Latest Science


Zebrafish show how the brain reacts to predators

Study finds there are two parts to the process. The humble zebrafish has provided insights into how the brain perceives and reacts to predators, and potentially into the mechanisms that underpin some psychiatric disorders in humans. For her PhD, Dr Lucy Heap from the Queensland Brain Institute tested how zebrafish respond to a large threatening shape moving towards them. “We found that visual information received from the eyes was broken down into components, such as […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Jumping genes found in animals and plants

And they’ve been a big driver of evolution. Cross-species gene transfers have occurred frequently throughout evolution, even between plants and animals, according to Australian researchers. In fact, the widespread transfer of genes has been an important driver of evolution, radically changing the genomes of today’s mammals, they say. A team from the University of Adelaide, working in collaboration with the South Australian Museum, carried out what they say was the world’s largest study of so-called […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Time in space flattens your eyes

It’s caused by your brain moving up. Too much time in space can make your eyes go flat, scientists have warned. It happens to some astronauts, and appears to be caused by the brain moving upwards and pulling back on the nerves in the eyes. It’s a symptom of a condition known as Space flight-Associated Neuroocular Syndrome (SANS), which is characterised by increased optic nerve sheath diameter and globe flattening. The researchers, from University Sorbonne […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel

Space pic of the week: The story of a gigantic Aussie crater

A gigantic crater in the Australian outback captured by the ESA, but described by the local Indigenous people. The European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite captured this stunning image of the Gosses Bluff/Tnorala crater in the Northern Territory in February 2016. The crater, in the left centre of the image, is situated around 200km west of Alice Springs. It is thought to have been formed 142 million years ago by the impact of a comet […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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MIT reveals unstoppable blind robot

You can run, and you can hide, because it has one weakness at the moment. Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have revealed a robot that will be featuring in your nightmares tonight. Called Cheetah 3, the 4-legged robot is fast, agile, stable and able to jump. But what makes Cheetah 3 unique is that it does it all without any type of vision system. The researchers released the video above showing the robot’s […] See more

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

Autonomous vehicle tech will fail without strong regulation, researchers say

The US pro-business approach to autonomous cars risks losing public confidence – and lives. Manufacturers of autonomous vehicles (AVs) must be subject to stronger regulations to avoid widespread public rejection of the technology, US road safety researchers write in the journal Science. Joan Claybrook, former head of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Shaun Kildare of public interest coalition Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety say that once the tech is fully […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel

Spiders fly using electricity, not wind

New research answers a question that once bemused Charles Darwin. Naturalists, amateur and pro, all know that many species of baby spiders disperse from their birthplaces by means of extending a silk thread and then floating away through the air. Especially keen-eyed naturalists, however, might have noticed that the little wee things can occasionally be seen drifting off on days when there is not the faintest breath of breeze. At first blush, this seems impossible. […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Puppies show their learning capacity

Pups’ social learning starts as young as eight weeks. Every now and again there is a study which seems to just be a convenient excuse for scientists to play with puppies. This one is no different. Puppies as young as eight weeks are able to learn by watching, and that includes from humans and stranger dogs, says new research from the Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. There is a reason for this study beyond just […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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It’s time to talk about the ethics of driverless cars

We need to work out a legal framework for the coming transport revolution, Australia’s Chief Scientist says. The rise and rise of the driverless car is as much about ethics as about engineering, and Australia’s Chief Scientist thinks it’s time we had a serious talk about it. In particular, Dr Alan Finkel wants us to consider whether Australia needs a legal framework a bit like Germany’s, which essentially argues that cars must be programmed to avoid […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alan Finkel from Australia's Science Channel

This foot was made for walking – and climbing

Children had the option to seek safety. Our ancient human ancestors were walking upright on two legs more than three million years ago, but their kids likely still chose to spend a bit of time in the trees. Researchers from the UK and the US have drawn these conclusions after studying the tiny foot from the skeleton of a 2½-year-old female Australopithecus afarensis discovered in 2002 in the Dikika region of Ethiopia. Lead author Jeremy […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel

Einstein’s theory passes the biggest test of its life

The Theory of General Relativity has stood up to an experiment on a scale even the great physicist could have never imagined. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity has faced its most extreme test yet, with a neutron star and two white dwarfs found to orbit together in agreement with his predictions a thousand times more exacting than ever before. Famously, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity (GR) is the principle of universality of free fall, with […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alan Duffy from Australia's Science Channel
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Dingo Fence more than just a barrier

Drones help show how it has shaped the landscape. Australia’s Dingo Fence has helped shape the desert around it, according to a new study from the University of NSW. In areas where dingoes cannot go or are actively culled, sand dunes are taller and have different shapes and roughness properties than on the other side of the fence, researchers have found. It’s all part of an environmental domino effect caused by the removal of a […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Testosterone is dangerous when you are shopping

Hormone increases desire for status-building brands. An increased level of testosterone increases our preference for blingy brand names and products, according to new research. After boosting men’s testosterone using a gel, researchers found that men had an increased affinity to brands that portrayed a status rather than lower-status but equal quality products, compared to others who received an inert placebo dose. And that, say the researchers, reveals a parallel between us and the status displays of […] See more

