Latest Science


Space pic of the week: Rainbows over La Silla

An unexpectedly colourful night sky was caught over the the La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. This incredible photo features some of the telescopes at European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. In the centre of the photograph and framed perfectly by the beautiful arch of the Milky Way, sits the Danish 1.54-metre telescope. Taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Petr Horálek, this photo peers right into the heart of the Milky Way, both […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Tiny batteries inspired by towering buildings 

When space is at a premium – there’s only one place to go. Your devices are getting smaller, thinner and faster but how do we ensure we aren’t left powerless as the battery size shrinks along with our tech? A new battery design, inspired by the neck straining heights of big city skyscrapers, may be the answer. Batteries are very simple devices. Their structure exists of three parts – two electrodes (an anode and a […] See more

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

NASA’s Mars InSight launches this week

The newest mission will study the geology of the Red Planet. NASA’s newest Mars mission, InSight, is scheduled to launch this weekend, beginning its six-month trek across the solar system to the Red Planet. InSight (short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is the first mission to study the heart of Mars, and will spend two years investigating deep under the planet’s surface, from the thickness of its geological layers to […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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From dinosaur to bird - the transition was more complex than we thought

New, well-preserved fossils of a dinosaur-era beaked bird fill in some gaps Until now it’s been difficult to determine exactly how, and in what order, modern birds’ features have developed from their dinosaur forebears. The big problem has been the generally poor preservation of fossil bird skulls. That’s why the description of four new fossils of the early bird Ichthyornis dispar is so important. Ichthyornis was a toothy, tern-like seabird with a 60-centimetre wingspan, which lived around 100–66 million […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Bill Condie
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Federal budget to allocate $50 million for Australian space agency

We’re going to space, people! Next week’s Federal Budget is set to allocate $50 million in funding to establish Australia’s new space agency, according to reports. Announced at the International Astronautical Congress in September last year, the space agency will put Australia in the “space club” of countries including New Zealand, Canada and the United States, and allow us to tap into the estimated $420 billion worldwide industry. A senior Government source told the ABC […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Plants communicate to each other when under stress

Touching plants stresses them out, and they let their neighbours know about it. Plants can communicate with each other through a huge range of complex mechanisms that we’re only just beginning to understand. Being able to eavesdrop is useful for plants, which, if they’re able to pick up stressed out neighbours being attacked by insects or nibbled on by herbivores, can better prepare themselves. Sure, they can’t just up and run away, but they can […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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There's a humpback whale baby boom going on

Humpback whales numbers are bouncing back, with most females in the west Antarctic pregnant most years. Back from the brink The commercial exploitation of Humpback whales was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1966. It the intervening half-century, whale populations have recovered well, to the point that the species was listed as under “Least Concern” in the most recent 2016 review by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. One of the regions that […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Marsupial species eats spiders to stop spiders eating insects

A type of dunnart eats its competitors to better increase its own food supply. How do you stop a competitor eating your food? Easy. Eat the competitor. That’s the lesson learned from new research investigating the diet of a small marsupial insectivore called the lesser hairy-footed dunnart (Sminthopsis youngsoni), which lives in Australia’s Simpson Desert. In a paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, a team led by ecologist Tamara Potter from the […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Mantis shrimp vision is even weirder than we thought

How to maintain spatial perception when your eyes moves independently of each other. How do you keep a steady gaze when your eyes are moving relative to the world?  Animals have a variety of ways of doing this, with the most internet-famous being birds, especially chickens, who have their own inbuilt image stabilisation system where they try to keep their head in the same spot regardless of where their body is. via GIPHY Doing this […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Troubled young brains that are wired differently

The brains of young people with severe behavioural problems have abnormal connectivity, which may make them more susceptible to developing anxiety or depression. There appear to be clear and important differences between adolescents just suffering from what is known as Conduct Disorder and those who also have psychopathic traits, according to new research. Conduct Disorder is typified by symptoms ranging from lying and truancy through to physical violence and weapon use. Those with psychopathic traits […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Bill Condie from Australia's Science Channel
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Cereal crops have a secret weapon against drought

A pair of amino acids is all that stands between survival and shrivelling for grass crops. Just two amino acids are responsible for the drought tolerance of cereal crops, researchers have found, raising hopes that a tiny genetic tweak could improve the drought resistance of other types of edible plants. Cereal grasses comprise about 80 per cent of all plant-based foods farmed commercially, in part because they are less vulnerable to water scarcity than other […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Diet influences when menopause begins

 As usual, healthier is best. Eating a lot of healthy foods such as oily fish and fresh legumes is associated with a later onset of menopause, according to new British research. But refined white pasta and rice has the opposite effect. A team from the University of Leeds studied 14,150 women over four years. An initial questionnaire and survey collected information on reproductive history and health, then the follow up assessed the diets of the […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Koalas’ chlamydia woes compounded by virus

Scientists from the University of the Sunshine Coast have discovered that a koala virus is putting the cuddly creatures at greater risk of chlamydia. Professor Peter Timms and Dr Bonnie Quigley found that koalas infected with koala retrovirus type B were more likely to also have chlamydia disease. They were also more likely to have severe symptoms like conjunctivitis, upeterrinary and reproductive tract infections, as well as have more cancers, than koalas without it. Professor Timms said the […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Janelle Kirkland from University of the Sunshine Coast
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Butterfly wings inspire glaucoma eye implant

