Blog Society 25 October 2017
Dalina Rahman / EyeEm / Getty Images

New research from the University of Adelaide has had unprecedented success in increasing people’s chances of having lucid dreams, in which the dreamer is aware they’re dreaming while it’s happening and can control the experience.

Previous research into inducing lucid dreams has had little success, which has limited any further research into the potential benefits and applications of the phenomenon.

This time however, Dr Denholm Aspy and his team were able to use a combination of techniques to increase the chances of experiencing a lucid dream.

The most effective technique used in the study, now published in the journal Dreaming, was MILD - the mnemonic induction of lucid dreams - with a 46% success rate.

The MILD technique works on prospective memory, where the participant wakes up after five hours of sleep and develops the intention to remember that they are dreaming before returning to sleep by repeating the phrase ‘the next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming’.

The highest level of success was found in those who were able to go back to sleep after the first five minutes of completing the MILD technique.

The prospect of learning to control your dreams isn’t just a cool trick. As we move closer to more effective lucid dreaming induction techniques, there are a range of potential benefits including ‘the treatment of nightmares and improvement of physical skills and abilities through rehearsal in a lucid dream environment,’ Dr Aspy says.

Dr Aspy is continuing his research into lucid dreams to continue increasing the effectiveness of the technique. His study is open to all English speakers above the age of 18. For more information or to take part, visit his website.

Blog Society 24 October 2017
Zoo Twilights tickets go on sale today, October 24
Amith Nag Photography / Getty Images

It’s that time of year again, when music and animal lovers come together at the Melbourne Zoo to unite against wildlife extinction.

Zoo Twilights is an annual season of music amongst the beautiful sights and sounds of the Zoo, and the 2018 program is better than ever. This Summer, all proceeds will go toward saving the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from extinction.

The program was announced last week, with highlights including Cut Copy, The Preatures, Hiatus Kaiyote and Jet.

Ticket sales begin today for performances throughout January and February 2018. Shows have sold out in previous years, so make sure you secure your ticket to support this important cause.

The mission to bring the Eastern Barred Bandicoot back from extinction

The mainland subspecies of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot is already, sadly, classified as extinct in the wild. Zoos Victoria, however, is on an ambitious mission to take them off the extinction list. All proceeds from the Zoo Twilights concerts will go toward this massive project.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Martin Harvey / Getty Images

More than 25 years ago, Zoos Victoria began a captive breeding program with the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. In the years since then, they have successfully bred over 650 animals through the program.

Funds will be used to work with a range of community partners largely in Victoria to further develop a complex breeding and re-population program to bring the species back from extinction.

Part of this program will include a trial to find out if Maremma Guardian Dogs can be trained to act as ‘bodyguards’ to protect the Eastern Barred Bandicoots. Eight dogs are already in training, preparing for duty in special trial sights.

You can check out the program and find out more about the Zoos Victoria’s wildlife conservation programs on their website.

Blog Society 23 October 2017
The towering monastery of Petra is one of the most well known archaeological sites found in Jordan.
Martin Child / Getty Images

Ever wondered what it would be like to wander through the ancient cities of Pella, Petra and Jerash? Jordan is an archaeologists’ dream, with some sites having been occupied for over 8,000 years.

The Australian Museum is hosting Stephen Bourke, archaeologist and Director of the Pella Excavation Project, as he shares the highlights of over 50 years of excavations in the region.

Archaeologists working on the site have uncovered a plethora of fascinating remains from Greek and Roman townhouses to Byzantine churches and industrial workshops.

Bourke will discuss some major discoveries made over the years, and their significance to the on-going research on the history of the southern Levant.

Journeying to Jordan: Adventures in archeology will be held at the Australian Museum in Canberra at 6pm on October 26. Advance booking is essential, and available on their website.

Blog Society 20 October 2017
Dieter Spears / Getty Images

In light of President Trump’s recent announcement that the US will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the need for better international solutions to combat climate change is more pressing than ever. As we gear up for the next round of international climate negotiations, COP 23, due to be held in Fiji in November, the prospects for the Agreement are unclear.

How can the international community move forward, given the need to ratchet up greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets?

ANU is hosting Jacob Werksman, the European Commission’s chief climate advisor, next week to lead a discussion on the opportunities, challenges and likely outcomes of the upcoming negotiations. Workman’s presentation will be followed by an audience Q&A with a panel of experts.

With the devastating impacts of climate change becoming increasingly apparent, this event is not one to miss.

It will be held at 6pm on Tuesday October 24 at the Australian Centre on China in the World at Australian National University.

Tickets are free, but make sure you register to secure your seat.

Blog Society 18 October 2017
Westend61 / Getty images

Dr Matthew Grigg was named the 2017 NT Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year last week in recognition for his research into Plasmodium knowlesi, a specific type of monkey malaria that is transmitted to humans via mosquitos in Southeast Asia.

This prestigious award, run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, was given to Dr Grigg in recognition of his commitment to groundbreaking research as well as the need for communicating and applying science for the benefit of his community.

Dr Grigg is a clinical research fellow at Menzies School of Health and Research in the Northern Territory. His team’s research has drastically improved our understanding of the treatment and epidemiology of P. knowlesi malaria, and has already changed WHO malaria treatment guidelines that will save many lives in the future.

