Ockham’s Razor

Ockham’s Razor is a soap box for all things scientific, with short talks about research, industry and policy from people with something thoughtful to say about science.


  • Disappearing sea snakes

    Oct 16 2021

    They breathe air but live underwater, and like their land-dwelling counterparts their bites are venomous.

  • Finding kindness on the backroads of Bangladesh

    Oct 09 2021

    Nathan Brooks-English usually studies the geological processes that make mountains but on one particular field trip, the thing he learned most about was human connection.

  • The gut microbiome ... of bees

    Oct 02 2021

    You’ve got one, I’ve got one, and even cows have them. I’m talking, of course, about a microbiome – that collection of trillions of microorganisms that live on and in us and that we literally couldn’t live without. You know who else has a microbiome that’s a matter of life and death? One of our favourite insects: the honeybee.  This week, we’re hearing from Mengyong Lim, who’s been getting up close and personal with bees’ digestive tracts to make sure we humans aren’t wreaking too much havoc o...more

  • Better living through chemistry?

    Sep 25 2021

    The year is 1911, and a young man by the name of Thomas Midgely Jr. is graduating university with a degree in engineering. Thomas doesn’t know it yet, but he will have a greater impact on the Earth’s atmosphere than any other single organism. He will help create two world-changing chemical inventions that will improve the lives of many, and negatively change two parts of our ecosystem in the process with decades-long consequences.

  • Our vast underwater forests at risk

    Sep 18 2021

    If there’s one thing Australians know how to be smug about, it’s that our country is home to some of the most incredible ecosystems in the world. But today, we’re visiting one that is massive in size, massively economically important … and massively underappreciated, to the point that that you may never have even heard of it.

  • Startups, innovation and regional Australia

    Sep 11 2021

    Mention the term “startup” and your mind probably goes to Silicon Valley and high-tech computer science. But startups exist in regional Australia as well – and what’s more, they’re crucial to our future. This week, we’re hearing from Elena Kelareva on startups in Gippsland, in regional Victoria – and how getting away from preconceptions is one of the first steps to startup success.

  • Dogs, devils and contagious cancers

    Sep 04 2021

    Where does cancer come from? Well there are a few answers to that question – genetic changes, maybe it’s triggered by a virus. But for two species of cute, fuzzy animals, they can be transmitted directly. This week, we’re hearing from Ruth Pye about this surprising thing that two species in very different parts of the world have in common.

  • How music affects your brain and body

    Aug 28 2021

    Are you a fan of pop music? What about rap? Or maybe you like edgy, experimental, electronic stuff? Well – that’s what you think. But if we covered your head with sensors and played you some music, we might discover differently.

  • Healthy humans, healthy environment

    Aug 21 2021

    Our own health and the health of our planet as two things that are intertwined. Today, we hear from obstetrician Kristine Barnden about the gap between good health in theory, and the challenges to having it in practice. It’s something Kristine sees not just in human health… but in the health of our climate as well.

  • The myth that Australia doesn't have earthquakes

    Aug 14 2021

    Did you know that across the Tasman, in New Zealand, some kitchens have roller cupboard doors instead of, you know, normal cupboard doors? It’s because of the earthquakes. Sometimes they’re so bad that your crockery can shake out of your cupboards and smash, and the roller ones prevent this. Lucky for us, earthquakes don’t really happen in Australia, so it’s not something we need to worry about. Right? Well… it’s time you met seismologist Dr Trevor Allen.

  • Tigers, leopards and unforeseen consequences

    Aug 07 2021

    If you had to pit endangered species next to each other in a contest of who was most good-looking, tigers would have to be pretty close to the top of the list. They’re gorgeous – and getting people on board with the idea of protecting them isn’t too hard. But what about the people who live on the edges of their habitat? This week, we discover that conservation is a noble goal… but it’s got to be done in partnership with local communities. Our narrator: Professor Wendy Wright from Federation U...more

  • Resilient farms and water worries

    Jul 31 2021

    Living as we do in a country that’s prone to drought, it’s no surprise that the subject of irrigation for farming can become a contentious one in Australia. Stepping up to the mic today is Rose Roche, who wants to bring some much-needed nuance to the water debate… and she’s enlisting the help of fairy tales and Disney princesses.

  • Hiding drugs in nanomaterials to repair brains

    Jul 24 2021

    If you could take your brain and zoom in a couple of times – and then a bit more – you’d see structures that look like towers and tentacles, and behave like pieces of automatic Lego.  It’s a crazy miniature world, and one we’re going to get a tour of today. Our tour guide is Dr Kiara Bruggeman, who’s hijacking and hacking these nano-sized structures, in the hopes of helping stroke-affected brains heal.

  • How communities can recover from disasters like bushfires and COVID-19

    Jul 17 2021

    You know in movies, where it turns out the scrappy young hero had the power to succeed inside themselves all along – they just had to learn how to harness it? It turns out this is more than just a storytelling trope – it can also be true for communities, recovering from disaster.

  • Unseen minerals all around us

    Jul 10 2021

    Look, don’t put your mobile phone in a blender. Just… trust me on this one. But if you did, you’d find more of the periodic table of elements in that pulverised phone dust than you might expect. What’s that, you want more context? Allison Britt from Geoscience Australia can explain.

  • Food supply in a pandemic

    Jul 03 2021

    We’re pretty used to walking into a supermarket and expecting the stuff we want to be on the shelf. Or at least we were until last year, when panic-buying lifted the curtain a bit on just how complex our food supply can be. Lucky for us, it’s something smart people are studying hard – including development economist Katie Ricketts.

  • Bringing passion back to learning

    Jun 26 2021

    We know that giving students choice and ownership over their own learning is best, but has it been lost from the education system?

  • Is there a future for brown coal?

