Science losses will take years to fix

“If the government continues to make cuts to science we might as well be living in the 14th century,” said a Nobel Prize winner while visiting Albury-Wodonga last month.

1996 Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Doherty, who was visiting Albury as part of National Science Week, said the Government was headed in the wrong direction with its cuts to CSIRO. “I’m dismayed by the cuts,” he said. “It will cause us to lose a lot of scientists and we’ll never get them back. “Science takes a long while to build up but you can destroy it very quickly.”

Professor Doherty won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and his main area of research involves the immune system and the way bodies battled diseases. He said in the 14th century, half the population of England died from the plague because there were no antibiotics.

“The reality of life was different and without science we can’t really move forward,” Professor Doherty said. “Ten or 20 years ago we didn’t have the technology we do now and it is an exciting time for science.”

He addressed two forums in an effort to help people understand and appreciate science. The disease and death guy – as he describes himself – said he wanted people to know the population of Australia was not going to be wiped out by influenza or Ebola.

Albury Councillor David Thurley said Professor Doherty was the second Nobel Prize winner to visitAlbury-Wodonga for National Science Week. “It shows people science can be interesting and fun,” Councillor Thurley said.

He believed there were many budding scientists on the Border. “We’ve had more than 4000 kids visit our science programs over the last eight years,” he said. Students from schools in Albury and surrounds stepped into the shoes of a blind person as part of science week activities. They also learnt how to read braille to understand the science behind vision.

The activity was held at Charles Sturt University by the Albury – Wodonga Astronomical Society.

About the author
Olivia Lamberts is a journalist with the Border Mail newspaper. Professor Peter Doherty was the guest speaker for the events organised by the Astronomical Society of Albury-Wodonga and Charles Sturt University, to coincide with National Science Week.