Ian Connellan

Ian Connellan is the editor of Cosmos magazine.

Ian Connellan is the editor of Cosmos magazine. 

  • Smartphone = personality

    Privacy alert: a behavioural measurer is in your pocket.

    A new personality study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science coolly walks a fine line between ...

    July 16, 2020
  • Finding the flu and watching for ‘wollies’

    Join a study into influenza and look out for pine trees.

    Each week Cosmos takes a look at the latest projects and news about Citizen Science in Australia. FluTracking Y...

    July 13, 2020
  • Peckish pollys and townie turkeys

    Help keep an eye on birds in the bush and the suburbs.

    Each week Cosmos takes a look at the latest projects and news about Citizen Science in Australia. This week Ian Conne...

    July 3, 2020
  • Kelp help & DIY astronomy

    Scan Australia’s southern oceans or its night skies.

    Each week Cosmos will take a peek inside the diverse and, most importantly, rapidly growing world of Citizen Science ...

    June 26, 2020
  • The ‘anthropause’ during COVID-19

    Wildlife going wild. What can we learn?

    Pumas leaping onto walls in Santiago, Chile; wild boar trotting along streets in Haifa, Israel; dolphins unusually fa...

    June 25, 2020
  • Rise and rotate

    Australia’s bushfire smoke reached new heights.

    Last summer’s huge and widespread Australian bushfires were monumental on just about every scale. By the time most...

    June 20, 2020
  • Longest night, darkest sky

    Help scientists learn about light pollution.

    Looking for something to do on the longest night of the year? The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance (ADSA), ARC Centre o...

    June 17, 2020
  • ‘Spiderlab’ films some free-flying specimens

    Cable-suspended mini lab gathers detailed flight data.

    If you’ve watched a butterfly fluttering around your garden, you’ll know that flying insects have evolved efficient s...

    June 11, 2020
  • Far enough for you?

    Study assesses social distancing and face masks.

    Over the past six months, most of us have had to come to terms with a world previously known only to those living or ...

    June 3, 2020
  • Sixth time unlucky

    Study suggests hundreds of land species near extinction.

    There’s something sobering – terrifying is the more apt word – about a peer-reviewed paper that contains, under the h...

    June 2, 2020
  • Genetic knowledge gets a serious boost

    First major studies from consortium released.

    It seems a long, long time since the Human Genome Project was declared complete: in fact, it’s just over 17 years, an...

    May 28, 2020
  • Fancy VR fact-finds fly flight

    Researchers create a world to study their navigation.

    There it is again. Zzzzzzzz. That pesky fly. It’s the only one in the room and it will not settle long enough for suc...

    May 20, 2020
  • What do you know about art?

    Psychologists tests idea that we intuitively recognise values.

    It’s hard not to like a scientific paper that kicks off by quoting from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s seminal 1810 boo...

    May 15, 2020
  • Queueing rules!

    Study examines how venue-entrance bottlenecks affect us.

    Remember that pre-lockdown feeling of funnelling down crowd-control corridors and through security-control gates to g...

    April 30, 2020
  • Open-source hardware and nude selfies

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 27 April.

    The Numbers Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 2,804,796 (84,900 of them reporte...

    April 28, 2020
  • A molecule hunt and curatorial curiosities

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 23 April.

    The Numbers Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 2,471,136 (73,930 of them reporte...

    April 23, 2020
  • What’s human and what’s not online?

    Behavioural differences study could help with bot detection.

    Bots tends to elicit mixed feelings from people – aside, presumably, from those creating them. These social media ...

    April 22, 2020
  • Fast peer reviews and Captain Tom

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 20 April.

    The Numbers Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 2,241,359 (81,153 of them reporte...

    April 21, 2020
  • The origin of faeces

    How to tell dog poo from human poo.

    The archaeological record is littered – aha – with poo, a potential goldmine for insights into ancient health and die...

    April 20, 2020
  • Pharma hope, data and when to socially narrow

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 16 April.

    The Numbers Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 1,914,916 (70,082 of them reporte...

    April 17, 2020
  • Learning to fly – from dinosaurs

    It’s not just modern aeronautical feats that can inspire us.

    Pterosaurs, the largest animals ever to fly, soared the skies for 160 million years – much longer than any species of...

    April 17, 2020
  • How to beat bleaching

    How corals get their food may determine which survive.

