M. Saadat Noury
by M. Saadat Noury

INTRODUCTION: Karl Kruszelnicki, aka Dr Karl, is the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at the University of Sydney in Australia, and lectures at schools throughout Australia. He has also been a scientist, a medical doctor, a bio medical engineer, a commentator, a film-maker, a taxi driver, a car mechanic, a TV weatherman, and many others. He enjoys telling people about the wonders and curiosities of science through the radio, TV, Internet, and his many books. In this article the life story of Dr Karl, his IG Nobel Prize, his Notes on Iran, and his Great Moments in Science will be presented and reviewed.

HIS LIFE: He was born in Helsingborg (a city in the southern part of Sweden) in 1948. He presently lives with his wife Mary in Sidney, and holds the Order of Australia. The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established by Queen Elizabeth II on 14 February 1975 recognizing Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service.

His full name is one of the longest in the world which reads as Karl Sven Woytek Sas Konkovitch Matthew Kruszelnicki. He attended high school at Edmund Rice College in Wollongong, a coastal city in south of Sydney. Karl Kruszelnicki received a BS, majoring in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Wollongong. After he designed and built a machine to pick up electrical signals from the human retina, he got a Master of Biomedical Engineering degree from the University of New South Wales and also received a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Sydney in 1986.

In 2001 due to his findings on belly button fluff (see below), Dr Karl received an IG Nobel Prize, a prize which is given each year for the achievement that first makes people laugh, and then makes them think.
Since 2002, Dr Karl has been the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at the University of Sydney in Australia. The position of the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow is named after American Science Professor Julius Sumner Miller (1909-1987) who was best known for his work on children's television programs.

In 2003, Dr Karl received the Australian Father of the Year Award (AFYA). AFYA is an Australian award to honor and showcase a fine example of Australian fatherhood; awardees have all been high profile community members.

In 2007, Dr Karl was an unsuccessful candidate for the Australian Senate in the Australian federal election.

Dr Karl has authored and published many books on various topics, and to name a few they are Science is Golden, Please Explain, More Great Myths in Science, Great Myth-conceptions, Dr. Karl's Collection of Great Australian Facts & Firsts, etc.

Currently, Dr Karl lectures at schools throughout Australia and works as a celebrity scientist with regular weekly radio and television programs in Australia and the United Kingdom.

HIS IG NOBEL PRIZE: One of the most famous achievements of Dr Karl was his part in a research project on belly button fluff, for which he received an IG Nobel Prize. The belly button fluff, aka navel lint, is an accumulation of fluffy fibers in one's navel. Many people find that, at the beginning and end of the day, a small lump of fluff has appeared in the navel cavity. The reasons for this have been the subject of idle speculation for many years but in 2001, Dr. Karl undertook a systematic research project to determine the ins and outs of navel lint. Here are some of his findings: 1. Navel lint consists primarily of stray fibers from one's clothing, mixed with some dead skin cells and strands of body hair. 2. Women experience less navel lint because of their finer and shorter body hairs. Conversely, older men experience it more because of their coarser and more numerous hairs. 3. Navel lint's color appears in a characteristic blue-gray, and the color is most likely an average of all clothing colors worn. 4. The existence of navel lint is entirely harmless, and requires no corrective action.

HIS NOTES ON IRAN: Here are some pieces in which Dr Karl has referred to Iran:

Evidences for the Brewing Beer and Making Wine in Ancient Iran: In his article published on 19 July 2001, Dr Karl noted that, "We have been swigging beer for at least 6000 years. There is chemical evidence for this in the 6000-year-old Sumerian trading post of Godin Tepe, in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. This trading post later became a fortress on what would become the fabulous Silk Road. In 1991, in one of the rooms of the trading post, archaeologists found chemical evidence for wine. In 1992, in other jars in the same room, they found chemical evidence that beer had been stored in these jars". It should be noted that Godin Tepe (in Persian: Gowdin Tapeh) is a prehistoric settlement in western Iran, situated in the valley of Kangavar in the province of Kermanshah. Today, the town of Kangavar is best known for the archaeological remains of Temple of Anahita (See the Article on "My Iran, a Poem as a Road to Various Locations" written by this author).
It should be also noted that the earliest known chemical evidence of wine and beer in the world was firstly reported by the researchers in the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA) at The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, USA. In 1992, archaeological chemist Dr. Patrick E. McGovern and organic chemist Dr. Rudolph H. Michel, the researchers in MASCA, analyzed an organic residue from inside a pottery vessel dated 3500-3100 BC from the site of Gowdin Tapeh in the Zagros Mountains of Iran and their findings provided the earliest known chemical evidence of beer in the world. They carried out a standard chemical technique named Feigl Spot Test (FST) on a pale yellowish residue that filled grooves within an ancient jug; the tests were positive for oxalate ion. Calcium oxalate (the calcium salt from the oxalate ion) is a major component of "beer-stone" and settles out on the surfaces of fermentation and storage tanks of barley beer, as the researchers believe occurred with the ancient residue. Prior to that finding, Drs. McGovern and Michel (MASCA researchers) with the collaboration of Virginia Badler in 1991 had obtained chemical evidence of the earliest known wine from jars from the same site and even the same room at Gowdin Tapeh.

