the conversation

What Makes A Popular Science Video On YouTube

Hundreds of hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and hundreds of millions of hours are viewed daily, including many that cover areas of science. Despite this, if you want to use YouTube for science communication, reaching an audience is not always guaranteed.


Electric Vehicle Makers Need To Agree On Standards

Standards are a key part of technical progress and for the increased use of renewable energy. Solar power provides an obvious example — if a photovoltaic unit is used to put power back into the electricity grid, then the power needs to satisfy the standards for the grid in terms of voltage, cycles-per-second, and so on.


Why Aren't There Any Human Doctors In Star Wars?

Though set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” it isn’t hard to see in the Star Wars films a vision of our own not so distant future. But Anthony Jones, a physician with a long background in health care technology development, sees the Star Wars vision of medicine’s future as sheer fantasy. Specifically, he is struck by the dearth of doctors – at least human ones. “In Star Wars,” he says, “there are no people practicing medicine. Caring for patients seems to have been taken over by machines.”


Beyond The Line Call: How Technology Is Changing Tennis

The evolution of professional tennis has always been linked to the changing technology of the day. For example, the decline of the wooden racket lead to the whole new power-based style of play we enjoy today. One of the more recent introductions to have significant impact is Hawk-Eye ball tracking.

It’s certainly transformed the way we watch and adjudicate tennis. But can we go further and utilise this truly awesome technology to improve the on-court performance of the competitions elite?


Another Australian Animal Slips Away To Extinction

Last July, the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, announced the appointment of Gregory Andrews as Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner. His mission: to help avert the extinction of a growing number of native plant and animal species.


Chimps And Gorillas Need An Ebola Vaccine Too 

There is a side to the Ebola crisis that, perhaps understandably, has received little media attention: the threat it poses to our nearest cousins, the great apes of Africa. At this moment in time Ebola is the single greatest threat to the survival of gorillas and chimpanzees.


Morning Haze: Why It's Time To Stop Hitting The Snooze Button

It’s 6:30AM and after a long holiday break, your alarm clock is insistently telling you it’s time to get out of bed. For many people — me included — the automatic reaction is to hit the snooze button, often more than once.


The Rabbits Of Christmas Past: A Present That Backfired For Australia

On Christmas Day 1859, the Victoria Acclimatisation Society released 24 rabbits for hunting, to help settlers feel more at home. Given the millions of dollars in damage to agricultural productivity that ensued, as well as the impacts on biodiversity as the rabbits bred and spread to cover 70 per cent of the continent, this could be seen as Australia’s worst Christmas present.


Can We Please Just Get On With The National Broadband Network?

Earlier this year, I attended a dinner for about 150 people. The first thing we all did was head for the bar to grab a drink, swamping the staff and setting back the dinner schedule by nearly two hours. We learned that it is better to place a bottle of cheap wine and a jug of lemon squash on each table just to manage the crowd. The same lesson is now being applied to the NBN.


Is Stephen Hawking Right? Could AI Lead To The End Of Humankind?

The famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has revived the debate on whether our search for improved artificial intelligence will one day lead to thinking machines that will take over from us.