Frank Fenner, an ice monitor, obesity and 25 years of science advocacy

On radio this week…

25 years ago when Barry Jones was Science Minister he called scientists wimps, and told them to get out of their labs and fight for better support for science.

One of the results was FASTS – the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies. They now represent 60,000 scientists and are celebrating their 25th birthday tonight with a big dinner in Canberra.

Frank Fenner – malaria, rabbits, smallpox – a life well lived. Frank Fenner died this week – at the age of 95. Frank is for me one of the top five Australian scientists of all time.

He fought malaria in WW2, fought rabbits in the 1950s (myxo), and fought and defeated smallpox in the 1970s. He declared the world free of smallpox in 1980. Not only was he brilliant, he was a great philanthropist, mentor of many scientists and all round good guy.

Obesity epidemic is not confined to humans (Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences) It has not only been humans which have been undergoing an obesity epidemic during the past few decades. Research has shown that animals living in human-controlled or human-influenced environments, such as domestic, laboratory or feral animals, have also increased in weight. This raises the possibility of other non-diet related factors being involved in weight gain.

Nokia has created a touchscreen made from ice – it’s not practical of course but its a playful experiment that is helping them design new ways of interaction with phones and computers (New Scientist).