Jeff Glorfeld

Jeff Glorfeld is a former senior editor of The Age newspaper in Australia, and is now a freelance journalist based in California, US.

Jeff Glorfeld is a former senior editor of The Age newspaper in Australia, and is now a freelance journalist based in California, US.

  • Man who tried to measure weather & war

    Lewis Fry Richardson – morality should always trump science.

    Lewis Fry Richardson was one of the first people to apply maths and physics to the science of weather forecasting. ...

    January 23, 2022
  • Albert Hofmann trips the light fantastic

    Chemist discovered LSD, and kickstarted the counter-culture.

    In a 2007 article, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper named Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann and Tim Berners-Lee, the Br...

    January 16, 2022
  • Sociobiology’s ant man is born

    A childhood mishap led E.O.Wilson to both ants and the halls of Harvard.

    This article was first posted on 10 June, 2018. Edward O. Wilson died last week, at the age of 92. Edward O. Wilson ...

    January 7, 2022
  • Isaac Newton: magic man

    A world-famous scientist with a passion for alchemy.

    In Michael Hart’s 1978 book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, renowned scientist Issac N...

    December 19, 2021
  • Florence Bascom, rock star

    One of America’s pioneering geologists had to take the hard road.

    Pioneering geologist Florence Bascom has been dubbed “The Stone Lady” by the United States National Park Service. But...

    December 12, 2021
  • Australia’s computing pioneer

    Trevor Pearcey built one of the world’s first computers – a big computer.

    In the late 1940s and into the ’50s, Australia was at the international forefront of computer design and construction...

    December 5, 2021
  • Claude Shannon turns us on

    Mathematician, electrical engineer, cryptographer and ‘the father of information theory’.

    Claude Shannon was a 22-year-old graduate student in 1938, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the renowned...

    November 28, 2021
  • Charles Townes shines a light

    From maser to laser, the development of radiation emission devices became a little messy and liti...

    In the 1964 movie Goldfinger, based on the book of that name by acclaimed British writer Ian Fleming, the avaricious ...

    November 21, 2021
  • Polly Porter rolls the stones

    As a Victorian-era girl, Mary Winearls Porter was kept from education, making her later scientifi...

    Polly Porter. The name sounds more like a character in a young-adult adventure story from the early 20th century than...

    November 14, 2021
  • Vannevar Bush invents the future

    From the creation of an analog computer to directing wartime research: the ‘godfather of the wire...

    In July 1945, Atlantic Monthly magazine published an essay by Vannevar Bush titled ‘As We May Think’, in which he pic...

    November 7, 2021
  • George Boole executes a search

    The self-taught maths genius who reached the Everest of logic.

    George Boole was born on 2 November 1815 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, in the East Midlands of England. He spent his care...

    October 31, 2021
  • Jonas Salk wins the fight against polio

    Vaccine supported by huge public campaign.

    In the early 20th century, polio was, as the World Health Organisation's Global Polio Eradication Initiative notes, o...

    October 28, 2021
  • The Kessler syndrome

    Meet the man who predicted the threat of space junk.

    In Neal Stephenson’s 2015 novel Seveneves, he imagines that the Earth’s moon breaking into seven pieces. This being a...

    October 24, 2021
  • COVID Frontline: What’s it like to get a Moderna booster?

    Jeff Glorfeld takes us through the cleaning-products aisle to a COVID-19 booster shot.

    On 17 September, CNN published an online story with the heading: “Moderna’s vaccine is the most effective, but Pfizer...

    October 19, 2021
  • Bernardino Ramazzini is on the job

    Delve into the life of the Italian physician who is often called “the father of occupational medi...

    Looking for a career in healthcare? Occupational medicine, with its focus on treating work-related injuries and illne...

    October 17, 2021
  • Ruth Benerito saves cotton

    With the world agog over synthetic fabrics, a chemist and her colleagues ‘smoothed out’ cotton – ...

    In 1938–39, a department store in the United States capital, Washington, DC, featured a “Fabrics of the Future” exhib...

    October 10, 2021
  • COVID Frontline: letter from America

    Our US-based science history writer Jeff Glorfeld looks COVID-19 right in the eye, metaphorically...

    A few Fridays ago I went out for lunch with a vaccinated friend. Isn’t that a sign of the times! I don’t describe him...

    October 6, 2021
  • Frederick Banting’s search for insulin

    Canadian Nobel Prize winner led the charge for a treatment for diabetes.

    Frederick Grant Banting’s career in medicine did not get off to an auspicious start. According to the Canadian Enc...

    October 3, 2021
  • Paul Ehrlich’s magic bullet

    The Nobel Prize–winning immunologist who inspired a Hollywood biopic.

    Once in a while, the entertainment industry tires of making movies about comic-book characters and looks to science h...

    September 26, 2021
  • Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David – knight in the old brown hat

    In 1920, Tannatt William Edgeworth David was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.  This gave b...

    September 19, 2021
  • Sergei Korolev achieves lift-off

    Meet the man at the forefront of the Soviet space program.

    On 20 July 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon, speaking the now ...

    September 12, 2021
  • John Maynard Keynes figures the odds

    It took a deep understanding of high mathematics to reshape the world’s economy.

    In his 1979 book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams introduced the concept of the Infinite Improbabi...

    September 5, 2021
  • John Cade takes a chill pill

    Australian scientist led the way in establishing lithium’s mood-stabilising powers.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 10 October to be World Mental Health Day, with an aim “to raise awar...

    August 29, 2021
  • Frank Fenner – Australian original

    Best known for his role in eradicating smallpox, Fenner was also passionate about the environment.

    Each year the Australian Government recognises the nation’s scientists and science educators by awarding the Prime Mi...

    August 22, 2021
  • Otto Rohwedder and the greatest thing

    The man that made the thing that made it possible to say the thing.

    How does one describe greatness and its many orders of magnitude? We can say something is simply great, or add a defi...

    August 15, 2021
  • Nobel Prize–winning physicist dies

    Steven Weinberg walked with Newton and Maxwell.

    Steven Weinberg, named by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, as “one of the greatest theoretical p...

    August 8, 2021
  • Full steam ahead: the journey from Thomas Newcomen to James Watt

    Early water pump for mines paved the way for Watt’s steam engine.

    In the technology-themed winter 2021 edition of Lapham’s Quarterly magazine, writer Simon Winchester makes note of wh...

    August 1, 2021
  • Alice Hamilton hates heavy metal

    This medical pioneer deplored the devastating effects of leaded petrol when it was first introduc...

    In the early 1920s, scientists from a wide range of disciplines were involved in what the United States Environmental...

    July 25, 2021
  • Hermann Rorschach spills the ink

    What do you see when you look at this image?

    Splash red wine on a white tablecloth and, along with receiving a scolding, you might also be invited to partake in a...

    July 18, 2021
  • Beatrice Helen Worsley: a life of firsts

    The Canadian was the first woman to earn a doctorate in computer science.

    Being first at something is usually a big deal. We like people who finish first, and we even like people who start fi...

    July 11, 2021
  • John McAfee cures a virus

    Antivirus software pioneer dies by his own hand in a Spanish prison.

    John McAfee, a pioneer in the development of antivirus computer software, died on 23 June 2021. News reports say the ...

    July 4, 2021
  • Mary Sherman Morgan – Rocket Girl

    The fuel that launched America’s first artificial satellite was formulated by a woman – “the best...

    In 2008, American playwright George Morgan wrote a play titled Rocket Girl, which he followed up in 2013 with a book ...

    June 20, 2021
  • Wasaburo Ooishi and the jet stream

    The discovery of a high-speed air current above the Earth was first exploited as a weapon of war.

    In his recent book The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, A Temptation And The Longest Night Of The Second World War, journalist ...

    June 13, 2021
  • Jane Marcet teaches chemistry

    One of the world’s most influential chemistry teachers wasn’t trained as a scientist.

    Jane Marcet wasn’t a scientist, and yet during her life she exerted tremendous influence over the practice of science...

