Latest Science


It’s not that hard: 10 reasons why renewable energy is the future

Ideally, all sectors of the economy should band together to cut emissions, and according to an expert, in all those sectors there is huge potential for renewables. Why This Matters: Australia needs to make a long-term investment in renewables – it’s good for the economy and environment. Australia’s latest greenhouse gas figures released today show national emissions fell slightly last year. This was by no means an economy-wide effort – solar and wind energy did most of the […] See more

Published 14 hours ago. Author: Andrew Blakers from Australian National University
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Alien frog invasion wreaks havoc on natural habitat

The spotted-thighed frog will devour almost anything that fits into its mouth, with devastating impacts on ecosystems. Why This Matters: This alien frog will devastate habitats it invades if we don’t control it. Indiscriminate feeding by an alien population of the carnivorous spotted-thighed frog – could severely affect the native biodiversity of southern Australia according to a new study by the University of South Australia. The invasive amphibian – Litoria cyclorhyncha – which hitchhiked across […] See more

Published 16 hours ago. Author: Annabel Mansfield from University of South Australia
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Can’t concentrate at work? This AI system knows why

Using artificial intelligence, researchers have found a way to measure staff comfort and concentration in flexible working spaces. Why This Matters: The way we work is set to change as we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions. While hot desking and activity-based working allow cost savings and greater flexibility – and are said to increase staff collaboration and satisfaction – studies also show the noise and lack of privacy can be distracting for some people. With coronavirus […] See more

Published 18 hours ago. Author: RMIT University from RMIT University

We dug up Australian weather records back to 1838 and found snow is falling less often

Using past weather records, researchers have created the longest analysis of Australia’s daily temperature extremes. Why This Matters: Past events can help understand the impact of extreme events. As we slowly emerge from lockdown, local adventures are high on people’s wish lists. You may be planning a trip to the ski fields, or even the nearby hills to revel in the white stuff that occasionally falls around our southern cities after an icy winter blast. Our new […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: Joelle Gergis from Australian National University
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Australians were the fastest panic buyers in the world

New research on COVID-19 consumer panic shopping has shown that Australian consumers top the globe in panic buying habits – in speed and scale. Why This Matters: While panic buying is a common response, we took it to an extreme. Australia has taken out first place for panic buying, with consumers out-shopping international counterparts in speed and scale. The research, conducted by Dr Tim Neal and Professor Mike Keane from UNSW Business School used Google search […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Astronomers have located the source of four immensely powerful fast radio bursts

Astronomers have traced four fast radio bursts back to massive galaxies, bringing us a step closer to understanding the origins of these mysterious signals. Why This Matters: It may not be the definte answer, but astronomers are ruling out some possibilities. Fast radio bursts are one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. The immensely powerful bursts of radiation appear randomly from points in the Universe. They flash without warning, releasing as much energy in the […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Jeremy Moss: Our response to COVID-19 should not sponsor the fossil fuel industry

A ‘gas-driven recovery’ and further investment in fossil fuels should not be a part of Australia’s response to the pandemic, says climate justice expert Jeremy Moss. Why This Matters: We can rebuild the economy more environmentally sustainably than before by investing wisely. The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission draft report has raised some urgent issues concerning how Australia’s response to disasters are to be directed and funded. The report has rightly drawn criticism from climate groups because […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Jeremy Moss from University of New South Wales
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How ferrets can help the CSIRO beat the pandemic

Furry ferrets gave the CSIRO a massive clue about the virus that causes COVID-19, and now they’re part of the massive international collaboration to beat the pandemic. Why This Matters: Collaboration moves science forward. About an hour southwest of Melbourne on the Geelong waterfront sits a CSIRO facility that houses one of only a few Physical Containment Level 4 (PC4) labs in the world, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. This is the […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Fiona McMillan from Cosmos Magazine
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Murder hornets? Meh. Our pest wasps decapitate flies and bully dingoes

Over the past 50 years European wasps have taken hold in Australia, and their attitude towards native species can be ruthless. Why This Matters: Invasive pests are among the biggest threats facing Australian native plants and animals. The impacts of invasive mammals such as feral horses and feral cats have featured prominently in the media over the years. But the recent discovery of the infamous “murder hornet” (or giant Asian hornet Vespa mandarinia) in the […] See more

Published 4 days ago. Author: Emma Spencer from Australia's Science Channel
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Australian quantum technology can become a $4 billion industry

Australia has a strong research base in quantum technology, but researchers say success will only come from a collaborative network. Why This Matters: Science can help rebuild the economy, if we invest wisely. Quantum technology is not a phrase discussed over kitchen tables in Australia, but perhaps it should be. Australia’s quantum technology research has been breaking new ground for almost 30 years. Governments, universities and more recently multinationals have all invested in this research. Quantum […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Cathy Foley from Australia's Science Channel

Tiny rock art may show Indigenous stencil use

The rock art, which is just one of three such examples in the world, adds another dimension to Australia’s rock art history. Why This Matters: Storytelling in rock art passes information across millenia. Australian researchers are exploring the backstory to the most detailed examples ever found of a rare form of rock art. The miniature stencils are too small to have been made by tracing articles or body parts, suggesting models first had to be […] See more

Published 5 days ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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The vaccine we’re testing in Australia is based on a flu shot - here’s how it could work against coronavirus

The first human trials in Australia for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 are kicking off in Melbourne and Brisbane – this is how researchers adapted a flu vaccine to target SARS-CoV-2. Why This Matters: Scientists around the world are scrambling to find an effective vaccine. A new trial has begun in Victoria this week to evaluate a potential vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine is called NVX-CoV2373 and is from a US biotech company, Novavax. The trial will […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Kylie Quinn from RMIT University
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A device targeting feral cats could help claw back native animal numbers

The Felixer, an autonomous device that can target and cull feral cats in the wild, could be key in rebuilding Australia’s decimated native animal populations. Why This Matters: Feral cats have devastating impacts on native wildlife. A new device that uses poison and lasers to kill feral cats and control their devastating impacts on population numbers of native species has been successfully trialled in South Australia. In a study published in the nature journal Wildlife Research, […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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An invaluable Indigenous archaeology site was destroyed by Rio Tinto - this is why it was legal

“The shelters are the only inland site in Australia showing human occupation continuing through the last Ice Age.” Why This Matters: This destruction of Indigenous shelters isn’t a one-off incident. In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 – Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance. The shelters are the only inland site in Australia showing human occupation […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Samantha Hepburn from Deakin University
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What does "strong mental health" mean?

