Latest Science

Voluntary assisted dying becomes law in Western Australia

WA becomes the second state to allow those suffering from terminal illnesses to die with dignity. Why This Matters: Voluntary assisted dying is a “fundamental question of human rights”. Western Australia has passed laws to legalise voluntary assisted dying, becoming just the second state in Australia to allow people facing unnecessary suffering to end their own life. The scheme is expected to be implemented in mid-2021. On Tuesday evening, after more than five hours of […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Amelia Nichele from Australia's Science Channel
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Peering into the mind's eye

Neuroscientist Kiley Seymour is unlocking the secrets of the brain for everything from schizophrenia to law enforcement. Why This Matters: Unlocking the secrets of the brain can help many, and stop science from being misused. “Fundamentally I’m interested in how the brain works,” says Western Sydney University psychologist, Kiley Seymour. This simple statement vastly underestimates the scope of Seymour’s work, which includes the neurological underpinnings of schizophrenia, and also how the brain takes in information. […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Western Sydney Newsroom from Western Sydney University
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Yet another review shows pill testing is the way to go

A report on Australia’s pill testing trials has shown once again that testing encourages people to ditch unsafe drugs. Why This Matters: Pill testing reduces harm, changes attitudes and saves lives. A “trailblazing” trial run in the ACT which made pill testing available to festival-goers, has been endorsed by an independent evaluation report from the Australian National University (ANU). The report recommends the model trialled at Canberra’ Groovin The Moon as a way to roll testing […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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Saving the ozone layer in 1987 slowed global warming

When everybody comes together and we accept the science, we can achieve something. Why This Matters: We took action on the ozone hole because we could see it – we have to take action on climate change now as we see the effects. In 1987 the world signed the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to protect the ozone layer. The purpose of the treaty was to prevent chlorofluorocarbons from destroying the ozone layer. The treaty saw […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Experts respond to a decade of 'exceptional' global heat

The World Meteorological Organization warns we are “nowhere near on track” to meet the Paris Agreement target – and the experts agree. Why This Matters: The Earth keeps heating and we’re driving faster than natural levels. The last decade is on course to be the warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with 2019 also tipped to also be either the second or third hottest year. According to the WMO’s provisional State […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Lyndal Byford from Australian Science Media Centre
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Scientists re-counted extinct Australian species and the result is devastating

But the actual number of extinct Australian species could be ten times greater than even this estimate. Why This Matters: Modern Australia has come at nature’s expense. It’s well established that unsustainable human activity is damaging the health of the planet. The way we use Earth threatens our future and that of many animals and plants. Species extinction is an inevitable end point. It’s important that the loss of Australian nature be quantified accurately. To date, putting an exact […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Sarah Legge from Australian National University
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Dr Karl - Do you believe in climate change?

A special question from an audience member sees Dr Karl lay down some truths about the climate change “debate” that isn’t. TEACH THIS: Dr Karl – Do you believe in climate change? It’s not about believing in climate change, but accepting the facts. But the facts and stories have been distorted by vested interests, says Dr Karl. From big oil companies knowingly lying to protect their business, to media spreading false stories – Dr Karl […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: from Australia's Science Channel
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Dead fish and undrinkable water: the summer ahead for the Murray Darling

The government’s response has been “inadequate” and now the Murray Darling is facing a grim summer. Why This Matters:  Three million Australians depend on the Basin for water. A grim summer is likely for the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin and the people, flora and fauna that rely on it. Having worked for sustainable management of these rivers for decades, I fear the coming months will be among the worst in history for Australia’s most […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Jamie Pittock from Australian National University
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New clues to the Milky Way's age

By studying star-quake vibrations, scientists have a new estimate for the age of the Milky Way’s ‘thick disc’. Why This Matters: We’re one step closer to unravelling the history of our galaxy. The Milky Way’s “thick disc” is about 10 billion years old, according to an international team of scientists. They used data from NASA’s now-defunct Kepler space telescope to study star-quake vibrations – and appear to have cleared up a long-standing mystery. “Earlier data about the age […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Cosmos Magazine
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A strategic approach to controlled burning boosts effectiveness

A smarter, systematic approach to controlled burning will help ensure resources go where they’re needed most. Why This Matters: The changing climate and environment are posing new challenges for controlled burning. Every year, bushfires blaze across Australia and leave destruction in their wake. We’ve seen this destruction already this fire season. Two million hectares of land have been burnt since July. Currently, about 100 fires are continuing to burn across New South Wales with two emergencies […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Western Sydney Newsroom from Western Sydney University
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Fingerprint login is a secure defence - if you use it right

Those of us using fingerprint login are still using weak passcodes, and it’s giving cybercriminals a pass to our sensitive data. Why This Matters: To keep our data safe, we have to understand how to use the technology protecting it. Our electronic devices store a plethora of sensitive information. To protect this information, device operating systems such as Apple’s iOS and Android have locking mechanisms. These require user authentication before access is granted. One of the most common mechanisms […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Nalin Asanka Gamagedara Arachchilage from University of New South Wales

To avoid a tech apocalypse we need the arts and humanities

“While the sciences teach us how to build things, it’s the humanities that teach us what to build and why to build them.” Why This Matters: Without ethics, human rights and social justice, our tech future could go the way of Dystopian narratives. If recent television shows are anything to go by, we’re a little concerned about the consequences of technological development. Dystopian narratives abound. Black Mirror projects the negative consequences of social media, while artificial […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Sara James from La Trobe University

The Avengers: Endgame scientific advisor talks time travel, parallel universes and sci-fi

