In April, I was invited to open the 6th Korean-Australian Symposium on Technology for Sustainable Development of Mineral, Material and Energy Resources. Organised by CSIRO and the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), this is the first time that this symposium has been held in Perth.
The collaboration between KIGAM and CSIRO started in 2002, beginning with staff exchanges and joint research projects. Their relationship has gone from strength to strength, with the publication of joint papers and then the organization of an annual symposium. It offers a great example of how international collaboration enables scientists to share resources, skills and knowledge.
Opening the symposium was a great privilege and gave me an opportunity to highlight the many links that exist between Western Australia and South Korea’s science communities.
One example I spoke about was the research and education collaboration between The WA School of Mines at Curtin University and 10 Korean universities under the umbrella of the Korean Energy and Mineral Resources Engineering Program. Since 2010, three groups of Korean students have visited Western Australia to undertake units in mining engineering and petroleum science at Curtin.
At the same time, UWA’s Centre for Ecohydrology is discovering solutions to the water demands of our environment, industries and communities, by working with institutions in South Korea to develop water and environment research and management strategies and policies for these areas.
Even our radio astronomers are working with South Korea. In March this year, five Australian and Korean radio telescopes were linked together for the first time, forming a system which acts as a gigantic telescope more than 8000 kilometres across and with 100 times the resolving power of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The linkup included two CSIRO dishes in New South Wales, a telescope at the University of Tasmania, and two telescopes operated by the Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute: one in Seoul and a second near Ulsan in the southeast of the country.
The telescopes observed the same target simultaneously over five hours and all the data was streamed in real time through optical fibre links to Curtin University in Perth, where it was processed at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
By linking the telescopes, scientists got to observe a galaxy, more than 3.5 billion light years away, which is believed to contain two super massive black holes.
On a lighter note, I showed a few images of Perth’s very own Nobel Laureate, Dr Barry Marshall, featuring in a television commercial in South Korea! Dr Marshall is possibly more famous in South Korea than he is in Perth, due to these commercials, and he was treated like a science rock star the last time he visited Seoul.
I ended with a few pictures from my own visit to South Korea in 2010, when I was invited to speak at a variety of universities and schools. I was totally inspired by how students in Korea are so committed to education and so excited about the opportunity to study in Western Australia.