Life on Mars, wine science, e-cigarettes, and a recipe for disaster

Media bulletins, National Science Week

Highlights from day six of National Science Week

368 events and exhibitions, 16 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people are available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.


  • A virtual reality tour of the Universe with Alan Duffy, starting at a brewery.
  • The Knowledge Wars with Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty.
  • Mad Max meets MasterChef: a post-apocalyptic dinner party.


  • What’s the potential for life on the Red Planet? Ask astrophysicists and NASA scientists.


  • A science comedy quiz show that aims to save our species.


  • Searching for dark matter from an old underground gold mine.
  • Young people, social media and e-cigarettes.


  • The science and psychology of wine.
  • Zoos as research institutes, studying rhinos, African wild dogs, palm cockatoos, reptiles and more.

Hermannsburg, NT

  • It’s in the stars: stories from Indigenous and Western astronomy.

Read on to find out more, including event contact details.

Also today:

National Science Week 2019 runs 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

Immersive Science III: astronomy for all Australians – Richmond, VIC

Realise the power of stars, delve into the latest gravitational wave research, and explore the Universe — all without leaving town.

Science communicators and researchers Associate Professor Alan Duffy and Dr Rebecca Allen return to share the latest wonders of Australian-led research in Astronomy through SciVR, an immersive astronomy experience enabled by a virtual reality smartphone app.

Alan and Rebecca share the science of astronomy at Melbourne’s Mountain Goat Brewery.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Author Talk: The Knowledge Wars with Professor Peter Doherty — Mornington, VIC

Professor Peter Doherty became Australian of the Year in 1997 and is the first person with a veterinary qualification to win a Nobel Prize. He has written several books, including The Beginners Guide to Winning a Nobel Prize, The Knowledge Wars and The Incidental Tourist.

Doherty shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel for their discoveries about transplantation and “killer” T cell-mediated immunity, an understanding that is currently translating into new cancer treatments.

Passionate about promoting an evidence-based view of reality, Doherty recently published The Knowledge Wars, a “warts and all” view of science for non-scientists – and even people who don’t like science. It also suggests how any thoughtful citizen can bypass facile propagandists and probe the scientific evidence for and against some of the big issues, like climate change or GM foods.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Recipe for disaster – Parkville, VIC

Food has the capacity to bring us together. It’s familiar, relational and cultural. In times of conflict and scarcity, it also has the capacity to tear us apart. How food secure are you?

In a world with increasing ecological degradation and greater disparities between the rich and poor, food security is of increasing global concern … a food fight to avoid.

Recipe for Disaster is an interactive performative dinner experiment in the iconic Mad Max South Lawn Car Park at the University of Melbourne. This meal will not be your conventional sit-down hoity-toity dinner, nor is it dystopian in its approach. Instead, it will be a mash-up of food courses, movements and provocations from four food experts – a speculative journey into the future to explore how our myths, anxieties, pleasures, conveniences and comforts around food and diets in the context of a how the climate might change the future.

NOTE to participants: Due to the nature of the experiment, food allergies can be catered to with advanced notice, but unfortunately not food preferences.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Life on Mars — Perth, WA

Is there life on Mars? We’ve been asking the question for centuries. Could clues in Western Australia’s Pilbara soon give us answers?

And if humans do travel to Mars, how will they live on the red planet? Is there already simple life there? Will Mars be a base for humanity one day stepping out into the galaxy? Do we have galactic neighbours?

Graham Phillips, research fellow at University of Melbourne and former host of ABC’s Catalyst, will lead a panel of Australian and international scientists to give you the answers.

Panellists include:

  • NASA Mars 2020 rover mission program scientist Dr Mitch Schulte
  • Physicist Professor Paul Davies from Arizona State University
  • Astrobiologist from University of NSW, Professor Martin Van Kranendonk
  • BHP’s Dr Vanessa Lickfold
  • Curtin University’s Fireballs in the Sky coordinator Renae Sayers.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Wait Wait … Save Our Species! – Canberra, ACT

‘Wait Wait … Save Our Species!’ brings the hit US news-based radio quiz comedy show ‘Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!’ to a live event format in Australia with a focus on biodiversity. Prominent and obscure biodiversity and conservation news stories will be dissected and discussed. Audience members will join the host, expert panellists, a scorekeeper, and a science celebrity guest for jokes, limericks, and fun. This initiative brings laughter and learning together to help save our species.

Thursday 15 August Event details

The Einstein Lecture: Elisabetta Barberio on Dark Matter — Kensington, NSW

In the past decade, there has been impressive progress in detecting dark matter interactions. Physicist Elisabetta Barberio from the University of Melbourne explains how the research continues with crucial experiments deep in the bowels of an old gold mine in rural Australia.

This event is presented by the Australian Institute of Physics and the UNSW Centre for Ideas.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Young people and e-cigarettes — Auburn, NSW

What role does social media play in vaping? Macquarie University’s Dr Samia Amin is a researcher who aims to understand how friends, family, advertising, and other kinds of interactions on social media influence people’s perceptions and use of e-cigarettes.

Dr Amin is a medical doctor who spent 17 years working in Bangladesh and Malaysia before joining the Centre for Health Informatics at Macquarie University to undertake a PhD.

Thursday 15 August Event details

From vine to mind: the horticulture, chemistry, microbiology and neuroscience of wine – Adelaide, SA

Since the time of Louis Pasteur wine production has been a hotbed of scientific innovation. Scientists from The Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide have been studying this complex beverage for more than 60 years. They’re ready to share their science … and a sip of sauv blanc.

Participants will enjoy wine tasting and hear from experts on:

  • Horticulture – viticultural impacts on wine flavour
  • Microbiology – yeast-derived tastes and flavours
  • Oenology – winemaking techniques
  • Chemistry – wine ageing effects due to corks and other closures
  • Sensory science and neuroscience – how we perceive and measure wine flavour, exploring the human sensory experience.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Wild research: Zoos SA’s critical animal research and how you can get involved — Adelaide, SA

Find out about the research undertaken at Adelaide and Monarto Zoos.

Research at the zoos can mean different things, from keeping comprehensive records of animals to enable evidence-based decisions regarding health and management, to larger pure research projects that occur on an opportunistic and sometimes collaborative basis. Hear about recent work involving rhinos, African wild dogs, palm cockatoos, reptiles and more.

Researchers will explain how they partner with Zoos SA across a number of specialised areas, ranging from citizen science to university research—and how everyone can get involved.

Thursday 15 August Event details

It’s in the stars: stories from Indigenous and Western astronomy — Hermannsburg, NT

Indigenous Australians are our first astronomers. The culture includes many practical ways of using the moon, sun, stars and planets to navigate, determine the time of year and predict weather.

This is a community event in Ntaria (Hermannsburg), featuring hands-on demonstrations to illustrate Indigenous and Western astronomy, including talks, group activities and direct access to telescopes. The event has been timed to coincide with the full moon on 15 August.

It will be run by Ntaria Community School, in partnership with CSIRO scientists from Sydney and Melbourne.

Thursday 15 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 Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area: