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Earth & the Environment

Doco Review: What Plants Talk About

This PBS documentary about the hidden life of plants opens up fundamental questions about the way we view plants through the use of beautiful videography, testimony from scientists and some not so beautiful puns. Science teaches us that like all living things, plants compete with one another for survival. But if ... Continue Reading »

Trees Breathe Easy

It looks like trees may not contribute to climate change as much as had been feared. Trees breathe out CO2 at night and, the hotter it gets, the more CO2 they release. Earlier calculations predicted that 3.4°C of warming would lead to an increase in plant respiration by as much as ... Continue Reading »

In Class With David Suzuki

DETAILS AND BOOKINGS AT   Canadian environmentalist, scientist, author and broadcaster David Suzuki stops in during his appearances at the WOMADelaide festival to field questions from students around Australia. David Suzuki has been a regular fixture on television around the world for the past 45 years hosting series such as ... Continue Reading »

Habitat Fragmentation

Without habitats, organisms have nowhere to live. The removal, modification and degradation of habitat is the most significant cause of species decline and extinction. Habitat fragmentation is a major concern for the conservation of biodiversity - the number and form of living organisms and ecosystems. Habitats become ... Continue Reading »

Lead and a life of crime

Australian research has shown a link between childhood exposure to lead and a later life of crime according to an article just published in the journal Environmental Health. Researchers from Macquarie University, including lead author Professor Mark Taylor (pictured), investigated lead levels in six NSW suburbs and found that each additional ... Continue Reading »

Herpes helps to control carp

European Carp are the rabbits of the inland waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin. These feral pests breed prolifically, ruin the quality of the water with silt from their digging into stream beds and out compete most native fish species. And, to date, there’s been very little that can be done ... Continue Reading »

Springing into Renewable Energy

Spring is a time for growing, refreshing, and…cleaning. With warmer temperatures, flowers, plants and trees will blossom, grow and form new leaves, and shed their winter coats. Spring is also an opportune time to talk about renewable energy, something that humans can invest in to make sure our planet continues ... Continue Reading »

Turn up the heat, dial down the power 

European research suggests that by the middle of this century the ability of electricity plants to generate power will be greatly reduced because of more frequent droughts and heatwaves. The energy generating capability for a large proportion of hydro and thermoelectric power plants will be reduced because of changes in ... Continue Reading »

The Big Climate Deal

In the lead up to the COP21 discussions we’ve been following explorer Tim Jarvis on his 25zero expedition aimed at raising international awareness of the effects of climate change. There are 25 peaks at the equator (0° latitude) with glaciers on them which will disappear in 25 years ... Continue Reading »

What’s the deal with COP21?

What is this acronym that people keep throwing around? What is COP21 and why is it so significant? To get a better understanding, lets go back in time a little while and check out its origins. If we travel all the way back to 1979, we find ourselves at the ... Continue Reading »

The science behind climate change

Climate change is said to be the biggest issue facing the world at the moment - but what is climate change, what is causing it, and what can we do about it? Well, with COP21 kicking off in Paris how about we turn up the heat on climate change! To start ... Continue Reading »

Driverless Futures

It’s not without a dose of déjà vu that last week I sat through two days of the first International Conference on Driverless Cars held in Adelaide. As we all sat breathlessly contemplating a future that cannot be too far away, I was continually taken back to a childhood steeped ... Continue Reading »

The Beginnings of Palaeontology

Palaeontology – a word that makes me think of dinosaurs and epic scenery. In reality though, palaeontology is based in facts and science that are much more exciting and interesting than anything my imagination can come up with. What is Palaeontology? Palaeontology is actually the study of life on Earth through time ... Continue Reading »

Atmosphere of Hope

“The Lancet Commission’s diagnosis is that our planet is very sick indeed, with a steeply rising temperature. The physics and facts of human driven climate change are now indisputable.” …however, amongst the fears of impending doom, there is an Atmosphere of Hope. This was the theme ... Continue Reading »

Mosquitoes, You and Climate Change

Mosquitoes are undoubtedly some of the most annoying guests at Australian barbecues. They attend only to feed on your blood, not your food. Mosquitoes require the proteins in blood to produce viable, healthy eggs and you may have experienced: mosquitoes prefer some humans over others. However, not all ... 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 »

