THIS DOC KNOWS WHAT’S UP

DR KARL IS NEVER SHORT OF A STORY WHEN IT COMES TO SCIENCE, AND HE’LL BE SHAR­ING THEM WITH US AT THIS YEAR’S WOODFORD FOLK FES­TI­VAL

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: KA­RINA EASTWAY .......................

What’s the ori­gin of life? What would hap­pen if the Earth stopped spin­ning? And the big­gest ques­tion of all, is cof­fee good for you? While there’s no end to the ques­tions, for­tu­nately we have Dr Karl to help with the an­swers. Karl Kruszel­nicki is one of the coun­try’s most re­spected science com­men­ta­tors but, de­spite the fact he has three de­grees (in science, en­gi­neer­ing and medicine), he says his spe­cial power is that he’s a gen­er­al­ist. In fact, Karl points out that he’s not even par­tic­u­larly smart, with an IQ of 110 which is just above av­er­age. But he’s very good at un­der­stand­ing things. “I just work hard and turn stuff into sto­ries. Knowl­edge is hard to pick up but, once you’ve got it in your brain, it’s fairly easy to keep it there,” Karl said. “It took me six hours to un­der­stand why the sky is blue, but now I can give it to you in two min­utes.” In the pur­suit of knowl­edge, Karl reads a one-me­tre-thick pile of sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture ev­ery month, look­ing for in­ter­est­ing, strange and weird things he can turn into sto­ries. “There’s no end to ques­tions, it just goes on and on for­ever. I’m on an im­pos­si­ble, friv­o­lous jour­ney to try and un­der­stand ev­ery­thing in the uni­verse. Know­ing that it’s im­pos­si­ble, but I’m still go­ing to give it a go.” While he spends most of his time un­pack­ing how things work, the one thing he doesn’t get is how peo­ple con­vince them­selves to be­lieve in some­thing with no proof. “We’re in a time where there’s the high­est level of in­for­ma­tion ever in the his­tory of the hu­man race, and yet there’s still peo­ple who won’t look at the facts. It’s as­ton­ish­ing to me, like with cli­mate change, they refuse to ac­cept the science.” Karl will be ex­plor­ing cli­mate change and more, in­clud­ing host­ing a State of the Reef forum when he vis­its the Sun­shine Coast later this month for the Woodford Folk Fes­ti­val. The reef it­self takes on a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance at this year’s fes­ti­val, cel­e­brated in the beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated fes­ti­val poster by artist Gavin Ryan and sym­bol­is­ing the theme of con­nec­tion. The fes­ti­val’s head of pro­gram­ming, Chloe Goodyear, said: “As we lead into 2018 be­ing the year of the reef, it’s a fo­cus for us in our talks pro­gram. “This year it’s all about con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple and that’s why co­ral has a solid pres­ence. It links into the en­dan­gered nat­u­ral world and how peo­ple are treat­ing each other.” It’s re­flec­tive of the over­all cul­ture of the fes­ti­val: it’s folk, but not as you know it. Chloe said while good times and be­ing up­lifted would be a com­mon theme, Woodford was also a place for dis­cov­ery, self-re­flec­tion and re­cre­ation. “Bill Hau­ritz (founder and fes­ti­val direc­tor) hoped that the fes­ti­val would be a place that every­body would come to cel­e­brate what was won­der­ful about Aus­tralian cul­ture, and in­creas­ingly in­ter­na­tional cul­ture. But also bring­ing out of the shad­ows the things we want to ex­am­ine and cast a light on them, dis­cussing them with dig­nity and re­spect,” she said. “If we can be a place where all of that can rest hap­pily to­gether, then we’re grate­ful.” Par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy is the Uluru State­ment from the Heart which will be at Woodford for the whole week, along with Noel Pear­son’s recog­ni­tion dis­cus­sions. Chloe’s per­sonal picks also in­clude Ir­ish fid­dle player Martin Hayes and Canada’s The East Point­ers. You might also catch Dr Karl on stage again as a go-go dancer this New Year’s Eve – one of his high­lights from last year’s fes­ti­val. It’s an un­ex­pected out­come for a sci­en­tist, but Karl knows bet­ter than any­one that life’s an un­known quan­tity. “You don’t know how life will turn out in ret­ro­spect, you just run through it. I’ve been in­cred­i­bly lucky – though my life peo­ple have been so nice to me. I just loved school, but I was a wog refugee kid so I got bul­lied by all my class­mates. “The only way out was the li­brary – it be­came my friend so I spent a lot of time there read­ing and learn­ing. I was very lucky that ev­ery­thing worked out so beau­ti­fully.” And, he says, he wouldn’t be dead for quids. Karl will be ap­pear­ing at Woodford Folk Fes­ti­val on De­cem­ber 29 and 30. His 43rd book – Karl, The Uni­verse and Ev­ery­thing – is avail­able now through Pan Macmil­lan Aus­tralia.

I’M ON AN IM­POS­SI­BLE, FRIV­O­LOUS JOUR­NEY TO TRY AND UN­DER­STAND EV­ERY­THING IN THE UNI­VERSE.

PHOTO: MEL KOUTCHAVLI­S

PHOTO: WOODFORD FOLK FES­TI­VAL

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.