Changing faces at Westcourt
Ann Curran has joined the Westcourt Staff. She will
work with Max Montisci in Accounts and manage IT matters
for the Province Office. Welcome Ann!
Diane Richards has concluded her work at Westcourt
after 12 years of very dedicated service. We wish Diane well
as she moves on with her life, following a period of travel.
Richard Mavros (Mav) has announced his engagement
to Katie Bertram. There is no date yet for the wedding.
Mav's face has been as shiny as the top of his head all week!
Quiet achievers from Christian Brothers' schools
One of the great joys of teaching is in looking
back at the lives one has influenced, many times in ways that
were not imagined at the time. The latest Rostrevor Magazine,
Red and Black, carries a couple of inspiring stories of old
boys who have made a quiet contribution to the betterment
of our world. We reproduce here the story of Dr Roger Francey
(pictured below), a physicist whose contribution has been
in environmental monitoring.
WAS BRIEFLY REPORTED in Red & Black in November 2003
that Roger Francey ('58) had been granted a $7million fellowship.
The news prompted Red & Black to invite Roger to contribute
a little more about his lifelong work and that is what is
presented here. Roger was Captain of the School in 1958 as
well as Dux. He received the Maths I and II awards and was
a member of the 1st XVIII and 1st XI, both teams being captained
by David David. He was also a gymnast of some skill.
Roger was a boarder from Poochera on the West Coast.
The invitation to contribute to Red&Black coincided with
my retirement. CSIRO was unable to meet commitments to the
Federation Fellowship reported in the November 2003 edition
of Red & Black and now key members of the fellowship team
have been snapped up by overseas institutions. My own reaction
is mixed - disappointment at a missed opportunity to play
a key role in research of global importance, relief at the
lifting of responsibilities that would have stretched me beyond
a conventional 'use-by date', and interest at other opportunities
that almost always emerge from changes in circumstance. (It
is consoling that the abandoned task is of such importance
that it will be done somewhere, sometime, in the next decade).
After leaving Rostrevor in 1958, I secured an Honours degree
in physics at the University of Tasmania. This time is remembered
more for football rather than academic achievement -a brief
stint with St Virgil's old boys, then with University, a best
and fairest, captain, Blue, all-Australian selection, association
best and fairest and State amateur squad. A 1962 move to Sandy
Bay in the TFL yielded a best & fairest and runner up
association best first-year player (to future triple-Brownlow
medalist Ian Stewart). A groin injury put a sudden halt to
football, but meant I resumed gymnastics and in 1964, spent
a year at Mawson, Antarctica as Cosmic Ray Physicist. Francey
Hill (perhaps the least conspicuous topographical feature
ever named in Antarctica?) is a legacy of this time.
In 1966, a Commonwealth PhD scholarship facilitated my joining
an Adelaide-Tasmania X-ray Astronomy team, at the same time
persuading a beautiful young Melbourne woman (my wife of 38
years) to share my life. Astronomy took me to Adelaide University
for two 6-9 month stints (briefly playing footy with Rostrevor
Old Boys), to Bristol UK, and to rocket launches at Woomera
(a highlight was our discovery of the first variable x-ray
star1), Hawaii and Hudson's Bay in the Arctic. The last two
took place during a 3-year stint, as a post-doctoral fellow,
with Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada (during which
I was privileged to lead their Cricket Club teams to their
first ever championships).
In 1973 I relinquished an offer to work on the first X-ray
satellite (for reasons to do with not wanting to raise a son
and daughter in New York, and an ailing father back home),
and joined CSIRO in Melbourne to work on atmospheric turbulence
(about which I knew practically nothing). This well-established
field had little potential to surprise and after 3-4 moderately
productive years I managed to secure support to mount a series
of tree-ring expeditions into the ancient Tasmanian rainforests2.
The hope was that isotopic information stored in many thousand
year-old Huon pines would provide clues about increasing atmospheric
carbon dioxide (CO2).
