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Preview: Ockham's Razor

Ockham's Razor - Program podcast

William of Ockham was an English monk, philosopher, theologian, who provided the scientific method with its key principle 700 years ago. 'What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more,' he said. That is, in explaining any phenomenon, w

Copyright: Copyright 2017, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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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Changing oncology education for the better

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

It is estimated that 134,174 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year. Many medical students and newly graduated doctors, however, are still uncomfortable with the disease, says Ben Bravery.Ben Bravery is in his third year of a medical degree. (ABC RN: Olivia Willis)

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The duty of researchers to influence policy

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

Simon Chapman AO says there's never been a more important time for researchers all over the world to speak up about their work — its implications and how societies and governments should act on it.Chapman's research found that Australia's "most influential" researchers believed they had a responsibility to produce work that might help shape policy and practice. (Getty Images: Westend61)

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Climate change, migration and human health

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

Globally, the impacts of climate change are going to contribute to human migration. Where it occurs, it should be supported so as to protect people’s communities, livelihoods, rights, and health, argues Dr Celia McMichael.Residents from the small coastal village of Vunidogoloa in Fiji have relocated to higher land because of the impacts of climate change. (Supplied: Dr Celia McMichael)

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Technical advance won't save us

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

We tend to assume that some of the serious problems facing the world can be solved by technical wizardry. According to Ted Trainer, our assumptions are wrong.Ted Trainer says our constantly growing consumer-capitalist economy is "grossly unsustainable" (Getty Images: Clare Jackson / EyeEm)

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Memories from childhood

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

What is your earliest childhood memory? Dr John Bradshaw seems to have memories of when he was just months old — but agrees that most of us can’t go back further than two years of age.Dr John Bradshaw says most of us can’t remember anything further back than two years of age (Pixabay)

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The physics of fat

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

When you lose weight, where does it go? Surfing scientist Ruben Meerman explains how fat leaves our bodies and enters the cosmos.What happens to the weight we lose, and how does it escape the body? (Getty Images: champja)

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Dr Allen Kerr

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

The first ever winner of the Prime Minister's Science Price, Dr. Allen Kerr, helped to launch GM crops around the world, showing how tenacity could result in success. Here he talks about how to remove cancers from fruit trees.Allen examines crown gall (Supplied/Allen Kerr)

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Science literacy in Parliament

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

When politics emerges from a long summer, with a new American President about to be installed, and countless challenges to be faced with scientific ingredients, will our parliament be equipped accordingly?It's crucial that governments understand how science works (Getty Images: Image Source)

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Creating an exquisite wool: Pt. 2

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

We continue the story about the essentials of wool quality and measurement—where look and feel are paramount—and a quest to recreate a fleece which had once beguiled a young boy. Today, has science been able to make any improvements on a mythic fleece?Figure of a ram— (MONA: Rémi Chauvin (photographer) Courtesy Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Australia)

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Creating an exquisite wool: Pt. 1

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

A story about the essentials of wool quality—where look and feel are paramount—and a quest to recreate a fleece which had once beguiled a young boy at the Perth Royal Show.Figure of a ram— (MONA: Rémi Chauvin (photographer) Courtesy Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Australia)

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An inspiration for Christmas

Sun, 18 Dec 2016 07:45:00 +1100

Shaun Stocker is walking evidence of the rapid advances of medical and surgical science. At the age of 17 Shaun joined the Royal Welsh Regiment. Two years later, his life was hanging by a thread and in 2014 he came to Australia for pioneering orthopaedic surgery which changed his life. Journalist, broadcaster and author Patrick Weaver tells Shaun’s story.Shaun Stocker at a Blind Veterans UK event (With thanks to Blind Veterans UK)

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The winner of the Bragg Prize

Sun, 11 Dec 2016 07:45:00 +1100

The 2016 Bragg Prize for science writing was won by Ashley Hay for her superb essay on Australian trees.Eucalypt forest in the mist (Getty Images: Auscape)

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Making food crops three times more nutritious

Sun, 04 Dec 2016 07:45:00 +1100

Could there be a way to revolutionise agriculture so as to feed a growing global population and be environmentally appropriate?With some genetic tweaking, chickpeas could provide three times the benefit and use water more cleverly (Getty Images: FotografiaBasica)

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The legacy of anaesthesia at Pearl Harbor

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 07:45:00 +1100

Did it kill more Americans than the Japanese attack?Military personnel pay their respects beside the mass grave of 15 officers and others killed in the bombing attack at Pearl Harbor (Getty Images: Corbis Historical)

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Women in science

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 07:45:00 +1100

How can we better utilise initiatives aimed at women in science?(Getty Images: sturti)

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Sun, 13 Nov 2016 07:45:00 +1100