Finding new uses for unique structures found in nature. The unique structure of a butterfly’s wings could help create a new generation of eye implants. Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have found a way to use a redirection property known as angle-independent antireflection to overcome one of the initial problems with a new implant designed to improve the monitoring of intra-eye pressure in glaucoma patients. The implant, shaped like a drum, is no […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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A beetle named after Leonardo DiCaprio 

Doing good deeds can have unusual spin-offs. Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio now has a water beetle named after him. The scientific name of Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi was chosen to mark the 20th anniversary of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and its support for biodiversity preservation. It is one of three new species of aquatic beetle genus Grouvellinus Champion found by citizen scientists at a waterfall in the remote Maliau Basin in Malaysian Borneo. “Tiny and black, […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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World’s oldest spider dies in Western Australia

Farewell Number 16 Australia is home to some of the most terrifying and deadly creatures on Earth, and the ones that seem to give most people the heebie jeebies are spiders. However they usually have a limited lifespan thanks to old-age, shoes, or parasitic wasps which lay their eggs inside the spider. But researchers from Curtin University in Western Australia have announced the death of a spider which rewrites the rules of spider lifespan – […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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The Earth’s magnetic field is not about to flip

New modelling suggests north and south will remain that way for now. It’s OK, you can relax now. Despite frequent speculation and dire predictions, the Earth’s magnetic field is not about to reverse itself. Over a long geological scale, the planet’s north and south poles have flipped around on average of every 300,000 years. These polarity reversals are not anomalies, but the inevitable consequence of having a solid iron core surrounded by a fluid layer […] See more

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

Baby fish turned off by quiet reef

The symphony of the sea is being silenced. A coral reef is a surprisingly loud place. From pistol shrimp that stun their prey with an extremely loud pop, to the territorial chirping of damselfish, to the pops and clicks of chattering clownfish, a healthy, thriving reef community is noisy. Baby fish looking for somewhere to live and breed use reef noise as a guide. Related: Baby fish fail to learn around noisy boats The Great Barrier […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Lisa Bailey from Australia's Science Channel
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Becoming insta-famous with machine learning chatbot

Can machine learning really predict how successful your next Instagram picture will be? A chatbot created by the team at BBC Tomorrow’s World is designed to show how machine learning can be useful and give insight into artificial intelligence. “The bot was taught to pick out features such as colour, landmarks and human emotions,” the BBC website says. “When these features were cross-referenced with how influential the pictures were on Instagram, we were able to […] See more

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

NASA kills off its only lunar rover

Decision calls into question the space agency’s directive to focus on the Moon. NASA has reportedly pulled the plug on Resource Prospector – its next robotic Moon mission, despite being tasked with returning humanity to our closest neighbour. The unexpected and unexplained move has angered lunar scientists, and confused space industry professionals about the space agency’s priorities. The small rover, parts of which are already undergoing testing and planned for launch in 2022, was designed […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Music could aid in reducing anxiety caused by Alzheimer’s disease

Music with an emotional link could help reach through the fog of dementia. The salience network in our brains is like a personal radio host, recognising our favourite music and pairing it with an emotional connection to ensure the tune will stay with you forever. And this area also remains unaffected by Alzheimer’s disease, a study has found. Researchers from the University of Utah Health are examining this region’s ability to select which stimuli are […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alayna Hansen from Australia's Science Channel
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Australian participants needed for study on genetics of stuttering

Researchers are calling out for 3,000 people to take part in a global study of stuttering. Scientists are looking for people who live with, or have a history of, stuttering, aged seven and above. Globally, 1 per cent of adults stutter, and nearly 70 per cent of people who stutter report a family history of the disorder. The disability affects normal verbal communication – particularly the rhythm or flow of speech. As the website mentions, the […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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Geothermal fluid injection triggered Korean earthquake

Findings set to be a ‘game changer’ for the geothermal industry Last November’s Pohang earthquake, the most damaging in South Korea since the first seismograph was installed in 1905, was likely triggered by fluid injection at a nearby geothermal plant, two separate reports conclude. That would make it, at Mw 5.4, the largest-known earthquake induced at an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) site. Induced earthquakes have been well-established in places such as Oklahoma, but these regions […] See more

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

The race is on to discover Aussie species before they're gone

Our terrible record on extinctions is one thing, but it turns out we don’t even have a good idea what we could be losing. We live in a mega-diverse region of the world, teeming with a vast array of life forms. And yet Australia has one of the highest extinction rates on the planet due to a lethal mix of invasive species, habitat destruction and climate change. A less obvious but equally important threat to […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Susannah Eliot
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What's the best way to move - springs or muscles?

A new study has revealed why some animals use muscles to generate force, while others rely on a spring-like systems and stored energy. Examining over 100 species’ movement systems, they explained why systems that amplify power (those involving a spring), tend to be small – it turns out, above a certain size, a spring does not improve output and an organism is best served by using muscle. As well, spring-based power amplification was found to […] See more

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