Latest Science


Space pic of the week: Fire and Fury

SpaceX have released this incredible photograph of the fire and fury involved in the launch of TESS last week in Florida. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite launched from Cape Canaveral on April 18, embarking on its mission to hunt for planets which may be able to support life. Lifting off the pad at 18:51 EDT, the Falcon 9 unleashed its nine Merlin engines producing 7,607kN of thrust, the spectacle […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Structure of the 'immortality' enzyme revealed for the first time

Telomerase may not have delivered the fountain of youth but it still holds immense promise. When Australian scientist Elizabeth Blackburn announced the discovery of telomerase – the enzyme that protects the ends of chromosomes and prevents them from fraying enough to kill a cell – there was widespread hope it could lead to the discovery of a drug to slow ageing, and a new breed of anticancer therapies. Thirty years on and there are still […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Battle of the Brains: Neanderthal vs. Homo sapiens

Could their unique brain structure be the potential cause for Neanderthal extinction? It’s a bit of a mind boggle as to the many reasons why Neanderthals became extinct, but new research suggests that the structure of their brains could have something to do with their disappearance from the evolutionary pipeline, and the rise of their replacement – Homo sapiens. The international study conducted at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Tokyo reconstructed the brains of […] See more

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

Cane toads don’t give a damn about the weather

Hawaiian study provides clue to cane toad evolution Say what you like about cane toads, but it turns out they are admirably stoic when it comes to the weather. Research by Australian scientists has discovered that the behaviour of the wildly successful and rather unpleasant invasive species is not affected by climate. Previous studies have established that certain factors – in particular, an individual’s location in relation to its population distribution range – affect how […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Poo from ancient latrines exposes parasites of the past

Digging through old toilets builds a picture of past lifestyles in Northern Europe and the Middle East. Researchers have long known that studying faeces from extinct species can reveal a lot – and now they’ve gone one step further by recovering DNA in parasite eggs from ancient toilets. “Ancient DNA from latrines was used to identify the remains of a broad range of human and animal parasites as well as animals and plants,” says Martin Søe, […] See more

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

Scooters and helmets should go together but mostly don't

Children and their parents are underestimating the danger of scooters, skateboard and skates with often dire consequences. Scooter riders are less likely to wear a helmet, despite the fact that they are more likely to fall over the handlebars in an accident, meaning most injuries are to the head and face, Australian researchers say. A study of 342 children who presented to paediatric trauma centres in Sydney over an eight-month period found than less than […] See more

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

Record plastic and other waste pollutes the Arctic

It’s depressing but probably not surprising to learn that there is more microplastic in Arctic sea ice than ever before. Many of the particles of plastic in the Arctic sea ice are so small that they could easily be ingested by arctic microorganisms, and that has scientists particularly concerned. “No one can say for certain how harmful these tiny plastic particles are for marine life, or ultimately also for human beings,” biologist Dr Ilka Peeken notes. […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Sister Elizabeth Kenny – pioneering nurse who took on the establishment

‘It is better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.’ The annual commemoration of ANZAC day will always be an occasion of remembrance. To tell stories of war, share in the mateship of tradition and honour the men and women who have served our country. Although her story is not as well known as some, Sister Elizabeth Kenny had a resilience and determination forged during the First World War […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alayna Hansen from Australia's Science Channel
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Soccer players use their head – and that’s the problem

One of the risks of brain injury in soccer comes from an integral part of the game – heading the ball. Contact sports around the world are struggling with the problem of concussion of players – how can we protect players to prevent lifelong problems from something that is inherently meant to be fun? However, while all the attention has been on contact to their head during tackles or accidental head-to-head contact, researchers have identified […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Even elite athletes struggle to compete with kids’ physical ability

There is a very good reason that kids seem to be able to run and run and run without tiring – they’re essentially mini endurance athletes with muscles resistant to fatigue and with a superhero-like ability to recover. Parents know the feeling – their child is able to sprint here, then there, and then back again, leaving the adult lagging behind. Even after a fully grown adult has had to tap out, the child is […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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Fluid dynamics offers clue to cryptocurrencies

The spectacular rise of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin has often been dismissed as a storm in a teacup. Now it appears the critics were more accurate than they knew. If you can model an actual storm in an actual teacup, it turns out, you can use pretty much the same equations to control virtual coins. That’s the novel conclusion of pf physicist William Gilpin of Stanford University in the US, published in the journal Proceedings of […] See more

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

Alcohol intake may be linked to increased risk of PMS

Research reveals women don’t have proper coping mechanism for PMS. Alcohol intake may be linked to risk of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a systemic review of published research suggests. The researchers estimate that one in 10 cases might be linked to alcohol intake. What’s not clear is whether alcohol increases the risk of severe PMS or whether women drink to cope with symptoms. If you suffer from PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder – PMDD, the more […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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New form of DNA found in human cells

A totally new DNA structure called the i-motif forms, dissolves and forms again. Even the smallest of packages can have the biggest surprises. Scientists have finally identified a twisted knot of DNA, the i-motif, inside living cells. This new shape is a four-stranded knot of DNA. DNA is known for its iconic double helix shape but DNA is not bound to just one configuration. While DNA takes on its double helix form to efficiently store […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Kelly Wong from Australia's Science Channel
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The secret (long) life of plants

