Barry Keily

Barry Keily is a science journalist based in Victoria, Australia.

Barry Keily is
a science journalist based in Victoria, Australia. 

  • The truth at the bottom of a bourbon shot

    Scientists discover that spilt Jim Beam has forensic value.

    The mark of a particular bourbon, it turns out, is not its taste, nor its price-point, nor even the clever design on ...

    March 27, 2020
  • Algorithm sniffs solution to problem of smell

    Scientists seek to turn complex arguments into common scents.

    Smell is a messy business. In 2004, American author Chandler Burr described at length just how complex the subject is...

    March 18, 2020
  • Lose the levee and keep the wetlands

    Economics and ecology combine to improve hurricane protection.

    Town planning and city maintenance are areas of endeavour dominated by engineers, so it’s hardly surprising that coas...

    March 3, 2020
  • A simple song but listening to it is complex

    Lyrics and melody separate once they enter the brain.

    Appreciating a good song, it turns out, is very much a whole-brain business, with research revealing specific regions...

    March 1, 2020
  • Algorithms predicting parole outcomes

    A promising way to calculate the risk of reoffending.

    The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, which results in overcrowded prisons and all the additional v...

    February 17, 2020
  • AI can sort cause from coincidence

    Healthcare company spruiks new algorithm, but will it work?

    As scientists and school children know, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Just because something looks ...

    February 6, 2020
  • Red Sea releasing polluting gases

    Previously unknown source pumps out as much ethane and propane as Kuwait.

    Given the size of the oil and gas industries therein, it comes as little surprise to learn that the Middle East churn...

    January 28, 2020
  • Robot pigeon promises new flying machines

    Producing a prototype for avian-inspired aviation.

    As early aviators discovered, sometimes to their terminal cost, the way in which birds fly is complicated and complex...

    January 16, 2020
  • Bacteria may have colonised other systems

    Microbes might hitch lifts on interstellar asteroids.

    Could the Earth be a life-exporting planet? That’s the curious question examined in a recent paper written by Harvard...

    January 15, 2020
  • Robots made of living animal cells

    ‘Xenobots’ are unique lifeforms designed by artificial intelligence.

    It feels like some sort of line has been crossed, or at least blurred: researchers in the US have created robots made...

    January 13, 2020
  • Record year for Near-Earth asteroids

    When it comes to space rocks, there are always more to be found.

    People using telescopes to stare at the night sky on December 20 or 26 might see a distant light traversing the heave...

    December 10, 2019
  • AI system smashes StarCraft opponents

    Fast-paced and complicated e-sport conquered by boffins.

    Computer scientists have designed an artificial intelligence package that can beat almost every professional e-sports...

    October 30, 2019
  • Mercury revealed as hidden driver in mass extinctions

    Fossilised ferns reveal high rates of species-ending mutations.

    Bad news loves company. Researchers have discovered that it wasn’t just erupting volcanoes, massive amounts of carbon...

    October 23, 2019
  • Fungus plus evolution equals a better brew

    Analysis finds hybridisation drove European beer diversity.

    The genetics of beer yeast is far more complex than previously thought, a detailed analysis of the world’s favourite ...

    October 21, 2019
  • Coming soon: a market garden on Mars

    Experiments using simulated Martian soil produce surprisingly good results. Barry Keily reports.

    Don’t grow spinach on Mars. That’s one of the key messages arising from a generally encouraging set of experiments de...

    October 20, 2019
  • Amazon clearing boosts malaria cases – to a point

    Researchers discover a feedback loop that renders people too sick to cut down trees. Barry Keily ...

    Deforestation in the Amazon basin is strongly linked to an increase in malaria cases, a large geospatial review has r...

    October 14, 2019
  • Gene study reveals Bronze Age slavery

    A much more complex society than previously thought.

    High status families in late Neolithic and Bronze Age Germany kept slaves, genetic analysis reveals.  The finding, r...

    October 13, 2019
  • The galaxy might be full of micro-machines

    Nanoscale alien robots could be a thing.

    It has long been an unspoken tenet of astrobiology that in the absence of confirmed alien technologies it’s necessary...

    October 13, 2019
  • Analogue approach to quantum problems

    Quantum chemists may soon be using simulators to reach results.

    Although the field of quantum chemistry has been around since the 1960s, in practice it is often hampered by availabl...

    October 10, 2019
  • Rumbles and donks: the sounds of Mars

    NASA’s InSight team reports its lander is adding to the Red Planet’s sonic environment.

    Scientists listening to recordings made by NASA's Mars InSight lander have discovered a rich haul – although many of ...

    October 7, 2019
  • Infrared imaging gives new insight into Plato

    Ancient Greek text recovered through new approach.

    A new method called shortwave infrared hyperspectral imaging is revealing ancient Greek words written on the back of ...

    October 6, 2019
  • Embryonic muscles echo evolution

    Early muscles reflect ancestral change new imaging reveals.

    Muscles thought discarded during the long descent that shaped humanity are in fact still present in embryos – providi...

    October 1, 2019
  • New gel could fireproof forests

    Proof-of-concept application might cut wildfires by 70%.

    A spray-on sticky gel might soon provide long-term protection against wildfires, researchers suggest.  In a paper pu...

    September 30, 2019
  • Bird mating habits challenge evolution

    Nest parasites breed as a matter of principle.

    A seven-year US study into the mating habits of a parasitic bird has confirmed one evolutionary theory and contradict...

    September 30, 2019
  • Better together: forest fragments are healthier when connected

    18-year experiment validates ecological theory. Barry Keily reports.

