Blessed Australian science nerd Dr Karl has won a prestigious United Nations prize for science communication, which is well deserved after almost four decades of diligently answering questions like “is peeing on tomato plants good for them?” and “why do men have nipples?” on the national broadcaster.
Dr Karl has become the first Australian to win the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularisation of Science since the award was created in 1951, joining the ranks of esteemed laureates like Sir David Attenborough, science fiction writer and broadcaster Arthur C. Clarke, and cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
The prize recognises the work of Dr Karl – whose full name I’m absolutely thrilled to learn is Karl Sven Woytek Sas Konkovitch Matthew Kruszelnicki – across several decades, from his long-running science hour on Triple J, his ABC presenting work, his 45 science books, and a bunch of other science-related media work like talkback shows, columns, podcasts and social media, all of which helps to “make science accessible to all”.
“Firstly, I’m incredibly honoured to be awarded the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularisation of Science,” Dr Karl said in a statement.
“Secondly, I couldn’t have done it without an incredible amount of nurturing and training by so many people at the ABC, who over the last three decades have helped me along this pathway. Science is important because it is a tool that can help you not get fooled. And I’m very happy to be in a position where I can bring critical thinking into the daily lives of people.”
Aw shucks, sometimes you're lucky … https://t.co/Aj71L2lGdl— Dr Karl (@DoctorKarl) November 19, 2019
Part of the trick to making science accessible, he explains, is that he’s not a total genius – although he does hold degrees in mathematics and physics, biomedical engineering, medicine and surgery, so most of us would consider him doing alright in the brains department.
“One thing that gives me a great advantage is that I’m not particularly smart, my IQ is only about 110, which is in there with two thirds of the population between 115 and 85,” he told the ABC.
“That means for me to be able to understand something, I’ve really got to go into it, but then I understand it.”