Women’s woo, Pokémon, and the Ghost in the Machine: Tuesday’s Science Week highlights

Media bulletins, National Science Week

Highlights from day four of National Science Week

348 events and exhibitions, 15 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.


Meet the medical inventor behind the cochlear ear and a nutrition scientist using one.

Sense and sensibility: how pseudoscience helps market wellness woo to women.


What is life? Ask theoretical physicist and best-selling author Paul Davies.

The state of the oceans.

Our warped Milky Way, better meds for brains, and trees cooling cities.

Arnhem Land

Beer goggles and fitness tests with a health clinic on wheels.


Are Pokémon biologically possible? Events in Bundaberg and Rockhampton.

In Brisbane, ask a microbiologist.


Tigers, house cats and zoos.

Staying healthy while working shifts.


Chemistry in dance: three elements, three choreographers, three composers and 18 performers.


What is the future of plastic?

Western Australia

Perth: Who will win the Premier’s science awards?

Pinjarra: How to survive the end of the Universe – and the next 50 years.

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

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

More about the event highlights

ACT: Changing Lives with Science: Cochlear developments — Acton

In this event, cochlear implant inventor Professor Graeme Clark will discuss the success and future of the pioneering hearing technology, the “bionic ear”. He will be joined by nutrition scientist Professor Jennie-Brand Miller from the University of Sydney, who received cochlear implants after gradually losing her hearing as a teen.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

ACT: Women’s Woo: pseudoscience and women’s health — Acton

Trish Hann, clinical educator in diagnostic radiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and vice president of the Australian Skeptics, turns a critical eye on nonsense therapies and treatments directed at women.

This talk is a tour through the world of women’s woo. There’s more of it than people realise, and it’s often weirder than people would expect. There are the obvious therapies that are skewed towards women, but technically gender-neutral ones, such as essential oils, naturopathy, psychic readings also tend to have more female customers than male, but not necessarily by design.

In this talk, men and women alike will learn how to sort the sense from the nonsense with therapies and treatments.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

NSW: State of the oceans — Sydney

Legendary oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle, UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston AO and multi-award-winning nature photographer Michael Aw present a night of stunning imagery and lively conversation, discussing the future of the world’s oceans — live on stage at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Economic and social survival is inexplicably linked to the health of the seas, and Australia is surrounded by some of the most biologically and ecologically diverse marine environments in the world. Human activity is impacting their long-term protection and management.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

NSW: Paul Davies: The Demon in the Machine — Kensington

What is life? For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question. Theoretical physicist Paul Davies will argue that the answer is in sight.

Based on research from his new book, The Demon in the Machine, Davies, from the Beyond Centre at Arizona State University, presents a penetrating and wide-ranging new analysis from a position where computing, chemistry, quantum physics and nanotechnology intersect. From life’s murky origins to the microscopic engines that run the cells in our bodies, he will explain transformations in technology and medicine, the physics of two-headed worms, and the age-old question of whether we are alone in the Universe.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

NSW: Our warped Milky Way, better meds for brains, and trees cooling cities: scientists in Sydney’s suburban libraries

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 St. Ives, astronomer Richard de Grijs will talk about the next generation of extremely large telescopes. Earlier this year, he published new research showing the Milky Way is warped and twisted.

In Castle Hill, hear how Lindsay Parker is trying to create better medicines for Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and brain cancer, by targeting unhealthy cells in the brain.

In Penrith, which has suffered extreme heatwaves in recent years, find out how trees can cool cities and help fight the urban heat island effect.

More Talking Science events

NT: HealthLAB: Science on Wheels – Darwin & North East Arnhem Land

A health education clinic on wheels will travel to locations around Darwin and to the remote Milingimbi community in North East Arnhem Land to work with trainee Aboriginal health practitioners on country.

What does the world look like through ‘beer goggles’ when you’re stone cold sober? How good is your health? And how do your lifestyle choices affect the health of your body?

HealthLAB is a clinic on wheels where visitors can see ultrasounds of their heart and kidneys, hear their heart beating, see how the heart changes after exercise, and try on goggles that mimic raised blood alcohol levels.

