Media bulletins

Science in Public’s occasional bulletins to journalists with an interest in science.

 

Mystery of leaf size solved – paper in Science today; caring for Country in Arnhem Land; and reinventing the laser

Friday 1 September

The mystery of leaf size solved

Rainforest leaves, Panama. Credit: Ian Wright

We’ve got scientists available for interview, plus full release, background information and high res images.

And a feature story by lead author Ian Wright for The Conversation here.

For the first day of Spring, we’ve got a global team of researchers who have cracked the mystery of leaf size. Their research was published today as a cover story in Science.

Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, with 16 colleagues from Australia, the UK, Canada, Argentina, the USA, Estonia, Spain, and China analysed leaves from over 7,600 species.

They teamed that data with a new theory that in much of the world the key limiting factor for leaf size is night temperature and the risk of frost damage to leaves. Until now, the textbooks said it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.

More below.
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Keeping the lights on; Mayan astronomy; Whisky Academy; bull science; and more

Friday 18 August

Highlights from day seven of National Science Week:

446 events and exhibitions, 23 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Melbourne

Sydney

Darwin

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The botany of booze; drones on the farm; wildlife forensics; plastic oceans; and more

Thursday 17 August 2017

Highlights from day six of National Science Week

448 events and exhibitions, 22 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Sydney

Charters Towers (near Townsville)

Hobart

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The ‘Madhouse Effect’; evil weevils; the funniest physicist; the language of plants; dingo puppies; and more

Wednesday 16 August

Highlights from day five of National Science Week:

476 events and exhibitions, 22 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country.

Plenty of photo opportunities.

Canberra (10am, Parliament House)

Sydney

Melbourne

Western Australia and South Australia

Perth

Cairns

Adelaide

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.
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Wine science; pulse checks for politicians; microplastics; a kids coding hackathon; and more

Highlights from day four of National Science Week:

454 events and exhibitions, 21 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.

Sydney

Darwin

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Making a black hole; Fred Astaire; quantum physics explained by electric guitar; biomedical and renewable energy summits; and more

It’s day three of National Science Week:

  • More than 360 events, exhibitions and online activities are on offer around the country today.
  • It’s the first school day of Science Week 2017, with many classes learning about ‘Future Earth’—the science of sustainability.
  • Plenty of photo ops, and scientists and interesting people to interview.

Here’s our pick of the highlights.

Canberra (Parliament House): Innovating Energy Summit: how will we power our future?

Canberra: Ask the Interstellar visual effects wiz how to make a black hole on the big screen believable.
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There will be ‘Blood’; the GMO debate; and more – the first of 1,800+ events for National Science Week

National Science Week officially kicks off 12 August—but there are a few cheeky events sneaking in early (this week).

Below are some highlights we’ve picked out of the 1,800+ events—you can see all our picks here.

From tonight in Melbourne

There will be ‘Blood’

‘BLOOD: Attract & Repel’—the inaugural exhibition of Science Gallery Melbourne—opens today, exploring the significance and fascination of blood in science, medicine, art, and religion.

Science Gallery Melbourne director Rose Hiscock and ‘BLOOD’ creative director Ryan Jeffries are available for interviews.

Media enquiries via Katrina Hall kathall@ozemail.com.

Tomorrow in Melbourne

Is GMO the solution to feeding a growing global population? What does the science say?

A new movie ‘Food Evolution’, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, explores the facts, fictions and feelings swirling around genetically modified crops and the role of biotechnology in food.

One of the experts featured in the doco Dr Alison Van Eenennaam (University of California, Davis) is in Melbourne for a screening and is available for interviews.

Contact her directly via alvaneenennaam@ucdavis.edu, or via Belinda Griffiths on 0400 042 297.

Click here for event details [click to continue…]

What are your gut bugs telling you to do? And gender in the lab

Today

What fly guts could reveal about our health: microbes in the gut can influence diet and reproduction, and the changes could be passed on to the next generation.

Discoveries from Macquarie University and Sydney University illustrate how microbes in the gut can influence host animals. The work could be important for understanding the effects of the gut microbiota on physiology and cognitive function in humans in the future. More below.

