Science, Technology and Innovation

The science behind why people fear refugees

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Fear in the wake of a terrorist attack is normal. It’s natural and human. But it can also be counterproductive — and even cruel. Vox – by Brian Resnick @B_resnick After the attacks in Paris last week, the gut reaction of many politicians around the world was to shut the door to Syrian refugees for fear that terrorists may be lurking among them. For those like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or House Speaker Paul Ryan, the “better safe than ... Read More »

Melbourne Uni sets up fellowship for Greek researchers

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The university expects to welcome its first Greek researcher in 2016 In an effort to assist Greek researchers during the economic crisis, the University of Melbourne has set up the first Greek Australian fellowship. Neos Kosmos – Anastasia Tsirtsakis The initiative, led by Professors Christos Pantelis and Dennis Velakoulis from the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, will give up to two candidates the opportunity to venture Down Under and train under the professors at Melbourne University. “We’ve managed to secure a fellowship ... Read More »

The rise of robo advisers

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The notion of robots delivering financial advice is one of the hottest  topics in financial planning circles. Even Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft has weighed in, saying “robo advice” could slash investment costs and eliminate conflicts of interest. Judging by the number of new offerings coming on the market, this will be a growth sector, but how easily will people accept advice delivered by rules-based algorithms? The Sydney Morning Herald – Adam Courtenay Low cost Robo advisers are designed to take market share from humans ... Read More »

Won’t somebody think of the children? Five reasons why drug panics are counterproductive

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Recent reports of a “battle” between manufacturers of synthetic drugs and police would have us believe young people are using these products in droves. But although we have seen a rapid emergence of new, synthetic drugs over the past few years, there is no good evidence to support their ubiquity of use. The Conversation – Author: Stephen Bright, Registered psychologist and sessional academic, Curtin University Disclosure statement: Stephen Bright does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding ... Read More »

The deadly truth about loneliness

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Almost all of us have experienced loneliness at some point. It is the pain we have felt following a breakup, perhaps the loss of a loved one, or a move away from home. We are vulnerable to feeling lonely at any point in our lives. The Conversation Author: Michelle H Lim, Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist, Swinburne University of Technology Disclosure statement: Michelle H Lim receives funding from the Barbara Dicker Sciences Foundation. Loneliness is commonly used to describe a negative ... Read More »

Cooking with vegetable oil releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer

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Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, according to leading scientists, who are now recommending food be fried in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard. Robert Mendick The results of a series of experiments threaten to turn on its head official advice that oils rich in polyunsaturated fats – such as corn oil and sunflower oil – are better for the health than the saturated fats in animal products. Scientists found that ... Read More »

European Union asks member countries to investigate after Volkswagen fuel consumption, emissions scandal

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The European Commission has written to all 28 European Union member countries urging them to widen their investigations into potential breaches of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen admitted it had understated carbon dioxide levels. Europe’s biggest motor manufacturer admitted in September it had rigged US diesel emissions tests to mask the level of emissions of health-harming nitrogen oxides. In a growing scandal, the German company said on Tuesday it had also understated the fuel consumption — and so carbon dioxide ... Read More »

‘The day I meet you in the emergency department will probably be one of the worst of your life’

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Ashleigh Witt is a doctor training to be a geriatrician at Western Health in Melbourne. This is her view on why everybody should know the dying wishes of their loved ones. The Sydney Morning Herald – Dr Ashleigh Witt The day you meet me in the emergency department with your sick parent is likely to be one of the worst days of your life. ””” “My name is Ash and I’m the medical registrar on duty. I’ll be your mum’s doctor tonight. Mum ... Read More »

Country women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence

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Women in regional and rural areas of Australia experience higher rates of violence from partners and spouses than women living in major metropolitan centres, my new research has found. The Conversation – Author: Gina Dillon, Researcher, University of New England Disclosure statement: This research was funded through the Collaborative Research Network for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Rural and Regional Communities at the University of New England. Colleagues and I examined data from more than 14,000 women participating in the ... Read More »

A ‘huge milestone’: approval of cancer-hunting virus signals new treatment era

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The Guardian – Nicky Woolf in New York @nickywoolf A new cancer treatment strategy is on the horizon that experts say could be a game-changer and spare patients the extreme side effects of existing options such as chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and other current cancer treatments are brutal, scorched-earth affairs that work because cancer cells are slightly – but not much – more susceptible to the havoc they wreak than the rest of the body. Their side effects are legion, and in ... Read More »

The great chain of being sure about things

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Blockchains The technology behind bitcoin lets people who do not know or trust each other build a dependable ledger. This has implications far beyond the cryptocurrency. The Economist | From the print edition WHEN the Honduran police came to evict her in 2009 Mariana Catalina Izaguirre had lived in her lowly house for three decades. Unlike many of her neighbours in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, she even had an official title to the land on which it stood. But the ... Read More »

No laughing matter as Andrew Denton returns from hiatus to talk about dying

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Andrew Denton first met Ray Godbold around a year ago. So did I. We each came down to Inverloch, independently, for his story. The Age – Konrad Marshall, Senior writer Ray was a brilliant palliative care nurse, struck down by terminal gastro-oesophageal cancer. As a medical professional he knew the often nasty and tactile way our lives can end, and as an activist he took a stand by going public in sourcing an illegal drug to hasten his own death and ... Read More »

Confused about your cancer risk from eating meat? Here’s what the figures mean

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In a recent report on processed meat and risk of bowel cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated: Each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. This method of communicating risk led to confusion and some hostile reactions. The Conversation – Authors: Dallas English, Professor at University of Melbourne and Research Fellow, Cancer Council Victoria, Terry Slevin, Adjunct Professor, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology at Curtin University. ... Read More »

The Advertiser Editorial October 27: Debate over deadly choice far from over

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VOLUNTARY euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke is no stranger to controversy and his deal with the Medical Board of Australia to stop providing advice on suicide and euthanasia is unlikely to change that. The Advertiser  Dr Nitschke said yesterday he had agreed to 25 conditions blocking his involvement in assisting those who want to end their lives, in exchange for the medical board backing off on an attempt to deregister him. Specifically, he won’t “endorse or encourage” the suicide of ... Read More »

Why are doctors afraid of the word “death”?

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Each week, In Theory takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives. This week we’re talking about end-of-life care. Need a primer? Catch up here. The Washington Post – By Aaron Kheriaty Aaron Kheriaty is an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the medical ethics program at University of California Irvine School of Medicine. When I began as a medical student on the wards, I discovered that there was a word that physicians ... Read More »

Morocco poised to become a solar superpower with launch of desert mega-project

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World’s largest concentrated solar power plant, powered by the Saharan sun, set to help renewables provide almost half the country’s energy by 2020 The Guardian – Arthur Neslen in Ouarzazate The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is used to big productions. On the edge of the Sahara desert and the centre of the north African country’s “Ouallywood” film industry it has played host to big-budget location shots in Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, The Living Daylights and even Game of Thrones. ... Read More »