This is the full version of a paper I presented at the National Digital Forum,…
The clouds of radioactive fallout are descending and humanity is doomed to extinction. In Nevil Shute’s book, On the Beach, the inhabitants of Melbourne await their end – the final victims of a 37 day nuclear war that has destroyed the northern hemisphere. John Osborne, played by Fred Astaire in the film version, decides to die in the embrace of the one he loves. So donning his crash helmet and goggles, he pops his suicide pills while sitting behind the wheel of the Ferrari that has recently won him the Australian Grand Prix: ‘The car had won him the race that was the climax of his life. Why trouble to go further?’ For John, as for all, it was the end of the road.
With the onset of the Atomic Age, Australia set out optimistically along the yellow-brick road to peace and prosperity, but 50 years later, the Emerald City seems as far away as ever. Australia’s involvement with nuclear energy has been largely limited to the provision of raw materials – uranium to power other countries’ reactors, and test sites for Britain’s bomb program. To understand Australia’s nuclear history you need to focus not on the journey’s end, but on the journey itself. How was the road mapped? Where were the markers? And who was doing the driving? Read MoreOn the beach: Australia’s nuclear history
What am I doing here? I work for a non-profit organisation attached to the University of Melbourne. What can I say about “Doing Business on the WWW”? You all know universities have it easy, large IT departments, huge bandwidth connections – it’s a different world! Read MoreA world to win
In the Riverview Observatory, Father O’Connell readied his seismographs – seven of them. The possibility of breakdown had to be considered, and now, with the coal miners out – a blackout at the wrong moment … So the clockwork instruments were oiled and tested, set up alongside their electric successors. Springs taut, whirring, they waited. No anomaly would escape the methodical priest.
But when the time came, when the Bomb was exploded, nary a flicker was registered on the caefully prepared charts. The shockwave from Bikini never arrived. No vibration was detected in Sydney. Yet it was there, that subtle tremor. A ripple moved across the earth, shifting the ground beneath our feet. A ripple formed as some massive bulk shifted, flexed, deep, deep down. Read MorePhyllis in atomic wonderland