Or at least, not on six very important Tasmanian devils.
A study published in Biology Letters last October studied 52 wild devils, and found six who possessed never-before-seen antibodies against the deadly devil facial tumour disease, or DFTD for short.
Tasmanian devils still need our help (Source: Flickr)
So what does that have to do with invisibility cloaks?
Well, part of what gave DFTD its infamous 100% death rate was that the disease is completely invisible to the devils’ immune system.
This is because of a molecule called major histocompatibility complex class I, or MHC-I. In normal cancers, MHC-I is expressed on the surface, allowing the immune system to identify it as a foreign cell. But in facial tumour disease, MHC-I is turned down, making it invisible. Continue reading
As scary as it seems, we might be learning more about how our universe will end…
In a combined study, Astrophysicists from across America and Australia have recently reduced the uncertainty of the Hubble Constant from 3.3% to 2.4%. This means in 9.8 billions years the distance between cosmic objects will double!
Well to put it in other words, we know the expansion of our universe is accelerating (cheers Schmidtty), and the rate of which is called the Hubble Constant. Contributing scientists to the recent research paper have used Wide Field Camera 3 technology on the Hubble Space telescope, and combined it with Infrared observations of Cepheid variable stars from 11 galaxies! Continue reading
The Great Barrier Reef is dying.
One of Australia’s most spectacular natural wonders is being devastated by the impact of climate change.
Scientists, governments and the media have drawn attention to human induced mass coral bleaching and ocean acidification but have failed to highlight the threat of intense cyclones on the reef.
Healthy Reef (Source: Laura Kent)
A recent paper by researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville rectifies this lack of attention by investigating the threat of the more frequent category 5 cyclones on the Great Barrier Reef. Continue reading
Immunisation remains a globally cost-effective method for reducing disability, disease and death. But researchers face the constant challenge of increasing both vaccine safety and efficacy. A challenge also seen in parental hesitancy towards child immunisation.
New research has found a way to combat both these aspects: by making the highest efficacy type, live attenuated vaccines, even safer. Continue reading
Unlocking the secrets within (source)
The concept of humankind being able to eliminate world hunger, wipe out genetic disease and direct our own evolution is one confined to the libraries of science-fiction, right?
A powerful new gene-editing technology called CRISPR-cas9 (simply referred to as ‘crisper’) has taken the scientific world by storm, and the potentials seem endless. However, those who know of it are divided on its prospective use. Continue reading
Shark attacks have been increasing in Australia in the last two decades, scientists put this down to more people in the water, which boosts the likelihood of encountering a shark.
Even though shark attacks are still extremely rare, something about their goriness plays at the forefront of my mind.
Avoiding the ocean is the most effective way to avoid shark attacks. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for the many Australians who, like myself, have seawater running through their veins. A compromise must be reached.
Any measures taken to avoid shark attacks should a) actually work, and b) respect the right of all creatures to exist in their natural habitat. These aren’t ridiculous expectations, but most of our current interventions don’t measure up. Continue reading
We should all know by now that eating fruit and vegetables is good for us. Yet a survey done by CSIRO shows that most Australians aren’t getting anywhere near this. If Australia’s Go for 2&5 campaign isn’t working, hopefully research published in PNAS early last year will convince people to eat better for the world.
Currently, the food system creates more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With our growing population, this percentage will increase. If changes aren’t made to the way we consume food in the world there is a real risk that food prices will sky rocket, or worse Continue reading
Can you see your grandparent sitting in that chair?
Aged care can be a lonely & unstimulating experience (source: livinglifeasme)
Depressing, isn’t it.
For many of our beloved older generation, opportunities to stay healthy can be limited due to the constraints of aged-care facilities.
Staffing costs to assist residents in maintaining an active body and mind can be prohibitive. Particularly in government funded facilities, this can make it difficult for our loved ones in-care to get what they need to maximise their health and happiness.
But, there may be a solution. Take them for a Wii! Continue reading
“Filling cup with saltwater” Credit: myoutdoorslife
71% of the Earth’s surface is water, yet around 700 million people still suffer from water scarcity. By 2030, almost half of the world’s population will be living in high water-stressed areas. While world population is projected to reach 8.3 billion in the same year.
This means there are less clean water to share between more people. Naturally, people are worried about future water security. Clean drinking water is one of our most scarce resources, but scientists may have found a solution to change that.
A group of scientists at the University of Manchester, created a membrane using graphene oxide, it is capable of removing 97% of salt from seawater. Graphene is a thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a special wafer-like formation. Continue reading
Western Sydney University’s ‘EucFACE’ experiment enriching a forest with carbon dioxide. Credit: WSU
There is global agreement in the scientific community that climate change is happening, but is it really as bad as it sounds? A recent article by The Blaze suggests global warming is good for plants. They argue that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, a main ingredient of photosynthesis, will lead to enhanced growth of crops, making farmers happy.
On the flipside, new research from Western Sydney University says an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is useless if the other ingredients for plant growth are missing – like in many parts of Australia.
So, who’s right?
Let’s check the facts: