Latest Science


Electric car sales tripled last year - here’s what we can do to keep them growing

There’s still a long road ahead in the electric car revolution, but here’s what Australia can learn from other countries. Why This Matters: We need to fill up the tank with lessons from others if Australia wants to keep electric car sales growing. A total of 6718 electric vehicles were sold in Australia in 2019. That’s three times as many as in 2018, but it’s still small beer. More than a million fossil-fueled light vehicles (including SUVs and utes) were […] See more

Published 12 hours ago. Author: Graciela Metternicht from University of New South Wales

Evidence of Indigenous botanical knowledge found in ancient plant remains

Complex and dynamic: ancient plant remains sheds insight into the innovation of earliest Indigenous people. Why This Matters: We’re learning more and more about the lifestyle of the earliest Australians. Australia’s first plant foods – eaten by early populations 65,000 years ago – have been discovered in Arnhem Land. Preserved as pieces of charcoal, the morsels were recovered from the debris of ancient cooking hearths at the Madjedbebe archaeological site, on Mirarr country in northern Australia. […] See more

Published 16 hours ago. Author: University of Queensland Newsroom from The University of Queensland
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Chief Scientist: We need to transform our world into a sustainable ‘electric planet’

“Make no mistake, this will be the biggest engineering challenge ever undertaken.” Why This Matters: We’ve sown the seeds and if we continue to nurture them we’ll see a whole new world of possibilities. I want you to imagine a highway exclusively devoted to delivering the world’s energy. Each lane is restricted to trucks that carry one of the world’s seven large-scale sources of primary energy: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind. Our […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: Alan Finkel from Australia's Science Channel

High-tech shortages loom as coronavirus shutdown hits manufacturers

The coronavirus disease dubbed COVID-19 is impacting more than public health – global manufacturing supply chains are starting to suffer. Why This Matters: When China sneezes, the world catches a cold. There are now more than 70,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, and the disease has caused at least 1,775 deaths. The impact of the virus is now reaching way beyond public health: China is at the heart of […] See more

Published 2 days ago. Author: John L Hopkins from Swinburne University of Technology

A letter to Year 12 students from the woman taking Indigenous astronomy into the future

Kirsten Banks talks about walking through all the doors that open in life and recognising opportunities when they come along. Why This Matters: In life the possibilites are endless. Sitting down at my desk to write this letter to you feels quite surreal to be honest. When I was in your position six years ago, I knew I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I knew I loved physics and I knew that nothing was going […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Kirsten Banks from Australia's Science Channel
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Today’s disease names are less catchy, but also less likely to cause stigma

The naming of COVID-19 has the tone of a committee decision – in the past disease names have not been quite so well thought out and were more likely to create unintended misconceptions. Why This Matters: Labels can have unintended consequences. What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to disease outbreaks, according to the recent communication from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the previously named coronavirus. The virus will now be named severe […] See more

Published 3 days ago. Author: Susan Hardy from University of New South Wales
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There’s no evidence COVID-19 virus spreads through the air – but it’s still possible

The spread of COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be changing, with relatively few cases outside of China. Why This Matters: The chance of catching the virus that causes COVID-19  outside of China is small. A recent announcement by a Chinese health official suggested the new coronavirus might spread more easily than we thought, via an “airborne route”. The virus is now known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), while the name of the disease it causes […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: Katherine Arden from The University of Queensland
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Kayaking 2,500km to capture the sounds of the River Murray

Researchers are travelling the entire length of the River Murray to bring the river’s health back into the spotlight. Why This Matters: The river is still under pressure – even with all the efforts to help it. Travelling the entire length of the Murray River sounds like a nice holiday away, but for a team of researchers it’s less about relaxing and more about re-framing the discussion about the waterway’s health. Scientists and audio specialists, led […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: ANU Newsroom from Australian National University
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I heart emoji: The language of love in the 21st century

