Science & Health

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The southern stretches of the Monaro Highway make for a wholesome pastoral drive, passing fields full of cows and golden grass swaying in soft breezes. The road winds around hills and dams, at one point tipping up and over a crest to reveal an unexpected sight: thousands of solar panels shining in the hard Australian sun.

This is the Royalla Solar Farm — a paddock full of solar photovoltaic modules that together are capable of powering 4500 Canberra homes. And despite living in Australia's smallest territory, Royalla is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ACT's solar accomplishments.

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"We turned the telescope into the Sauron of space – the all-seeing eye," says CSIRO's Dr Keith Bannister, gleefully referring to the dark overlord in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

What he's describing (in gloriously geeky fashion) is how the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) on Wajarri Yamatji country near Geraldton in Western Australia has found its first "fast radio burst" from space - after less than four days of searching.

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It was a story that was too good to pass up. The Svalbard "doomsday" seed vault had flooded because of global warming-induced high temperatures melting the surrounding permafrost. But according to one of the vault's creators, the reports are pretty overblown and everything's fine. Well, the vault's fine. The apocalypse is still ticking along nicely.

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Alcohol is potentially one of the world's oldest drugs and, for thousands of years, has had a range of applications. Alcohol holds a special place in the Australian culture so much so that many countries think of the Aussie stereotype as a person with a drink or ‘stubby’ always in one hand — s sometimes both.

But what happens when you participate in one of Australia's favourite pastimes? Let’s have a look at some of the main aspects of alcohol and address some questions.

Shared from Theconversation

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A series of dramatic events over the past year, most notably the September statewide blackout in South Australia, have revealed an electricity system under strain, and left many Australians worried about the reliability of their power supply.

In response, state and federal politicians have announced a series of uncoordinated and potentially expensive interventions, most notably the Turnbull government’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 proposal and the South Australian government’s go-it-alone power plan.

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Over the past nine months, the number of US cases of an emerging, multi-drug resistant fungus has ballooned from seven to more than 122. What's more, the fungus, Candida auris, seems to be spreading, according to a field report the Centres for Disease Control released Thursday.

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Good news! Three space telescopes, including Hubble, have combined their celestial powers to spot a moon orbiting a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt — the region beyond Neptune where Pluto and countless other icy bodies live. According to NASA, the dwarf planet's moon has a lot to teach scientists about how moons formed in the early solar system — but sadly, it has no name. Its planet's name, on the other hand, is garbage — 2007 OR10 and its satellite friend desperately need some rebranding.

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Vaquitas are cartoonish-looking porpoises that swim around, bothering literally no one. These little guys, which only weigh about 54kg, are found in just one region in the world — the Northern Gulf of California. Their nickname — the "panda" porpoise — comes from the dark rings around their eyes, similar to that of the much-beloved bear. Sadly, over the years, vaquita numbers have plummeted dramatically due to unscrupulous fishing practices, and as a result, there are less than 30 left in the wild — according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), unless urgent action is taken, the porpoises could be extinct by next July.

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If there were no societal or cultural pressures to not eat human meat, would it even be good? We're not talking about taste and texture, but rather health and nutrition. Perhaps craving a slice of a particularly delicious-looking friend, AsapSCIENCE decided to tackle the issue in less than four minutes.

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Not all chillies are created equal, and few are as unequal as the Dragon's Breath chilli — a new breed that may soon find itself atop the "world's hottest" throne. Forged by Wales horticulturalist Mike Smith, the red-orange, fingernail-sized fruit is the unintentional product of a trial of a new performance-boosting plant food developed by Nottingham Trent University. Smith says the ferocious fruit is the spiciest on the planet, just over 1.5 times as spicy as a Carolina reaper — the current record holder. That's pretty fiery, but despite what much of the media coverage of this new chilli has claimed, the Dragon's Breath is not lethally hot.

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Eight days ago, a one-eyed goat was born in the Indian state of Assam. Since then, this brave little fluff has become an international sensation for obvious reasons: Clearly, it's training to be in the X-Men.

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It's not every day one stumbles upon a 181kg whale heart, but when you do, you put that crap in a museum. Thankfully, that's exactly what the folks at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) did when they uncovered a dead blue whale in Newfoundland back in 2014. Since then, biologist Jacqueline Miller and her team at ROM have been working tirelessly to put the massive organ on display, and today, they finally did just that.

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It's a reasonable goal to want everyone on Earth to be more moral. Maybe there'd be less suffering, and people would be happier or more prosperous. But what is morality? Are there any drugs that can make us more moral humans? Are they ready for us to debate about their use?

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The overdrawn game of nuclear chicken between the USSR and the United States — now known as the Cold War — lasted about 45 years. While neither superpower ever deployed nukes on each others' soil, high-altitude bomb testing caused a kerfuffle in Earth's atmosphere. Though the conflict has (thankfully) long since ended, newly declassified information suggests it might have impacted space weather in ways we never anticipated.