    You’d have thought that the ability to produce your own food was a handy trait in any circumstance – and here we’re n...

    April 13, 2020
  • Masked debate and data dumps

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 7 April.

    The Numbers Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 1,210,956 (77,200 of them reporte...

    April 8, 2020
  • Traffic jams mapped using contagion model

    Researchers test their idea using data from three continents.

    Is this a case of a scientific paper that hits the right notes and gets a run in the mainstream? Perhaps not – but...

    April 8, 2020
  • Actual tracing and virtual dating

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 3 April.

    The Numbers Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 823,626 (72,736 of them reported ...

    April 3, 2020
  • Mannered AI

    Giving robots a grounding in workplace etiquette.

    Most of us – not all – figure out an approach to workplace behaviour while on the job and through trial and error. ...

    April 3, 2020
  • COVID-19 update

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 30 March.

    THE NUMBERS Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 634,835 (63,159 of them reported ...

    March 31, 2020
  • COVID-19 update

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 26 March.

    THE NUMBERS Global Cases confirmed worldwide by national authorities stand at 414,179 – 40,712 of them reported...

    March 27, 2020
  • Animal ancestor primera

    Earliest ancestor of all modern animals identified.

    The ancient stone at Nilpena fossil site, about 600 kilometres north of Adelaide, South Australia, has yielded some o...

    March 25, 2020
  • COVID-19 update

    A digest of COVID-19 science, data and optimism @ 23 March.

    Science The research community’s response to coronavirus has been swift, rigorous – and largely unseen. Research ...

    March 24, 2020
  • Ticked off

    Study suggests leaf litter is fine habitat for tick nymphs.

    Many American homeowners clear their lawns of fallen leaves in autumn to avoid creating tick-friendly habitats. But a...

    March 19, 2020
  • House that feline

    Pet cats are just as destructive as feral ones.

    As if Australians need someone to remind them of the danger to wildlife of Felis catus – the domestic cat. CSIRO P...

    March 13, 2020
  • Robotic feelings?

    AI that shows vulnerability makes for better conversation.

    Suppose you’re part of a team in a group activity. One of your team members is uncommunicative, even taciturn. This b...

    March 11, 2020
  • Insects experience the effects of gravity

    And they have more control than humans.

    Gravity is one of the most universal environmental effects on living systems. It tethers us to the earth and creates ...

    January 14, 2020
  • Bivalves explained

    The mechanical mystery of interlocking shells.

    Bivalve molluscs include marine creatures such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. At first glance the bivalve b...

    January 13, 2020
  • Ice, permafrost and Siberian caves

    Cold scientists find clues to a puzzling relationship.

    Permafrost and stalagmites found in Siberian caves have answered a question that has long puzzled scientists: why don...

    January 9, 2020
  • Gene drives work faster against problem insects

    Forcing genetic changes is the best control measure.

    Fiddling with genetics underpins many of the latest strategies for controlling mosquitoes that spread malaria and oth...

    December 20, 2019
  • Need a hand with that?

    If we’re to trust AI, it helps if it can tell us what it’s doing.

    By Ian ConnellanA new artificial intelligence (AI) system has been created that can both perform complex tasks and ex...

    December 18, 2019
  • Bivalves explained

    The mathematical and mechanical mystery of interlocking shells.

    Perfect interlocking of the two valves in the brachiopod fossil Kutchirhynchia obsoleta. Below: A simulated bivalved ...

    December 16, 2019
  • As tough as spider silk

    New manufacturing process makes strong synthetic fibre.

    By Ian ConnellanIf you’re looking for a fibre that exhibits both high strength (it resists deformation) and high toug...

    December 15, 2019
  • Life clock ticking

    Study suggests genetics can predict a species’ maximum lifespan.

    “Would you want to know when you’ll die?” has always been a hypothetical question – until now.  A study published in ...

    December 12, 2019
  • Structured for strength

    Study of mammalian hair finds that thicker isn’t always stronger.

    By Ian ConnellanEver looked at your hair and studied its split ends, fretting over the apparent damage? A new study s...

    December 11, 2019
  • Copy the chiton for flexi-protection

    Marine mollusc may inspire better body armour for humans.

    By Ian ConnellanHumans started making body armour more than 3000 years ago but have never managed to produce anything...