    Ecologists have long assumed that plant populations in small, isolated fragments of bushland benefit when those fragm...

    September 26, 2019
  • Trump’s tweets are a matter of style

    Analysis suggests they aren’t as unplanned as they appear.

    The media narrative that maintains Donald Trump uses Twitter as a vehicle for spontaneous emotional outbursts, and th...

    September 25, 2019
  • Hip Hop is a cauldron of conformity

    Analysis shows that samples stay consistent over decades.

    In some circles, a popular subject of post-prandial discussion concerns the identity of the most sampled bit of music...

    September 24, 2019
  • Trust in science wavers because of messaging

    Finding ways to signal reliability is a challenge, researchers say.

    In a period of history marked by mutually exclusive concepts of information authenticity – think fake news, and real ...

    September 23, 2019
  • Technology and evolution

    Use of concepts first developed by fossil hunters.

    Technological development during the Iron Age proceeded in sudden bursts rather than slow, gradual change, according ...

    September 19, 2019
  • Thoughts and prayers hit $7.17 each

    An interesting look at the free market at work.

    Faced with the phrase – delivered with po-faced sincerity by US senators and presidents alike every time there is a m...

    September 17, 2019
  • A robot glider that takes off from water

    Acetylene gas offers solution to high power demand.

    The laws of physics can be brutal, and perhaps nowhere are they more so than in the field of robotics. Researchers a...

    September 11, 2019
  • Salty tales: new mystery for the Dead Sea Scrolls

    Details for the longest & whitest of the 2000-year-old texts.

    Chemical analysis of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls has revealed some surprising findings – and added another layer of m...

    September 8, 2019
  • Gael-force winds drive Scottish settlement

    Genetic analysis reveals Dark Age invasions left their mark.

    Genetic diversity across modern Britain and Ireland largely mirrors the tumultuous invasions and ethnically defined k...

    September 2, 2019
  • Mini robo-snakes in our brains?

    They may explore cerebral blood vessels and lasering blockages.

    Perching exactly at the intersection of amazing and deeply creepy, tiny snake-like robots may soon be used to perform...

    August 28, 2019
  • Sometimes when we touch, honesty is absent

    Nerve-endings misinterpret the speed of moving textiles.

    Close your eyes and pull a length of textile – a ribbon or necktie, say – through your fingers. What you feel, resea...

    August 27, 2019
  • Tornado in May? That’s harder to say

    Research finds US twisters are easiest to predict in April. Barry Keily reports.

    It sounds like a piece of hoary folk wisdom, but it is in fact correct: It’s easier to predict a tornado in April tha...

    August 21, 2019
  • Seaweed-eating sheep of the Orkneys

    Farming became established after animals adapted their diet.

    Whether it’s a credit to the adaptability of early farmers or the animals they farmed remains to be determined, but n...

    August 20, 2019
  • Robo exo-suits to improve exercise

    Project uses biomechanics but tests fashion sense.

    The solution to a major challenge in robotics might have a significant downside, at least in terms of appearances. T...

    August 15, 2019
  • Volume and decision-making linked by maths

    Psychophysics receives much-needed experimental validation.

    Time holds the key to the explanation of Weber's law. Credit: Diogo Matias, Champalimaud Foundation The time it ta...

    August 12, 2019
  • The Earth began to move 2.5 billion years ago

    Rock analysis shifts the likely emergence of continental drift.

    Plate tectonics on Earth began around 2.5 billion years ago, new research reveals, contradicting existing theories. ...

    August 8, 2019
  • Mayans ‘total war’ earlier than thought

    Link between violence and the end of civilisation, challenged.

    The dominant theory explaining the demise of the Mayan civilisation has been thrown into doubt by archaeological evid...

    August 5, 2019
  • Monte Carlo may save Naples

    Researchers combine stress and statistics to refine eruption risk.

    Contrary to cartoon depictions, volcanoes rarely erupt more than once from the same hole. In some cases, explosive ej...

    July 31, 2019
  • Big Red Ball gives clues to the sun’s wind

    Insight into the largest magnetic field in the solar system.

    A three-metre diameter artificial sun has been used to model the massive and spiralling magnetic field that emanates ...

    July 29, 2019
  • Spider silk 10 times stronger than Kevlar

    Protein discovery has implications for biomechanics.

    A newly discovered protein may be the key to the world’s toughest spider silk, researchers reveal in a finding that m...

    July 25, 2019
  • Possible evidence of Cuban ‘sonic attacks’

    Brain scans reveal Havana Syndrome might be real after all.

    The long-running case of alleged “sonic attacks” conducted against US embassy personnel in Cuba has just developed a ...

    July 23, 2019
  • 10 billion years ago, the Milky Way ate Gaia

    Modelling reveals the timing of a titanic encounter.

    The Milky Way achieved its present form about 10 billion years ago when it merged with a smaller, neighbouring galaxy...

    July 22, 2019
  • Robo-skin mimics our neuro architecture

    Membrane lets let robots react to stimuli in milliseconds.

    Researchers from the University of Singapore have created an electronic skin which will permit robots to detect tempe...

    July 17, 2019
  • Mars could be habitable beneath a layer of gel

    Researchers suggest cheap and easy alternative to terraforming.

    Terraforming planets is a stock-in-trade trope of science fiction, but in reality, the engineering solution to making...

    July 15, 2019
  • AI conquers multi-player no-limit poker

    Beating the best in the world’s most popular gambling game.

    A new artificial intelligence (AI) system dubbed Pluribus looks set to simultaneously delight computer scientists and...

    July 11, 2019

Read science facts, not fiction...

There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.