The Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) is an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise.

We aim to better inform public debate on the major issues of the day by improving links between the media and the scientific community.

NEWS BRIEFING: The roots of sex – world’s first lovers did it sideways (Nature*)

Sun19Oct
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EMBARGO LIFTED 04:00 AEDT Monday 20 October 2014

NEWS BRIEFING – Friday October 17th at 10:00 ACDT (10:30 AEDT) at the Science Exchange in Adelaide (also available online)

Research led by South Australia’s Flinders University has identified the very first beasts to make the beast with two backs, and say they started getting busy much earlier in evolutionary history than we thought. Fossils suggest the world’s very first lovers were a type of 385m-year-old Scottish armoured fish called an antiarch, and far from adopting the missionary position, they copulated in a bizarre square-dance-like display. But the research also suggests that – presumably after the development of a really terrible headache – the entire animal kingdom may have given the whole thing up and gone back to fertilising eggs externally, with sexual intercourse as we know it coming back into fashion later. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Lockheed Martin announces nuclear fusion power breakthrough

Thu16Oct
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For immediate release

It has been reported that US defence technology firm Lockheed Martin Corp says it has made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready in a decade. Lockheed says it has shown it can complete a design, build and test it in as little as a year, which should produce an operational reactor in 10 years. read more

UK EXPERT REACTION: Australian study in rapid versus gradual weight loss (Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology*)

Thu16Oct
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EMBARGO LIFTED 10:00 AEDT Thursday 16 October 2014

A new study by Melbourne-based experts has found contrary to current dietary recommendations, slow and steady weight loss does not reduce the amount or rate of weight regain compared with losing weight quickly. Below UK experts respond. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Have we overestimated the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere? (PNAS*)

Mon13Oct
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EMBARGO LIFTED 06:00 AEDT TUESDAY 14 OCT, 2014

According to US scientists, current computer models may be overestimating projected levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and may need to be corrected to accurately predict the ramifications of climate change. Current models don’t account for the slow diffusion of atmospheric CO2 inside plant leaves and underestimate the contribution of increasing CO2 to plant growth, the authors say.  read more

EXPERT REACTION: Lego ends partnership with Shell

Fri10Oct
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After pressure from the environmental group Greenpeace, the Danish toy-brick maker Lego has decided to end its co-branding relationship with the global oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell. 

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EXPERT REACTION: Bisphenol-A and children’s lung function (Jama Pediatrics*)

Thu9Oct
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EMBARGO LIFTED 07:00 AEDT Tuesday 7 October, 2014

A US and Canadian study has reported that a higher level of maternal BPA exposure is associated with increased likelihood of respiratory disorders in children.

These expert comments were collected by the UK SMC.

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EXPERT REACTION: ‘Milan’ baby ‘cleared’ of HIV relapses (The Lancet*)

Thu2Oct
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EMBARGO LIFTED 09:01 AEST Friday 3 October, 2014

Italian doctors say they’ve detected the HIV virus in a five-year-old child who was thought to have been cleared of the HIV virus after receiving antiretroviral drugs very shortly after being born. The child was virus-free until age three but, in a case that mirrors that of the earlier ‘Mississippi’ baby, it has now returned.

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EXPERT REACTION: Regular drinking may damage sperm (BMJ Open*)

Thu2Oct
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EMBARGO LIFTED 08:30 AEST Friday O3 Oct, 2014

A Danish study of 1,221 healthy young men found a link between regular alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels (five units per week), and reduced sperm-quality. They also found a link between alcohol consumption and hormonal abnormalities. However, being abstinent was also linked to sperm problems. The study is observational, so cannot prove definitively that the observed sperm problems were caused by alcohol. The authors recommend that young men avoid regular alcohol consumption.

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EXPERT REACTION: First imported case of Ebola in the US

Wed1Oct
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The first imported case of Ebola in the US has been confirmed today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health authorities are now tracking down people who have had contact with the patient, who arrived in Texas 10 days ago after visiting Liberia and was admitted to a Dallas hospital 4 days later. Click here for a fact sheet on Ebola prepared by the World Health Organisation. read more