Retrieving Infinity Stones, parallel universes, and the quantum fundamentals of the universe keeps Sean Carroll on his toes before his Australian tour next year. Why This Matters: Understanding the biggest questions of our universe is part of our inherent human curiosity. With the universe decimated and Infinity Stones destroyed, The Avengers concoct a plan to go back in time and steal the infinity stones from various points in history. However, doing so would create parallel […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Seeing the world through the eyes of animals

Thanks to new technology, humans are one step closer to seeing what the world looks like to animals. Why This Matters: Seriously, who doesn’t want to see how the world looks to their pets? If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what the world looks like through the eyes of your cat or dog you’re not alone. And now thanks to researchers from The University of Queensland and the University of Exeter, we might be a step […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland

Fireball over SA could have been a rarely seen “Minimoon”

It’s the Moon Mk2 – a minimoon orbiting Earth was spotted as it exploded in the atmosphere in 2016. Why This Matters: Asteroids and comets could be in our backyard, and giving the Moon a challenge for our orbital love. Rocks explode in Earth’s atmosphere fairly regularly, and at first glance a bolide spotted over South Australia in 2016 seemed like just any other. However, researchers using an outback network of cameras called the Desert […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Packaging made from banana plants an a-peeling plastic alternative

🎶 This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S 🎶. Why This Matters: Packaging made from banana plant waste could solve two industrial waste problems in one. Biodegradable ‘plastic’ bags made out of banana plants sounds, well a bit…bananas, but that’s exactly what UNSW researchers have done. They’ve discovered a way to turn banana plantation waste into packaging material that they say is both recyclable and biodegradable. Tests to date suggest that it can be used up to three times […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Nick Carne from Cosmos Magazine

Experts argue whether one-in-four young people are #addicted to their phones

A study has found smartphone use could be linked to mental health issues in younger people – but experts are cautious to draw conclusions. Why This Matters: They’re a huge part of our lives, but we need to be mindful of their impact on our mental health. One in four children and young people use their smartphones in a way that mirrors behavioural addiction, according to UK researchers who say this problematic usage could be linked […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Olivia Henry from Australian Science Media Centre
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Cutting our own emissions isn't enough - it's our exports that matter too

Countries need to acknowledge that they are responsible for the emissions caused by their fossil fuel exports. Why This Matters: We need to be responsible for our fossil fuel emissions – both onshore and offshore. The latest round of UN climate negotiations – COP 25 – will begin in Madrid this week. The Conference will attempt to make progress on ramping measures to meet domestic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But one thing that COP 25 […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Jeremy Moss from University of New South Wales
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No, koalas aren't functionally extinct

Claims koalas have been made “functionally extinct” due to the recent bushfires is an exaggeration of their actual plight. Why This Matters: There is still a chance to save this national emblem. This week has seen several news stories proclaiming that this month’s bushfires have made koalas “functionally extinct”. However, those claims are exaggerated, say researchers. Originally appearing on Forbes, and then repeated widely by Australian media, the headline claims were that fires had wiped […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Both people and climate led to megafauna extinction

The shift and loss of suitable habitats by a changing climate played a key role in the fate of Australian megafauna, with human hunting being an additional stress. Why This Matters: The past sends a stark warning about our role in future extinctions. Megafauna, giant beasts that once roamed the continent — including wombat-like creatures as big as cars, birds more than two metres tall, and lizards more than seven metres long — became extinct about 42,000 years ago. […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: News Desk from Flinders University
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What are lost continents, and why are we discovering so many?

Not all lost continents are found hidden under the ocean, some only remain as remnants in small slivers of rock. Why This Matters: They’re not Atlantis, but these lost continents could paint a very different picture of ancient Earth. For most people, continents are Earth’s seven main large landmasses. But geoscientists have a different take on this. They look at the type of rock a feature is made of, rather than how much of its […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Joanne Whittaker from University of Tasmania
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Boats bug humpback whales

Like loud music at a party, boats are inhibiting humpback whales’ ability to talk to each other. Why This Matters: The noise from these vessels could change their behaviour long-term. The call of a whale has long been immersed in human cultures. It features in Hawaiian traditional songs such as “Gods of the Sea”, is the root of well-known maritime tales (think Moby Dick), and has graced David Attenborough documentaries. However, as humpback whales migrate along populated […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ian Conellan from Cosmos Magazine
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Dr Karl - What causes Hiccups?

With an answer that ranges from your favourite organ to drinking your own pee, Dr Karl tackles the question “What causes hiccups?” They’re the annoying spasm that seems to always happen at the worst moment. But have you ever wondered why hiccups happen?  According to the legend Dr Karl, it’s a hangover from the very start of our life. When we were born we went from floating in amniotic fluid to suddenly needing to breathe […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: from Australia's Science Channel
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Improving the fidelity of our virtual worlds

DST’s Graduate Program is putting new grads into the simulation hot seat. Imagine being able to work on some of the most advanced simulators in Australia – as your first job. These aren’t your standard Flight Sim rigs, but incredibly detailed and immersive simulators specially designed for Australia’s military. New starter James Moran is participating in DST’s Research and Innovation Graduate Program. He has just spent eight months helping extend air operations flight simulators, and […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Defence Science and Technology Group from Defence Science and Technology Group

Fighting fierce against deadly fungal infections

Deadly fungal infections are on the rise, but researchers are fighting back, with an Australian team leading the charge. Why This Matters: This is definitely not fun with fungi. We typically associate fungi with mundane conditions like athlete’s foot. But some species can invade our bloodstream, kill immune cells and cause organ failure. Despite the global rise of fungal infections, Monash University researcher Professor Ana Traven says they remain “underestimated”. “People don’t tend to think about […] See more

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