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Science Illustrated

Issue 86

Science Illustrated delivers natural science, break through discoveries and an understanding of the world for the entire family. Packed with stunning photography and in-depth editorial it’s a visually spectacular gateway to the world looking into the beginning of life to distant objects in the universe.

Nextmedia Pty Ltd
$5.49(Incl. tax)
$29.99(Incl. tax)
8 Issues

in this issue

1 min
megapixel supernovas

Space metal: star explosion produces valuable elements Palm slap: Hungry beetle attacks plantations Photo // T. Sato et al. RIKEN/CXC/NUSTAR/NASA. Photo // Mofeed Abu Shalwa LUMINAR BUG PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS 2020…

2 min
earth’s carbon came from outer space

SOLAR SYSTEM Carl Sagan said it; Joni Mitchell sang it: the idea that humans are made of stardust is not a new one. Scientists have known for a long time that almost all elements originate in the hearts of stars. But two new studies, one led by the US University of Michigan and one by the University of Minnesota, indicate that for carbon, it may be more true than we thought. Scientists used to think that the carbon on Earth came from molecules in the star nebula that gave birth to the Sun. The old theory assumed that all the elements involved in planet formation had evaporated during the Sun’s formation and subsequently cooled, forming the protoplanetary disk, a cloud of dust and gas that circled our young sun and contained the building…

2 min
wasps help date an ancient kangaroo

HUMANS Cave paintings are normally very difficult to date accurately. Some believe that one ochre painting of a giant emu-like bird on the Arnhem Land plateau could be 40,000 years old, but it contains no carbon that can be dated. A fragment of a painting from the same area has been dated as 28,000 years old, but only by dating the soil in which it was found. So the oldest radiometrically-dated in situ rock painting so far reported in Australia is this 2-metre-long kangaroo, under a cliff overhang on the Unghango clan estate in Balanggarra country, above the Drysdale River in the northeastern Kimberley, WA. Both over and under this painting are the remains of ancient wasp nests including organic material from plants and animals. By using a new technique of carbon-14…

2 min
fusion energy will be ready in 2030

ENERGY Fusion energy is a little like flying cars – they always seem to be promised for 10 years into the future. However, the company TAE Technologies is now claiming it will be to be able to supply fusion energy on a commercial scale before the end of this decade. Fusion energy imitates the processes that take place in the Sun’s interior, where elements fuse – releasing huge quantities of energy. Scientists and engineers have been working on this holy grail of energy since the early 20th century. Several test reactors have been built – including the inter-national ITER project in France. So far, nobody has managed to get more energy out of the technology than they put into it. TAE Technologies takes a slightly different approach with its fusion reactor, which uses…

1 min
‘zombie’ star found to emit extremely powerful x-rays

STARS A pulsar is a highly magnetised rotating compact star (usually a neutron star). As these stars rotate rapidly they emit radio waves at highly predictable intervals – a little like a pulse. Scientists have discovered a particularly extreme quality in one pulsar at the centre of the Crab Nebula some 6500 light years from Earth. The pulsar is rotating at an incredible 30 times per second. and is one of the brightest in the sky. But in addition to radio waves, this pulsar has been found also to emit very powerful X-rays. Scientists from the RIKEN research institute in Japan have studied the pulsar using the NICER X-ray telescope aboard the International Space Station, ISS. The astronomers’ data showed that the pulsar emits thousands of extremely powerful X-rays, which amplify the radio…

1 min
rare fossil of a crab brain shows evolution at a standstill

PALAEONTOLOGY Studies of organs in ancient creatures are limited in scope, because soft tissues are rarely preserved in the fossil record. While amber can preserve insects impeccably, the oldest arthropods in amber date back only to the Triassic Period, around 230 million years ago. But an international team including University of New England palaeontologists Dr Russell Bicknell and Professor John Paterson has been able to describe the delicate brain of a 310-million-year-old horseshoe crab, and how it was preserved in such remarkable detail. Their Euproops danae horseshoe crab specimen comes from the Mazon Creek deposit in Illinois, USA, where fossils are formed within an iron carbonate mineral called siderite. The rapid formation of siderite entombed their entire bodies, and the process was sometimes even able to encase internal soft tissues before they could…