The Animals of Antarctica

The animals of Antarctica have always held a special fascination for me. For someone who can’t handle the cold and is more likely to hibernate like many northern species of animal, our southern friends fascinate me like no other. It would even be amazing to visit them someday… if I ... Continue Reading »

New Clear Thinking on Risky Business

The future will always be a risky business. Decisions we make today will shape the world we build tomorrow. So how do we manage the risks of the future within our planning today? Risk is perhaps the most difficult concept to communicate because what you make of it depends heavily on ... 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 »

Shake Your Tail Feather

Animal sex is great. No wait… that came out wrong. Let me start again. There is nothing quite as weird as sex in the animal world. It’s an ever-giving fountain of fascinating material if you like the strange side of science. Here are some of my favourites. Do you have a favourite ... Continue Reading »

What is COP21?

Today marks 150 days until COP21, and the start of RiAus’ journey with Tim Jarvis; 25zero. Needless to say, we’re all REALLY excited about the next few months as we go on a virtual journey with Tim across the equator. But it does raise the question, what is ... Continue Reading »


Volcanoes are such astonishing works of nature, in a moment they can completely recreate the world around us. Volcanic eruptions destroy the land around them and can relocate thousands of people in a day. And they are erupting all of the time; just here in Australia ... Continue Reading »


Like dinosaurs? 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. Dinosauria lived on earth for approximately 135 million years, until the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. Our understanding ... Continue Reading »

The Six Stages of Life

Love animals? Check out BBC's Life Story at Vivid in Sydney! Every animal, from the smallest insect to humans travels through life on a journey from birth to death. We all go through it, but there are six major stages that are familiar across all groups on land and ... Continue Reading »

Biological Diversity

May the 22nd is the International Day of Biological Diversity. Biological diversity (sometimes abbreviated to biodiversity) refers to all the amazing life forms on earth – the colourful parrots, the intelligent rats, the tallest trees and the toxicity of some fungi. Biological diversity measures range from genes to landscapes, but most ... Continue Reading »

Algal Biofuel

If you’re outside enjoying a lunch under clear skies, each square metre surrounding you is receiving about 1,000 watts of energy from the Sun. As we well know, plants and algae convert this light energy into chemical energy via the process of photosynthesis. What may seem ... Continue Reading »

The Scientific Historians of Life

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). So, what has palaeontology ever done for us? Surely of all the useful, applicable sciences, palaeontology must rank at the bottom? It’s a great ... Continue Reading »

Lights Off! It’s Earth Hour

Have you got your diary handy? A calendar? Your phone? If you do could you write an important reminder for the 28th March: Earth Hour 8:30 pm. You also might want to make a sub note: buy some candles. Earth Hour is a movement that began in Sydney back in ... Continue Reading »

World Meteorological Day

Celebrated on March the 23rd each year, World Meteorological Day is in honour of the creation of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) (formerly the International Meteorological Organisation). The purpose of the organisation is to improve our knowledge of climatic influences – including weather and hydrological events. The organisation ... Continue Reading »

The Problems Facing Australian Shorebirds

If you like this, then you should come visit the Flyway Shorebird Exhibition in the Future Space Gallery! Australia is a very important place for shorebirds – over five million migrate from our shores each year to undertake the journey to their Arctic breeding grounds. During October to May ... Continue Reading »

The Superheroes of the Animal Kingdom

Time and time again it seems that even our most astonishing ideas and inventions are no match for Mother Nature. The natural world seems to evolve and perfect the weirdest ideas that humans could possibly imagine. Early explorers used compasses to navigate the seas; birds have been using the Earth’s ... Continue Reading »

Bad News, I’m Afraid

I've never met a stage that I would not gladly strut. Performing is my thing, when that performance is based around discussing the ideas of science. But there is something disheartening walking on stage knowing that all you have to deliver is bad news. And so it was at Womad last ... Continue Reading »

The Year of the Gibbon

When we think of monkeys, we will generally picture a long armed primate, swinging through the trees. They’re gorgeous, and a little alien looking, but they’re monkeys. Actually, they’re gibbons. Gibbons are the group of primates that live in the tropical forests of Asia, and we ... Continue Reading »

Shorebird Migrations

If you like this, then you should come visit the Flyway Shorebird Exhibition in the Future Space Gallery! What are shorebirds? Shorebirds or wading birds are birds that are usually found on the edges of coastal areas or freshwater wetlands and in the intertidal zones of bays and estuaries ... 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »


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