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Being Human

In a bind with vitamin B

Vitamins are essential to our survival, but our bodies don’t make their own. A recent research breakthrough into the immune system showed traces of Vitamin B2 were the clue to unlocking a secret about how our immune system works. Professors Jamie Rossjohn (Monash University) and James McCluskey (The University of Melbourne) ... Continue Reading »

The Innovation Celebration

I, for one, am often banging on about how little recognition our scientists get, particularly in comparison to sports stars, celebrities and actors. The fact is we have world-class scientists in Australia conducting world-class science and they make a greater contribution to the health and happiness of all Australians than ... Continue Reading »

First Day of Uni

I just submitted my PhD thesis (!) so naturally I have been reflecting on my first year of university, when it was all ahead of me. That first day, or first year, is an experience that I will never have again, truly once in a lifetime. My overall university experience ... Continue Reading »

Making Mars Habitable

I was first introduced to the concept of terraforming – the process of altering a planet’s surface, atmosphere and temperature to make it habitable for humans – in the 2008 video game Spore. In the simulation game, you start off with a single-celled organism and help it evolve into a ... Continue Reading »

Anxiety – The Original Early Warning Signal

Anxiety today is seen as a mental health condition, one that is at the least inconvenient, at the most a debilitating state that can affect many aspects of your life. But this isn’t how it started. Anxiety is an evolutionary advantage, an activation of the bodies fight or flight response to ... Continue Reading »

Behind Every Door is a New Opportunity

How did winning the prize impact your teaching? Being awarded the PM Science Prize for Excellence in Secondary Science Teaching has impacted my teaching in a positive way. Having a range of opportunities to meet scientists has allowed my classroom to be extended, providing my students with more real-world experiences, connections ... Continue Reading »

Science is Our Best Hope

The Prime Minister’s Prize for Science Teaching in Secondary Schools represents the highest achievement for a Science teacher in Australia, and recognises the importance of high school teaching in the promotion of science literacy and careers. It has been an honour to receive this award and accept it on behalf ... Continue Reading »

Connecting Maths with Biology

Winning the PM’s Science Prize was a great honour for me, a source of deep satisfaction for me and other people who do my sort of research, and an opportunity for the media to connect mathematics and statistics with biology. Receiving a science prize late in life is a strange thing. ... Continue Reading »

Just Give Me the Truth

It irks me when people talk about ‘truth’ in science. Science isn’t about truth and you can’t prove a hypothesis to be true, you can only show that it is wrong (if it is wrong). This is the logic that scientific knowledge is built on. Understanding anything in science is ... Continue Reading »

The Zombies of Nature

Zombie outbreaks are obviously a particular concern for everyone and should be part of everyone’s apocalypse preparations. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has mapped a Zombie outbreak and how it would spread through the United States, with it now forming an ongoing campaign. But ... Continue Reading »

Why Do We Have Belly Buttons?

Watching little kids discover their belly buttons is one of the cutest things. Their fascination is understandable; it is a part of our body that actually serves no real purpose. So why do we even have a belly button? The belly button (clinically known as the navel or umbilicus) is actually ... Continue Reading »

What is Lint?

You’re not alone if you find the thought of things hiding in your belly button disturbing. The multi-coloured matter known as navel lint (or commonly ‘belly button fluff’) has disgusted and perplexed us for centuries. So what exactly is navel lint, and where does it come from? How does it get ... Continue Reading »

Living with Bushfires

I choose to live in an area of high bushfire risk. I'm not alone, many of my fellow Australians live in similar areas on the margins of our cities or in country and rural areas. As the weather turns and we approach the bushfire season, I thought I should outline ... Continue Reading »

How do we Taste?

Taste – It can evoke intense emotions in us from utter disgust through to elated pleasure. This is due to our ability to distinguish five basic tastes: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness and the more recently discovered flavour known as umami. These tastes are detected by the cells on the tongue ... Continue Reading »

Why Do We Need Sleep?

