SCIENCE

Stringybark is tough as boots (and gave us the word ‘Eucalyptus’

The Eucalyptus obliqua as seen in Merthyr Park,Tasmania Cowirrie/Flickr, CC Few eucalypts are as versatile, varied and valuable as messmate stringybark. It was the first eucalypt to be scientifically named, and in fact gives us the name “Eucalyptus”. Gum trees had been seen and collected on earlier expeditions, but a specimen collected on James Cook’s third expedition to Bruny Island off...

Five projects that are harnessing big data for good

Often the value of data science lies in the work of joining the dots. Shutterstock Data science has boomed over the past decade, following advances in mathematics, computing capability, and data storage. Australia’s Industry 4.0 taskforce is busy exploring ways to improve the Australian economy with tools such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics. But while data science offers the potential to...

Your poo is (mostly) alive. Here’s what’s in it

Human poo is a concoction made up mostly of water with a sprinkling of the solid stuff. from www.shutterstock.com If you’ve ever thought your poo is just a bunch of dead cells, think again. Most of it is alive, teeming with billions of microbes. Here’s what studies in healthy adults reveal makes up our poo. Water Our faeces is largely (75%) made up of water, although this differs...

The new electric vehicle highway is a welcome gear shift, but other countries are still streets ahead

Motorists and governments have each been waiting for the other to take the plunge on electric cars. Shutterstock.com Perhaps buoyed by a 67% increase in the sale of electric cars in Australia last year – albeit coming off a low base – the federal government this month announced a A$6 million funding injection for a network of ultra-fast electric vehicle recharging stations. Eighteen stations will...

How a near-perfect rectangular iceberg formed

Aerial shot shot of the rectangular iceberg found off the Larsen 3 ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck/AAP NASA scientist Jeremy Harbeck was on a surveying flight over the Antarctic Peninsula earlier this month when he spotted an iceberg that looked like no other. It was almost perfectly rectangular, with square sides and a flat top that made it look more human-made...

Tweaking just a few genes in wild plants can create new food crops – but let’s get the regulation right

The tomatoes we eat have been carefully bred over generations, but now we can tap into wild varieties. Pixabay/go_see The crops we rely on today have been bred over thousands of years to enhance certain characteristics. For example, sweetcorn started life as a wild grass called teosinte. View image on Twitter Janice Person ✔@JPlovesCOTTON Here is what corn started as - the Mexican teosinte! Yeah,...

We have so many ways to pursue a healthy climate – it’s insane to wait any longer

Opportunities to help drive the energy transition are everywhere - even in Western Australia’s remote salt pans.  Peter C. Doherty, Author provided As a broadly trained life scientist, my concern about climate change isn’t the health of the planet. The rocks will be just fine! What worries me is a whole spectrum of “wicked” challenges, from sustaining food production, to providing...

Report recommends overhaul of My Health Record, but key changes not supported by Coalition

The opt-out period for My Health Record closes on November 15. Shutterstock The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs report into the My Health Record system was released last Thursday. It has recommended several substantial changes to the way My Health Record operates that attempt to address security and privacy concerns raised about the system. Key recommendations were supported by Labor and Greens...

Some cybersecurity apps could be worse for privacy than nothing at all

Apple has removed several security tools from the Mac app store after they were found to be collecting unnecessary personal data. Shutterstock It’s been a busy few weeks for cybersecurity researchers and reporters. There was the Facebook hack, the Google plus data breach, and allegations that the Chinese government implanted spying chips in hardware components. In the midst of all this, some other important news...

A Goblin could guide us to a mystery planet thought to exist in the Solar system

Pluto’s ghoulish cousin, 2015 TG387, lurks in the distant reaches of our own Solar System. Illustration byRoberto Molar Candanosa and Scott Sheppard, courtesy ofCarnegie Institution for Science. Out in the depths of the Solar system, astronomers recently discovered a small, icy object, named 2015 TG387. First observed in October 2015, it has been nicknamed “The Goblin” by its discoverers. It is currently almost 12...