Latest Science

What climbing some of the world's highest mountains taught heart researcher Nikki Bart

“Mountaineering gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself and think outside the box – this experience helps me think laterally in the lab.” Why This Matters: Inspiration comes in unusual places. Climbing the world’s highest mountains may seem worlds away from a lab, but not for cardiologist Dr Nikki Bart. The UNSW lecturer, cardiologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, and heart researcher at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute is not just a leading scientist. Bart is also […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Six easy ways to stop light pollution from harming our wildlife

Light pollution may be a global problem, but there are small things all of us can do to play our part in reducing the impacts on wildlife. Why This Matters: Small actions can lead to big change. As winter approaches, marine turtle nesting in the far north of Australia will peak. When these baby turtles hatch at night, they crawl from the sand to the sea, using the relative brightness of the horizon and the natural […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Mariana Mayer-Pinto from University of New South Wales
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Human hair used to make flexible displays for smart devices

When a researcher and a barbershop team up, the result could be flexible displays made out of human hair offcuts. Why This Matters: The potential to use human hair could go beyond flexible screens. There are some pretty weird ways you can use human hair, from clothing to cleaning up oil spills, and (one we didn’t expect) as an ingredient in soy sauce. Now, researchers from Queensland University of Technology are looking to use human hair […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Queensland University of Technology

Ancient footprints reveal a terrifying species of crocodile that walked on two legs like a dinosaur

Palaeontologists have discovered a relative of modern crocodiles that lived 120 million years ago and walked on two hind legs. Why This Matters: Modern crocodiles are terrifying enough without them walking on two legs. An international research team has been stunned to discover that some species of ancient crocodiles may have walked on their two hind legs like dinosaurs and measured over three metres in length. University of Queensland palaeontologist Dr Anthony Romilio, who oversaw the research, says […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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COVID-19 pandemic: Where to from here?

Biosecurity expert Raina MacIntyre says the pandemic will cause a permanent shift in the way the world operates at the social, political and economic level. Why This Matters: Even with a vaccine, COVID-19 will change the way we live. Things might be looking up in the Antipodean isles, with New Zealand looking to have all but eradicated the COVID-19 virus and Australia down to a handful of new cases a day. But before cracking that champagne, […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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The next global health pandemic could easily erupt in Australia

Ecosystem destruction and exploitation is increasingly making Australia a disease-risk hotspot. Why This Matters: We need to keep our ecosystems healthy to keep ourselves healthy. We know the virus that causes COVID-19 is linked to very similar viruses in bats, possibly passed to humans via an intermediate species such as pangolins. The chance of a similar pandemic breaking out in Australia might seem far-fetched. But in fact, we tick all the boxes. Hotspots for emerging infectious diseases […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Penny van Oosterzee from Australia's Science Channel
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A touching display

Lee Constable explains the surprisingly old tech that lets us drive our modern devices. Why This Matters: We’re swiping right on this tech. The most commonly used touchscreens today – capacitive screens – are almost as old as Baby Boomers: invented in 1966 for air traffic control radar screens at the UK’s Royal Radar Establishment. This first iteration worked by running a small current through a transparent sheet of material across the screen, which created […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Lee Constable from Cosmos Magazine

There's still work to do to encourage diversity in STEM, survey suggests

While we’ve seen some progress in the representation of women in STEM, there’s still a lot of work to do in representing other minority groups. Why This Matters: STEM is stronger when a diverse range of people are involved. New research has highlighted some of the barriers faced by individuals from minority groups when it comes to pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The study, carried out by researchers from the UK and The Australian National […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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20% of pregnant Aussie women don’t receive the recommended mental health screening

While there is an increase in mothers accessing mental health screening, one in five women are still not being screened. Why This Matters: Help is available, but it has to reach those in need. One-fifth of Australian women still don’t receive mental health checks both before and after the birth of their baby, our research has found. Although access to recommended perinatal mental health screening has more than tripled since 2000, thanks largely to government investment in […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Katrina Moss from The University of Queensland
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Night parrots may actually be blinded by the night

The night parrot’s vision seemingly hasn’t adapted well to living in the dark, despite being a nocturnal species. Why This Matters: Conservation efforts may be affected by our misconceptions. Australia’s most elusive bird, the night parrot, may not be as good at seeing in the dark as its name would suggest, and not much better at seeing in the dark than daytime active parrots. University of Queensland researchers have co-led an international study which has […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Bees? Please... These plants are putting ants to work

Researchers have found a plant species which has adapted to use ants to pollinate it as effectively as bees. Why This Matters: Our native plants are still throwing up surprises. When you think pollination you typically don’t think ants, and with good reason. Ant pollinators are thought to be extremely rare. Researchers have now discovered, however, that flowering smokebush Conospermum plants in Australia’s southwest have evolved to enable ants to pollinate them as effectively as native bees. […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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A 'black box' of rules is hampering the management of Murray-Darling Basin flows

“It is remarkable that we can have the same water agency – in the same state and governed by the same legislation – run two rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin in such different ways without any clear justification.” Why This Matters: Inconsistent water management policies will have devastating impacts on water users and the environment. The often-overlooked “human factor” in water management rules can have serious consequences for water supply for both irrigated agriculture and the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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While some science stereotypes change, others confound kids’ ambition

While Aussie school students may no longer think of scientists as just men, media stereotypes of weird scientists and explosions still stick in their minds. Why This Matters: The number of students studying science at secondary school is concerningly low, and stereotypes may help explain why. Years of efforts to change the stereotype of scientists may be having an effect, say Australian researchers. However, while some stereotypes have changed, others remain firmly entrenched. For the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from University of South Australia
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Plates, cups and takeaway containers shape what (and how) we eat

