Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My school wasn't like this, but then again we did bugger all

Very modest they are at St Peter's College in Adelaide, Australia.

Robin Warren, who this week was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for discovering (with Barry Marshall of Western Australia) the Helicobacter pylori bacterium and the fact that it, and not stress, is the cause of gastric ulcers, is not mentioned on the News and Events page of his old high school.

There is a mention of the chess team, however, and an unforgettable evening of drama -- hats off to them:

"History was made last Thursday night, 22 September. In an intense struggle lasting three hours, the Saint Peter's chess Intercol team defeated PAC 10 – 0. The score line in no way reflected how desperate the play was at times, with the final match being decided in the last few seconds of the allotted time. The team of J. Obst, P. Thiyagarajah, A. Utturkar, A. Khoo, N. Chia, P. Tan, N. Kwok, R. Pedler, M. Chan and D. Gai were supported by two reserves, T. Trenerry and C. Ho, and provided the small audience with an unforgettable evening of drama."
Jolly good!

Nor do they mention that other old boys of the school include two other Nobel laureates, William Lawrence Bragg (Physics, 1915) and Howard Florey, the pharmacologist (Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1945 for his role in the extraction of penicillin). Another boy from St Peter's, which is not a selective high school by the way, is Andy Thomas, the Australian astronaut with NASA and Mission Specialist for the STS-114 Space Shuttle Discovery . The school's 40 Rhodes Scholars should probably get a mention as well.

Not like this at Normo
If my alma mater, Normanhurst Boys' High, had just one of such calibre there would be a banner across Pennant Hills Road, but sadly the best we ever did was a bloke who was all over pages 1, 2 and 3 of the Daily Telegraph for a very big heroin importation bust. Still, it was a pretty sophisticated racket for its day, and the guy did manage to pay off a two-storey house in suburban Carlingford.

The best thing that ever happened in science at Normo was when one of the taller boys dressed himself in a hat and overalls and, wandering the science block from lab to lab with cigarette dangling from mouth, told all the teachers he was from the gas company and that the building had to be evacuated, which I suppose about 100 or 150 of us did in a very orderly fashion, much to the credit of our school's brilliant teaching staff.

Speaking of "the City of Churches" and gays floating in the Torrens River, Associate Professor Mike Tyler's team from the University of Adelaide won the 2005 Ig Nobel biology prize for its work on frog smells. Definitely something in the water.

It's all on our Podcast Page today, from the ABC Science Show for October 8, with some interesting background and interviews.

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