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Australia's Royal Institution opens in Adelai -

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Lawrence Bragg was also in Cambridge and led one of the brightest teams of scientists in the
history of the known universe, but Lawrence came from Adelaide, and next week with the opening of
the Royal Institution Australia his name is celebrated with the Bragg Initiative. Here's Tanya
Monro to talk about it, a professor of physics at the University of Adelaide, on why this genius,
son of William, is not so well known as he should be.

Tanya Munro: I think it's a few factors. One of them is that as part of an amazingly powerful
father/son team in the scientific fields we tend to just know them as the Braggs or Bragg's law,
for example, and we don't tend to distinguish or realise the contributions that Lawrence uniquely
made. I think it's also because in Australia we don't tend to have a culture of holding up our
great science and our great scientists and celebrating it the way we do with sport and other
things, and for me that's partly what the RI is about.

Robyn Williams: About the RI, the Royal Institution Australia, RiAus, what is the Bragg Initiative
going to achieve?

Tanya Munro: I believe the Bragg Initiative will show people what science is really about. I hope
it will infect them with enthusiasm about science and how it can change our lives and make them
realise it's not something esoteric, people in white coats.

Robyn Williams: Even though it's royal and it know, the top down, the great is it going to be democratic?

Tanya Munro: I think something like the RI is going to be held up for what it does, not for what
its name is. I think if it gets out there and it shows people, it enthuses kids, if it shows
parents that careers in science are something to do, it will have achieved its goal.

Robyn Williams: Why are you excited about the RiAus at all?

Tanya Munro: Personally I'm very excited about the RiAus because it's a way for scientists like
myself to be able to get messages out to the general public about what our science is about. For
me, while I love what I do and I love making breakthroughs and working with brilliant scientists,
if we can't make outcomes that change the way we live, then why are we doing it? And for me that
stage of getting that message out and also getting the input of people into the choices you make in
your science is critical, and the RI provides a new way of doing that which is outside the usual
university or academic context.

Robyn Williams: Yes, it's going to be nationwide, isn't it, and also international.

Tanya Munro: I think that will work beautifully in today's age of being able to do things across
broadband links and with teleconferences. It's a really nice way of stitching together the
fantastic happenings in the RI in London with Australia, that's a great link to build on. But
science increasingly is very international, and if we can just show people that, then I think we
will have achieved a lot with the RiAus.

Robyn Williams: But some people would ask why Adelaide?

Tanya Munro: I think Adelaide is the perfect spot for the RI, it's got some fantastic world-class
universities, it's small enough that people know people and can make real connections to make
something like the RI work. It's got a lot of fantastic science that's looking to connect better
with the community, we've got some fantastic programs for developing our youth. I think it's the
perfect way to marry all of that together to triumph a new way of communicating about science that
probably wouldn't work so well if started in some of the bigger cities. And I think if we do it
really well in Adelaide we can become really a national body.

In Adelaide I've found that you can do things that might not be so easy in other places, and I
think it's got a real 'can do' attitude, it's willing to try new things and take risks, and I think
there's a lot of people in universities, government, industry, who all brought together in
something like the RI could make a really big difference.

Robyn Williams: Professor Tanya Munro who won a Prime Minister's Science Prize last year for her
work on photonics. And the RiAus, the Royal Institution in Australia, opens next Thursday and, to
declare an interest, I'm involved.


Tanya Munro

Professor of Physics University of Adelaide

Further Information

Royal Institution Australia


Robyn Williams


David Fisher

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