Humans spend, on average, about a third of their lives sleeping. Logically, this seems like a massive waste of time, and a dangerous one too, since sleeping leaves us vulnerable and unaware of what's going on around us. You'd think we would be much better off if humans ... Continue Reading »

Why Did You Become a Scientist?

I am a (very) early career researcher. So early in fact that I haven’t even gotten my PhD yet. I am coming up to the end of the second year of my PhD in Biological Science and as the work load increases, I start to worry if I can in ... Continue Reading »

The Thinking Years

When I think back on my years as a post graduate student, I realise that I had it all wrong. Prior to that time, all through my high school and undergraduate education, I saw getting a PhD as the pinnacle, the peak of achievement and the end of a fabulous ... Continue Reading »

What’s In a Beard?

A beard is more than a golden ticket into the Secret Men’s Society, granting guys the right to the Knowing Nod when passing their bearded comrades. The manliness projected by a beard, however, is not merely subjective. Charles Darwin suggested, in his book The Descent of Man, that beards, including ... Continue Reading »

Why do Humans Breastfeed?

All mammals breastfeed their young. This process is time-consuming and cumbersome, so why did it evolve? Current theory says that it developed as a way to rapidly develop a complex immune system in infants. As time went on, breastfeeding benefits became more complex- the concentration of nutrients in the mother’s ... Continue Reading »

Life on the Seven Seas

Everything is affected by climate change. From the mountains to the bottom of the ocean, our every action can have an impact on the world around us. The 25zero campaign helps to highlight the impact through the loss of our snow-capped mountains along the equator. But it’s not ... Continue Reading »

World Hepatitis Day 2015

Hepatitis has been a hot topic recently due to the identification and recall of Nanna’s frozen berry products as they were contaminated with the hepatitis A virus. The severity of viral hepatitis or the impact of this disease on our community is however not widely known. So ... Continue Reading »

When The Media Get It Wrong

I was on the verge of spluttering my muesli across the living room all because of a report spewing from the ABC Breakfast program. “New research challenges Darwinian Evolution” is probably not a phrase that would invoke reflux in most people but to an evolutionary biologist and professional science communicator, ... Continue Reading »

Willie Wonders Why

‘The Braggs’ are a big deal in South Australia. There are busts on the main street, a very fancy, new building named after them at the University of Adelaide and even a beautiful children's book about their accomplishments. Even RiAus gets caught up in ... Continue Reading »

What is Chronic Pain?

The inability to feel pain is not a superpower. Bee stings, bruises, burns and bumps usually cause sudden pain and that’s a good thing. Short term, or acute pain, is a warning message that tells us to modify our behaviour and protect ourselves from further injury. So if ... Continue Reading »

What Causes Pain?

“Can you tell me how bad your pain is? On a scale of 0 - 10, where 10 is the worst pain you’ve ever felt, and 0 is no pain at all?” Have you ever had to answer this question? What is the worst pain you’ve experienced? Some people ... Continue Reading »

Exploring the History and Culture of Indigenous Australians

In modern Australia - different is good. For the most part, we celebrate our differences (cultures/beliefs/lifestyles) and encourage individuality. Recently, researchers from the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University have used DNA obtained from a 100-year old Aboriginal male’s lock of hair to show that Aboriginal Australians ... Continue Reading »

I’m Waking On Sunshine

Your consciousness has been altered, replaced with a series of cryptic, sometimes harrowing hallucinations, all five of your senses are been hindered and the action of moving once-voluntary muscles has become utterly impossible… It sounds like a scene out of a dystopian sci-fi movie but in fact, humans on average spend ... Continue Reading »

What’s New Pussy Cat?

