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A Brief History of Puns: An Evening with Flacco and the Two Pauls

Last week saw another fabulous event behind the doors of The Science Exchange. For long-time fans of Flacco, What's funny about science? A brief history of timing was as strange, eloquent and entertaining as could be hoped for. For fans of science, there were more science references and painful puns ... Continue Reading »

Losing Weight

Today I officially became unobese. For most of my adult life I’ve been fighting the onset of extra flab, a battle I’ve consistently come second in. A few years ago my Body Mass Index slipped over the uninspiring figure of 30; I had moved from ‘overweight’ to ‘obese’. Now I’ve ... Continue Reading »

Food Fads And The Fear Of Fat

Food fads, crash diets and other tricks that claim to promote health and reduce fat come and go, and have been around for a long time. In the 1920’s, there was even ‘obesity soap’ that promised to burn fat in the shower (although since it’s no longer available, I guess ... Continue Reading »

Australia’s First Kidney Transplant

Saturday 21 February 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the first successful kidney transplant in Australia – a breakthrough made in the University of Adelaide’s Department of Surgery at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 21 February 1965 (B. Tate, 2012, p.63). This Australian first ... Continue Reading »

Entertaining My Brain at the RiAus Fringe

I don’t normally attend many Fringe shows. Mostly because I don’t have much money (the life of a Uni student), and partly because no one ever wants to go with me. But last night I decided to do Fringe at RiAus. And you know what? I’m so glad ... Continue Reading »

Experience Something New – Baby, Do You Speak Code?

“Experience Something New” is the encompassing theme for this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival. A variety of events make up the festival’s program featuring mindboggling performances, music, theatre, art and a variety of workshops for adults and children alike. The events aim of encouraging people to, “to take a risk, see ... Continue Reading »

Jump Into The Year of the Leap Second

If you like this, then you should tune into Weird Science on FiveAA every second Thursday at 2:30pm to hear Ben discuss weird science! If you’re anything like me you might feel like there’s just not enough time to get everything done in your life. But I’ve got some ... Continue Reading »

Who Was Rosalind Franklin?

Watson and Crick, the famed discoverers of DNA’s double helix structure; one of the most celebrated discoveries of the 20th century. But, did you know of Rosalind Franklin, the third discoverer of DNA’s structure? The eldest daughter of a wealthy Jewish family, Franklin was strong willed and brilliant. She applied a year ... Continue Reading »

Revisiting the Jab

Well it seemed like an innocent enough request but from the get-go I knew I was in for a hiding. It was a relatively quiet Friday afternoon here at RiAus when Bradley, our General Manager, came into my office with an unusual request. He had a reporter from the Sunday Mail ... Continue Reading »

Seven Sustainable Transport Options

We have come a long way since Henry Ford’s Model T. The personal automobile is now ubiquitous and refined. It is also, however, polluting and unsustainable in its current form. Transport is necessary and important but also has a massive environmental impact, increases consumption and creates waste. We can’t do without ... Continue Reading »

One Hump or Two

Camel milk touted as latest superfood What does it take for a food to become a ‘superfood’? They certainly aren’t caped crusaders soaring through the skies and saving babies from burning buildings. The claims of what superfoods do, however, can be just as flamboyant. Take camel milk, ... Continue Reading »

Elite Athletes: Mind Over Matter

“Shut up legs and do what I tell you!” – Jens Voigt With all of the media coverage of the Tour Down Under this year, I thought it would be a great time to ask; what makes an elite athlete? Is it pure natural and physical ability, or ... Continue Reading »

The Greatest Fossils of 2014

As a palaeontologist, it warms the cockles of my heart to reflect on the significant fossils that came to light over the last year. And there are a lot of them, too many to consider here, but there are more complete lists elsewhere if you are sensibly obsessed ... Continue Reading »

The Good, the Bad and the Umami- The story of MSG

If we switched from salt to MSG thousands of lives a year could be saved In 1908 Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda (きくなえ いけだ) just happened to wonder what gave the Japanese soup Dashi (だし) its wonderful flavour. After a little research he found the substance he was ... Continue Reading »

Sampson Flat Fires

I grew up in a tiny place between Williamstown, Lyndoch and Gawler. Right next to Humbug Scrub. My partner is originally from Birdwood and almost all of our friends live there, in Kersbrook, Gumeracha or Lobethal. We spend almost our entire weekend driving through the hills and visiting random places. ... Continue Reading »

Hydrographic Surveyor Certification

Hydrographic surveyors work in fields or disciplines as diverse as nautical charting, port, harbour and coastal zone management, geophysical survey, off-shore construction, military rapid survey and inland waterways. Each discipline requires its own special set of skills and knowledge unique to the type of hydrographic survey work being undertaken. It is ... Continue Reading »

Who was Nikola Tesla?

