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Preview: Ockham's Razor

Ockham's Razor - Program podcast

A soap box for all things scientific, with short talks about research, industry and policy from people with something thoughtful to say about science.

Copyright: Copyright 2018, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

A new solar reality

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:45:00 +1100

Professor Martin Green queries how we dispel the lingering pessimism in Canberra over solar and expand the use of this remarkable technology?Political pessimism lags behind the reality of solar in Australia, Professor Martin Green says (Supplied: Quality Solar NT)

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Traditional medicine and malaria

Sun, 11 Feb 2018 07:45:00 +1100

On first blush, they might seem worlds apart. But modern drug research and ancient medicine intertwine in this tale of the fight against malaria's history.Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood, is the plant Tu Youyou discovered could help treat malaria (Wikimedia Commons: Kristian Peters (CC-BY-SA-3.0))

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Bridging the discipline divide

Sun, 04 Feb 2018 07:45:00 +1100

Cross disciplinary research, undergraduate study, postgraduate study, double degrees!Humanities at the expense of STEM, or vice versa? Is there a way to do both? (Unsplash: Becca Tapert)

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Making humility great again

Sun, 28 Jan 2018 07:45:00 +1100

Professor Tom Frame thinks much of what we take for leadership in Canberra and across the country needs to change.What makes you follow a leader? (Unsplash: Jehyun Sung)

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Remembering Maryam Mirzakhani

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 07:45:00 +1100

Australian mathematician Nalini Joshi pays a personal tribute to the life and legacy of Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female winner of the Fields Medal, who died in 2017.Maryam Mirzakhani was a professor of mathematics at Stanford University. (Supplied: Stanford University)

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Is the world real?

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 07:45:00 +1100

The idea that there is something bogus about reality goes back a long way.Is the world real? Frank Szanto goes back in time to find out (Unsplash: Gabriel Barletta)

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Stopping the poachers

Sun, 07 Jan 2018 07:45:00 +1100

There are villains out there, trying to make the most of the rarity of Australia's species by tracking down their locations for the purposes of poaching.The Wollemi nobilis is endangered in Australia ( Juan Carlos Lopez Almansa)

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Australia's history of grog

Sun, 31 Dec 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Plonk and moonshine, rum and port — it's all a part of Australia's early story.There's a pottered history of wine in Australia (Unsplash: Kelsey Knight)

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The books we love and need

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Why write books? For some, it's necessary — to find out what we think, and to get the record down for all of history to see.A little old fashioned, sure - but books are still a potent educational and recreational resource (Unsplash: All Bong)

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Celebrity 'science'

Sun, 17 Dec 2017 07:45:00 +1100

A trail of outlandish endorsements, supplements, fad diets — and claims sprinkled with the lightest dose of science. These are the hallmarks of a celebrity-turned-'scientist.'Crystal healing therapy is among the popular pseudoscientific methods spruiked by some celebrities ( Axel Naud (CC-BY-2.0))

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Improving the prospects of PhDs

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Why is Australia doing badly at launching careers in academic science — and what can be done?How bleak are the prospects of Australia's PhD students? ( UC Davis College of Engineering (CC-BY-2.0))

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Food sensitivity and the known unknowns

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 07:45:00 +1100

What's safe, and how can we be taken seriously if we think we are food sensitive?Food sensitivity is difficult to pin down - especially given our varied diet (Unsplash: ja ma)

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The divided brain

Sun, 26 Nov 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Do you have a dry brain or a wet brain?Do you have a dry brain or a wet brain? ( Neil Conway (CC-BY-2.0))

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Communicating beyond the scientific sphere

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Science communication should celebrate and interrogate science, argues Margaret Wertheim.Science communicator Margaret Wertheim with her Crochet Coral Reef project (Supplied)

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Wind farms and a community divided

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 07:45:00 +1100

What happens to communities when a company wants to put in a wind turbine farm?Currie Harbour on King Island (Wikimedia Commons)

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Our national parks need protection

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 07:45:00 +1100

The ability of national parks to protect our natural heritage is being eroded, Carolyn Pettigrew says.National parks are treasures that need better protection, Carolyn Pettigrew says ( Keith Mason (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0))

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Joseph Banks' florilegium

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 07:45:00 +1100

A botanic record 250 years in the making is now available for all of us to see.Banksia integrifolia, from Banks' florilegium (Supplied)

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Radio astronomy pioneer John Bolton

