Science Sets the West Apart

We have not lived longer, healthier or wealthier lives than at any other time in the history of mankind than we currently enjoy in Western society.  We are however at a tipping point with the first time potentially about to hit us where the next generation may actually have a shorter life expectancy than their parents as a consequence of  the obesity epidemic.   This to me illustrates that the greatest threat to our way of life is not external, it is indeed our own ignorance, idleness and apathy.


Prosperity while not equally shared in society has seen a massive improvement for all of society compared to generations past.  We live our lives here and now however and it’s easy to forget that our generation didn’t start out in life with microwaves, colour TV, automatic washing machines and iPhones.  That takeaway food was an exception and eating at a restaurant was a luxury…  Everything in life is relative but a little perspective and contemplation serves us well.

There is no doubt in my mind that while we have further to go and can do much better, we have come a long, long way to improving the lifestyle of mankind through the wonders of science and this has been possible through the economic rise of the West , the ability to share knowledge and ideas and have the latitude in a prosperous society to devote time and energy to scientific discovery.  Today is the anniversary of the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the  moon.  It was the 20th of July in the United States and the 21st here in Australia.

This week just gone, Australia received the first HD images from Pluto, the radio telescope at Parkes transmitted the first pictures of the Apollo 11 moon walk in 1969.

Parkes, in central western New South Wales, was the site of the first radio telescope to be built in Australia. Its completion in 1961 was the result of ten years of of negotiation between CSIRO Radiophysics Laboratory staff, the Australian Government and significant American Scientific institutions, Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Affectionately dubbed “The Dish”, the telescope comprised a disc some 210 feet (64 m) in diameter, constructed of mesh woven from high-tensile strength steel designed to withstand a range of pressures. The total cost of construction was 800,000 Australian pounds.


Whether it is from investment by private corporations or tax payers dollars, the money has to come from the endeavours of enterprise.  No better example demonstrating this exists than the old USSR and today in Greece; centralised regulated economies run out of money.  Until the USSR passed the tipping point, it put the first man in space and everyone thought they were in the race to the moon.  You cannot continue to invest in science unless the conditions are set to allow enterprises to flourish, from wealth comes prosperity and the opportunity to either invest or be altruistic, either way knowledge and capability blossoms.

Our next challenge is both developing the knowledge to tackle obesity medically but more importantly, intellectually so that we beat it ourselves without clinical intervention.


Trevor Dixon

Chairman Small Business Foundation

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