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Shauna Murray is an associate professor and ARC Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney in the Climate Change Cluster C3 Centre where she researches microalgae that produce toxins that are eaten by fish and could end up on your dinner plate, giving you an illness like Ciguatera. Ciguatera fish poisoning can cause major problems with circulation, digestion, breathing and the nervous system. Shauna's work includes identifying where the microalgae are growing so that fishers can be warned not to take any seafood from those areas and prevent the spread of the illness.

Gurjeet Singh Kohli is a Research Associate studying the genes of the microalgae that cause Ciguatera with both Shauna at UTS and Bret Neilan UNSW. He has recently handed in his PhD thesis. I asked him why it was so difficult to make a test kit that detects the toxins that cause Ciguatera.

Sustainable Aquaculture Group UTS
What is Ciguatera Fish Poisoning?

Review of "We Steal Secrets"

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At Nerd Nite Sydney in the Cafe Lounge, Dr Peter Jonason lecturer in personality and individual differences from the University of Western Sydney, spoke about the evolutionary functions of the different kinds of sexual relationships people choose to have from casual, to committed. He hung around after the gig, we went outside the noisy club, and spoke to me about the behavioral ecology of sexual relationships.

Peter Karl (PK) Jonason, Ph.D

Nerd Nite Sydney

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In light of the revelations that the US and UK spooks are treating us all like criminals by spying on our every move, I went to the very noisy Pitt St Mall to talk with David W. Campbell Senate candidate for the Pirate Party about PRISMbreak and the Protect Our Privacy protest.

Pirate Party Australia
PRISM break
Snowden reveals Australia's links to US spy web
NSA Surveillance of Australia Exposed!
Agreements with private companies protect U.S. access to cables' data for surveillance 

NSA recruitment drive goes horribly wrong

iwoolf's PRISMbreak  Sydney 2013 photoset iwoolf's PRISMbreak Sydney 2013 photoset

Your brain has a backup

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At Nerd Nite Sydney, outside the noisy Cafe Lounge I spoke with Astrid Zeman about her research into using optical illusions to improve computer vision. (This interview was recorded on my phone, surrounded by a crowd, before I bought the new microphone, so my apologies for the noise).

Astrid Zeman's profile at Macquarie University

Astrid's paper 2013 paper: The Müller-Lyer Illusion in a Computational Model of Biological Object Recognition

NBC coverage of Astrid's work

Angus Deveson talks RoboWars

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Angus Devenson is the organiser of RoboWars Sydney 2013. He spoke to me about the sport of building and battling robots, funded by the crowd. RoboWars Sydney 2013 will be on the 3rd and 4th of August, in Redfern.

RoboWars Sydney 2013 crowd-funding


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Dr Sara Lal and PhD student Diarmuid Kavanagh spoke to me about their research into wiring up driver's brains to detect fatigue, and intervening before it causes accidents, at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney. This interview was recorded as part of the Science Communication Education Project, in which I was Project Officer.


Steve Mann's wearable computers

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Brain scanning technology is quickly approachi...

Brain scanning technology is quickly approaching levels of detail that will have serious implications (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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For Brain Awareness week 2013, the Museum of Human Disease held Get Into Your Head to help people experiment with their brains. I visited the Museum and spoke with Thomas Fath, Christine Froud, and Bridget Murphy about the experiments.

Museum of Human Disease
Brain Awareness Week 2013

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I went to the Red Cross Blood Service in Alexandria, where all the blood donations are sorted and tested before being passed along to hospitals to speak to with Joe Patkes.

Joe Patkes, is Red blood cell serology manager for the Red Cross blood service for NSW. He's had 22 years experience in the blood transfusion business, 7 years with the Australian Red Cross, and before that, 14 years in the United States. He spoke with me about blood types and transfusions. Please excuse the occasional buzzing from the machines in the background.

Red Cross Blood Service Transfusion site
Red Cross Blood Service Donation site

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Mark Changizi's "The Vision REvolution" is about the latest research into the way humans see the world. Mark uses the metaphor of super-powers to entertainingly communicate how we see, and how our ancestors saw, and the special abilities we possess but take for granted, such as X-ray vision, and colour empathy.

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Mark Changizi,is a theoretical neuro-biologist, and director of human cognition at 2AI Labs. He has a radical theory about the evolution of colour vision. I began by asking him about the difference between animal colour vision and human colour vision.

Professor Thomas Borody interview

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Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile (Photo credit: AJC1)

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Professor Thomas Borody of the Center for Digestive Diseases is researching which illnesses are caused by the bacteria in the bowel going wrong, and developing bacterial therapies to restore health. In 1999 I spoke to him about how bowel flora affects the brain, and the triple-S, sick flora syndrome.

Since that time research around the world has started to catch up, and for one illness at least, clostridium difficile infection, this poo transplant will become the standard treatment. Other illnesses may follow.

Related articles
English: Tournefortia argentea (habit). Locati...