Less poetry and more emoji – the 21st century language of love is a little different, but by linguistic standards it’s as meaningful as ever. Why This Matters: Language is always evolving. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” A Shakespearean sonnet might not be very successful in the realms of modern dating, but according to linguist David Caldwell from the University of South Australia, while the language of love has undergone a modern renovation, […] See more

Published 6 days ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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A letter to year 12 students from Australia's legendary astronomer

Fred Watson shares some important life advice on being kind, respectful, having fun, and staying within the law. Why This Matters: It’s important to remember to have fun, even when things get stressful. Dear Year 12, It’s an honour to be able to drop you a line about life, the Universe, and everything. I’ve been impressed by some of the other letters you’ve received, with great advice from some of Australia’s leading scientists. My suggestions for […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Fred Watson from Australia's Science Channel
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Yes, more carbon dioxide helps plants grow - but it's no excuse to downplay climate change

“It doesn’t mean we should, as climate sceptics have done, use the concept of carbon dioxide fertilisation to downplay the severity of climate change.” Why This Matters: Forests play a huge role in mitigating global warming – it’s vital we protect them. The alarming rate of carbon dioxide flowing into our atmosphere is affecting plant life in interesting ways – but perhaps not in the way you’d expect. Despite large losses of vegetation to land clearing, […] See more

Published 7 days ago. Author: Benjamin Smith from Western Sydney University
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Wuhan coronavirus: How worried should we be about the shortage of face masks?

Face masks are a sensible precaution in the epicentre of the 2019-nCOV/Covid-19 outbreak, but in places where the transmission isn’t widespread they serve no real purpose. Why This Matters: We need to take sensible action to tackle Covid-19, not resort to panic buying and stockpiling. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. There have been nearly 45,000 cases of the so-called Covid-19/2019-nCOV in China, 28 countries affected […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Raina MacIntyre from University of New South Wales
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Ancient West Antarctic ice sheet melt increased sea levels by 3+ metres – and it could happen again

Rising ocean temperatures drove the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet and caused extreme sea level rise more than 100,000 years ago. Why This Matters: Future ice melt is heading far beyond anything we’ve seen in the past 150 years. Mass ice melt of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was a major cause of high sea levels during a period Last Interglacial (129,000-116,000 years ago), a new study has revealed. The research, published in the Proceedings […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: UNSW Newsroom from University of New South Wales
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I walked 1,200km in the outback to track huge lizards. Here's why

Sophie Cross from Curtin University trekked across the scorching Western Australian outback to track huge lizards – and what she found is crucial for restoring their habitats. Why This Matters: These huge lizards are often overlooked when it comes to habitat restoration. In 2017 and 2018 I walked the equivalent of 28 marathons in the scorching Western Australian outback. Why, you ask? To assess how some of Australia’s largest lizard species interact with restored mines. As […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Sophie Cross from Australia's Science Channel
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A letter to year 12 students from an environmental engineering guru

Ellen Moon from Deakin University talks about making decisions, and how you always have the ability to travel down a different path. Why This Matters: Making decisions can be tricky but it doesn’t lock you into a path – you can always move another way. The end of high school represents a time of great possibility in your lives. But with that possibility comes the weight of making decisions. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Ellen Moon from Deakin University
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‘Death by a thousand cuts’: women of colour in science face a subtly hostile work environment

Subtle and often unintended microaggressions are driving some of our best out of science. Why This Matters: Science is stronger when everyone is involved. It’s hard for women to succeed in science. Our research shows it’s even harder for women of colour. We interviewed women of colour working in scientific and technical organisations across Australia about their experiences. As well as direct discrimination, they face a barrage of brief, everyday racial slights and indignities that […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Meredith Nash from University of Tasmania
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Sugar ants love pee, and it might reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Pee-loving ants that chomp down on urea could help prevent nitrous oxide release into the atmosphere. Why This Matters: Controlling human effects on the climate is going to require multiple approaches, but is this really one? An unlikely penchant for pee is putting a common sugar ant on the map, and their taste for urine could play a role in reducing greenhouse gases. The Kangaroo Island-based research found that sugar ants prefer urine over sugar […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: UniSA Newsroom from University of South Australia
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What the Wuhan coronavirus does to make people severely ill

