Australians have always been innovators. From the wooden boomerangs created by Aboriginal peoples 20,000 years ago to the latest in quantum computing, ideas born in Australia have spread around the world. Here are four amazing innovations that originated Down Under.
Boomerangs are considered to be a national symbol of Australia, but they originated long before the colonial period in which the concept of nationality was fostered on the continent. Boomerangs have been used by Aboriginal people on the Australian continent for thousands of years. They are so important to many first peoples groups that they feature in many aboriginal creation myths. In ‘the dreaming’, it is said that many rivers and landscapes were formed when boomerangs were thrown into the earth. The oldest depiction of a Boomerang in Australia is part of the Gwion Gwion cave paintings in Kimberly. The paintings are estimated to be at least 20,000 years old.
Burns can cause dreadful damage to skin. This can lead to sepsis and gangrene, and ultimately the loss of life. Traditionally, skin grafts and fish skin have been used to protect patients suffering from acute burns. These methods are expensive, time consuming and invasive. Australians Marie Stoner and Fiona Wood developed a new way of transplanting skin onto burn sites: in a spray.
Spray-on skin uses samples of a patient’s healthy tissue to form a vapor that very quickly begins to grow and fuse. This is important, as the quicker the new skin cultivates and fuses, the more chance a patient will have of healing without getting an infection or scar tissue. Fiona Wood became famous after using her new technology to treat patients with extreme burns after the 2002 Bali bombing.
The Plastic Eyeglass Lens
For hundreds of years, glass lenses have been the standard for correcting vision. That all changed in 1960, when the world’s first plastic spectacle lenses were developed by Scientific Optical Laboratories in Adelaide. These lenses were 60 percent lighter than glass examples and far more durable. They could be made cheaply, and there were plans to use them to increase optical equality all over the world.
Today, Australians benefit from a very advanced optical medicine sector. Companies like VSON offer laser eye correction treatments to thousands of Australians every year.
The Cervical Cancer Vaccine
Human Papilloma Virus (or HPV) is the number one cause of cervical cancer – an illness that has caused untold suffering throughout history. An effective HPV vaccine was developed in Queensland and first made available in 2006. The research carried out at the University of Queensland has quite literally saved millions of lives. The WHO recommends that all women should receive the vaccine during their youth, and vaccination programs have been rolled out all over the world. Australia was one of the most enthusiastic adopters of the new drug. Between 2007 and 2009, it was estimated that 83 percent of female Australians between the ages of 12 and 17 had received at least one dose.