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Cosmos MagazineCosmos Magazine

Cosmos Magazine

Issue 83

Global science, from a unique Australian perspective.

Country:
Australia
Language:
English
Publisher:
The Royal Institution of Australia Inc
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8 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

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a letter from the lead scientist

THERE EXISTS A FUNDAMENTAL new form of matter in our universe, outweighing everything we can see five times over. Its gravity holds the Milky Way together and yet we cannot see it, as it neither shines nor absorbs light. Not only invisible, it is a “ghost”, passing through solid matter as if it were empty space, such that 100 trillion particles fly through your body every day and less than a handful might collide with a single atom. This unknown entity is dark matter, and determining its nature is one of the most important quests in science this century. The search for dark matter involves international teams of engineers and scientists building detectors with tonnes of noble gas or ultrapure crystals to record the rare impact of collisions. The detectors must…

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cosmos magazine

EDITORIAL Editor ANDREW MASTERSON Publisher CHUCK SMEETON Lead scientist ASSOC PROF ALAN DUFFY Editorial manager NICK CARNE Art director CAROL PERKINS Graphic designer SHAWNEE WILLIS Social editor KELLY WONG Editorial assistant AMELIA NICHELE Contributors ROBYN ARIANRHOD, PAUL BEIGLER, PAUL DAVIES, ALAN DUFFY, ALAN FINKEL, ELIZABETH FINKEL, STEPHEN FLEISCHFRESSER, LAUREN FUGE, ALICE GORMAN, DYANI LEWIS, TANYA LOOS, RICK LOVETT, KATIE MACK, SAMANTHA PAGE, NATALIE PARLETTA, DREW TURNEY, KAYA WILSON, KELLY WONG. Mind Games TESS BRADY / SNODGER PUZZLES Editor-at-large ELIZABETH FINKEL SALES & MARKETING Marketing manager NICOLA GASKELL Corporate Partnerships KELLY TAGALAN Partnerships Manager KATHERINE ROBERTS Published by The Royal Institution of Australia Inc. ABN 98638459658 Chief Executive Officer & Director BRADLEY ABRAHAM Corporate Services Manager SARAH BRENNEN IT manager DENIS GALE Editor, Australia’s Science Channel BEN LEWIS Operational support BIANCA ATTARD, STEVEN ABBEY, CHRISTINE BRUDERHANS Education specialists HILARY JONES, JENNIFER CHALMERS Video production…

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from the editor

Evidence trumps ideology WELCOME to the latest quarterly edition of Cosmos and what, we hope, is an entertaining and informative deep dive into the realms of science and technology. The recent federal election in Australia demonstrated one thing very clearly. As the heated campaign rolled out, many of the issues that became hot-button topics centred on questions that had more to do with evidence than ideology. The country’s energy-generation mix, now and in the future, was a constant topic. Arguments flared around electric cars, high-speed rail, mining approvals, drilling in the Bight, impacts on the Great Barrier Reef and, above all, very loudly, climate change. Ultimately, these are all issues which – once the fiery rhetoric diminishes – turn on results arising from carefully conducted, randomised, double-blind, peer-reviewed research. Perhaps more than any other election in…

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contributors

PAUL BEIGLER After many years working as an emergency doctor, Paul switched tracks to become a bioethicist and writer. As well as contributing to Cosmos, he writes for major newspapers and is an adjunct research fellow at Monash University. ALAN FINKEL Alan, a former publisher of Cosmos, is an electrical engineer, a neuroscientist and Chief Scientist of Australia. He was Chancellor of Monash University from 2008 to 2015. TANYA LOOS Tanya is a naturalist and ecologist based in regional Victoria. She writes regularly for Cosmos and contributes columns to regional newspapers. She is the author of the book Daylesford Nature Diary (em Press Publishing). DREW TURNEY Drew is a US-based Australian journalist, novelist and film critic. He covers computers and technology for a number of outlets, and is director of psi Publishing and Design.…

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why grapes spark when you microwave them

It’s must-watch viewing for the science-curious: cut a grape in half with skin left on, pop it in the microwave, then wait a few seconds for sparks to fly and a bright puff of light, or plasma, to appear. A popular theory is that the hotspot creating the spark occurs because the skin conducts electrons back and forth. But not so, suggest Canadian researchers in the journal PNAS. “The plasma is created due to an amplification of the electromagnetic field in between the grapes,” says Pablo Bianucci of Concordia University, Montreal. This is caused by the interaction of “trapped” microwaves. Skin or no skin, having two grapes, or two halves, is the key.…

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the dawn of the zombie pigs

Neuroscientists have succeeded in restoring partial function to the brains of decapitated pigs, hours after they were killed. In a paper published in the journal Nature, researchers led by Zvonimir Vrselja from the Yale School of Medicine in the US report “the restoration and maintenance of microcirculation and molecular and cellular functions of the intact pig brain” up to four hours after death. The results are at once extraordinary and, legal experts and bioethicists say, deeply concerning. In effect, Vrselja and colleagues have created the world’s first zombie pigs. They did so by first making a fluid, dubbed BrainEx, which was fed into the vascular system of the brains of the pigs, which had earlier been slaughtered for meat production. The researchers say it promotes tissue recovery from anoxia – a lack of…

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