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Celebrity Spotlight: Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 1, No. 4 - July/August 2010

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How do you contribute to the education of kids?

Nothing directly, but lots indirectly! I talk on the radio, appear on TV, and write. On one level, I just tell stories about science, medicine & engineering. But on a deeper level, I introduce people to the awe and wonder of the Universe.

Research conducted at the University of Sydney showed that 1 out of 7 students who study science stated they became interested in science because of me. But it's not just me, it's all the science communicators that we have in Australia.

Science and engineering are related, but different.

Science tries to discover new stuff. Facts already existing in the Universe but hidden under rocks. Science is the process of understanding the Universe.

Engineering is making stuff - iPhone, car, cup etc. Engineering is incredibly creative - all the stuff we make has to be designed by human beings, it didn't get designed by itself!

Where did you go to school?

My primary education was at Little Flower Primary School, Wollongong NSW.

Secondary school was at Edmund Rice Christian Brothers College, Wollongong NSW.

15 years studying at university and getting degrees in Maths, Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Medicine & Surgery plus several non-degree years in Astrophysics, Computer Science and Philosophy at the Universities of Wollongong, New South Wales, Sydney and overseas.

Please tell us about your family.

I married my wife in Norway under a midnight sun on the longest day of the year - this was symbolic that our love would never set.

I started a family late and now I have three children - one boy (22 years) and two girls (19 & 11 years).

What was the proudest moment of your life?

2003 - I was awarded Father of The Year.

What are your best experiences, here and overseas?

Walked for 1 month, 800kms across Spain with the whole family.

Touring the 15 out of 17 Australian deserts. We started 20 years ago.

What was your first job?

My first job was rowing up and down a creek in Wollongong, measuring toxicity of the water that turned from bright orange to bright green.

What are your career highlights?

Being a doctor at Camperdown Childrens' Hospital was a great job. I remember a time when two distraught parents brought in their 3 year old boy to hospital suffering with rolling fevers, difficulty in breathing and he wasn't growing.

I suspected pneumonia but gave him an extended and full medical examination because when diagnosing children's illnesses you need to work with the whole family.

After the full medical examination the parents asked if I knew what was wrong to which I replied an x-ray would confirm my diagnoses.

I then told them the good news, that it was pneumonia and that it was curable. This liberated the parents from what was holding them back.

I also love working in the media as I help people to find out about our amazing Universe. I can do more good for society working in the media, than I can on a one-to-one basis in a kids' Hospital.

What do you value most in life?

Not being dead, health and happiness and being a father and husband.

What is your favourite Australian destination?

My favorite destinations are the deserts of the Australian Outback including the Simpson Desert and Gibson Desert.

When we tour the deserts using a 4WD, we have an early dinner then lie in our swags for hours counting the satellites and meteors.

What is your favourite overseas experience?

The Antarctic was wondrous. I am taking my 11 year old daughter to see Mount Fuji, Japan.

Which science story has received the most comments?

That it is safer for a cat to fall 32 storeys from a building, than from 7 storeys.

What are some of the most outrageous science questions you have been asked?

• Do cells renew every 7 years?
• Does curly hair tangle more than straight hair?
• Was Velcro invented by NASA?
• Do women talk more than men?
• Does Aluminum cause Alzheimer's?
• Does underarm deodorant cause Cancer?

Which science story has shocked you the most?

That 90% of the cells in your body do not belong to you. They belong to tiny bacteria in your gut. The bacteria are very small, so they don't weigh much (about 1.5kgs), but they do make up 90% of the cells you carry around.

What is your newest project?

Writing my 29th book titled 'Dinosaurs Aren't Dead'.

What is the most outrageous question you have been asked?

Are farts contagious? Can farts spread germs? To these questions I answer "usually no" because undergarments act as filters.

What are you currently researching?

I am researching how spontaneous human combustion is explained by 'brown fat', which is very different from 'white fat'. 'White fat' stores energy, 'but brown' fat turns energy into heat. I am also exploring body mass, weight loss and gain during the day.


Dr. Karl's media career began in 1981, when he presented 'Great Moments in Science' on Double J to pay his way through medical school.

Since then, his media career has expanded from radio to include TV, books, newspapers, magazines, scripting, professional speaking and the Internet.

After his TV debut as the presenter of the first series of 'Quantum' in 1985, he reported science on 'The Midday Show', 'Good Morning Australia', the 'Today Show' and 'Sunrise'.

In 2008, he completed a series for ABC TV with Adam Spencer called 'Sleek Geek'. The pair have teamed up to produce a second series that is planned to air on ABC 1 in the second half 2010.

November 2009 marked the simultaneous release of Karl's 28th book, 'Never Mind The Bullocks...Here's the Science', board game 'Fact Or Fishy', and first ever music single 'Get Fact'.

In August 2010, Dr. Karl will release a children's book, his 29th, called 'Dinosaurs Aren't Dead.'

In August 2000, Dr. Karl was one of first eight Australians to join the elite Apple Masters that celebrates the achievements of people who are changing the world through their passion and vision, while inspiring new approaches to creative thinking.

In 2002, Dr. Karl was honoured with the prestigious lg Nobel prize awarded by Harvard University in the USA for his ground-breaking research into 'Belly Button Lint and Why It Is Almost Always Blue'.

He received the Member of the Order of Australia Award in the 2006 Australia Day Honours list. In 2007, the Australia Skeptics Society awarded Dr. Karl the Australia Skeptic of the Year Prize.

Dr. Karl has degrees in Physics and Maths, Biomedical Engineering, Medicine and Surgery and has worked as a Physicist, tutor, film maker, car mechanic, labourer and as a medical doctor at the Kids' Hospital in Sydney.

In 1995, he took up the position of the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at Sydney University, spreading the good word about science and its benefits.

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