Latest Entries
Biology / Evolution

Review: Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony by Kevin N. Layland

A version of this review appeared in Issue 75 of Cosmos Magazine, July 2017  The runaway evolution that drove human brilliance Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind by KEVIN N. LALAND Princeton University Press (2017) Evolutionary biologists are often loath to admit the vast gap that exists between our own brilliance and … Continue reading

The next generation of weapons against antibiotic-resistant superbugs
Biology / Evolution / Medicine

The next generation of weapons against antibiotic-resistant superbugs

From Cosmos Magazine, June 30, 2017 (Image: naturalismus via Flickr)  At his North Adelaide practice, Peter-John Wormald has the unenviable job of unblocking the noses of people with chronic sinusitis. Many of his patients have spent years on antibiotics that have failed to budge their infection, providing the perfect breeding ground for resistant superbugs. For … Continue reading

Biofuels: could agave, hemp and saltbush be the fuels of the future?
Biology / Environment

Biofuels: could agave, hemp and saltbush be the fuels of the future?

From The Guardian, May 10, 2017 (Image: Sergio Niebla via Flickr) Biofuels have long been touted as a carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuels, doing for the world’s planes, ships and automobiles what windfarms and solar panels are doing for its electricity grids. With the transport sector accounting for almost one fifth of Australia’s total carbon … Continue reading

Cool roofs: beating the midday sun with a slap of white paint
Environment / Technology

Cool roofs: beating the midday sun with a slap of white paint

From the Guardian, April 14, 2017 (Image: Alberto d’Argenio via Flickr) There’s no shortage of measures that homeowners and businesses can take to lessen their environmental footprint – from better insulation and double glazing, to easing up on air-con usage and swapping in LED lights. One part of the house that seems to be attracting … Continue reading

Salt, silicon or graphite: energy storage goes beyond lithium ion batteries
Climate / Technology

Salt, silicon or graphite: energy storage goes beyond lithium ion batteries

From The Guardian, April 6, 2017 (Image: Solar thermal plant in Spain, Beyond Zero Emissions via Flickr) Between the political bickering following a spate of blackouts in South Australia and the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeting that he had a fix, and then the South Australian government announcing that it will build a grid-connected battery … Continue reading

Biology / Medicine

A deep dive into the genomes of penicillin fungi reveals a trove of potential drugs

From Cosmos Magazine, April 4, 2017 (Image: AJC1 via Flickr) A treasure trove of medicinal compounds could still be lurking within the fungi that revolutionised modern medicine through the use of antibiotics, according to a new study published in Nature Microbiology. Penicillin, derived from the Penicillium fungi, became the first mass-produced antibiotic in the 1940s. … Continue reading