And the final day at the Chemistry Congress in Melbourne:

Gender in the lab: is science inclusive and how do we stop women leaving academia?

Half of Australia’s university science students are women, and yet only 21 per cent of the professors teaching them are too. What can we learn from a British bloke to change this?

“It is not my job to correct the inequitable distribution of domestic labour in heterosexual couples. It is my job to make the Imperial College London Department of Chemistry the most successful it can be,” says Professor Tom Welton.

And he’s getting the results to back that up. More below.

Also

  • Using renewable energy to make more sustainable fertilisers: Professor Doug MacFarlane from Monash University is looking at direct reduction of nitrogen to ammonia.
  • Testing for disease and clean water with your phone: La Trobe researchers want to smash the cost of testing.
  • The Nobel Laureate who transformed how our fuels, plastic and drugs are made: now he’s tackling acid rain by getting the sulphur out of diesel.
  • UK to ban petrol cars, we need better batteries: ANSTO/Wollongong researchers tracking ions.

If you’d like to arrange an interview, contact Suzannah Lyons on suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au

We’ll be tweeting news and interesting content from the Congress from @RACI_HQ and using #RACI100.

For more stories visit www.scienceinpublic.com.au

For information about the Congress itself, visit the website: www.racicongress.com.

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Chemical-free is a myth says Chief Scientist; Dow CEO says business can save the world

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

Chemical-free is a myth, says Chief Scientist

It’s a sad era for chemistry when you can buy chemical-free water, in a chemical-free plastic bottle, to wash down your chemical-free pills, from your chemical-free pharmacist,” says Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.

More below.

Tomorrow

  • Eliminating chemical weapons, His Excellency Mr Ahmet ÜzümcüDirector-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner)
  • Using carbs to fight superbugs—Wisconsin chemist Laura Kiessling on how we can use the carbohydrates that coat every living cell in the fight against antibiotic resistant superbugs
  • Sir Martyn Poliakoff (University of Nottingham) is in the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s smallest periodic table (carved into a hair from his head). He’s a star of the YouTube series The Periodic Table of Videos. And in his day job he’s working to use CO2, water and other supercritical fluids to replace toxic solvents in applications such as dry cleaning.

And from last night

Business can solve today’s intractable challenges says Dow CEO Andrew Liveris, but Australia is falling behind..

More below. [click to continue…]

The ignorant versus the arrogant; growing bones; frog venom to TV screens; wood waste to solvents

Monday, 24 July at Melbourne Convention Centre
RACI Centennial Chemistry Congress: 3,500 chemists, three Nobel Prize winners, Trump and Obama insiders

The ignorant versus the arrogant – inside US politics

That’s how Obama insider and chemist Paul Anastas describes the US election result. He was appointed to the EPA by President Obama and now sees decades of environmental protection being rolled back. He’s angry. At the Congress, he’s talking about solving global challenges without creating new ones. For example, we need non-toxic solar cells, and biofuels that don’t compete with food production. He’s a pioneer of green chemistry, designing chemicals that are sustainable, non-hazardous and environmentally benign.

How seaweed and frog venom led to today’s OLED phone and TV screens

Andrew Holmes is President of the Australian Academy of Science and a chemistry pioneer whose discoveries led to plastic screens. Now he and his colleagues are working on plastic solar cells. He’ll discuss the impact of chemistry on Australia, and what’s next for plastic electronics.

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Stopping superbugs with ‘tyre tracks’; from chemical weapons to saving the planet; media award

Today: fighting superbugs with ‘tyre tracks’

Cynthia Whitchurch discovered that dangerous bacteria follow each other like ants, or 4WD drivers following tracks in the sand. She plans to stop them in their tracks and new catheters are being developed using her ideas. She’s won the David Syme Prize and is at UTS in Sydney.

More details below, and call Cynthia on 0408 408 443 or Marea Martlew, Media & PR Advisor (Science) on 0424735255

Starting 23 July: Chemistry: from chemical weapons to saving the planet

Trump’s ‘Aussie mate’, three Nobel Prize winners, and 2,500+ chemists converge in Melbourne.

