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.

Tribute to Darren Osborne

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All of us at the Science Media Centre were saddened to hear of the passing of the ABC’s Darren Osborne. We have known Darren since he wrote for AAP in 2007 and have always been impressed by his enthusiasm and his news nous in all things science. He was one of those unsung heroes of science communication, not only writing news stories himself but commissioning and editing pieces and connecting people.

EXPERT REACTION: Hormone contraceptive linked to brain tumours in women (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology*)

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 16:01 AEDT Day Thursday 22 January, 2015

A Danish study has reported that young women who have taken a hormonal contraceptive – including the commonly used oral contraceptive pill – for at least five years may be at a higher risk of developing a rare type of brain tumour. The researchers found a statistically significant link between hormonal contraceptive use and glioma risk, but caution further research needs to be done to prove the link.

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EXPERT REACTION: Fish oil products fail on freshness (Scientific Reports*)

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 21:00 AEDT Wednesday 21 January, 2015 

Most fish oil supplements sold in Australia and New Zealand are lower in omega-3 fatty acids than their labels claim, according to Australian and New Zealand research. Looking at 32 brands of fish oil capsules marketed in the two countries, the researchers found that only three contained the same concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids as listed on the label. read more

EXPERT REACTION: 2014 hottest year on record

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The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. More information, including video, can be found in a joint release from NASA and NOAA scientists. read more

BRIEFING: Have we f*#%ed the planet yet? (Science & Anthropocene Review)

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EMBARGO LIFTED 06:00 AEDT FRIDAY 16th JANClick here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

NEWS BRIEFING – Friday Jan 16th at 09:30 AEDT online 

Humanity has altered the planet to such a degree that we risk destabilising Earth’s natural systems, warns Australian-led research published in the journal Science. The damage we’ve already done could potentially force a complete change in the state of the planet, which may render our home a whole lot less hospitable for future generations, say the scientists. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Two men die after suspected synthetic cannabis poisoning

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Two men have now died after suspected poisoning from a batch of synthetic cannabis. Both men originally fell ill in Mackay, in central Queensland, where there has been a recent wave of hospitalisations due to the drug.

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EXPERT REACTION: BPA-replacement chemical BPS makes zebrafish hyperactive (PNAS*)

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EMBARGO LIFTED 07:00 am AEDT Tuesday 13 January, 2015

Many products that claim to be free of the consumer chemical bisphenol A (BPA) replace it with another similar chemical called bisphenol S (BPS). But a new study of zebrafish suggests BPS may be more harmful than BPA. Canadian scientists exposed  the fish to doses of BPA which they say are lower than would be expected in people, and found it increased neuron growth in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus by 180 per cent. However, BPS exposure led to an even greater increase in neuron growth, by 240 per cent.  The researchers also found an association between BPA and BPS exposure and hyperactive behaviours in zebrafish larvae. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Bureau confirms 2014 as third warmest year on record

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As fires cause widespread damage in South Australia and Victoria, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirms that 2014 was Australia’s third warmest on record. According to the Bureau, seven of Australia’s ten warmest years on record have occurred in the 13 years since 2002. Read the full statement here. Below, climate experts respond to the statement. read more

BRIEFING: The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, ten years on…

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BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Thursday 18 December 2014 at 10:00 AEDT Online

This Boxing Day will mark ten years since one of the most devastating natural disasters in modern history – an ocean-wide tsunami causing widespread fatalities and destruction throughout many countries in the Indian Ocean. Following this destructive event, the Australian Government actioned the development of a tsunami warning system to alert communities of any tsunami threat to the Australian coastline. read more