Karl Kruszelnicki

Karl Kruszelnicki

Karl Kruszelnicki
AM, BSc, MSc, M.Biomed.Eng., M.B.B.S.
Karl Kruszelnicki holding a copy of his book Sensational Moments in Science
Dr Karl at a University of Sydney open day on 26 August 2006
Born Karl Sven Woytek Sas Konkovitch Matthew Kruszelnicki[1]
(1948-03-20) 20 March 1948
Helsingborg, Sweden
Residence Sydney, Australia[2]
Other names Dr Karl
Education Edmund Rice College, West Wollongong
Alma mater University of Wollongong
Occupation Science journalist, author and broadcaster
Years active 1981–present
Known for Popular science
Notable work Great Moments in Science
Home town Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Television Quantum
Sleek Geeks
Title The Julius Sumner Miller Fellow, Science Foundation for Physics, University of Sydney
Term 1994–present
Awards Member of the Order of Australia(2006)
Ig Nobel Prize (2002)
Australian Father of the Year (2003)
Website .comDrKarl
.au.netDr Karl on ABC

Karl Kruszelnicki AM (born 20 March 1948),[3] often referred to as Dr Karl,[4] is a well-known Australian science communicator and populariser,[4] who is best known as an author and science commentator on Australian radio and television.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mathematics, a Master of Biomedical Engineering, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, he has studied Computer Science as well as reading for a Master of Science (Qualifying) degree in Astrophysics. He has worked as a physicist, a tutor/research assistant, a filmmaker, a car mechanic, a road manager, a taxi driver, a scientific officer in a hospital, a T-shirt manufacturer, a doctor, an academic, an author, a public speaker, a television presenter and reporter, a script writer, a weather man, a radio panelist, science reporter, writer and presenter, and a script consultant.[5]

Kruszelnicki is the Julius Sumner Miller Fellow in the Science Foundation for Physics at the School of Physics, University of Sydney.[6]


  • Early life 1
  • Education 2
  • Journalism, television, and radio 3
    • Television 3.1
    • Radio & podcasts 3.2
    • Journalism 3.3
  • Politics 4
  • Recognition and awards 5
  • Writing 6
    • Published works 6.1
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Kruszelnicki was born in Sweden, to Polish parents. His mother's background was hidden from him for a long time, with his mother having told him that she was Swedish and a Lutheran but was, in fact, Jewish. Both of his parents were Holocaust survivors.[1]

The Kruszelnicki family emigrated to Australia when Karl was two years of age. The family were tenanted at the migrant camp in Bonegilla, Victoria for the first three years[7][8] before they settled in the city of Wollongong, NSW where the young Karl grew up. After high school, his first job was as a ditch-digger in the summer between the end of high school and the start of university, using pick and shovel to dig and lay sewerage pipes in the Wollongong suburb of Dapto.[9]

After University, the 19-year-old's first job as a physicist was working for a steel works in his home town of Wollongong where he had to test the strength of steel made for use in Melbourne's West Gate Bridge, which was under construction at that time. Kruszelnicki designed a machine to test the steel but its results suggested that the steel did not meet specifications. His boss at the time asked him to recheck the results but when the steel continually failed to meet the specifications his boss asked him to fake the data. Kruszelnicki refused and eventually quit.[9] (The West Gate Bridge collapsed during construction but the fault was found to have occurred due to structural failure not due to the quality of the steel used.)


  • 1960 to 1964: Secondary school education at Edmund Rice Christian Brothers College in Wollongong, New South Wales. Received a Commonwealth Scholarship for university.
  • 1965 to 1967: Tertiary education at the Wollongong campus of the University of New South Wales, studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics
  • 1968 to 1969: Master of Science (qualifying) in astrophysics at the Wollongong campus of the University of New South Wales. (MSc (Qual.)).
  • 1977: Studied as a miscellaneous student in computer science at the University of New South Wales.
  • 1978: Commenced studies for a Master of Biomedical Engineering degree at the University of New South Wales (part-time).
  • 1979–1980: Full-time student at the University of New South Wales. Received two scholarships – Commonwealth Government Scholarship in 1979 and Lions Fellowship in 1980. Studied under Peter Gouras in January and February 1980 at Columbia University's Presbyterian Physician's and Surgeon's Hospital in New York to gain extra knowledge in the field of electroretinography (detecting electrical signals from the human retina). Designed and built an electroretinograph. This device is still in use at the Prince of Wales Hospital, in association with the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation. Completed degree of Master of Biomedical Engineering. (M. Biomed. E.).
  • 1981 to 1984: Degree in medicine and surgery at the University of Sydney. Awarded the Grafton Elliot Smith Memorial Prize for Anatomy in 1982. Awarded the Alexander James Scholarship for Community Medicine in 1984.
  • 1982: Elected as a member of the Australian Institute of Physics (MAIP).
  • 1986: Completed Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. (MB, BS).[5]

Journalism, television, and radio

Australian Skeptics Convention held in Sydney, November 2014. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki speaking on "Great moments in science".


