Latest Science


Australia’s smallest fish among 22 at risk of extinction within two decades

With so many fish species facing extinction, understanding which are at the greatest risk is a vital first step in stopping them slipping through the conservation cracks. The tragic fish kills in the lower Darling River drew attention to the plight of Australia’s freshwater fish, but they’ve been in trouble for a long time. Many species have declined sharply in recent decades, and as many as 90 of Australia’s 315 freshwater fish species may now meet international criteria as […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Jaana Dielenberg from The University of Queensland
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A wet summer filled Lake Carnegie - this is what it looked like from space

Landsat 8 caught this image of Western Australia’s Lake Carnegie filled with water following record breaking rainfalls during summer 2019-2020. One of the best sights in outback Australia is when normally dry lakes fill after heavy rains. Usually dry desolate places, the sudden influx of water completely changes the landscape, and birds flock to the area to breed. And that moment was captured in these images of the ephemeral Lake Carnegie, in Western Australia. Normally […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Carbon dioxide levels over Australia rose even after COVID-19 forced global emissions down. Here’s why

COVID-19 hasn’t solved our carbon emissions problem – what it has done is show what’s required to make a real change. COVID-19 has curtailed the activities of millions of people across the world and with it, greenhouse gas emissions. As climate scientists at the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, we are routinely asked: does this mean carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have fallen? The answer, disappointingly, is no. Throughout the pandemic, atmospheric carbon […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Zoe Loh from Australia's Science Channel
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Fred on Films – The Astronomer-at-Large gets up close and personal with SCINEMA

Australia’s legendary astronomer Fred Watson sat down to watch space films from the 2020 SCINEMA International Science Film Festival – and found some hitting close to home. On a cold, wintery day there was nothing better than to sit down and check out this year’s SCINEMA International Science Film Festival from the comfort of my own living room. To be honest, I’m not a great movie watcher, but I do know when I’ve seen something […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Fred Watson from Australia's Science Channel
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It's time for a national approach to monitoring bushfires

Experts warn that we are “navigating uncharted territory without a compass” due to a lack of central national body for essential bushfire information. Australia needs a dedicated national bushfire monitoring agency, argue Australian experts, after finding that the mix of state and territory government fire records poorly estimated the size of the area engulfed by the Black summer fires. Writing in the journal Nature, they warn that we are “navigating uncharted territory without a compass” […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Lyndal Byford from Australian Science Media Centre
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WTF, when will scientists learn to use fewer acronyms?

Abbreviations and jargon might save time – but they make science unintelligible, even to scientists. Have you heard of DNA? It stands for Do Not Abbreviate apparently. It’s the most widely used acronym in scientific literature in the past 70 years, appearing more than 2.4 million times. The short form of deoxyribonucleic acid is widely understood, but there are millions more acronyms (like WTF: water-soluble thiourea-formaldehyde) that are making science less useful and more complex […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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Why the brain is programmed to see faces in everyday objects

Face pareidolia – the phenomenon of seeing faces in everyday objects – uses the same brain processes that we use to recognise and interpret other ‘real’ human faces. If you tend to notice faces in inanimate objects around you, you’re not alone. It could be the Virgin Mary in a toastie, a house scowling at you, a bowling ball surprised you want to put your fingers in there, or a capsicum screaming in horror – […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Faking a smile is almost as good as the real thing

“When your muscles say you’re happy, you’re more likely to see the world around you in a positive way.” From Sinatra to Katy Perry, celebrities have long sung about the power of a smile – how it picks you up, changes your outlook, and generally makes you feel better. But is it all smoke and mirrors, or is there a scientific backing to the claim? Research from the University of South Australia confirms that the […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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Why most Aboriginal people have little say over clean energy projects planned for their land

As Australia transitions to a zero-carbon economy, we need to make sure the transition is just for Aboriginal people as well. Huge clean energy projects, such as the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in the Pilbara, Western Australia, are set to produce gigawatts of electricity over vast expanses of land in the near future. The Asian Renewable Energy Hub is planning to erect wind turbines and solar arrays across 6,500 square kilometres of land. But, like with other […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Lily O'Neill from Australian National University
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Collaboration is key to rebuilding coral reefs

But reef restoration also needs the reduction of what’s causing the coral to die in the first place. The most successful and cost-effective ways to restore coral reefs have been identified by an international group of scientists, after analysing restoration projects in Latin America. The University of Queensland’s Dr Elisa Bayraktarov led the team that investigated 12 coral reef restoration case studies in five countries. “Coral reefs worldwide are degrading due to climate change, overfishing, pollution, coastal […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Can ageing really be 'treated' or 'cured'?

Slowing down ageing may seem like an idea reserved mainly for science fiction writers, but it is closer to science, according to an evolutionary biologist. As time passes, our fertility declines and our bodies start to fail. These natural changes are what we call ageing. In recent decades, we’ve come leaps and bounds in treating and preventing some of the world’s leading age-related diseases, such as coronary heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But some research […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Zachariah Wylde from University of New South Wales
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The spiderweb of Cooper Creek looks like Mars

Captured by an astronaut onboard the ISS, Queensland’s Cooper Creek cuts a distinctive path across the outback, similar to what’s seen on Mars. Red-tinted sands and dark green braided streams provide a colorful contrast within Queensland’s Channel Country. As the International Space Station (ISS) was passing over southwest Queensland, an astronaut took this photo of the Cooper Creek floodplain. The image was taken by a member of Expedition 62 on 5 April 2020, using a […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Check out these awesome online events during National Science Week

One effect of the current craziness is that there are more National Science Week events online than ever before – and that means more chances to get involved. Australia’s National Science Week is back from 15-23 August, and thanks to everything that’s happening, most events are now online. So now you don’t need to be worried about missing out on any of Australia’s biggest celebration of all things science – you can do check it […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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To prevent lion attacks, paint eyes on your cow's butt

