Rethinking evil, robots in space, and the Tasmanian devil’s advocate

Media bulletins, National Science Week

Monday 12 August 2019

Highlights from day three of National Science Week

297 events and exhibitions, 13 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.


What’s the science of psychopathy, evil and human behaviour? Ask visiting German-Canadian psychologist and author Julia Shaw.

Are smartphones making us dumb?


Taking the piss: provide a sample to this electrochemical battery to recharge your mobile phone.


How did water engineers take Tasmania from convict colony to foodie destination?


The Tassie devil’s advocate, a sneezing scientist and a seaweed lover: young scientists tour the state.


Aha! moments: what’s happening in your brain when the penny drops?

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

Also today:

▪ Schools everywhere: it’s the first school day of National Science Week. Thousands of children are doing lessons on the theme of Destination Moon: more missions, more science.

▪ Sydney: What we can learn from 60,000 years of Aboriginal astronomy.

▪ Perth: How is the climate changing and what will this mean for our food?

▪ Melbourne: What conditions might human explorers face on Mars or other planets? And how are NASA scientists preparing for them?

▪ Canberra: What can teams of children build with one scoop of Lego, working against the clock?

▪ Gold Coast: Find out how scientists are building robots for space missions.

National Science Week 2019 will run from 10 to 18 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area:

More about the event highlights

Rethinking Evil — Kensington, NSW

True crime stories fill our TV screens and podcast feeds. But do we need to rethink evil and the other labels we apply to people who do wrong if we want to reduce risk and harm?

The science of human behaviour paints a more complex picture of why people commit inexcusable acts.

In Making Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side, Julia Shaw uses case studies from academia, examples from popular culture, and anecdotes from everyday life to break down concepts like the neuroscience of evil, the psychology of bloodlust and workplace misbehaviour. Host Natasha Mitchell will be joined by philosopher and author of Evil: A Philosophical Investigation, Luke Russell, and psychopathy expert Georgie Fleming to explore everything from the philosophy of evil to evil actions and what we can do about them. Rather than looking at the world in black and white, science and philosophy can help inform a conversation on evil, and to understand that it is part of humanity whether we like it or not.

Monday 12 August Event details

Smartphones, space travel, ethical algorithms, and are we facing an insect apocalypse? scientists take over Sydney’s suburban libraries, NSW

120 scientists are visiting 70 libraries across the state, sharing their research with locals as part of the ‘Talking Science’ series. Today’s highlights include:

In Mosman: are smartphones making us dumb? Ask expert Mark Williams.

In Warringah: ethical algorithms and technology, the tiny world of nano-science, and what does a molecule from blue-green algae have to do with motor neuron disease?

In North Sydney: Francisco Sanchez– Bayo will explore the alarming decline of insect species.

In Sutherland: hear about the past, present and future of space travel, from the moon landing to Mars.

More Talking Science events

The Urinotron – Parkville, VIC

The Urinotron is a large-scale installation that takes urine and transforms it into power for mobile phones before recycling it back to pure water. It is the creation of inventors Sandra and Gaspard Bébié-Valérian, from France, and Australia’s Professor Peter Scales.

Contribute your urine and then put your feet up as the salts in your liquid gold turn into sustainable pee power.

1 to 18 August Event details

Young Tassie Scientists — visiting schools around Tasmania

An ecologist chasing turbo chooks, a food scientist with expertise in ugly fruit, a neuroscientist doing brain surveillance, Tasmania’s own Batwoman, and the sneezing scientist studying hay fever.

These are just a few of the Young Tassie Scientists—early career researchers who become the state’s ambassadors for National Science Week. The new recruits for 2019 will go through a science communication bootcamp, then go out to share their science stories through inspiring and interactive presentations at schools and events around Tasmania.

More about the Young Tassie Scientists.

Multiple dates and locations. Event details

The engineering behind your drinking water and food – Hobart, TAS

Water is a vital part of our lives. We use it for everything from drinking to cleaning to irrigation and growing food.

Engineers have always had a part in providing clean water to Tasmania’s communities. Without sanitation engineers, we might have typhoid or dysentery, and our cities would smell awful. Without irrigation, Tasmania’s food production would be limited. How do they do it, and will things change in the future?

Engineering Heritage Tasmania is presenting a series of seminars on water supplies in Tasmania, exploring the past, the present and the future.

Monday 12 August Event details

The Aha! Challenge: Test your creative brain for science—online

You know that feeling of ‘aha’? It’s that flash of insight you get when pieces of information fall into place, revealing a deeper meaning or understanding.

It’s a critical contributor to scientific, mathematics and creative discovery, and researchers are really keen to know how it changes over our lifespan. Does that feeling of excited discovery change over our life?

Contribute to real scientific research from the comfort of your own home by participating in the ABC’s National Science Week project ‘The Aha! Challenge’. Participants will do a series of online tests designed to elicit insight and draw out creativity, helping scientists understand how the human brain works.

Visit until Saturday 31 August.

Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

More about National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw 1.2 million people participate in more than 2100 events and activities.

In 2019, National Science Week events will be held right throughout Australia—from Indigenous astronomy  to ‘Dr Dolphin’ and his bottlenose friends in Adelaide, and from marking the Moon landing in Sydney to the science queens of Kings Park in Perth—with science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week 2019 will run from 10 to 18 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area: