Latest Science


Jeremy Moss: Our response to COVID-19 should not sponsor the fossil fuel industry

A ‘gas-driven recovery’ and further investment in fossil fuels should not be a part of Australia’s response to the pandemic, says climate justice expert Jeremy Moss. Why This Matters: We can rebuild the economy more environmentally sustainably than before by investing wisely. The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission draft report has raised some urgent issues concerning how Australia’s response to disasters are to be directed and funded. The report has rightly drawn criticism from climate groups because […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Jeremy Moss from University of New South Wales
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How ferrets can help the CSIRO beat the pandemic

Furry ferrets gave the CSIRO a massive clue about the virus that causes COVID-19, and now they’re part of the massive international collaboration to beat the pandemic. Why This Matters: Collaboration moves science forward. About an hour southwest of Melbourne on the Geelong waterfront sits a CSIRO facility that houses one of only a few Physical Containment Level 4 (PC4) labs in the world, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. This is the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Fiona McMillan from Cosmos Magazine
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Murder hornets? Meh. Our pest wasps decapitate flies and bully dingoes

Over the past 50 years European wasps have taken hold in Australia, and their attitude towards native species can be ruthless. Why This Matters: Invasive pests are among the biggest threats facing Australian native plants and animals. The impacts of invasive mammals such as feral horses and feral cats have featured prominently in the media over the years. But the recent discovery of the infamous “murder hornet” (or giant Asian hornet Vespa mandarinia) in the […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Emma Spencer from Australia's Science Channel
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Australian quantum technology can become a $4 billion industry

Australia has a strong research base in quantum technology, but researchers say success will only come from a collaborative network. Why This Matters: Science can help rebuild the economy, if we invest wisely. Quantum technology is not a phrase discussed over kitchen tables in Australia, but perhaps it should be. Australia’s quantum technology research has been breaking new ground for almost 30 years. Governments, universities and more recently multinationals have all invested in this research. Quantum […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Cathy Foley from Australia's Science Channel

Tiny rock art may show Indigenous stencil use

The rock art, which is just one of three such examples in the world, adds another dimension to Australia’s rock art history. Why This Matters: Storytelling in rock art passes information across millenia. Australian researchers are exploring the backstory to the most detailed examples ever found of a rare form of rock art. The miniature stencils are too small to have been made by tracing articles or body parts, suggesting models first had to be […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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The vaccine we’re testing in Australia is based on a flu shot - here’s how it could work against coronavirus

The first human trials in Australia for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 are kicking off in Melbourne and Brisbane – this is how researchers adapted a flu vaccine to target SARS-CoV-2. Why This Matters: Scientists around the world are scrambling to find an effective vaccine. A new trial has begun in Victoria this week to evaluate a potential vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine is called NVX-CoV2373 and is from a US biotech company, Novavax. The trial will […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Kylie Quinn from RMIT University
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A device targeting feral cats could help claw back native animal numbers

The Felixer, an autonomous device that can target and cull feral cats in the wild, could be key in rebuilding Australia’s decimated native animal populations. Why This Matters: Feral cats have devastating impacts on native wildlife. A new device that uses poison and lasers to kill feral cats and control their devastating impacts on population numbers of native species has been successfully trialled in South Australia. In a study published in the nature journal Wildlife Research, […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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An invaluable Indigenous archaeology site was destroyed by Rio Tinto - this is why it was legal

“The shelters are the only inland site in Australia showing human occupation continuing through the last Ice Age.” Why This Matters: This destruction of Indigenous shelters isn’t a one-off incident. In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 – Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance. The shelters are the only inland site in Australia showing human occupation […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Samantha Hepburn from Deakin University
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What does "strong mental health" mean?

“Mental health and mental illness are not simply two sides of the same coin. Mental health, just like physical health, exists on a spectrum from poor to optimal.” Why This Matters: Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Amid the coronavirus pandemic we are being warned of a “second wave” of mental health problems that threatens to overrun an already weakened mental health service. As we emerge from this crisis, while some people may […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Jill Newby from University of New South Wales
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Cosmic burst finds the universe's missing matter

Astronomers have solved a decades-old mystery of ‘missing matter’, long predicted to exist in the Universe but never detected—until now. Video courtesy of ICRAR. Why This Matters: A cosmic mystery may be solved. Astronomers have used fast radio bursts to finally detect all of the missing “normal” matter in the vast space between stars and galaxies. Writing in the journal Nature, the Australian-led team describes its success – and relief – in solving a decades-old […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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The deep-sea is slowly warming and it's causing ecosystem disruption

Even if we reduce carbon emissions, deep-sea waters will likely still feel the heat, spelling bad news for ecosystems. Why This Matters: They may be out of sight, but deep-sea ecosystems shouldn’t be out of mind. Our warming planet is dislocating all manner of species as they travel poleward in search of cooler temperatures, and this is just as evident, if not more so, in the ocean as it is on land, according to two new […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Australia's Science Channel
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Be still, my beating wings: hunters kill migratory shorebirds on their journey to Australia

A new study reveals three-quarters of migratory shorebird species in the Asia-Pacific region have been affected by unsustainable and widespread hunting since the 70s.  Why This Matters: These globe-trotters are already under threat from other human impacts. It is low tide at the end of the wet season in Broome, Western Australia. Shorebirds feeding voraciously on worms and clams suddenly get restless. Chattering loudly they take flight, circling up over Roebuck Bay then heading off for […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao from The University of Queensland
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Australian researchers record world’s fastest internet speed from a single optical chip