There’s a good chance that right now some of the readers of this blog are procrastinating from other tasks. I’m not one to judge, this is the fourth fifth time I’ve tried to write this article but keep putting it off. But good on you for choosing to read ... Continue Reading »


One of my parent’s favourite stories is about when I was a child and they took me to the reptile park. We followed the nice reptile man around and watched him feed all of the snakes. And then we got to the Death Adder. I was two, twenty years on ... Continue Reading »

Blowing Away Reason

If you like this, then you should tune into ABC radio every second Thursday to hear Paul discuss science (and whatever else he's interested in). Last week I got very angry simply because of what I was hearing on the telly. In an interview crossbench Senator ... Continue Reading »

Humans and Hypergravity

This February, Italian scientists published data indicating that nerve cells can be grown faster and longer when experiencing hypergravity. Hypergravity is an increase in g-force, which you experience on theme park rides when you’re held to the sides of a spinning cylinder. Microgravity is a decrease in g-force, ... Continue Reading »

Sex in Space

If you like this, then you should tune into Weird Science on FiveAA on June 25th 2015 at 2:30pm and every second Thursday after that to hear Ben discuss weird science! Last week the international porn site PornHub announced a crowdfunding campaign to film the first zero-gravity space porno. ... Continue Reading »

World Blood Donor Day

It’s World Blood Donor Day on the 14th of June, and this year the World Health Foundation are celebrating donors for their role in life-saving procedures. One in thirty Australians donate blood every year, and their donations help a huge range of people. What exactly do I donate? When you ... Continue Reading »

Why You Should Really Turn Down the Volume

When I first started going to see local bands play as a teenager, I always brought earplugs with me. Of course, my friends found this highly amusing, but I honestly didn't care; I wanted to avoid permanent hearing damage. And when they inevitably complained about the ringing in their ears ... Continue Reading »

The Secret Worlds of Forensic Science

If you like this, then you should check out our Forensics STEM Pack! Over the last few years, forensic science has risen in the public consciousness. There is a seemingly endless supply of television shows that explore the discipline. Forensic scientists have a love/hate relationship with these shows. On ... Continue Reading »

What is Forensic Science?

If you like this, then you should check out our Forensics STEM Pack! The slick production values, catchy opening themes and intriguing cases of TV programs, such as the CSI franchise, have popularised the work of forensic scientists. As these shows are made to entertain and often ... Continue Reading »

Through the Looking Glass: Notable forensic scientists throughout the ages

If you like this, then you should check out our Forensics STEM Pack! Forensic science spans a mammoth range of specialties, applying scientific knowledge to legal problems and criminal investigations. It encompasses a lot of different scientific flavours, including biology, chemistry, medicine, toxicology, and anthropology (the study of humans, ... Continue Reading »

The Career of the Future

Want to learn more about Careers of the Future? Download our Ultimate Science Guide today! Job Description: Senior Interplanetary Archaeologist, Space Heritage Unit, United Nations Committee for Space Environment Management (UNCSEM) Date: 2050 Reports to: Director-General, UNCSEM and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Space Heritage Committee Responsible for: Four field ... Continue Reading »

A Force For Evil, A Force For Good

Are we entering an age of a more mature internet? Has the online environment grown out of pointless blathering and the spreading of misinformation and gossip towards effective governance and evidence-based thinking? I’ll argue that yes, there are encouraging signs that we may have turned some kind of corner and ... Continue Reading »

Cerumen: The Unsung Hero of our Ears

Cerumen, more commonly called earwax, is secreted by glands in our ears and protects the vital organs inside from dust, debris and damaging pathogens. Although there have been some conflicting results, most recent data shows that earwax is able to kill several of the most common infection causing bacteria and ... Continue Reading »

Should Films be Scientifically Accurate?

Like films with a scientific theme? Come to our event Dinosaurs on the Big Screen! You can watch Jurassic World and our exclusive premiere of RiAus documentary, Dinosaurs on the Big Screen. The ability to suspend disbelief is essential to the enjoyment of storytelling. Humans innately understand this. Differentiating ... Continue Reading »


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