Science and technology

  • Russia will become first country in Europe to introduce driverless taxis

    Russia will become the first country in Europe and Eurasia to introduce driverless taxis. Russian tech giant Yandex announced the launch of Europe’s first driverless taxi, which will hit the road in Innopolis, a tech-focused town that is also known as ‘Russian Silicon Valley’. A driverless car prototype was released by Yandex last year, which is designed to operate under the companies’ taxi service. While companies across the globe have been competing against each other ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 August – 25 August 2018

    Scott Morrison wins leadership spill Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Government instability in the wake of leadership challenge Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government was rocked by turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump warns American economy would crash if he ... ► Read more

  • Kalashnikov takes on Tesla with new electric concept car

    Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov unveiled on Thursday (local time) a new electric concept “supercar” it says will rival Elon Musk’s Tesla. Based on the body of the Soviet-era Izh hatchback, Kalshnikov’s CV-1 has a 90 kilowatt hour battery which offers a range of 350 kilometers. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 kph to 100 kph in six seconds, according to the arms company. Kalashnikov spokesperson Sofia Ivanova told Russia’s RBC that the CV-1 would compete directly “with ... ► Read more

  • Dutton reportedly urged to challenge Turnbull for Prime Ministership

    The Daily Telegraph has reported that some anonymous government backbenchers are urging Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to challenge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party and the country. A small group of government MPs are opposed to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), a policy to address electricity affordability, reliability, and emissions, that was adopted by the Coalition party room on Tuesday. Those MPs opposed want more done to cut prices ... ► Read more

  • Government releases exposure draft of encryption-breaking legislation

    The Government today released an exposure draft of its proposed legislative response to increasing use of encrypted communications services. Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 “will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network” and will “expressly prevent the weakening of encryption or the introduction of so-called backdoors.” For more than ... ► Read more

  • Homeopathy all but eradicated from National Health Service in England

    Publicly-funded homeopathy is all but over in England, after Bristol’s Clinical Commissioning Group decided to cease providing homeopathic treatments under the National Health Service (NHS). Bristol was the last place in England to offer NHS-funded homeopathic treatment, and it will now be provided only in exceptional circumstances. Homeopathy uses treatments based on the idea that “like cures like” — that minute doses of natural substances that produce similar symptoms as an illness can be used ... ► Read more

  • Australian industry groups urge governments to support the National Energy Guarantee

    Seven groups that represent Australian industry have urged the federal, state, and territory governments to get behind the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In a joint statement issued on Monday the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Council of Small Business Organisations, National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, and Australian Energy Council called on Australian leaders to “put aside politics and support the implementation of the ... ► Read more

  • Apple now the first US company to reach $1 trillion in market value

    Apple is now the first US company in history to reach $US1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in market value despite slowing sales, heavy regulation, and tariffs. The tech company hit the milestone early this morning when its stock crossed $207.05 per share at 11.48am (ET). While reaching the $1 trillion mark is an achievement that will not soon be forgotten, the tech market is volatile, according to OPMG’s Chief Editor, meaning that Apple may not stay ... ► Read more

  • Remains of ancient public library unearthed in Germany

    The remains of an ancient Roman public library that may have held up to 20,000 scrolls have been discovered in Cologne, western Germany. Dating to the second century AD, the walls were first uncovered in 2017 during an excavation on the grounds of a Protestant church in the city centre. Archaeologists were initially mystified by niches in the walls, but have now identified their purpose. “It took us some time to match up the parallels ... ► Read more

  • Government announces increased privacy protections for My Health Records

    In response to concerns over the adequacy of privacy protections, the Federal Government has announced changes to the My Health Records system to allow deletion of records and restrict government access to patient data. After meeting with doctors from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and College of General Practitioners to discuss privacy concerns on Tuesday night, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced changes will be made to the My Health Records Act 2012. Australians will be ... ► Read more

  • TEDx’s talk labelling pedophilia a ‘sexual orientation’ is disgusting and dangerous

    We live in a divided world. We live in a world where people will disagree on anything, while people fight for their rights, support their politicians and back their own sides; there is few things that we can all agree on. Now, while it is often said that you cannot make everyone happy, and that may be true, what most functioning human beings can agree on whether you’re left-wing or right-wing is that pedophilia is ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 22 – 28 July 2018

    Nine Network to takeover Fairfax Media The Nine Network will takeover Fairfax Media in a deal rumoured to be worth around $4 billion, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood announced on Thursday morning. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 ... ► Read more