Our surroundings, the design of our tableware and the people around us shape the way we experience food, as well as our diet choices. Why This Matters: Those food bloggers might be onto something with their aesthetics. Home cooks have been trying out their skills during isolation. But the way food tastes depends on more than your ability to follow a recipe. Our surroundings, the people we share food with and the design of our tableware – our cups, […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Karen Weiss from Western Sydney University
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Investment in renewable energy technology will help Australia back onto its feet, shows report

Dedicating a fraction of the economic stimulus to renewable energy technology can result in 100,000 new jobs and billions in economic return. Why This Matters: The recovery from COVID-19 provides an opportunity to invest in science and technology. An economic recovery plan which backs renewable energy technology would create nearly three times as many jobs per dollar spent as a fossil-fuel led package, shows a new report by financial consultancy EY. The report is the latest […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel

The unexpected and fascinating history of clinical trials

Clinical trials to find effective and safe medicines and treatments have a history stretching 1000 years from China to modern-day Australia. Why This Matters: Clinical trials are a cornerstone of medical research. Clinical trials are under way around the world, including in Australia, testing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. These clinical trials largely fall into two groups. With observational studies, researchers follow a group of people to see what happens to them. With experimental studies, people […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Adrian Esterman from University of South Australia
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Earth's sixth mass extinction is happening right now - and humans are driving it

“Australia is one of the world’s worst conservation performers, despite the fact we are a relatively wealthy nation, and our remarkable plants and animals are largely irreplaceable, being found nowhere else.” Why This Matters: We need to act now to save some of our most irreplaceable species. We’re in the midst of the sixth mass extinction on Earth, and more than 500 species of animals are likely to disappear soon thanks to human activity in the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Joseph Milton from Australian Science Media Centre
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Will COVID-19 mark the rise of automation?

The coronavirus has thrust human limitations into the spotlight. Will it accelerate the rise of automated workforces? Why This Matters: Industries may take the opportunity to implement automation, changing the face of societies. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a massive surge in global unemployment. It has also highlighted the increasingly valuable role of automation in today’s world. Although there are some jobs machines just can’t do, COVID-19 has left us wondering about the future of […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Jonathan Roberts from Queensland University of Technology

SpaceX’s launch gives Australia’s booming space industry more room to fly

While human space flight from Australia may not be on the horizon, SpaceX’s historic launch is a “beacon of hope” for many local commercial companies. Why This Matters: Australia’s space industry is taking off. At the weekend, Elon Musk’s commercial giant SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts in a spacecraft named Crew Dragon which, from the inside, looked like a souped-up Tesla. The Falcon 9 rocket launched the spacecraft, returned to Earth and landed on a ship to later […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Cassandra Steer from Australian National University
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It’s not that hard: 10 reasons why renewable energy is the future

Ideally, all sectors of the economy should band together to cut emissions, and according to an expert, in all those sectors there is huge potential for renewables. Why This Matters: Australia needs to make a long-term investment in renewables – it’s good for the economy and environment. Australia’s latest greenhouse gas figures released today show national emissions fell slightly last year. This was by no means an economy-wide effort – solar and wind energy did most of the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Andrew Blakers from Australian National University
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Alien frog invasion wreaks havoc on natural habitat

The spotted-thighed frog will devour almost anything that fits into its mouth, with devastating impacts on ecosystems. Why This Matters: This alien frog will devastate habitats it invades if we don’t control it. Indiscriminate feeding by an alien population of the carnivorous spotted-thighed frog – could severely affect the native biodiversity of southern Australia according to a new study by the University of South Australia. The invasive amphibian – Litoria cyclorhyncha – which hitchhiked across […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Annabel Mansfield from University of South Australia
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Can’t concentrate at work? This AI system knows why

Using artificial intelligence, researchers have found a way to measure staff comfort and concentration in flexible working spaces. Why This Matters: The way we work is set to change as we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions. While hot desking and activity-based working allow cost savings and greater flexibility – and are said to increase staff collaboration and satisfaction – studies also show the noise and lack of privacy can be distracting for some people. With coronavirus […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: RMIT University from RMIT University

We dug up Australian weather records back to 1838 and found snow is falling less often

Using past weather records, researchers have created the longest analysis of Australia’s daily temperature extremes. Why This Matters: Past events can help understand the impact of extreme events. As we slowly emerge from lockdown, local adventures are high on people’s wish lists. You may be planning a trip to the ski fields, or even the nearby hills to revel in the white stuff that occasionally falls around our southern cities after an icy winter blast. Our new […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Joelle Gergis from Australian National University
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Australians were the fastest panic buyers in the world

New research on COVID-19 consumer panic shopping has shown that Australian consumers top the globe in panic buying habits – in speed and scale. Why This Matters: While panic buying is a common response, we took it to an extreme. Australia has taken out first place for panic buying, with consumers out-shopping international counterparts in speed and scale. The research, conducted by Dr Tim Neal and Professor Mike Keane from UNSW Business School used Google search […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Astronomers have located the source of four immensely powerful fast radio bursts

Astronomers have traced four fast radio bursts back to massive galaxies, bringing us a step closer to understanding the origins of these mysterious signals. Why This Matters: It may not be the definte answer, but astronomers are ruling out some possibilities. Fast radio bursts are one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. The immensely powerful bursts of radiation appear randomly from points in the Universe. They flash without warning, releasing as much energy in the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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