It’s taken 20 years to find this out, but it seems that as plants get older, their sensitivity to CO2 changes. Past research has suggested that plants in what we know as the C3 group, which includes rice, wheat and trees, are more sensitive and thus grow more vigorously when CO2 levels are high than those in the C4 group, which includes most grasses, including corn and sugarcane. However researchers from the University of Minnesota […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Humans, we shrank the mammals

The world’s animals may still be getting smaller, which is not good news and it’s largely our fault. Humans have been driving a global reduction in terrestrial mammal size for thousands of years and if this trend continues there may be nothing bigger on Earth that the domestic cow in a century or two from now, scientists from the University of New Mexico say. Notably, they found that there was a particularly striking reduction in […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Artificial pancreas shows promise 

An ‘artificial pancreas’ may be the key to helping people with type 1 diabetes manage their condition more effectively. An internal monitoring system that calculates the rate of insulin release could remove the biggest dilemma with self-management – getting the dose right each time you have to inject, Greek researchers suggest. However, they and others caution that the results are preliminary and further investigation is required. The team from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki reviewed the […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Space pic of the week: Happy birthday Hubble Space Telescope

To celebrate its 28th anniversary in space the Hubble Space Telescope took this amazing image of the Lagoon Nebula. The Lagoon Nebula, about 4000 light-years away from Earth, is an incredible 55 light-years wide and 20 light-years tall. This image shows only a small part of this turbulent star-formation region, about four light-years across. This stunning nebula was first catalogued in 1654 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna, who sought to record nebulous objects […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Ben Lewis from Australia's Science Channel
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How to bend a diamond – and why you would want to

New research shows diamonds can be bent if they are small enough. While diamond is the hardest, most rigid naturally-occurring substance, it is possible to create nanoscale “needles” from diamonds that can actually be slightly flexible. An international research team took narrow shards of artificial diamonds and carved needles just 300 nanometres (billionths of a metre) in length. When these needles were stretched by ultralarge elastic strains, their mechanical, thermal, optical and chemical reaction properties changed […] See more

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

Exploding ants are the insect world's suicide bombers

Self-sacrificing workers shower their enemies with toxic goop. There’s a lot of complex behaviour among ants that we don’t truly understand yet. But it doesn’t come much more dramatic than that of the “exploding ants” – Colobopsis cylindrica – which actively rupture their body walls to spray sticky, toxic goop as a last line of defence against their enemies. This fatal behaviour was first noticed in 1916 and we know of about 15 separate species of these ants […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alayna Hansen from Australia's Science Channel
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Food poisoning protection method doesn’t work, research shows

A common method used by the agricultural industry to make fruit and vegetables safe for human consumption might instead be producing hidden killers. Commercial fruit and vegetable crops around the world are frequently sprayed with a dilute chlorine mix with the intent of destroying any bacteria such as Listeria or Salmonella which may be clinging their surfaces. In some places, the technique has been used for more than a century. Outbreaks of food poisoning caused […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Andrew Masterson from Australia's Science Channel
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Hate building IKEA stuff? There's a robot for that

Researchers in Singapore have built a robot using off-the-shelf components which can perfectly piece together an IKEA chair. Using visual and tactile sensors, the robots quickly and reliably identified the correct parts placed in random positions, coordinated fast collision-free motions to construct the chair, and detected force changes as they gripped onto the chair pieces to verify that the pieces had slotted together correctly. It took them between 8 and 20 minutes to build a […] See more

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

Heatwave transformed Great Barrier Reef’s coral assemblages

A recent heatwave has transformed the Great Barrier Reef, and not for the better. Corals on the Great Barrier Reef experienced a catastrophic die-off following the extended marine heatwave of 2016, transforming the ecological functioning of almost a third of the world’s largest reef system. Researchers from James Cook University in Townsville say their findings reinforce the need for risk assessment for reef ecosystem collapse, especially if global action on climate change fails to limit […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Nick Carne from Australia's Science Channel
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Australian scientists lead quest for sustainable oil spill tech

An absorbent polymer made entirely from repurposed industrial waste could be an environmental breakthrough. A new type of polysulfide made from waste cooking oil and petroleum industry by-products could soon be used to clear up major oil spills. The compound is a combination of sulfur, an unused product of petroleum refinement, and old canola cooking oil. The result is a substance that is hydrophobic – that is, it repels water – but strongly attracted to hydrocarbons […] See more

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

Diamonds in meteorite are the last remnants of early Solar System proto-planet

Mercury-sized world was lost in space. Researchers analysing diamonds in the Almahata Sitta meteorite in Sudan recently discovered that the crystalline structures held the remnants of an early proto-planet – a world that would have existed in the first 10 million years of the Solar System. The latest theory on planet formation hypothesises that small planetary bodies collide with each other to create larger worlds. To form a terrestrial planet the size of Earth, tens […] See more

Published 2 years ago. Author: Alayna Hansen from Australia's Science Channel
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Combing the human genome for the roots of hair colour

Wish your hair was ginger? Blame your genes. An international research team has identified the genes associated with different hair colours, highlighting the genetic roots of human hair pigmentation. The breakthrough could help inform population genetics and forensic science studies by allowing for predictions of hair colour, to a certain degree of accuracy, from DNA evidence alone. Natural pigmentation in humans – such skin as hair colouration – is brought about by two types of […] See more

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