Latest Science


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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 4 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 4 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 4 weeks ago. Author: Gery Karantzas from Deakin University
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New test tracks COVID-19 in wastewater from plane and cruise ship passengers

A new wastewater test can detect whether people on board planes and cruise ships are infected with COVID-19, even if they’re not showing symptoms yet. Why This Matters: Keeping Australia safe while we get back on our feet is critical. As Australia considers how to safely welcome international visitors again, testing wastewater systems on long-haul planes and cruise ships may assist researchers in detecting COVID-19 in incoming visitors. A new paper in the Journal of Travel […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Which face mask should I wear?

The advice on wearing face masks in public has changed in Australia – an expert breaks down your options if you live in areas with high rates of community transmission. Why This Matters: Stay safe. *Editors Note 23 July 2020: This story was originally published on 16 July. Wearing masks outside the home is now mandatory in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. Click here for more information. Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly recommended people […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Abrar Ahmad Chughtai from University of New South Wales
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29,000 years of Aboriginal history confirmed on the River Murray

The known timeline of Aboriginal people in South Australia’s Riverland region has been extended by as much as 22,000 years. Why This Matters: Scientists are continuing to unravel the complex history of Aboriginal people. Evidence of Aboriginal settlement dating back 29,000 years has been uncovered along the River Murray in South Australia. The new study, from Flinders University, has shown they occupied the Riverland region since before the Last Glacial Maximum – which is 22,000 more […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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Bachelor in Paradise's total booze up proven by scientists

A study has found that the depiction of alcohol on reality TV “doesn’t match reality” and instead glamorises binge drinking to younger audiences. Why This Matters: “It’s loose, it’s hectic.” – Timm. An in-depth study of alcohol use on one of Australia’s most popular reality TV shows, Bachelor in Paradise, has lead researchers to call for stronger regulation of the depiction on our screens. Dr Jacqueline Bowden from the University of Adelaide and SAHMRI, and […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: University of Adelaide Newsroom from The University of Adelaide
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Modelling COVID infections in 3D shows how it takes over the lungs

Using CT scans of a COVID-infected patient’s lungs, researchers have built a virtual 3D model, providing a unique insight into the virus. Why This Matters: New technologies will be critical for understanding COVID-19. Believed to be a world first, researchers have created a virtual 3D model of COVID-infected lungs, which can be viewed through a HoloLens 2 mixed reality (MR) headset. The visualisations mean that researchers can explore inside the patient’s lungs, allowing them to get […] See more

Published 4 weeks ago. Author: La Trobe Newsroom from La Trobe University
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Carbon pricing works: the largest-ever study puts it beyond doubt

“If countries are keen on a low-carbon development model, the evidence suggests that putting an appropriate price on carbon is a very effective way of achieving it.” Why This Matters: Decisive, effective actions are needed to reduce carbon emissions. Putting a price on carbon should reduce emissions, because it makes dirty production processes more expensive than clean ones, right? That’s the economic theory. Stated baldly, it’s obvious, but there is perhaps a tiny chance that […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Frank Jotzo from Australian National University
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Supercharged bandages improve wound healing

Using a new plasma coating on current wound dressings could promote the healing of chronic wounds and reduce patient suffering. Why This Matters: Medical treatments are continuing to advance. World-first plasma-coated bandages with the power to attack infection and inflammation could revolutionise the treatment of chronic wounds such as pressure, diabetic or vascular ulcers that won’t heal on their own. Developed by the University of South Australia, the novel coating comprises a special antioxidant which […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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Electric cars will help stabilise the power grid, and owners may get paid for helping

Vehicle-to-grid could see owners being paid to plug their electric cars into the national electricity grid, in exchange for the grid operator drawing on their batteries in an emergency. Why This Matters: A coordinated, multi-faceted approach can help a grid unable to cope with renewable energy supplies. Electric vehicles can help keep the air clean in our cities – as we’ve seen recently with the reduction of traffic through COVID-19 lockdowns – but they face two obstacles. […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Bjorn Sturmberg from Australian National University

COVID-19 virus unlikely to have come from bat virus alone

According to a new study, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 may be the result of two or more coronaviruses combining rather than a single coronavirus in bats. Why This Matters: Finding the source of SARS-CoV-2 means we may be able to prevent future outbreaks. Thought to be the likely source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, bats have copped a bit of bad press at the moment. However, a new UK-led study published in […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Joseph Milton from Australian Science Media Centre
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China could be using TikTok to spy on Australians, but banning it isn’t a simple fix

“Even if TikTok was banned, citizen data already handed over would remain stored, and could be accessed for the foreseeable future.” Why This Matters: No data storage system is ever guaranteed to be 100% secure. In an age of isolation, video sharing platform TikTok has emerged as a bonding force for many. But recent headlines allege the service, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, is feeding users’ data to the Chinese Communist Party. Earlier this week, the Herald […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: James Jin Kang from Edith Cowan University

Why outer space matters in a post-pandemic world

When the COVID-19 hit the world came grinding to a halt. But the space industry, including in Australia, is leading the post-COVID wins that will help the recovery. Why This Matters: Australia’s burgeoning space industry is already kicking goals. With all of the immense challenges we face on Earth this year, space can feel like an afterthought. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the hope of a growing space industry was palpable. Ribbons were cut, buildings were dedicated and […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Anna Moore from Australian National University
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Picturing the future of medical imaging

Medical imaging is undergoing massive change and according to an expert, that change is moving the industry beyond diagnosis. Why This Matters: With change comes new opportunities. As innovation accelerates and artificial intelligence continues to advance, the nature of many industries is changing. One industry that is having its entire fabric changed because of modern technologies is medical imaging. Medical imaging has been in rapid evolution for the past century, making it one of the fastest […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Amelia Nichele from Deakin University

Giant sea scorpions were the underwater titans of prehistoric Australia

Australia is famous for its collection of curious animals and now this uniqueness extends to some of the largest marine predators in our fossil record: sea scorpions. Why This Matters: The oceans of ancient Australia were a dangerous place. Let’s turn back the hands of time. Before extinction knocked dinosaurs off their pillar, before the “Great Dying” extinction wiped out 95% of all organisms – we had the Paleozoic Era. During this age in Earth’s history, […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Patrick Mark Smith from Australia's Science Channel
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Shield bugs change colours to protect themselves from predators

Shield bugs will use different colour combinations as young bugs and adults, going from red and green to yellow and green, to avoid predators. Why This Matters: They’ve got more costume changes than Lady Gaga. New research has revealed for the first time that shield bugs use a variety of colours throughout their lives to avoid predators. Shield bugs are often bright, colourful insects that use colours to warn of their distastefulness to predators. The paper, […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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Heatwaves are becoming longer and more frequent, and the worst is still to come

A worldwide assessment has found the length and frequency of heatwaves has increased in almost every region across the world since 1950. Why This Matters: It’s only going to get hotter unless effective action is taken. The term “heatwave” is no stranger to Australians. Defined as when conditions are excessively hot for at least three days in a row, these extreme temperature events have always punctuated our climate. With many of us in the thick […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick from University of New South Wales
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