Alan Finkel

Alan Finkel

Alan Finkel is an electrical engineer, neuroscientist and Chief Scientist of Australia.

Alan Finkel, a former publisher of Cosmos, is an electrical engineer, neuroscientist and Chief Scientist of Australia. He was Chancellor of Monash University from 2008 to 2015.

  • Low emissions on a long-distance flight

    Clean hydrogen is the obvious answer to reduce emissions from aviation, writes Alan Finkel.

    Up and down the length of the cabin, my fellow passengers in window seats are starting into the distance as our aerop...

    September 5, 2019
  • Autonomous cars: the science of geodesy

    Fundamental science will keep them on the right track.

    Driving from Rome to Tuscany in a rental car, we were at the mercy of the satellite navigation system. The first cris...

    July 7, 2019
  • Opinion: Pursuit of perfection will slow down the energy transition

    An imperfect but practical mix of renewable and conventional power sources is essential if the wo...

    The cliffs of Cape Grim tower over the breaking waves at the north-western tip of Tasmania. Perched above is a resear...

    February 14, 2019
  • A letter to a Year 10 student from Australia’s Chief Scientist

    The Australian Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, calls himself “the incurable engineer”. Here, he res...

    Dear Julie You lamented that you are anxious about your subject choices for Years 11 and 12. You’re not alone! These ...

    January 8, 2019
  • Rules to encourage well behaved artificial intelligence

    The march of technology has reduced global poverty, given us longer lives and delivered the infor...

    My spine still shivers when I remember the nuclear stand-off between the Soviet Union and the United States in 1962. ...

    August 21, 2018
  • Long live the power of lithium!

    The queen of rechargeable batteries shall reign for the foreseeable future.

    When it comes to making computer circuits, silicon is king. Contenders for the throne include optical switches, DNA, ...

    July 12, 2018
  • Body mass index miscalculation

    The body mass index has ignored the weight of evolution and elementary physics. Alan Finkel expla...

    For the first time in my life, to my horror, I noticed I had developed a spare tyre, so I put myself on a diet to get...

    June 25, 2018
  • We have to learn to trust AI. Here’s how

    Humans and AI can learn to get along, says Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. But it wil...

    Every day, I put my life in the hands of hundreds of people I will probably never meet. The men and women who designe...

    May 15, 2018
  • High-tech tools help architects find the artist within

    Innovation in materials and design has liberated creativity in the built environment, writes Alan...

    Take a stroll along Shanghai’s Bund, the traditional promenade along the western bank of the Huangpu River, and relis...

    April 22, 2018
  • The AC/DC current wars make a comeback

    The Tesla vs Edison battle of electric current is till on.

    The decisive battle took place in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair. On one side, the celebrated inventor Thomas Ediso...

    September 14, 2017
  • Lady with the logarithm: four lessons from Florence Nightingale

    Florence Nightingale saved more lives with her grasp of numbers than she did with her gift for nu...

    Who am I?I was born in 1820 into a wealthy and well-connected British family. As a child, my hobby was building stati...

    August 30, 2017
  • The future of hydrogen fuel

    Heaters and cookers may one day burn climate-friendly hydrogen instead of natural gas.

    When I was very young, our gas stove ran on town gas. I didn’t know it at the time but it was a mixture of hydrogen a...

    July 23, 2017
  • DNA sequencing in zero gravity with handheld nanotech

    A “pocket sequencer” promises to make DNA sequencing cheaper and more accessible, writes Alan FIn...

    Nanotechnology. When American engineer Eric Drexler coined this futuristic term in 1981, he had in mind molecule-size...

    May 8, 2017
  • Human ingenuity demolishes historical barriers – but not all

    We keep pushing the boundaries, but there are some limits that will remain out of reach, writes A...

    GREG WOOD / AFP / Getty ImagesWhen accepted limits are broken, I am astonished. Often what I thought were hard limits...

    December 22, 2016
  • The long and winding road that brought lasers to life

    Invention is less a straight superhighway and more a wandering path of twists and turns, writes A...

    The first researchers to work on lasers had no idea just how pervasive their technology would become.Luria Richard / ...

    October 25, 2016
  • Why $5 trillion is my new favourite number

    Relying on clean energy means we need a big investment in energy storage – but the numbers are d...

    But how much storage does the world actually need?Ashley Cooper / getty imagesMy new favourite number is US$5 trilli...

    August 9, 2016
  • Finding a sure cure for election dysfunction

    Delays with the federal vote count prove that Australia needs a new polling system. Alan Finkel l...

    A voter looks at the ballot paper at a voting station in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Beach on 2 July 2016.WILLIAM WEST...

    July 24, 2016
  • The physics event of a lifetime

    Gravitational waves give us an exciting new way to view the universe, writes Alan Finkel.

    If you were a gambler you would wonder at the extraordinary conflux of events. After eight years in development, Adva...

    April 4, 2016
  • The dream of perpetual motion

    Perpetual motion machines are, alas, no more than a beguiling fantasy, writes Alan Finkel.

    Everlasting energy? Not quite. – Atmos I have an Atmos clock in my office, built by the Swiss company Jaege...

    March 15, 2016
  • Anatomy of a start-up’s failure – what went wrong at Better Place

    Better Place was an Israeli start-up which, despite ample capital and a great business model, fai...

    In what has to be one of the most costly bankruptcies in startup history, in May 2013 the Israeli electric car charge...

    December 16, 2015
  • Banning killer robots

    When humans control killing machines it is harder to wage war, writes Alan Finkel.

    An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) taxis. The Pentagon has plans to expand combat air patrols flights by ...

    December 10, 2015
  • Comfortably alone in the Universe

    Alan Finkel questions whether the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos is worth th...

    Jeffery Phillips Some people hate to be alone. They like to think there must be somebody or something out t...

    October 26, 2015
  • Publisher’s note: A case for better science teaching

    Teenagers are opting out of science. So how can we make it relevant, asks Alan Finkel.

    Teenagers are opting out of science (see graph). Surveys point to various reasons, with one in particular that surpri...

    October 5, 2015
  • Race to store renewable energy

    More investment is needed in large-scale battery technology, says Alan Finkel.

    Solar and wind energy has become cheaper and more popular. The next step for renewable energy is the development of l...

    August 3, 2015
  • Don’t be afraid of your microwave

    Most households contain much greater hazards than this useful kitchen appliance, says Alan Finkel.

    Our microwave oven is a much appreciated companion, but some of our friends regard the microwave as a health hazard. ...

    June 15, 2015
  • Are electric cars green or black?

    Alan Finkel explains why he loves his electric car.

    I love driving my Nissan Leaf pure electric car. But in my home state of Victoria most of the electricity is produced...

    April 20, 2015
  • Why silicon computers rule

    Media reports often predict the silicon chip will soon be outdated - but the claims are far ahead...

    A 45-nanometre process 300 mm silicon wafer from Intel Japan. The processors have improved power efficiency and perfo...

    February 23, 2015

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