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Science Illustrated Issue 84

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.

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1 min
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1 min
the southern titan: our largest dinosaur

Meet Australotitan cooperensis – now Australia’s largest known dinosaur. The new species of giant sauropod is estimated to have reached a length of 25-30 metres and a height of up to 6.5 metres to the hip, and it lived in the Cretaceous Period, around 92-96 million years ago. Scientifically described and named by Queensland Museum and Eromanga Natural History Museum palaeontologists, its discovery came after Sandy, son of Stuart and Robyn McKenzie, discovered a memorable ‘rock’ on the McKenzie’s property in Eromanga, south-west Queensland. That rock eventually led to the couple founding the Eromanga Natural History Museum, and working with Queensland Museum to excavate the largest skeletal remains of a dinosaur ever to be discovered in Australia. “It’s amazing to think from the first bones discovered by our son, the first digs…

1 min
playful little sucker: octopus selfie wins a prize

Octopuses are curious creatures. In this instance a photographer deliberately left his waterproofed camera near the den of the octopus in tidal pools at Kamay Botany Bay National Park, south of Sydney. Most animals lose interest when they realise that an object is not edible, but this intelligent mollusc managed, probably unintentionally, to find the shutter and take pictures of itself, capturing the photographer and his three-year-old son in the background. The ‘octopus selfie’ won last year’s Wide Angle Ocean Art contest. OCEAN ART 2020; Photo // Gaetano Dario Gargiulo…

3 min
betelguese is closer, smaller, and not about to go supernova

ASTRONOMY Australian scientists have discovered how the huge star Betelgeuse has managed to confuse astronomers over the past couple of years. In 2019, the star received much attention when its light intensity suddenly reduced in a far greater fluctuation that those normally observed among variable stars such as Betelgeuse. Astronomers saw this as an indication that the star was burning out and would soon explode into a supernova. But over the following months, the star’s light intensity increased again. Clearly there had to be another explanation, and one possibility was that the star’s light had been temporarily blocked by a huge dust cloud. Scientists from Australian National University have analysed the star’s light and the fluctuations since 2019, comparing the data to computer models that might explain them. They now conclude…

1 min
‘impossible’ life found under the ice

BIOLOGY Beneath an ice shelf off Antarctica, life forms are thriving, even though they receive no sunlight. So found biologists of the British Antarctic Survey in England, who drilled down through the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf, lowering a camera to the ocean floor. The exploration of life beneath Antarctica’s ice shelves could teach scientists more about how life in the polar regions made it through severe ice ages, during which the majority of the ocean surface was covered in ice. The goal here was to take photos of mud on the ocean floor, which the scientists expected to be a lifeless environment. But the camera landed on a large circular rock which was clearly occupied by several life forms. Photos include both fungi and creatures that could be barnacles – a group of…

1 min
your hand’s blood vessels are your new fingerprints

TECHNOLOGY The pattern of blood vessels on the back of your hand is just as unique as your fingerprints, and so can be used to identify you. Scientists from the University of New South Wales have now developed the technology to do this. Using an infrared camera, the scientists take a detailed photo of the blood vessels, then a computer using artificial intelligence can recognise and match the results. The scientists tested the method with 500 photos of the hands of 35 test subjects. After teaching the computer the patterns of each individual they gave the computer new photos of test subjects’ hands, and it could identify them with a success rate of 99.8%. The new method could supplement other identification methods such as fingerprints or face recognition. Fingerprint scanners can be…