Elon Musk wants to colonise Mars; Jeff Bezos wants to build space factories. Why? It’s the surest way to save humanity, and our planet.

Inside an orbiting space habitat: a high-speed transit system takes people across farmland between cities [Blue Origin]

FEEL ANGUISHED about the state of our planet? Care about the future of human civilisation? Then you should heartily support our exploration and settlement of space, because it’s the only thing that’s guaranteed to save us, and our world.

If you think these are bold statements, then your perspective is…


Venom is giving scientists surprising new ways to fight disease and control the body’s internal machinery.

Prof Glenn King holds a rainforest scorpion under UV black light in the insectary at Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience [Russell Shakespeare]

STUDYING VENOM is a risky business. Ask Bryan Fry: he’s been bitten by venomous creatures 27 times — mostly by snakes on land and at sea, and by box jellyfish and stingrays. …


It took courage to defy the certainties of life and his own faith: but Charles Darwin did it because he knew he had found a greater truth.

Charles Darwin at Down House, Kent (1840) by George Richmond [Bridgeman Art Library]

IT’S ONE of the greatest stories in science: how an inquisitive 22 year-old sails around the world, encounters creatures never before seen and makes an extraordinary discovery that changes his world.

And yet, Charles Darwin never wanted the fame, the controversy nor the ructions the ideas triggered. But once he…


Robots are becoming increasingly useful. And they’re arriving just in time to save us from an ageing workforce, experts say.

The evolution of robots [Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock]

RATHER THAN be worried that robots will take our jobs over the next 20 years, we should be more afraid there won’t be enough robots. That’s the prediction made by roboticist and serial entrepreneur Rodney Brooks.

The pioneering Australian, founder of iRobot — the Boston-based billion-dollar company which has sold…


Behind every airline flight is an army of people and a phalange of technology that makes every take-off and landing possible.

A Qantas Boeing 747–200 taking off [Craig Murray]

FORTY MINUTES before scheduled take-off of this Qantas Boeing 747–200, the technical crew arrives: the captain, the first officer (or co-pilot) and the flight engineer. Each carries a thick, ring-bound folder, the Quick Reference Manual, with a slew of instrumentation and safety checks they will perform over the next half-hour.


A decade ago, when the first man to walk the Moon called for a new age of space exploration, it was inspiring but fanciful. That’s no longer the case.

A still from the 2018 film “First Man,” in which Ryan Gosling plays famed Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong [Universal/DreamWorks]

WHAT DO YOU ask a man who walked on the Moon, and has never been able to live it down? All because he happened to be the first human being to set foot on another world?

This is the thought that had me brooding a decade ago this week, as…


Begun as curiosity-driven research, it is now accelerating advances in everything from computing to medicine and finance.

Artist’s impression of spin-orbit coupling of atom qubits used in quantum computing (Tony Melov/CQC2T)

BELOW THE SIZE of atoms, the world functions strangely: particles can be waves, waves can be particles, and particles can jump vast distances without traversing space. …


They should have died out with the dinosaurs, but their seedlings are now being nurtured back from oblivion.

IT HAS BEEN CALLED the botanical find of a century: a lonely stand of conifers, the last of their kind and thought to have been extinct for aeons — until three bushwalkers came across them one sunny winter afternoon.

The 23 odd-looking pines, stretching up to 40 metres through the…


When wild weather hammered Australia’s east coast, researchers leapt into action, collecting the most detailed data ever — and creating powerful tools to predict future storms.

Stormy ocean waves strike the coast of Sydney, Australia [Gergo Rugli/Shutterstock]

MITCHELL HARLEY doesn’t believe in monsters. But on arriving in the office on a crisp Monday morning in May 2016, what he saw made his hair stand on end — a monster of a storm was on its way.

“Just seeing the extremity of what was being predicted — waves…


At pains to downplay Facebook’s power and influence, CEO Mark Zuckerberg actually proved both — then lost the battle.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg [Twitter]

IT CAME SUDDENLY and without warning: on Thursday 18 February 2021, Australians woke up to find news stories gone from Facebook; not just links to Australian news, but news as a category. From anywhere.

Links to news content were blocked to all 13 million users in Australia, as were the…

Wilson da Silva

science journalist | www.wilsondasilva.com | Support my writing by joining Medium via wilsondasilva.medium.com/membership

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