Topics and speakers include:

  • CEO Dow Chemical Company and ‘Trump’s Aussie mate’ Andrew Liveris
  • Caltech scientist Frances Arnold, pioneer of ‘directed evolution’
  • Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
  • 100 years of Australian chemistry: what have we achieved and what’s next?

More below.

And coming up in August…

International geeks and gurus

  • Interstellar visual effects wizard Oliver James
  • Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and The Glass Universe
  • Physicist, astrobiologist, author and broadcaster Paul Davies
  • Canadian astronaut and ‘Space Oddity’ Chris Hadfield

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Keeping the lights on in Ecocities, and a global voice for Indigenous public health equity

This evening: Ecocity World Summit launch in Melbourne 

Population growth, transport and congestion, keeping cities healthy, increasing density without the loss of green space, and energy security (aka ‘keeping the lights on’)—a reminder that the program of July’s Ecocity World Summit will be launched at 5.30pm tonight at The University of Melbourne.

It will provide an overview of the speakers and topics we can put you in touch with for stories in the lead up to and during the Summit.

More details on the event below. For more information about the Summit, contact Tanya Ha on 0404 083 863 or tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au.

A global voice for Indigenous public health equity

An new Indigenous Working Group will be established within the World Federation of Public Health Associations, aiming to create a platform for change to address the health inequities experienced by Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Media release below.

Kind regards,

Niall  [click to continue…]

From Public Health to Al Gore and EcoCities

congressThe World Congress on Public Health wraps up in Melbourne today with resolutions and demands for action on public health and on chemical weapons. More below.

But wait there’s more…EcoCities. In July Al Gore will be one of dozens of international speakers at the Ecocity World Summit.

What’s an EcoCity? Why do we want to be one? Can I speak with Al? These and other questions will be answered…

This Monday evening at a briefing on the Summit at 5.30 pm Monday 10 April at the Dulux Gallery, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne.

More details below.  [click to continue…]

Three cheers for the nanny state: World Congress on Public Health kicks off in Melbourne, Monday morning

Two and a half thousand public health leaders are discussing how to transform lives by the million for the next 50 years.

And they want to talk to you.

  • Celebrating billions of lives transformed by public health.
  • Australians are living more than twenty years longer.
  • China’s life expectancy has doubled since 1949.
  • The roads are much safer, and we’re less likely to die from smoking.
  • Childbirth is 10x safer for the baby and 100x safer for mum.
  • And we’re not dying of TB, dirty water, deadly workplaces.

But:

  • Globally, why are 4,000 people still dying from TB every day?
  • We defeated SARS in style, but Ebola and Zika were harder; what’s next?
  • Tobacco will kill six million people this year.
  • We have new plagues—sugary drinks and over consumption.
  • Chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, are now responsible for 85 per cent of deaths worldwide.
  • Violence against women and children continues.
  • Indigenous peoples from Nunavut to Alice Springs are dying too young.
  • And people with mental illnesses are losing even more years.
  • Climate change.
  • Trump.

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Fighting TB’s daily death toll of 4,000 lives; scientists in Poliwood; and how’s that weather!

Today: 200+ scientists meet parliamentarians in Canberra

Today, science leaders and early career researchers are meeting politicians at Parliament House—a clash of cultures or a meeting of minds? The researchers are available to talk about the experience.

Read more via Science & Technology Australia.

Today: Minister Sinodinos releases National Science Statement

Recognition of basic research, acknowledgement of the need for long-term thinking, and of the need for further internationalisation of Australian science are some of the highlights.

Our friends at the Australian Academy of Science have issued a release—details at www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases and the AusSMC has reactions at www.scimex.org/newsfeed/expert-reaction-national-science-strategy-released.   [click to continue…]

What is saving and taking women’s lives?

Today

Globally women are living longer, healthier lives—what are the success stories and new challenges?

