The Big Issue : Edition 445
www.ausaid.gov.au/volunteer Enrich: (to make life more meaningful). Australian Volunteers for International Development is an Australian Government initiative. Just like Geoff (pictured right), who is currently mentoring farmers in Fiji, you too can enrich your life by sharing your expertise overseas; while being supported with a modest living allowance, accommodation and airfares. RSVP to a free information session or FIND OUT MORE at: www.australianvolunteers.com or phone toll free 1800 331 292. Photo>HarjonoDjoyobisono THeBigissue8–21NOV2013 31 that I’d just finished a degree in physiology and so I said ‘Well, actually I think you’ve got that the wrong way round’. “The tea doesn’t clean your kidneys but, rather, your kidneys clean your blood. They filter one-and-a-half tonnes of blood every day – which is the weight of a car – and they remove 1.5kg of salt and then they throw all of it back into your body except for 80mg, which goes into your urine, because God made a mistake and we’re all just fish gone wrong.” The ABC gave him a regular gig on the spot. From there, Kruszelnicki has gone on to become a Member of the Order of Australia, a National Living Treasure, Sceptic of the Year and Father of the Year (he has three children). An exit survey at the University of Sydney, where Kruszelnicki is a Fellow, found that one in seven students chose a science career specifically because of him (scientificus overachieverus). He’s also worked as a doctor, a taxi driver, a mechanic and a labourer, and was an aspiring politician (he ran for the Senate for the Climate Change Coalition in the 2007 federal election). All of which is to say Kruszelnicki’s come a long way since his childhood as a refugee. Having migrated from Sweden, he spent much of his childhood in a refugee camp on the NSW– Victorian border. “I grew up as a kid who was basically picked on as a ‘reffo’ because the current paradigm was that the country was run by Protestants and Catholics, and so if you were a wog then you didn’t fit in,” he says. “My parents were concentration camp victims and they managed to get out of the war [and] over to Sweden, and then Russia began to get grumbly around Scandinavia. My father had been in Sachsenhausen concentration camp – he was a refugee smuggler, smuggling Jews out of Nazi-occupied Germany... My mother was in Auschwitz.” Has this background shaped his frenetic approach to life? “You can always get more money but you can’t get more time,” he says, pausing for perhaps the first time in nearly an hour. Then he’s off again, espousing a recent study by the University of California on ethics and wealth, and how the two are inversely related. (“In so many of the tests, the wealthy people didn’t have ethics. They’ll cheat and lie... They did seven studies looking at intersections in California and in one study the Mercedes would always be more likely to push through illegally than the poor people’s cars.”) It’s a topic he feels passionately about. And finally, perhaps, we have our most likely classification for the good doctor: scientificus populus. Scientist for the people. by Felicity McLean » Game of Knowns is out now.