Tanks for the space memories

Every day, the Earth is bombarded by gamma rays travelling all the way from the depths of space. These rays, in the form of photons, tell cosmic secrets about violent celestial events, such as stellar explosions or black-hole feasts. Now, researchers are setting up a new pilot project to detect the highest-energy gamma rays arriving … Continue reading Tanks for the space memories

Building a lighter, twistier, cheaper solar cell

Lighter. More flexible. Resilient. These are the core catchwords of the space industry. And Adelaide-based startup Spacelis thinks it’s cracked a significant challenge – solar panels. Photovoltaics need materials that are conductive. And this must be set on a transparent substrate. In the case of traditional technology, that’s usually silver on silicon (glass). Both components … Continue reading Building a lighter, twistier, cheaper solar cell

Trolling, abuse of scientists during the pandemic

Around one in five Australian scientists surveyed by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) say they’ve experienced abuse including death threats and/or threats of physical or sexual violence after speaking to the media about COVID-19. The survey results represent the experiences of the 50 scientists who chose to respond. They are not a random sample … Continue reading Trolling, abuse of scientists during the pandemic

Meet the new chief

Last Wednesday, Australia’s new chief scientist, Dr Cathy Foley, gave the National Press Club Address for Science meets Parliament. Foley spoke of her vision for the future of science in Australia, emphasising the collaboration between industry and the science community, and placing science at the heart of policy development. “Science is a crucial tool for … Continue reading Meet the new chief

“Hidden” thoughts in visual part of brain

How much control do you have over your thoughts? What if you were specifically told not to think of something – like a pink elephant? A recent study led by UNSW psychologists has mapped what happens in the brain when a person tries to suppress a thought. The neuroscientists managed to ‘decode’ the complex brain activity … Continue reading “Hidden” thoughts in visual part of brain

Tim Jarvis on Human-wildlife conflict

It’s 84 years since the last known Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), died at Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart. Locked out of its sleeping quarters by its keepers, it died in its cage, alone, as temperatures plummeted overnight. In 1996, on the 60th anniversary of this inauspicious date, 7 September was declared National Threatened Species Day … Continue reading Tim Jarvis on Human-wildlife conflict

The myth of ‘living with’ a level of COVID-19

Disease management terms like ‘elimination’ and ‘eradication’ have been used in press conferences and media coverage since the start of COVID-19. While these terms seem familiar, they are technical public health terms which mean something very specific in an infectious disease context – and misuse of the terms can be at best confusing, or at … Continue reading The myth of ‘living with’ a level of COVID-19

The secret to surviving night shift

A simple coffee and a quick catnap could be the cure for staying alert on the nightshift as new research from the University of South Australia shows that this unlikely combination can improve attention and reduce sleep inertia. In Australia, more than 1.4 million people are employed in shift work, with more than 200,000 regularly … Continue reading The secret to surviving night shift

Can mums-to-be drink coffee?

There is “no safe level” of caffeine consumption for women who are pregnant or trying for a baby, according to an international study released this week. But Aussie experts argue the warnings are “alarmist” and say the study recommendations may unnecessarily worry hopeful and expectant mothers. The paper reviewed 48 studies over the past 20 … Continue reading Can mums-to-be drink coffee?

Why people get sick in virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology – which can immerse people in real or imagined environments via a head-mounted display (HMD) – has expanded possibilities for how people can learn, communicate and relax. Not just a source of entertainment, VR is now used across education, skills training and medical rehabilitation. In many cases, VR is used to … Continue reading Why people get sick in virtual reality

The zoonotic diseases closer to home

With genetic analysis suggesting COVID-19 originated in animals before it spread to humans, now is a good time to bear in mind zoonotic diseases are closer to home than people might think, says a UNSW researcher. Whether it’s bin chickens raiding rubbish bins, pigeons flocking to alfresco dining leftovers or cuddles with the family pet, animals … Continue reading The zoonotic diseases closer to home

Fred Watson: Greatest Science Cinematography

  On a cold, wintery day there was nothing better than to sit down and check out this year’s SCINEMA International Science Film Festival from the comfort of my own living room. To be honest, I’m not a great movie watcher, but I do know when I’ve seen something worthwhile, and the two films I … Continue reading Fred Watson: Greatest Science Cinematography