Darwin’s flea, evolving pests, James Morrison, and science producers

Media bulletins

Here’s some more science stories for this week and next.

For a short time only, you can see Darwin’s flea at the Macleay Museum in Sydney. And you can meet the supercrocodilians in Darwin. 

Michael Ruse asks in Sydney today Is Darwinism past its ‘Sell By’ Date?

Iain McCalman’s book Darwin’s Armada will be launched this week. It describes how four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world.

A plant biosecurity toolbox has been launched that will help us identify new pests as they evolve.

In NSW physicists are discussing global nuclear power and the opportunities for Australia

And music-virtuoso James Morrison, singer Emma Pask and Professor Fred Watson join forces to promote the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 in an evening of “Hot Stars, Cool Jazz” on Friday.

And confirmation that the world’s science and factual TV producers will meet in Melbourne later this year.

Finally, I should acknowledge the huge job that the Australian Science Media Centre has done in meeting the media’s need for science comment on the Victorian bushfires. If you need evidence-based comment call them for the best contacts around the country.

More below

Darwin’s flea and a musical soirée

For a short time only, see a flea collected by Darwin as part of Accidental Encounters, which opens at the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. Michael Ruse opens the exhibition with a short talk and there will be a performance by musicians from the Conservatory of Music, from 6-8pm on Monday 16 February.

The exhibition displays correspondence between Thomas Huxley and his Australian fiancée. The exhibition will continue, but the fragile flea is only on display until 26 February.

Pests evolving

A plant biosecurity toolbox has been launched that will more rapidly and confidently confirm if an organism is one that threatens Australian agriculture. One of the major battles in plant protection is that the pathogen population is constantly changing and resisting as we implement control options. It’s evolution in action.

Details from Kate Scott, Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity, k.scott@crcplantbiosecurity.com.au, 0402 299 611

Is Darwinism past its ‘sell-by’ date?

Michael Ruse argues that while not one item of Darwin’s thinking remains intact, everything that Darwin had to say is as vital and relevant as ever. See Michael in a public lecture at the University of Sydney at 6.30pm on Tuesday 17 February.

Iain McCalman launches Darwin’s Armada and follow up with a public lecture

Darwin, Hooker, Huxley and Wallace were young amateur naturalists from Britain who voyaged to the Southern Hemisphere in search of adventure and scientific fame.

Iain McCalman launches his book Darwin’s Armada: How four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world in Sydney on Thursday 19 February. Tina Gumnior from Penguin is the media contact, tina.gumnior@au.penguingroup.com, (03) 9811 2549

He will also give a free public lecture on his book at the Australian National University, Wednesday 25 February.

Science and religion

The talks from Melbourne’s evolution church service are now available online at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/blog

They include Archbishop Freier’s comments and photos.

“Hot Stars, Cool Jazz”

Jazz musician James Morrison and astronomer Fred Watson will combine their talents for an evening of jazz and a trip through the Universe this Friday evening in Sydney.

James Morrison is a veteran of the jazz world and will glide through great jazz standards such as “Fly me to the moon” and “Stella by Starlight”.

Fred Watson is Astronomer-in-Charge at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in NSW, Fred is also a writer, broadcaster and musician who always delights his audience, whether he’s explaining the intricacies of the solar system or singing “Galaxy redshift blues”.

8pm Friday 20 February 2009, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

More information: http://www.astronomy2009.org.au/

World Congress of Science and Factual Producers heads to Australia

“The 17th annual World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP) will take place in Melbourne from 1 -4 December 2009,” says Victorian Minister for Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, Gavin Jennings.

Following the huge success of past Congress events in Manchester (2006), New York (2007) and Florence (2008), the Victorian screen industry anticipates another must-attend event for practitioners working in the factual television field.

The four day conference features an outstanding program of workshops, networking events, pitch sessions and panels that will reveal emerging content trends and highlight important industry issues.

Science in Public is assisting the conference organisers with sponsorship and science outreach.

Darwin exhibitions around the country

  • Science inspires art in Generate – an exhibition exploring Darwin’s scientific theories and his emotional life by scientist-turned-artist Julie Ryder. At the Australian Botanic Gardens, Canberra, until 26 March.
  • Living iguanas and orchids, such as Darwin came across on his Beagle voyage, are on display at a comprehensive exhibition of Darwin’s life and work. Titled simply Darwin, this exhibition at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, runs until the 29 March.
  • Darwin visited Australia in early 1836 (and some of his comments were less than favourable, see below). Darwin and Australia is an exhibition of Darwin’s experiences and encounters during his visit to Australia at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, to accompany the Darwin exhibition. It runs until 29 March.
  • Dinosaurs made out of 3500 tonnes of sand are on display at the Frankston waterfront, in Victoria until 26 April. Dinostory presents creatures that roamed Gondwana in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
  • One of the 1250 copies of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is among many rare, beautiful and significant books on display at the Mirror of the World exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
  • Darwin to DNA at the Melbourne Museum explores the discovery of evolution by Darwin and his contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace including specimens they collected. It then takes you further into the genetic mechanisms of DNA, and how we can use DNA to examine questions about evolution.
  • The quirky side of Charles Darwin is on display at the Melbourne Museum in the exhibition Five things about Charles Darwin, on until 31 May.
  • Darwin himself was wary of the impact he knew his theory of evolution would have. The events and influences shaping Darwin are explored in Charles Darwin: the reluctant revolutionary at the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, until 31 December.
  • Crocodiles and their kind are an evolutionary success story – they have been around for the past 200 million years. See one of the largest crocodilians that ever existed in Supercrocodilians – Darwin’s ultimate survival story at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, until 29 November.
  • Join Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle in Charles Darwin – voyages and ideas that shook the world, at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, opening 20 March.

Read about these and other events at http://evolutionaustralia.org.au

For media information about all the above please give me a call.