Painted eyes on the backsides of cattle in Botswana appears to prevent attacks from lions in landscapes where they coexist. One might be forgiven for mistaking a field full of livestock with eyes painted on them as some kind of Illuminati petting zoo. In reality, a joint study from UNSW Sydney, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and Botswana Predator Conservation shows that the painted eyes protects livestock from predators in landscapes where they coexist. In a […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales

COVID-19 is a perfect storm for conspiracy theories

Pre-existing conspiracy theory groups are jumping on the COVID-19 bandwagon – using the pandemic to justify and prove their claims, shows a new study. As the global count of COVID-19 infections ticks over the 20M mark, the pandemic has created what the World Health Organisation calls an ‘infodemic’, giving conspiracy groups a bigger platform than ever before. Researchers from QUT have taken a deep dive into their world to trace wild rumours on Facebook claiming […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: QUT Newsroom from Queensland University of Technology
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Two weeks of mandatory masks, but a record 725 new cases: why are Melbourne’s COVID-19 numbers so stubbornly high?

Even though cases haven’t dropped off yet, mandatory masks have probably helped prevent cases continuing to spiral upwards – which is a real risk with this virus. Melburnians have now been wearing mandatory face coverings in public for two weeks. Yet Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday announced another grim milestone in Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 infections: 725 new cases, a record daily tally for any Australian state since the pandemic began. Four weeks after Melbourne […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Erin Smith from Edith Cowan University
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These detector dogs are trained to sniff out the coronavirus

When they were introduced to sweat samples, most dogs could detect traces of COVID-19 with 100% accuracy. Why This Matters: What can’t dogs do? What does a pandemic smell like? If dogs could talk, they might be able to tell us. We’re part of an international research team, led by Dominique Grandjean at France’s National Veterinary School of Alfort, that has been training detector dogs to sniff out traces of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) since March. These detector […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Susan Hazel from The University of Adelaide
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Dingoes have gotten bigger over the last 80 years – and pesticides might be to blame

The average size of a dingo is increasing – but only in areas where poison-baits are used. Why This Matters: Baiting could also be changing other animal populations. Dingoes have gotten around 6-9 per cent bigger over the past 80 years, new research from UNSW and the University of Sydney shows – but the growth is only happening in areas where poison baiting is used. The findings, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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The Flinders Ranges look incredible from space

The folded mountain ranges of the Flinders Ranges have rarely looked better than this incredible image from ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellite. The many colourful curves and folds of the northern Flinders Ranges are a feature of this false-colour image captured by the ESA Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. The Flinders are a classic example of a folded mountain range. Folded ranges form when two or more of Earth’s tectonic plates collide – folding and pushing layers of land […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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Under climate change, winter will be the best time for burn-offs – but that could be bad news for our health

Climate change may shift the window of opportunity for prescribed burns to the winter months, but that could increase the health impacts from smoke. Why This Matters: Climate change will make it more complex to mange the risk of bushfires. At the height of last summer’s fires, some commentators claimed “greenies” were preventing hazard reduction burns – also known as prescribed burns – in cooler months. They argued that such burns would have reduced the bushfire intensity. Fire […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Giovanni Di Virgilio from University of New South Wales
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Antarctica is the perfect place on Earth for stargazing

Antarctica’s Dome A is officially the best place on Earth for astronomy – letting scientists see the universe without a twinkle. Why This Matters: Twinkle twinkle little star, now we can clearly see what you are. Have you ever wondered why stars twinkle? It’s because turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere makes light emitted from the star wobble as it completes it’s light years-long journey to the lenses in our eyes and telescopes. But now scientists […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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My talk with Jane Goodall: vegetarianism, animal welfare and the power of children’s advocacy

“The harm we inflict on the environment and the devastation we’ve caused so many species, we now have an obligation to try and change things so animals can have a better future.” Why This Matters: She changed out understanding of animal behaviour. July marked 60 years since Dame Jane Goodall first ventured into the wilds of Gombe, Tanzania, at the tender age of 26 to study the behaviour of chimpanzees. She has devoted her life to […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Clive Phillips from The University of Queensland
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A whale's snot shows migration takes a toll on their health

By using whale snot, researchers find microbial diversity, an indicator of overall health, is depleted on the return leg of their annual migration. Why This Matters: Many whale populations are endangered, yet scientists still know fairly little about their physiology. Whale-watching season is usually a delight for scores of whale watchers along the east coast of Australia. For scientists too, it’s an opportunity to study the mega creatures up close. But for the whales themselves, it’s […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Tim Jarvis: Trees are more important now than ever before

Trees are not only useful for mitigating carbon emissions, they play many critical roles. Yet we are not doing enough to protect or restore them, writes environmental scientist Tim Jarvis. Why This Matters: Don’t miss the wood for the trees. COVID-19 has had many consequences, not least of all in eclipsing Australia’s terrible ‘Black Summer’ fire season in the Australian public consciousness. Go back less than six months and the news was dominated by overwhelming […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Tim Jarvis from Australia's Science Channel
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The mystery of the Top End’s vanishing wildlife, and the unexpected culprits

Vast savannas in northern Australia were once considered a safe haven for many native mammals, but now their numbers are quickly declining. Why This Matters: Action needs to be taken before we lose some of our native mammals. Only a few decades ago, encountering a bandicoot or quoll around your campsite in the evening was a common and delightful experience across the Top End. Sadly, our campsites are now far less lively. Northern Australia’s vast uncleared […] See more

Published 1 year ago. Author: Alyson Stobo-Wilson from Australia's Science Channel
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