Cosmic rays, pyramids, spitting for science and the Universe in four dimensions

Media bulletins, National Science Week

Highlights from the penultimate day of National Science Week

171 events and exhibitions, 9 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

Theatre, dance, virtual reality, astronomy and home-brewing all feature in Science Week events around Australia for Saturday. Pic opportunities and interviews abound.

National: What are the early insights into creative thinking from The Aha! Challenge?

Melbourne & multiple other locations: Immersive astronomy livestream with Alan Duffy and Rebecca Allen.

Melbourne: Spit for science: researchers want to map the microbiomes of Melburnians.

Melbourne: The alchemy of turning waste into wealth. Professor Veena Sahajwalla available for interview.

Adelaide & Canberra: A theatre work exploring Australia’s contribution to space science.

Canberra: The Universe in Four Dimensions: a trip through space and time using dance and animation. 

Canberra: How cosmic rays revealed a hidden chamber in an Egyptian pyramid. Researcher Dr Karin Sowada available for interview.

Hobart: A pop-up science bar at TMAG, with expert talks and 100+ roving scientists.

Hobart: Last day! NEON: three scientists, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and 18 local young dancers.

Sydney: Harbour cruise: Indigenous navigation by the stars.

Sydney: The Planets: concert and stargazing in Centennial Park.

Darwin: Revisiting the 1919 great London to Darwin air race. Interview the creators and performers.

Brisbane: What can we do to help our coral reefs?

Perth: The Innovators’ Tea Party networking women and girls in science.

National: Spot wildlife with your smartphone in the Great Aussie BioQuest.

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

Also today:

Melbourne: Particle/Wave: gravitational waves explained by scientists, sounds, video art and poetry.

Adelaide: Spot the bull s…cience! Teams of scientists battle to sort fact from fiction.

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

The Aha! Challenge

Join the almost 10,000 people who have taken part in this year’s National Science Week Australia-wide experiment. How often do you have Eureka moments? Take the 15-minute challenge at

Organisers Dr Margaret Webb and Dr Simon Cropper available for interview.

Immersive Science III (SciVR): Astronomy for all Australians – multiple locations, VIC, QLD, NSW, ACT, WA

Tune in to an immersive astronomy experience at locations across the country from libraries and schools to an observatory and even a brewery. Using a closed-captioned studio livestream, science communicators and researchers Associate Professor Alan Duffy and Dr Rebecca Allen will take you on a guided tour through the latest wonders of Australian-led research via the SciVR virtual reality (VR) smartphone app. 

Saturday 17 August Event details

VIC: ‘Spit for Science’ and ‘Gut Feelings’ spot talks – Carlton

Museums Victoria is creating a world first live microbe map …. and they’re inviting you to spit for science!

Are you a cat or a dog person? A coffee drinker? Vegan? We want to know because recent research shows the mix of helpful microorganisms in your gut is affected by your lifestyle choices … but how? As Melbourne is the allergy capital of the world, do we have a unique microbe fingerprint that’s talking to our immune systems?

To investigate these questions, and more, the Museum is creating a digital microbe map of Victoria, and taking a sample from one end of the gut, the mouth.

Saturday 17 August Event details  

VIC: The Alchemist: Turning Waste into Wealth – Melbourne

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, the inventor of green steel, is repurposing the fundamental molecules and elements within waste products to revolutionise recycling science.

Veena sees our growing waste problem as a commercial opportunity with real market value. Last year her SMaRT centre opened the world’s first e-waste micro-factory to process old computers, phones, televisions, and all the electronic junk that ends up in landfill. The waste is sorted and dismantled by robots, then mined for its precious elements. Circuit boards are stripped of metals such as gold, copper and tin, while glass and plastic are converted to industrial-grade ceramics and plastic filaments for use in 3D printing.

Saturday 17 August Event details

SA, ACT: Launch to the Future! A STEM Story

‘Launch to the Future! A STEM Story’ is a theatrical performance-based education program exploring Australia’s contribution to space science and the 2019 Schools Theme: Destination Moon: more missions, more science. Launch to the Future combines high energy sketch comedy and improvisation to entertain, inspire and educate audiences through a fun and interactive live experience.

Performed by professional actors and educators, the fact-filled program inspires audiences with the astonishing discoveries, innovations and solutions of space science and how these impact our daily lives as well as drive our future. The performance features the work of local Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, Ruby Payne-Scott, the Square Kilometre Array and Australia’s role in the transmission of the first moon landing.

Free general public performances will tour major venues in capital cities, and schools in each region.

Adelaide: Saturday 17 August Event details

Canberra: Saturday 17 August Event details

ACT: U4D: The Universe in 4 Dimensions – Canberra

U4D is a trip through space and time using dance and animation, involving artists and astronomers.

ASTRO 3D astronomers, who research the universe from soon after the Big Bang to the present-day, will work with dance artists Liz Lea, Eric Avery, photographer Jen Brown and animator James Josephides.

They are set to create an arts-science performance exploring the key concepts of the astronomers’ research, including the origin of the ionised universe and the Periodic Table.