    December 10, 2019
  • The importance and vulnerability of water towers

    Scientists assess climate change and other factors that threaten the world’s glacier-based mounta...

    By Ian ConnellanThe ideal natural fresh water supply system is constant and reliable: capable of storing water during...

    December 9, 2019
  • Weight lifting made easy

    Using bamboo poles to carry loads is perfect.

    For thousands of years people in Asia have been carrying heavy loads – often more than their own body weight – suspen...

    December 5, 2019
  • Pavlov’s plastic

    Inanimate material can be ‘trained’ to behave like small artificial muscles, a new study suggests.

    Finnish researchers have trained pieces of plastic to "walk" under the command of light. CREDIT: Zeng and Zhang et al...

    December 4, 2019
  • Artificial neurons behave like real ones

    Researchers successfully create them on tiny silicon chips.

    An artificial neuron in its protective casing.University of BathBy Ian ConnellanThe authors of a bio-engineering stud...

    December 3, 2019
  • Fibre-optic cables: the new seismic sensors

    Study explores the use of seafloor networks to monitor Earth’s tectonic activity.

    By Ian ConnellanCrisscrossing the seafloor is an extensive web of optical-fibre telecommunication cables used for int...

    November 28, 2019
  • Boats bug whales

    Study suggests human-generated noise is inhibiting humpback communications.

    The call of a whale has long been immersed in human cultures. It features in Hawaiian traditional songs such as “Gods...

    November 27, 2019
  • Need energy? Just bounce the ball

    Researchers develop a table tennis table that collects athlete statistics, assists referees and p...

    By Ian ConnellanThe accelerated development of the internet of things (IoT) and big data over recent decades has seen...

    November 26, 2019
  • How to behave in school

    What makes individuals decide which way to go?

    A mass of animals flocking, schooling or swarming is one of the grand sights of nature: a flock of magpie geese erupt...

    November 19, 2019
  • Getting some SVO for your (auto) SUV

    It’s one thing to make a car that can drive itself. How do you give it a social conscience?

    By Ian ConnellanHands up who’s keen, hankering, positively slavering, for the introduction of self-driving, or autono...

    November 18, 2019
  • Astro assistance for cancer?

    Astronaut training could yield clues for better recovery.

    During spaceflight, astronauts experience similar physical stress as cancer patients undergoing treatments such as ch...

    November 14, 2019
  • Star Wars idea comes to life

    3D imaging starts to catch up with science fiction.

    Ah, unforgettable moments in sci-fi cinema. Luke Skywalker fiddles with something stuck on R2-D2’s er, body, and from...

    November 13, 2019
  • AI learns to design

    Challenge is to solve problems the same way as humans.

    Humans are good at solving big design problems. Such problems require creative and exploratory decision making – skil...

    November 12, 2019
  • Why mammals have such complex backbones

    Dramatic evolutionary changes were linked to their active nature and high metabolisms, research s...

    Compared to other vertebrate animals such as reptiles, mammals have complex and unexpectedly weird backbones. Their ...

    November 7, 2019
  • Maybe you shouldn’t follow the leader

    Model suggests performance ranking reduces meritocracy.

    By Ian ConnellanIt’s one of the least engaging aspects of a modern economy: the mania to quantify and rank the perfor...

    November 6, 2019
  • Jog on – and on and on

    New analysis finds any amount of running lowers the risk of death.

    Why did it have to be running? Wouldn’t a dignified stroll do the trick? Not to mention chess or Tiddlywinks… This j...

    November 5, 2019
  • Light-loving polymer acts like a sunflower

    New smart material could be a game-changer for solar energy.

    Many living things exhibit phototropism – the ability to track a light source and align to it. The best-known example...

    November 4, 2019
  • Species v hybrid. More fuel for the debate

    The evolutionary importance of hybridisation.

    By their nature, conflicting ideas about evolution aren’t easily resolved. Some – such as the role of hybridisation i...

    October 31, 2019
  • Introducing spider (inspired) cam

    Researchers develop a small and highly effective depth sensor.

    The metalens depth sensor working in real-time for different scenes. On the left are two raw images captured on the c...

    October 29, 2019
  • Darker eggs have their purpose

    Colour helps with survival in more ways than one.

    An egg’s ability to maintain temperature within strict limits is critical to the survival of a developing bird embryo...

