Is Australia's Science Era Over?

Australians all let us lament,
For we are losing ground;
The government has changed a lot;
No science can be found;

Where were you when you heard the news that was no longer a science minister?

I was recently on a date, talking about the absence of a science minister, to which my date replied “Yeah they’re no longer going to call it CSIRO but just CIRO”. I stopped walking, I thought he was serious! Turns out he was just joking. “At least it would still be pronounced the same,” Tom chuckled.

In a nation that is founded in scientific prowess, does this flag the beginning of the end? Is science going to be another industry like film or like the national swimming team and just fade into the background?

So permit me, in these uncertain scientific times to reflect on the golden era of Australian invention just in case the boats aren’t the only thing that the government stops.

1902 – Notepad – Since its invention, paper had been sold in loose sheets. It wasn’t until a Tassie bloke, J. Birchell, thought maybe we should join some together and add a cardboard back.

1912 – Military Tank – This is probably the coolest thing to ever come out of Adelaide. Lance de Mole gave the Poms plans for a ‘chain-rail vehicle which could be easily steered and carry heavy loads over rough ground and trenches’ complete with extensive drawings. They turned him down but ended up making them. He asked for recognition, they complied and he got £987 and was made an honorary corporal.

1945 – Hills Hoist – Lance Hill designed a clothesline that rotated and could be lowered and raised.

1965 – Wine cask – Tom Angove took a cardboard box and lined it with a plastic bag which shrinks as the wine is dispensed. His original resealable spout was replaced by a tap by Penfolds in 1972.

Goon of Fortune – Uni students combined these previous two inventions into another memorable Aussie invention (rules for which are on Wikipedia).

1961 – Black box flight recorder – Dave Warren created the little black box that can withstand anything, allowing investigators to replay the final moments of a plane crash. Now every commercial plane has one, however they are painted orange to make them stand out on the ocean floor. Before anyone asks, the material is too heavy to make the whole plane out of.

1972 – Power board – Good old Pete Talbot, invented the power board that allows multiple devices to be powered where only a single plug is available. Unfortunately he wasn’t too bright because he and Kambrook, his employer, wanted to get it on the market so hastily that they forgot to patent the idea (no royalties for them).

1988 – Polymer bank notes – Plastic notes were developed in a combined effort by the Reserve Bank, CSIRO and the University of Melbourne. The polymer material of the bank notes makes them quite strong and hard to counterfeit. Now thirty countries use them.

1992 – Wi-Fi technology – John O’ Sullivan and CSIRO developed Wi-Fi technology. Johnny and crew were actually looking for black holes when they realised what the technology could do. Where would we be without Wi-Fi? Probably looking at a combination of optic fibre and copper technologies… oh wait.

2004 – Google Maps – Lars and Jens Rasmussen (brothers) developed the platform for Google Maps.

Raise your goon bags to the memory of Australian Science and let’s hope it’s not the end.
Our land abounds in nerdy brains
A discovery alliance;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australian Science.