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Science + Technology — Analysis and Comment

Sumatra volcano Sinabung has been releasing hot ash and gravel in the past week. EPA/DEDY SAHPUTRA

Under the volcano: predicting eruptions and coping with ash rain

Living alongside active volcanoes in places like Japan, the Philippines and especially Indonesia can be uncomfortable. Around half a billion people in the world live near high-risk volcanic eruption areas…
Many threats – the lower paintings at this site at Malarrak in Arnhem Land are being removed by feral animals rubbing against the wall. Paul Tacon

Australian rock art is threatened by a lack of conservation

Australian rock art is under threat from both natural and cultural forces impacting on sites. But what saddens me the most is that there is so much government lethargy in Australia when it comes to documenting…
The last time the Wallabies played the Argentina Pumas they lost – was an incomprehensible national anthem part of the problem? AAP Image/ Dave Hunt

Want to win? Let music give you the edge

Let’s hope the Wallabies are inspired by a rousing rendition of the national anthem as they prepare to face their old enemy the All Black’s at tomorrow’s Bledisloe Cup match. The Kiwis invariably come…
Monitoring penguins by an automated camera set up by the Australian Antarctic Division at Whitney Point near Casey station. Australian Antarctic Division/Colin Southwell

Is Australia’s claim to Antarctica at risk?

While Australia’s commitment to a 20-year plan for Antarctica has been welcomed by some it has also raised concerns over the nation’s ability to fulfil a credible research role in the south polar region…
Only recently discovered, the Burrunan dolphin is now in need of urgent conservation action. AMMCF

Small and isolated dolphin populations are under threat

The Burrunan dolphin, Tursiops australis, has only recently been discovered but is already under threat due to its small and isolated populations. Our team of researchers from the Australian Marine Mammal…
Modern day kangaroos exhibit a hopping form of locomotion. Leo/Flickr

Giant kangaroos were more likely to walk than hop

Extinct giant kangaroos may have been built more for walking, rather than hopping like today’s kangaroos, especially when moving slowly. These sthenurine kangaroos existed until around 30,000 years ago…
An artist’s impression of a galactic protocluster forming in the early universe. European Southern Observatory

From galactic pile-ups, stars are born: a crash course in clusters

Clusters of galaxies have back-stories worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster: their existences are marked by violence, death and birth, arising after extragalactic pile-ups where groups of galaxies crashed…
We are only beginning to see what augmented reality can do. Flickr/Ka rlis Dambra

Do we want an augmented reality or a transformed reality?

It seems we are headed towards a world where augmented reality (AR) systems will be as common as smartphones are today – it’s already about to revolutionise medicine, entertainment, the lives of disabled…
Artist’s impression of an electron wave function (blue), confined in a crystal of nuclear-spin-free 28-silicon atoms (black). The spin of the electron encodes a long-lived, high fidelity quantum bit. Dr Stephanie Simmons, UNSW Australia

Quantum computing poised for new silicon revolution

A dramatic increase in the amount of time data can be stored on a single atom means silicon could once again play a vital role in the development of super-fast computers. The silicon chip revolutionised…
This artist’s impression of the Milky Way galaxy. The blue halo of material surrounding the galaxy indicates the expected distribution of the mysterious dark matter. ESO/L. Calçada

Dark matter and the Milky Way: more little than large

While invisible, dark matter completely dominates our Milky Way. But recent measurements of just how much dark matter there is have revealed a bit of a mystery. In a paper published today in the Astrophysical…
A brighter future for Australia’s Antarctic research. Flickr/Christopher Michel

A 20-year plan welcomed for Australia in the Antarctic

The Antarctic is a vast and inhospitable place with a time scale all of its own. For the scientists who travel there to carry out research, a project can sometimes take years to plan and even longer to…
A close up of one of the hand stencils found in the prehistoric caves in Indonesia. Kinez Riza

40,000 year old rock art found in Indonesia

Rock art dated to a minimum age of almost 40,000 years has been discovered in the Maros region of southern Sulawesi, Indonesia. This is an incredible result, published in Nature today, because one of the…
Just before totality on a total lunar eclipse. Flickr/John Johnson

Explainer: what is a lunar eclipse?

At least twice a year, Earth comes between the sun and the moon. The result is a lunar eclipse, where we see the splendid sight of Earth’s shadow falling across the moon. Lunar eclipses are wonderful to…
Conspiracy theories are so hard to debunk because they use science. Flickr/dexterd

The ironclad logic of conspiracy theories and how to break it

As the United Nations warns of the dire consequences of global warming, the commitment of the current Australian government to the reality of climate change remains unclear, with a history of disturbingly…
Moving government services online assumes everyone is plugged into the internet. But who’s left out? Flickr/Patrick Finnegan

The digital divide is narrowing but more needs to be done

The ease of buying shoes or managing our banking over a mobile phone connected to the internet has changed our expectations regarding accessible services. But not everyone is connected to the internet…
This fan finds a signal during an AFL match at the MCG - but it’s not always easy for fans on the smartphone at many stadiums. AAP Image/Joe Castro

Game on for a digital revolution in sport stadiums

It’s the middle of finals season with tens of thousands of fans turning out at stadiums to cheer their teams to victory. Many fans at these and other sporting events already turn to digital technology…
Oh no – not that mistake again. Flickr/Alex Proimos

The 10 stuff-ups we all make when interpreting research

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH: What do we actually mean by research and how does it help inform our understanding of things? Understanding what’s being said in any new research can be challenging and there are…