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The Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee over the past two years might seem like a very American news story, inseparable from the lead characters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and hyped as only the polarised media of that country can do it.

But when we look more deeply, we see a very threatening reality that concerns all governments, liberal democratic or authoritarian. Australia should take note.

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Most modern fitness trackers are electronic devices you wear on your wrist to track steps, overall physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep. They typically work with a smartphone app or website that allow you to track your progress over time using graphs and figures. Advanced fitness trackers can also record heart rate and GPS related outcomes, like your route, speed and distance.

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After a disappointing 2016, when most of the annual major meteor showers were washed out by moonlight, 2017 looks far more promising.

Of the big three, the Quadrantids in January and Geminids in December are both visible in dark, moonless skies. Sadly, the Perseids in August will again be badly obscured by a waning gibbous Moon, but they are always worth watching.

Here we detail the predicted meteoric highlights for the coming year for the northern (N) and southern (S) hemispheres, and those visible for both (N/S).

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The resurrection of universal basic income (UBI) proposals in the developed world this year gained support from some prominent Australians. But while good in theory, it’s no panacea for the challenges of our modern economy.

UBI proposals centre on the idea that the government would pay a flat fee to every adult citizen, regardless of his or her engagement in skill-building activities or the paid labour market, as a partial or complete substitute for existing social security and welfare programs.

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Australia is no stranger to heatwaves. Each summer, large areas of the continent fry under intense heat for days on end, causing power outages, public transport delays, and severe impacts to human health. The estimated impact on our workforce alone is US$6.2 billon per year. Heatwaves are also Australia’s deadliest natural hazard, accounting for well over half of all natural disaster-related deaths.

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The Senate inquiry’s report into the planned closure of coal-fired power stations will no doubt shed light on the compelling health reasons to close them.

Coal-fired stations are a health hazard to their local communities and beyond due to the pollutants they emit. The resulting illnesses are a significant cost to health budgets. Climate change caused by burning fossil fuels brings its own health burdens.

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A beautiful full moon will grace our skies on Monday November 14 this year. Full moons always rise around sunset, so look for it towards the east during evening twilight. Every month, occasionally even twice a month, the full moon adorns the night. What makes this one so special is all the hype of the supermoon.

A quick glance at the statistics and you can see what everyone’s buzzing about.

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Dinosaurs have a fearsome reputation for their hunting abilities but less so when it comes to their intelligence. This is partly due to the fact that many species have long been thought to have had relatively small brains, their heads full of protective tissue that supposedly left little room for grey matter. But the recent discovery of the first recorded fossilised brain tissue could help challenge that image.

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I have become citizen number 62 of Asgardia, a new space nation dedicated to expanding peaceful exploration of space for the benefit of humanity. It is led by Igor Ashurbeyli, chairman of UNESCO’s Science of Space Committee and founder of the Aerospace International Research Centre in Vienna. At first glance, it’s an amazing concept and surely one that every space scientist should welcome.

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Driverless cars are an engineer’s dream. At last, a technology that promises to remove the human factor from the traffic system.

It is humans, after all, whose errors contribute to 75% of road crashes, who introduce undesirable randomness into the mathematical simplicity of traffic flows, and who have been characterised (somewhat tongue in cheek) as “monkey drivers” with slow reaction times and short attention spans.

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Drone footage is everywhere, whether used to film extreme sports, outdoor events, nature, music festivals, or just for its own sake. Recreational aircraft such as quadcopters, fixed-wing and mini drones are getting ever cheaper and easier to buy. They are fast becoming a must-have item for people who want to document their activities for social media, or just explore their neighbourhood.

As of today it will also be legally easier to use such aircraft in Australia, with the relaxation of Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules about “remotely piloted aircraft”, or RPAs.

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A massive change occurring in the space industry became apparent at the recent SPACE 2016 conference, one of the biggest annual international events related to space technology. The conference, in California earlier this month, involved significant players in the space industry from US government (NASA), the aerospace industry and for the first time, venture capitalists and start-ups.

So what is this massive change that is occurring in the space industry?