He has been working in the Northern Territory for 9 years, and is currently continuing his research as part of Menzies’ HOT NORTH collaboration which aims to close the gap in Indigenous health and protect the north from emerging infectious threats.

Blog Society 12 October 2017
Micah Tyler / EyeEm / Getty images

Researchers at the University of Queensland are calling citizen scientists to assist them in collecting vital hailstorm data during the upcoming storm season.

Hail reports and photos are crucial in steps toward creating the next generation of hailstorm warning systems. So, how can you help?

University of Queensland Hail Research
The team is asking citizen scientists to log information or post photos of hail stones with a comparison object such as a ruler. You can upload the information on their website, post the photo on Twitter with the hashtag #uqhail, or connect on their Facebook page.

Head researcher Dr Joshua Soderholm can't stress the importance of safety enough, and asks that people wait until a hailstorm has safely passed before going out to take photos.

The main hailstorm season in Queensland starts in October and continues into late November.

During this time, a UQ storm-chasing team will also be collecting data in South-East Queensland by using mobile weather radar vehicles to collect high resolution imagery of hailstorms, and hail and wind sensors to measure surface impact.

It is hopes that the data collected will enable the Bureau of Meteorology to improve hail and wind algorithms for their weather radars. Coastal storms in Australia are quite unique with extra humidity off the ocean, so more work is needed to improve weather information and reduce the number of false alarms.

Blog Society 11 October 2017

To mark the release of the Spring 2017 issue of Cosmos, our editor-in-chief Dr Elizabeth Finkel will be discussing her lead story on ‘The Bad Science of Medical Cannabis’ at an exclusive event tomorrow evening, Thursday October 12.

Held at Readings Hawthorn in Melbourne, Dr Finkel will be joined by Professor James Angus who is chairing the Federal Government Advisory Council on the medical use of cannabis.

Entry is only $15, and includes a copy of the latest Cosmos magazine and a glass of wine. Book your ticket to this unmissable event now.

Blog Society 10 October 2017

Today we celebrate World Mental Health Day across the globe. For two Brisbane-born brothers however, it means much more as they finally end their epic 2.5 year fundraising journey in support of the Mental Health Research Program at QIMR Berghofer Research Institute.

Dylan and Lawson Reid, also known as the Brothers Reid, tragically lost their sister, Heidi, to depression in September 2011 when she was just 27 years old. It was this event that inspired them to ride their motorbikes around the world in two and a half years to raise awareness and funds for mental health research.

Despite broken bones, harsh climates, rough terrain and even getting detained, the Brothers Reid are due to finish the last of their 100,000 kilometre journey this morning in Brisbane. This incredible feat took them through six continents and 50 countries over 938 days, spurred on by their passion for this important cause.

QIMR Berghofer is a world-leading research institution, and the Mental Health Research Program is at the forefront of scientific efforts to better understand and treat mental illness.

The key goal of the research is to combine existing work in genetics and population health with new techniques in neurosciences. The hope is that the team will develop capacity to use genetic, imaging and computational approaches to understand and diagnose mental illness and disorders, much like we use scans and tests to understand a patient’s physical health.

This approach, based on improved knowledge of pathophysiology, will allow more personal and targeted therapies that have the potential to change the lives of those with disorders like Heidi’s.

The institute’s research spans mental health diseases from depression and schizophrenia to the genetics of anorexia nervosa and migraines, headed up by experts in the fields of cellular and molecular neurodegeneration, genetic epidemiology, neuroscience and neurogenomics.

The Brothers Reid are hoping to raise $200,000 for QIMR Berghofer, and...

Blog Biology 06 October 2017
Cave myotis (myotis velifer), a close relative of newly discovered species, myotis attenboroughi
James Hager / robertharding / getty images

A study led by a team from Campus Fiocrux da Mata Alantica, Brasil have named a new species of mammal after Sir David Attenborough.

Sir David Attenborough with members of the research team
Professor Kris Helgen

As published in the Journal of Mammalogy, myotis attenboroughi is a new species of bat found only in Trinidad and Tobago. This exciting development was made official last week with a ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London where Sir Attenborough was presented with his newly named species.

As found in the study, myotis attenboroughi is distinguished from its close Neotropical relatives with its unique cranial features and cytochrome-b gene sequences. Similar bats exist throughout Central and South America.

Researchers are still trying to determine if Sir Attenborough’s new namesake is found on Trinidad as well as Tobago Island.

Blog Society 04 October 2017
World Space Week Association

Over 86 countries are ushering in World Space Week 2017 today with a huge array of events planned to mark the occasion. Thousands are expected to get involved in the celebrations, making World Space Week the largest public space event on earth.

World Space Week was established by the United Nations in 1999 to celebrate ‘the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition’.

This years’ theme - exploring new worlds in space - encourages participants to both celebrate the past and look to the future of space exploration by engaging in experiments and exhibitions held around the world.

From NASA’s New Horizons mission to Cassini, institutions will be exhibiting the best of space exploration to engage and spark the imagination of adults and children alike.

Organisers hope that this year’s events will open up avenues to further improve human knowledge and awareness of the benefits of space technology and its applications.

To get involved, search the World Space Week database for events planned near you.