    Jun 19 2021

    When I say “brown coal”, what word comes to mind? Dirty? Well maybe that’s fair… if you want to burn it. But Vince Verheyen reckons there’s a future for it in a net zero emissions world. The starting point is understanding what it is, geologically, and how to make the most of its ingredients.

  • Trolling, cyber-abuse and radical empathy

    Jun 12 2021

    Why is it that so many people are horrible online? Are they always bad people?

  • The cost of trust

    Jun 05 2021

    Caveat emptor – buyer beware.

  • Humans as part of nature

    May 29 2021

    There are those places in nature that we come back to, again and again. The reason we come is because they’re so beautiful, or peaceful… but it’s the act of returning regularly that helps us notice when things are different. The landscape is telling us in those subtle changes what’s happening to it.

  • Will I get better?

    May 22 2021

    Why are medicos often so bad at giving us a straight answer to this question – and how could they respond better?

  • Understanding cancer to improve the way we treat it

    May 15 2021

    Think about the stem cells in an embryo – they’re a bit like a teenager on the brink of adulthood, with the potential to be almost anything they want to be.

  • What the Stone Age can teach us about waste management

    May 08 2021

    Morbid question for you - how long do you reckon your remains hang around for, after you die? How about the rest of the things you’ve used in your life?

  • Reconnecting with nature

    May 01 2021

    Take a moment and imagine yourself in nature - whether it is walking in a magical rainforest, swimming in the ocean, or a moment of wonder at the animals and plants around.

  • The romantic self-saboteur

    Apr 24 2021

    What happens when you’re very young can have a life-long effect on your relationships, as Raquel Peel knows all too well.

  • Soil your undies!

    Apr 17 2021

    What do your undies have to do with the health of Australian soils?

  • Breaking open big data

    Apr 10 2021

    What did you do when you woke up this morning? Social media on the mobile, checking the weather on your speaker or your heartrate and sleep patterns on your smart watch?

  • A fossil mystery

    Apr 03 2021

    If the numbers of TV shows on the topic are anything to go by, everyone loves a cold case – trying to crack a mysterious death from the past.

  • The mental health seesaw

    Mar 27 2021

    What makes someone who cruises through life relatively happily different to someone who struggles with mental health issues?

  • Garden hose, acrobatic ants and a piece of string

    Mar 20 2021

    What if our entire universe, including you and I, could be boiled down to one object: a vibrating string?

  • The handsome beast — and other enigmatica

    Mar 13 2021

    520 million years ago, the oceans teemed with some of the most bizarre animals ever to have lived.

  • Salami smuggling in Papua New Guinea

    Mar 06 2021

    What do boiled bandicoot, smuggled salami and an invisibility cloak have in common?

  • Disappearing sea snakes

    Feb 27 2021

    They breathe air but live underwater, and like their land-dwelling counterparts their bites are venomous.

  • Finding kindness on the backroads of Bangladesh

    Feb 20 2021

    Nathan Brooks-English usually studies the geological processes that make mountains but on one particular field trip, the thing he learned most about was human connection.

  • Tiny but mighty

    Feb 13 2021

    Microbes are critically important to the health of a coral reef.

  • Aged care — giving families a voice

    Feb 06 2021

    It's a story familiar to many families. A loved one is in aged care, and it's only after you visit them that you discover things are going wrong.

  • How do top cricketers stay mentally sharp?

    Jan 30 2021

    Tens of thousands of fans watching on. The weight of a country's hopes on your shoulders. And a leather ball speeding towards you at 140 kilometres per hour.

  • A meme of sand and hope

    Dec 19 2020

    When life gives you fire, you don't need more coal. This talk was first broadcast on 26 April, 2020.

  • The Frankenstein postdoc

    Dec 12 2020

    When Kylie Soanes bounced out of her graduation ceremony with a newly-minted PhD, she thought she knew what she was in for. This talk was originally broadcast on August 6, 2017.

  • Making better decisions to help the Great Barrier Reef

    Dec 05 2020

    Every day we make hundreds of choices, big and small, that build to become the story of our lives – the friends we make, the careers we choose, our partners and our purpose.

  • Life after Earth ... for capitalists

    Nov 28 2020

    It might be the ultimate dream for preppers and Trekkies: life in a Dyson sphere. Astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker takes us to a possible distant future via the physics of continuous economic growth. This talk was first broadcast on October 27, 2019.

  • The case of L Ron Hubbard v Science

    Nov 21 2020

    It's one thing to big note yourself. But the founder of the Church of Scientology is guilty of scientific fraud, explains author and investigative journalist Steve Cannane. This program was first broadcast on September 8, 2019.

  • Einstein's physics for kids

    Nov 14 2020

    Can kids understand relativity and quantum physics? This program was first broadcast on 8 December, 2019.

  • Wind farms and a community divided

    Nov 07 2020

    What happens to communities when a company wants to put in a wind turbine farm? This program first aired on November 12, 2017.

  • Bridging the discipline divide

    Oct 31 2020

    Cross disciplinary research, undergraduate study, postgraduate study, double degrees! This program first aired on February 4, 2018.

  • Tackling obesity with a twist

    Oct 24 2020

    Treating obesity is never as simple as eat less, exercise more. This program first aired on November 17, 2019.

  • The brilliant mind of Oliver Sacks

    Oct 17 2020

    Neuroscience PhD student Samuel Mills reflects — and shares a few stories about the brilliant neurologist and author — at Melbourne's Laborastory. This program first aired on April 22, 2018.

  • Using virtual reality to explore your insides

    Oct 10 2020

    Could VR headsets save your life? This episode first aired April 29, 2018

  • The economic impact of refugees

    Oct 03 2020

    How NASA helped calculate the economic value a refugee population brought to town. (First broadcast March 11, 2018.