We uncovered reasons why this approach would fail, bringing
to an end similar international studies (however the expeditions
yielded a near-continuous sequence of annual wood samples
extending over the last 10,000 years and beyond, allowing
collaborators to extend radiocarbon dating and demonstrate
the unique nature of recent global warming). Meanwhile, at
the small hillside community of Upper Beaconsfield, I registered
as owner-builder and built a family home; I served as chairman
of the local progress association, founding editor of a surviving
community newsletter The Village Bell; and was honoured with
"Citizen of the Year" in 1981. At CSIRO we refocused,
and in a scientific coup, accurately reconstructed atmospheric
levels of greenhouse gases and isotopes over the last 1000
years from air trapped in Antarctic ice.
The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station3, sited at the
NW tip of Tasmania, is Australia's principal commitment to
Global Atmosphere Watch4. It has frequent exposure to strong
winds off the Southern Oceans ('the roaring forties'). As
first scientific director at Cape Grim during 1982-1983 I
oversaw transfer of measurements into a permanent building
and expansion of the science program through national and
international collaboration. The whole family enjoyed living
in Smithton. By the late 1980s, Cape Grim was described as
the premier station in the GAW network, and by Minister Barry
Jones as the 'jewel in the crown' of his federal science portfolio.
My Cape Grim CO2 isotope program, complemented by the ice
core results, provides the best constraint on year-to-millennia
isotopic variability in models of the global carbon cycle.
Meanwhile, in the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, we lost our
rented-out Upper Beaconsfield home (and the Village Bell proved
a community boon). With recognition by the federal Government
in the late 1980s of global warming, I was able to upgrade
CSIRO measurements of gases capable of influencing climate.
This resulted in GASLAB (Global Atmospheric Sampling Laboratory),
providing the most comprehensive monitoring of greenhouse
gases in the Southern Hemisphere.
We launched innovative calibration and comparison activities
to aid merging data from different laboratories around the
world. Important new laboratories in France and Germany are
closely modelled on GASLAB. A GASLABdeveloped 'LoFlo CO2 analyser'
outperforms conventional analysers, with units currently being
delivered to France, the European Commission, Germany, Korea,
Malaysia and Japan. Both the Federation Fellowship and the
2001 Victoria Prize ($50,000 shared with Paul Steele) recognised
GASLAB and the LoFlo development and applications. Other achievements
over the last 30 years have been supervising 11 post-graduate
students (from Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney and Monash Universities)
and authorship on 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers and
many more reports.
For the next 6 months some nice overseas offers are on hold
and top priority goes to redressing the neglect that has accumulated
with regard to family, home and exploration of the Australian
outback. An honorary CSIRO fellowship means I will continue
unfinished work, training and participate on two European
science advisory panels. For most of the time with CSIRO,
I have been privileged to pursue objectives which have addressed
problems that coincided with my own values and interests.
CSIRO provided intellectual freedom and the opportunity to
combine work and ethical values in a nonpolitical way. Rostrevor
provided a key ingredient; I attribute to it the confidence
to tackle important tasks requiring as yet undiscovered methods,
and resources well beyond those immediately realizable. The
message that stuck was the obligation to do your best whatever
the circumstance, and to be satisfied with your best; the
message stuck in large part because of the integrity and ardent
commitment of the Brothers.
These complemented values from my parents: from my father,
a 1920's refugee from Irish sectarian violence and a skilled
pugilist, tolerance, honesty, idealism and humour; from my
mother add the dismissal of doubt.
A strong lifelong motivation has been to redress some of
the enormous damage that our species inflicts on the earth
and the life-forms that we share it with. X-ray Astronomy,
apart from yielding astonishing new insights into physics
and the workings of the universe, provided a perspective on
the smallness, fragility and uniqueness of our planet. Previously,
seeds of concern about the human impact on fragile environments
were sown during my time at Rostrevor - this was at time when
some 70% of Eyre Peninsula was being cleared, with government
endorsement, as a droughtrelief measure for farmers. I still
remember the shock of an otherwise very enjoyable holiday
stay in the mid- North - it was an ecological desert by comparison
with the rich complexity of a seemingly limitless arid bush
at home. Tim Flannery5, Director of the Adelaide Museum (and
an old boy of St Bede's in Mentone, Victoria), gives eloquent
words to my slow-to-crystallise concerns.