    June 6, 2021
  • Federico Faggin dips a chip

    The man who developed the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004.

    Early 50th birthday greetings to car maker and would-be space traveller Elon Musk, born on 28 June 1971 in Pretoria, ...

    May 23, 2021
  • Ray Tomlinson sends a message

    The brain behind using [email protected] for email use.

    Nearly 50 years ago – sometime during the northern summer or autumn of 1971 – Ray Tomlinson sent the first network em...

    May 16, 2021
  • Max Ludwig Henning Delbruck gets a virus

    Nephew of a renowned brewer, Delbruck converted lifelong learning into a collaboration-enriched N...

    In what has to be one of the best titles for a paper ever submitted for publication – “The Sword and the Armour: scie...

    May 9, 2021
  • John Wanamaker makes a sale

    Is marketing a science?

    John Wanamaker was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the US, on 11 July 1838. At the age of 22 he was already we...

    May 2, 2021
  • Nils Aall Barricelli

    The Italian-Norwegian mathematician was a genuine original.

    In March 2003, science and technology historian George Dyson gave a typically entertaining TED talk about the creatio...

    April 18, 2021
  • Robert Watson-Watt rides the waves

    The British physicist who became known as the ‘inventor of radar’.

    In April 1935, British physicist Robert Watson-Watt was granted a patent for his design of a radio system for detecti...

    April 4, 2021
  • End of a musical era (II): Lou Ottens

    Inventor of the cassette tape made one’s music of choice portable.

    Dutch engineer and inventor Lodewijk Frederik Ottens, who’s credited with inventing the cassette tape, died on 6 Marc...

    March 21, 2021
  • End of a musical era (I): Rupert Neve

    Sound engineer built the equipment that gave power to modern music.

    Arthur Rupert Neve died on 12 February 2021, in his adoptive home of Wimberley, Texas. People who don’t know him by n...

    March 21, 2021
  • Wangarĩ Maathai grows a movement

    Kenyan scientist and Nobel Prize winner fought for a better environment for African women.

    In 1977, more than 40 years before United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York unveiled the Gre...

    March 8, 2021
  • Arrhenius takes the future’s temperature

    Pioneering climate scientist Svante Arrhenius won the 1903 Nobel chemistry prize.

    Each year the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences produces a commemorative booklet to pay tribute to “a per...

    February 28, 2021
  • Percy Julian makes history

    World-renowned African-American chemist battled racism to succeed.

    February is Black History Month in the United States, set aside as a time to recognise achievements by African Americ...

    February 21, 2021
  • Weather check: Paul Crutzen

    Farewell to the father of the Anthropocene.

    Paul Crutzen, Nobel laureate and one of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, died on 28 January 2021, a...

    February 7, 2021
  • Medical first: Elizabeth Blackwell

    Meet the 19th century woman who broke down a critical barrier.

    We’re just a few days away from the 200th anniversary of Elizabeth Blackwell’s birth: she was born in Bristol, Englan...

    January 30, 2021
  • Meet the Hornigs: building the bomb

    Manhattan Project’s prominent couple.

    In the late 1930s and into the 1940s, with much of the world engulfed by war, a group of scientists began to coalesce...

    January 24, 2021
  • Jevons learns to economise

    Englishman helped usher in the marginal revolution, which transformed economics.

    According to The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle’s word for politics is ...

    January 17, 2021
  • Madam starmaker

    Henrietta Swan Leavitt transformed a powerful astronomical tradition.

    When it comes to prestige in US education, few names carry more weight than Harvard University. Founded in 1636 in...

    January 7, 2021
  • Shakuntala Devi counts her blessings

    The ‘human computer’ had a variety of interests.

    Think of the boxy grey desktop computer that sat on your desk, or the massive grey tower computer under your desk, or...

    December 17, 2020
  • James Van Allen was known for his belts

    Apollo astronauts can thank the would-be sailor.

    A January 2017 article in Popular Mechanics magazine, with the headline “How NASA got Apollo astronauts through the d...

    December 11, 2020
  • Margie Profet stirs things up

    Evolutionary biologist hailed a genius then disappears.

    Beginning in 1988, Margie Profet published three papers that caused considerable discussion within segments of the sc...

    December 5, 2020
  • Henri Laborit feels our pain

    French surgeon a pioneer of modern anaesthetics.

    In her new book Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness, Australian journalist Kate Cole-A...

    November 27, 2020
  • Hans Berger has a real brainstorm

    Accident inspires a career and the invention of EEG.

    Hans Berger, inventor of electroencephalography, wanted to investigate the mysteries of the stars but ended up reveal...

    November 20, 2020
  • A tale of two Hoyles and two phrases

    Cards, controversy, science and rules of the game.

    Edmond and Fred Hoyle would appear to have little in common apart from a shared surname. There are some interesting l...

    November 13, 2020
  • Lady Stardust was a star of astrophysics

    Margaret Burbidge found her calling early.

    Margaret Burbidge, named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as “one of the most influe...

    November 6, 2020
  • Robert Hooke, a man for the times

    An underrated overachiever in the world of science.

    Robert Hooke was one of the greatest scientists of the 17th century. Think about that. Hooke was born in England, ...

    October 30, 2020
  • Georges Lemaître comes in with a bang

    Belgian priest a big part of big scientific debates.

    In 1927, Catholic priest Georges Lemaître published a paper in the Annales de la Societe scientifique de Bruxelles in...

    October 24, 2020
  • Barbara Liskov gets with the program

    From chess endgames to the top award in computing.

    If you’re sitting in front of an internet-connected computer reading this, using an operating system and application ...

    October 16, 2020
  • The vision of Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

    Captured for life by chemistry and crystals.

    Crystallography sounds as if it could be among services on offer at a fortune-teller’s shop, alongside tarot cards an...

    October 9, 2020
  • Humphry Davy had a way with nitrous oxide

    Celebrated chemist influenced science and the arts.

    On any number of criteria there is poetic beauty to be found in science. Indeed, there is even actual poetry, as s...

    October 3, 2020
  • Ebenezer Howard gives us the garden city

    His ideas influenced modern thinking on urban planning.

    Think of the world’s great cities and the word “plan” does not come readily to mind. Most show scant signs of intelli...

    September 25, 2020
  • Franz Boas takes a new look at race

    Maverick anthropologist changed our view of humanity.

    Franz Uri Boas has been described as “the father of the field” of anthropology (The Atlantic), the professor who “pio...

    September 18, 2020
  • Ruby Payne-Scott stood out in the crowd

    The short but remarkable career of a pioneering astronomer.

    Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) maintains a rich and lively online p...

    September 11, 2020
  • Émile Berliner and the birth of the Grammys

    From odd jobs to development of recording technology.

    Love ’em or loathe ’em, the Grammy Awards in the US are one of the biggest events on the annual music calendar. Th...

    September 4, 2020
  • Did Felix Hoffmann invent aspirin?

    There are differing views on the ‘proper history’.

    Right now, around the world, consumers could be walking into pharmacies and chemist shops and buying a product that b...

    August 28, 2020
  • Pierre Louis helps stop the bleeding

    French physician changed the face of clinical practice.

    In his 2004 book The Great Influenza, an epic account of the 1918-20 pandemic that has been called “the deadliest in ...

    August 22, 2020
  • Alfred Wegener and the continental drift

    Astronomer’s geological theory didn’t please everyone.

    The Earth Institute’s State of the Planet blog recently featured a story headlined “8 Surprising Facts About Marie Th...

    August 19, 2020
  • Margaret Hamilton helped land the Eagle

    She won many accolades, but wasn’t in the movies.

    When doing an internet search on the pioneering software engineer Margaret Hamilton, we must add a description such a...

    August 9, 2020
  • Casimir Funk introduced us to vitamins

    Polish biochemist explored what was essential for life.

    Over the past century, a vast amount of research has looked at nutritional supplements, without reaching a consensus ...

    July 31, 2020
  • Rachel Makinson and the science of wool

    Distinguished career began on a temporary basis.

