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Gerry Nolan was
born and brought up on the West Coast of South Australia at Whyalla, Koppio and Cleve in the South Australian outback over 500 km by road from Adelaide. He has lived in Sydney for many years.
Gerry trained in telecommunications electronics with the Postmaster General’s Department (PMG), and in navigation and weapons electronics with the Royal Australian Navy, during which time he spent 14 months on the HMAS Melbourne before transferring to the Royal Australian Airforce to train as a pilot. After leaving the RAAF, Gerry worked for QANTAS as a flight simulator technician and then as an operations instructor on the Boeing 707. For many years he ran exploration expeditions for minerals and underground water in the arid areas of Australia and the jungles of South East Asia, using most types of geophysical equipment including resistivity, induced polarisation, proton precession magnetometer and seismic, as well as water-divining (dowsing to some).
Following his experience as flight co-ordinator on eight Boeing 747 flights to Antarctica, Gerry wrote Icescape, a novel about one of the day flights crashing in Antarctica. He finished it six months before the Air New Zealand DC10 crashed on Mt Erebus with no survivors and, although out of respect for the dead he delayed publication of his book for a year, it still sold out.
Based on his electronics and aerodynamics training, Gerry has studied physics as a hobby for over forty years. In 1980 he was accepted as a visiting scientist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) during a five week visit at the time the Positron Electron Project (PEP) (PDF) first stored beam.
He travelled from SLAC to CERN and was fortunate enough to be shown through the antiproton accumulator by the project manager, Roy Billinge, a few weeks before it was completed ready for its role in the discovery of the W and Z0 bosons for which Carlo Rubbia and Simon Van der Meer received the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Shortly after returning to Australia in 1980 Gerry had an article about PEP, More PEP for HEP (PDF) published in Electronics Australia magazine.
Between 1975 and 1985, Gerry worked for Dick Smith Electronics in many different roles, including producing eight annual catalogues and many special mailers. He also worked as special projects co-ordinator for Dick Smith personally, a job which included the Jumbo flights to Antarctica, the Kookaburra Expedition and in 1982-83, the First Solo Helicopter Flight Around the World, which Dick carried out in his Bell 206B Jetranger III helicopter.
By the end of 1977, for over 12 months Dick had been saying he was going to tow an iceberg into Sydney Harbour, cut it up and sell it as “Dicksicles”. This got a lot of publicity but nothing was coming of it, so in January 1978 Gerry thought about playing a joke on Dick and making one up. The result was that on April Fools’ Day 1978 they towed a plastic iceberg into Sydney Harbour. As a joke it worked beautifully, fooling hundreds of thousands of people all over the world!
Gerry is one of the original members of the Australasian Society for General Relativity and Gravitation.
From 1991 to 1995 Gerry was the Mayor of North Sydney which, at the time, was claimed by many to be the third largest CBD in Australia.
From 2002 to 2006, Gerry covened the 2nd Tuesday Philosophy Forum, hosting 32 meetings over the period.
Gerry graduated with Honours in Philosophy from the University of New South Wales in March 2006.
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Currently he works as a writer and editor and book, magazine, newsletter and internet publisher. He may be contacted directly at gonolan-at-gmail.com.