Egg unboiler spins into top science stories of 2015

Colin Raston blog
Professor Colin Raston received global attention and won an Ig Nobel prize on his way to becoming one of the biggest science stories of 2015.

When Flinders University’s Professor Colin Raston unboiled an egg earlier this year with his ‘Vortex Fluidic Device’, in a feat previously considered impossible by science, he made TV screens and front pages all over the world, generating a veritable tsunami of ‘eggscellent’ puns.

The global impact of his achievement transformed the softly spoken South Australia Premier’s Professorial Research Fellow in Clean Technology into an internationally recognised figure overnight – and culminated in him receiving a prestigious Ig Nobel prize in September.

In recognition of the massive amount of attention Professor Raston’s achievement received for Australian research, it has today been hailed as one of the top ten weird and wonderful Australian science stories of 2015 by the Australian Science and Media Centre (AusSMC).

AusSMC is one of the most respected science media portals in Australia, providing thousands of journalists with direct access to the highest quality evidence-based science and expertise.

Responding to the announcement, Professor Raston said he had been thrilled with the response to his achievement and had been ‘living the dream’ since.

“We were very interested in how the Vortex Fluidic Device might control protein folding, and the breakthrough with my collaborator at UCI, Greg Weiss, simplifies this, in a fraction of the time, minimising waste generation and energy usage. What this amounted to was unboiling an egg,” he said.

“When the work was published, we were thrilled with the response, which was beyond our wildest expectations.  As a scientist, it is living the dream.

“The attention was worldwide, with additional attention on other publications in 2015 about using the same device for drug delivery and making drug molecules quicker and greener.

“It’s been quite a year!”

Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Rob Saint said Professor Raston had pushed back the boundaries in several of the most important areas of scientific research.

“Colin is a shining example of what we want to achieve through our research at Flinders University,” said Professor Saint.

“By experimenting, and experimenting bravely, he has achieved the ‘impossible’, and in doing so he redefined what is possible in critical research areas such as pharmaceuticals development and bio fuel production, introducing opportunities for commercialisation and collaboration with a range of industries.

“In less than a year since his unboiling of an egg, he has used his VFD to achieve a four-fold increase in the efficacy of the key cancer drug carboplatin, and to make one of the world’s most important anaesthetics, lidocaine, faster and more efficiently than ever before.

“Everyone at Flinders University has been inspired by Colin’s achievements, and we are very proud of him.”

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