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

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

How acid warps your thoughts and feelings
Biology / Neuroscience / Psychology

How acid warps your thoughts and feelings

From Cosmos Magazine, January 27, 2017 (Image: Mesaj via Flickr) Eight decades since Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first cooked up the psychedelic drug lysergic acid diethylamide – LSD or “acid” – and half a century on from its heyday during the 1960s counterculture, how LSD messes with our brain is still little understood. But two new … Continue reading

Killer whale menopause evolved from mother-daughter conflict
Biology / Evolution

Killer whale menopause evolved from mother-daughter conflict

From Cosmos Magazine, January 13, 2017 (Image: Shawn McCready via Flickr) Menopause is an evolutionary anomaly. Only in three species – humans, orcas and short-finned pilot whales – does female reproduction grind to a halt part-way through life. For orcas (Orcinus orca), a new study published in Current Biology shows that menopause isn’t just a … Continue reading

How microbes affect you from brain to bowel
Biology / Medicine / Neuroscience / Psychology

How microbes affect you from brain to bowel

From Cosmos Magazine, September 5-9, 2016. (Photo: Lactobacillus casei by AJC1 via Flickr) Not a day goes by without some new study proclaiming the importance of our microbes to our health. It’s hard to keep up, and hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, the mildly interesting association from the water-tight causal link. I recently wrote … Continue reading

Assisted colonisation of Australian tortoise sets controversial precedent
Biology / Climate / Environment

Assisted colonisation of Australian tortoise sets controversial precedent

From ScienceInsider, August 11, 2016 (Photo credit: Gerald Kuchling) As long as it has been known to science, the diminutive western swamp tortoise has been in peril. By the time it was formally named in 1901—using a decades-old museum specimen—Pseudemydura umbrina was presumed extinct. And since it was rediscovered in the 1950s, biologists have struggled … Continue reading