The Best of Australian Science: August 2013

This month, we’d like to welcome our new writer Buddhini Samarasinghe, who is a molecular biologist, with experience in cancer research. Some of her upcoming stories will be bringing us fascinating contributions about the molecular mechanisms of cancers.
As well, here is our usual monthly roundup.  A wonderful variety of science and technology stories, covering astronomy, education, technology, health, environment, and more!
Stay curious and scientifically passionate!

 

Life of an epidemic: Australian dengue by Charles Ebikeme

It is always a bad sign when crowds gather. On the morning of Wednesday March 21 in the year 1900, a crowd began to gather in Sydney. A thousand people had gathered outside the offices of the Board of Health in Macquarie Street. They had gathered because bubonic plague had broken out. People had already started to die from the Black Death. Panic was the only course of action.

The Government had stockpiled Haffkine’s serum (named after the Russian bacteriologist that developed it in a makeshift laboratory in a corridor of Grant Medical College) — a new plague vaccine, and had used it to inoculate front