peteg's blog - noise - talks - 2007 02 21 UNSWAlumni

UNSW Alumni Brainfood: Professor Michael Archer, Dean of the Faculty of Science at UNSW on fossils.

/noise/talks | Link

The UNSW alumni association has been organising these talks for a few years now. I thought I'd give it a go, partly because of the topic:

Professor Archer will present a fascinating discourse on Australia as the home of the world's biggest, weirdest and oldest fossils. Hear all about flesh-eating kangaroos and bizarre creatures that go back to the dawn of life on earth.

but mostly due to idleness. Yep, he described all kinds of weird ancient creatures, mostly at a level that would impress a primary school student. More interesting were the implications he drew from the fossil record, such as the relative success of marsupial and placental animals and the possibility of human inhabitation of this continent going back millions of years (and not just thousands). Political sensitivity made him pull his punches on the latter, unfortunately.

These stories of empirical science — the field work, the cross-discipline collaboration, arguments about the balance of probabilities, the broad interest in the results — make me realise just what a weird field computer science is.