Stories of Australian Science 2007

Welcome to our collection of Australian science stories, prepared for the 5th World Conference of Science Journalists, Melbourne Australia.



Over the last two years as we developed our plans for our conference, we briefed journalists in Seoul, London, Budapest, Munich, St Louis, Prague, Washington, Ottawa and San Francisco. Everywhere we’ve discovered that science journalists have a healthy appetite for Australian science stories and Australian wine.

What is it about Australian science that appeals? I think Leigh Dayton, from The Australian newspaper, captures the essence.

I was captivated by Australia after my first visit Down Under.

Given a geological history that left it sailing off on its own, the continent was a scientific laboratory everywhere I looked.

Plants, animals and people all had proceeded down different evolutionary paths than those followed by their northern hemisphere ‘cousins’.

Look up. The skies are different, so is the climate, not to mention many atmospheric issues. Compared to North America—my home base—Australia’s a hop-skip-and-a-jump to the driest and most remote continent on earth, Antarctica.

While unique, the broader aspects of each of these fields, and numerous others, complement scientific findings and technological developments elsewhere.

In fact, critical data about many of the hottest scientific questions today—from human origins and migrations to ‘management’ of global warming—may well be answered, courtesy of Australian researchers and the land itself.

For this collection, we invited Australian research organisations to contribute snapshots of some of their current research. The stories illustrate the breadth and depth of Australian science. And the funds raised in publishing this collection of stories have also helped support the participation of developing country journalists in the conference.

I invite you to read these stories and to follow up with any organisation whose work captures your interest.

Niall Byrne

Director, 5th World Conference of Science Journalists
April 2007