Channel
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Massive gas jets seen streaming from early universe galaxy

Scientists study star formation in a young and rambunctious system. Astronomers have spotted massive fast-moving jets of gas streaming from a galaxy in the very early universe, just one billion years after the Big Bang. The outflows from the dusty star-forming galaxy SPT2318-55 are expected shut down its star-formation activity, at least until the gas falls back in a few billion years. The findings, published in the journal Science, were made by Justin Spilker and […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Popular painkiller linked to cardiac risk

Over-the-counter pharma product associated with 50% hike in heart risk compared to non-users. The most commonly used anti-inflammatory drug in the world has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, new research has found. Diclofenac, as it is known in the US, is also marketed under several brand names. In Australia, it is present in several pharmacy products, the best known being Voltaren. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and works to […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Geetanjali Rangnekar from Australia's Science Channel
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Printing the future with sound

A new printing method uses sound waves to create ultra-precise liquid droplets. Video credit: Daniele Foresti, Leah Burrows, Jennifer A. Lewis, Harvard University. Harvard University researchers have utilised the force of sound waves to control liquid droplets, in an effort to make printing even more precise and improve manufacturing processes. Liquid droplets are used in many applications from basic inkjet printing to microcapsules for drug delivery. “By harnessing acoustic forces, we have created a new […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel

LEGO build ultimate toy car: a functional, life-sized Bugatti

Every kid’s dream comes to life with this life-sized Bugatti Chiron made from the toy blocks. Legendary toy company LEGO have revealed the best big-kid toy of all time – a life-sized, fully functional Bugatti Chiron hypercar made almost entirely of the toy blocks. Constructed using more than 1 million LEGO Technic pieces, and using absolutely zero glue, the car weighs 1.5 tonnes. In all, LEGO makes up 90% of the car – obviously parts […] See more

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

Our eyes provide cues for future robot ‘learning’

The eyes give key clues to what we’re thinking and how we respond to our surroundings. Eye movements recorded by high-tech eye-tracking glasses also give insight into a range of key human behaviours and personality traits, as revealed by an international study conducted at Flinders University. Led by European researchers based at the Machine Learning and Robotics Lab at the University of Stuttgart, and Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany, the project monitored eye […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: News Desk from Flinders University
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Cosmic monster churns out new stars

Scientists draw ‘molecular map’ of distant giant galaxy A gigantic galaxy 12.4 billion light years from Earth is forming stars at 1,000 times the rate of the Milky Way and is, astronomers say, an unstoppable monster. Called, with appropriate flair, COSMOS-AzTEC-1, the galaxy is of a type thought to be ancestors of the massive elliptical galaxies that dot the universe. It was first recorded in 2007 by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii. Now, […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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The mathematics of malaria

Modelling the success of new strains of the deadly disease produced surprising results. One of the big mysteries surrounding malaria is why drug-resistant strains of the mosquito-borne disease tend to emerge in areas in which it is comparatively uncommon.Logic seems to dictate that the chances of resistant strains taking hold would be greater in high transmission areas, simply because they have more opportunities to infect hosts. Results, however, tell almost the opposite story: drug-resistant strains […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Andrew Masterson
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Here are the winners of 2018 Eureka Prize

Australian science awards highlight innovation across diverse fields. The University of Sydney’s Thomas Maschmeyer has taken out the top prize in the 2018 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, one of Australia’s prestigious annual awards. Maschmeyer won the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science for his start-up companies translating technology to address climate change, through recycling plastic and renewable battery systems. And in the science engagement category, the Royal Institution of Australia’s Lead Scientist Alan Duffy, who is […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel

Images reveal immune cells at work

Macrophages come to life thanks to cutting-edge microscopy. For the first time, scientists have seen in exquisite, real-time detail how immune cells survey their surroundings to detect threats to our health. The imaging also provides insights into how aggressive cancer cells sustain their growth. Dr Adam Wall and Dr Nicholas Condon from Professor Jenny Stow’s lab at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, discovered new structures they termed ‘tent-pole ruffles’ on the surface of immune cells called macrophages; the ruffles help […] See more

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