Feed on

We all hate weeds, right? But what is a weed anyway? How about say, wheat. Or corn, or oats. Are they weeds? The battle in Australia with prickly pear is legendary, and there's even a memorial to the Cactoblastis moth that helped bring them under control.

It turns out that the prickly pear could be a valuable nutritious crop that grows in our drying land, and our guest today is a self-admitted fan. Caroline Gouws is a PhD student at the University of Canberra who's looking at its processing and nutrional benefits. Maybe the spikey invader has a place after all if we're prepared to give it a go.

We even sampled some on-air. But careful to not wipe it on our cloths...because it's also a nifty dye!

Interview by Rod


While you're here
Present your research at the New Investigator Forum, 6 June at JCSMR

You can help Fuzzy Logic by subscribing to 2xx. Thanks!



Car Free Me

What happens when you or a family member can no longer drive because of dementia? It's a major milestone in a person's life, not just because it signals cognitive decline, but because it also introduces a practical burden. How do you go to the shops or visit a friend if you can't drive?

The CarFreeMe program being developed by the University of Queensland. Occupational therapist Any Nussio and PhD candidate Nathan D'Cunha are evaluating this program in Canberra.

If you would like to be involved, contact Amy on 0457 779 766 or a.nussio[at]uq.edu.au. Participation is free.

Interview by Rod



Month by month, we continue to break climate records with a run of heatwaves in Australia, with 46 degrees C in Adelaide this week. Meanwhile in the US, changing climate patterns is allowing cold air to leak southwards resulting in insane conditions in cities such as Chicago.

So how do we talk about this without inflicting mass depression? How do we reach those who say that climate change is a socialist hoax or just a bunch of lab coats feather bedding their research grants?

These are questions occupying our guest today, Nic Badullovich (@geo_nic), who's re recently launched into his PhD at @ANU_CPAS.

Interview by Rod @FuzzyLogicSci

Here's a scientific problem: how can you learn about a situation where the data is unreliable, the system is really complicated, and the outcome is hard to measure?

This is what researchers such as Prof Panagiotakos face when they study the health effects of nutrition. People are inclined to give untrustworthy answers about what they eat; the human body is an extremely complex physical and chemical system, even before we talk psychology. And if that's not enough, how do you measure health?

Prof Panagiotakos is the Dean of School of Health Science & Education, at Harokopio University in Athens. In this interview with Rod, he describes the huge ATHLOS worldwide study into aging.

A Big Australia?

What does it mean to have a Big Australia?

Kelvin Thomson was the Labor member for Wills in Victoria from 1996 to 2016, and was outspoken on the issue of population. In this 2012 interview with Rod, he reflects on his life in politics, the environment, and what population growth is doing to the planet and Australia.

Australia's population
2012:  22.9 million  2018: 24.7 million  - ie growth almost the population of Perth


This week, Broderick talks about all the latest in science news from whale song to dust storms, cubic poos to fake news. There's plenty to hear including the scat scat!

Fuzzy Fieldwork

Fuzzy is doing some fieldwork this week! We head out with Cale Matthews, an honours student from Flinders University, who shares some tales from the field catching bees in Fiji. We also discuss cuttlefish, native tarantulas and coincidental birthdays on this day. This episode presented by Broderick and Jill.

What would you do with a really big computer?

It's an interesting thought but it almost misses the point because - what we do without one? The super computer at the NCI in Canberra is about far more than intellectual curiosity. Models that give us a seven-day weather forcast are developed on this computer.

Weather leads to climate, and climate leads to the environment, water, and productivity in agriculture. Now of all times, this provides crucial information for our future. Then there's health research in fields such as genetics.

Our guest today is NCI Director, Professor Sean Smith whose own research history is in nanomaterials - a field that offers the prospect of clean hydrogen fuel.

Read more about Raijin and weather forcasting in our Ask Fuzzy column in Fairfax.

Interview by Rod.


So who says you're unwell? A doctor? Your insurance company? You? Your boss?

What makes a disease is a slippery slope of definition, and not for the faint hearted (which could itself be a disease). It makes a vast difference to how - or whether - you're treated. Do you get a day off work? Will you insurance company cover you?

Just as important perhaps, it affects your own well-being, and your perception of whether it's okay to feel crap. Or whether you're a shirker, a malingerer and a sponge bunging on a sickie.

This is no trivial question if you've been told to get over it, come back tomorrow.

Mike McRae is author of Unwell, What makes a disease a disease. Recommended.

We are joined by first year medical student, Eliza who gives us her perspective on childbirth and pain relief.

Interview by Rod.


Worried about having enough vitamins and minerals in your diet? Easy! Here's a pill.

Problem solved....maybe. The vitamins and supplements industry is huge: this year, global sales will be about $100 billion, and almost a billion of us take one regularly. Think about what all that clever marketing does for sales.

Dr Derek Muller digs into this tangled pile in the new documentary, Vitamania. He travels the world, speaking to experts in every country. Along the way he learned what too much vitamin D can do, nuts in space, and...rotten fish.

Interview by Rod, via phone.

Derek Muller will appear on stage for his debut Australian tour, along with the premiere of Vitamania:
. 30 July in Perth
. 2 August in Sydney
. 3 August in Melbourne
. Or watch it on Sunday, August 12 on SBS at 8.30pm;  and then on SBS On Demand


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