  • Scientists find lake on Mars

    Researchers at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INIA) believe they have found a small liquid water lake 1.5 kilometres beneath Mars’ southern polar ice cap. This is the first time evidence has been found of a persistent body of water still in existence on the red planet. Exploration of lake beds on Mars show that, in the past, water was present, but it was thought until now that any water on the planet was ... ► Read more

  • UK will not oppose death penalty if alleged IS members are extradited

    In a letter leaked to The Telegraph, Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he would not seek any assurance that American prosecutors will not seek the death penalty if two alleged Islamic State members are extradited to the United States. Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, of west London, were captured in Syria in January. In a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister, Downing Street said it is the “long-standing position of the government ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 15 to 21 July 2018

    Trump clarifies position on alleged Russian interference in 2016 election US President Donald Trump has clarified remarks he made in Helsinki on Monday (local time) regarding alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, amid a media storm and condemnation from both sides of politics as well as the intelligence community. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Theresa May scrapes through parliamentary vote leaving her party divided British Prime Minister Theresa May has scraped ... ► Read more

  • Australians struggle to opt out of My Health Record

    Although Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said 20,000 Australians had already opted out of the My Health Record system, many have reported experiencing difficulty completing the process. The My Health Record system is a centralised national digital database of Australians’ health information, intended to give patients better control over their information and make access by health professionals easier. Users who don’t want a My Health Record have until 15 October 2018 to opt out. Some users ... ► Read more

  • Energy Market Operator predicts significant reduction in coal-fired power stations by 2040

    In its inaugural Integrated System Plan released on Tuesday, the Australian Energy Market Operator says that between 2030–40 a “significant amount” of coal-fired power stations will reach the end of their technical life and be retired. Although the AEMO noted that “costs of new renewable plant continue to fall, and advances and availability of storage technologies … are emerging as core components to a low cost and reliable energy future” it warned that prematurely closing ... ► Read more

  • Australians have three months to opt-out of national health database

    Australians who do not want their medical records stored in the national electronic database will have three months from today to opt-out. Although the Federal Government’s Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has moved to reassure Australians that their My Health Record will be secure, Australians can opt-out until 15 October 2018. “If you haven’t deliberately opted out by the end of 2018, you will have a My Health Record,” Dr Steve Hambleton of the ADHA said. ... ► Read more

  • Archaeologists discover hidden shrine in Aztec pyramid

    Archaeologists in Mexico have discovered a shrine hidden in the remains of the great pyramid of Teopanzolco, near Cuernavaca. The shrine was discovered during the ongoing clean-up efforts following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on 19 September 2017. Archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered the shrine while using radar technology to scan the pyramid for structural damage. Atop the pyramid are the remnants of two temples, one dedicated to the Aztec ... ► Read more

  • Government unveils new plan to employ university-level maths and science teachers in high schools

    Every high school in Australia will have to employ maths and science teachers who have studied the topics at a university level under a new Federal Government plan. The Government has stated that currently not enough teachers are passionate and knowledgeable about the subjects. Statistically, the Government said that in 2013 one in five science teachers who taught years 7–10 had not completed even one year of university study in that area. Education Minister Simon ... ► Read more

  • Former PM Tony Abbott urges withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

    Tony Abbott is calling for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, despite signing up to the agreement in 2015 when he was Prime Minister. In a speech to a group of climate sceptics on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott said that he would not have signed up to the Paris Agreement if he had known the US would withdraw from it. He said Australia needs to pull out of the treaty to end “the ... ► Read more

  • Gmail confirms third party apps can read users’ private emails

    Gmail has confirmed that third-party app developers can read users’ private emails, both sent and received. According to the Wall Street Journal, users who have connected to third-party apps may have unknowingly allowed not just machines, but human staff to read their messages. Gmail, owned by Google, is the world’s most popular emailing service, with 1.4 billion users connected to the platform. Google lets people connect to third-party email management tools to their accounts or services ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 24–30 June 2018

    Labor announces, reverses, plan to repeal legislated tax cuts After announcing on Tuesday that Labor would repeal the tax cuts legislated by the Government for businesses with a turnover of $10 to $50 million if they won government, Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten has reversed his position, stating that the proposed repeal was “creating great uncertainty”. See the ABC’s coverage of this story here. Government concedes final stage of tax cuts won’t pass Senate ... ► Read more

