Mind over faecal matter; coffee in space; and extreme scientists

Media bulletins, National Science Week

Launch Friday at Melbourne Museum, with NASA geobiologist. Plus 430 Science Week events around Victoria:

▪ Meet the NASA scientist paving the way for Mars missions, and other women doing science in extreme environments.

▪ Can virtual reality make food taste different? A science event that messes with your senses.

▪ Sewer soap, fatberg and a pee-powered battery: art and science meet the war on waste.

▪ Gut feelings: is there a link between your microbiome and mental health?

▪ Artificial intelligence and the future of humanity: world premiere of the movie MACHINE.

▪ What’s the science behind the perfect brew? And could you make coffee in space?

▪ Maker workshops for everyone, including people with disabilities.

▪ Take a virtual reality tour of the Universe.

▪ Can we generate wealth from waste? Ask the inventor of green steel and recycling micro-factories.

▪ ‘The Curiosity Show’ meets music.

▪ Take the Aha! Challenge and test your brain’s creative insight.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists, artists, performers and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

Tanya Ha: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0417 131 977

Plus, Victoria’s National Science Week launch — 7pm Friday 9 August

Science Week in Victoria kicks off with ‘Science at the Extreme’. Hear from three female scientists who work the Earth’s most inhospitable places: the frozen Antarctica tundra, the deserts of central Australia, the lava flows of Hawaii, and the ocean’s deep abysses.

NASA geobiologist Darlene Lim mimics Mars missions in the Earth’s most extreme environments, paving the way for space colonisation.

▪ Macquarie University earth scientist Kate Selway has led research teams in the desert of central Australia, the savannas of East Africa, and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctic. Kate makes measurements on the Earth’s surface to understand plate tectonics and improve measurements of ice loss from ice sheets.

▪ Dianne Bray has travelled aboard CSIRO’s RV Investigator to map the seafloor and collect samples of bizarre deep-sea creatures never seen before.

Where: Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street, Carlton. Event details

National Science Week in Victoria: event highlights

Extrasensory — Parliament House, Melbourne

Can you maintain your appetite in the face of distinctly unappetising pictures? Or keep your balance while virtual reality messes with your sense of where you are? And how will artificial intelligence, bionics and smart devices enhance our senses and change human perception?

Extrasensory explores the human senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and more.

This event combines art installations, performance, storytelling, experimentation, food and drink at Victoria’s Parliament House.

Activities and presenters include:

▪ Champagne science workshops with science communicator, and former My Kitchen Rules contestant Emma Donnelly.

▪ The chemistry of brewing beer to get the right flavour and aroma, with brewer John Helton, who trains beer tasters.

▪ A talk from Luke Smillie, an expert in susceptibility to ‘pseudo profound bullsh*t’ – meaningless statements designed to appear profound.

▪ A look at augmented-reality 3D hearing—the next generation of hearing aids.

▪ Tactile treasure maps that help people with low vision find their way.

▪ Arup’s mobile sound lab, showing how sound is controlled inside buildings, from flats along a trainline to concert hall acoustics.

▪ Food tasting in different virtual places: does your environment make things taste better?

▪ How Western science, Indigenous astronomy and Extrasensory visitors see starlight, detect patterns and make stories to explain the night sky.

Saturday 10 August Event details

DISPOSABLE – Parkville and Southbank, VIC

Science meets art and the war on waste at DISPOSABLE – Science Gallery Melbourne’s 2019 exhibition.

Following the lead of Australian cult-hero, the bin chicken (Australian white ibis), the event delves into our garbage to find opportunities within disposable culture. It features outdoor installations, pop-up gallery exhibits, performances, experiments and workshops.

▪ Is waste fat a friend or foe? See a fatberg grow. Or try luxury ‘sewer soap’ made from fat poured down drains.

▪ Pee power: turn your urine into battery power to recharge your mobile phone with the help of the Urinotron.

▪ Could the humble mealworm be a hero? Watch the mealworms of ‘Plastivore’ devour polystyrene and turn it into compost.

