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11 Nov 2011
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It was the great Carl Sagan's birthday this week, and to celebrate we've got some awesome prizes to give away - three hardcover copies of Relics: Travels In Nature's Time Machine! Written by entomologist and conservational biologist Piotr Naskrecki, the book features gorgeous photography from decades worth of intrepid travels and amazing stories about some of Earth's oldest surviving species. (And never fear, if you don't win, the book is available in Australasia from your local bookshop or through Footprint Books.)

Our favourite answer to the question below will win:

Question: If you could save just one organism from extinction what would it be and why?

Email your answers to to win! Competition closes at 5:30pm on 17 November 2011. Terms and conditions here.


Only 5% of voters think Australia's conservation efforts to protect native bird species are sufficient, while 70% of respondents say the country needs to ramp up its efforts, and that the current rate of species decline is unacceptable for a developed nation. A quarter of voters say efforts would be best targeted at the most critically endangered species. View the full results and add your comments.

NEW POLL: Do you believe the U.S. government when it says it has never had any contact with alien life? Have your say.


Explaining the Moon's magnetic field

Lunar magnetism arose from mechanical stirring

Scientists have proposed that the Moon's ancient magnetic field was powered by mechanically driven motions within its fluid core that may have occurred continuously or been triggered by asteroid impacts.
leopard print horse

Leopard print horse DNA sheds light on cave painting

Early human cave art may be more fact than fiction, says a new study suggesting that some Palaeolithic cave paintings constitute accurate reflections of the natural world.
Stump-tailed macaques

Bigger social network could mean brain gain

By comparing the brains of monkeys living in large groups to those living in smaller groups, scientists have found that the brain can change shape to accommodate social network size.
mottlecah leaf.

Australian eucalypt is a nanotech gold mine

A species of Australian eucalyptus possesses spectacular water-repelling and self-cleaning properties that could have an array of practical applications, researchers have discovered.

Why obese people regain weight after dieting

Most obese people who lose weight due to dieting regain the majority of it back within a few years, and researchers have pinned the cause on the hormones that regulate body weight.

Eye movements give your dreams away

Even when asleep, portions of our brains associated with the planning and execution of a particular movement 'light up', according to new research into lucid dreamers.

Your Science Degree begins at the University of Western Sydney in 2012.
Choose from a range of science programs that are practical and hands-on which will set you apart from other science graduates. Study alongside world leading researchers and academics in state-of-the-art facilities. Visit our website to see how UWS will set you on the right path for a successful career in science. Find out more here.


cone-head mantis.

The femme fatale that wasn't

I'VE BEEN RESEARCHING the praying mantis this week and was surprised to find that if you're trying to find information about particular species, such as the wonderfully named Mega mantis, you'll most often be stuck with a sentence from Wikipedia and whatever you can glean from a forum conversation between collectors. It seems odd that they're not more widely researched because they truly are one of the more fascinating insects.

Another surprise that came out of my research was the story behind the mythology of the females' gory courting habits. Everyone knows the myth - that females regularly decapitate and eat the head of their mate either before, during or after sex - and it's stuck, even 20 years after it was conclusively disproved.

It's so well known, in fact, that the idea of a cannibalistic man-eater mantis has been appropriated by the Internet as a crazy, jealous girlfriend meme. See here, here and then again when it goes meta.

The first recorded instance of sexual cannibalism in mantids appears in a German text from 1658, when scientific research into the insect was just beginning. READ MORE>>



Mars500 returns

Six volunteers have stepped back into the outside world after spending the last 18 months locked in an isolation module in Moscow to simulate the effects of a return trip to Mars.
The planet-like Sedna

Travels with the Sun

Did the Sun once take a wayward journey nearer to the galaxy's centre? Bas den Hond explores the possibility, and asks whether remote planet-like objects on the fringes of our Solar System hold the answer.


genocide blonde

Genocide Blonde

The end of the world wasn't zombies. Actually, she was a blonde.


Pucker up

Brain food and dinofish

Georgia gets the inside scoop from Dr Karl, and has a new, not-so-attractive love interest.

From the front lines of summer

Summer is in the air, and with it comes the science behind why a cool breeze can be the life of the party at COSMOS.
cone-head mantis.

The femme fatale that wasn't

How did the female praying mantis become the cannibalistic man-eater we know she isn't?


Eva Kemps

Controlling the cravings

Everybody gets food cravings, but some people have cravings so extreme that they can lead to serious eating disorders. That's where Eva Kemps comes in.
Jian Liu

Leading armies of nanoparticles to supercapacity

When it comes to mainstream, consumer-friendly developments in iPhone batteries and drug delivery to cancer cells, physical chemist Jian Liu proves that particle research is no small matter.


Inflight Science

Inflight Science: a guide to the world from your airplane window

Covering everything from why planes take off into the wind to how jet-lag works on your body, this scientific breakdown of your flight into small components will give you the big picture on your next airborne journey.

Walk - 5 Stars Astronomy Guide

Keep up-to-date with astronomical sightings and star trivia while interactively learning about the night sky with this app, which will transfix the inner stargazer in all of us and comes ready for download to the iPhone or iPad.

World-renowned polymer scientist Professor Dame Julia Higgins at Chemfest 2011 (WA)
Professor Higgins whose research explores the boundaries between materials chemistry and engineering through neutron scattering techniques will talk about our world of synthetic polymers. It’s hard to imagine a world without synthetic polymers for packaging, clothing, transport, sport – the list is endless! Chemfest, part of IYC2011, will be held on Saturday 12 November 2011. This free public event will provide an opportunity for the Perth community to explore chemistry in everyday lives. For more information click here.


THE TRUTH ABOUT DRUGS Three things you should know about the genetically modified food that could soon hit supermarket shelves: and prepare to be surprised. We go behind the scenes of pioneering research and find out why GM foods polarise debate. Plus, with an expected world population of nine billion in 2050, how will we feed the planet? From synthetic meat to insects, we review some of the weird and innovative solutions. Stunning images, the origin of sex, where civilisation and farming began and the extreme speeds of the fastest objects in the universe are but a few of the tempting morsels for your mind this issue. Bon appetit! Order your copy now! Read the digital edition immediately, or have a print edition sent to you.


Do you think Australia is doing enough to protect its native birds?
Yes, conservation efforts are strong and some bird species have fared well
No, this rate of species decline is unacceptable for a developed nation
Maybe, perhaps efforts need to focus on the most critically endangered birds

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