- Exploring the X-ray Universe, P.Charles & F.Seward,
Cambridge University Press (1995) p175
- Explorers of the Southern Sky, R. Haynes et al.,
Cambridge University Press (1996) p349.
- Isotopes in Tree-rings - The Stanley
River Expeditions, R. Francey et al. (1984) CSIRO Division
of Atmospheric Research Technical Paper, No.4, 86 pp
- Cape Grim is now operated by the Bureau
of Meteorology, in cooperation with CSIRO
- A United Nations Environment Program, coordinated
by the World meteorological Organisation.
- The Future Eaters, Tim Flannery, Reed Books, Australia
Searching the heavens
TRINITY COLLEGE in Perth has a magnificent astronomical
telescope mounted on its roof. They also have a special webpage
providing a fascinating set of photographs taken by students
and staff of the heavens.
The main telescope is a Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain 31.5
cm (12.5") telescope built by Star Instruments of the
This is a high technology design and incorporates features
such as superb optics delivering coma-free images, carbon
fibre tubing that removes thermal tube flexure, and mirror
air circulation fans.
telescope is connected to a highly accurate and manoeuvrable
mount that utilizes precision-machined gears and servo motors
that can boast a pointing accuracy of one arc minute.
The observatory also has a state of the art digital camera
and the entire observatory is able to be operated by remote
control over the internet. This means the students and staff
needn't get their feet cold and can do most of their work
from the comfort of their loungerooms or classrooms.
The photograph at left is of the Tarantula Nebula taken by
Trinity student William Skevington (aged 14). It is a combination
of three 30 second exposures taken through red, green and
blue filters and combined using MaximDL Software.
You can find out much more at the Observatory website which
you can find here: http://observatory.trinity.wa.edu.au/Observatory/observatory.html
Improving the Education of Boys
NELSON, the Federal Minister for Education, recently visited
CBC Adelaide to promote a new initiative aimed at improving
the academic performance of boys in Australian schools.
Mr Nelson is pictured with Federal MP Trish Worth presenting
Brother Patrick Cronin (Principal of CBC) with a plaque to
recognise the College's inclusion in the Boys' Education
Lighthouse Schools (BELS) initiative. Christian Brothers
College and its partner schools (Endeavour College, Blackfriars
Priory School, Adelaide High School and Prescott College)
will work to develop strategies that improve boys' academic
motivation. Focusing mainly on Year 8 students, the project
will create partnerships with universities in order to build
the leadership potential of classroom teachers in the area
of boys' education.
mount indigenous displays
At the recent Indigenous Reference Group meeting, Noel Mifsud
and John Jacky took copies of the Reconciliation statement
to share with ministries in SA/WA respectively.
Schools are now in the process of mounting displays and our
photo shows part of the indigenous display at CBC Adelaide.
Rostrevor has published images of their display in the College
Christian Brothers' Agricultural
Spreading their wings
The Year 9 and 10 boys from Tardun certainly "spread
their wings" in their week of work experience in the
last week of term. They were to be found in diverse locations
all around the State as the following photos show...
Aaron Worsdell and wombat at Cavesham Wild Life Park
Shaun Forsyth with Wendy Mann at Geraldton Air Charter.
Jason Morrissey at Westrac the home of Catepilla earthmoving
Tim White at Roleystone Auto
Matt Jones after cleaning cages at Eastern Hills Veterinary
James Brice behind the bar at the Vines.
And guess what? If you managed to get this far you've reached
the last page of this newsletter. Best wishes 'til next time.