Science Gallery Melbourne will highlight experimental and creative ways to tackle our ever-growing excess of waste through transdisciplinary and collaborative practices in its third pop-up program.

Thursday 1 August to Sunday 1 September Event details

VIC: Mind over faecal matter: gut biome and mental health – Melbourne

Our “gut brain” and main brain are connected and influence mood, behaviour and mental health.

Spoiler: we really do have gut feelings.

Associate Professors Elisa Hill-Yardin and Ashley Franks will discuss how changing the way neurons communicate in the brain can alter the gut and the microbial communities we need for health. They will explore how combining neuroscience, microbiology and advanced genetics allows us to provide a holistic view of the gut-brain axis, how it becomes unbalanced and how we can engineer changes to ease dodgy tummies and gut dysfunction.

Thursday 8 August Event details

MACHINE: World Premiere Screening at Melbourne International Film Festival

The world premiere of MACHINE is screening at Melbourne International Film Festival.

MACHINE is an exploration of identity, creativity, and humanity, as we grapple with Artificial Intelligence and our place in a world where MACHINES appear to be smarter than humans.

Post screening there will be a Q&A with leading artificial intelligence scientist Professor Toby Walsh.

Friday 16 August Event details

Coffee in Space – Melbourne, Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura, Albury-Wodonga

Ground Control to Major Tom: what does it take to turn an astronaut into a barista? In a fishbowl-style public forum, research scientists will roleplay how they would roast, grind and extract quality coffee in the extremes of space. In a hands-on activity the public tastes and rates coffee with systematically varying particle size distributions, viewed through provided microscopes. Public lectures by scientists summarise and extend the science behind coffee. This will be offered at regional venues in Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton, where some of these activities will be combined.

This project uses the light-hearted premise of making coffee in space to engage the public in the serious science and technology around space travel.

Multiple dates and locations Event details

Video about explaining science through coffee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJar2ydY88I

Inclusive maker workshops for all: including people living with disability – Clayton and Frankston

Dr Kirsten Ellis will run accessible maker workshops at Monash University’s Clayton and Peninsula campuses, giving people living with disability the opportunity to be creative in a safe space.

Designed in collaboration with disability groups, the workshop options include making a badge that will light up or even vibrate, making a musical instrument, painting by remote control and much more. The more adventurous will also be able to try interactive design and programming activities.

This project will develop and deliver maker activities that meet the requirements of people with different abilities. Maker workshops provide opportunities for engagement with scientific principles in a creative and hands-on manner.

Thursday 15 and Friday 16 August Event details

Immersive Science III: tour the Universe via VR – multiple dates & locations

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 (VR) smartphone app.

Alan and Rebecca share the science of astronomy through an inclusive experience with an updated app, close-captioned studio livestream, and social media Q&A to regional groups and grassroots-organised viewing parties in libraries and other venues across the country. Finally, SciVR will enthuse local audiences with a Melbourne-based talk where guests can engage with the speakers and learn about these exciting topics.

Multiple dates and locations across Victoria, and interstate and online. Event details

Key events:

▪ Melbourne (Mountain Goat Brewery): Thursday 15 August Event details

▪ Livestream: Saturday 17 August Event details

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 normally 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

Sounds a lot like Science with The Curiosity Show and VYSO — Southbank, VIC

Professor Rob Morrison and Dr Deane Hutton from the Curiosity Show are back to explore the science of sound with Artistic Director Dr Ingrid Martin and the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Using the 70-piece symphony orchestra as live laboratory, the scientists and Ingrid will explore and explain the science of sounds and musical instruments. This fun, interactive performance introduces children to science, using do-it-yourself experiments with household items like straws, rubber bands and cardboard.

Be prepared for bucketloads of homemade instruments, audience participation, and a cracking grand finale.

Sunday 18 August, 1.30pm & 4.30pm 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 AhaChallenge.net.auuntil Saturday 31 August.