    Rachel Makinson joined the radiophysics laboratory at Australia’s then Council of Scientific and Industrial Research ...

    July 24, 2020
  • Clair Patterson helped us breathe freely

    He won the battle against lead pollution and its backers.

    Clair Cameron Patterson didn’t have far to travel when he returned to civilian life at the end of World War II. Th...

    July 18, 2020
  • Maria Goeppert Mayer: from nuisance to Nobel

    Success and professorships were family affairs.

    The co-winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics was Maria Goeppert Mayer – one of only two women to receive it since...

    July 10, 2020
  • Florence Merriam Bailey flips the bird

    She made it fashionable to watch not wear them.

    In the late 19th century one of the first environmental protection movements sprang up, triggered by public concerns ...

    July 3, 2020
  • Nancy Grace Roman had her eyes on the sky

    NASA has honoured the ‘mother of the Hubble’.

    Given her background, Nancy Grace Roman’s life could have gone a couple of ways. She was born on 16 May 1925 in Nashv...

    June 27, 2020
  • Barry Marshall and Robin Warren have guts

    ‘Good team’ discovered what we know about ulcers.

    At a news briefing on 12 February 2002, then US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made the statement for which he is ...

    June 19, 2020
  • William Shockley gets lost in Silicon Valley

    He knew how to make, but not how to manage.

    Silicon Valley is synonymous with technology. Over the past 50 years, an area of northern California once known for o...

    June 5, 2020
  • Friedrich Miescher gets ahead of the double helix

    Swiss physician started the story of DNA.

    In just over 75 years, DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – has risen in public and scientific status from being “an obscure...

    May 25, 2020
  • Thank Valdemar Poulsen for your music collection

    The telegraphone made all formats possible.

    In homes today people might possess recordings in a dozen different formats, from vinyl platters playable at various ...

    May 18, 2020
  • Ronald Ross explains malaria

    He was the first to prove the link to mosquitoes.

    In March this year, US President Donald Trump, for reasons that have yet to be made clear or acquire scientific valid...

    May 11, 2020
  • Polly Matzinger’s unique path to science

    From waitress to one of the best in the world.

    Few, if any, internationally renowned scientists came into their fields of expertise in such a roundabout way as Poll...

    May 4, 2020
  • Irene continues a family tradition

    Younger Curie not daunted by the success of her parents.

    Irene Joliot-Curie was born in Paris, France, on 12 September 1897. Her parents, Pierre and Marie Curie, won the 1903...

    April 20, 2020
  • Nathaniel Kleitman helps us rest easier

    And he often went to great lengths to do it.

    “Without sleep you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and ...

    April 6, 2020
  • History of ideas: vaccines and immunisation

    The story behind our love-hate relationship with needles.

    Roll up your sleeves everybody, it’s vaccination time. Don’t like needles? Who does? It’s estimated that at least 10%...

    March 30, 2020
  • Moore’s law is turning 55

    Intel boss a driving force behind silicon chip technology.

    It doesn’t require a background in computer science, or even a strong interest in technology, to have at least a pass...

    March 23, 2020
  • History: Rene Dubos finds life in the earth

    He was also a pioneering environmentalist.

    In 1939, scientist/philosopher Rene Dubos discovered gramicidin, an agent that inhibits the growth of certain types o...

    March 16, 2020
  • The man behind the telescope

    Edwin Hubble trained in law, but the lure of astronomy was strong.

    The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from space shuttle Discovery on 24 April 1990 as a joint project between NASA...

    March 1, 2020
  • Peter Medawar solves rejection

    A prominent scientist who had a way with words.

    Peter Medawar, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960, once described viruses as “a piece of nuc...

    February 23, 2020
  • Aspdin’s concrete success

    It was the highlight of an otherwise shady life.

    “Our lives are full of artificial materials – plastic bottles, steel structures and glass facades. But while these ma...

    February 16, 2020
  • Fine china from China

    The science and secrets of porcelain were much in demand.

    The science of porcelain would make a good plot for a spy novel – a story of ancient industrial espionage involving a...

    February 9, 2020
  • Roy Plunkett’s accident

    Recognising novelty led to the development of Teflon.

    When New Scientist magazine profiled “eight great accidents in scientific discovery” in 2017 it included such unlikel...

    February 2, 2020
  • Eva Crane: The ultimate beekeeper

    Nuclear physicist Eva Crane found her calling in apiology.

    When nuclear physicist Ethel Eva Widdowson married James Alfred Crane, a stockbroker then serving in Britain’s Royal ...

    January 26, 2020
  • Melvil Dewey gets things sorted

    His classification system made libraries orderly and valuable.

    The world of science can be found in the world’s libraries. That we can find it at all, owes much to the work of Melv...

    January 19, 2020
  • Rachel Carson’s book that changed the world

    Biologist was a pioneer of the global environmental movement.

    In 1962, American biologist Rachel Carson published her fourth book, Silent Spring. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring ...

    January 12, 2020
  • History: Al-Khwarizmi, maths master

    Persian composed the oldest works on arithmetic and algebra.

    Al-Khwarizmi featured on a stamp released by the then USSR in 1983 to mark what was considered the 1200th anniversary...

    December 20, 2019
  • Irving Colburn’s shining light

    His ideas made mass production of glass for windows possible.

    The English language is filled with glass references: people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones; a particularly v...

    December 15, 2019
  • William Ian Clunies Ross, leader of note

    Passionate advocate for science inspired and supported others.

    The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering recently announced that nominations for its prestigious Clunies ...

    November 24, 2019
  • How Westinghouse lit up the world

    Success flowed from the epic Current War.

    “Three brilliant visionaries set off in a charged battle for the future in The Current War, the epic story of the cut...

    November 10, 2019
  • On the road with Maud Leonora Menten

    Pioneering research ‘changed the study of biochemistry’.

    After many years, the people of Oakland, the academic, cultural and healthcare centre of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, kn...

    November 3, 2019
  • Joseph Black, teacher of genius

    James Watt’s friend was also an innovator of note.

    The many recountings of the life of Scottish inventor James Watt are generous in their praise for his development of ...

    October 27, 2019
  • Gladys West maps the future

    She played a ‘pivotal role’ in a popular technology.

    A brief item appeared on the Cosmos website on 6 March 2019 with the headlines “A mathematician, idolised”, and “GPS ...

    October 13, 2019
  • Chester Carlson copies success

    His invention saved us from hours of laborious work.

    Many will also remember a time before copy machines. There was carbon paper in the typewriter, the spirit duplicator,...

    October 6, 2019
  • History: Otto Schmidt, Russian hero

    He was a man of many talents, and many awards.

    Otto Schmidt on a Russian stamp released in 1966. Credit: Post of the Soviet Union / Public domain If Otto Yulyevi...

    September 22, 2019
  • Cryptozoology: the study of mystical creatures

    Pondering the idea of Nessie, Bigfoot and other cryptids.

    So, there we have it: The Loch Ness monster mystery apparently solved. News services around the globe have been runni...

    September 15, 2019
  • How the bunnies got their power

    Looking back on the events that led to the birth of the battery.

    A 2004 article on the history of batteries written to promote a Canadian company begins: “The battery is one of the m...

    September 1, 2019
  • The brilliance of Venn diagrams

    British mathematician also had a love for cricket.

    In late July 2019, Britain’s Evening Standard newspaper reported on how soon-to-be prime minister Boris Johnson had p...

    August 26, 2019
  • Science history: Samuel Morse dashes on the dot

    Looking back on the history of the electric telegraph.

    Chances are you’re reading this on a hand-held device, probably a smartphone, something Americans call a cell phone a...

    August 18, 2019
  • Humanity’s relationship with opioids

    It all started thousands of years ago.

    At this moment there are about 53 million users of opioid drugs in the world, according to the 2019 World Drug Report...

    August 11, 2019
  • Virginia Apgar and the Agpar Score

    Simple system a major tool to assessing newborn health.