I’m looking at a picture of Nikola Tesla. Not the expected 30’s black and white elegance; nor really Tesla in the flesh. Rather; his death mask. It’s a yellowed coppery bust on an ugly plinth. Deposited layers of metal, one after another on a plaster substrate. I can see every line and ... Continue Reading »

A Sparkling Canvas – Crystallography in the art world

“I love crystals, the beauty of their forms and formation; liquids, dormant, distilling, sloshing! The fumes, the odours – good or bad, the rainbow of colours; the gleaming vessels of every size, shape and purpose.” – Robert Burns Woodward If you think crystallography is boring, or confined to the world of ... Continue Reading »

Revisiting the future – 2014

At the beginning of this year I pulled together a list of predictions from psychics that were supposed to foretell momentous events in science during 2014. These predictions were collected from this article with the promise of a review at the end of the year – ... Continue Reading »

Light is life

Photonics is the study of light, that which illuminates our world and that which is hidden from our eyes such as the x-rays, ultraviolet and infrared light. “Photos” is the Greek word for light and its study is as old as human progress. However, it is not until 1960 that ... Continue Reading »

How To Make A Round Earth Flat

This blog is the second in the series ‘Contours, Coordinates and Cartography’ – A blog series about measuring the shape of the earth and how the results are used to create maps. Read the first instalment in the series on Geodesy here, upcoming blogs will look at GPS ... Continue Reading »

Finding Life in Antarctica

Earlier this year scientists from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a United States government agency, have made an amazing discovery whilst testing a new camera-equipped robot to explore under the ice in Antarctica. Their test run unexpectedly revealed a new species of sea anemone which actually ... Continue Reading »

Why we need bees

The best thing about my job is honey. It always smells like honey, I get stung, sure, but the honey definitely makes up for it. Also, bees of all kinds are adorable. The honey bee is arguably the most famous of bees, likely because of the honey, but also because ... Continue Reading »

Looking back – Life and times of an RiAus volunteer

A few years ago, I decided to become a volunteer at RiAus. I had just started my own science blog and was keen to explore both the online and offline world of science communication. I didn’t know what to expect when signing up. Was everyone going to be ... Continue Reading »

Is there political bias in scientific thinking?

I’ve written before about science and politics more from the perspective of how science should be treated within the political corridors of power. But what about the more internal question of politics in science? Just how much is a researcher’s scientific work influenced by their political bias? And ... Continue Reading »

Ponzi’s Ecology

Recently an ecologist friend of mine commented that modern capitalist economies are little more than elaborate Ponzi schemes, complicated frauds that can only end in their own spectacular collapse in direct proportion to their stratospheric success. While I'm not sure I entirely agree with this proposition, I can ... Continue Reading »

The Psychology Of Firefighting

Firefighters are amazing. As the rest of us turn to run from a blazing building, they’re the ones running towards it, putting themselves in danger in order to save people, animals and property from damage. It is therefore not surprising that firefighters have been the subject of several lines of ... Continue Reading »

The Bizarre Sex Of The Animal Kingdom

While everything in this post is biology it may be considered 'not safe for work' by some. Please read on at your own discretion. As research for this blog post I watched the awesome Dr Carin Bondar’s TED talk on wild sex. ‘Wild’ referring, of course, to the animals, ... Continue Reading »

Fallible Science

A core value of science is objectivity: being able to exclude human emotion, bias and influence as an observer to reveal the true nature of the phenomenon under investigation. But I’ve long felt that we’re kidding ourselves if we think that science and scientists are really able to approach anything ... Continue Reading »

The Making of the Next Generation

We humans are obsessed with falling in love, and we often assume that every other living thing is too. But enough with the romantic stuff - what’s really important to us is the urge to reproduce. Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Our species’ survival depends on ... Continue Reading »

Living with Motor Neuron Disease

The ‘ice bucket challenge’ has gone viral over the past few months and is now the most watched thing on YouTube, ever. Its popularity has been credited to a simple premise and celebrity involvement helping it to raise millions of dollars. Search Motor Neuron Disease (for Australia) or Amyotrophic Lateral ... Continue Reading »

Fighting Fires in the 21st Century

In the lead up to the 2014 fire season it is interesting to take a look at how firefighting techniques have kept up with industrial and residential changes of the 21st century. As technology has advanced the way we build and the materials we build with have changed. For example ... Continue Reading »

What is fire?

