Latest Science


Why astronomy matters in times of crisis

A major international project is on the brink of construction and with it comes opportunities for Aussie companies, strengthened international bonds and inspiration. Why This Matters: “The SKA will be unlocking the secrets of the universe long after COVID-19 has subsided into memory.” In an international emergency like the present one, you might expect the science of the stars to be the last thing on people’s minds. The problems facing both individuals and governments are […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Fred Watson from Australia's Science Channel
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Aussie film about rewiring a journalist’s mind wins Best Film at SCINEMA International Science Film Festival

A worldwide odyssey exploring mindfulness and whether it can help handle the crazy world we live in takes home top prize – and you can see it free. Why This Matters: You might have a different perspective on mindfulness after watching My Year of Living Mindfully. The world is confusing and unsettling, even more so now than ever before, and more of us than ever are finding it affecting our mental wellbeing. We are more […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Tim Jarvis: The COVID-19 pandemic is a huge opportunity for the environment

We have an opportunity to come out of the pandemic with a new approach to protecting the environment, says environmental scientist Tim Jarvis. Why This Matters: The pandemic has provided an opportunity to change the “normal”. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed our fraught relationship with the environment. Changes due to climate change, wanton destruction of the natural world, and exploitation of species world have brought wildlife into contact with people. According to […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Tim Jarvis from Australia's Science Channel
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‘Dr Google’ is almost always wrong

Turning to Google for a self-diagnosis may be doing more harm than good, with advice to seek medical attention only appropriate some of the time. Why This Matters: While convenient, using Dr Google for a self-diagnosis is no replacement for a doctor. Many people turn to ‘Dr Google’ for a self-diagnosis of their health symptoms and seek medical advice, but online symptom checkers are only accurate about a third of the time, according to new Edith […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: ECU Newsroom from Edith Cowan University
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Carbon emissions fell during COVID-19 - but it's the shift away from coal that made the difference

The transition to cleaner, cheaper energy is putting us in a position to maintain momentum after the pandemic. Why This Matters: Australia is in prime position to make the most of renewable energy. Much has been made of the COVID-19 lockdown cutting global carbon emissions. Energy use has fallen over recent months as the pandemic keeps millions of people confined to their homes, and businesses closed in many countries. Projections suggest global emissions could be around 5% […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Mousami Prasad from Australian National University
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Got rhythm? Astronomers listen to the heartbeats of pulsing stars

The inner workings of young stars have been disentangled by an international team of researchers – the first time they’ve been detected in delta Scuti stars. Why This Matters: Stars could be used to trace the building blocks of the Milky Way. By listening to the beating hearts of stars, astronomers have for the first time identified a rhythm of life for a class of stellar objects that had until now puzzled scientists. The international team […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Is the dark web a wild west for fake coronavirus ‘cures’? The reality is more complicated

“It seems, despite the activities of a few dodgy operators, the vast majority of dark web traders are steering clear of exploiting the pandemic for their own profit.” Why This Matters: Darknet cryptomarkets self-regulate more than you might expect. The coronavirus pandemic has spawned reports of unregulated health products and fake cures being sold on the dark web. These include black market PPE, illicit medications such as the widely touted “miracle” drug chloroquine, and fake […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: James Martin from Swinburne University of Technology

Using a pocket rocket to explore distant planets

Researchers have adapted a miniature rocket, called the Pocket Rocket, to replicate the conditions of distant planets’ atmospheres. Why This Matters: Even small packages can answer big questions. A plasma thruster, developed at ANU to power miniature satellites, is being used to look for evidence of life on distant planets – but not in the way you might expect. The Pocket Rocket is not propelling a satellite towards planets, but instead helping replicate the conditions […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Phil Dooley from Australian National University
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The mystery of the giant X-shaped galaxy with a monster black hole as its engine

The X-rated galaxy PKS 2014-55 may be best described as a “double boomerang” – and now we know why it has the odd shape. Why This Matters: The universe never fails to blow our minds. A team of US and South African researchers has published highly detailed images of the largest X-shaped “radio galaxy” ever discovered – PKS 2014-55. Notably, they’ve helped resolve ongoing confusion about the galaxy’s unusual shape. The spectacular new images were taken using the 64-antenna MeerKAT telescope […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Baerbel Koribalski from Australia's Science Channel
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A world of languages may be at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic

Regions of the world hit the hardest by COVID-19, like Italy, are also at risk of having regional dialects die out. Why This Matters: One language is lost every two weeks. The world’s languages have been a silent victim in the COVID-19 pandemic, and the damage may be irreparable, warns a language expert from Edith Cowan University. Dr Annamaria Paolino, a language researcher in ECU’s School of Education says the loss of the world’s older generations […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: ECU Newsroom from Edith Cowan University
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Study confirms governments repeatedly ignored scientific advice when approving Adani coalmine

The finding that the approval of the Adani Carmichael mine was not based on independent scientific evidence comes as vitally important environment and biodiversity laws are under review by the Federal Government. Why This Matters: Governments listen to scientific advice about COVID, why not other issues? Australia’s relative success in stopping the spread of COVID-19 is largely due governments taking expert advice on a complex problem. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of decisions on […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Matthew Currell from RMIT University
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Ancient DNA reveals the genetic portrait of Andes civilisations

A study of DNA belonging to ancient humans in South America has revealed a story of 9000 years of civilisations and surprising genetic continuity. Why This Matters: This is the first large-scale genomic portait of Andean civilisations. Across the central Andes, remnants of ancient civilisations such as Machu Picchu attract archaeologists and tourists alike. The hillside settlements reveal fascinating stories of agriculture, complex societies, and the rise and fall of powerful empires. Now, the first large-scale […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from The University of Adelaide
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The US military has officially published three UFO videos. Why doesn’t anybody seem to care?