Kruszelnicki wrote and presented the first series of Quantum (replaced by Catalyst) in 1985. As a science communicator and presenter, Dr Karl appears on Channel 7's Weekend Sunrise programme & on ABC television. From early 2008 to 2010 he co-hosted a TV series of Sleek Geeks with Adam Spencer.

Kruszelnicki fronts the Roads and Traffic Authority microsleep awareness campaign and presents segments on The Weather Channel.

Due to his fame, Dr Karl has had cameo appearances in a number of television series, including Pizza and on Neighbours. In the Neighbours episode, he was confused with the Dr Karl character of that series.

Radio & podcasts

Dr Karl does a number of weekly radio shows. His hour-long show on ABC radio station Triple J has been going on in one form or another since 1981. This weekly science talkback show, is broadcast on Thursday mornings from 11am to 12 noon and attracts up to 300,000 listeners; it is also available as a podcast.[10]

Dr Karl also often helps with other science and education Triple J promotions, such as the Sleek Geek Week roadshow with Adam Spencer and Caroline Pegram. He and Adam Spencer release the Sleek Geeks podcast regularly (about once a week).[11]

In the United Kingdom, he appears on a live weekly late-night link-up on BBC Radio 5 Live's Up All Night, usually with Rhod Sharp (Thursdays 03:00 - 04:00 UK time), answering science questions.[12]


He writes regular science stories for Australian Geographic and National Geographic Kids magazines.


Kruszelnicki was an unsuccessful candidate for the Australian Senate in the 2007 Australian federal election. He was placed number two on the Climate Change Coalition ticket in New South Wales.[13] Kruszelnicki made the decision to enter the world of politics because he wanted to trade the influence he already had on the world of science, for actual power and the ability to influence things inside the parliament. He likens this attempt to people such as Peter Garrett who used his public influence to successfully move into the world of politics.[4] He now reflects that his decision to run was made without thinking things through, and he immediately realised that his prior work and family commitments would clash with this new commitment. He regards this time as a great learning experience, especially with regard to the medias and the negative response they had to him personally.[4] Science communicator Robyn Williams wrote this about Kruszelnicki's political career: "Personally I hope Dr Karl, who is standing for the Climate Change Coalition in the Senate, gets nowhere in politics, however worthy his intentions. His influence on air, in books and newspapers is tremendous, and to be similarly successful in politics he would have to combine the talents of Schwarzenegger, Mandela and Hillary Clinton. But it is as a mentor we should treasure our most visible science sprier." [4][14]

Recognition and awards

In 1994 at the Michael Daley Awards for Science, Technology and Engineering Journalism, Kruszelnicki won the awards for Best Entry (print or broadcast) relating to the topic “Remote Sensing”, the field of the 1995 Australia Prize, Best Radio Entry (news, feature or documentary) for “Tsunamis” and “Science Talkback” (joint award, shared with Elizabeth Finkel of Ockham’s Razor).[5]

In 2000, the Australian Financial Review Internet Awards awarded him the Best Science and Technology Website.[5]

In 2002, the earliest usage of the word selfie appeared in Karl Kruszelnicki's 'Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum', an Australian internet forum (ABC Online) on 13 September 2002.[15][16] One of Kruszelnicki's more notable undertakings was his part in a research project on belly button fluff, for which he received an Ig Nobel Prize in 2002.

He received the Australian Father of the Year award in 2003. In the 2001 Honours list, he was awarded the Centenary Medal "for major service in raising public awareness of the importance of science and technology".[17]

In the 2006 Honours list, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia.[18][19]

In 2007, the Australian Skeptics recognized him as the Australian Skeptic Of The Year.[4][20]

In 2012, Kruszelnicki was named as a National Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).[21]

Also in 2012, Main-belt asteroid 18412 Kruszelnicki was named in his honour.[22]

In 2014, Readers Digest readers voted Kruszelnicki as the ninth most trusted person in Australia[23]


As of mid-2015, Kruszelnicki has written 36 books, (with more on the way) along with numerous lecture series (using material that often ends up in his books, or vice versa). Some of these lecture series and books have been televised for events such as Australia's National Science Week, with him supplying voice-overs and sometimes appearing in claymation. Kruszelnicki's earlier work focused on interesting scientific curiosities, but recently his writing has moved towards the theme of scientific myths and misconceptions, a term which was already in use by the magazine Fortean Times,[24] but which Kruszelnicki also came up with independently.[4]

