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Pilots have the privilege of a birds-eye view, but should they resist the temptation to snap from the cockpit? Frans Zwart/Flickr

When ‘selfies’ extend to plane cockpits, pilots could land themselves in trouble

Last week, Quartz published an article showcasing photographs pilots have taken from the cockpit of aircraft to post on Instagram. As explained in the story, by taking these photos - many of which appear…
An artist’s conception of a of gamma ray burst. ESO/NAOJ

Gamma ray bursts and biases: let’s stop fitting data to the model

Our understanding of gamma ray bursts (GRBs) – flashes of gamma rays from explosions in distant galaxies – since they were discovered more than 50 years ago may not be as solid as first thought. Research…
A TV ad featuring an Australian woman travelling to Bali and falling for a Balinese man captures Australia’s love affair with Indonesia. EPA/Made Nagi

Look who’s talking: Indonesian in Australia

Recently, Indonesian language has begun to make an appearance in Australian popular media. There is evidence too that, after years of decline, student interest in Indonesian language and studying in Indonesia…
You float on a causeway in ‘The Light Inside’ through a field of illumination that gradually shifts from blue to crimson to magenta. James Turrell, 1999. Ed Schipul/Flickr

James Turrell, a mythic artist in the contemporary constellation

James Turrell: A Retrospective opens at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra on December 13. The show documents the Californian-born artist’s practice over almost 50 years, including his…
Australian farmers apply nearly a million tonnes of nitrogen-based fertilisers every year. Pete Hill/Flickr

Meet N2O, the greenhouse gas 300 times worse than CO2

When we talk about greenhouse gases we usually talk about carbon dioxide. When media reports depict climate change, we invariably see the cooling towers of a coal power station. Which is fair, because…

Staying engaged in the asylum seeker story

When I first heard someone say, “today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chips paper”, my immediate reaction was to nod in enthusiastic agreement. It was so clever and cynical that it just had to be right…
In the 1970s, refineries in the Middle East controlled the world’s flow of oil. Not any more. National Iranian Oil Company/Wikimedia Commons

OPEC v oil prices: how the world’s biggest oil cartel lost its power

With oil prices on the slide, members of the once-dominant Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided last week not to attempt to rally them by cutting production, leaving the Brent…
Timothy Spall plays the British painter Joseph Turner in Mike Leigh’s latest film, Mr Turner. Transmission Films

Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner is no oil painting

The work of art is that mysterious process that transforms pigment and canvas into an object of great beauty. Depicting that moment of creative inspiration has been a challenge for filmmakers since the…
Nola Farman’s The Lift is a key piece of Australian media art history. Photograph: Richard Woldendorp. Nola Farman

Archiving new media art: Nola Farman’s Lift Project

Western Australian artist Nola Farman’s practice has never followed a predictable trajectory. Her major work, The Lift Project (1979-82), is an important and influential contribution to Australia’s new…
Marine parks need to be big enough to safeguard wide-ranging species, like the sharks being studied here. Manu San Felix/National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition

Now is our chance to deliver on the 30% ocean protection target

Top scientists, senior government managers, industry representatives, conservationists and even some nations’ presidents are currently in Sydney for the World Parks Congress. This major international meeting…
Barack Obama has signed into law all but two of the bills to come before him, but is likely to use his power of presidential veto more often in the final two years of his term. White House/Pete Souza

US votes for presidential vetoes, filibusters and partisan fractures

Perhaps no sentiment better defines the American political psyche than distrust of government. It prompted the constitutional framers 226 years ago to create a system of national government that separates…
The new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, criticised Australia in his opening address to the UN Human Rights Council. EPA/Salvatore di Nolfi

Explainer: why is the UN reviewing Australia’s record on torture?

The Australian government is being examined on Monday evening by the United Nations Committee against Torture. Before the independent committee of experts, an Australian government delegation has to answer…

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