Quantum physicist Professor Michelle Simmons has taken out Australian of the Year 2018 for her contributions to the deeply mystifying, complicated, and (most importantly) nerdy field of quantum computing.
The work of Simmons’ team at the University of NSW includes such batshit feats as creating the world’s thinnest wire and making the first transistor ever to be made out of a single goddamn atom.
Simmons used her acceptance speech to extoll the virtues of our scientists:
We have proven time and again that Australian researchers have some unique advantages. We collaborate across boundaries but we also compete hard. We’re down to Earth, we are judged by results and we believe in what is real.
Our distaste for authority means we think for ourselves. Best of all, we are prepared to give those hard challenges a go. I firmly believe there is nowhere else in the world better to do scientific research and challenge what’s possible.
Also honoured was Eddie Woo – named Australia’s Local Hero – a maths teacher who began making YouTube videos for a student that was missing a lot of school due to cancer. Footballer Samantha Kerr was named Young Australian of the Year, with Senior Australian of the Year going to biophysicist Graham Farquhar.