    October 28, 2019
  • Thin edge of the (ice) wedge

    Eastern Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves have been losing mass for centuries, study finds.

    The Earth warmed by an average of around 0.6 degrees Celsius during the Twentieth Century, an increase the 2001 Inter...

    October 24, 2019
  • Mighty clever flyers

    Think you know all about flies landing upside-down?

    A research team that describes its recent work as the “most complete exploration of fly landing manoeuvres” to date h...

    October 23, 2019
  • Listening for pleasure

    Neuroscience study investigates where our musical tastes lie.

    In news sure to bring a song to the hearts of middle-of-the-road radio program managers, a new study has found that h...

    October 22, 2019
  • Meet the cunning toad viper

    A case of the amphibian impersonating a predator.

    You’d reckon a story about an amphibian mimicking a snake likely would be on the small side. Something like: fingerna...

    October 21, 2019
  • Ancient arthropod collective

    How long ago did organisms start behaving for the common good?

    The American sociologist and economist Franklin H Giddings is credited with coining the term “collective behaviour” i...

    October 17, 2019
  • Protecting buildings during wildfires

    Researchers investigate usefulness of fire-retardant blankets.

    The early bushfire season in Australia has brought heart-breaking stories of loss – of human and animal life, and of ...

    October 15, 2019
  • The power of unbroken bonds

    Sticking with the same mate pays evolutionary dividends.

    There have long been sexual selection theories that predict males have the most to gain by seeking out as many mates ...

    October 14, 2019
  • The bee-all of numbers

    Honeybees are good at maths – if you ask the right question.

    As we know, numbers can become very large very quickly. The diameter of the universe is about 8.8×1023 kilometres, an...

    October 10, 2019
  • Badger culling likely worse for bovine TB

    Measure to reduce spread may be having opposite effect.

    There’s a world of difference between the European badger, Meles meles, and domestic cattle – on shoulder height and ...

    October 9, 2019
  • Warty octopus dives deep for change

    A new study reveals that ocean depth decides the skin texture of a very special cephalopod.

    We like to think there’s lots of variety when it comes to human skin – think colour, oiliness, hairiness, wrinkliness...

    October 8, 2019
  • More fuel for early Anthropocene

    New evidence suggests Maya culture had larger and earlier impacts on Earth’s systems.

    New research from the nation of Belize, Central America, has revealed that ancient Maya culture responded to populati...

    October 7, 2019
  • Late finisher

    Australian pterosaurs may have persisted longer than we thought.

    The pterosaurs – the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved the ability to fly – are a frequent and powerful symb...

    October 3, 2019
  • New solution to weighty issue

    Using drones to learn more about large cetaceans.

    There’s always been a problem with checking the mass, length and various other characteristics of wild whales. Probl...

    October 2, 2019
  • Snappy intro: new three-metre croc described

    Researchers reveal second unique crocodile species.

    These days, as a rule, new species discoveries aren’t news – in spite of the vast number of organisms still to be fou...

    September 25, 2019
  • The decline of nature’s song

    New study on US and Canadian bird populations signals ‘a widespread ecological crisis’. Ian Conne...

    North American bird populations have declined by 29% since 1970, according to a report published in Science.The loss ...

    September 19, 2019
  • Fishy robot outswims the school

    Fake fish proves mighty fine at fin-flapping.

    An international team’s robotic fish – dubbed Tunabot – has recorded impressive speeds and energy efficiency during t...

    September 18, 2019
  • Fast + florid = free

    Speed is important when it comes to avoiding predators.

    Using praying mantids as their crash-test predator, a team led by Diana Umeton at the UK’s Newcastle University has s...

    September 15, 2019
  • Seductive light from the dark side

    The promise of power at night flickers for a quarter of the developing world’s population. Ian Co...

    Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Stanford University in the US have generated lig...

    September 12, 2019
  • A kangaroo unlike those we know

    Giant marsupial had a bite to be reckoned with.

    Turns out that Australia’s ancient kangaroo species have more in common with giant pandas that modern macropods. Tha...

    September 11, 2019
  • Electric eel species increase 200%

    Newly identified Electrophorus voltai is the strongest known living bioelectricity generator. Ian...

    A source of fascination since it was first described, in 1776 by Carl Linnaeus, the electric eel was long thought to ...

    September 10, 2019

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