    Millions of people around the world have been rated on a scale from zero to 10, and they know nothing about it. They ...

    August 4, 2019
  • Science history: how war has advanced science

    Jeff Glorfeld explores the path to the V-1 rocket and beyond.

    “In war, science has proven itself an evil genius - it has made war more terrible than it ever was before.” So wrote...

    July 28, 2019
  • Esther Conwell and the computer age

    The pioneering scientist came late to academia.

    In November 2002, Discover magazine published its list of “The 50 Most Important Women in Science”. Included was Esth...

    July 14, 2019
  • Fritz Zwicky and the whole dark matter thing

    He’s not a household name, but his influence was significant.

    Dark matter: sounds like a great name for a rock band, or maybe a sci-fi TV series. Of course, it’s both. It’s also o...

    July 7, 2019
  • Science history: the Linotype machine

    Ottmar Mergenthaler created the “eighth wonder of the world”.

    In the mid-1400s, German inventor Johannes Gutenberg began producing books on his new printing press, using moveable ...

    June 30, 2019
  • We will rock you: we’re ready for Asteroid Day

    Events are planned in 192 countries.

    Any dinosaurs left on earth might not share our enthusiasm, but on 30 June we will celebrate international Asteroid D...

    June 26, 2019
  • The start of modern computing

    The revolution kicked off in 1968, two decades before PCs.

    Apple Computers launched its Macintosh in January 1984. It was, the anonymous author of the History of Computers fan ...

    June 23, 2019
  • Huygens, the horological hero

    In a period of scientific greats, a Dutchman was second to none.

    In Quicksilver, the first volume of his immense three-part “Baroque Cycle” work of historical fiction, author Neal St...

    June 16, 2019
  • Straining to understand constipation

    Many people are constipated, even when they think they aren’t.

    Have you heard about the new movie about constipation? It’s not out yet. There is no shortage of jokes about consti...

    June 9, 2019
  • The genius who ended up in a Vonnegut novel

    Irving Langmuir won a Nobel and accidently boosted a hurricane.

    A great many books are written about scientists, their lives and work. But far fewer of them have been portrayed in w...

    June 9, 2019
  • The scientist known as ‘Her Deepness’

    Record-breaking deep-sea diver and environmental campaigner.

    Sylvia Earle is deep. She’s so deep that The New Yorker magazine gave her the nickname “Her Deepness” in a 1989 profi...

    June 2, 2019
  • Le Verrier: A man unfairly remembered

    He lost an asteroid belt but found a planet.

    The annals of science celebrate the people and their discoveries which have changed the way humanity lives, or perhap...

    May 26, 2019
  • Amalie Emmy Noether: Einstein’s mathematician

    Overcame obstacles to become a towering mathematician.

    Amalie Emmy Noether was born on 23 March 1882, in the Bavarian city of Erlangen. Her father, Max Noether, was called ...

    May 19, 2019
  • Robots to decide on beer quality

    AI may cut brewery product development time and costs.

    One day soon, perhaps, beer availability will be determined by robots. ianmcdonnell/Getty Images The international...

    May 14, 2019
  • Nematode worms suffer from PTSD

    Researchers train tiny worms to fear a pleasant scent.

    Scientists have enlisted the help of an unusual group of allies – nematode worms – in their quest to better understan...

    May 6, 2019
  • Beer, coffee preference is about buzz, not taste

    Study finds preferences are rooted in psychoactive rather than flavour.

    You’re a coffee lover, requiring nothing more than a strong, bitter, dark-roasted coffee in the morning. Likewise you...

    May 2, 2019
  • Man who made the first electronic instrument

    Leon Theremin was an inventor, a musician, and a spy.

    With the world in the grip of the Cold War in the 1950s, movie makers responded with a clutch of topical science fict...

    April 30, 2019
  • Cherokee texts still have much to teach

    Writing system encodes the sorrow of Native Americans.

    Working deep underground in a vast cavern system in modern-day Alabama, in the south-eastern United States, scientist...

    April 25, 2019
  • Battle to end the Great Stink

    Early efforts to defeat cholera in London backfired badly.

    Today we might regard a story about “The Great Stink” as possibly the title of a new Adam Sandler movie, but in fact ...

    April 23, 2019
  • Increase in swallowing foreign objects

    US study finds dangerous ingestions have doubled.

    Coins, small toys and, most alarmingly, batteries – the number of children popping objects such as these into their m...

    April 19, 2019
  • Science history: Joan-Eleanor, the woman who never was

    Two women gave their names to a classified wartime invention. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    The Eleanor part of the Joan-Eleanor system was carried onboard the all-wood military aeroplane known as the de Havil...

    April 14, 2019
  • Cool roofs reduce urban heat; green ones, not so much

    UK study finds low-tech colour fix pays big dividends during hot days. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    Creating light-coloured, reflective “cool roofs” in urban areas could bring down temperatures in cities and save live...

    April 9, 2019
  • Antonio Egas Moniz: The man who perfected the lobotomy

    Unfortunately Antonio Egas Moniz and his methods survived a shooting.

    A photograph of a lobotomy patient taken in the 1950s by Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson. Credit: Tommy Lindholm...

    April 2, 2019
  • US policing fuel drug trade increases

    Traffickers and cops are caught up in a complex adaptive system.

    The so-called war on drugs in the United States has been a failure, with the added consequence that five decades of l...

    April 1, 2019
  • Science history: the man who didn’t invent the flush toilet

    Thomas Crapper’s fame is arguably more eponymous than actual. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    It seems odd, both the fact and the commentary, but it has often been noted that many Americans go to lengths to avoi...

    March 26, 2019
  • ‘Natural health’ statin may cause liver damage

    Red yeast rice lacks proper regulation.

    Red yeast rice, a food and “natural health” product often used as an alternative to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs...

    March 25, 2019
  • Standing up for worker health

    Sit-stand desks are in right now, but benefit claims don’t stack up.

    The science of ergonomics has improved the lives of people all around the world, but a trend sweeping through workpla...

    March 17, 2019
  • Concerns raised over ‘inactive’ pill ingredients

    Bulking compounds can trigger allergies and coeliac reactions.

    When the pharmacist fills a prescription, the active ingredients in the medication might be just what the doctor orde...

    March 13, 2019
  • The man whose balls didn’t explode

    Bakelite, the salvation of America’s billiard players.

    In 1993, the American Chemical Society (ACS) launched its Directory of National Historic Chemical Landmarks. Its inau...

    March 11, 2019
  • The fall of chimp civilisation

    Human impact reduced cultural behaviours in ape communities.

    Chimpanzees, our closest living genetic relatives and critically endangered across most of their natural territory, a...

    March 7, 2019
  • Europe’s power grid will survive climate change. The US, not so much

    Modelling shows big European investment in renewables will deliver long-term stability. Jeff Glor...

    A strong electricity generating network dominated by renewables will be capable of surviving weather extremes.kamisok...

    March 6, 2019
  • Science history: the misguided criminologist

    Meld Darwin’s theories with cultural anthropology.

    Cesare Lombroso, a psychiatrist beguiled - and, frankly, confused - by Darwin. Credit: clu/Getty Images “No one in...

    March 3, 2019
  • Science history: Elektro the smoking robot

    America’s first famous bot wasn’t exactly an advert for good health, or high-tech. Jeff Glorfeld ...

    Elektro, having a quick one before going on stage, in 1954.Bettmann /Getty ImagesIn the burgeoning world of robotics,...

    February 24, 2019
  • Source of heavy metals in beer and wine

    Material linked to arsenic, lead and cadmium contamination.

    Health officials around the world are on the lookout for contaminants in food and beverages, and studies from as far ...

    February 20, 2019
  • Twitter influencers are out-tweeted in disasters

    Users with small networks are critical.

    From Australian bushfires to Haitian earthquakes, social media platforms are proving to be flexible tools in spreadin...

    February 18, 2019
  • Science history: the man who quantified ET

    Frank Drake’s eponymous equation is a standard tool for estimating the chances of intelligent lif...

