Dear #ECTC2016 Teachers,

Carlos and Ruben

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share some of my unbridled, evidence-based optimism for the future with you.

Life really is great. Kids love it… which is why they’re so much fun to work with. I hope you enjoy your daily dose of their boundless enthusiasm, their intense passion for learning and simply being in their company as much as I have for  20+ years. You have the best job in the world.

As I promised, here are the links to the topics I covered this morning and to some further reading from the bottomless pit of knowledge.

I hope to bump into you again but, in the meantime, all the very best in your careers.

Kinds regards,


Introduction and demonstrations

When you lose weight where does the fat go? The BMJ paper published 16 Dec 2014 (Open Access)

Big Fat Myths by Ebury Books in bookstores on 19 September 2016

The mathematics of weight loss TEDx Talk where do the kilograms go? (This is my rather clunky first attempt at explaining what I eventually published in The BMJ.) this is the free online calculator I used to balance my energy in/energy out equation in 2013

ABC Science Online: Surfing Scientist my website, packed with ideas I’ve nicked from all over the place

Professor Slo & Dr Mo: Slot Car vs hydrogen balloon

Curiosity Show YouTube Channel

Reminisce with Prof Julius Sumner Miller

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures®

CHEER UP! Evidence-based optimism

Optimism #1 – MORE PEACEFUL

The Better Angels of Our Nature  the book by Professor Steven Pinker (2011)

Steven Pinker’s 2015 Nobel Peace Forum Presentation with updates on some of the recent calamities

The surprising decline in violence Steven Pinker’s 20min TED Talk

Steven Pinker: A History of Violence 37min talk at the Singularity Summit

Violence Vanquished essay featuring the two graphs in my slides

The News: A User’s Manual Allain de Botton’s timely book about how to consume the news

 Optimism #2 – SMARTER: The Flynn Effect

The Mean IQ of Americans: Massive Gains 1932 to 1978 James Flynn (1984) Psychological Bulletin Vol. 95 No. 1

The Flynn Effect  summary of the hypotheses by Indiana University’s Dr Jonathan Plucker

Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents’ Prof James Flynn’s TED Talk

 Optimism #3 – NICER: The Bystander Effect

“The bystander-effect: A meta-analytic review on bystander intervention in dangerous and non-dangerous emergencies.” Fischer, P. et al. (2011) Psychological bulletin Vol. 137 No.4 *subscription required

Bystander Effect YouTube video (3min 35sec)

The Murder of Kitty Genovese Wikipedia page with good citations to further reading

Optimism #4 – RICHER

Retail Traded (Australian Bureau of Statistics) Lots of delicious data

Nail salons and massage parlours the new growth industries Weekend Financial Review article

Tattoos Catalyst story about getting inked and un-inked

Optimism #5 – HEALTHIER

Life expectancy trends Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Control, elimination, eradication and re-emergence of infectious diseases: getting the message right 2006 WHO Bulletin editorial

Hans Rossling’s TED Talks amazing public health statistics

Optimism #6 – TECHNOLOGY: Better, faster, cheaper

Slow motion smartphone video (embroidery hoop vs pen)

Pop a balloon inside a balloon with a magnifying glass

Lasers in Medicine International Society for Optics and Photonics Open access article

 Optimism #7 – SCIENCE: Unsolved Mysteries

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks why do we die?

Fun Fly Stick get one!

DIY Fun Fly Stick make your own (I once found the silvered plastic in a bait and tackle store in the DIY fly fishing area… Mylar Xmas tinsel won’t work)

Brian Schmidt donates $100k of his Nobel Prize money to Primary Connections

2 thoughts on “

  1. I am a primary school teacher who has had a life long love of science and have made it my job to share my l passion with my students and fellow teachers. Iam reading your book which has just been downloaded to my kindle…oh I love the science which lead to this feat… and I am fascinated. I have so many questions and I want to talk to someone☺
    Àre we born with a certain amount of fat cells? Are they the same for everyone or do we have a genetic predisposition to the amount we possess? I hope these aren’t silly questions. I feel like studying again when I retire ..I am that enthused. I will certainly be sharing this info with my students. Maybe you can cone down to Ulladulla sometime to do your oreso. You can surf here too. Thanks . Michelle

    1. Dear Michelle,

      Thanks you for this wonderful and amazing feedback! It means a lot to me, especially coming from a teacher.

      It was indeed once thought that the number of fat cells in the body remains constant after puberty and that they simply enlarge or shrink during weight gain and weight loss but, as you will read in Chapter 4, research conducted in 2010 showed this theory to be incorrect. New fat cells can grow and another study found that, once they’re there, it’s hard to make them go away… therefore, as always, prevention is better than cure.

      I hope to do another mini-tour of the beautiful south coast again in the next year or two. We will definitely let you know when planning begins.

      Thanks again and best regards,


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