Dozens of stories and interesting people at 450+ Science Week events in New South Wales

Media releases, National Science Week

Lasers, wild Westies, sporty science, music and memory, and more

  • Our galaxy is on a collision path with Andromeda. Ask astrophysicist Lisa Harvey-Smith what will happen.
  • Can we use music to manage dementia? Ask neuroscientist Muireann Irish about how your brain remembers the past and imagines the future
  • The problem with light pollution, and why we need a national park in the night sky
  • What science is learning from 60,000+ years of Indigenous knowledge
  • The world’s most powerful laser. Meet Ceri Brenner, the UK physicist pressing FIRE
  • Vitamins: health revolution or expensive pee? Talk with Derek Muller and the scientists behind Vitamania
  • The Wild West: what creatures live in Sydney’s western suburbs?
  • Regional science festivals in Bega, Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Illawarra, and the Hunter Valley
  • Help build a better picture of the Great Barrier Reef’s state, without getting your feet wet.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

Plus, Science Week & Sydney Science Festival launch—6pm Tuesday 7 August

Where: Australian Museum, 1 William Street, Sydney. Enter via Crystal Hall (corner College Street)

With:

  • The Hon. Don Harwin, MLC—Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, Minister for the Arts
  • Kim McKay, AO—Australian Museum CEO
  • students, animals and experiments.

Media contact: Matt Fraser, matt@cardinalspin.com.au, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

About National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a 1.2 million people participate in more than 2,100 events and activities.

In 2018, National Science Week celebrates its 21st birthday, with events held throughout Australia— from Corals in the Outback in western Queensland to TAStroFest astronomy in the Apple Isle, and from STEM meets dance in Perth to The Innovation Games at Sydney Olympic Park —with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week 2018 will run from 11 to 19 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au, public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.

National Science Week in NSW: event highlights

Illusions, dinosaurs versus superheroes, and supermassive black holes at the Sydney Science Festival

  • From radiant bursts of star formation to the coalescence of supermassive black holes, what will happen when our galaxy the Milky Way collides with Andromeda? Ask Lisa Harvey-Smith, who has written a new book about When Galaxies Collide

  • Bob Brown’s battle for the environment, from the Franklin River to Federal Parliament
  • The Human non Human exhibition asks what makes us human, focusing on Food, Work, Sex and Belief. And how might this change in the future?
  • Good robots, bad robots at the Sydney Opera House: living alongside AI
  • Dinosaurs vs Superpower at Science in the Swamp
  • Parasites Lost—the story of one woman who found she wasn’t alone
  • Bin chickens, creepy crawlies and other nature in the city
  • A night of illusions; the safety of driverless cars; jellyfish behaving badly; DIY; art/science activities; Dr Karl; and more…

These are just some of the highlights of this year’s Sydney Science Festival, 7 to 19 August.

Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend more than 200 events across dozens of venues in Sydney, including the Powerhouse Museum, the Australian Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum, university campuses and local libraries.

Tuesday 7 to Sunday 19 August Festival details

Media enquiries: Matt Fraser, matt@cardinalspin.com.au, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Laser power in science, medicine and aerospace—Wollongong & Sydney

UK plasma physicist Ceri Brenner is pressing ‘fire’ on the most powerful laser, delivering a packet of light a thousand billion billion times more intense than sunlight on a hot summer’s day. And she’s putting it to good use.

Ceri’s work aims to improve the speed and performance of important imaging technology in healthcare, aerospace, nuclear and engineering—from figuring out how we can ignite a star on Earth for clean electricity generation, to using lasers to scan nuclear waste containers and map any hazardous materials inside.

She’s also exploring how to use laser-driven beams of anti-matter to detect defects below the surface of materials used on airplanes. She has also worked on laser-driven particle beams for cancer therapy.

Tuesday 7 August (Wollongong) Event details

Wednesday 8 August (Sydney – Macquarie Park) Event details

Media enquiries: Rachael Vorwerk rachael@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 829 327

Valley of Light—Centennial Park

Film or photograph Centennial Park dotted with orbs of spinning light as master light painter Peter Solness leads 100 volunteer light spinners in this art/science event, brining public art together with long exposure photography.

Friday 10 August Event details

Vitamania: the sense and nonsense of vitamins— Mullumbimby

Dr Derek Muller sits behind vitamin pills. CREDIT: Genepool Productions 2018

This year the world will spend over $100 billion on vitamins and supplements. Are we wasting our money? Every week, a new benefit is claimed. How do we separate the sense from the nonsense?

Canadian-Australian science communicator Dr Derek Muller and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Sonya Pemberton explore these questions in their new documentary feature film Vitamania.