    In 1960, radio astronomer Frank Drake, working at the United States National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Gr...

    February 13, 2019
  • Beer first, or wine? Order has no effect on hangovers, study finds

    There are sayings about what to drink when – it’s all rubbish.

    “One scotch, one bourbon, one beer.” There’s no mention of wine in this popular song written by Rudy Toombs and recor...

    February 10, 2019
  • Link found between walking pace and depression

    Changes in gait may be diagnostic for mental illness.

    Population ageing is poised to become “one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century”, affec...

    February 7, 2019
  • The man who defined drunk driving

    Rolla Neil Harger invented the Drunkometer.

    In a picture taken in 1955, a suspected drunk driver is tested using the Drunkometer. Credit: Orlando /Three Lions...

    January 17, 2019
  • 10 most exciting developments with robots

    Celebrate advances in several different fields.

    From the pages of science fiction stories, to cinema and television screens, to perching next to us in the workplace,...

    January 16, 2019
  • The US Endangered Species Act is working

    Signs of recovery in several marine animal species.

    Withstanding attacks and criticisms from the Trump administration, the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) appears to be ...

    January 16, 2019
  • Science History: the man who dreamed dam big

    Herman Sorgel wanted to dam the Mediterranean.

    The building of dams is a polarising subject, yet there is little doubt that once built, many of them are among the m...

    January 13, 2019
  • Who spreads fake news?

    Elderly conservative males are likely to fall for made-up stories.

    During the 2016 US presidential elections, the phrase “fake news” emerged as a significant talking point in political...

    January 9, 2019
  • Ex-slave transformed American South

    George Washington Carver, a pioneering agricultural scientist.

    George Washington Carver, pictured late in life. Credit: Library of Congress Before evaluating the scientific cont...

    January 7, 2019
  • The submariner who attended his own funeral

    Engineer introduced underwater vessels to the German navy.

    A commemorative coin issued in honour of Wilhelm Bauer. Credit: Images The world's first “practic...

    December 19, 2018
  • Science history: All hail the Sun Queen

    Maria Telkes was a pioneer in both solar energy research and breaking down the masculine dominanc...

    “We know that time will come when we shall require a consciously engineered plan for solar energy utilisation instead...

    December 13, 2018
  • Scientists discover why some wine stinks

    Spoilt wine is a great way to ruin a dinner party.

    Commerce from the worldwide wine market was valued at about $300 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate global r...

    December 12, 2018
  • Science history: The first de-bugger

    Grace Hopper discovered the computer bug – which was, literally, a bug. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    In 1969 the US Data Processing Management Association instituted a new award, the computer science man of the year. I...

    December 9, 2018
  • Science history: the disinterested flight pioneer

    New Zealander Richard Pearse may have beaten the Wright brothers, but never claimed the honour. J...

    The story of human flight is filled with many daring characters, and even more provisos: was it manned, powered, heav...

    November 29, 2018
  • Lynn Margulis, contrarian to the end

    Scientist revolutionised evolutionary theory.

    Evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis has variously been regarded as a revolutionary and an eccentric. The web encyclo...

    November 22, 2018
  • Science history: Kepler’s optics and orbits

    In a time of witch trials, Johannes Kepler was a champion of reason. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    In March 2009, the US space agency NASA launched the Kepler mission, a space telescope designed to survey a portion o...

    November 15, 2018
  • Science history: First among equals

    Patricia Bath overcome hurdles and saved the sight of millions.

    Patricia Bath has achieved an impressive number of firsts. Overcoming sexism, racism and poverty, she was the first ...

    November 11, 2018
  • The appalling toll of children shot in the US

    Firearms are the second leading cause of death for children in US.

    Almost 112,000 US children were admitted to hospital suffering gunshot wounds between 2009 and 2013, prompting paedia...

    November 2, 2018
  • Laura Maria Caterina Bassi: Newton’s Italian champion

    Laura Bassi was recognised as a genius and polymath.

    Laura Maria Caterina Bassi, born October 29, 1711, was the second woman to receive a university degree in Europe and ...

    November 1, 2018
  • Crimes influenced by weather and time

    Misdemeanours are governed by the calendar and thermometer.

    In his 1956 novella The Minority Report, author Philip K. Dick envisions a society in which telepathic mutants forese...

    October 25, 2018
  • Merchant of death who commemorated peace

    Alfred Nobel made explosives and armaments.

    When the contents of Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament were revealed, following his death on December 10, 1896, ...

    October 23, 2018
  • Pando: The largest organism on Earth is dying

    Thousands of years old, a unique clone forest is in decline.

    One of the largest living organisms on planet Earth is in peril and in need of urgent attention, according to a study...

    October 17, 2018
  • The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes: all the winners

    At a gala event in Australia’s Parliament House, 10 people shared seven awards in recognition of ...

    The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are the most prestigious science awards in Australia. A suite of seven accola...

    October 17, 2018
  • Light-splitting tech wins Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation

    The Finisar team demonstrate that many lights make hands work. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    In 2001, while multinational companies were spending billions of dollars trying to find the next big thing in interne...

    October 17, 2018
  • Pioneering earth scientist wins Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

    Kurt Lambeck’s work underpins both GPS technology and space mission planning. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    Kurt Lambeck, emeritus professor at the Australian National University (ANU), has spent decades studying planet Earth...

    October 17, 2018
  • Man who went from bomb-maker to pacifist

    Manhattan Project engineer, later a peace campaigner.

    Marcus “Mark” Laurence Elwin Oliphant was born on October 8, 1901, in Kent Town, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australi...

    October 14, 2018
  • The man who made better beer and vaccines

    Louis Pasteur’s name passed into common usage, where it remains.

    Louis Pasteur’s acclaim is such that he’s become a household name: in the 1860s he demonstrated that undesirable ferm...

    October 7, 2018
  • US project may mask bioweapon development

    Experiments may breach Biological Weapons Convention.

    Insects could be used to spread infectious viruses that have been engineered to genetically modify food crops directl...

    October 4, 2018
  • Ink-based sensors cut sunburn risk

    Australian researchers create cheap and accurate UV monitors. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    Skin cancer caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation is highly preventable, says the United States Env...

    September 25, 2018
  • Elizabeth Stern, women’s health pioneer

    Her studies on cervical cancer and contraception were crucial.

    Under the headline “One More Pioneering Woman in Science You've Probably Never Heard of”, Scientific American magazin...

    September 18, 2018
  • Science history: The rise and rise of John Gould

    Self-taught naturalist became an important ornithologist.

    John Gould, renowned ornithologist and author, largely self-taught, was at the head of tremendous team of dedicated s...

    September 13, 2018
  • AI and optics combine to produce picky robots

    New approach points to more efficient machines that require less training to achieve more. Jeff G...

    Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the US, have linked advances in computerised artificia...

    September 12, 2018
  • Mortality made people vote for Trump

    Death rates reflect Republican and Democrat voting intentions.

    Concerns about health and “deaths of despair” may have helped tilt the 2016 United States presidential election in fa...

    September 5, 2018
  • A Nobel Prize-winning virologist dies

    Frank Macfarlane Burnet laid the foundations of modern virology.

    On the official website of the Nobel Prize, the biographical reference for Frank Macfarlane Burnet says: “It is impos...

    September 3, 2018
  • A pioneering biochemist and feminist dies

    Ruth Hubbard, the first female biologist appointed to Harvard.

    In 1974, Ruth Hubbard became the first woman to achieve tenure as a biology professor at Harvard University in the US...

    August 30, 2018
  • Happy goat lucky!

    Goats can distinguish between happy and angry faces

    “When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you,” goes the lyric to the popular song, recorded variously by Lou...

    August 28, 2018
  • Exotic pets turn into invasive pests

    Cute, unusual animals don’t always stay that way.

    The fearsome crime-fighting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, in fact, red-eared slider terrapins (Trachemys scripta ...

    August 27, 2018
  • Russian trolls, bots, stoke US vaxxer conflict

    Actors use pro and anti vax messages to sow political discord.

