A thought controlled wheelchair, a mathematical formula for success, an Alan Turing expert and more. Science news this August

Media bulletins
Jordan Nguyen and 'TIM' the thought-controlled wheelchair

Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, would have turned 100 this year.

Celebrate the life and work of the code-breaking genius at the Ultimo Science Festival’s Big Night of Science. There will be drinks, jazz and a talk from the world’s leading authority on Alan Turing, Prof Jack Copeland.

Objects from the Powerhouse museum’s collection will be on special display at the event, with curators on hand to tell the fascinating stories behind objects such as the Enigma machine.

The Ultimo Science Festival kicks off in Sydney in a fortnight. Some of the highlights include:

For all interview requests regarding the Ultimo Science Festival, contact Frankie Lee on frankie@scienceinpublic.com.au or on 0419 448 847.

And elsewhere this month:

The life and inventions of Alan Turing: Turing expert Professor Jack Copeland

Alan Turing is the father of computer science. In 1936, he invented the earliest computing machine, a proof of concept, now known as a Turing machine. Then in 1946, he presented the first detailed designs for a stored-program computer, which could store instructions in memory.

His inventions changed the world.

At the Ultimo Science Festival Big Night of Science, guest speaker Professor Jack Copeland, world authority and the most prolific author on the work of code-breaking genius Alan Turing will talk about Alan’s life.

The public talk is on Saturday 18 August: 6pm for 6.30pm start tickets are $15 which includes drinks and canapés.

More details at http://ultimosciencefestival.com/2012/ultimo-big-night-of-science/

A hands-free, smart wheelchair named TIM (Thought-controlled Intelligent Machine) has been created at the University of Technology, Sydney.

‘TIM’ will allow severely disabled people to control their chairs using only the power of their minds and some head movement.

PhD student Jordan Nguyen will talk about the wheelchair, the research that went into its creation and how it works.

Jordan will be presenting on Tuesday 21 August, 6pm, UTS City Campus, Great Hall, Building 1, Level 5. More info at http://ultimosciencefestival.com/2012/a-thought-controlled-wheelchair-named-tim/

Trace elements – as precious as gold for healthy brains

Find out how the secrets of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parksinson’s can be discovered through trace metals in the brain.

Researchers will talk about how they analyse trace elements in the brains of healthy people. Their work will help them to understand what’s going wrong in the brains of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.

Dr Dominic Hare from the UTS School of Chemistry and Forensic Science, and Dr Blaine Roberts, from the Mental Health Research Institute will present this talk on Wednesday 22 August. Doors open 6pm for drinks, 6.30pm start. More info at http://ultimosciencefestival.com/2012/?s=trace+ele

When you pop a pill or slather on sunscreen, who and what was it tested on before it got to you? From chimps to cats, rabbits to rats, what role do animals have in scientific and medical research today? How have practices changed behind lab doors? Some animals are loved companions, others destined to become lab rats – who decides and how? What’s your view on animal testing?

Join science journalist Natasha Mitchell, host of ABC Radio National’s Life Matters for a debate that goes to the heart of what it means to be human.

The panel will dissect the issues and ethics of animal experiments and how we feel about using products and treatments tested on animals.

The discussion will be on Wednesday 22 August, 6pm for a 6.30pm start at the Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo. Tickets are $15 (includes drinks and canapés) More details at http://ultimosciencefestival.com/2012/the-beast-within-dissecting-the-ethics-of-animal-experimentation/.

The discussion will also be broadcast nationally on ABC Radio National’s Life Matters on Friday 24 August at 9am.

Monday 20 August at 6pm, The Loft Bar, 15 Broadway (UTS City Campus)

“People love sex and people love food hence people love Nigella Lawson. Her popularity is predicted with a simple Venn Diagram,” says Simon Pampena, Maths Comedian

What’s the secret to fame and fortune? Looks? Talent? Opportunity? Not any more. In today’s world you need to know MATHS. Simon Pampena, the Angry Mathematician, takes the guesswork out of modern fame with his own formula for success, THE FAME ALGORITHM. Pampena demonstrates through careful analysis that even simple maths can explain world-wide success.

Simon figures out the true formula for success and demonstrates through careful analysis that even simple maths can explain world-wide success.

Living Data – Art from Science

Three artists, Lisa Roberts, Christine McMillan and Nigel Helyer have been working with climate change scientists, exploring creative articulation of their research work. Data and modelling have been innovatively reinterpreted through artworks, offering imaginative ways to engage with climate change science.

The installation by Lisa Roberts is ‘Oceanic Living Data: Animated hypotheses, stories, data and iconography’. It was also presented at the 2012 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Hobart.

10am – 4pm, 16 to 26 August at The Muse gallery at TAFE, Harris St, Ultimo. A talk by the artists and scientists with dance and music performance is on Sunday 19 August from 1pm – 4pm and it’s free.

Monday 6 August: Sky crane delivers Mars landing party in Melbourne

NASA’s Curiosity rover will land on Mars on 6 August. To celebrate, the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) is throwing a party, complete with their own Mars rover and space researchers.

One of the scientists coming is Marion Anderson, a Monash University researcher who helped pick out a landing site for the Curiosity rover.

We’re not running this event, but it’s a local angle on a global event. The new rover is five times the size of Opportunity, the rover that has been exploring Mars for the past 3,000 Martian days – that’s about eight years in Earth time.

For more information, contact VSSEC: information@vssec.vic.edu.au

Sound Check Australia – The national hearing survey

Binge listening isn’t a technical term,but you can probably guess what it means. Research has shown that our hearing can be adversely affected if we expose our precious shell-like ears to a number of LOUD experiences consecutively. So if you’re working with a jackhammer from 7am to 4pm on Friday, that’s probably not the best night to go to that nightclub all-nighter with wall-to-wall DJs, or that death-metal concert. Pace yourself.

Researchers from the National Acoustics Lab have teamed up with ABC Science to devise a suite of online inter-activities that will show you how your own hearing health is and how you might protect it. The survey also has questions to answer about your listening habits, what you listen to, for how long and how often.

Sound Check Australia will be starting in National Science Week – it’s a huge online survey looking at the state of Australia’s hearing. Anybody can join in and be a Citizen Scientist by doing the survey and taking the online interactive listening tests to check out how their ears are performing.

Hearing researchers and Sound Check Australia spokespeople from all over Australia are available for interviews. Contact Frankie Lee for more information on frankie@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0419 448 847.

L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships

The three fellows from Australia and New Zealand will be announced on Tuesday 21 August. We’ll be briefing journalists on embargo over the next couple of weeks. If you’d like to receive information on this years’ fellows, give me a call on 0417 131 977 or email niall@scienceinpublic.com.au.