Vitamania explores the lucrative industry in a world spanning investigation of vitamin science and history, and what they discover will confound opinions on all sides.

This special screening event will include Derek and Sonya live on stage to answer audience questions following the film.

Wednesday 8 August Event details     Sunday 12 August: TV broadcast on SBS

Media enquiries: Eva Pitarides, eva.pitarides@sbs.com.au or 0403 142 465

Music and memory—City Recital Hall, Sydney

Can we use music to help treat dementia?

Neuroscientist Associate Professor Muireann Irish is exploring why, among the devastating memory loss of dementia, people can retain their musical abilities and memory for favourite tunes. She’s motivated by her grandmother’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease.

“For me, the power of music is most evident when we consider its potential to reach patients where many other interventions have failed,” says Muireann.

Muireann will reveal how our response to music involves a very widespread network of regions that also serve other functions such as attention, language, movement, and emotional regulation. She’s sharing her research at the City Recital Hall, live on stage with a concert violinist.

Thursday 9 August Event details

Media contact: Matt Fraser, matt@cardinalspin.com.au, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern and Wagga Wagga

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is our native flora used in bush medicine? What can we learn about sustainable living from 60,000+ years of Indigenous culture?

The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern is a celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and Indigenous youth and Elder achievements. Part of the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week, the four-day event at the Redfern Community Centre will demonstrate the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology, and the relevance of science to our everyday lives.

Wagga Wagga: Mon 13 August Event details

Family Science Fun Day: Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: Joanne Jamie, joanne.jamie@mq.edu.au, 02 98508283, or 0439 170 683

Bega Valley Science Festival—Bega

Virtual reality and robotics, Questacon’s ‘Fascinating Science’ activities, game development, music technology, 3D printing, citizen science, science films, and threatened species are just some of the activities and attractions among seven days of science at the Bega Valley Science Festival.

Sunday 12 to Saturday 18 August Event details

Event enquiries: Scott Baker, sbaker@begavalley.nsw.gov.au or 02 6499 2172

Pocket Astronomy in Pocket-sized Towns—regional NSW

Why do we need a national park in the night sky? And can light be a type of pollution? Ask Macquarie University expert Adam Joyce as he takes astronomy on tour in New South Wales.

A planetarium, a solar telescope, and a bunch of students and staff from the Department of Physics and Astronomy will hit the road, bringing astronomy and broader science to four towns in four days—Wee Waa, Werris Creek, Barraba and Dorrigo.

Locals will have the opportunity to visit the planetarium, try the solar telescope, and hear a talk about Australian astronomy, the value of dark skies and Warrumbungle National Park, Australia’s first ‘Dark Sky Park’. Each town will also receive the gift of a telescope to keep, and training on how to use it.

Monday 13 to Thursday 16 August Event details

Media contacts: Adam Joyce, adam.joyce@mq.edu.au, 02 9850 1061 or 0413 993 090

Science meets sport at The Innovation Games— Sydney Olympic Park

Can you kick the physics out of a footy? How fast can you run in a sprint test? How far can you throw a spear? Or a boomerang?

The Innovation Games is a free family fun day full of sporting, science and technology action at the town centre of Sydney Olympic Park.

Activities include drone simulations, virtual reality gaming, BYO-device augmented reality challenges, Australian wildlife shows, sports and fitness challenges, wellbeing talks, participatory art, chemistry shows, research presentations, films, live to screen interviews, and social media live streaming throughout the day. The event will feature a science showcase at the GWS Giants vs Sydney Swans AFL Game at Spotless Stadium.

Saturday 18 August: Event details

Media contacts: Brett Morgan, brett.morgan@sopa.nsw.gov.au or 02 9714 7985; or Matt Fraser, matt@cardinalspin.com.au, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Virtual Reef Diver: dive into your computer screen to help scientists—national

Dive online to help the Great Barrier Reef this Science Week—and you could win a GoPro camera!

The ABC’s citizen science project Virtual Reef Diver is celebrating the International Year of the Reef, inviting people to dive through their computer screens into the Great Barrier Reef.

They will review and classify underwater images of the Reef to help scientists identify areas of sand, coral and algae to help build a better picture of coral cover. This work will allow scientists and reef managers to make critical decisions to ensure that the Reef has a future.

The project has been developed by the Queensland University of Technology, in collaboration with a host of scientific and community organisations.

Monday 6 to Friday 31 August www.virtualreef.org.au

Several researchers, divers and science communicators are available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Suzannah Lyons suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au; 03 9398 1416, 0409 689 543