  • WTO rules for Australia in tobacco plain packaging dispute

    Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 has contributed to improving public health, a World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel ruled on Thursday. The panel rejected arguments brought by Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia that alternative measures would be equally effective, and disagreed that Australia’s law unjustifiably limited the exercise of intellectual property rights. The four complainant countries alleged that Australia had breached article 2.2 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, which prohibits ... ► Read more

  • Trump orders creation of US ‘Space Force’ to dominate space

    US President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a US “Space Force” on Monday (local time), saying America must have “dominance in space”. “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Mr Trump said before a meeting of his National Space Council. The President says the Space Force, which will be the sixth branch of the US military, will counter advancements by other world ... ► Read more

  • Governments agree to high-speed Internet link between Australia and Solomon Islands

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Solomon Islands counterpart Rick Houenipwela have agreed to construct an undersea high-speed Internet link between the two countries. Solomon Islands had previously signed a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in late-2016 to construct a cable to improve Internet and phone reliability in the impoverished Pacific nation. Concerns over cybersecurity resulted in the intervention of the Australian Government, which has effectively forced Huawei from the project. Canberra has indicated ... ► Read more

  • Study: Antarctica’s extreme ice melting could redraw Earth’s coastlines

    Antarctica has lost nearly three million tonnes of ice since 1992, two-fifths of which has disappeared in the last five years, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The landmark study conducted by 84 scientists found that the severe melting of ice had caused sea levels to rise by 7.6mm and could redraw Earth’s coastlines. “We now have an unequivocal picture of what’s happening in Antarctica,” said co-lead author Eric Rignot, a NASA ... ► Read more

  • High Court clears way for search engine defamation case

    Search engines may be liable for defamation if search results suggest false information about a person, the High Court ruled on Wednesday. In 2016 the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed Milorad Trkulja’s claim that Google had defamed him by displaying photographs of him when searches were made for phrases such as “Melbourne underworld crime”, as well as by displaying text and autocomplete predictions with similar suggestions. On Wednesday, the High Court of Australia unanimously allowed ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 3–9 June 2018

    Australia Victoria on track to enact indigenous treaty law The Victorian Government has agreed to make amendments to its Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 to ensure it is passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament. The bill establishes a framework and system of representation within which treaties with Aboriginal Victorians can be negotiated. The amendments will add a definition of ‘treaty’ in the bill, define ‘traditional owners’ (who will be ... ► Read more

  • Predictions for the near future

    As humans, it is natural to contemplate and plan for the future. Whether that be with optimism or pessimism, we have an obsession with the future, and often worry about it. Obviously, it is impossible to predict the future with pinpoint accuracy; however, experts and theorists for many years have continued to try their hand at determining what the future for civilisation may hold. From self-driving cars to the food we consume, the work of ... ► Read more

  • New study: 70% of early stage breast cancer patients don’t need chemotherapy

    A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that most women in the early stages of breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy without risking the chances of a full recovery. The findings showed that 70% of women who are diagnosed with the common cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes could avoid chemotherapy entirely without increased risks of recurrence and ability to be cured, said Loyola Medicine oncologist, Dr Kathy ... ► Read more

  • Australia’s oldest scientist ends his life through assisted suicide in Switzerland

    Professor David Goodall has fulfilled his wish and ended his life at the age of 104 through an assisted suicide program in Switzerland on Thursday (local time). The professor was surrounded by his family, including five of his grandchildren who travelled from the US and France to say their farewells. “I’m feeling very emotional but at the same time I’m at peace,” daughter Karen Goodall-Smith told the ABC on the eve of his death. Mr ... ► Read more

  • 104 year old Australian scientist has no hesitations in final hours before he ends his life

    Professor David Goodall, Australia’s oldest scientist at 104 years of age, held a press conference in the Swiss city of Basel to discuss his plans to end his life through a voluntary assisted suicide program in Switzerland. The end of life clinic has approved Professor Goodall’s application, following an assessment of the Professor’s mindset on Tuesday. Professor Goodall appeared before a large crowd of international media reporters, a sight which he was surprised to see. ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 29 April – 5 May 2018

    Cartoon Story of the week CBA lost statements of 20 million accounts, didn’t alert customers The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) admitted to losing the statements of 19.8 million accounts and deciding not to tell customers in an effort to prevent unecessary alarm. While the bank insists the information did not get into the wrong hands and was most likely destroyed, it has attracted harsh criticism propelled by recent revelations of widespread misconduct in the fianance sector, ... ► Read more

