Use your data to create a revolution, and evolution will follow: Prof Alan Duffy | Ozwater

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Use your data to create a revolution, and evolution will follow: Prof Alan Duffy

Posted 8 May 2018

Keynote Speakers

What does the musings of self-professed “tremendous geek” and astrophysicist Professor Alan Duffy have to do with securing the future of Australia’s water supply?

It turns out, quite a bit.

Professor Duffy’s keynote address at Ozwater’18 was tied to the overall conference theme of Evolution Revolution in that, historically, we’ve learned that we can’t have one without the other.

“It is hard to understand when a revolution is occurring, much less predict one,” Prof Duffy said.

“Evolution on a fast-enough timescale is, in itself, a revolution. But if we can create the change we need to be revolutionary, this will lead to evolutionary changes too.” 

His advice to those in all facets of the water industry was to incite such change by making the most of every shred of data they get their hands on by sharing it – with everyone.

“I challenge you to try to open up your data to the public,” Prof Duffy said.

“To your customers; to empower them to explore and work with you on simple questions they may have about what your data means. The human mind is still the most powerful tool we have in this universe.”

Prof Duffy’s speech also covered how astronomers use telescopes to collect data about the universe, which includes water flow and its proximity to the population.

Such technology has enabled scientists to discover 3300 alien worlds – many of them with water – he said.

“Telescopic technology has permitted us to understand water in our own solar system,” Prof Duffy said.

“Such as finding that there is more water on Europa – the Moon of Jupiter – than there is in all of the oceans of earth combined.” 

Prof Duffy is a research fellow and associate professor at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology and uses his ability to explain complex scientific theories using simple language to the advantage of all via ABC Radio National Cosmic Vertigo, through TED talks or to tour with the likes of BBC’s Science of Doctor Who show.

Ozwater’18 is currently ongoing in Brisbane, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, from now until 10 May.

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