It is with great sadness that I let you know that my friend and co-Beer Drinking Scientist, Darren, passed away in January after a brave battle with brain cancer.
This episode is made up of old audio that we haven't put out on this
podcast before - trial Beer Drinking Scientist episodes in which we
probably did more drinking than we should have, and little bits from Diffusion Science Radio and Mr Science Show. It's not that polished, and a little, er, blue, but it was fun to make.
It doesn't seem fitting to distill such thoughts and feelings into blog post, so I've struggled with the right words. I first met Darren in 2001 when I did work experience with him when he was editor of Helix Magazine in Canberra. This was my first introduction to science communication, and he taught me a lot about writing and publishing, and in the process published my first freelance article. Darren was very generous with his time, and didn't seem to mind that I "borrowed" a couple of extra copies of that month's magazine. We stayed in contact, and in 2006 he moved to Sydney with a dirty great-big moustache and blond-tipped hair - independent of these facts, we became good friends! We did Diffusion Science Radio together on community radio, on which he was a natural, and then we started up this podcast. For me, he was inspirational, following his passions to eventually land one of the dream science communication jobs in Australia, editor of ABC Science Online. He was in demand on TV and radio across Australia, and I have no doubt he would have achieved a high profile nationally as a science communicator. Anyone that can ask a Nobel Prize winner in a TV interview if they "made it all up" has some gumption!
Apart from talking about science, we had numerous long lunches mulling politics, moustaches, hamburgers, families and eventually kids. Our podcasts slowed down a little once Darren's first son was born, then came mine, and whilst nights out with a microphone became rarer, the lunches continued. His first passion was always his wife and family. I can clearly remember the day Darren told me he had had surgery to remove a brain tumour; the hope he had while he was recovering, the last time we caught up at a Socceroos game, and the various messages and conversations after the tumour returned. This was a friendship I will cherish always - and I wish I had said that more often when I could have. My last message to him told him we were thinking about him over New Years. His last message was simply "love you". You can see from the various tributes on social media that he was a universally loved man.