Another day at CeBIT and more sore feet. Still, it's been a lot of fun helping out at the CSIRO stand. The best thing was talking to my colleagues about the interesting research that they are doing. These are some of the nicest (and smartest) people that you could meet and it is a real privilege to support them.
CSIRO's Smart Fridge using intelligent agent energy management technology won the CeBIT Early Innovator Award and was also featured in today's Sydney Morning Herald.
Unfortunately, the good news was overshadowed by the announcement that the recent federal budget has lead to CSIRO deciding to cut 100 jobs and close some sites. One of those sites is the JM Rendel Laboratory in Rockhampton, which specialises in cattle research. Many years ago, back when I was in high school, I arranged a fun, but somewhat gruesome CSIRO Double Helix club visit to the Laboratory. We started off by taking blood from a cow. Another animal had a hole in its side so that the contents of one of its stomachs could be easily tested. A rubber plug blocked the hole. Finally we were given some organs to inspect, including the uterus of a cow complete with a fetus (the cow had died of natural causes prior to childbirth). A scientist used the uterus and the appropriate equipment to demonstrate to artificial insemination techniques.
Parents fear not, because I highly doubt if any Double Helix club events these days would ever involve such activities. It may sound bad, but much of the research is done to decrease the suffering of cattle due to disease and other problems. It should also be remembered that many people suffer similar medical indignities on a daily basis (eg colostomy bags).
Thankfully, it looks like the CSIRO divisions that I have been involved with have come out okay in the budget and science investment process, but I do feel very sad for those who face redundancy and site closures. It is unfortunate that we should be decreasing science capability when we need it more than ever before.