Are we alone; can science save humanity; and more this National Science Week

Bulletins, Media bulletins


  • Are we alone? Australia’s part in the $135 million search for life out there – AusSMC briefing at 11:15am and public forum in Canberra.
  • Diamonds are a scientist’s best friend- national women in science tour – VIC today then South Australia, NSW, Western Australia and ACT.

Tomorrow: National Science Week launch in Canberra – and two in Sydney for a battle of the science festivals.

Friday: Science Week officially launches nationally with Ministers, MPs and senators in their local schools organised through CSIRO’s Scientists in Schools program.

Then from Saturday: There are more than 1,500 activities across Australia for National Science Week.  There’s more on all things Science Week below.

And just a heads up:

Sunday week: What does it take to make a healthy baby in the 21st Century – forum in Adelaide.

Wednesday 26 August: 16 Eureka Prize winners announced.

And last night: The launch of the National Marine Science Plan -we could double Australia’s blue economy to $100 billion by 2025. That’s energy, fisheries, tourism, defence, trade etc. But we’ve only mapped a fraction of Australia’s ocean floor. We’ve mapped more of Venus!

So I’ll be deluging you with science stories for the next two weeks. If I send you too much information please yell out.

Kind regards,


Are we alone? The $100 million question

  • Scimex news briefing – Wednesday 12 August, 11:15am AEST; Canberra and online
  • Public forum – Wednesday 12 August, 12:30pm; National Library of Australia

With Stephen Hawking recently announcing a $135 million dollar international research effort, the search for extraterrestrial life just got hotter.

So what involvement will Australia have? Where do we start the hunt? And what do we do if we find intelligent life?

A stellar line-up of speakers—author and astrobiologist Professor Paul Davies, Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and two of Australia’s top young scientists Dr Alan Duffy and Professor Naomi McClure-Griffiths— will tackle the big questions at a special forum at the National Library of Australia, hosted by Science & Technology Australia.

AusSMC is hosting a media briefing on this topic at 11:15am today with Matthew Bailes, Naomi McClure-Griffiths and Alan Duffy ahead of the public forum.

You can join the briefing in person at the National Gallery of Australia, or follow the briefing online via audio and video streaming.

For details on how to join in, go to: 

National Science Week

  • The ACT is launching their program on Thursday; and their Science Week includes local talent, international guests, and asking: “can science save humanity?”
  • The Sydney Science Festival and the Australian Museum Science Festival launch on Thursday – kicking off the NSW activities. 
  • And the National launch is on Friday – it’s a distributed launch happening simultaneously at schools around the country, where dozens of parliamentarians and senators are attending local launches in schools in their electorates, being arranged through CSIRO’s Scientists in Schools program.
  • South Australia kicked off their week last Thursday; highlighting their activities featuring astronauts, fossil fossicking, and a giant brain you can walk inside.

There’s more on all of these at:

We’re coordinating the national publicity for the week, so if you’d like to know more get in touch with Tanya Ha on or 0404 083 863.

There are also media contacts in each state:

And if you’ve got questions about a particular event please contact the event holder. Details available at:

National Marine Science Plan – the science behind a “Blue Economy”

Australia’s search-and-rescue area covers 10 per cent of the earth’s surface; our oceans are home to the largest coral reef on the planet; and more than 85 per cent of Australia’s population live within 50 kilometres of the coast.

And we’ve mapped more of Venus than of the ocean floor.

These are just some of the reasons over 500 scientists have come together to devise a plan for Australia’s marine science research over the next 10 years.

The National Marine Science Plan was launched in Canberra last night and AIMS CEO John Gunn hopes that it will lead to more efficiencies in marine research.

Industry and conservation don’t have to work at cross purposes when it comes to marine science, he said, and sharing data across government agencies, as well as between government and industry will result in better outcomes for all.

The plan sets out the seven most significant development and sustainability challenges, including food and energy security, protecting biodiversity, sustainable coastal urban development, climate variability, and marine sovereignty and security.

“Tourism, shipping, oil and gas, aquaculture and fishing all rely on our oceans, and the contribution of marine-based industries to our economy has doubled in the last decade to around $47 billion,” said Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Science.

“As this growth continues, we need to make the right investment and management decisions now to secure balanced benefits in the future.

“This plan presents a way forward for both science and industry to ensure our ocean ecosystems bring economic, cultural and social benefits that are efficient, equitable and sustainable.”

You can see the plan here:

More at:

Diamonds are a scientist’s best friend: Women in Physics tour

Today in Victoria; then South Australia, NSW, Western Australia and ACT.

Jodie Bradby is creating ultra-hard nanomaterials in the lab at the same crushing pressures and intense temperatures in which form diamonds underground.

These crystals have bizarre natural properties such as being soft when they are large but extremely hard at the nanoscale.  And they have excellent potential for new solar applications.

“Many, many scientists and engineers are working on making better, stronger and harder materials. We rely on such advanced materials every day – we just don’t always see how amazing they are and how far technology has come,” says Jodie, who is a physicist at the Australian National University.

At the moment Jodie is venturing out of the lab, and touring the nation in her role as this years’ Australian Institute of Physics Women in Physics lecturer.

She’s presenting a series of school talks and public lectures showing audiences the career paths studying physics can lead to, and the broader application of the science. And she’s hoping her research will get young women excited about physics.

So what’s her advice to would-be-scientists? Hang in there!

Hang in there if you fail a few subjects – we have all been there! Hang in there if you aren’t dux of your school – you don’t have to be the smartest kid in the state to do science. Hang in there if your experiments are going wrong or if you feel there are no jobs to apply for when you graduate.

Remember that a career in science is diverse and can range from the laboratory to the classroom to industry and government. And importantly hang in there because of ‘science’ and the good it can do society. Science really needs people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Science needs people who are ‘people-people’ as well as strong logical thinkers.

Science needs people who can see the opportunities that a discovery could uncover and people who can run complex instruments while teaching a group of students at the same time. We need all types in science – so if you hang in there chances are you will find your niche that will enable you to contribute your love of science to create a better world. And what can be better than that!

Each year the Australian Institute of Physics chooses a to conduct a national tour talking about their particular physics field at schools and public events, and persuading young physicists – particularly young women – of the benefits of a career in physics.

For interviews contact Jodie Bradby, Australian National University:

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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