Human sexuality and gender expression is a continuum, much in the same way that height and weight are. Not everyone fits into the categories of strictly straight, strictly gay, male or female. Dichotomising sexuality and gender ignores the continuum or clusters of individuals who don’t fall into one of two (and only two) categories and we can fall prey to thinking that one is “normal”. While people may find comfort in the “born this way” argument, looking for a “gay gene” can indicate a level of non-acceptance. If the variation between individuals is collapsed to a binary then the focus becomes on asking why one end of the spectrum exists, when the better question would be to ask how variation in sexuality evolved and came about.
An iconic species of the Australian Alps, the mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus) is found in a unique and fragile habitat that is highly sensitive to environmental change. Habitat conservation and genetic rescue-based conservation efforts have allowed some populations to rebound, but the possum is facing new threats, and the species remains Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Bogong moth, a key food source in the mountain pygmy possum diet, has declined in recent years. Efforts to understand Bogong moth biology are underway.
The kingdom of fungi is an important, though often underappreciated, family of organisms which include yeasts, rusts, moulds, smuts, mildews, stinkhorns and mushrooms. Of the vast range of living things on the Earth, fungi make up an impressive 9% of all biodiversity. The immensity of the mighty fungi kingdom and the diversity of fungal organisms and functions means we can’t fit everything into a brief exploration; however, mycologist Dr Sapphire McMullan-Fisher gave us some comprehensive insights to the mysterious world of fungi to share.
In a collaboration between researchers, the government, and production manufacturers, materials can be recycled and reformed into new products. We talk about three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Professor Veena Sahajwalla offers a fourth: reform. Instead of shipping waste offshore, we could be harvesting the high value materials in our waste. Each year, 50 million tonnes of e-waste is produced globally. In Australia, fewer than 1.5% of the 4 million computers sold a year are recycled. The total value of the resources embedded in them approximates $70 billion.
Indigenous cultures have a deep emotional investment and attachment to the landscape that acts as both almanac and encyclopaedia. It’s amazing that different cultures separated by vast oceans and continents have independently perceived the patterns in constellations in strikingly similar ways, despite being geographically and temporally separated. Stories from the cosmos give both practical guidance and spiritual comfort, and this way of telling stories and reading the stars is a way of keeping knowledge constant across generations.