Latest Science


Life on Venus? Traces of phosphine may be a sign of biological activity

The discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus may suggest the presence of microbial life – or really interesting chemistry that we’re yet to learn about. The discovery that the atmosphere of Venus absorbs a precise frequency of microwave radiation has just turned planetary science on its head. An international team of scientists used radio telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to find signs that the clouds on Earth’s neighbouring planet contain tiny quantities of a […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Laura McKemmish from University of New South Wales
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Australia re-enters the space race this week

SA company Southern Launch is on track with its rocket testing program this week – and the first is scheduled for today. South Australia’s west coast will roar with the sound of rocket launches this week, as start-up Southern Launch begins its test program with two sub-orbital rockets. It will be a significant moment for Australia’s space industry – the next chapter in a history of rocket launches extending over six decades. It’s also the […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Cosmos Magazine
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The COVID-19 pandemic has not curbed climate change

A major report by the World Meteorological Organisation warns that while we’re committed to tackling COVID-19, climate change is continuing at record levels. A major report released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) this week says there has been no slowdown in climate change as a result of the pandemic, despite a temporary decline in greenhouse gas emissions caused by lockdowns and economic downturns. The United in Science 2020 report warns that greenhouse gas concentrations […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Joseph Milton from Australian Science Media Centre
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Research reveals shocking detail on how Australia's environmental scientists are being silenced

Interference from superiors or government, and fears for career advancement, are seeing scientists censor their messages.   Ecologists and conservation experts in government, industry and universities are routinely constrained in communicating scientific evidence on threatened species, mining, logging and other threats to the environment, our new research has found. Our study, just published, shows how important scientific information about environmental threats often does not reach the public or decision-makers, including government ministers. In some cases, […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Don Driscoll from Deakin University
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Uncovering the science of Indigenous fermentation

Scientists are shedding light on the processes underlying traditional practices of Australian Aboriginal in fermenting beverages. Australian wine scientists are exploring the traditional practices Aboriginal people used to produce fermented beverages, with a view of trying something non-traditional. A team from the University of Adelaide and the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has discovered there are complex microbial communities associated with the natural fermentation of sap from the Tasmanian cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii). “Cider gums […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Cosmos Magazine
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Why mozzies prefer some people to others

Bacterial diversity could explain why some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others. If you’re one of those unlucky people who get mauled by mosquitoes, it might be somewhat reassuring to know that scientists have spent decades trying to work out why the mini Draculas love some humans more than others. Key factors include carbon dioxide, body temperature and body odour, according to entomologist Matthew Bulbert from Australia’s Macquarie University – and perhaps […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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Vegan leather made from mushrooms could mould the future of sustainable fashion

Strapping on your boots may be slightly different in the future if this leather-from-fungi innovation takes hold. Seven millennia since its invention, leather remains one of the most durable and versatile natural materials. However, some consumers question the ethical ramifications and environmental sustainability of wearing products sourced from animals. This shift in social standards is the main reason we’re seeing a wave of synthetic substitutes heading for the market. Leather alternatives produced from synthetic polymers […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Mitchell P. Jones from Australia's Science Channel

Pain-sensing electronic silicone skin paves the way for smart prosthetics and skin grafts

An artificial skin that responds to touch, temperature and pain may be a new alternative to skin grafts. Skin is our largest organ, made up of complex sensors constantly monitoring for anything that might cause us pain. Our new technology replicates that – electronically. The electronic artificial skin we’ve developed reacts to pain stimuli just like real skin, and paves the way for better prosthetics, smarter robotics and non-invasive alternatives to skin grafts. Our prototype […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Madhu Bhaskaran from RMIT University

Are roads more polluting than the cars we drive on them?

Australian experts have responded to a US study that suggests asphalt during summer may be worse for pollution than petrol and diesel combined. We walk on it, we drive on it, but come summertime, asphalt may become a heavier polluter than unleaded and diesel from our cars combined, according to a US study released this week. The team heated asphalt to temperatures between 40°C and 200°C and found that the pollutant emissions doubled between 40°C […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australian Science Media Centre
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Elimination, eradication, and the myth of 'living with' a certain level of COVID-19

Experts explain the epidemiology definitions you should know before tuning in to another COVID-19 press update – and the ones Australia needs to work on. Disease management terms like ‘elimination’ and ‘eradication’ have been used in press conferences and media coverage since the start of COVID-19. While these terms seem familiar, they are technical public health terms which mean something very specific in an infectious disease context – and misuse of the terms can be […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Some of our iconic reptiles are heading for extinction

Researchers have identified 20 species of lizard and snakes at risk of extinction, with more than half likely to be extinct by 2040. Scientists have identified 20 species of Australian snakes and lizards they predict are at highest risk of extinction; 11, they say, are likely to disappear in the next two decades unless action is taken to protect them. Reptiles are declining at alarming rates all over the world, says Hayley Geyle from Charles […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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The espresso nap might be the secret to surviving night shift

Research shows that coffee naps are better than naps alone when it comes to keeping alert. A simple coffee and a quick catnap could be the cure for staying alert on the nightshift as new research from the University of South Australia shows that this unlikely combination can improve attention and reduce sleep inertia. In Australia, more than 1.4 million people are employed in shift work, with more than 200,000 regularly working night or evening […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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Is mathematics real? That viral TikTok video raises a legitimate question

From Pythagoras to modern day, asking whether mathematics is real is actually a really good question. While filming herself getting ready for work recently, TikTok user @gracie.ham reached deep into the ancient foundations of mathematics and found an absolute gem of a question: “How could someone come up with a concept like algebra?” She also asked what the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras might have used mathematics for, and other questions that revolve around the age-old […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Daniel Mansfield from University of New South Wales

Neuralink put a chip in Gertrude the pig’s brain. It might be useful one day

“It’s like Neuralink has invented the wristwatch before the clock itself has been fully invented.” But once we better understand the brain, Elon’s new innovation could be a jump forward. A recent demonstration video released by Elon Musk’s firm Neuralink might not look like much at first. In the video, a pig named Gertrude eats snacks from a person’s hand, while an accompanying computer screen displays blue lines that peak and trough, accompanied by some […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Angela Renton from The University of Queensland

To bean or not to bean: Can mums-to-be drink coffee?

