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Last night there was a swanky dinner at the Melbourne Museum, but I unfortunately wasn’t there. Instead, I had dinner with a good friend in her bohemian sharehouse with giant spiders and friendly neighbours.

Everyone was looking a little bleary-eyed at 9am, when day two started.

Thomas Barlow, author of “The Australian Miracle: An innovative nation revisted” took the stage. He spoke economics, and said in the past twenty years we’ve heard nothing but doom and gloom about the investment in innovation.

But in that same period, the amount spent on R&D in Australia mirrors that of Asia, and outstrips Europe, based on our GDP. And if you’re not an economist, basically that means we’re heaps good. That’s what I got out of it!

Australia has roughly four researchers per 1000 population, Sweden has about five.

Something amazing has happened over the past 20 years, and now is the best time ever to be a scientist or engineer in Australia. But who’s aware of it? There’s a deficit of knowledge in the opportunities for research careers right now, he said.

AbbyA panel discussion followed, led by the thought-provoking and film-obsessed Bobby Cerini from the ANU. She’s a PhD student working on a thesis about science heroes, like the brilliant Abby from NCIS.

She interviewed about a hundred of awesome scientists worldwide, including Nobel Laureates and David Attenborough. Jealous!

She found a large number of people collected stuff as a kid. Some were encouraged in science early on by a family member. Others read books about real life explorers.

Science in Australia is inspirational and there’s a lot to be proud of.