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 07:45:00 +1100

You may not know his name, but John Bolton's discoveries in the late 1940s marked the birth of a new field of science.Bolton was appointed the inaugural director of the Parkes dish, pictured here ( Wayne England (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0))

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The lessons of nature

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 07:45:00 +1100

How can a pit viper help us solve the problems of humanity?What can we learn from the pit viper? Christina Zdenek has some ideas. ( Rushen (CC-BY-SA-2.0))

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Predatory journals

Sun, 08 Oct 2017 07:45:00 +1100

The rise of open access journals has prompted a significant increase in the number of journals that are predatory in nature, with unethical practices that undermine science and the scientific process.Many predatory journals publish research that supports a particular political, religious, or social agenda. (Getty Images: FactoryTh)

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The Birdman's wife

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould.Elizabeth Gould (18 July 1804 – 15 August 1841) (Supplied)

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Code breakers

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 07:45:00 +1000

You may be familiar with the story of how British intelligence cracked Nazi codes at Bletchley Park during World War II. But in the Pacific, two secret organisations existed in Australia to break Japan's military codes.Code breakers at Bletchley Park in 1942. (Getty Images / Bletchley Park Trust)

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How comic books can improve healthcare

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Using stories to teach is an ancient tradition, and learning from stories helps prepare healthcare professionals for the challenging situations they face on a daily basis.Graphic medicine is an idea grounded in the belief that comics help articulate a powerful analysis of medicine and health. (Getty Images: Jaquie Boyd)

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Glue ear and Indigenous health

Sun, 10 Sep 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Aboriginal children have the highest rates of glue ear — a middle ear infection that causes hearing loss — of any people in the world. But it doesn't have to be like this, argues Don Palmer.Students in the Young Doctors program are taught traditional ways and contemporary ways of creating healthy communities. (Supplied)

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Telegraph Todd

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Charles Todd became a legend in his own lifetime for introducing Australian colonists to a new information age, but only recently has the full extent of his many and varied achievements come to light.Charles Todd, 1826-1910.

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The trouble with fragrance

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Five years ago in science writer Clare Pain's household, scented products became not a pleasure, but a threat.(Tetra Images / Getty Images)

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Florence Nightingale: Mathematician

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 07:45:00 +1000

The Lady with the Lamp ought to be known as the Lady with the Logarithm, argues Australia's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) on an engraving from 1873. (GeorgiosArt / Getty Images)

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Reducing restraint in juvenile detention

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Integrating a concept known as "sensory modulation" — using the body's senses to calm a person down — into our approach to children in detention can help us, as a society, move beyond enjoying either public safety or the rehabilitation of young offenders. We can have both, argues nurse Mike Wilson.Darwin's Don Dale juvenile detention centre.

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The Frankenstein postdoc

Sun, 06 Aug 2017 07:45:00 +1000

When Kylie Soanes bounced out of her graduation ceremony with a newly-minted PhD, she thought she knew what she was in for.Stitching together a postdoc can be extremely challenging ( clement127 (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0))

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Reducing transport emissions

Sun, 30 Jul 2017 07:45:00 +1000

The uptake of renewables and gas is slowly reducing electricity CO2 emissions — but transport emissions are on the rise, and negating some of those improvements.Are trains being used in the most efficient way to carry passengers and bulk goods? ( s13n1 (CC-BY-SA-2.0))

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Innovation on a grand scale

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Is Australia looking effectively at the shape of things ahead when it comes to innovation?Universities must push forward as houses of innovation, Suresh Bhargava says (Unsplash: Faustin Tuyambaze)

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Māori culture and history

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Can you imagine New Zealand without a robust and vital Māori presence? Tony Barta says few understand how close the country came to genocide.The haka is a traditional war cry of the Māori people (Getty Images: Martin Hunter)

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A teacher changed my life

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Some teachers are hard to forget, as Bodhi Hardinge has found.Suzy Urbaniak in the classroom (Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)

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Scotland, camping, and pesky ticks

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Professor John Bradshaw reminisces on a romantic camping trip – disrupted by an infestation of ticks.John Bradshaw's camping trip was interrupted by some unwelcome guests (Public domain: Adore Chang)

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Connecting people with science

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 07:45:00 +1000

In today’s post-fact, post-truth world, how do scientists engage with everybody in the general public — not just the ones who are already listening?How do science communicators get more people to listen? (Public domain)