The aim is to place the human body in space while seeking connections with cultural histories including the Dreamtime and recent discoveries being made by astronomers.

Saturday 17 August Event details

ACT: Cosmic to Microscopic: Hidden spaces and new evidence from the pyramid field at Giza — Yarralumla, ACT

By harnessing cosmic rays, a new chamber was discovered in the Great Pyramid of Khufu, which dates from about 2560 BCE. This lecture by Macquarie University archaeologist Dr Karin Sowada explores new stories from the Giza plateau, and the role of science in moving debate about the site beyond speculation.

Presented by National Science Week ACT, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and the Embassy of Egypt in Canberra.

Saturday 17 August Event details

TAS: Bringing back the thylacine, microbiomes of private parts and eating the problem: BeakerStreet@TMAG, a pop-up science bar—Hobart

  • Resurrecting species from ancient DNA: should we bring the thylacine and other extinct animals back from the dead? Ask palaeontologist Mike Archer how and why.
  • ‘Only technology will save us from ourselves’— experts battle it out in the Radio National Science Friction debate, moderated by Natasha Mitchell.
  • ‘Eat the problem’ at MONA’s Invasive Species Cocktail Bar.
  • The microbiome of your private parts.
  • Explore technology and game design in a retro videogame arcade.
  • Genetically engineering coral reefs for survival, with Madeleine van Oppen.
  • Ockham’s Razor Live, with short science talks hosted by Bernie Hobbs.
  • The science of brewing at the Tasmanian Whisky Week Distiller’s Bar.

Plus, the Science Photography Prize, workshops, live music, Tassie food and drink, and 100+ roving scientists to chat with—all at BeakerStreet@TMAG, a pop-up science bar at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Saturday 17 August Event details

TAS: NEON – Clarendon Vale

Last day! 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.

Saturday 17 August Event details

NSW: Harbour Cruise: Indigenous Navigation by the Stars — Sydney

Enjoy a three-hour stargazing experience on Sydney Harbour aboard Tribal Warrior’s Mari Nawi (Big Canoe), while the ship’s Aboriginal crew shares stories and skills based on traditional knowledge of navigation by the stars.

Passed down through generations, navigation by the stars is one aspect of an intrinsic connection to land, seas and skies, based on deep knowledge of stars, ocean, winds and tides. Participants will learn how stars are used to mark their position and safely navigate.

Saturday 17 August Event details

NSW: The Planets – Concert and Stargazing—Centennial Parklands

Listen to the beautiful “Planets” by Gustav Holst performed by the Sydney Youth Orchestra before you embark on an evening of star and planet gazing.

Dr Luke Barnes from Western Sydney University will give an introduction into stargazing and astronomy and the Sydney Skywatchers will provide guidance at their amazing telescopes.

Let the music inspire you (and find the parts that inspired Star Wars).

Saturday 17 August Event details

NT: Air Race: aviation history brought to life on stage, Darwin

Inspired by the amazing true story of the 1919 Air Race from London to Darwin, this old-world adventure from Arena Theatre Company captures an extraordinary moment in history, when flight was inspiring a whole new way of looking at the world.

Seven teams take to the skies in a thrilling race to victory, chasing an adventure that will take them half-way across the planet. Maintaining their flying machines with found objects, random spare parts and the occasional wad of chewing gum, these aviators undertook their extraordinary journey at a time when ‘risk management’ just wasn’t a thing.

Will they survive? Will they make it to Darwin? And whose stories matter when you’re making history?

Friday 16 to Sunday 17 August Event details

QLD: Coral reefs – immerse, learn and act—Brisbane

Reefs are in trouble worldwide: how can you help?

Virtual reality that gives you a realistic reef experience even if you’re hundreds of kilometres away is one of projects of CoralWatch, a global citizen science program based at The University of Queensland.

There will be presentations, displays, outdoor field science activities and workshops with suggestions on how we can help the reef.

Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 August Event details

WA: Networking women and girls in science: The Innovators’ Tea Party—Perth

The Innovators’ Tea Party links successful women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with high school students in speed-networking events. The events are one-off mentoring opportunities that connect passionate and diverse women working in STEM with high-school students looking for more information about career opportunities, career pathways and positive STEM role models. Any student in Years 10 to 12 can register to attend.

Saturday 17 August Event details

The Great Aussie BioQuest: like Pokémon Go! but with real animals!

Submit your wildlife sightings using your smartphone and help scientists study how climate change is influencing where the wild things are.

QuestaGame is a smartphone app where users can log sightings of real wildlife. They can then identify the plant or animal, or wait for an expert to help. All sightings are verified and given a remarkability score.

The data is then shared with the Atlas of Living Australia to help researchers make better decisions about protecting the environment.

Ready to join thousands of players across Australia in a team-based, outdoor game that will help protect our environment? Join the Great Aussie Biodiversity Challenge 2019.

QuestaGamers have already found new species, including the spider Ornodolmedes benrevelli, named after the gamer who photographed it —Ben Revell— by the scientist who confirmed it. Other new species of moths, spiders and insects are in the process of being scientifically described. Gamers have also spotted invasive species that are a threat to biosecurity.

Runs until Sunday 18 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: