The scientific community is stunned by research which backs an Australian Aboriginal legend on how coastal palm trees got to Central Australia. Tasmanian ecologist Professor David Bowman did DNA tests on palm seeds from the outback, and his conclusion is startling :: Read the full article »»»»
In 1988, beloved British author Roald Dahl wrote some of his most poignant, instructive words. In an open letter, the writer known for his children’s books pierced with dark humour, urged parents to vaccinate their children against measles following the death of his eldest daughters to the same disease.
Olivia Dahl died of measles encephalitis, aged just seven years old. The author went on to dedicate two of his books to her, James and the Giant Peach, and the BFG; “For Olivia: 20th April 1955 — 17th November 1962.” :: Read the full article »»»»
They say a massive imbalance in the number of autism diagnoses between the sexes could be attributed to more subtle symptoms in females that are either dismissed by clinicians, or undetected by current testing, which focuses on signs associated with male behaviour.
The challenge in diagnosing girls with autism is a focus of Dr Ernsperger, who is speaking at a conference in Melbourne.
She believes the diagnostic questionnaires doctors use for autism focus mainly on the male characteristics of the disorder and are yet to be adapted for girls :: Read the full article »»»»
For the first time astronomers have detected the last gasps of a star being torn apart by – a previously dormant – giant black hole. The signals, which came from a galaxy 3.9 billion light years away, were x-rays generated by matter heated to millions of degrees and torn apart as material from the star crosses the black hole’s event horizon.
Known as quasi-periodic oscillations, they are a characteristic feature of stellar black holes, which have about 10 times the mass of the Sun. Dr Rubens Reis from the University of Michigan is the lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science.
Dr Reis says the findings confirm the constancy of black hole physics. “This is telling us that the same physical phenomenon we observe in stellar mass black holes is also happening in black holes a million times the mass of the Sun, and in black holes that were previously asleep,” he said.
Dr Reis and colleagues first detected the event with NASA’s Swift Gamma Ray Burst Telescope last year, but did not pick up the oscillations at that time. The blips in the signals were detected in follow-up observations using the joint Japanese-NASA Suzaku and the European Space Agency ZMM-Newton orbiting X-ray observatories.
“You can think of it as hearing the star scream as it gets devoured,” said University of Michigan astronomy professor Jon Miller, who co-authored the paper.
The oscillating signal repeats at a characteristic frequency, which would sound like an ultra-low D sharp. The oscillations were occurring once every 200 seconds, meaning the stellar material was orbiting less than 9.3 million kilometres from the centre of the black hole. Professor Miller said that the discovery opens the possibility of studying orbits close to black holes, but that are extremely distant from earth.
A team of international scientists say the prospects for finding a cure for AIDS in the near future are realistic, after unveiling a roadmap to cure the disease in Washington overnight. Major investments in science have resulted in the worldwide availability of over 20 anti-HIV drugs. Despite these successes, these therapies have limitations. They do not eradicate HIV, requiring people to remain on expensive and potentially toxic drugs for life. The new roadmap to cure is intent on ending this suffering.
In what organisers are calling a first, scientists have come up with a coordinated plan to tackle AIDS since the disease was discovered 31 years ago. Over the past two years the International AIDS Society – IAS – has convened a group of international experts to develop a roadmap for research towards an HIV cure. Published online in an abridged form tomorrow, Friday July 20, in Nature Reviews Immunology, Towards an HIV Cure identifies seven important priority areas for basic, translational and clinical research and maps out a path for future research collaboration and funding opportunities.(
Approximately 34 million people around the world are HIV positive, and in 2010 more than 21,000 Australians were living with HIV infection :: Read the full article »»»»