Girls born today—International Women’s Day—can expect to live 20 years longer than women born in 1960, the same birth year as Nigella Lawson, Bono and Erin Brockovich.

In Nepal and China, the life expectancy for women has doubled over the past 50 to 60 years.

Child birth is much safer for babies and mums, more women are surviving cancer, universal education is giving girls the opportunity to achieve their goals, and infectious scourges of the past are no more.

But domestic violence and chronic diseases remain huge challenges in Australia, and the world’s poorest women are likely to bear the brunt of climate change.

Public health experts are available for interviews about the diseases, discoveries, substances and social policies changing women’s health—past, present, and future.

Media release below[click to continue…]

The world’s largest 3D metal printer/giant jet door hinge at the Airshow; saving lives by the millions; and making plastic fantastic

Today at the Airshow:

The Monash team that brought you the world’s first 3D printed jet engine…

Now has the world’s largest 3D metal printer, and have just used it to print a giant aircraft door hinge—the largest powder bed 3D printed metal aerospace component. It’s 11kg and 40 by 80 by 39cm in size.

Media call today at 11am on the Victorian Government display at the International Airshow in Avalon.

More information below.

Tomorrow in Sydney: polymer science making plastic fantastic

Smarter bank notes, health-protecting wearable electronics, and bendy solar cells are just some of the ways that polymer science is making plastic fantastic.

This week, three Australian researchers will tell audiences in Sydney and Melbourne how they are putting polymers to work.

More below or email toni@scienceinpublic.com.au[click to continue…]

The physics of kangaroo’s knees; no more exploding smartphones; cracking fusion power; and a zero carbon future

In this bulletin:

It’s the second day of the Physics Congress in Brisbane and we’ve got stories on an “atomic MRI machine” even smaller than the cells in your body from Melbourne University researchers; how ANU researchers are developing a diamond-based quantum computer; University of South Australia researchers working out if plasma jets can replace lasers in cancer therapy; and more.

We’re also looking at diversity in science, with speakers covering where we are at for ‘women in science,’ what it means for women’s leadership in Asia and Australia, for LGBTIQ scientists, and diversity in general.

Researchers available for interview, contact:

More at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/physicscongress[click to continue…]

Fusion; gravitational waves; fighting dengue; and solving Indonesia’s and Australia’s development challenges

This week:

Blue carbon, climate change, coral reefs, biofuels, breeding mosquitos to fight dengue, disease resistant crops, what data is good data—and how do we use it? Speakers from the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium available for interview. More below.

And from Sunday:

A Nobel Prize winner, a Nobel Prize hopeful, Australia’s role in the world’s largest science experiment, plus plenty of quirky physics stories—the biennial Physics Congress starts on Sunday 4 December. More below.

For more information or to arrange interviews email me, or contact Toni Stevens on +61 401 763 130, (03) 9398 1416, or toni@scienceinpublic.com.au

Kind regards,

Niall [click to continue…]

Golden bananas for vitamin deficiencies; harvesting social media to inform policy; breeding mozzies to fight dengue – Ministers open the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium

Transforming Indonesia and Australia with science and innovation: Australian and Indonesian ministers open international science symposium

Opening ceremony 8:30 am / Press call with ministers 9:20 am
Monday 28 November at the Shine Dome, Canberra.
Scientists available all week.

Today in Canberra:

  • A new drought-tolerant sugar cane for Indonesian farmers; and golden bananas and other crops to reduce vitamin deficiencies (Professor Bambang Sugiharto, Universitas Jember, and Professor James Dale, Queensland University of Technology)
  • What do the people want? Harvesting social media to inform policy (Diastika Rahwidiati, Pulse Lab Jakarta)
  • The future of mangroves—and why they’re essential for fisheries and coastal health (Professor Catherine Lovelock, University of Queensland)
  • Breeding mosquitoes to fight dengue; and why is it hard to acquire immunity to malaria (Professor Adi Utarini, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and Dr Diana Hansen, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research)

The first Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium has brought together over 100 leading researchers from the two nations to discuss how science and innovation can meet shared challenges. [click to continue…]