William Grey has a problem with them.A polling station at Sydney's Bondi Beach. (Getty Images: William West / Staff)

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Finding Sanity

Sun, 06 Nov 2016 07:45:00 +1100

John Cade, lithium, and the taming of bipolar disorder.Sample of freshly cut lithium. (Getty Images: PETR JAN JURACKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

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Brain cancer does not discriminate

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 07:45:00 +1100

It kills more children and more women under the age of 45 than any other cancer.MRI scans in sagittal section, showing the extent of a brain tumour. (Getty Images: JAMES KING-HOLMES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

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Jokichi Takamine

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 07:45:00 +1100

The ‘father of American biotechnology’ was never able to become an American citizen.Jokichi Takamine (Wikimedia Commons)

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Age shall not weary them

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 07:45:00 +1100

Keeping your body in working order.(Getty Images: Paul Bradbury)

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Mythbusting superfoods

Sun, 09 Oct 2016 07:45:00 +1100

With little or no research backing up the 'super' claims of the food industry, Dr Emma Beckett tells us why they could be doing more harm than good.Quinoa was called a 'superfood' and its popularity surged. (Flickr: I believe I can fry)

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The Lucky Country?

Sun, 02 Oct 2016 07:45:00 +1100

Is Australia truly a great nation, or has it all been luck so far? asks scientist and author, Ian Lowe.Is Australia really the lucky country? (Supplied: Tom Piotrowski)

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Bird brain

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Research over the past decade has discovered that birds are smarter than we ever imagined, with cognitive skills in many ways closer to our primate relatives than to their reptilian ones.Gifted songbirds, such as mockingbirds, can produce some of the most acoustically complex and varied vocal sounds in nature. (Ryan Hagerty [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons)

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Intergenerational trauma

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Psychiatrist Dr Murray Chapman says we are haunted by the actions and experiences of our ancestors.Young people feature predominantly in the Kimberley's Indigenous suicide rate, which is seven times the national average. (Ingetje Tadros via Getty Images)

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Christianity and Science

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 07:45:00 +1000

What must the church do in order to survive in the scientific age?A portion of 'Education,' by Louis Comfort Tiffany, depicting science and religion in harmony (Public Domain)

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Physics for the non-physicist

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Busting the myth that physics is irrelevant, boring and too hard.Physics, despite its reputation as a dry field of research, is in fact beautiful, inspiring and enjoyable, says Ross Barrett. (NASA and the European Space Agency, Public Domain)

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Oliver Sacks: profile of a virtuoso

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Roger Rees pays tribute to the British neurologist Oliver Sacks, ahead of the first anniversary of his death.Neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks (1933 - 2015) (Chris McGrath via Getty Images)

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The making of mind

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 07:45:00 +1000

We often take our minds for granted, but the human mind is not inevitable, and requires help from the social world to bring it to fruition.Simple games between a mother and a baby play a role in helping to bring the human mind to fruition. (Tara Moore via Getty Images)

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The changing world of fish

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Fish have proved remarkably adaptable to changes in their environment, but will climate change be their ultimate undoing?Do fish have the capacity to adapt to the large-scale, rapid changes that are plaguing their habitats today? (Creative Commons)

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Sun, 07 Aug 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Breasts are a distinguishing characteristic of female homo sapiens, but how did they come to be? And why are men so besotted with them? Geoff Hudson is curious.Mammary glands develop after the first pregnancy in all mammals, bar one: Homo sapiens. (PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty Images)

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The plight of post doc and graduate researchers

Sun, 31 Jul 2016 07:45:00 +1000

The dark side to the pursuit of academic perfection.Recent research carried out in Australia, the US and elsewhere over the last decade has clearly shown that large numbers of academics are exhausted, overloaded, demoralised, and depressed. (Getty Images)

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Scholarly misconduct in science

Sun, 24 Jul 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Intellectual dishonesty is a blight on contemporary scholarly endeavour.Often individuals who engage in scientific fraud are prominent in their discipline, but seek to be even more recognised for the pre-eminence of their scholarly contributions. (Creative Commons)

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Digital disruption in the age of FANG

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 07:45:00 +1000

How can Australia ensure that the process of digital disruption is done on our terms?Technology has been transforming the way we live and do business for centuries - so what makes the latest era of digital disruption so different? (Tom Werner/Getty Images)

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Citizen utilities: the future of solar?

Sun, 10 Jul 2016 07:45:00 +1000

Could solar power decentralise the production of electricity and make the grid redundant?Rooftop solar photovoltaic panels (Getty Images/zstockphotos)

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Pondering the prospects of driverless cars

Sun, 03 Jul 2016 07:45:00 +1000

What does the future hold for autonomous automobiles? Engineer Frank Szanta talks about how they could change our lives, and looks at some of the policy implications.A Google self driving vehicle (Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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