    Russian online users known as trolls are taking to social media to sow public conflict about vaccination, according t...

    August 26, 2018
  • Why people embrace conspiracy theories

    The latest iteration of improbable beliefs entering the mainstream.

    “Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it.” George Costanza, Seinfeld (1995) A recent edition of New Yo...

    August 14, 2018
  • This week in science history: Television’s inventor is born

    A single minded Scot, John Logie Baird continues to have a massive influence on modern society. J...

    Each year since 1959 the Australian television industry has honoured its favourite performers with an awards ceremony...

    August 12, 2018
  • This week in science history: Computing’s “baby-maker” is born

    Tom Kilburn was a pioneer of computer design – but never had one in his house. Jeff Glorfeld repo...

    The world's first stored-program electronic digital computer, the English Small Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM, als...

    August 2, 2018
  • From the frontline: Escaping the Carr wildfire

    Cosmos correspondent Jeff Glorfeld moved to Redding, California, just months ago. Here he reports...

    “‘Monster’ Carr Fire seventh most destructive in California history – and growing”That was the USA Today newspaper he...

    August 1, 2018
  • 22 questions for a less toxic planet

    Understanding how chemicals really work in the environment.

    Unchecked chemical-based environmental pollution threatens our supplies of food, water and energy, damages human heal...

    July 23, 2018
  • This week in science history: Rock drummer who conceived the Internet of Things is born

    Mark Weiser was a bright spark in Sillicon Valley who did not live long enough to see his vision ...

    Mark David Weiser, born on July 23, 1952, played drums in the rock band Severe Tire Damage, which on June 24, 1993, b...

    July 22, 2018
  • World’s oldest bread discovered

    An ancient flatbread predates agriculture by four millennia.

    Researchers working in north-eastern Jordan have found the charred remains of a flatbread baked by hunter-gatherers 1...

    July 16, 2018
  • Did Tesla build a revolutionary car?

    Claims the famous scientist made one of his own are disputed.

    Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is often mentioned in the same breath as such giants of science as Albert Einstein, Thomas E...

    July 15, 2018
  • Ötzi the Iceman enjoyed a very high-fat diet

    Stomach contents reveal a heavy preference for red meat.

    Imagine you’re out for an evening of pizza and beer and on the way home you’re flash-frozen into a block of ice, only...

    July 12, 2018
  • England’s enigmatic mathematician is born

    An undeniable nineteenth century maths genius.

    George Green was born on July 14, 1793, in the English town of Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, now part of the city of Not...

    July 12, 2018
  • Bugging bugs to learn about Chagas disease

    Carriers of a nasty illness are almost impossible to find.

    Scientists in the United States are attaching miniature radio transmitters to the backs of blood-sucking insects know...

    July 9, 2018
  • Driverless cars face rudderless regs

    Road safety researchers call for stronger rules for autonomous vehicle manufacturers, before publ...

    The technology behind driverless cars and trucks is progressing rapidly, but government regulations to control their ...

    July 5, 2018
  • Clues to extraterrestrial life from well microbes

    Bacteria underground represent research targets.

    Energy companies using hydraulic fracturing – fracking – to extract natural gas and petroleum from rock and shale for...

    July 5, 2018
  • Crows make tools by design, not by rote

    Experiment finds clear indications of culture.

    The crows of New Caledonia have a reputation for being clever, but new research indicates they may be able to pass on...

    July 4, 2018
  • This week in science history: Marie Curie dies

    The great French scientist pioneered atomic physics.

    In its obituary for Marie Curie, who died on July 4, 1934, The New York Times wrote: “Few persons contributed more to...

    July 4, 2018
  • The mystery of elephant testes

    Very few male mammal species have internal sex organs.

    In most placental mammals, including humans, the testes descend into the lower abdomen or scrotum during development,...

    July 1, 2018
  • This week in science history: an internet visionary dies

    His focus was military, but Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider research resonates most in the internet...

    Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, who died on June 26, 1990, helped envision and enable the modern wired world.A 2015 ar...

    June 25, 2018
  • The paradigm shifter dies

    Kuhn changed our understanding on scientific progress.

    As a budding young American scholar, Thomas Kuhn, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 18, 1922, studied physics...

    June 19, 2018
  • If Kennedy was alive today, he’d still be dead

    Modern medicine could have done nothing to help.

    Half a century after the assassination of US senator Robert F. Kennedy, a new report finds that the gunshot wounds he...

    June 19, 2018
  • Genetic expansion underpins tree longevity

    Analysis reveals why species can grow old without getting sick.

    The oak tree has symbolised strength and endurance for thousands of years and across many cultures. Researchers writi...

    June 18, 2018
  • Fossil named after Bowie raises many questions

    Ancient South American mammal co-existed with dinosaurs.

    The late British artist David Bowie has been feted for his vast catalogue of musical achievements, but now he has bee...

    June 13, 2018
  • Lizards avoid predation by scaring predators

    Scientists have discovered the purpose of its trademark feature.

    The common blue-tongue lizard (Tiliqua sincoides), found throughout mainland Australia, uses its tongue as a defence ...

    June 13, 2018
  • Diet of early humans in Borneo

    Jaw analysis reveals a tough diet for tough conditions.

    Human remains found more than 60 years ago in the spectacular Niah Caves of Borneo, in Sarawak, Malaysia, have yielde...

    June 11, 2018
  • Study links processed meat and cancers

    Researchers echo warning of carcinogenic properties.

    In 2015, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified processed meat...

    June 7, 2018
  • This week in science history: Alan Turing dies

    A brilliant mathematician and a tragic victim of prejudice.

    Alan Turing, born in Paddington, London, on June 23, 1912, became a celebrity long after his death, on June 8, 1954, ...

    June 7, 2018
  • Disgust, codified

    Types of revulsion linked to the evolution of disease avoidance.

    “That’s disgusting!” It’s a common refrain, heard in a wide variety of contexts and situations. But now researchers ...

    June 6, 2018
  • Heavy astronauts risk eye damage

    Vision damage caused by space-flight is heavily influenced by weight. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    China, India, Japan and the European Union all have burgeoning crewed space programs, the United States is contemplat...

    June 5, 2018
  • “Stranded” fossil fuel assets may prompt $4 trillion crisis

    Report finds fossil fuel investment in the face of decreasing demand is potentially a recipe for ...

    The world could be heading for fiscal havoc on a scale not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, erasing as much as $...

    June 4, 2018
  • Ancient American lineages reunited

    Genetic evidence overturns single origin theory.

    A new study suggests a commonly held belief – that the majority of Native North, Central and South Americans derived ...

    May 31, 2018
  • Margarine inventor’s fame spreads

    Chemist invented many things, but is remembered for only one.

    French scientist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès died on May 31, 1880. And yes, he is recognised as the inventor of margarine,...

    May 30, 2018
  • Designing the currant hairstyles

    Popular cordial byproduct could be a sustainable fashion aid.

    Imagine a product that is vitamin rich, yields a byproduct that makes us appear more youthful (we hope), and is good ...

    May 30, 2018
  • The unregarded palaeontologist is born

    Mary Anning, a genius woman in a man’s England.

    Hugh Torrens, an esteemed British historian of geology and palaeontology, has called Mary Anning “the greatest fossil...

    May 20, 2018
  • The mathematicians’ mathematician is born

    Bertrand Russell was a one-man logical powerhouse.

    At various times in his long and distinguished life, Bertrand Russell – born on May 18, 1872, at Trelleck in Monmouth...

    May 17, 2018
  • Woman who found hydrogen in the stars

    Today, recognised as an equal to Newton and Einstein.

    Cecilia Payne, born on May 10, 1900, in Wendover, England, began her scientific career in 1919 with a scholarship to ...

    May 9, 2018
  • Geothermal power generation may have triggered earthquake

    Analysis suggests powerful water injections into rock may have caused a big quake in South Korea....

    The 5.4 magnitude earthquake that hit the South Korean city of Pohang on November 15, 2017 – one of the strongest to ...