“Mental health and mental illness are not simply two sides of the same coin. Mental health, just like physical health, exists on a spectrum from poor to optimal.” Why This Matters: Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Amid the coronavirus pandemic we are being warned of a “second wave” of mental health problems that threatens to overrun an already weakened mental health service. As we emerge from this crisis, while some people may […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Jill Newby from University of New South Wales
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Cosmic burst finds the universe's missing matter

Astronomers have solved a decades-old mystery of ‘missing matter’, long predicted to exist in the Universe but never detected—until now. Video courtesy of ICRAR. Why This Matters: A cosmic mystery may be solved. Astronomers have used fast radio bursts to finally detect all of the missing “normal” matter in the vast space between stars and galaxies. Writing in the journal Nature, the Australian-led team describes its success – and relief – in solving a decades-old […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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The deep-sea is slowly warming and it's causing ecosystem disruption

Even if we reduce carbon emissions, deep-sea waters will likely still feel the heat, spelling bad news for ecosystems. Why This Matters: They may be out of sight, but deep-sea ecosystems shouldn’t be out of mind. Our warming planet is dislocating all manner of species as they travel poleward in search of cooler temperatures, and this is just as evident, if not more so, in the ocean as it is on land, according to two new […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Australia's Science Channel
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Be still, my beating wings: hunters kill migratory shorebirds on their journey to Australia

A new study reveals three-quarters of migratory shorebird species in the Asia-Pacific region have been affected by unsustainable and widespread hunting since the 70s.  Why This Matters: These globe-trotters are already under threat from other human impacts. It is low tide at the end of the wet season in Broome, Western Australia. Shorebirds feeding voraciously on worms and clams suddenly get restless. Chattering loudly they take flight, circling up over Roebuck Bay then heading off for […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao from The University of Queensland
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Australian researchers record world’s fastest internet speed from a single optical chip

Aussie researchers have shattered the world’s fastest internet speed – capable of downloading 1,000 high definition films in a split second. Why This Matters: Australia’s internet is notoriously poor, so anything that gives it a kick gets our tick of approval. More so now than ever before, we’re relying on the internet to keep us working, studying and entertained from the safety of our homes. And while Australia’s internet may not be top notch at […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Swinburne University of Technology Newsroom from Swinburne University of Technology

Researchers uncover the arks of genetic diversity around the globe

Scientists have compiled a global map of genetic diversity in mammals and it highlights key biodiversity hotspots for conservation efforts. Why This Matters: Now we need to turn plans into action. On the back of the International Day for Biological Diversity, Australian and Danish scientists have compiled the first comprehensive map of genetic diversity for terrestrial mammals across the planet. They found that tropical regions with rich evolutionary histories, such as Amazonia, Northern Andes, central […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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Astronomers find a ‘cosmic ring of fire’ from 11 billion years ago

An epic collision between two galaxies in the early universe has created a rare donut-shaped ring galaxy. Why This Matters: The discovery of the ring galaxy changes the impression we had of the early universe. Nearly 11 billion light years away lurks a super-rare type of galaxy that bears the scars of a galactic battle. Rather than the more common disc of stars the galaxy instead has a gigantic hole straight through the centre. And with […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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COVID-19 is hurting abortion access nationwide

A combination of financial strain, travel restrictions, and lack of resources is making abortion even harder for women to access during the coronavirus pandemic. Why This Matters: We need long-term investment to ensure these services are available to those who need it. The COVID-19 crisis has starkly revealed the patchy and precarious provision of abortion in Australia, deepening existing inequalities in access. What was already an expensive procedure may be even less attainable for many women […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Erica Millar from La Trobe University
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Why cats have more lives than dogs when it comes to snakebites

Dogs are more likely to die from snakebites than a cat, and now researchers are starting to understand why. Why This Matters: The rivalry between cats and dogs has been taken to a new extreme. Cats are twice as likely to survive a venomous snakebite than dogs, and the reasons behind this phenomenon have been revealed by University of Queensland research. The research team, led by Christina Zdenek and Associate Professor Bryan Fry, compared the effects of snake […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Maybe we should add ‘climate change’ to death certificates, say medical experts

Death certificates need to be updated to reflect the relationship between our health and the environment, such as bushfire smoke or hot weather. Why This Matters: Climate change is a killer. Heat-related deaths have been “substantially underreported” on Australia’s national records, according to experts from The Australian National University (ANU). Researchers say the amount of deaths attributed to excessive natural heat is at least 50 times more than recorded on death certificates. Analysis published in The Lancet Planetary Health shows over the past 11 years 340 deaths in Australia were […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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The pandemic risks wiping out hard-won gains by women in STEM

A new report confirms an urgent need for employers to closely monitor and mitigate the gender impact of the pandemic on the STEM workforce. Why This Matters: We can’t let important work be undone. Across Australia, COVID-related job losses have been profound. At the start of May it was estimated that almost 1 million Australians have lost their jobs, with many more since. The STEM workforce is also feeling the brunt of COVID-19 related restrictions with […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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