In the late 1940s, William Riedel took the advice of his mentor, Sir Douglas Mawson, and began studying radiolarians. These tiny plankton, notable for their intricate glassy exoskeletons, were overlooked by scientists at the time, but over the next six decades, Riedel’s work proved important in developing our understanding of the earth’s geological and biological history.
He pioneered deep sea core drilling in the 1950s and 60s, lectured and oversaw research in the 1980s and experimented with computer databases and expert systems in the 1990s. His research has been influential in the fields of continental drift, stratigraphy and evolution, a subject that he says still holds some surprises.
Riedel spent most of his career working for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California in San Diego, one of the world’s oldest and largest ocean research organisations.
Born in Tanunda in 1927, he studied at the University of Adelaide, gaining a bachelor’s degree with honours in 1947, followed by a master’s in 1952 and a Doctor of Science in 1976. On retirement he returned to the Barossa Valley, where he continues to be fascinated by new ideas.
At 89 years old, Bill is excited at the prospect of taking the stage at TEDx Adelaide: Metamorphosis, where he looks at what his 65 years of examining the distant past could mean for the future. “I think my talk will be helpful to people in a lot of different fields,” he says.
Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see William Riedel on stage in his home state – buy tickets here.