The Best Australian Science Writing 2012

BOOK: The Best Australian Science Writing 2012
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holds a PhD in biochemistry and spent ten years as a professional research scientist before becoming an award-winning journalist. She has written for
Science, The Lancet, Nature Medicine, New Scientist
The Age
, among others, and has broadcast for ABC Radio National. She is the author of
Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science
The Genome Generation.



A NewSouth book

Published by

NewSouth Publishing

University of New South Wales Press Ltd

University of New South Wales

Sydney NSW 2052


© University of New South Wales Press Ltd 2012

First published 2012

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

This book is copyright. While copyright of the work as a whole is vested in University of New South Wales Press Ltd, copyright of individual chapters is retained by the chapter authors. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of this book may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Inquiries should be addressed to the publisher.

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Title: The best Australian science writing 2012/Elizabeth Finkel

ISBN: 9781742233482(pbk)




Subjects: Technical writing – Australia.

Communication in science – Australia.

Science in literature.

Other Authors/Contributors: Finkel, Elizabeth.

Dewey Number: 808.0665

Josephine Pajor-Markus

Griffin Press

This book is printed on paper using fibre supplied from plantation or sustainably managed forests.

This project has been assisted by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.


The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing

Advisory panel


Foreword: A new era for science writing

Brian Schmidt

Introduction: Masters of the popular treatise

Elizabeth Finkel

Gateway to heaven

Wilson da Silva

Neutrinos and the speed of light … not so fast

Jonathan Carroll

Blank canvas

Corey Butler

Under the hood of the universe

Margaret Wertheim

The ill-effects of quackery v scientific evidence

Cassandra Wilkinson

A hero's legend and a stolen skull rustle up a DNA drama

Christine Kenneally

The rise and fall of infant reflux

Pamela Douglas

Earthquakes: When the world moves

Emma Young

Seven billion reasons to be a feminist

Rob Brooks

Balancing act

Adrian Hyland

Under the influence

Frank Bowden

Why clever people believe in silly things

Craig Cormick

Painting the rainforests REDD

William Laurance

The evolution of the inadequate modern male

Peter McAllister

A wee solution

Lachlan Bolton

Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method

Matthew Bailes

Storm front

Jo Chandler

I want to play video games when I grow up (and so should you)

Michael Kasumovic

Licence to heal

Nick Miller

Secret life of Enceladus

Richard A. Lovett

The roach's secret

Wendy Zukerman

Australia in 2050

Julian Cribb

Doctor's orders: Debunking homeopathy once and for all

I an Musgrave

The Aussie mozzie posse

Ashley Hay

Life in Lake Vostok? The link between Antarctica and extra-terrestrials

Helen Maynard-Casely

The doctor is in

Ranjana Srivastava

A dream of goldfinches

Vanessa Mickan


In 2012, NewSouth Publishing launched a new annual prize for the best short non-fiction piece on science written for a general audience. The Bragg UNSW Press Prize is named in honour of Australia's first Nobel Laureates, William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg. The Braggs won the 1915 Nobel Prize for physics for their work on the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. Both scientists led enormously productive lives and left a lasting legacy. William Henry Bragg was a firm believer in making science popular among young people, and his Christmas lectures for students were described as models of clarity and intellectual excitement.

The Bragg UNSW Press Prize is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The winner receives a prize of $7000 and two runners-up each receive a prize of $1500. The shortlisted entries for this year's inaugural prize are included in this anthology.

The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing 2012


Jo Chandler,
Storm front

Wilson da Silva,
Gateway to heaven

Ashley Hay,
The Aussie mozzie posse

Peter McAllister,
The evolution of the inadequate modern male

Nick Miller,
Licence to heal

Wendy Zukerman,
The roach's secret

Winners will be announced on 22 November 2012 at

Judges of the Bragg UNSW Press Prize 2012

Professor Bryan Gaensler, University of Sydney

Professor Martin Green, UNSW

Professor Marilyn Renfree, University of Melbourne

Professor Nadia Rosenthal, Monash University

Dr Elizabeth Finkel, Editor,

The Best Australian Science Writing 2012

Jane McCredie, Publisher, NewSouth Publishing

Advisory panel

is an award-winning astronomer and best-selling author who is internationally recognised for his groundbreaking work on interstellar magnets and cosmic explosions. A former Young Australian of the Year and Harvard professor, Gaensler is currently a Laureate Fellow at the University of Sydney, where he directs the Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics. He is the author of
Extreme Cosmos
(NewSouth 2011).

is a Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales and Executive Research Director of the University's Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence. His work has resulted in many major international awards, including the 2002 Right Livelihood Award, commonly known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, the 2007 SolarWorld Einstein Award and the 2010 Eureka Prize for Leadership. In 2012, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contributions to photovoltaics and to photovoltaic education.

is a reproductive and developmental biologist and Secretary, Biological Sciences, and Vice President, of the Australian Academy of Science. She has held NHMRC, ARC, Fulbright, Ford Foundation and Royal Society fellowships. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of
Science, a Laureate Professor of the University of Melbourne, and was an ARC Federation Fellow between 2003 and 2008 and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics from 2008 to 2010.

is a molecular biologist and Founding Director of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University and Scientific Head of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Australia. She obtained her PhD in 1981 from Harvard Medical School, where she directed a biomedical research laboratory, serving for a decade at the
New England Journal of Medicine
as editor of the Molecular Medicine series. She headed the EMBL-Rome campus from 2001 to 2012 and held a Professorship of Cardiovascular Science at Imperial College, London. Professor Rosenthal is an NHMRC Australia Fellow.

BOOK: The Best Australian Science Writing 2012
8.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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