Double Helix blog

An egg with a green yolk in a bowl

13 April 2017
by David
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Green eggs

An egg with a green yolk in a bowl

Prank your friends with a green egg!

Time for an Easter trick! There are lots of eggs around at this time of year, but this one is sure to raise some eyebrows. And when you’re finished, you can get your parents to help you cook your green egg, so you can gross out your entire family!

Safety: Use clean equipment when handling food. Younger readers should ask an adult to help cook eggs.

You will need

  • 2 bowls
  • Fresh eggs
  • Empty plastic bottle
  • Fork
  • Green food dye

Continue Reading →

12 April 2017
by David
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Microscope: Sleepy sunshine

A bouy sleeping in the sunshine, on a green hill.

Time for a snooze in the sun!
Image: ©iStock.com/imagedepotpro

Double Helix magazine is looking for your science questions! Our Microscope column answers the thorniest science queries you can throw at us. Email us at helix.editor@csiro.au and you could have your question published. Here’s a sample question to get you thinking.

Aisha Goshti asks: Why does the Sun makes you feel sleepy? Continue Reading →

7 April 2017
by David
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Scientific notation sprinkles

In everyday life, most numbers we use are less than 1000. Sometimes scientists need to use MUCH larger numbers. Here’s an insight into how they do it.

You will need

  • Jar of hundreds and thousands sprinkles
  • Measuring spoons and cup
  • Pen
  • Sticky notes

What to do

Continue Reading →

Nihonium element 113, Moscovium element 115, Tennessine element 117, and Oganesson element 118

30 March 2017
by David
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The world welcomes four new elements

Nihonium element 113, Moscovium element 115, Tennessine element 117, and Oganesson element 118

Welcome to the four newest members of the periodic table!

The periodic table doesn’t change very often, which is why it’s worth celebrating when it does. This month, three new elements were inaugurated at a ceremony in Russia. And in Tokyo, a fourth was welcomed to the world. Say hello to moscovium, tennessine, oganessson and nihonium!

Let’s back up a bit: what is an element? Elements are the different types of atoms that exist. So oxygen is an element, and hydrogen is an element, but water is not – it’s a chemical made of oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Continue Reading →

17 March 2017
by David
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Cool stars and comfy planets

A star and seven planets

Meet the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 in this artist’s impression.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Is there life on other planets? It may seem like we’re alone in the universe, but there’s still hope. The race is on to find signs of life on Earth-like planets, which have atmospheres and liquid water on the surface.

Recently, it was announced that scientists have discovered seven planets orbiting nearby star TRAPPIST-1, each with the possibility of liquid water. Continue Reading →

7 March 2017
by David
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Maya numbers

An excerpt from the Dresden Codex.

Want to learn how to read these ancient numbers?

The numbers that we use are not the only way to write numbers. You might know how to count with tally marks, or read Roman numerals. But there are plenty of other ways to write numbers. This one comes from the Maya people.

You will need

  • Pen and paper

Continue Reading →

27 February 2017
by David
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Measuring malaria on your breath

A scientist standing near a computer, analysing malaria.

CSIRO scientist Amalia Berna and her team are developing a new way to diagnose malaria.

It’s really annoying to get bitten by a mosquito. Your skin often swells, and the bite can itch for days. But in many places in the world, that small bite isn’t just annoying. It can cause a life-threatening disease: malaria.

Malaria is a very tricky disease. Once you are infected, it can take weeks before you start to feel sick. Even then, malaria feels just like the ‘flu. Blood tests are expensive, and it can take several days to get the results, so most people don’t get tested. They just stay home and wait to get better. Sadly, not everyone recovers – malaria kills almost half a million people worldwide each year. Continue Reading →

7 February 2017
by David
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What’s wrong with our tomatoes?

A bunch of rite tomatoes on a bush.

Can tomato breeders make tomatoes tasty again?
Image: Penny Greb, USDA ARS

They’re bright red, a bit crunchy, and they don’t really taste like much. The standard tomatoes you can buy in a supermarket are a bit boring to eat. But if you’ve ever grown tomatoes yourself, you’ll know how sweet and full of flavour they can be. So what’s happened to the humble tomato?

It’s not just your imagination. For years, supermarket tomatoes have been getting less and less delicious. But now, an international team of scientists is on the case, trying to bring back tasty tomatoes. Continue Reading →