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The relics of scientists

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 07:45:00 +1000

How is it that philosopher Jeremy Bentham attends senate meetings at University College London, almost two centuries after his demise?Galileo's middle finger, now on display in the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienze di Firenze (Supplied)

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The march of pseudoscience

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Are scientists and the scientific method being replaced by the misinformation of pseudoscience, new-age therapies and quantum mysticism?What evidence backs alternative therapies and medicines? (

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Solving humanity's greatest risk

Sun, 04 Jun 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Humanity is up against enormous challenges, says science writer Julian Cribb. So what could be the key to survival?Will the 21st century be our last as a civilisation? (Public domain: Joshua Earle)

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Vulnerable animals and private land

Sun, 28 May 2017 07:45:00 +1000

The ANU's Dr George Wilson has long been worried about the way our animals are disappearing from the landscape. Could market forces play a role in conservation?An endangered numbat. The range of the species has been reduced to isolated pockets in Western Australia. ( S J Bennett (CC-BY-2.0))

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Plants in the southern hemisphere

Sun, 21 May 2017 07:45:00 +1000

The southern continents were once united as the supercontinent Gondwana, but does this explain the links between the plants of the southern hemisphere? Dr Barbara Briggs travelled to Madagascar to find out.Heteropyxis natalensis, a species native to South Africa that shares a family with Australian eucalypts (Wikimedia Commons)

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Fighting ignorance from ivory towers

Sun, 14 May 2017 07:45:00 +1000

To overcome the rising tide of public anti-intellectualism, Professor Mark Dodgson says the association in the public mind with academic and elite has to be broken.(Getty Images: CraigRJD)

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Prostate cancer

Sun, 07 May 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Prostate cancer is a controversial topic, and opinions on the diagnosis, treatment and management of the disease are more divergent than ever before.(Getty Images: skynesher)

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Clean energy entrepreneurship

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 07:45:00 +1000

How do we help foster the next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs in a country with a "risk-averse mindset" toward clean energy? Dr Adam Bumpus has some ideas.Dr Adam Bumpus says there is both a challenge and opportunity for entrepreneurs to reduce Australia's high-carbon energy diet. (Getty Images: FatCamera)

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Central banking in the Internet Age

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 07:45:00 +1000

It turns out that modern technology, particularly the internet, could enable our most pressing problems in banking to be solved.Nick Gruen says allowing central banks to compete on a level playing field would be a simpler, safer and more rational approach to banking. (Getty Images: John Lamb)

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The innovation race

Sun, 16 Apr 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Technology is transforming the economies of the world but Australia is being left behind; participating in the innovation revolution from the safe confines of being a bystander. Marlene Kanga is calling on Gen Y and Gen Z to create — and not just consume.Marlene Kanga says technology and innovation are key to Australia's economic future and prosperity. (Getty Images: StockFinland)

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Seeing patterns (even when they aren't there)

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 07:45:00 +1000

Len Fisher says we’re all inclined to look for patterns in events, and there are two reasons why we see patterns even when they aren’t there: one is evolutionary, the other is mathematical.(Getty Images: Thomas Northcut)

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The life of Dr Janet Irwin

Sun, 02 Apr 2017 07:45:00 +1000

It’s not common for doctors to speak out publicly on health issues which are contentious or viewed as political. Dr Janet Irwin was an exception to this rule.Dr Janet Irwin addressing a rally opposing the Pregnancy Termination Control Bill in Brisbane in 1980. (Children By Choice)

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Translating research

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Why do we hear so much more about drug and treatment innovations than about research that improves the lives of patients while they wait for those innovations to see the light of day?Is medicine better at advertising itself than nursing, midwifery and allied health? (Getty Images: ERproductions Ltd)

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Aquaculture in Indonesia

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 07:45:00 +1100

What do we know about science in Indonesia? We rarely hear about what LIPI is doing — Indonesia's equivalent of the CSIRO. During her time there, Mari Rhydwen discovered the country's different approach to science — and ‘different ways of being’.Researchers at LIPI have explored low-cost ways to improve traditional aquaculture practices, like developing cages to fatten mud crabs and milkfish. (Getty Images: itpow)

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Mathematics, my father and me

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 07:45:00 +1100

Too many of us fear mathematics, probably because of the way we were taught in primary school. That's a great pity, according to Don Aitkin, because it is, as his father taught him, a most useful tool in everyday life.Don Aitkin's father taught him that mathematics isn't hard if you have a good reason for wishing to employ it. (Getty Images: BlandineSchillinger)

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