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Science + Technology — Analysis and Comment

What is it that makes Venus a hottie? Is it her hip-to-waist ratio, or just her slenderness? "The Birth of Venus", Sandro Boticelli c1486.

There is really a single ideal body shape for women?

Is there an ideal body shape that is universally attractive? A recent study shows that beauty is more complex, and diverse, than that.
Facilities like the Australian Synchrotron are relied upon by scientists across the country, and could shut down if research infrastructure funding is withheld by the government. Sandra Morrow

Research infrastructure cuts harm science, the economy and the nation

Cutting vital research infrastructure funding because the higher education reforms are stuck in the senate could end up costing the country dearly.
These days anyone can download the tools used for cyber crime. Ivan David Gomez Arce/Flickr

Hackers' kit bag: the tools that terrorise the internet

Hacking is a state of mind. Traditionally, hackers like to discover, understand and share the secrets they expose. They like to laugh at the dumb things they find. They’re not necessarily in it for the…
Is mass data retention the way to go or should authorities be forced to come back with a warrant to find what they want? Flickr/Rosalyn Davis

What ‘safeguards’ are in Australia’s data retention plans?

As the Australian government pushes on with its data retention bill there are still questions about what safeguards and protections are in place, and a look at similar moves that have failed overseas.
The Murchison Widefiled Array might not look like traditional infrastructure, but it’s just as essential to scientific research. Natasha Hurley-Walker/Wikimedia

Brian Schmidt: why funding science infrastructure is essential

The government is holding crucial science infrastructure funding hostage until its higher education reforms are passed by the senate.
Aboriginal stories dating back many thousands of years talk of a fire from the sky in an area now home to the Henbury meteorite craters, in the Northern Territory. Flickr/Boobook

Finding meteorite impacts in Aboriginal oral tradition

We can learn much about meteor strikes in ancient Australia by examining the oral traditions of indigenous people.
Science is under attack but we must defend it if we want to improve politics in Australia. Victoria University

We must defend science if we want a prosperous future

Our nation’s future depends on the quality of its thinking and its leaders. As such, science must be at the core of our national discourse.
Thorium has its advantages over uranium nuclear power, but is it right for Australia? dymidziuk.janusz/Flickr

Should Australia consider thorium nuclear power?

Thorium has several advantages over uranium nuclear power, but it also has its drawbacks. However, the question remains whether it would be the right technology should Australia choose to go nuclear.
There are still unanswered questions about the government’s proposed metadata retention bill. Lars P./Flickr

Expert panel: metadata retention report

What the experts think of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's report on the proposed metadata retention laws.
Reddit is working to ensure the only nude images that appear on its site have the consent of the subject. Lotus Carroll/Flickr

Reddit tackles ‘revenge porn’ and celebrity nudes

Reddit's new policy to remove unsolicited nude photos is a step in the right direction to prevent celebrity nude photos and revenge porn from appearing on its site.
Imagine a machine that can learn things from scratch, no pre-programmed rules. What could it do? Flickr/Marco Abis

Machines master classic video games without being told the rules

Tech companies are investing big in artificial intelligence research that allows machines to learn things from scratch, with no pre-programmed rules. So what's the potential for this new technology?
A screenshot from one of the most popular science channels on YouTube – but what makes these videos so popular? YouTube/AsapScience

What makes a popular science video on YouTube

Everyone's looking for an audience for their videos on YouTube, and there are plenty of science videos out there. But not all are popular so what makes one more interesting than another?
A 3D artist has dissected the LHC in this composite image, showing a cut-out section of a superconducting dipole magnet. The beam pipes are represented as clear tubes, with counter-rotating proton beams shown in red and blue. Daniel Dominguez/CERN

The LHC is back and it’s ready to probe the limits of matter

The Large Hadron Collider is ramping up to probe even deeper into the fundamental constituents of matter.
Surging tides from Cyclone Marcia hit Main Beach in Yeppoon, Queensland, with the storm packing wind gusts close to 300 kilometres an hour. AAP Image/Karin Calvert

The role of social media as cyclones batter Australia

Emergency services are using social media to help spread warnings as two tropical cyclones batter Australia. It can also help them with relief efforts once the worst of the severe weather has passed.
The Human Genome Project was just the beginning. The Epigenome Roadmap is now telling us how all these genes switch on and off in different parts of the body, and how they go wrong with disease. Tom Purcell/Flickr

Beyond genetics: illuminating the epigenome

There's still a lot we don't know about how various genes are switched on and off. But a new project is seeking to shed light on the complex world of epigenetics.