A study has found there is no “safe” level for caffeine consumption in pregnant women, but Aussie experts say the advice to avoid coffee may be overstated. There is “no safe level” of caffeine consumption for women who are pregnant or trying for a baby, according to an international study released this week. But Aussie experts argue the warnings are “alarmist” and say the study recommendations may unnecessarily worry hopeful and expectant mothers. The paper […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Olivia Henry from Australian Science Media Centre
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Need a mood lift? We’ve tracked 4 ways Australia’s environment has repaired itself in 2020

It’s not all good news. But encouragingly, researchers report that Australia’s environment has started to bounce back from drought and bushfire. When the clock ticked over to 2020, Australia was in the grip of a brutal drought and unprecedented bushfires. But in the months since, while many of us were indoors avoiding the pandemic, nature has started its slow recovery. That is the message of our new analysis. Every year, my colleagues and I collate a […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Albert Van Dijk from Australian National University
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Stone tools from a remote cave reveal how island-hopping humans made a living in the jungle millennia ago

The discoveries of stone tools reveal the first direct archaeological link that remote Indonesian islands were an important staging post for humans’ island-hopping migration. Prehistoric axes and beads found in caves on a remote Indonesian island suggest this was a crucial staging post for seafaring people who lived in this region as the last ice age was coming to an end. Our discoveries, published in PLOS ONE, suggest humans arrived on the tropical island of Obi […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Sue O'Connor from Australian National University
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As COVID-19 vaccines get closer, these are the steps they must pass to prove they're safe

As the world waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, an expert explains the clinical trials they must pass to prove their efficacy and safety. The worldwide race is on to find a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the World Health Organization there are currently 31 vaccine candidates undergoing various phases of clinical trials around the world, including several in Australia, and another 142 in preclinical evaluation. But what exactly is required to prove they’re safe and effective? […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Paul Griffin from Australian Science Media Centre
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'All things will outlast us': how the Indigenous concept of deep time helps us understand environmental destruction

To understand our land and the extent of ecological change over time – and into the future – we may need to think more like the Indigenous concept of deep time. The bushfire royal commission is examining ways Indigenous land and fire management could improve Australia’s resilience to national disasters. On the face of it, this offers an opportunity to embrace Indigenous ways of knowing. But one traditional practice unlikely to be examined is the Indigenous concept […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Ann McGrath from Australian National University
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Why people get sick in virtual reality

‘Cybersickness’ might sound right out of a sci-fi novel, but it’s an illness impacting people across industries today – and it’ll probably get worse. Virtual reality (VR) technology – which can immerse people in real or imagined environments via a head-mounted display (HMD) – has expanded possibilities for how people can learn, communicate and relax. Not just a source of entertainment, VR is now used across education, skills training and medical rehabilitation. In many cases, […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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In a land of ancient giants, these small oddball seals once called Australia home

The fossils of ancient seals found at one of Australia’s most significant urban fossil sites reveal that “jumbo” wasn’t the only size prehistoric animals came in. When most of us think of the prehistoric past, we envision a world of bizarre, often fearsome giants. From dinosaurs to mammoths and even penguins, life then seemed larger than life today. Millions of years ago in Australia, giant goannas, kangaroos and diprotodontids (wombat relatives) roamed the landscape. The seas teemed with […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Erich Fitzgerald from Australia's Science Channel
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COVID-19 a reminder of the zoonotic diseases closer to home

The coronavirus pandemic is a timely reminder that diseases can jump from animals to humans in our own backyard too. With genetic analysis suggesting COVID-19 originated in animals before it spread to humans, now is a good time to bear in mind zoonotic diseases are closer to home than people might think, says a UNSW researcher. Whether it’s bin chickens raiding rubbish bins, pigeons flocking to alfresco dining leftovers or cuddles with the family pet, animals […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Discover the hidden secrets written in stone with this great VR app

Hallett Cove Conservation Park is a world-renowned site where you can explore millions of years of history right in front of you. Now you can explore it without leaving home. It’s one of the best-known geological heritage sites around the world, filled with fossils and glacial secrets. Now, thanks to virtual reality technology, the ice-age past of Hallett Cove Conservation Park can be explored in a new, gamified VR experience – Beyond the Ice. The […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia

From Kangaroo Island to Mallacoota, citizen scientists were vital to Australia’s bushfire recovery

In the wake of the Black Summer bushfires, citizen scientists showed that science can be, and is, done by all kinds of people. Months on, the value is evident. Following the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, many people throughout Australia, and across the world, wanted to know how they could help in response to the environmental disaster. Hundreds contacted the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA), Australia’s peak citizen science body, for guidance on how to […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Alan Finkel from Australia's Science Channel
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How to talk to someone who doesn’t wear a mask, and actually change their mind

“Identifying and respecting another person’s values and finding values in common reduces defensiveness and provides grounds for negotiation.” It could be a brother or sister. It could be a neighbour. It could be a person you work with. We probably all know someone who doesn’t wear a mask in public even though it’s compulsory or recommended where you live. The media is quick to highlight people who think it’s their right not to wear a mask, such […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Claire Hooker from Australia's Science Channel
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