For the first time, the Pentagon has publically confirmed UFO footage but it seems to have barely moved the needle on the UFO controversy. Why This Matters: The truth is out there. Maybe. On April 27, 2020, the US Department of Defense issued a public statement authorising the release of three “UFO” videos taken by US Navy pilots. The footage appears to depict airborne, heat-emitting objects with no visible wings, fuselage or exhaust, performing aerodynamically in ways […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Adam Dodd from The University of Queensland
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Odds are good for baby number two using IVF

The chances of a couple having a second child with the help of fertility treatment have been studied for the first time. Why This Matters: IVF can be a tough experience on many couples. IVF is not a silver bullet. Many couples who struggle to conceive turn to in vitro fertilisation in hope, only to find it still involves multiple rounds of invasive procedures, anticipation, heartache and loss before achieving a successful pregnancy. For those […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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How a 100-year-old TB vaccine boosts the immune system

The TB vaccine helps fight against infections by boosting immune cell production, and it could have a place in the fight against COVID-19. Why This Matters: The TB vaccine may be valuable for more than just TB. Australian scientists have revealed the answer to a decades-old mystery – why does the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) protect infants from a range of other diseases as well as TB? Scientists from Perth’s Telethon Kids Institute have […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Joseph Milton from Australian Science Media Centre
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No, Aussie bats won’t give you COVID-19. We rely on them more than you think

“The fundamental issue is not the viruses in bats. SARS-CoV-2 is now a human virus, and we are responsible, knowingly or not, for its global spread.” Why This Matters: Bats should be our friends, not enemies. In this pandemic it’s tempting to look for someone, or something, to blame. Bats are a common scapegoat and the community is misled to believe getting rid of them could be a quick fix. But are bats really the problem? […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: Pia Lentini from Australia's Science Channel
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The environment loses as subsidies drive Murray-Darling Basin extractions

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was implemented to help the basin’s rivers, but a new study reveals the plan appears to have the opposite effect. Why This Matters: Millions of Australians depend on the Basin. The Australian Government’s $4 billion irrigation efficiency program has led to irrigators who received irrigation infrastructure subsidies extracting up to 28 per cent more water in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) than those who did not receive any funds – affecting the […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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'When chemistry became biology': looking for the origins of life in hot springs

The hypothesis that hot springs may have been the ‘spark’ that helped organic matter turn into life has been put to the test in New Zealand. Why This Matters: Learning about the origins of life helps understand our place in the Universe. 50 years ago, a meteorite landed in Victoria carrying many of the building blocks for life, including amino acids, nucleobases and lipids. These organic molecules formed when compounds in stardust, which had collected on […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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A solar chimney that saves lives and energy

This solar chimney can slash energy costs and now research reveals it could also help save lives in a building fire. Why This Matters: Clever concepts like this can reduce the massive weight of energy resources on the environment. In a world-first, researchers have designed a solar chimney optimised for both energy saving and fire safety. Modelling shows the specially-designed solar chimney radically increases the amount of time people have to escape the new building […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: RMIT University from RMIT University

The history of pandemics shows our ability to rebound

As the COVID-19 pandemic re-defines our ‘normal’, archaeology shows how we’ve come out of previous pandemics stronger than before. Why This Matters: Humans are adaptable to a new “normal”. In the past, our species has faced extreme historical demographic and environmental events, and we’ve successfully emerged on the other side. According to Flinders University archaeologist and ancient historian Dr Ania Kotarba, archaeology points to responses from homo sapiens in the past as evidence that society – […] See more

Published 3 weeks ago. Author: News Desk from Flinders University
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Logging likely made this year’s bushfires worse, say scientists

A new review of research has suggested that logging increases the risk and severity of bushfires, and may have contributed to this year’s devastation. Why This Matters: Land management decisions need to be based on science, especially when dealing with bushfire risks. As Australia continues to recover from the devastating bushfire season, debate continues about how to reduce the risk of similar incidents in the future. A Royal Commission has begun into the spring- and […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Ben Lewis from The University of Queensland
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Inside the high-security lab studying the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

At a high-security lab at UNSW Sydney’s Kirby Institute, scientists are working around the clock to develop treatments and therapies to manage COVID-19. Here’s what their days look like. Why This Matters: Scientists are working quickly to help keep people alive. Associate Professor Stuart Turville is one of the many scientists who dropped everything in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His office is the level three physical containment (PC3) lab at UNSW Medicine’s Kirby Institute. […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Mars rover's methods for finding signs of life given Flinders Ranges test

Perseverance will soon head to Mars looking for life – now scientists have tested the same methods to look for evidence of the earliest forms of life on Earth. Why This Matters: What we learn on other planets can help us understand our own. A UNSW astrobiologist has put the technology of NASA’s soon-to-be-launched Perseverance Rover to the test to find out how it will fare detecting signs of life on Mars. And in a […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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How much does a koala need to drink?

Koala drinking habits that were previously thought to be caused by stress or disease, might actually be normal behaviour. An adult male koala licking water from a White Box tree in a rainstorm in Liverpool Plains. Credit: independent ecologists George Madani and Lachlan Hall. Why This Matters: Yet another way the drought can affect our native wildlife. This is a video of a koala licking rainwater from a tree. Not the most exciting viewing, perhaps, […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Nick Carne from Cosmos Magazine
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Debris from Halley’s Comet will light up the sky this week

Set your alarm and put the kettle on because this Eta Aquariid shower is set to be a cracker. Why This Matters: The Eta Aquariid shower will be one of the best all year. On Wednesday and Thursday morning this week, Australia will be treated to an early morning meteor shower, and it’s worth setting the alarm for. Called the Eta Aquariid shower, it should be one of the most spectacular of the year. Best […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australian National University
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