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

Genetic code helps explain the ways of koalas

Consortium sequences full genome for the first time. Koalas are considered both threatened and a threat, depending on where they are, but a new scientific breakthrough should help Australia better manage its most famous marsupial. An international Koala Genome Consortium has for the first time sequenced the full koala genome, which turns out to be slightly larger than the human genome (3.5Gb v 3.2Gb) and to have a similar number of genes: 26,558 in fact, […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Medical cannabis study results aren’t so dope

Australian study suggests drug might not do much for pain. As the debate around medicinal cannabis heats up, new research in the use of the drug for pain management, one of the world’s longest in-depth community studies yet,  has left the scientific position as muddy as ever. The research by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) examined the effects of cannabis on 1,500 people prescribed opioids for non-cancer pain over a four-year period, but there were no […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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Astronomers watch a planet form, as it happens

Real time observations help us check our assumptions about how worlds are created. An international group of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory in Chile have captured the first ever image of a planet as it forms. The newly discovered exoplanet, named PDS 70b, has been characterised as a gas giant planet with a mass equal to several Jupiters. It is currently carving its way through the disk of debris surrounding a very young star. […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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When does gaming become gambling?

Online options blur the boundaries. Purchasing opportunities in online games are often a form of “predatory monetisation” that resembles gambling and may pose a similar financial risk for the vulnerable, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide. Dr Daniel King and Professor Paul Delfabbro argue that games that include the option of paying small fees (microtransactions) to access additional features or content can become a form of psychological entrapment, with players spending an escalating […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Space pic of the week: Curiosity's view of the Martian dust storm

Curiosity captured this sequence of the apocalyptic-looking dust storm that swept across Mars. A storm of tiny dust particles engulfed much of Mars this month, causing NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations. But on the other side of the planet the Curiosity rover remained largely unaffected by the dust. While Opportunity needed to power down as its solar panels were unable to collect sunlight, the nuclear-powered Curiosity continued operation, including snapping these images of […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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New gene needs a name. You can help.

Discovery unlocks mysteries of our immune system. CSIRO has identified a new gene that plays a critical role in regulating the body’s immune response to infection and disease. Something that significant clearly needs an impressive name, and C6orf106, or even C6, just doesn’t cut it.  CSIRO has the right to choose the right name – but is seeking help. “The current name, C6orf106, reflects the gene’s location within the human genome, rather than relating to […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Exoplanet 500 light years away could be Earth’s twin

With similar mass and a stable tilt, Kepler-186f is as close to a twin to Earth as we’ve found. Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have revealed that Kepler-186f, the first Earth-sized planet found outside our solar system orbiting a star in the habitable zone, may be even more similar to Earth than we previously thought. Discovered in 2014, Kepler-186f is less than 10 percent larger in radius than Earth, has a year that […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Ingredients of life found on Enceladus

Complex organic molecules bubble up from the depths of Saturn’s icy ocean moon. Complex organic molecules have been discovered for the first time originating from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, according to a new study. The finding strengthens the idea that this ocean-world hosts conditions suitable for life. The finding was based on data from the Cassini mission, which studied Saturn and its moons in exquisite detail. While the presence of the molecules isn’t evidence that […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Nipple size refutes evolutionary proposition

Large variation debunks previous assumptions. Human nipple sizes put the lie to one of the central tenets of evolutionary biology, according to a study conducted by researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland. Some scientists within the field hold that size variation in any particular body feature is an indication of the degree of evolutionary selection to which it is subject. A feature that shows little variation across populations, the argument runs, is therefore strongly conserved […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel
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Martian crystals reveal a rocky start

Crystals found in a meteorite from Mars show the planet formed extraordinarily quickly after the first beginnings of the Solar System. The Red Planet may have cooled to form a rocky surface just 20 million years after the formation of the Solar System itself, according to the latest research on zircon crystals from a Martian meteorite. This incredibly rapid formation means that Mars could have had potentially habitable conditions a full 100 million years before […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alan Duffy from Australia's Science Channel
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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Turns out our interstellar visitor is a comet after all

One of the mysteries of interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua has been solved. Scientists are obsessed with ‘Oumuamua. The visitor from outside our solar system scooted past Earth last year, fascinating astronomers, planetary scientists, astrobiologists, and just about everyone else. But since then, pretty much the only thing they could agree on was that it probably came from outside our solar system. They’ve been arguing whether it was a comet, an asteroid, an interstellar spacecraft (bit of […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Cloaking device can defeat thermal imaging

Flexible infrared cloaking layer to disappear from view. A brand new cloaking device, revealed by scientists this week, takes a new approach to previous attempts at disappearing from view. Instead of trying to hide objects from normal vision, this one provides thermal camouflage – making an object appear the same temperature as the surrounding environment. And while that has been tried before, thanks to a slow response speed, not being able to adjust to different temperatures, […] See more

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

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