Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938


reminiSCIENCE column

Immersed in Chemistry

Photo courtesy Prof White

John White in a safety inspection of the drained “swimming pool” of the nuclear reactor at Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France, 1978. Photo courtesy Prof White

By Peter Pockley

Arguably Australia’s most internationally experienced and prominent chemistry researcher, Professor John White continues to produce original research long after normal retirement age, and he is, unshakeably, a committed Christian.

John White had chemistry in his brain from age 8, and his enthusiasm for this fundamental science has never waned throughout his 71 years. His engineer father, George, had given him a chemistry textbook that he kept by his bed in Newcastle, NSW, while he set up “a private lab” in his grandmother’s house to investigate the properties of a new chemical he bought every week from the local pharmacist. He recalls: “Basically, my family was tremendously supportive and fed my interest in the subject”.

A Very Public Scientist

By Peter Pockley

Ian Lowe is proof of the value of scientists who apply their scientific training and experience to issues at the interfaces of science, technology, society and policy.

Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe describes himself as “a professional physicist who hasn’t maltreated atoms for more than 30 years. For most of my professional life I’ve been dealing with the large-scale issues of how science and technology affect our society, how we make choices about which science we do and how we use it and how, ideally, we use scientific understanding to make better decisions to improve the human condition.”

reminiScience draws on extended biographical interviews recorded by Peter Pockley for the Oral History Archives of the National Library of Australia. This is the 43rd interview in the series, which is progressively coming online at

A Lover of Animals, Living and Dead

By Peter Pockley

Michael Archer's life-long attachment to animals as research subjects and personal pets matches his passion for the records they have left in the unique fossil beds of the Australian outback.

A Pioneer of Science Journalism

Peter Pockley

Peter Pockley (pointing upwards) during preparations at CSIRO's Parkes radio­telescope for the “Our World” global telecast in 1967 – the first global television broadcast. Source: CSIRO

By Guy Nolch

Guy Nolch pays tribute to long-time columnist Peter Pockley, who was Australia's longest-serving science journalist.

I was merely a trainee editor with the predecessor of Australasian Science, the ANZAAS journal Search, when I first encountered Dr Peter Pockley. It was the early 1990s and he was trying to file his story from Sydney using new and revolutionary technology: the modem.

Email wasn’t available to the public back then, and he’d previously faxed his copy for the receptionist to type. The fabulous modem would save this duplication of keystrokes as the deadline approached.