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The state of science research in Australia is slipping even further

2 December 2014

I’ve harboured dreams of going back into a more scientific job in a few years. I miss doing science. But I’ve realised that to do so in Australia today would be foolish.

Knife cut paper with budget

Earlier this year I mentioned that CSIRO had had to make significant cuts following government reductions in their funding.

The bad news continues. Cuts of support staff mean that CSIRO scientists aren’t spending all their time on doing actual science. And one of our Nobel-tipped researchers has been let go.

CSIRO isn’t the only agency being affected, though; these groups are losing nearly $310m between them:

  • The Australian Research Council (ARC)
  • The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)
  • Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
  • Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) program

While there was to be a new $110m+ medical research fund, the unwise doctor’s visit co-payment the Liberal government proposed to deliver it is likely to be abandoned.

An opposition party will always spin hyperbole, but the Australian Labor Party makes a reasonable case that cuts to university and preventative health programs means the overall cuts to science are much bigger, despite their attempt at funding medical research. Someone who has been involved in research grant administration in North America agrees strongly with this view.

The ABC’s Fact Check department estimates that it’s true that science research spending as a percentage of GDP in Australia is as low as it’s been since they started keeping records.

Australia’s science and math skills are slipping, we’re only average on scientific citations, and our collaboration between industry and research is terrible.

It just doesn’t feel like an environment that values science.

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Interactive Periodic Table

16 October 2014

Whether you’re a student learning about the elements or just a chemistry nerd, this interactive periodic table of elements is pretty neat.

period

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Harts rocks

29 September 2014

harts

I’ve heard a song I really liked on triple j in the last couple of weeks. It’s bluesy, cool, and with some rockin’ guitar. The group is called Harts, and this is the song:

Turns out it’s not a group at all. It’s a guy, and he plays, records, and mixes his songs all by himself in his bedroom in Melbourne. I think he rocks. He incorporates a lot of the things I like most about music: blues, funk, falsetto singing, bass, and guitar riffery. Check this out:

And he likes a Hendrix cover. Amazing.

I’m off to buy his album.

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Bob Dylan at the State Theatre of New South Wales

5 September 2014

bob

Tonight was my seventh time seeing Bob Dylan play live. I continued my lucky streak of never seeing Bob on a really bad night. 

The man is a legend. He’s 73 years old, still writing great albums, and is reinventing old songs all the time.

Anyone hoping for greatest hits would be disappointed. He played for over 2 hours but until the encore produced only 3 songs written before 1997 (“She Belongs To Me”, “Tangled Up In Blue”, and “Simple Twist of Fate”). That’s OK, I’ve seen plenty of the classics before.

Songs like “Things Have Changed”, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”, and “Love Sick” pack a lot of punch with me. I was amazed that even recent songs like “Duquesne Whistle” have already been reworked into nearly unrecognizable versions. 

The band is perfect. There are, as always, no frills. It’s an otherworldly combination of loose and laser-sharp, of legendary music and classics that are only a year old. It’s every bit of blues, jazz, rock, country, and folk Americana music on one stage.

Highlights? Bob playing at a grand piano instead of the little keyboard he’s used in the past, and “High Water (For Charley Patton)”. The full setlist is here.

Thanks Bob.

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CSIRO takes axe to education and children’s outreach work to meet cuts

1 August 2014

CSIRO has had to make hard choices following government funding cuts.

Who needs to inspire Australian kids to love science? Who needs astronomy?

I’d write to the Minister for Science if the government hadn’t cut that too.

image

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First Aid Kit cover Jack White

1 August 2014

Triple j‘s Like a Version is always a must-listen on my way into work on a Friday morning. Today’s was an excellent amalgam of two of my favourite acts: First Aid Kit covering Jack White’s “Love Interruption”.

If you’re a Tenacious D fan, watch from the start (a bit of a Jack Black/Jack White contrast). Otherwise, the serious stuff starts from about 1:00.

You can see their harmonious original song, “My Silver Lining”, here.

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Jack White’s “Lazaretto”

24 April 2014
Not Johnny Depp. Or Tim Burton. Or Robert Smith.

Not Johnny Depp. Or Tim Burton. Or Robert Smith.

Here’s the next track from Jack White‘s second solo album, the titular “Lazaretto”.

This sounds like bluesy Rage Against The Machine. That’s promising.

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