As Wuhan coronavirus cases increase, we’re finding out just how it causes illness. Why This Matters: At the moment, medical treatment addresses the symptoms and supports organ functions. We usually think of viral respiratory infections, like the common cold, as mild nuisances that pass in a few days. But the Wuhan coronavirus has proven to be different. Of those infected, around 2% are reported to have died but the true mortality is unknown. Teach This: Education Resource […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Allen Cheng from Australia's Science Channel
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Genetic 'fingerprints' that drive cancers revealed by massive new study

The most detailed database of genetic ‘fingerprints’ of cancer to date has found that cancers have, on average, 4-5 mutations that drive the disease. Why This Matters: Understanding what happens inside cancer cells is invaluable for beating it. A massive new detailed database has revealed the genetic secrets of thousands of cancers. Across 22 studies, Aussie and international researchers have sequenced the whole genomes of 2,700 tumours as part of a global Pan-Cancer Project. On […] See more

Published 1 week ago. Author: Olivia Henry from Australian Science Media Centre
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Wasp nests provide an unexpected clue to the age of Kimberley rock paintings

Wasp nests found on and around the Gwion rock paintings in the Kimberley have revealed the paintings are over 12,000 years old. Why This Matters: Knowing the history of our land is important to both science and the celebration of Indigenous culture. Scientists believe well-known pre-historic rock paintings in Western Australia are younger than previously thought after dating the remnants of mud wasp nests found over and beneath them. The study, which is described in […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Nick Carne from Cosmos Magazine
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A letter to year 12 students from the founder of Deadly Science

Corey Tutt, founder of Deadly Science, talks about getting through the roadblocks that pop up in the game of life. Why This Matters: The only thing that’s holding you back is you. Year 12 can be filled with a lot of nerves and self-doubt. That self-doubt doesn’t stop when high school does! Life is like a game of snake. You’re going to hit roadblocks, but you have to keep going. It’s through that adversity that you […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Corey Tutt from Australia's Science Channel
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If we want to control greenhouse gases then we need to think 'blue carbon'

Blue carbon ecosystems like seagrass and mangroves are a heavyweight in capturing carbon, but we’re losing them quickly. Why This Matters: Blue carbon will play a vital role in a multi-pronged approach to greenhouse gases. In the effort to reduce humanity’s effect on the world’s climate, just cutting emissions is not enough. As well as reducing what we release, we will need to reduce the excess we’re already putting into the atmosphere. In the search for […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Amelia Nichele from Deakin University
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Give 'em a hand: Grey seals spotted clapping underwater to communicate

Wild grey seals have been captured clapping underwater to produce a loud sound – possibly to attract mates or ward off rivals. Why This Matters: Human noises might be stopping underwater animals from communicating properly. Have you ever clapped your hands to get someone’s attention? The resulting “crack!” sound is hard to ignore, rising above and penetrating through any background noise. Now imagine trying to do it underwater – you would be unlikely to achieve […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: David Hocking from Australia's Science Channel
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A letter to year 12 students from Australia's science teacher of the year

PM’s Prize winning science teacher Samantha Moyle has some some hacks that all students should know. Why This Matters: Teachers have some of the best advice for getting through the school year. Dear Year 12 student, This is a big year for you, it is an exciting and stressful time. I hope with this letter, I can help you navigate the stressful times. Firstly, take some time to enjoy this year, it is probably the one […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Samantha Moyle from Australia's Science Channel
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There is no strong, resilient Australia without deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions

423 scientists with expertise across the fields of climate, fire, and weather science, have signed an Australian statement on the scientific basis for the links between climate change and bushfires. Why This Matters: Listen to the evidence. Acknowledgement of Country We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and seas across Australia. We recognise their continuing connection to Country. We acknowledge their continued custodianship of the continent, including the role of Indigenous knowledge and practices […] See more

Published 2 weeks ago. Author: Australia's Science Channel Editors from Australia's Science Channel
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