Where did the stars go? Sharing worth $5 billion to science; in the hot zone at Fukushima

Bulletins, Media bulletins


Where did the stars go?

When did you last really see the night sky? The lights of the cities are drowning out the night sky. We’re holding a fireside chat at Fed Square in Melbourne tomorrow to discuss:

  • Why do we need the dark?
  • How does light pollution impact our health and ecosystems?
  • And what astronomical wonders are we missing out on?

Our speakers are all available for interview. More below.

Boosting Australian research by up to five billion dollars – just by sharing and recycling data
A national study and national workshop tomorrow, 19 June 2015, Canberra, media welcome
A national study shows the way to boost Australian research output by between $1.4 billion and $4.9 billion, just by sharing and reusing data generated by publicly-funded research activities. Examples of the benefits include:

  • Discovering if a ‘ghost’ in recycled data from The Dish at Parkes be a collapsing neutron star
  • A ‘lifestyle’ database for mosquitos providing a test-bed for malaria control strategies
  • Planning for Melbourne’s growth with data from dozens of sources –  public, private and commercial

The study will be presented at the workshop at which leading research organisations will present what they’ve done with shared, open data including:

  • Planning marine reserves with the help of the Australian National Fish Collection
  • The family tree of insectkind – created with the help of the Australian National Insect Collection.

More at www.scienceinpublic.com.au.

In the hot zone at Fukushima

Last Friday I had the surreal experience of joining international science reporters on a visit to Fukushima. 

Photo reactor

We stood just 100 metres from a reactor with its top blown off. We were allowed to stand there for just ten minutes. It was surreal as the photos suggest. Seven thousand people are working to clean this up. And every day 300 tonnes of contaminated water is created.

But no one died. Nearly 15,000 people died in the Great Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. No-one died at Fukushima – at least not from radiation. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated. Tens of thousands have not been allowed home yet. The topsoil is being dug up from their farms and gardens and stored for 30 years. Mental illness, depression, suicide, and heart disease are all likely consequences.

No one was prepared for an accident because nuclear power was ‘safe’. I think nuclear power is part of the solution to long term sustainable energy security. But after Fukushima I’m not sure that we’re mature enough.

By the way – the trains… no one died on the trains. The bullet trains stopped within 100 seconds of the first detection of an earthquake.

I’m available to talk about the experience.

And coming up:

National Science Week, August 15th – 23rd, is approaching and we’ve just been appointed to promote the Week. More below, and more next week about the national experiment, touring speakers and other stories.

Kind regards,


Reclaiming the stars

Fireside chat @ 6pm on Friday 19 June in Federation Square

Star light, star bright, how many stars do you see tonight?

Our view of the night sky is contracting. Many children in our cities have never seen a starry night sky.

Artificial light from high-rises, streetlamps and stadiums scatters skyward, which means we’re seeing fewer stars than ever before.

Join us by the fire to learn more about light pollution and efforts to save the night skies.

This is an International Year of Light event, and is part of The Light in Winter Festival’s campfire program: http://fedsquare.com/events/campfire-program-leempeeyt-weeyn

Available talent:

Therésa Jones, Behaviour and Evolution Group, The University of Melbourne
Why do we need darkness?

Therésa can explain more about why artificial light can be harmful to humans and other animals.

Nick Lomb, International Dark-Sky Association – Victoria
Big city lights

Nick can describe how light is incorporated into our cities and urban environments. He can also highlight examples of how people are solving the problem of light pollution around the world.

Tanya Hill, Melbourne Planetarium, Scienceworks
Astronomical discoveries in our skies

Tanya will be able to comment on the most important discoveries astronomers have seen in our night skies in the last year.

Contact Megan Girdler on megan@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0432 550 809 to organise interviews.

National Science Week

Mark your diaries: National Science Week is coming up from August 15th – 23rd, Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. We’re excited to be involved as the national media and communication agency.

This year’s Science Week is shaping up to be out of this world, with astrophysicist, author, presenter of Cosmos and ‘world-recognised badass’ Neil deGrasse Tyson visiting Australia, hundreds of local science events and the ABC’s National Science Experiment ‘Galaxy Explorer’ getting ordinary Australians involved in classifying galaxies.

It’s a great time to run stories on Science Week events in your neighbourhood, profile local scientists, have fun with science, and celebrate Australian innovation, ingenuity and discovery.

Organisers will register local event details online at www.scienceweek.net.au/.
We will keep you in the loop with key events and stories.

More about Science in Public

We’re always happy to help put you in contact with scientists. Our work is funded by the science world – from the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes to Nature. We’re keen to suggest interesting people and stories – and not just those of our clients’.

If you’re looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.

Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.
Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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