Blog Archives

Facebook and Google have a moral duty to stop online abuse

Facebook and Google have a moral duty to stop online abuse

It’s the stuff of nightmares: your intimate images are leaked and posted online by somebody you thought you could trust. But in Australia, victims often have no real legal remedy for this kind of abuse. This is the key problem of regulating the internet. Often, speech we might consider abusive or offensive isn’t actually illegal. […] … learn more→

What is 4D printing?

What is 4D printing?

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it’s found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can print almost anything, not just marks on paper, opens up unlimited opportunities for us to manufacture toys, household appliances […] … learn more→

The most influential scientist you may never have heard of

The most influential scientist you may never have heard of

Gaze at Alexander Von Humboldt’s 1814 self-portrait and you peer into the eyes of a man who sought to see and understand everything. By this point in his life, at age 45, Humboldt had tutored himself in every branch of science, spent more than five years on a 6,000 mile scientific trek through South America, […] … learn more→

Science and coal seam gas – a case of the tortoise and the hare?

Science and coal seam gas – a case of the tortoise and the hare?

One of the key questions about the coal seam gas (CSG) industry, which is now being developed at breakneck speed across Australia, is how much methane is released as “fugitive” emissions. Three weeks ago we published a paper containing the first detailed maps of atmospheric greenhouse gases in Queensland’s CSG heartland. Our study clearly exposes […] … learn more→

Grey seals in the dock over porpoise murder mystery

Grey seals in the dock over porpoise murder mystery

It’s one of the big mysteries in my career as a marine biologist. Something lurking in the seas off Britain has been chomping away at local porpoises and none of the usual suspects fit the bill. Now scientists have finally identified the cuddly culprit. I first became aware of the attacks on porpoises – beakless, […] … learn more→

Giant sunspot returns – and it’s bigger and badder than ever

Giant sunspot returns – and it’s bigger and badder than ever

The largest sunspot seen in 24 years is rotating back to face the Earth, and it looks to have grown even bigger. Last month, the solar active region known as AR12192 (also known as AR2192 to some of its friends) entertained the world with the sunspot clearly visible with the naked eye (with some appropriate […] … learn more→

Comet families similar to our own are found around another star

Comet families similar to our own are found around another star

A detailed study of comets orbiting the young nearby star Beta Pictoris is published in the journal Nature, and it reveals striking similarities to the comets found in our solar system. Over the past 30 years, 11 stars have been identified that appear to have comets orbiting around them, known as exocomets (akin to exoplanets). […] … learn more→

Speed kills

Speed kills

“Sleeker. Faster. More Intuitive” (The New York Times); “Welcome to a world where speed is everything” (Verizon FiOS); “Speed is God, and time is the devil” (chief of Hitachi’s portable-computer division). In “real” time, life speeds up until time itself seems to disappear—fast is never fast enough, everything has to be done now, instantly. To […] … learn more→

Is artificial intelligence a threat?

Is artificial intelligence a threat?

When the world ends, it may not be by fire or ice or an evil robot overlord. Our demise may come at the hands of a superintelligence that just wants more paper clips. So says Nick Bostrom, a philosopher who founded and directs the Future of Humanity Institute, in the Oxford Martin School at the […] … learn more→

Now you can turn your inkjet printer into a chemistry lab and use it to diagnose diabetes

Now you can turn your inkjet printer into a chemistry lab and use it to diagnose diabetes

If you stop and think about it for a moment, you will realise what an astonishing feat of precision engineering your colour printer is. It can take the primary colours – cyan, yellow, magenta and black – and mix them together carefully enough to achieve more than a million different hues and shades. Not only […] … learn more→