Raising Heretics: kids can change the world

If children are the future, then how we teach them will shape that world. But are we, as parents and teachers, raising them in the right way? As STEM skills increasingly become necessary in shaping society, a data-driven approach to education may be the only way for the future generation to change the world. Cosmos … Continue reading Raising Heretics: kids can change the world

Deciphering the Philosophers’ Stone: how we cracked a 400-year-old alchemical cipher

Richard Bean, The University of Queensland; Megan Piorko, Georgia State University, and Sarah Lang, University of Graz What secret alchemical knowledge could be so important it required sophisticated encryption? The setting was Amsterdam, 2019. A conference organised by the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry had just concluded at the Embassy of the … Continue reading Deciphering the Philosophers’ Stone: how we cracked a 400-year-old alchemical cipher

Māori voices are needed to understand Antarctic ice core

Antarctic ice samples, which were claimed to reveal remnants of 700 years of land-burning practices in New Zealand/Aotearoa, have touched off a pointed debate about the need for diversity in scientific research teams. The researchers in this case, led by Joseph McConnell from the Desert Research Institute (DRI), based in the US, found black carbon … Continue reading Māori voices are needed to understand Antarctic ice core

2021 Nobel Prize-winners announced

Chemistry The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has just been awarded for the development of a precise new molecule-building tool. Benjamin List from Germany and Scottish-born David W.C. MacMillan jointly received the prize for this new tool, known as asymmetric organocatalysis. So what is it? Building new functional molecules is key to many types of … Continue reading 2021 Nobel Prize-winners announced

Indigenous knowledge and the persistence of the ‘wilderness’ myth

By Michael-Shawn Fletcher, Lisa Palmer, Rebecca Hamilton, and Wolfram Dressler. According to the Oxford English dictionary, wilderness is defined as: A wild or uncultivated region or tract of land, uninhabited, or inhabited only by wild animals; “a tract of solitude and savageness”. Aboriginal people in Australia view wilderness, or what is called “wild country”, as … Continue reading Indigenous knowledge and the persistence of the ‘wilderness’ myth

A mathematician watches The Number 23

Warning: spoilers, for this fourteen-year-old film, ahead. Additional warning: the mathematical reasoning displayed in this film should be practiced with caution. Arithmetic operations are used to model many physical processes in the modern world and, as such, should be used justly, unless you want to watch the world burn. I sat down to watch The … Continue reading A mathematician watches The Number 23

Does science even know what truth is, anyway?

“You can’t just hope to pour a big bucket of science into [people] as if they’re just an empty vessel waiting to be filled,” says Associate Professor Antony Eagle.  It’s a matter of volume. It’s a matter of taste. It’s a matter of digestibility. Which means quality comes second. And that’s the core of a modern … Continue reading Does science even know what truth is, anyway?

How close did the Nazis come to building an atomic bomb?

Nearly eight decades ago, when Allied forces and Nazi Germany were locked in mortal combat in World War II, American and German scientists were engaged in another desperate fight: a race to be the first to develop the atomic bomb. We know how it turned out. But just how close did the Nazis come to … Continue reading How close did the Nazis come to building an atomic bomb?

Cosmos Briefing: The Decline of Truth

‘Truth decay’ is a subject that’s been growing in visibility; the shift away from an accepted and agreed set of facts and data has been eroding trust in public institutions for many years. The trend may have been more profound in the United States, but Australia hasn’t been immune. The challenges presented over many years … Continue reading Cosmos Briefing: The Decline of Truth

Lack of marine policies place submerged Aboriginal heritage sites at risk

Submerged Indigenous heritage sites – called Sea Country by many First Nations peoples – are at risk of being lost because of blind spots in Australia’s environmental management policies, according to two new studies published in Australian Archaeology. The first study, led by John McCarthy of Flinders University, highlighted that the waters north of Northern … Continue reading Lack of marine policies place submerged Aboriginal heritage sites at risk

Gallery: Seeing Things Differently

Next week, hundreds of virtual and in-person events are going to happen across the country as part of National Science Week. One event, run at Adelaide-based X-ray imaging company Micro-X, aims to find the art in scientific imagery. Done in collaboration with Digido Studios and Flinders University, the Seeing Things Differently event will allow people … Continue reading Gallery: Seeing Things Differently

Apocalyptic films have lulled us into a false sense of security about climate change

By Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Silvia Angeli, University of Westminster The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)‘s sobering “code red for humanity” report comes on the heels of months of devastating weather events around the world. Our front pages have been dominated by photos that look as if they’ve come from a film … Continue reading Apocalyptic films have lulled us into a false sense of security about climate change