27 things you didn’t know about CSIRO (that could help you win the next trivia comp)

By Lou Morrissey

We’re often the secret ingredient behind the things that have improved your life. Below are 27 more things you might not have known about us.

Dr John O'Sullivan - the man who made WiFi possible. Image: Australian Geographic

Dr John O’Sullivan – the man who made WiFi possible. Image: Australian Geographic

1. We were the first Australian organisation to start using the internet, which is why we were able to register the second-level domain csiro.au for our website (as opposed to csiro.org.au or csiro.com.au)

2. Five CSIRO scientists invented wireless LAN technology, these days known as WiFi, which is now used in more than five billion devices around the world

3. The word ‘petrichor’, which describes the distinct smell of rain, was invented by our own researchers Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Grenfell Thomas

4. We’re Australia’s largest patent holder with 3582 patents, 728 inventions and 275 trademarks

5. We run NASA’s spacecraft tracking facilities in Australia

6. The world’s first effective influenza treatment, called Relenza, was invented by CSIRO in 1987

7. We’ve established more than 150 joint ventures from our research

8. We invented Aerogard between 1938 and 1961 to help keep flies off cattle and prevent disease – and even used it on the Queen when she visited in 1963

9. We grant around 80 new commercial licenses every year like BARLEYmax, a low GI ‘supergrain’ with four times the resistant starch of regular grains

You can find BARLEYmax on supermarket shelves across Australia and NZ. Image: Goodness Superfoods

You can find BARLEYmax on supermarket shelves across Australia and NZ. Image: Goodness Superfoods

10. CSIRO stands for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

11. Staff and our business partners often affectionately call us ‘siroh’

12. We invented a permanent pleat for fabrics (yep, we’ve saved you all that ironing)

13. Boeing named CSIRO their R&D supplier of the year in 2011

14. We’ve earned more than $430 million in royalties for our WLAN invention

15. In 2005, our scientists developed near-perfect rubber from resilin, the elastic protein which gives fleas their jumping ability and helps insects fly

Our contact lenses can be worn for up to 30 days. Image: The Daily Write Up

Our contact lenses can be worn for up to 30 days. Image: The Daily Write Up

16. We invented extended-wear soft contact lenses as part of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program

17. We partner with more than 1800 Australian and 440 overseas companies every year to help them find ways to create new products, save money and improve productivity

18. 2013 Australian of the Year, Dr Simon McKeon, is the Chairman of CSIRO’s Board

19. CSIRO was founded in 1926

20. More than 60% of our staff hold university degrees and 2000 have a doctorate degree

21. We invented plastic bank notes – polymer currency that is now used in more than 30 denominations around the world – to help prevent counterfeiting and to last longer

We even created $7 notes for poops and giggles (and for security reasons)

We even created $7 notes for poops and giggles (and security reasons).

22. When producers of hit Australian film, The Dish, met with staff at our Radio Telescope in Parkes, the scientists initially thought the movie was just another a documentary

23. We’ve developed 100 varieties of cotton to help Australian farmers save water, reduce costs and cut insecticide use by 85%

24. Worldwide, we are involved in more than 700 international research activities, like developing the first biomass powered refrigeration system to keep fruit and veggies fresh in rural India

25. Softly fabric softener was invented by CSIRO

26. We saved lives by developing the world’s first vaccine to prevent the spread of Hendra virus from horses to humans

27. We’ve developed computer models that deliver a 10x improvement in weather forecasting


17 Comments on “27 things you didn’t know about CSIRO (that could help you win the next trivia comp)”

  1. ronmader says:

    Thank you CSIRO for the word ‘petrichor’

  2. theo says:

    are you guys increasing your public and social media presence? it seems like it!

  3. Steven says:

    What about your Dr Sir Allan Walsh and his invention?

  4. Luisa Overton says:

    That was impressive

  5. Teresa says:

    Good on you CSIRO!

  6. David Knowles says:

    Along with Alan Walsh, A J C Nicholson and J D Morrison who I worked with at CSIRO Chemical Physics at Clayton were world leaders in Mass Spectrometry. Given the amazing work by CSIRO why have governments of late cutting funding to this august body

  7. Harshal says:

    Good and keep going!!!!!

  8. fdimer says:

    28: CSIRO was mentioned in the movie “Contact”, when Jodie Foster calls Australia… how could you forget that? :-)

  9. Lesley says:

    Really. Impressive!

  10. Justin Spangaro says:

    You also might mention that CSIRO Radiophysics spun off semiconductor company Austek MIcrosystems in the 1980s, which designed signal processing chips used for applications like radio astronomy, and cache memory controller chips that competed head to head with Intel and were used by computer manufacturers around the world to build the fastest PC motherboards on the planet at the time.

  11. CassR says:

    What was the etymology behind the word “petrichor”? It sounds like it’s from Greek “petra” + “ichor”.

  12. Mario says:

    Had no idea about the wi-fi, but why only make 400 million from it? (as reported online) How is that not a multi-billion idea?

  13. Ian Dennehy says:

    Why can’t you leave off coal research, and develop sustainable technologies such as solar, wind and wave power? Is it money?

  14. Aminur Rahman says:

    Impressive. When we will find CSIRO getting Noble prize ?


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