The language of taste, the science of taste bubbles, what lurks beneath the surface of Sydney Harbour and more

Media bulletins

Kicking off in Sydney this Thursday 16 August, it’s 11 days of serious science fun, with 50 events running day and night around the Powerhouse Museum, the ABC Ultimo Centre, Ultimo TAFE and the University of Technology, Sydney.

So far, we’ve blogged about:

Here are some more stories from the festival:

For all interview requests regarding the Ultimo Science Festival, contact Frankie Lee on or on 0419 448 847; or AJ Epstein on or 0433 339 141.

And in other science news:

Learn the language of taste

Whether detecting a hint of vanilla in coffee or a woody note in wine, many of us struggle to describe subtle flavours.

Coffee expert Sam Sgambellonewill help budding connoisseurs sharpen their coffee-tasting skills in workshops at the Ultimo Science Festival.

“It’s like learning a language: some people have a better grasp than others, but it is a skill that can be learnt,” Sam says.

“By learning the science behind the senses, we’ll expand people’s vocabulary so they can describe what they taste with more confidence.”

Sam’s running two workshops during the Ultimo Science Festival at his café, Mecca Espresso, in Harris St.

The workshops are at 11am and 1pm on Saturday 25 August at Mecca Espresso, 646 Harris St, Ultimo.

For more information:

About Sam Sgambellone:

Sam runs Sydney’s Mecca Espresso. He has won the NSW Cup Tasting Championship for the past two years and is an accredited coffee tasting judge.

For interviews, contact Sam on 0410 583 581,, or Frankie Lee on 0419 448 847, Media can also attend the workshop, for photo and footage opportunities.

Science of bubbles

How many bubbles does a glass of sparkling wine have? And what is the scientifically proven way to properly pour champers? These are just some of the surprising bubble science that ‘surfing scientist’ Ruben Meerman will share during his kid-friendly shows at the Ultimo Science Festival’s Big Science Weekend from 25-26 August. Show information here:

More about the Big Science Weekend here:

About Ruben Meerman

Ruben is ABC TV’s ‘surfing scientist’. He’s appeared on Catalyst, Sleek Geeks, The Experimentals and Play School.

For interviews, contact Ruben on 0414 680 271 or Frankie Lee on 0419 448 847,

3000 species make Sydney Harbour beautiful beneath the surface too

Sydney Harbour’s natural beauty is thanks to its healthy ecosystem, say Sydney researchers—and it’s one of the most diverse harbour ecosystems in the world.

“Sydney Harbour has over 3000 species of fish, plants, molluscs and other marine life,” says Paul Gribben, deputy director of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) Sydney Harbour Research Program.

“A lot of the harbour species are filter feeders and they’re important in keeping the water clear and removing excess nutrients and pollutants. Without this biodiversity, the harbour would be much more stressed and have much poorer water quality.”

The past, present and future of Sydney Harbour and its marine ecological mysteries will be explored by Paul and his colleagues A/Prof Emma Johnston and Prof David Booth, at an Ultimo Science Festival public lecture on Thursday 16 August.

“Sydney has a very large human population around the harbour itself, but despite that, it continues to support this very diverse community with a large range of species.”

The SIMS Research Program is focused on how to make the harbour more resilient to climate change, urbanisation and other challenges, Paul says.

Paul, Emma and David will give an Ultimo Science Festival public lecture at 6pm, Thursday 16 August, at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Great Hall, 15 Broadway, Ultimo.

More information:

About the speakers

Dr Paul Gribben

Paul Gribben is a Research Fellow with the UTS Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, and Deputy Director of the SIMS Sydney Harbour Research Program. He’s a marine community ecologist who investigates the effects of man-made stressors on biodiversity.

Professor David Booth

UTS marine ecologist David Booth seeks to understand how fishes live and respond to human pressures, including pollution, climate change, fishing and artificial structures. His special focus is on the annual influx of coral reef fishes into Sydney Harbour and NSW waters generally.

Associate Professor Emma Johnston

Emma Johnston is an Australian Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales and the inaugural Director of the SIMS Sydney Harbour Research Program. She investigates human impacts under the sea and her research is conducted in Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour.

For interviews, contact Dr Paul Gribben on 0410 768 577, or Frankie Lee on 0419 448 847,

About the Ultimo Science Festival

The Ultimo Science Festival 2012 is 11 days of serious science fun.

There are more than 50 events in and around Harris St Ultimo day and night throughout the festival.

Get involved with pub science, science-art and film, family activities, school sessions, lectures on amazing topics by extraordinary speakers, comedy, laboratory tours, peeks into museum basements and scientists scurrying out of their labs to show what they’ve discovered.

All the details including booking information are at

And there’s a full program available at

Sound Check Australia – The national hearing survey

Binge listening isn’t a technical term, but you can probably guess what it means. Research has shown that our hearing can be adversely affected if we expose our precious shell-like ears to a number of loud experiences consecutively.

So if you’re working with a jackhammer from 7am to 4pm on Friday, that’s probably not the best night to go to that nightclub all-nighter with wall-to-wall DJs, or that death-metal concert.

How good is your hearing? Do you know how to protect it? Researchers from the National Acoustics Lab have teamed up with ABC Science to devise a suite of online activities. And you can be part of a national survey on our listening habits – what you listen to, how long, how often and how loud.

Hearing researchers and Sound Check Australia spokespeople from all over Australia are available for interviews.

Contact Frankie Lee for more information on or 0419 448 847.

E-health launch, Friday 17 August

Over the past months there has been lots of talk about e-health. Now, there’s a new project which has already changed how 10,000 people look after their chronic diseases.

We’re helping with the launch which will happen this Friday 17 August. If you’d like to be briefed, under embargo, give me a call.

L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships

The three fellows from Australia and New Zealand will be announced on Tuesday 21 August. We’ll be briefing journalists on embargo over the next couple of weeks.

If you’d like to receive information on this years’ fellows, give me a call on 0417 131 977 or email