Crunchy crickets, lab-grown meat, fishless caviar and more. Oh, and beer

Great National Science Week FOOD stories up for grabs now around Australia.

These are just a few of the mouth-watering questions set to answered during this year’s National Science Week (August 14 to 22).

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Indigenous science, beer boffins, shark innards and COVID recovery: it’s National Science Week!

This year’s festival runs 14 to 22 August, with thousands of events around Australia.

National Science Week 2021 runs from 14 to 24 August. Explore the big topics, brilliant minds, and unexpected ideas from the world of science.

Hundreds of events, both virtual and physical, are set for around the country, from a shark dissection in Darwin to drinking in Hobart to virtual reality tours of the Universe. Plus, many schools and workplaces are holding ‘Brain Break’ science-themed morning tea Zoom catch-ups.

In-person events are back (where local restrictions allow) and the online opportunities and activities continue, with organisers mindful of the need for COVID-safety.

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Professor Mmantsae Moche Diale: “In big conferences, there are very few black women.”

Professor Mmantsae Moche Diale is a senior physicist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. All too often, she recalls, walking into an unfamiliar laboratory was an experience that sheeted home the gender disparity that pervades her profession.

“If there was equipment that I hadn’t encountered before, I would ask others how to use it,” she says.

“The men in the laboratory would usually just hand me the manual to read. If a man asked the same question, they would happily and quickly explain and demonstrate.”

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Dr Anisa Qamar: “I was the only woman in the physics faculty.”

Dr Anisa Qamar is a professor of plasma physics at Peshawar University in Pakistan. 

“I was born in a small village in the north of Pakistan where cultural stereotypes mean females are not allowed to go to school,” she says.

“My parents were well-educated and held education to be a priority, regardless of gender. Indeed, my father built the first female school in the village, but the social pressure was still there.”

She and her parents, she recalled, faced this pressure “boldly”. Her father ensured she received both primary and college education, and played an active role in supporting her admission to university. She was also helped and encouraged by a family friend, Zari Sarfaraz (1923-2008), a noted campaigner for the rights of women in Pakistan.

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Professor Prajval Shastri: “Such bad mentoring has no consequences.”

Professor Prajval Shastri, astrophysicist and adjunct professor at Australia’s International Centre for Radioastronomy Research (ICRAR), is often confounded by the advice senior physicists, mostly men but also women, sometimes provide to aspiring women.

“I constantly encounter colleagues who mentor young men to ‘stick to your passion and press on’, but to women they say, ‘you need to work hard to be in physics because you will have to manage both family and research’,” she says.

“Are they implying that men of future generations will continue to abdicate their life responsibilities at the expense of the women in their families?

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Draft Recommendations from the 7th IUPAP Conference on Women in Physics

IUPAP Conferences

  • Endorsement & Funding to conferences should be contingent on an anonymised review process for selecting contributed abstracts to the conference
  • Endorsement & Funding to conferences should be contingent on a plenary session on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion which should be embedded within the schedule and include expertise from the social sciences on intersectionality.  
  • Conferences or sessions for undergraduate students which should include sessions on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in order to foster inclusive thinking in the next generation
  • Demographics of speakers/chairs/attendees should be reported with an intersectionality lens and be available to attendees
  • Accessibility: IUPAP to sponsor accessible conferences, noting digital divide

IUPAP Members

  • Encourage IUPAP members to organize workshops to provide skills on entrepreneurship and innovation. 
  • Mentor, network, sponsor:  IUPAP calls on Members to facilitate Mentorship of women in physics at all levels
  • Represent: IUPAP calls on Members and Liaisons to provide opportunities for women in physics to have leadership roles
  • Systemic changes: IUPAP calls on Members to provide support and commitment to gender parity
  • Safe and welcoming environment: IUPAP calls on Members to implement code of conduct with zero tolerance for discrimination

IUPAP Processes

  • The Award nominations process should include certification that there are no known issues  of scientific misconduct or harassment for its awards.   Create mechanisms for revoking such honors if something is revealed later
  • support networking through requiring country liaison to be active and available to WiP working groups in their country
  • IUPAP to give some priority to physics education for females in their policies and projects.

Raise Awareness

  • Increase awareness of IUPAP amongst physics educators so that IUPAP’s programs gain traction and becomes visible to future generations.
  • Show what a physicist is: IUPAP to raise awareness of the roles of women in physics 
  • Discussion of mental health issues should be normalised
  • Increase awareness of imposter syndrome and bias by developing and delivering workshops for academics through conferences. The workshops should provide tips and strategies for countering these, go beyond theory..

Data and Metrics

  • Organize the gathering of and providing guidance on the quality of data, not restricted to only quantitative, for measuring research output which is fairer to females.
  • Consider ways in which metrics can be developed for parameters associated with teaching and its evaluation with an eye on the fact that females are more likely to receive inappropriate/irrelevant feedback and critique.
  • Set up a working group to consider reinvigorating the curriculum and the teaching of physics with the objective of providing a contemporary and ‘balanced’ physics education.  
  • Provide guidance on collecting, analysing, reporting, and storing data on the people of physics, to include: Principles which can be adapted to meet the needs of local communities; Prioritising and centering marginalised groups; and Paying attention to intersectionality of identities, such as indigenous women in physics

Summaries of plenaries at the 7th IUPAP Conference on Women in Physics

Plenary 1: Gender Gap in the Global Survey: Igle Gledhill, Rachel Ivie and Susan White

Plenary 1: Gender in publication practices in maths and physics, Helena Mihaljević

Plenary 1: Australia inequity, Lisa Harvey-Smith

Plenary 2: Women in physics in Sudan, challenges and opportunities, Nashwa Eassa

Plenary 2: Molecular motors and switches at surfaces, Petra Rudolf

Plenary 3: Men as allies

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Spacetime memories, stellar fossils & fast radio bursts: Aussie astronomers awarded

Astronomical Society of Australia honours stargazers at annual conference

Six Australian astronomers will be recognised by the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA), the country’s professional body for the field.

The awards will be presented at the ASA’s Annual Science Meeting, running Monday July 12 to Friday July 16 at hubs in major cities, and online. The conference is hosted by the School of Physics at The University of Melbourne.

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New type of massive explosion explains mystery star

‘Magneto-rotational hypernova’ soon after the Big Bang fuelled high levels of uranium, zinc in ancient stellar oddity

A massive explosion from a previously unknown source – 10 times more energetic than a supernova – could be the answer to a 13-billion-year-old Milky Way mystery.

Astronomers led by David Yong, Gary Da Costa and Chiaki Kobayashi from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) based at the Australian National University (ANU) have potentially discovered the first evidence of the destruction of a collapsed rapidly spinning star – a phenomenon they describe as a “magneto-rotational hypernova”.

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