In the article of Festival Moments of Sadeh, this author noted that, "During the Sassanid Dynasty (224-651), bonfire was set up and the Zoroastrian clergies used to lead the prayers specific to fire. People would dance around the fire, and wine, a luxury at the time, was served commonly and like other Zoroastrian ceremonies, the occasion ended with fun and happiness".

The Scud Missiles Used by Iran: In his article published on 03 April 2003, Dr Karl studied the history of the Third World Missiles and wrote that "After WW II, the Soviets developed missiles, beginning with the SS-1 Scud, up to around the SS-25 Sickle. So the infamous Scud was the very first Soviet ballistic missile, the SS-1. This rudimentary missile had a range up to 300 km, and was actually put in the field with nuclear warheads in Eastern Europe from the 1950s until the 1980s. The Scud came in a few different varieties. Egypt bought a bunch of SS-1 Scud B missiles, and fired at them at Israel in the October 1973 war. With that act, it became the first poor country to fire ballistic missiles in anger, as well as the first country ever to fire the Scud missile. North Korea then picked up some of the Scud Bs from Egypt in 1981. The North Koreans then spent 3 years reverse engineering the Scud Bs to make their own Scud Mod A, which was basically a straight copy of the original Soviet Scud B. They then went a little further, and modified it to make the Scud Mod B. It had slightly lighter weight, and slightly more powerful engines, so the range was increased from 300 km to 320 km. But the accuracy was as poor as the original Soviet Scuds, with half the missiles landing in a circle about 1 km across. They exported 300 North Korean Scud Mod Bs to Iran. North Korea exported Scud Bs back to Egypt as well as to Iran and Syria, and then sold the improved Scud Cs to Iran, Libya and Syria. The Scuds that were delivered to Iran were fired at Iraq during the terrible 1988 War of the Cities; in that War some 600 Scud missiles were fired between Iraq and Iran. Iraq got its Scuds directly from the Soviet Union during the 1980s".

HIS GREAT MOMENTS IN SCIENCE: Dr Karl created the Website of Great Moments in Science many years ago. Those moments celebrate all sides of science; from sublime moments of deep thought to the most arcane and bizarre research imaginable. The universe is a strange and wonderful place and, in his Great Moments, Dr Karl has scaled the highest peaks as well as turned over the pebbles to see what is underneath. In the Great Moments in Science, he wrote articles on "We are more microbe than man", "Starlight but a twinkle in your eye", "Toxic plastics by-product of poisoned pen", "Fat-fighting lemons have sour twist", "Velcro space race story tears apart", "Redheads' extinction explanation splitting hairs", "Re-growth mystery reborn", and many more.

On 10 March 2009, in his article entitled as "We are more microbe than man", Dr Karl noted that only about 10 per cent of the cells in our body actually belong to us. These add up to about 1:10 trillion cells. The other 90 per cent of the cells in our body belong to other living creatures. The vast majority of these other living creatures are the 10:100 trillion single-celled beasties (such as bacteria) living in our gut. In total, these bacteria and their little friends weigh about 1.5kg. The reason that they weigh so little, even though there are so many of them, is that these cells are much smaller than human cells. According to Dr Karl, each of us is a strange bacterial-human hybrid, and on a cellular level, we are more microbe than man.

EPILOGUE: It seems that Dr Karl has a body language of his own; a style which is simple and it can be easily understood by the ordinary people. His personality is also merely unique, and he appears to know a lot. In Persian Culture, an individual like Dr Karl is highly respected and many Iranians call such a person as the one who owns and navigate in an Ocean of Knowledge and Science (in Persian: Bahrol Oloom, Bessyar Daneshmand).

It is hard not to like this guy!

BBC Website (2001): Online News on Fluff Gazing.
Kruszelnicki, K. S. (2001):  Online Article on "Room Spins when Drunk", (Published on 19 July 2001).
Kruszelnicki, K. S. (2003):  Online Article on "Third World Missiles", (Published on 03 April 2003).
Kruszelnicki, K. S. (2008):  Online Articles on Great Moments in Science.
Kruszelnicki, K. S. (2009):  Online Articles on "We are More Microbe than Man", (Published on 10 March 2009).
Penn Museum Website (2007): Online Research Note on Earliest Known Chemical Evidence of Beer.
Saadat Noury, M. (2008): Online Article on Festival Moments of Sadeh.
Saadat Noury, M. (2008): Online Article on My Iran, a Poem as a Road to Various Locations.
Saadat Noury, M. (2009): Online Articles on Missing Moments.
Website of University of Sydney (2007): Online News of the School of Physics: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2009): Online Notes on Karl Kruszelnicki, Helsingborg, Navel Lint, and Order of Australia.



more from M. Saadat Noury
M. Saadat Noury

Thanks to Goltermeh & Bajenaghe Naghi

by M. Saadat Noury on

Thank you for your comments.

bajenaghe naghi

M. Saadat Noury jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Very interesting post, thank you.

With most people striving to specialise in one thing, it is so refreshing to know that real geniuses with multi dimensional education and interests, like Dr. Karl, do exist.  


About Beer & Wine!

by goltermeh on

 I also liked his note on the Brewing Beer and Making Wine in Ancient Iran. Yeah, it is hard not to like this guy!


Hi Dr Noury

by goltermeh on

I enjoyed your article; thank you for the info.