A threat and a tool, a spectacle and a muse: fire has a large role in human and non-human ecosystems. In Australia, fire has been used by people for hundreds of years as a land management tool, and in more recent times was used to clear land for grazing and ... Continue Reading »

Does alpine grazing reduce blazing?

Summer cattle grazing in the Australian Alps has been in place for over 150 years with graziers proclaiming that its key benefit is fuel reduction, which leads to reduced bushfire severity as summarised in the bumper sticker slogan, “Alpine grazing reduces blazing”. This idea is a widely accepted ... Continue Reading »

Transdisciplinary science is research synergy

When the Fellowship began their perilous journey toward Mordor, they took a transdisciplinary approach. They involved individuals of different expertise, worked toward a common goal and their work had a social purpose, saving all that was good from the evil of Sauron. As in 'Lord of the Rings', transdisciplinary science frequently ... Continue Reading »

The Scientific Pick-and-Mix

Interdisciplinary science is the combination of two or more academic fields (kind of like a scientific pick-and-mix) and it has been steadily growing in popularity, although it has been prevalent throughout much of scientific history. However, it makes you wonder, which academic disciplines can be combined, which are often merged ... Continue Reading »

Geodesy – The Math of Planet Earth

This blog is the first in the series ‘Contours, Coordinates and Cartography’ – A blog series about measuring the shape of the earth and how the results are used to create maps. Upcoming blogs will build on the concepts of Geodesy to discuss Projection and Coordinate systems, ... Continue Reading »

A Sonnet to Science

Some would argue that science and poetry are two conflicting practices. Science is method, peer review, experimental protocol, words that do not normally come to mind when reading a poem. But science can be a fertile ground for poetry. Both science education and poetry use similar techniques to educate or inspire ... Continue Reading »

Top 10 Best-selling science books of 2013

Books like those listed below often open up new avenues into the sciences, allowing readers a glimpse of a different world or even changing the perspective of one (personally I no longer look at mathematics as the stodgy, boring subject I once thought it was). But where to begin? The editors ... Continue Reading »

Who’s The Hobbit?

Sometimes we forget that scientists are only human. Given their head, most scientists would assume almost superhuman qualities of rationality, impartiality and objectivity. But these qualities are frequently tested when an hypothesis is shown to be wrong. Most scientists are not prepared to give it up their cherished ideas even ... Continue Reading »

Quirk by Hannah Holmes – Book Review

What is it that makes us tick? Why are some of us more inclined to cooperate than others? How does our personality influence our voting preferences? Could there be a beneficial side to anxiety? In Quirk, Hannah Holmes does an excellent job of exploring the science behind human personality and the evolution of each ... Continue Reading »

Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon – Book Review

I invite you then, to travel in imagination through the aeons that lie between your age and mine. I ask you to watch history of change, grief, hope, and unforeseen catastrophe, as has nowhere else occurred, within the girdle of the Milky Way. (Stapledon, xviii) Last and First Men is not ... Continue Reading »

Simple Science Is Not Risk Free

People often tell me that they find science difficult or complicated and that this complexity scares them away from engaging with science. I, in turn, have difficulties understanding this view because, to me, science is about simplicity and clarity, it even has in-built mechanisms to keep things simple. Anyone who ... Continue Reading »

Biological Membranes – Surface, Undulation and Interface

As part of the 2014 SALA Festival of South Australian Living Artists, the RiAus FutureSpace Gallery is proud to present Under the Surface. Using different artistic forms and media, Malcolm Koch joins Christopher and Therese Williams in an exploration of what lies beneath the surface of the world ... Continue Reading »

Christopher Williams on Under the Surface: Salt Dance

I’ve been working as a sound artist since the mid-nineties. Salt Dance originated when I was invited to Lake Tyrell by Paul Carter and John Wolseley, along with other artists including photographer Harry Nankin and dancers Michaela Pegum and Sióbhan Murphy, to investigate how artists may be able to ... Continue Reading »

Malcolm Koch on Under the Surface

Recently, my painting MA#41 was highly commended in this year's prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, an international competition that invites artists to investigate the environment around us and present their own perspective on natural science. It’s an achievement just to be recognised. Likewise, I'm also thrilled to be invited ... Continue Reading »
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