    April 26, 2018
  • Man who melded science and photography

    The first clear photographs of a female face, and the moon.

    In science, one person’s discovery can open the door to a rush of advancements, supplemental developments and ancilla...

    April 26, 2018
  • California screaming: the biggest economy in the US faces catastrophic climate challenges

    New modelling predicts extreme droughts and floods, threatening lives and livelihoods. Jeff Glorf...

    California, the most populous state in the US, faces a future marked by “precipitation whiplash events” – extreme swi...

    April 23, 2018
  • The man who found the cause of a great epidemic

    Vet made some of the world’s most important discoveries.

    William Ian Beardmore (“WIB”) Beveridge was born into a farming family on April 23,1908, in Junee, southern New South...

    April 22, 2018
  • Ancient skull suggests brain surgery on cows

    Neolithic people practiced brain operations prior to humans.

    New analysis of an almost complete skull of a cow from a Neolithic site in France suggests it may have undergone cran...

    April 19, 2018
  • The dark lady of DNA dies

    Denying her the Nobel her colleagues felt she deserved.

    The Nobel Committee does not make posthumous prize nominations, but if it did, British chemist and researcher Rosalin...

    April 15, 2018
  • Birds may see magnetic field with help of protein

    Evidence of a special molecule to use magnetism for navigation.

    New research has taken a step further towards understanding how birds detect the magnetic field of the Earth and use ...

    April 10, 2018
  • The “Wizard of Schenectady” is born

    Charles Steinmetz transformed the electric power industry.

    He was called the Wizard of Schenectady, and counted as friends Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. He s...

    April 8, 2018
  • This week in science history: Jane Goodall is born

    British anthropologist and conservationist who conducted groundbreaking studies of chimpanzees is...

    Jane Goodall turns 84 on April 3. In March 1957, aged 22, she departed London on her first trip to Africa. Many years...

    April 2, 2018
  • Eating out increases exposure to phthalates

    Restaurants as well as fast food joints up the risk.

    Eating too much fast food is bad for us, in many ways, not least of which is exposure to phthalates, a class of indus...

    March 29, 2018
  • Hunter-gatherers ignored climate change

    Lengthy cold snaps didn’t disrupt well established settlement.

    Scientists examining an internationally important archaeological site from about 8000 years ago, which hosted an acti...

    March 26, 2018
  • This week in science history: The world’s first female aircraft engineer is born

    Elsie MacGill as a trailblazing feminist and engineer who oversaw the production of WWII Canadian...

    In the rarefied world of comic book heroes, women are indeed rare: Wonder Woman, Jean Gray, Rogue, and some other mar...

    March 26, 2018
  • This week in science history: Unacknowledged, the first forensic fingerprinter dies

    Henry Faulds was perhaps the first person to understand the uniqueness of fingerprints. Then Darw...

    Henry Faulds, arguably the inventor of forensic fingerprinting.Wikiemedia CommonsFrom Sherlock Holmes to Kay Scarpett...

    March 22, 2018
  • Watching the bat detectives

    Citizen scientists help identify bat calls in noisy environments.

    Bats are everywhere – almost – and have been found to be particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change, so ...

    March 8, 2018
  • Cheers! Climate change will not destroy grapevines

    French research suggests panic over threats to the world’s wine industry might have been a bit pr...

    A new study that describes grapevines as “crops of global economic importance” which “will face increasing drought st...

    January 31, 2018
  • Lovely but lethal millipede discovered

    Species is multi-coloured and uniformly poisonous.

    The combination of beauty and danger is beloved in the arts because it is frequently seen in nature, in creatures suc...

    January 29, 2018
  • Efficient rectenna one step closer

    Pollution-free power for sensors and internet devices on the way.

    The research team that demonstrated the first optical rectenna, in 2015, is now reporting a two-fold efficiency impro...

    January 29, 2018
  • Buzz off! Elephants give bees a wide berth

    Beehives may resolve conflict between elephants and farmers.

    Despite the well-known cartoon image of an elephant being terrified by a mouse, there is no formal evidence of these ...

    January 25, 2018
  • Music really is a universal language

    Songs share common forms and functions across cultures.

    Tin Pan Alley, the Brill Building, Motown – all names synonymous with the creation of often formulaic yet highly succ...

    January 25, 2018
  • Meet a fly named after Schwarzenegger

    Amazon insect is contender for world’s smallest fly.

    Fiji is home to the endangered Ba humbugi snail, and in Borneo is found the type of mushroom Spongiforma squarepantsi...

    January 24, 2018
  • Portable sequencer prepped for Mars life mission

    Canadian researchers trial handheld DNA tech in proof-of-concept for detecting life on other plan...

    The Red Planet is enjoying a surge in popularity, thanks to the recent television series Mars, by director Ron Howard...

    January 22, 2018
  • Hot weather banjaxes bird bollocks

    Australian research finds heatwave reduce fertility in zebra finches, signaling a long-term chall...

    Across the globe, animals are increasingly being exposed to more frequent and intense heat waves. A team of scientist...

    January 17, 2018
  • Mantis shrimp hits like a heavyweight

    Research discovers why a shrimp doesn’t destroy itself.

    In the world of boxing, the former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has been touted as the hardest hitter; and amateur...

    January 16, 2018
  • 18 new species of spiders that look like pelicans

    Once thought extinct, the pelican spiders turn out to be highly diverse.

    There are wolf spiders (family Lycosidae), mouse spiders (Missulena occatoria), lynx spiders (family Oxyopidae), and ...

    January 11, 2018
  • Med diet may protect against frailty in old age

    Cutting down on red meat might keep you strong in the winter of life.

    Following a so-called Mediterranean diet is frequently attributed to a range of health benefits, from reducing the ri...

    January 11, 2018
  • Cop shows don’t help crims do better crimes

    German research finds the “CSI effect” is more fiction than fact.

    Have real-life criminals learnt from television how to better conceal their illegal activities? In the first study of...

    January 8, 2018
  • The taste of calcium is a warning signal

    The so-called “sixth taste” might be a strongly conserved safeguard.

    Researchers trying to more fully understand the ability to taste calcium have established that it can be detected by ...

    January 7, 2018
  • Warning to winemakers: grow new grapes or perish

    To survive climate change, vignerons need a war on terroir. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    Climate change is creating myriad challenges for the world’s farmers, including wine-grape growers. Vignerons may be ...

    January 5, 2018
  • Bonobos prefer bad guys

    Unlike us, our closest relatives favour those who hinder over those who help.

    The quality of being helpful is a valued trait among humans, so much so that by the age of three months, infants have...

    January 4, 2018
  • Moderate warming tipped to produce flood of refugees into Europe

    Climate modelling finds temperature increase as significant as conflict in creating asylum-seeker...

    Over the past two decades, the global population of forcibly displaced people has grown substantially, from 33.9 mill...

    December 21, 2017
  • DARPA study finds cyanide-spitting bacteria

    A novel microbial defence mechanism with implications for antibiotics research.

    Scientists trying to understand how pathogenic bacteria protect themselves against antibiotics have found a bacterium...

    December 20, 2017
  • Hibernating hamsters don’t feel the cold

    Particular protein that lets rodents sleep for months without feeling stressed.

    Anyone who has awakened in a cold bed, with all the blankets wrapped around the sleeper next to them, will marvel at ...

    December 19, 2017
  • An ancient bear with toothache

    Fossil points to early ursine immigration and sugar-rich diet.

    Winnie the Pooh’s fondness for honey is renowned, but author A.A. Milne never discussed his creation’s dental records...

    December 19, 2017
  • The dice were cast against rhino survival 12,000 years ago

    The world’s rarest rhino might have been doomed by ancient climate change.

    The Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), one of the most threatened mammals on earth, has seen its numbers...

    December 14, 2017
  • Study finds conservatives can change their minds

    Individual perceptions will drift towards consensus if presented correctly. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    Differences of opinion between those who consider themselves conservative or liberal often appear to be unbridgeable,...

