Fields of Discovery

eBook - April 2002 - eRetailers Kobo

Provides a fascinating account of the achievements of CSIRO over the last 50 years.

At the cutting edge of international research and development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, CSIRO, has been at the forefront of some of the most extraordinary technological and scientific advances in the world during the second half of the twentieth century. + Full description

Based on hundreds of interviews and meticulous research, Fields of Discovery tells the many stories of achievements and successes of the CSIRO and the people who contributed to them. Brad Collis follows their triumphs and frustrations, opening a rare window into the laboratories of knowledge-making and problem-solving, and the fruitful tussle between ideas, personalities and politics.

From the development of advanced agricultural systems to science underpinning the protection of wildlife and the environment, to new metallurgy processes, the discovery of galaxies, the development of the lifesaving anti-influenza drug and even the creation of the iconic Aerogard insect repellent, Fields of Discovery celebrates the inspiring and often dramatic journey of one of the world’s most enduring scientific bodies.

This is a book for everyone with a fascination for ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ and, above all, for the people who created a research organisation that has itself become an Australian icon.

- Short description


No longer available in a print edition.


Fields of Discovery is a stimulating account of the achievements of CSIRO and its scientists in the last 50 years. No-one interested in the past performance and the future direction of science in Australia should fail to read this book.’
Neville Wran AC, QC

‘Australia is lucky indeed to have CSIRO. Now, as CSIR/CSIRO celebrates its 75th year and the nation its hundredth, we welcome Brad Collis’ remarkable history. Fields of Discovery is authoritative across the broad sweep of sciences covered by CSIRO, eminently readable and accessible, and brought to life by many quotations and rich human stories. The book fairly hums with tales of high achievement. Brad Collis’ daring in tackling such a monumental task has well and truly paid off.’
Sir Gustav Nossal AC, CBE

“Journalist Brad Collis’s long, heavy book swiftly catches hold … the stories are extraordinary.”
Weekend Australian

“There’s much to admire, too, about Brad Collis’ concision and aversion to gee-whizzery. His emphasis is on science, which means that he skirts issues of politics (in particular Canberra’s vandalism of CSIRO over the past 15 years) … But there is ample human foible to go around …”

“This is a landmark book … That CSIRO has had striking successes and made abundant contributions to Australia's development and life across its history can no longer be denied …”.
The Canberra Times


ePDF | April 2002
ISBN: 9780643100961
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


1. Alien invaders
2. Adventures in entomology
3. The fight for native Australia
4. On the sheep’s back
5. Textile wars
6. Cold comfort
7. Girt by green
8. Touch wood
9. Northern exposure
10. The food makers
11. Oceans of wonder
12. Inside the sky
13. Time and space
14. The built environment
15. Riches of the earth
16. A clever legacy
Epilogue: a fountain of knowledge
Appendix 1: CSIRO chairmen and chief executives
Appendix 2: CSIRO research divisions in 2001
Appendix 3: Reviews


Brad Collis is a distinguished journalist and writer who has worked for Australia’s leading newspapers and current affairs magazines. He is the author of SNOWY – The Making of Modern Australia, a popular history of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme and today works as a freelance journalist, specialising in industrial and environmental science.