English: Tournefortia argentea (habit). Location: Kure Atoll, Near coast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A traditional herbal medicine based on the Octopus bush has been found effective against Ciguatera fish poisoning in bioassay tests. The active ingredient Rosmarinic acid has been patented. Clinical trials are yet to be done, but its the most hopeful news for Ciguatera Fish Poisoning sufferers I've seen in the ten years I've been poisoned. The active ingredient actually seems to work against the action of ciguatoxins and also act to remove them from the body.

Deutsch: Ciguatoxin CTX2

Deutsch: Ciguatoxin CTX2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Use of Rosmarinic Acid and the Derivaties Thereof to Treat Ciguatera- patent

Protective effect of Heliotropium foertherianum (Boraginaceae) folk remedy and its active compound, rosmarinic acid, against a Pacific ciguatoxin - Journal of Ethnopharmocology

Heliotropium foertherianum - wikipedia

Rosmarinic Acid - wikipedia

The Internet demonstrated in 1968

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Highlights from the 100 minutes of Douglas Englebert's "Mother of all demos" from 1968 where he demonstrated the windowing and mouse graphical user interface, word processing, databases, computer networking, email, video phone calls and other modern marvels, 45 years ago. Why did take so long? How can we speed the process?

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At the Open Source Developer's Conference 2012, Gavin Smith gave a talk "How to make anything. Or: Robots, Paint, and Lasers". Gavin is from Robots and Dinosaurs, the Sydney Hackerspace, where he can make anything using 3D printing, laser CNC and electronics.

This video was shot on my Looxcie Point Of View camera, mounted on my left ear. The advantage is that my head moves the camera. The disadvantage is that my head moves the camera. I tried the camera stabilisation on youtube, and it seemed wrong. Let me know if you can think of ways to improve the quality. The link up the top is to an OGV 100megabyte video file. The original MP4 is available on the Internet Archive but its over 400 Megabytes. Email me or leave a comment if you'd like the link.

I need that Arduino inventor kit, along with a 3D Printer, and to be able to make those amazing laser cut wooden boxes.
Below is the video Gavin showed of "My little piece of privacy"

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At the MooresCloud product launch, inventor Mark Pesce spared 10 minutes in the stairwell to talk about his networked lamp platform.  MooresCloud, is a playful lamp with a LAMP stack, which means it runs Linux, Apache web server, MySQL database and Python or Perl programming language -L.A.M.P. - it can talk to other networked things.
You can find out more at, and support the project on Kickstarter

This is my first interview using my POV wearable Looxcie camera, and my apologies, but it wobbled a lot. I'm also new to video editing on linux, so I used Openshot until it failed, and then exported video to avidemux to edit the final version. Unfortunately I lost quality in the process. I'll put up a better edited version later. For future videos I'm looking at mounting the camera on my glasses instead of on my ear. It should wobble much less.

Youtube is taking longer to upload so this is hosted on the Internet Archive.

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Inventor Mark Pesce has launched MooresCloud, a lamp with a LAMP stack, which means it runs Linux, Apache web server, MySQL database and Python or Perl programming language -L.A.M.P. Mark spoke to me in the stairwell of the Fishburner's building in Sydney at his product launch, about playful smart devices that talk with you.

My apologies for the squeaking stairwell door on the end of Mark Pesce's parting words: "You can have the smartest dishwasher in the world, but if it can't talk with anything, who cares?"  You can find out more at, and support the project on Kickstarter

I'll be posting the Point-Of-View Looxcie version of this interview soon.

IMGP4038 IMGP4037 IMGP4036 IMGP4035 IMGP4034 IMGP4033 IMGP4032 IMGP4031 2012-10-05 19-28-54.141

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Professor Gabriella Weaver from Purdue University gave the keynote speech at the Enhancing Learning in Science Through Inquiry and Technology Forum held last week at the University of Technology Sydney. She's designed and run a curriculum that engages first and second year science students in contributing to authentic scientific research. I spoke with her in the tea break.

You can find out more about the Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education CASPiE that allows first and second year science students to engage in ongoing, authentic scientific research at

Grabriella Weaver, Professor of Chemical Education and Physical Chemistry

Frozen memories

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Phillip Rhoades, is one of the directors of the Neural Archives Foundation. He collects brains, and freezes them, in hopes that future historians will be able to read their frozen memories. I spoke to him at the Sydney Futurist meetup.

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Zara Choy spoke at Philorum about non-exclusivity in relationships and the appeals of an alternative to our conventional monogamous relationship model.

This video was taken on my wearable point-of-view Looxcie bluetooth camera. Its my first attempt at capturing a talk while seated, and because I didn't want the view-finder in shot, I didn't calibrate enough to notice that the top half of Zara's head is cut off for most of her talk. I know her face is up there, but I didn't know my camera needed to be angled up a bit more. She forgives me. ;-)

Next time I'll have to practice with the speaker while checking the view-finder, and then allow the view-finder in shot to check whether I need to move the camera upwards a little, until I've got the hang of it.

You can also download an audio version of Zara's talk if that suits you better:

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The universe is expanding at an ever faster rate! Professor Robert Kirshner from the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics spoke to me about supernovas and their use in measuring the acceleration in the expansion of the Universe, at the fourth annual Southern Cross Astrophysics conference at the Sydney Maritime Museum.

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