Latest Science


Aboriginal artefacts reveal first ancient underwater cultural sites in Australia

Aboriginal artefacts from underwater archaeological sites have been discovered off northwest Australia, and they could fill major gaps in the history of our continent. Why This Matters: Pieces of human history could be buried under the sea. Submerged archaeological sites discovered off Australia’s northwest coast offer a new window into the migrations, lives and cultures of Aboriginal people thousands of years ago, when the continental shelf was dry. This was a time when around 20 million […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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Have there been uncounted COVID-19 deaths in Australia?

Experts can’t say for sure, but one suggests the latest ABS data could hold clues about whether there are missing deaths in Australia’s COVID-19 numbers. Why This Matters: Undetected COVID-19 deaths can confuse the true scale of the pandemic. The Australian Bureau of Statistics this week released a provisional tally of the changes in Australia’s overall death rate amid the coronavirus epidemic. The figures record 33,066 doctor-certified deaths in Australia from January 1 to March 31, 2020 – […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Catherine Bennett from Deakin University
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Hungry black hole among the most massive in the Universe

The massive black hole is 34 billion times the mass of our Sun, and about 8,000 times bigger than the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. Why This Matters: So much matter. We now know just how massive the fastest-growing black hole in the Universe actually is, as well as how much it eats, thanks to new research led by The Australian National University (ANU). It is 34 billion times the mass […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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Pot, pills and the pandemic: how our drug use changed during lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant people are using illicit drugs less – but decreased use isn’t always a good thing. Why This Matters:  Stay safe. There’s no question COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives. As drug researchers, we are interested in how the pandemic has affected illicit drug use in Australia. Our two new surveys of Australians who regularly use illicit drugs show people most commonly reported no change or a reduction in their use of […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Amy Peacock from University of New South Wales
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Marine worms join the fight against superbugs

A molecule found in marine sandworms might be a possible source of new generation antibiotics that kill multi-drug resistant bacteria. Why This Matters: The next generation of antibiotics might come from unexpected sources. Marine sandworms might not look like much, yet these unassuming creatures may an unlikely assistant in the hunt for a new class of antibiotics. Researchers from the University of Queensland have adapted a molecule produced by the sand-dwelling animal to improve its […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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The blame for our failing environment laws lies squarely at the feet of government

The destruction of the Juukan rock shelters, unlawful logging of Victorian forests and the Auditor-General’s report are indisputable evidence that environmental laws are failing. Why This Matters: We need effective laws that will protect our environment. A long-awaited draft review of federal environment laws is due this week. There’s a lot riding on it – particularly in light of recent events that suggest the laws are in crisis. Late last week, the federal Auditor-General Grant Hehir […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Peter Burnett from Australian National University
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Super-Earths discovered orbiting a nearby red dwarf star

The two super-Earths appear to be orbiting in the habitable zone of the red dwarf star Gliese 887. Why This Matters: Planets like these shed more clues on the search for life outside our Solar System. Astronomers have discovered two super-Earth exoplanets orbiting a red dwarf star 11 light years away from Earth, with a potential third in orbit further away. Super-Earths are planets more massive than Earth, but substantially less massive than our local ice giants, […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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An extinct family of giant wombat relatives discovered in Australian desert

A giant marsupial that roamed prehistoric Australia 25 million years ago is so different from its wombat cousins that scientists had to create a new family for it. Why This Matters: Ancient Australian animals were crazy (and still are). The unique remains of a prehistoric, giant wombat-like marsupial – Mukupirna nambensis – that was unearthed in central Australia are so different from all other previously known extinct animals that it has been placed in a whole new family […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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A small history of the microbiome

Every year on June 27, World Microbiome Day is a chance to showcase what microbes are and their importance in health and everyday life. Why This Matters: Our tiny mates could have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. It was until only a few decades ago that our knowledge of the human microbiome was based on what could be grown in a petri dish. And yet our understanding of microbes began much earlier. […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: Alena Pribyl from Australia's Science Channel
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It's hard to imagine, but some people's minds are blind

Aphantasia is a difficulty in remembering the past and imagining the future – and scientists are just starting to pick apart why. Why This Matters: The human brain is weird. Picture the sun setting over the ocean.  It’s large above the horizon, spreading an orange-pink glow across the sky. Seagulls are flying overhead and your toes are in the sand. Many people will have been able to picture the sunset clearly and vividly – almost […] See more

Published 1 month ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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The race is on around the world for a COVID-19 vaccine

As the world races to find an effective COVID-19 vaccine, there are questions around just how effectively countries can work together. Why This Matters: Teamwork makes the dream work. While the Trump administration trumpets Operation Warp Speed’s search for a COVID-19 vaccine, it is unwilling to collaborate with the world’s scientists who share their COVID-19 findings and have pledged to make a vaccine affordable and accessible for everyone. An Australian expert has said that the US […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: QUT Newsroom from Queensland University of Technology
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Without global action, turtles and tortoises are in trouble

The first global study of turtle and tortoise species has highlighted that half of all species are at risk of extinction, and painted a roadmap to recovery. Why This Matters: Australia will feel the impacts of declining turtle and tortoise species. The first global assessment of the world’s turtle and tortoise species has revealed that half of all 360 turtle and tortoise species worldwide face imminent extinction. While the results may be sobering, the report points […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Western Sydney Newsroom from Western Sydney University
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Researchers have found one adorable species that is outsmarting feral cats

