the conversation

Apollo 11 Changed The Way We Felt About The Moon, 45 Years Ago

Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, after multiple Apollo lunar missions unfolded through the 1960s in front of an awestruck global audience. But many wondered if the eternal mystique of the moon could survive the onslaught of cold, hard science.


Microsoft Culls 18,000 Staff: Does This Spell The End Of Its Devices?

The pain, it seems, is not over for former Nokia workers as their new employer, Microsoft, prepares to cut its workforce by a massive 18,000. Although Microsoft has not announced where all of these cuts will come from, but 12,500 are expected to be from the newly acquired Nokia mobile business which added an extra 25,000 staff this year to swell Microsoft’s staff numbers to 127,000.


How Can We Find Flight MH370 Now?

Another phase of the search for missing flight MH370 off Western Australia has drawn to a close with still no evidence of the aircraft’s final resting place.


How’s Your Poker Face? Why It’s So Hard To Sniff Out A Liar

As the annual World Series of Poker gets rolling in Las Vegas later this month, hopeful competitors will be buying in and getting their poker faces on. But why is it such a challenge to recognise deception — both on and off the poker table — even with past experience to draw on and lots of cues seemingly available?


What Cold War Nuclear Weapons Can Tell Us About Art Fraud

The identification of fakes and forgeries is a basic issue that has always raised controversy. This is unsurprising, of course — the enormous sums garnered by top paintings would turn to dust as soon as a question as to their authenticity arose.


Mission To Mars: How Scientists Are Living On A Simulated Red Planet To Prep For Real Missions

According to Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, establishing a permanent presence beyond Earth is the first step humans will take towards the “divergence into a new species”. Plans to visit and even colonise Mars are no longer the subject of science fiction novels. But before we can do that, we need to understand how humans can survive and thrive on Mars. Some of that we can do right here on Earth by simulating Mars-like conditions. In the most recent such experiment, I was the crew commander of such an expedition in the high-altitude desert of Utah, the most Mars-like place on Earth. The crew were comprised of seven – two scientists, two engineers, a medical doctor, a journalist and a humanoid robot.


Teleportation Just Got Easier, But Not For You

Whether or not you’ve ever been on a long-haul flight, you’ve probably fantasised about being able to magically disappear from one place and reappear in another. And a natural question for a physicist is whether there is any way to achieve this in practice. Thanks to two studies published in Nature last Thursday, the chance of successful teleportation has considerably increased. Which is a good thing, right?


Software Is Officially A Rip-Off In Australia, So What Can You Do?

It’s official: Australia isn’t the “lucky country” in the IT sector. Consumers, government and industry down under are charged typically 50% more for software and hardware compared to their American counterparts.


Why Your Phone Should Be Turned Off During Flight

It’s a fact of life for anyone boarding a plane: all electronic devices need to be turned off during take-off and landing. Most airlines have had this rule in place for more than a decade now, even though there has been no definitive documented instance in which passengers leaving their devices on caused a plane crash. So why are we forced to stop listening to music or reading a Kindle during take-off and landing?


How Big Is The Universe? How Australian Scientists Are Measuring The Impossible

How many electrons are there in the universe? That may seem nigh on impossible to calculate — let alone comprehend — but the discovery of a new population of astrophysical events called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), published in Science by my colleagues and I, could help provide a solution to this fundamental cosmological question.