Interactive displays and demonstrations will cover topics such as pre-conception health, nutrition, the amount of sugar in soft drinks, poisons in cigarettes and other health topics.

Participants assess their own health in a pop-up laboratory, learn about healthy lifestyle choices, and find out about careers in health science-related fields.

Milingimbi: Tuesday 13 August Event details

Parliament House (Darwin): Thursday 15 August Event details

Charles Darwin University (Casuarina): Sunday 18 August Event details

QLD: Pokémon: are they biologically possible? — Rockhampton and Bundaberg

The whimsical world of Pokémon is filled with colourful, animated characters, many of which draw inspiration from the natural world. In these interactive seminars, Dr Gurion Ang from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland will compare the features of some Pokémon and their living analogues to determine their biological possibility.

Tuesday August 13 to Friday August 16. Event details   

QLD: Ask a Microbiologist — Brisbane

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to spend your life trying to unlock the secrets of an invisible world? Come and join us for an evening with a diverse group of microbiologists, hear all about their research careers and ask any burning questions you may have.  

Microorganisms help sustain life on Earth. Some are beneficial, and some are harmful, but if you ask a microbiologist, all are fascinating.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

SA: From tiger to house cat: applying Zoos SA’s animal welfare techniques to your pets — Adelaide

Do you ever wish you knew what your pet was thinking? How can you tell if its happy, healthy or stimulated? Come along to an engaging and informative presentation to hear how the keepers at Adelaide Zoo use scientific methods to understand and enrich the lives of animals. You’ll learn not just about how we bring the domains to life at the zoo, but about how you can do the same for your pets at home.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

SA: Shift work: how to work towards a more efficient, healthier you when working around the clock – Magill

In 2007 the World Health Organization classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen due to circadian disruption.

Shift workers are likely to have difficulty sleeping during the day and difficulty staying awake at work. This gives them an increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart and gastrointestinal diseases. This is likely related to their altered sleeping and eating habits.

Sleep and chronobiology experts from UniSA’s Behaviour-Brain-Body research centre will provide tips to for shift workers to improve their daytime sleep and information to help them be their most productive during the night shift.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

TAS: NEON – Clarendon Vale

Three elements, three choreographers, three composers, four scientists, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and 18 local young dancers join forces to explore science through music and movement.

Hobart’s youth dance company Drill will present NEON, a performance that fuses artistic practice and STEM engagement for audiences and young participants. The result will be a suite of works that take as their inspiration forms, behaviours and uses of carbon, lithium and krypton. 

Audiences will first learn about these elements through hands-on experiments and activities, which all include an artistic and scientific component, encouraging creative experimenting and play while learning. They then experience the dance works in a free-roaming and interactive experience, seeing some of their experiments in action.

Media opportunities during dress rehearsals on 13 August.

Wednesday 14 to Saturday 17 August Event details

VIC: The Future of Plastic – Parkville

Thanks to campaigns like The War on Waste, plastic has become public enemy number one. But what of the other side to plastic – its astonishing variety of form and uses, from electronics to transport to buildings to emerging renewable energy solutions? Do we need to give plastic the flick for good?

Join a panel of experts from the University of Melbourne and industry to explore the subject’s enduring pros and cons.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

WA: Premier’s Science Awards — West Perth

The Premier’s Science Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of the Western Australian science community. Award recipients exemplify the outstanding scientific research and engagement efforts taking place in the State. The awards cover all fields of science, including natural, medical, applied and technological science, engineering and mathematics. They are supported by the Western Australian Government and administered by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

WA: How to survive the end of the Universe … and the next 50 years — Pinjarra

Our world is undergoing huge changes due to humankind’s insatiable demand for resources. Award-winning radio astronomer Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker takes audiences on a mind-blowing journey, from looking for life on other planets to surviving the end of the universe.

Dr Hurley-Walker has been recognised with several awards for her research and dedication to science communication, among them the Superstars of STEM 2019-20, ABC Top 5 Scientist 2018, and 2017 WA Tall Poppies Scientist of the Year.

Tuesday 13 August Event details

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 www.scienceinpublic.com.au. Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area: www.scienceweek.net.au.