Category Archives: General

Introducing BrisScience!

A friend of mine, Jennifer Dodd, from the Physics Department, has just launched BrisScience, a free public lecture series on science, society and technology. The talks, based in Brisbane, feature prominent scientists from diverse fields. If you’re in Brisbane, I strongly encourage you to come along and check these talks out. They are aimed at the general public and are suitable for people of any background or age.

Introducing XList

A while ago a wrote a program for the QiSci (University of Queensland Quantum Information Science Initiative) web-site for automatically maintaining a group publication list. Today I make this program freely available in case any other research groups or individuals should like to use it. The program is simply a Python script which interfaces with the arXiv database to construct a HTML-formatted publication list, based on a user-specified author list. To see XList in action see the QiSci publications page. You can download the program here.

Brewster Jennings Protects America

When I was a kid, like many from my generation, I used to love playing Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?. In this game you had to travel the world, following clues, to catch the infamous criminal leader Carmen Sandiago. It was with much joy that I discovered a few days ago that someone had taken the concept of this game and merged it with Google Maps technology to make a souped-up version of the game.

The new game is called Brewster Jennings Protects America. At the moment there are only two scenarios available. But, no doubt, this will improve with time. I’ve also written my own scenario for the game, entitled Maxwell Smart takes on Osama, which you can play by following this link.

I look forward to seeing how this game develops.

New book: Marine Parasitology

A new book, Marine Parasitology, edited by Klaus Rohde (my father), has just been published by CSIRO Press here in Australia. The book is a compilation of contributions from 75 scientists around the world, including a section authored by Klaus Rohde and myself, entitled “The ecological niches of parasites”.

In this section we discuss host specificity indices (HSI’s). Parasites, obviously, live off a host. Some parasite species may restrict themselves to one or a few host species, while others may be less selective and parasitise off a far larger number of host species. HSI’s quantify how selective a parasite is to host species. As with measures introduced in virtually every scientific field, there are countless competing/complementary measures, with different advantages and disadvantages, and HSI is no exception. Of particular interest to readers within my own field is the Shannon-Wiener measure for host specificity. This measure is exactly equivalent to the Shannon entropy, which anyone from computer science, physics, information theory or telecommunications will be very familiar with. Once again, as is often the case in science, we see things being used very effectively in completely unintended ways. Who would’ve thought that marine parasites would have entropy?

The book can be purchased from CSIRO Publishing.