Cosmos Magazine

Cosmos Magazine Issue 89

Global science, from a unique Australian perspective.

Leggi di più
The Royal Institution of Australia Inc
3,29 €(VAT inclusa)
19,72 €(VAT inclusa)
4 Numeri

in questo numero

1 min
closer look

There are around 200 described species of Daphnia, usually known as water fleas because their method of swimming resembles the locomotion of a true flea. The planktonic crustaceans range in size from 0.2 to 5 millimetres, so you don’t expect to see them with this much detail and colour, the work of Polish biologist and photomicrographer Marek Miś. This image received an honourable mention in the 2020 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition (see page 48), in which Miś is a serial entrant: since 2009, 14 of his photographs have been cited for distinction, honourable mention or as a placegetter.…

1 min
from the lead scientist

FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES, the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – Australia’s most prestigious awards for achievement in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science teaching – have been celebrated in the Great Hall of Parliament House. This year, it was a digital-only event that invited the world to a party where the guests of honour are scientists, innovators and teachers. It was my great pleasure to host the Prizes again. And never have these groups deserved a party more: the scientists who worked around the clock to understand a new contagion; industry that retooled, seemingly overnight, to ensure we have respirators in abundance; and educators who moved the nation’s millions of students entirely online, some in just a single weekend. Prize recipients included those who developed new treatments for…

2 min
from the editors

Humans’ relationship with the ocean and its denizens is complex: exciting, and dangerous, seductive and confronting. To celebrate the Australian season of saltwater swimming, we’ve dived right in for a fisheye view. First among story equals, novelist James Bradley takes us through the fascinating research pointing to fish cognition, and considers our relationship with fishes. Bradley’s piece is the first of four in a series called “New ways of seeing”, in which writers better known for literature consider an aspect of science. We’re grateful to the Copyright Agency Ltd (CAL), for their grant to allow us to produce these pieces, and look forward to exploring scientific spaces from an unusual perspective in future issues. We stick with ocean research from the tropics to the Southern Ocean, through Pat Sheil’s look at the…

2 min
cheers as spacecraft tags asteroid

In a brief moment that its principal scientist Dante Lauretta described as “transcendental”, NASA’s OSIRISREx spacecraft successfully played tag with an asteroid on 21 October. The manoeuvre, officially called TAG (touch-and-go), saw the spacecraft touch down perfectly in one of the few safe landing zones on asteroid 101955 Bennu, 300 million kilometres from Earth. It then activated its sample collection mechanism and safely backed away, without hitting any of the dangerous boulders flanking the tiny collection site, whose safe zone was a mere eight metres in diameter. “I can’t believe we actually pulled this off,” Lauretta said as the control centre exploded in cheers and pantomimed high-fives. “The spacecraft did everything it was supposed to do,” he added, noting that the emotion of the success “is almost hard to process… Everything went just exactly…

1 min
a barcode of earth’s climatic past

Climate scientists have compiled the first continuous, high-fidelity record of variations in Earth’s climate extending back 66 million years to the time of the last great extinction. The global “reference curve” highlights four distinct climatic states and the natural million- and thousand-year variability that Earth’s climate has experienced. It brings together research from 12 international laboratories using sample material from the ocean floor collected over more than five decades of scientific drilling expeditions by the International Ocean Discovery Program and its predecessors. The resulting colourful barcode – officially called CENOGRID (CENOzoic Global Reference benthic foraminifera carbon and oxygen Isotope Dataset) – provides a snapshot of past climate change, the researchers say, and a possible guide to the future. “We now know more accurately when it was warmer or colder on the planet and…

1 min
it happened in just a few zeptoseconds

German physicists say they have measured the shortest unit of time ever – 247 zeptoseconds. That’s 247 trillionths of a billionth of a second (20 zeroes after the decimal point) and it’s the time it takes for a photon to cross a hydrogen molecule, the team from Frankfurt’s Goethe University reports in Science. It’s not the first time we’ve been in this rarefied neighbourhood. In 2016, researchers led by Germany’s Max Planck Institute revealed that the electron emission from helium atoms takes 856 zeptoseconds. Reinhard Dörner’s team has raised the bar, however, working with the accelerator facility DESY in Hamburg and the Fritz-Haber-Institute in Berlin. They carried out the time measurement on a hydrogen molecule that they irradiated with X-rays from the synchrotron lightsource PETRA III at DESY. “The proposed technique is generally applicable to…