    December 13, 2017
  • Sex hormones linked to asthma risk

    US research finds gender and puberty strongly affect asthma risk in mice and humans.

    Women are twice as likely as men to have asthma, but before puberty the pattern is reversed, with boys the most commo...

    November 30, 2017
  • History sinks beneath the waves

    Studies find that many historical sites around the world will be inundated by climate change-indu...

    Rising sea levels brought about by climate change have been shown to threaten catastrophic destruction to communities...

    November 29, 2017
  • El Niño boosts fires in Asia, reduces them in Australia

    Wildfire data shows the effects of climate cycling are more complex – but more predictable – than...

    The global weather cycle known as El Niño leads to a significant increase in bushfires and subsequent carbon emission...

    November 28, 2017
  • Whales enjoy a good rock-rub exfoliation

    The purpose of characteristic bowhead whale behaviour has now been explained.

    Arctic bowhead whales travel to warm water fiords in order to give themselves exfoliating treatments, drone footage h...

    November 23, 2017
  • The fly that lives underwater

    In a California saltwater lake, one fly species has invented the bathysphere.

    No less a personage than the renowned American writer Mark Twain more than a century ago observed the curious case of...

    November 22, 2017
  • Spirit drinking linked to aggressive emotion

    Different types of alcohol prompt different emotional responses.

    Drinking spirits is more likely to draw out aggression and other negative feelings than all other types of alcohol, a...

    November 22, 2017
  • Brain zaps can alter responses to music

    Canadian researchers map the pathways for musical enjoyment.

    The enjoyment we get from food and sex is generally considered to be an evolutionary mechanism to encourage us to pur...

    November 20, 2017
  • Your house is full of creepy-crawlies, and that’s probably good

    Forget dark, windowless attics, house bugs like light, bright living rooms.

    Humans have lived under the same roof with bugs since we first began building shelters, 20,000 years ago. Next time y...

    November 15, 2017
  • Georgia on my wine

    Neolithic grapevines were the same species as ones today.

    Relatives of the grapevines that produce nearly all the wine made in the world today were first cultivated in Eurasia...

    November 14, 2017
  • A rose by any other name is phenylethyl acetate

    The role of yeast in adding flavor and aroma to wine and beer is becoming clear.

    The French biologist and chemist Louis Pasteur said of wine that it “can be considered with good reason as the most h...

    November 12, 2017
  • Day cuts heal faster than night ones

    The complex influence of circadian rhythms affects even lacerations and burns.

    Wounds such as cuts and burns suffered during the day heal about 60% faster than those incurred at night, a new study...

    November 8, 2017
  • Wild yeasts make potent fungicides

    Winemakers could use a natural fungus to control grape rot.

    In a discovery that could benefit the environment and provide a multimillion-dollar windfall for grape growers the wo...

    November 5, 2017
  • Giraffe ancestors roamed Spain

    New species and extended range of the ancient giraffe family.

    A fossilised skeleton unearthed in Spain may extend both the range and timespan of the animal family that today conta...

    November 2, 2017
  • Lab mice train themselves

    System gets mice ready for experiments in a fraction of time it takes humans to train them.

    Researchers at the Riken Brain Science Institute in Japan say they have a way to fully automate the training of mice ...

    October 31, 2017
  • Kakadu “underwater” in less than a century, report finds

    CSIRO modelling finds the World Heritage site faces a “diabolical” future. Jeff Glorfeld reports.

    Northern Australia’s iconic Kakadu National Park could be largely overwhelmed by rising seawater in fewer than 90 yea...

    October 30, 2017
  • Evolutionary history a better key for conservation targets

    A new analysis suggests a radical rethink for protecting the world’s mammals.

    An “extinction crisis” is affecting every continent on earth, but a new study published in the journal Proceedings of...

    October 29, 2017
  • World’s oldest known tsunami victim

    Bone fragments could provide clues to surviving calamities.

    A partial human skull found in 1929 on the north coast of Papua New Guinea could belong to the world's oldest known t...

    October 26, 2017
  • Study: Huge sugarcane expansion could send CO2 emissions south

    Scientists from the US and Brazil find boosting biofuel cropping could reduce greenhouse gases. J...

    Imagine a farming operation that envisions expanding its area under cultivation by the equivalent combined land masse...

    October 24, 2017
  • The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

    Four outstanding scientists and two extraordinary science teachers awarded.

    Light-emitting nano-particles, toothpaste and kangaroo genomes are among the subjects to which Australia’s best and b...

    October 18, 2017
  • Genes and teeth win the day at Prime Minister’s Science Awards

    Australia’s prime minister honours researchers in science’s big night.

    Pioneering genetics researcher Professor Jenny Graves has won the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, the peak h...

    October 18, 2017
  • No evidence popular pelvic exercise works

    Study concludes AHT method is controversial and lacks proof.

    Abdominal hypopressive technique (AHT), an exercise method widely touted for 20 years as a way of controlling bladder...

    October 17, 2017
  • CSL hands over $2.5 million for research

    Australian biotech company gives researchers grants to encourage new research.

    Two Australian scientists have each been given $1.25 million over five years through the CSL Centenary Fellowship pro...

    October 16, 2017
  • Last common ape ancestor was much smaller than thought

    Proto-ape was only the size of a gibbon.

    The last common ancestor of apes, including humans and chimpanzees, was much smaller than previously thought, about t...

    October 15, 2017
  • What a lark: bird collections reflect air pollution

    Birds lodged at museums for more than a century are providing insights to soot levels in America’...

    Researchers who examined a collection of dead and dirty birds hope their discoveries could provide valuable tools for...

    October 10, 2017
  • Cannabis and mental illness link to violence

    A strong predictor of violent behavior.

    Habitual cannabis use among the mentally ill is being linked to an increase in violent behaviour, according to a stud...

    October 10, 2017
  • Gene mutation gives budgerigars their colours

    What makes a parakeet yellow is completely different to what makes a canary yellow.

    Why are budgerigars and other parrots so brightly coloured, with their hues of red to yellow? And why are there blue ...

    October 5, 2017
  • Ancient Polish tool originated in Finland

    Evidence shows long-distance trade occurred 11,000 years ago.

    Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in north-eastern Europe travelled thousands of kilometres to trade and exchange gifts wi...

    October 5, 2017
  • Ichthyosaur died young, but with a full belly

    The smallest and youngest ichthyosaur on record.

    British scientists have identified the smallest and youngest ichthyosaurus on record, along with a surprise preserved...

    October 3, 2017
  • Scientists mind their language

    Analysis overturns assumptions about how languages diverge.

    When someone says they’re “going on a hike”, we take it to mean they’re planning a strenuous walk. But it we’re told ...

    October 3, 2017
  • Single mutation turned Zika from irritant to horror

    A change in just one amino acid triggered the virus’s ability to cause birth defects.

    The Zika virus, declared in February 2016 by the World Health Organisation to be a Public Health Emergency of Interna...

    September 28, 2017
  • With blood, fresh is not best

    Older stored transfusion blood delivers better outcomes than freshly harvested.

    A landmark Australian research trial has found that blood, like good red wine, improves with age – at least when it’s...

    September 28, 2017
  • Pumpkins are more complex than you think

    An unexpected genome doubling may explain how pumpkins and cucumbers evolved.

    On the evolutionary path, pumpkins and grapes parted ways between 121 and 145 million years ago, according to new res...

    September 28, 2017
  • Is evaporation the next great renewable?

    Lakes and reservoirs could hold the solution to inconsistent power supply, writes Jeff Glorfeld.

    Anyone who has observed a puddle of water gradually dry and disappear has seen natural water evaporation in action. N...

    September 26, 2017
  • Radiation modelling offers crop disease hope

    The UK weather bureau has a hand in assessing risks for potential famine-causing rust outbreaks, ...

    Wheat infected with wheat stem rust.CIMMYTAggressive new strains of the stem rust plant disease – such as Ug99, so na...

    September 26, 2017

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.