Cats wreak havoc on native wildlife, but researchers have found one marsupial that can outsmart the prowling predators in a deadly game of hide and seek. Why This Matters: We may need to rethink current conservation strategies. Feral and pet cats are responsible for a huge part of Australia’s shameful mammal extinction record. Small and medium-sized ground-dwelling mammals are most susceptible. But we’ve found one mammal in particular that can outsmart cats and live alongside them: the long-nosed potoroo. These miniature […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Euan Ritchie from Deakin University
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We could actually learn something from China's approach to conservation

There’s no denying China has some big environmental issues, but according to an expert there are still a few things Australia could learn from their environmental efforts. Why This Matters: China’s path to sustainability may be unique, but there are important takeaways for other countries. In the wake of an apocalyptic bushfire season, Australia’s land management and environmental policies have been thrust back into the spotlight. With conversations around how we could better manage our land, […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Amelia Nichele from Deakin University
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Australia’s devotion to coal has come at a huge cost. The government needs to change course, urgently

“As we face the much larger but more slow-moving crisis of the heating planet, governments must stare down the fossil fuel industry and its supporters, for all our sakes” Why This Matters: If the government can act on the pandemic, they can act on climate change. Because we are rich in coal and gas, Australia has been plagued with two decades of wars over climate policy. The wars have claimed three prime ministers: Kevin Rudd, […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Judith Brett from La Trobe University
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Victoria’s COVID-19 hotspots: why they're a worry for the rest of Australia

“We must all realise further outbreaks could occur anywhere in Australia, and it’s up to all of us to continue to follow social distancing rules.” Why This Matters: We can’t become complacent. On Sunday, Victoria recorded 19 new COVID-19 cases for the preceding day. Only New South Wales (5) and Western Australia (1) also had new cases. Reports indicate in the 24 hours since, Victoria can count another 16 infections. This continues a spike that has now spanned […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Adrian Esterman from University of South Australia
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New formulation may boost the effectiveness of a commonly used prostate cancer drug

Encouraging results in animals have researchers hoping the novel formulation could improve the quality of life of men undergoing treatment. Why This Matters: While early days, improving the effectiveness of drugs against the most common cancer in men is good news. A novel formulation of the prostate cancer drug abiraterone acetate – also known as Zytiga – could dramatically improve the quality of life for people suffering from prostate cancer, say researchers. Testing a new […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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Australia's bushfire smoke hit new heights

The smoke from last summer’s bushfires was so severe it reached new heights in the atmosphere – and it behaved strangely while it was up there. Why This Matters: The long-term effects of the bushfire smoke on the stratosphere is still unknown. Last summer’s huge and widespread bushfires were monumental on just about every scale. By the time most were out or contained in early March, more than 180,000 square kilometres had been burnt, more than 2700 […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ian Connellan from Cosmos Magazine
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Counting the cost of marine debris

A new report has highlighted the staggering multi-billion-dollar cost of marine debris on the Asia-Pacific region that will only grow unless swift action is taken. Why This Matters: Without action, the impact of marine debris is only going to get worse. Marine debris will have cost countries in the Asia-Pacific region AU$313 billion by 2050, according to a new report, and even more if the volume entering the ocean accelerates. Prepared for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Cosmos Magazine
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Dinosaur footprints show predators as big as a T. rex stomped across Australia 160 million years ago

The dinosaur footprints of the “formidable” species is the first evidence of a large predatory dinosaur living in ancient Australia. Why This Matters: Researchers are filling the gaps in Australia’s dinosaur records. Perhaps the most iconic dinosaur is the Tyrannosaurus rex, a massive predator that lived in what is now North America. We have now discovered that carnivorous dinosaurs of a similar size existed in ancient Australia as well. Following the dinosaur footprints We learned about these carnivores […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Anthony Romilio from The University of Queensland
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We can all be stargazers – and now is the perfect time to start

Astrophysicist Kirsten Banks shares tips on how to make the most of the Winter Solstice this weekend. Why This Matters: There is no better time to explore our night sky. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to put their day-to-day lives on pause, whether this meant cancelling travel plans, working or studying from home, or putting a halt to in-person social interaction. As we look for silver linings, astrophysicist, proud Wiradjuri woman and UNSW PhD […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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The Australian black coal industry uses enough water for over 5 million people

“Australia has a scarce water supply, and our environment and economy depend on the sustainable and equitable sharing of this resource.” Why This Matters: When water supplies are scarce, can we afford it? Water is a highly contested resource in this long, oppressive drought, and the coal industry is one of Australia’s biggest water users. Research released, funded by the Australian Conservation Foundation, has identified how much water coal mining and coal-fired power stations actually use […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ian Overton from The University of Adelaide
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Australia has double the global average of people thinking climate change is no big deal, survey finds

From 40 countries in the survey, Australia’s 8% of people thinking climate change is not a serious issue is more than double the global average of 3%. Why This Matters: Climate deniers are getting in the way of meaningful change. Australian news consumers are far more likely to believe climate change is “not at all” serious compared to news users in other countries. That’s according to new research that surveyed 2,131 Australians about their news […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Sora Park from Australia's Science Channel
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Help set a Guinness world record and measure light pollution

On the longest night of the year, join scientists looking up at the skies to map light pollution. Why This Matters: The impacts of light pollution are far-reaching. Looking for something to do on the longest night of the year? The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance (ADSA), ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) and their partners might have a little job for you. Whatever the weather and wherever you […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ian Connellan from Australia's Science Channel
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Almost 90% of astronauts have been men, but the future of space may be female

The role of women in space not just as astronauts, but as users and creators of other services like satellites, is far from equal. Why This Matters: The space industry is showing positive signs towards gender equality, but more needs to be done. Only 566 people have ever travelled to space. Sixty-five of them, or about 11.5%, were women. NASA recently proclaimed it will put the “first woman and next man” on the Moon by 2024. […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Alice Gorman from Australia's Science Channel
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