Aussie researchers have shattered the world’s fastest internet speed – capable of downloading 1,000 high definition films in a split second. Why This Matters: Australia’s internet is notoriously poor, so anything that gives it a kick gets our tick of approval. More so now than ever before, we’re relying on the internet to keep us working, studying and entertained from the safety of our homes. And while Australia’s internet may not be top notch at […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Swinburne University of Technology Newsroom from Swinburne University of Technology

Researchers uncover the arks of genetic diversity around the globe

Scientists have compiled a global map of genetic diversity in mammals and it highlights key biodiversity hotspots for conservation efforts. Why This Matters: Now we need to turn plans into action. On the back of the International Day for Biological Diversity, Australian and Danish scientists have compiled the first comprehensive map of genetic diversity for terrestrial mammals across the planet. They found that tropical regions with rich evolutionary histories, such as Amazonia, Northern Andes, central […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Natalie Parletta from Cosmos Magazine
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Astronomers find a ‘cosmic ring of fire’ from 11 billion years ago

An epic collision between two galaxies in the early universe has created a rare donut-shaped ring galaxy. Why This Matters: The discovery of the ring galaxy changes the impression we had of the early universe. Nearly 11 billion light years away lurks a super-rare type of galaxy that bears the scars of a galactic battle. Rather than the more common disc of stars the galaxy instead has a gigantic hole straight through the centre. And with […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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COVID-19 is hurting abortion access nationwide

A combination of financial strain, travel restrictions, and lack of resources is making abortion even harder for women to access during the coronavirus pandemic. Why This Matters: We need long-term investment to ensure these services are available to those who need it. The COVID-19 crisis has starkly revealed the patchy and precarious provision of abortion in Australia, deepening existing inequalities in access. What was already an expensive procedure may be even less attainable for many women […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: Erica Millar from La Trobe University
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Why cats have more lives than dogs when it comes to snakebites

Dogs are more likely to die from snakebites than a cat, and now researchers are starting to understand why. Why This Matters: The rivalry between cats and dogs has been taken to a new extreme. Cats are twice as likely to survive a venomous snakebite than dogs, and the reasons behind this phenomenon have been revealed by University of Queensland research. The research team, led by Christina Zdenek and Associate Professor Bryan Fry, compared the effects of snake […] See more

Published 2 months ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Maybe we should add ‘climate change’ to death certificates, say medical experts

Death certificates need to be updated to reflect the relationship between our health and the environment, such as bushfire smoke or hot weather. Why This Matters: Climate change is a killer. Heat-related deaths have been “substantially underreported” on Australia’s national records, according to experts from The Australian National University (ANU). Researchers say the amount of deaths attributed to excessive natural heat is at least 50 times more than recorded on death certificates. Analysis published in The Lancet Planetary Health shows over the past 11 years 340 deaths in Australia were […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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The pandemic risks wiping out hard-won gains by women in STEM

A new report confirms an urgent need for employers to closely monitor and mitigate the gender impact of the pandemic on the STEM workforce. Why This Matters: We can’t let important work be undone. Across Australia, COVID-related job losses have been profound. At the start of May it was estimated that almost 1 million Australians have lost their jobs, with many more since. The STEM workforce is also feeling the brunt of COVID-19 related restrictions with […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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Experts disappointed by the Government's climate and energy roadmap

The Government has set out Australia’s energy priorities as it seeks to bring down carbon emissions, but experts say it’s not enough. Why This Matters: We need to take steps to create meaningful change. Last week, the Australian Federal Government released the Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper. The roadmap, released on Thursday, sets out how the government intends to progress climate and energy policy between now and 2050. It identifies more than 140 technologies that […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: Joseph Milton from Australian Science Media Centre
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Just how hot will it get this century?

The latest climate models suggest a much hotter future for Australia than what was previously expected. Why This Matters: We need to take swift decisive action now to minimise the effects of global warming. Climate scientists use mathematical models to project the Earth’s future under a warming world, but a group of the latest models have included unexpectedly high values for a measure called “climate sensitivity”. Climate sensitivity refers to the relationship between changes in carbon dioxide in […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: Julie Arblaster from Australia's Science Channel
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Australia Post puts a stamp on citizen science

A new set of stamps celebrates citizen science projects around Australia, and they’re available now. Why This Matters: Putting citizen science front and centre. Get ready philatelists and letter writers – Australia Post has released a set of stamps celebrating four Australian citizen science projects. We think they look great! Now you can rep science as you’re sending your snail mail. Available online and in-store, the stamps each feature a different project. QuestaGame (Green) QuestaGame […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Bushfires are increasing in size and frequency

Major bushfires can no longer be looked at as infrequent events, and major changes are needed to protect lives and ecosystems, say researchers. Why This Matters: Bushfires have always happened, but not like this. A new study by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) has shown for the first time the full extent of the areas burned by Victorian bushfires over the past two decades. Researcher Professor David Lindenmayer says the results indicate a major overhaul […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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The mystique of mathematics shown in 5 beautiful maths phenomena

From fractals to The Golden Ratio – there’s plenty of beauty to find in maths, and even more maths to find in beauty. Why This Matters: Maths is all around us. Mathematics is visible everywhere in nature, even where we are not expecting it. It can help explain the way galaxies spiral, a seashell curves, patterns replicate, and rivers bend. Even subjective emotions, like what we find beautiful, can have mathematic explanations. “Maths is not […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales

Destructive starfish is delicious to some

Fish might be our best weapon for controlling Crown-of-Thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef. Why This Matters: Crown-of-Thorns are devastating the Reef. Crown-of-thorns starfish, the scourge of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, may have more natural predators than we thought. A novel study of fish faeces and gut contents suggests a number of fish are interested in Acanthaster solaris, including popular eating and aquarium species. The native starfish has surged to plague proportions three times […] See more

Published 3 months ago. Author: Nick Carne from Cosmos Magazine
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