Science & Health


Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico absolutely devastated. We're talking flattened houses, lost lives, shattered power grids, flooded towns, forests destroyed — devastated. On top of all that, mobile phone service, one of the island's most important lines of communication, has been almost entirely cut. So many are now struggling just to tell their families they're OK.


Victoria's Mornington Peninsula has seen an increases in cases of a particular flesh-eating disease caused by the Mycobacterium ulcerans bacteria. The disease is known as Buruli ulcer, Bairnsdale ulcer or Daintree ulcer - and it produces skin ulcers that won't heal. Not ideal.

With a petition now calling for Health Minister Greg Hunt to provide more funding for research into the disease, Australian experts are speaking out about what some are calling an "epidemic".


North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho just had a rare press conference outside the United Nations in New York. And it isn't great. The diplomat declared that the US has declared war on North Korea. And he stressed that he hopes the world remembers in the future that it was the US who declared war first.


It's happening - finally. In the midst of the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, the Federal Government has announced plans to establish an Australian space agency - with Acting science minister Michaelia Cash calling the move "crucial".

Back in July the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science announced a review of the country's space industry capability, led by an Expert Review Group and chaired by former CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark.


NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security — Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is hurtling through the void in order to link up with an asteroid named Bennu in 2018. While the intrepid spacecraft still has a way to go until its big rendezvous, it recently flew by Earth. It posed no immediate danger to our planet, but if you had a good telescope with a camera, you might have been able to snap a pic!


Even if you don't know much physics, you probably know one of its core tenets: an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion. In fact, in a vacuum where there's literally nothing to slow things down, things don't prefer being at rest or in motion. This plays out in real life all the time — when you're sitting in the bathroom on a plane, for instance, you can't feel that you're moving 800km an hour. You only feel the changes in your velocity via the bumps.


Large plant-eating dinosaurs are typically thought of as strict vegetarians, but an analysis of fossilised dino poo from the Cretaceous Period suggests some of these creatures also feasted on crustaceans. The study, published this week in Scientific Reports, suggests these occasional lapses in vegetarianism might have had something to do with dinosaur reproduction.


OK, let's not get ahead of ourselves. McLaren won't be deploying an interplanetary squad of space marines to slay brain-guzzling bugs anytime soon. It does, however, have an interest in protecting its valued clients and when one of them asked the company to make some custom armour to protect their body post-surgery, it turns out McLaren was not only happy to entertain the idea, but actually do it.


Since their discovery in 2002, scientists have struggled to understand Fast Radio bursts — high-energy pulses that originate from galaxies billions of light-years away. Though only a handful of these radio blips have ever been detected, new research suggests they could be a ubiquitous fixture of the cosmos, flashing about once every second throughout the observable universe. It's an intriguing conclusion, but one lacking in observational data that would lend it support.


If you've ever seen a jellyfish in the wild, at an aquarium, or in one of those 11-minute-long relaxation videos on YouTube, you've probably wondered: What are jellyfish trying to do? What is their goal? The answer is not entirely obvious, as these barely sentient blobs seem to senselessly ferry themselves from one place to another just because they can. Now, new research gives overthinkers yet another reason to envy jellyfish. Apparently, some of these animals without brains might sleep pretty peacefully.


The science news media has a pretty simple job: Find facts, and report them. Typically, this entails reading a scientific study, talking to the study's authors and outside experts, writing, and fact-checking the confusing bits with experts again. But sometimes, the narrative the media wants isn't actually supported by the study, or the experts. Such is the case with a new paper on climate change.