Weighing the Earth with a Nobel Laureate; the physics of Luna Park, and more

Bulletins, Media bulletins

Do you weigh more in Melbourne or Canberra? How much does your weight change as you travel across the country? How much does the earth weigh?

Later this morning we’re launching a national experiment with 2011 physics Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, and year nine students at Albert Park College in Melbourne.

They’ll discover how much the Earth weighs and also that as you travel across Australia your weight changes (just a bit). Over the year, the Australian Institute of Physics hopes to involve thousands of people around the country as part of their 50th anniversary.

Also in this bulletin:

  • Roller coasters and the Roulettes – the physics of Luna Park
  • The end of absolute poverty – Gates Foundation leader vising Australia
  • The killer on our doorstep – World TB Day, 24 March
  • Bringing science to pubs from Hobart to Broome
  • “Star-Craving Mad” launches

 Today: Weighing the Earth with a Nobel Laureate

Australia’s 2011 physics Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, will launch a national physics experiment on Friday at a Melbourne high school.

 The experiment is called ‘The BIG little g project’ and is open to people around Australia to participate—all you need is a home-made pendulum, a tape measure and a stop watch. You’ll measure the gravitational pull of the Earth and see how it varies across the country. We actually weigh more when we’re in Canberra. It’s not just the politics dragging us down.

Associate Professor Andrew Greentree, Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Fellow at RMIT in Melbourne will compile the data to build a map of Australia’s gravitational field that in some areas will be more sensitive than current maps. “The most sensitive maps of little g are made with NASA satellites,” says Andrew. “They get down to a resolution of around 100km, but we’d like to measure Earth’s gravitational field to resolutions of around 100m”.

Launch: 9 am, Friday 1 March 2013

Albert Park College, 83 Danks St, Albert Park, Vic

For interviews or to arrange to attend, contact:

Margie Beilharz, Science in Public, 0415 448 065,  margie@scienceinpublic.com.au

Full media release at http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/weighing-the-earth

More information on the BIG little g project is at www.aip.org.au/littleg

Tuesday: Roller coasters and the Roulettes – the physics of Luna Park

What makes Luna Park thrilling?

Momentum, g-forces, inertia, gravity: physics.

Thousands of Melbourne school students will head to Melbourne’s Luna Park next week for an intense introduction to practical physics.

Armed with data-loggers they’ll track the forces across the rides and work out what forces guarantee a thrilling experience.

The RAAF’s elite formation aerobatic display team, the Roulettes, will also perform above St Kilda Beach on Wednesday.

The Australian Institute of Physics’ Victorian Branch hosts the annual excursions over three days.

VCE physics days at Luna Park:  March 5, 6 and 7, St Kilda.

For interviews or to arrange to attend, contact:

Georgina Howden-Chitty, Science in Public, 03 9078 5398, georgina@scienceinpublic.com.au

There is more information at www.vicphysics.org/lunapark.html

The end of absolute poverty – Gates Foundation leader vising Australia

Geoffrey Lamb, Gates Foundation President of Global Policy and Advocacy will give the 2013 Graeme Clark Oration on Monday 29 April in Melbourne.

He will have some time for a small number of high impact interviews while he’s here.

If you’ll be in Melbourne, you’re also invited to the Oration at the Melbourne Convention Centre at 5.30pm on 29 April. Let me know if you’re planning to come along.

In his Oration, Geoff will review the extraordinary successes of the past half century in reducing mortality and disease. He will show how investments in health have been critical for economic growth and the reduction of global poverty – and have helped bring the goal of an end to absolute global poverty within generational sight.

“In retrospect the huge basic health advances of recent decades may have been the easy part,” Geoff says.

“What needs to be done to ensure the next transformation in global health, and make the end of absolute poverty attainable?”

Geoff leads the foundation’s international policy and advocacy team, and its engagement with governments and international institutions.

He has also worked with the World Bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the International Aids Vaccine Initiative since 2000, and served as chairman of the international negotiations for the replenishment of the African Development Bank’s concessional arm, the African Development Fund.

The Graeme Clark Oration is a free public lecture established to honour Professor Graeme Clark, inventor of the bionic ear. The Oration celebrates the new possibilities emerging from the convergence of biology, computing and engineering. It is hosted by the ICT for Life Sciences Forum, collaboration between Melbourne’s leading medical research institutes, hospitals and universities to share ideas about the convergence of biology and computer science.

For interviews contact:

Niall Byrne, Science in Public, +61 (417) 131 977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au

More details about the Graeme Clark Oration: http://www.graemeclarkoration.org.au/

Reinvent your world

2000 students from 80 countries will attend the Harvard World Model United Nations conference in Melbourne from 18 March.

For the duration of the WorldMUN conference, students assume the position of United Nations delegates and represent assigned Member States in committees and forums, debating, discussing and attempting to resolve some of the world’s most pressing and complex problems. Delegates are given the opportunity to articulate their views on international issues, and to develop networks spanning across borders. After-hours however, delegates get to immerse themselves in the culture and nightlife of the city – socializing, dancing and enjoying a cocktail or two with fellow delegates from all over the world.

Speakers include:

Gareth Evans;

Tim Costello

Jan Owen, CEO of Foundation for Young Australians.

More nearer the time.

 The killer on our doorstep – World TB Day, 24 March

130 years ago tuberculosis (TB) was the leading cause of death in Australia.

Today TB is still a threat as new varieties of the disease take hold which are deadlier and harder to treat.

A crisis is developing in our nearest neighbours – Papua New Guinea has the highest TB burden in the Pacific region with more than 14,500 new cases diagnosed a year.

Australia is well placed to help.

In the leadup to World TB Day on 24 March, we’ll help launch an Australian-led multi-national research effort.

We’ll also have stories about intriguing work being done by Australians in Bhutan, Vietnam and China.

Bringing science to pubs from Hobart to Broome

Last week we filled a pub with 100 Novocastrians gathering for a drink and a chat with scientists who work in genetics, fertility and biotechnology.

Next week we’re in Hobart.

Science in the Pub gets people thinking about and talking about new technologies in science – for the audience to find out about research in their own city and to tell us what they feel about nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Newcastle was the first in a series. We’re holding events in nine regional centres where local researchers will chat about their work and take questions from the public. And they’re not afraid to talk about the scary stuff, from privacy to stem cell treatments, genetically modified food to nanotechnology.

The next stop will be Hobart on March 7, and then we’ll be heading across the country: stay tuned for details of events in Dubbo, Townsville, Port Lincoln and Darwin.

The program is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Industry and Innovation.

 “Star-Craving Mad” launches

Astronomer Fred Watson is travelling the country promoting his new book, Star-Craving Mad – Tales from a Travelling Astronomer.

The book is a light-hearted yet informative story of humankind’s growing understanding of the Universe.

Launches are happening around the country, starting this Monday 4 March in Bathurst. For all the details head to


Science in Public

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

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