Science News

'Completely nuts': Faraway planet is lord of the rings

Mariette LE ROUX   Astronomers have found the first-ever ringed planet beyond our Solar System, a super-world with a girdle of halos 200 times bigger than Saturn's.

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Latest science news

After #dressgate, optical illusions show how colour can trick the eye

White-gold, blue-black dress stumps science.

Ana Swanson 10:26 AM   The Internet erupted in an energetic debate last week about whether an ugly dress was blue and black or white and gold, with celebrities from Anna Kendrick (white) to Taylor Swift (black) weighing in

Bright lights on dwarf planet perplex NASA

Two mysterious lights, filmed by NASA's Dawn space probe, appear on the surface of dwarf planet Ceres.

The discovery of two bright lights on the dwarf planet Ceres has NASA scientists puzzled.

Sci-tech

Scientists know there are more giant craters in Siberia, but are nervous to even study them

One of the craters in a Siberian area called "the ends of the Earth".

The Siberian crater saga is more widespread — and scarier — than anyone thought.

Printing with metal: Melbourne engineers make world's first 3D printed jet engine

The 3D printed jet engine on display at the Avalon Airshow.

Marissa Calligeros   Engineers working from a garage-size lab in Melbourne’s suburbs have made the world’s first 3D printed jet engine.

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Astronomers find ancient black hole the size of 12 billion suns

An artist's impression of a black hole.

Rachel Feltman   Some 12.8 billion light years away, astronomers have spotted an object of almost impossible brightness - the most luminous object ever seen in such ancient space.

Pancreatic cancer mapping will refine treatment

Researchers Andrew Biankin and Sean Grimmond have pioneered gene sequencing for cancer treatment.

Nicky Phillips   Tumours are a lot like earthquakes. No two are the same, and just as quakes occur mostly along fault lines, scientists have discovered that tumours also have unstable regions hidden inside their genomes.

New pre-conception test checks potential parents for 145 genetic disorders

Julie Cini, spinal muscular atrophy disease carrier whose twin daughter died of the disease at one year old.

Nicky Phillips and Amy Corderoy   Julie Cini had never heard of spinal muscular atrophy before her daughter Montanna was born, limp and floppy from the mostly fatal muscle wasting disease.

First steps on Mars could be captured by Canberra's new satellite dish

Canberra's new $55 million DSS35 antenna is 34 metres in diameter. It could one day capture mankind's first steps on Mars.

Clare Sibthorpe   Humans could be walking on Mars in less than two decades and the giant leap for mankind may be captured first by Canberra's new $55 million space dish unveiled by NASA on Wednesday.

Sci-tech

How Stephen Hawking has survived so long with ALS

Stephen Hawking at a press conference last year to announce new communication technology.

Terrence McCoy   52 years after his diagnosis with a disease that generally kills in five, the man who explained time is just as unsure about the cause of his longevity as experts in the field.

'Lucky' skywatchers spot 'fireball asteroid'

Meteor thumbnail

Tom Cowie   Lucky skywatchers who spotted a rare daylight meteor streaking across the Victorian sky on Wednesday morning may never see one again in their lifetime, says one astronomer.

Jupiter begins its reign in the night sky

In May 2011 Jupiter (top left) put on a show with Mercury (top right), Venus (centre) and Mars (bottom) over Sydney.

Perry Vlahos   Jupiter is now at its brightest, outshining all in the night sky apart from Venus and the moon.

Sci-tech

Love hormone has sobering effect on drunk rats

Lab rat.

Nicky Phillips   Love is supposed to conquer all. One day it may save you from those embarrassing antics after a few too many alcoholic drinks.

Evolution theory confirmed: Big is better, Stanford researchers say

Sea urchin

Lisa M. Krieger   A comprehensive study on the evolution of body size has backed up Cope's Rule, finding most marine animals have got bigger.

Spacewalking 'cable guys' wrap up work out

NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore (left) and Terry Virts during a spacewalk to lay cable on the International Space Station.

A pair of American astronauts have wrapped up the first of three spacewalks to route cables outside the International Space Station so commercial spaceships carrying crew can dock there in the coming years.

In pursuit of happiness: why some pain helps us feel pleasure

Pleasure and pain: you need both to have a happy life.

Brock Bastian   Without pain life becomes dull, boring and downright undesirable.

Did Beethoven's irregular heartbeat change his music?

Numerous scholars have speculated that Beethoven had an arrhythmia.

Zachary Goldberger   Medical tools have offered researchers a unique insight into Beethoven's health and his music.

How vaccines change the way we think about disease

Vaccine

Elena Conis   With the current measles outbreak, we are reminded that measles can cause brand damage, pneumonia and even death.

Don't stop collecting full-body animal specimens, scientists told

 A specimen of <i>Leporillus apicalis</i>, the critically endangered lesser stick-nest rat, in the Melbourne Museum's collection of "whole body" specimens.

Bridie Smith   Some scientists' reliance on modern sampling methods could have long-term implications for the integrity of animal specimen collections, a new paper warns.

Where do ants go to the toilet?

Ants, like humans, use indoor toilets.

Nicky Phillips   If you've ever wondered what ants do when nature calls - wonder no more.

Attorney-General George Brandis flags $17 million plan to counter Islamic State online

Attorney‐General George Brandis says the internet is not beyond the law.

Nick O'Malley   Attending the White House's summit on countering violent extremism, the Attorney-General, George Brandis, has announced the Australian government will create a body to monitor social media and take down terrorist propaganda.

Features

Scientists find echoes of Big Bang

An experiment at the South Pole leads to what is potentially one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the past two decades.

The secret to running repairs

Scientists think the Mexican walking fish may hold the key to regeneration in humans.

Alive as a dodo

Bringing animals back from extinction is no longer science fiction. But the question is, should we do it?

Videos

Navy reveals Antarctic secrets

Australian Navy hydrographers on their boat the Wyatt Earp map the seafloor off Casey Station in Antarctica.

Cycling out of intensive care

World leading research is under way to rehabilitate ICU patients - some unconscious - with horizontal exercise bikes. Producer - Tom McKendrick

Furry Facts

Why onions make you cry

Ever wonder why chopping onions is such a tear jerking event?

Vaccines

Needles aren't a whole lot of fun, but why is immunisation so important? Cartoonist John Shakespeare and Science Editor Nicky Phillips explain.

El Nino and La Nina

Have you ever found it hard to understand why Australia's swings between drought and floods?

Tornadoes

They're some of the most destructive forces on the planet, but what's the difference between a tornado and a cyclone?

Sinkholes

What is a sinkhole? What causes them? Furry Facts explains.