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Catalyst (2001 - current)

Magazine program
Weekly x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

A weekly magazine-style program that explores fascinating and groundbreaking science research both from Australia and overseas. It often includes footage of how scientists work in the field and typically investigates the ethics and the politics of a particular issue, presenting debate and differing views of scientists.

Curator’s Notes:

Catalyst began in 2001, on Thursday nights at 8 pm, after the demise of its successful antecedent, Quantum which had begun 16 years before in 1987. In fact the ABC has a long tradition of excellent science reporting both on radio and television. These days there’s a cross-fertilisation between the two media with Robin Williams of Radio National’s Science Show occasionally appearing on Catalyst, and the television science program promoting ABC radio’s science programming.

The Catalyst unit consists of science trained reporters with producers who are sometimes science trained. They travel Australia and the world in search of cutting edge science stories to distil for the ABC’s prime time audience on Thursday nights at 8 pm. Its magazine style means that a wide range of stories can be included on any night, with the entire program occasionally devoted to a single issue.

Titles in this series

Catalyst – Genius of Junk 2003

This is a story of triumph and tragedy. Dr Malcolm Simons, an internationally recognised immunologist, has turned 'junk DNA’ into gold. He has patented his discovery that non-coding DNA is of vital importance to our understanding of how diseases are ...

Catalyst – Nature, Nurture 2003

Each year since 1979, the same group of people have been returning to Dunedin in New Zealand to be investigated for science. This research into whether nature or nurture is responsible for our behaviour has made some extraordinary findings. And ...

Catalyst – Planet of the Rings 2005

A ride to the outer reaches of the solar system with Dr Richard Smith. This program is about one of the greatest exploration feats of all time – the Cassini mission to the planet Saturn, followed by the release of ...

Catalyst – Teen Brain 2005

In 1973, Australia lowered the age of majority to 18, the age at which you are legally responsible for your actions. New science, however, is proving that our brains are not actually mature until around the age of 25.

Catalyst – The Antarctic Peninsula 2006

Fossils of southern beech trees have been found in Antarctica, which proves that this desolate area was once a huge forest and that Antarctica was once joined to Australia and South America.

Catalyst – Wollemi Pine 2005

The discovery of a tree from the Jurassic period in the National Park in the Blue Mountains of NSW in 1994, was like finding a family of dinosaurs alive and well. Scientists are returning to this remote location to find ...