This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today


Miracle or no miracle?

By Matin Durrani, Sydney, Australia


Australia is a big country but, as far as science is concerned, it does just about as much one might expect for a country with a population of just 23 million.

But according to Thomas Barlow, a former academic and journalist who is now a kind of freelance policy wonk and science adviser, Australians are far too pessimistic about their scientific future. In other words, while Australians believe they are an inherently inventive people, they are less good, or so the thinking goes, at capitalizing on their smart ideas.

I met Barlow yesterday during my visit to Sydney at the home of Peter Pockley – a veteran Australian science journalist and broadcaster who also regularly reports on Australian science for Physics World.

Barlow has outlined his thoughts in his 2006 book The Australian Miracle, which offers an honest, well written and sober perspective on Australian science.

It’s worth reading if you’re at all interested in the country’s science and Barlow has as good a perspective as any – he’s married to Michelle Simmons, who’s a leading quantum-computing physicist at the University of New South Wales and who directs a successful national Centre for Quantum Computer Technology funded by the Australian Research Council.

Still, I just can’t get away from the nagging feeling that Australia, being physically so far removed from the US, Europe, China, Japan and other centres of power in global science, is destined to always remain one step behind the rest of the world.

In his book, Barlow denies that there is a brain drain of talent from Australia, which may be true. But unless there is a steady flow of people and ideas in and out of the country, true innovation may struggle. And being so far away, that flow is simply hard to sustain.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Comments are closed.


  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="">IOP</blockquote>
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text