Thank you Vice-Chancellor Schmidt.
As an Australian-American astrophysicist and Nobel Prize laureate, I dare say that you are the embodiment of what brings us here today. Americans – particularly the three Americans standing here with me right now – and Australians share an innate desire to improve the world by improving our understanding of it. This is the role of science.
And, as Professor Alda has said, “communication is the essence of science.”
Just last night, I was at King O’Malley’s with a NASA scientist and a crowd of Australians and Americans talking about advances in technology and space exploration. This was the fourth “Science in the Pub” event sponsored by the Embassy. Each one has proved an immense success. That is because people’s appetite for science well communicated science – is insatiable.
That is why this groundbreaking partnership between the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University and the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU is so exciting.
Scientists, inventors, and technologists today must also play the role of advocate. The ability to communicate the significance of a scientific discovery to people’s daily lives may prove the difference between action and inaction, between success and failure. It is only fitting then that Americans and Australians – who have separately and together made some of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the last century – join together to overcome the science communication challenge.
There is a grand tradition of collaboration and cooperation between American and Australian institutions, particularly when it comes to innovation, science, and technology. Our leading national research bodies – the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council – are joined in the BRAIN initiative to further our understanding of the human mind. Our scientists are working together to fight cancer and HIV/AIDS, and to push the boundaries of biomedical research.
The U.S. private sector is part of this effort as well. U.S. companies Hewlett Packard, Cisco, and Microsoft have opened centers for innovation in Australia. Such public-private partnerships are important to President Obama’s initiative to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education at home and abroad. And, of course, the Australian government has put investment in innovation and science education at the heart of its policy agenda.
And, as Vice-Chancellor Schmidt knows, space exploration is one of the most fruitful areas of U.S.-Australian cooperation. The truth is that human knowledge of the cosmos is only possible because of what we have accomplished together. CSIRO and NASA scientists working together at Tidbinbilla put men on the moon. Together, we put rovers on Mars. We sent New Horizons to Pluto. And, together, we will send humankind to Mars!
There is history to be made in our joint endeavors. There is no limit to what we can accomplish together. I am so honored to be a part of it. Thank you!