Ants have the answers when it comes to assessing the effects of land management on the environment.

Up to 20 million ants from 100 species live in any single hectare of the Australian bush, says CSIRO ecologist, Dr Ben Hoffmann. [click to continue…]


Researchers have discovered an underlying cause of asthma-the muscle cells surrounding the airways of people with asthma grow twice as fast as those of non-asthmatics, leading to more muscle tissue.

During an asthma attack the muscle tissue which surrounds the airways contracts. The new study suggests that this contraction is severe in people with asthma because of the extra muscle tissue present. [click to continue…]


A handheld device that can instantly determine whether a suspicious white substance is an illicit drug – or something innocuous like flour – has been developed by Simon Lewis at Deakin University, Geelong. [click to continue…]

Australian researchers have made a break through in developing a quantum computer – a computer so powerful that it calculates in seconds what it would take current supercomputers billions of years.

University of New South Wales PhD student, Jeremy O’Brien is part of a research team at the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology who have put a row of single phosphorus atoms onto a silicon surface. [click to continue…]

Global warming of the earth’s climate has led to the expansion of shrubs and forests in the Arctic that will further warm the atmosphere, according to Monash University researcher, Dr Jason Beringer.

Dr Beringer worked in Alaska over the past two summers with a team of scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. [click to continue…]

Are we viruses?

26 August 2001

in 2001

A radical new theory that could dramatically alter the way scientists view the evolution of life has been recently accepted for publication in the leading “Journal of Molecular Evolution”.  Supported by an increasing body of evidence, the theory proposes that the nucleus of our cells evolved from a virus that infected ancient bacteria-like organisms. [click to continue…]

A naturally occurring bacteria has been shown to control diseases that attack cereal crops such as wheat, and at the same time boost the growth of crops.

The research conducted by Flinders University PhD student, Justin Coombs, found the bacteria in a place it had never been discovered before – the tissues of cereal crop plants. [click to continue…]

In break-through research, researchers have identified genes in mice that appear to be important in the spread of breast cancer to bones.

Australian women have a one in eleven life-time risk of developing breast cancer. For many women, early diagnosis and treatment provides a complete cure. However, if the tumour spreads, the disease is hard to control and the treatment options are limited. [click to continue…]

Illness traced to waxy fish

23 August 2001

in 2001

Laboratory detective work has helped to identify the real culprit in causing illness from eating fish in southern and eastern Australia.

Oil analysis of suspect fillets by Ben Mooney and colleagues of CSIRO Marine Research found the presumed culprit, rudderfish, innocent of all charges. [click to continue…]

Saving orang-utans

23 August 2001

in 2001

Kristen Warren from Murdoch University in WA is working to save Indonesia’s orang-utans. Many captive orang-utans couldn’t be released into the wild because they appeared to be carrying a human hepatitis B virus. Kristen showed the virus is a new, orang-utan virus – a discovery essential to conservation of dwindling wild populations.  

Fossil molecules from cells of bacteria and algae many millions of years old may hold the key to reading life signals from extra terrestrial sources, according to research conducted by AGSO – Geoscience Australia researcher, Dr Graham Logan.

Some molecules within living cells fossilise very well and can reveal evidence of past life, environments and geothermal processes.

Geologists have been studying such fossils in their quest to better understand the formation of major mineral deposits of lead, zinc and silver. Such an understanding will lead to better and more efficient exploration of new Australian mineral deposits.

Dr Logan studied the 1640 million-year old lead-zinc-silver deposit at McArthur River in the Northern Territory. [click to continue…]

Melbourne researcher, Matthew Jeffrey, is developing a new technique that replaces cyanide with a non-toxic chemical to recover gold from ore bodies.

The non-toxic chemical, known as thiosulfate, is commonly used as a fixative in photography. [click to continue…]

With Ross River virus infecting an increasing number of Australians each year (5000-7000 cases), researchers have discovered how it tricks our body’s defences.

New research conducted by Dr Surendran Mahalingam and Dr Brett Lidbury firstly at the University of Canberra and now at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (Australian National University) has found that the Ross River virus has developed an ingenious strategy for avoiding the body’s natural immune system. [click to continue…]

More mums can breast feed successfully

First images of the breast in action

Mothers can be concerned that they do not have a letdown when breastfeeding, so their babies cannot get enough milk.  For the first time, Donna Ramsey from The University of Western Australia has used ultrasound to capture moving images of letdown in the breast while a baby is breastfeeding.  The work is helping rewrite the anatomy of the breast.

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Scientists agree: some people are universally gorgeous. Studies in evolutionary biology show that few things are more advantageous to success than being attractive, since good looking individuals leave more offspring than their unattractive contemporaries. [click to continue…]