for Wednesday 7 May, 2003
Cavenagh Hotel, Darwin
Top Ideas from the Top End
Is the internet fridge the greatest innovation ever?
(and why isn’t there an internet toilet?)
Why was the black box invented in Australia?
What the heck IS innovation, anyway?
MC : Dr Paul Willis
Paul Willis got into science as a kid and has never grown out of it. He found his first fossil when he was
six and has been hooked on palaeontology ever since. Paul studied Geology and Zoology then did
a PhD on fossil crocodiles. Paul has been with the ABC since 1997 as a cross media science
broadcaster, on radio, TV and online. He also tours with 'Science In The Pub' and 'Cafe Scientific'.
Paul is a reporter with Catalyst on ABC TV (Thursdays 8pm); he broadcasts weekly to ABC radio in
Western Australia, Northern Territory as well as ABC Radio Tasmania every couple of weeks.
MC : Bernie Hobbs
Born at the tail end of a large, unwieldy family, Bernie Hobbs took the fast train to obscurity as a
science teacher. Best known for her questionable experiments in both science and fashion, she
wasn't your standard beige slacks and twin-set chemistry teacher. And oddly enough, ten weeks
annual leave and the chance to live in every small town in Queensland couldn't keep Bernie from
following her dream: to become a brilliant medical researcher. So in 1992, armed with an honours
degree and a bad hairdo, she set out to rid the world of all known tropical diseases.
Well, starting and finishing, really. Where long days and frequent hand-washing failed, a talent for
contaminating everything within reach succeeded in convincing Bernie that she really was more of a
people person. A few years working with people and she decided writing must be her calling instead.
Bernie is a major mover and shaker behind ABC Science Online (The Lab abc.net.au/science) and
her latest project is www.planetslayer .com - a hilarious environmental website for people who are
SICK to death of whinging greenies. She also does science talkback with Mike Prenzler on ABC
Darwin every week, along with fellow science lout Paul Willis.
Ms Renee Bartolo is co-founder and Chair of GecOz (Geospatial Consultants Australia), a technology-based
mapping company in Darwin. She was the 2002 winner of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards (NT
Commonwealth Government Private and Corporate Sector Award). The company received two innovation
awards: the AIIA's Innovation in IT services Award (2001) and the AsiaPacific ICT Award (Australia) for Research
and Development (2002). GecOz has developed a radar-based salinity-mapping process called SaltSAR, which
combines existing models with algorithms developed by GecOz. The final product is a salinity map that can be
used for land management. Renee is currently completing a PhD and assessing geospatial technologies for
detecting landscape change in northern Australia and southern New Guinea. She has trained indigenous peoples
in northern Australia and New Guinea in the use of this technology. Renee is currently project leader in an R&D
project using radar for estimating the above-ground biomass of wooded habitats.
Bob is Associate Professor of Computer Science in the School of Information Technology, Faculty of Science at the
Northern Territory University. He joined NTU in 1989 from RMIT Melbourne, and was Foundation Head of the School
of Information Technology from 1992. He has run businesses including aircraft hire and IT consulting and at one
stage was a columnist for Australian Personal Computer. Bob has also represented Australia on several United
Nations IT standards groups, and in the mid 80s headed a small Geneva based UN team of experts designing a
scientific standard for networking specification. At RMIT he was one of the first people to be on the internet 25
years ago when four Australian universities connected by phone link to the US ARPANet. Bob is an instrument-
rated pilot, and owns and flies a PA32 aircraft, WGM and enjoys sailing his 50 foot yacht which he built with his
own bare hands.
Dr David Bowman is a researcher with the Key Centre for Tropical Wildlife Management and Centre for
Indigenous Natural and Cultural Resource Management. His interests centre on the historical and ecological
biogeography of Australia and how this information can be applied to landscape management. David has a
broad range of ecological and field experience throughout Australia and has published over 110 papers and one
book. His honours degree was on the edaphic ecology of southwest Tasmania (prize for the person who guesses
what that means) and his PhD was on the ecology and silviculture of Eucalyptus delegatensis in the mountains of
central Tasmania. Since 1984 he has been doing field research throughout northern Australia, focusing on the
environmental correlates with vegetation patterns at various spatial scales and the effect of different fire regimes
on vegetation dynamics. He has a long standing interest in the ecological basis of Aboriginal land management
practices and is currently studying the ecological effects of landscape burning in central Arnhem Land.
Joachim is Marketing manager with Original IT Investments, described as a ‘premium ICT incubator’ (he’ll be
made to explain that). Joachim worked for radio & TV stations and the print media in Germany. He started life as
a journalist and editor but the lure of media management was too great and he became Vice Programme
Director with national broadcaster Klassik Radio, where he worked on Klassik Radio's website and digital
broadcasting technologies. In his current day job he provides start-up businesses with expertise in marketing,
project planning and business management. Joachim served as Chairman of GecOz during the company's start-
up phase, and he is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Never satisfied with one hat,
Joachim also runs MediaSails Pty Ltd, which provides marketing and promotions plans, web design, web
development, branding, positioning and training.
About Cafe Scientific
The first Cafe Scientifique sessions were held in the UK in Leeds in 1998. Since then, they
have sprung up in Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford and the network has now begun to
expand to other cities in the UK and the USA. Café Scientific has now arrived in Australia.
The sessions are entirely different from the usual talks and seminars given at universities and
institutions. Instead of one person lecturing others, Cafe Scientific is designed for group
discussion. The evening is usually opened by one or several invited speakers, who talk
briefly, then the topic is thrown open to debate and everyone is encouraged to join in.
Go ahead and get involved. If you want to make a comment, ask a question or suggest
an answer - just wave or yell for the microphone. We're recording the session so we want all
the questions and comments on the recording. It isn't necessarily going to air - there would
be editing before hand anyway - so if you say something REALLY stupid - let us know
tomorrow that it should be edited out.
Cafe Scientific, based on the UK's Cafe Scientifique, is a forum for the discussion and debate of current
issues in science. Informal and accessible to all, Cafe Scientific will engage everyone in dialogue,
hypothetical and discussions with scientists, experts and non-experts alike.
Café Scientific is proudly supported by ABC Science, British Council Australia and New Scientist Magazine.
Café Scientific will be held at various locations throughout the country during 2003, see
www.cafescientific.org.au for details.