You Can’t Bake the Same Cake Twice

You may wonder whether we can separate the cake of life’s three main ingredients: genes, environment, and developmental variation. This remains a goal of many researchers. But just as we can’t un-bake a cake to produce flour, eggs, and sugar, we can’t completely separate out the factors that make you an individual. Things are complicated because genes, environment and developmental variation interact.

The Science Doughnut

At the Australian Synchrotron, electrons are shot out from an electron gun so that they are already travelling at over half the speed of light. They are then sped up further until they nearly reach the speed of light and are shot out into an inner “booster ring” to boost their energy. Once the electrons have gained enough energy, they are shot into an outer ring. Hence the affectionate nickname – the two rings form a doughnut.

Seeing the Invisible Sky

Astronomers build telescopes to search for cosmic radio waves and learn about the universe. Radio telescopes “see” the sky very differently to the point-like stars seen in visible light. They detect black holes, stars and planets being born, dying stars, and more. They detect invisible gas and can reveal areas of space that may be otherwise obscured by cosmic dust. Professor Virginia Kilborn hunts for cosmic phenomena beyond the visual spectrum.

The Difficulties of Sex

During intrasexual selection, members of the same sex attempt to outcompete rivals for mates. This is typically responsible the evolution of armaments to increase their chances of success such as larger beetle horns and deer antlers, or larger body size. By contrast, intersexual selection results from mate choice, where certain behaviours or characteristics (e.g. mating calls and bright colours) are considered ideal. But human waste can interfere with this process.

Don’t Roll the Dice with Science Communication

We need to ensure the public are well equipped to make their own decisions based on an understanding of risk. We use education to encourage people to eat 3-4 servings of vegetables per day rather than enforcing it, while safety is ensured with legislated mandates like wearing seatbelts or banning indoor smoking. Yet vaccine mandates have been disputed, though you might die much faster from being infected by someone than passively breathing in their smoke at a restaurant.