  • How to launch a Tomahawk missile

    You are Donald J. TrumpTheresa MayEmmanuel Macron You are the . Your nation is the world’s military power by military expenditure. It is o’clock. You are in . You are meeting with your . This includes Today, you are discussing Syria. The reason why is obvious. On 7 April 2018, a chemical attack occurred on the town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria, some 10 kilometers from the capital city of Damascus. ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 15–21 April 2018

    Story of the week ‘Disturbing’ revelations from Banking Royal Commission hearings This week showed a marked change in the nature of the hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. While previous hearings have uncovered relatively minor misconduct coupled with incompetent levels of oversight, this week’s hearings have ranged from tedious to absurd, revealing that the industry is riddled with systemic fraud and misconduct. In previous hearings the ... ► Read more

  • Zuckerberg testifies before Congress

    Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress on Capitol Hill today after recent controversy concerning the platform’s privacy system. For five hours, Mr Zuckerberg was questioned by 44 members of Congress on a number of privacy and consumer issues that have arisen after the political consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica, was found to be harvesting data from at least 87 million Facebook users around the world. Senator Dean Heller questioned the 33-year-old billionaire asking him if ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 25-31 March 2018

    Story of the week Russia expels 59 officials following diplomatic expulsions from West Following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the West over the Sergei Skripal nerve agent attack, Russia has hit back by expelling 59 diplomats themselves. The United States, Australia and more than a dozen European countries contributed to the initial round of diplomatic expulsions. The United States expelled 60 diplomats; Australia expelled two diplomats suspected of being undeclared intelligence operatives; Britain expelled 23; Canada ... ► Read more

  • The debate that has gone on far too long

    I had previously believed that we had passed the age of believing that video games were the source of your child’s anger or aggression. But as time goes on, I continue to see news articles and stories that show me that we are indeed not past this phase; and for some odd reason, parents continue to believe that video games and violent television are a significant issue in society. Now, while I do believe too ... ► Read more

  • #DeleteFacebook: Mark Zuckerberg admits Facebook “made mistakes” with Cambridge Analytica

    Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for what he calls “a major breach of trust” in relation to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and has said his organisation has failed in its “basic responsibility” to protect users’ data. In an interview with CNN, Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook is implementing measures to ensure better protections for users’ information. This will be done primarily by limiting app developers’ access to user data and making sure there “aren’t ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 11-17 March 2018

    Story of the week Russia-UK relations plummet sparking speculation of a Cold War 2.0 Relations between Russia and the UK have plummeted after the Kremlin did not meet a deadline to provide an explanation as to how a Soviet-made nerve agent was used in the attack on a former Russian double agent in England. Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May directly blamed the Russian Government for the attack on Sergei Skripal ... ► Read more

  • Breaking: Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

    Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, England, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to a statement from his family. “His family have kindly requested that they be given the time and privacy to mourn his passing, but they would like to thank everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side — and supported him — throughout his life,” the statement said. His children Lucy, Robert and Tim ... ► Read more

  • The Week in Brief: 28 January to 3 February 2018

    Story of the week The Cabinet Files: Nightmare on Parliament Drive Classified government documents have been uncovered by the ABC after being located in a second hand ex-government filing cabinet in a Canberra shop. Now dubbed the “Cabinet Files”, the documents consist of thousands of pages of “top secret” or “AUSTEO” (AUSTralian Eyes Only) material. The revelations in the Cabinet files include the following: 400 national security files, from the National Security Committee of the ... ► Read more

  • A brief history of nuclear near misses

    The events in Hawaii last week brought to the fore the numerous ways in which maintaining a nuclear deterrent can sometimes go awry. It’s worth reflecting that the lack of a nuclear winter has been a close run thing at several moments throughout history. So, in the spirit of laughing because we cannot cry, we’ve collated a few of the most memorable nuclear near misses. Date Blah Place Blah What happened? Blah Why didn’t we ... ► Read more

  • The Week in Brief: 10–16 December 2017

    Image credit: Kaboompics (Pixabay) — CC0 public domain dedication. Anti-nuclear weapons group wins Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a group founded in Australia, was last Sunday awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017, “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons“. Beatrice Fihn, the group’s ... ► Read more

  • Australian defence contractor victim of cyberattack

    Photo credit: Yuri Samoilov (Flickr) — CC BY 2.0 licence An Australian defence contractor’s computer system was inflitrated by hackers in what could be a state-sanctioned cyberattack. The attackers had access to the contractor’s IT network for an extended period and reportedly stole large amounts of data. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) discovered the attack in November 2016 and responded swiftly. While Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said the identity of the ... ► Read more