Published works

  • Latest Great Moments in Science, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Enterprises, Sydney, Australia, ISBN 0-7333-0144-4.
  • Spacescape, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, (Australia), 1992, ISBN 0-7295-1100-6.
  • Absolutely Fabulous Moments in Science, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Enterprises, Sydney, Australia, 1994, ISBN 0-7333-0407-9.
  • Sensational Moments in Science, Australian Broadcasting Corporation Enterprises, Sydney, Australia, 1995, ISBN 0-7333-0456-7.
  • Pigeon Poo the Universe & Car Paint – and other awesome science moments, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 1996, ISBN 0-7322-5723-9.
  • Flying Lasers, Robofish and Cities of Slime – and other brain-bending science moments, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 1997, ISBN 0-7322-5874-X.
  • Dr Karl's Collection of Great Australian Facts & Firsts
1. Ears, Gears and Gadgets, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 1997, ISBN 0-207-19610-9.
2. Forests, Fleece & Prickly Pears, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 1997, ISBN 0-207-19611-7.
3. Flight, Food & Thingummygigs, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 1997, ISBN 0-207-19612-5.
  • Munching Maggots, Noah's Flood and TV Heart Attacks and other cataclysmic science moments, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 1998, ISBN 0-7322-5858-8.
  • Fidgeting Fat, Exploding Meat & Gobbling Whirly Birds – New Moments 4, 1999.
  • Q&A With Dr. K – Why It Is So. Headless Chickens, Bathroom Queues and Belly Button Blues, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2001, ISBN 0-7322-5855-3.
  • Dr. Karl's Collection of Great Australian Facts & Firsts, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2002, ISBN 0-207-19860-8.
  • Bumbreath, Botox and Bubbles and other Fully Sick Science Moments, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2003, ISBN 0-7322-6715-3.
  • Great Mythconceptions – Cellulite, Camel Humps and Chocolate Zits, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2004, ISBN 0-7322-8062-1.
  • Dis Information and Other Wikkid Myths: More Great Myths In Science, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2005, ISBN 0-7322-8060-5.
  • It Ain't Necessarily So Bro, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2006, ISBN 0-7322-8061-3.
  • Please Explain, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia, 2007, ISBN 0-7322-8535-6.
  • Science Is Golden, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia 2008 ISBN 978-0-732-28536-4
  • Never Mind the Bullocks, Here's the Science, HarperCollins Publishers Pty Ltd, Australia 2009, ISBN 0-7322-8537-2.
  • Dinosaurs Aren't Dead, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2010 ISBN 978-0-330-42579-7
  • Curious and Curiouser, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2010 ISBN 978-1-742-61170-9
  • Brain Food, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2011 ISBN 978-1-742-61039-9
  • 50 Shades of Grey Matter, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2012 ISBN 978-1-742-61138-9
  • Game of Knowns, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2013 ISBN 978-1-742-61334-5
  • Dr Karl's Big Book of Science Stuff and Nonsense, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2013 ISBN 978-1-742-61368-0
  • House of Karls, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2014 ISBN 978-1-743-51951-6
  • Dr Karl's Short Back & Science, Pan Macmillan Pty Limited, Australia 2015 ISBN 978-1-743-53334-5

See also


  1. ^ a b "Dr Karl Kruszelnicki Transcript". ABC. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Author: Karl Kruszelnicki". Australia:  
  3. ^ [2]. Retrieved 27 April 2015
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Skepticality Episode 71".  
  5. ^ a b c d "CURRICULUM VITAE: Karl Sven Kruszelnicki" (PDF). http://drkarl.com. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Dr Karl Kruszelnicki — The Julius Sumner Miller Fellow – Physics – The University of Sydney. Physics.usyd.edu.au (3 May 2010). Retrieved on 22 October 2011.
  7. ^ Peter Wilmoth (21 November 2013). "Lifestyle | INTERVIEW: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki". Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Talking Heads - Dr Karl Kruszelnicki". ABC website. 9 June 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Kate Jones (25 November 2013). "My first job: From ditch-digger to celebrity scientist".  
  10. ^ "Dr Karl on triplej (ABC Science)". Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Sleek Geeks podcast". Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "BBC - Podcasts and Downloads - 5 live Science". 
  13. ^ Dr Karl to Run for the Senate on Climate Change. Climatechangecoalition.com.au. Retrieved on 22 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Australasian Science Magazine Nov/Dec 2007" (PDF).  
  15. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is...". OxfordWords blog. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "A brief history of the selfie". ABC Science blog. ABC Online. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "It's an honour: Australia celebrating Australians". http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Myth-buster Dr Karl makes honours list".  
  19. ^ "It's an honour: Australia celebrating Australians". http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 26 August 2014. For service to the community through promoting greater understanding and knowledge of the application of science to daily living as an author and science commentator on radio and television. 
  20. ^ "Merit Awards". http://www.skeptics.com.au/. Australian Skeptics Inc. Skeptic of the Year. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  21. ^ "Seven added to national living treasure list". Lauren Farrow (Canberra Times). 5 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  22. ^ JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 18412 Kruszelnicki (1993 LX)
  23. ^ Flynn, Hazel (July 2014). "Trusted People 2014". http://www.readersdigest.com.au/. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Fortean Times. "Mythconceptions". 

External links

  • Official website
  • Dr Karl on the ABC website
  • Dr Karl's page with the University of Sydney Science Foundation
  • TAM 2014 - Karl Kruszelnicki - Great Moments in Australian Science