Essential meds, future factories, and the science of your pinot noir

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Highlights from day four of National Science Week

289 events, 536 competitions and online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

Researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country.

  • NSW: Should the Moon have legal rights?
  • NSW: Is your diet good for the planet?
  • WA: Calling all innovators: ideas wanted to change the future of our oceans-for the better
  • NT: Will the Territory be the centre of Australia’s new space race?
  • TAS:  Are bushfires good for plankton?
  • VIC: Vaccines, coronavirus, criminal trials, and climate change: trusting science in a time of crisis
  • QLD:  Lasers, robots, 3D-printing: what will the factory of the future look like?
  • NSW: Why can’t some people get the essential medicines they need?
  • TAS: Celebrate International Pinot Noir Day by finding out where your pinot get its flavour and aroma from
  • VIC: What’s wrong with ultra-processed food

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

Also today:

Coming up:

Beer, bandicoots, bat-poop, black holes, and science in the courtroom – see a preview of Wednesday’s highlights.

National Science Week 2020 runs from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for more events and activities:

More about the event highlights

Should the Moon be a legal person? – online, via Newcastle

Wait, what? How can the Moon be a person? And why should that even be a thing?

Hang online with a panel of experts and get to the bottom of this fascinating idea.

A recent US Executive Order on off-Earth mining has sparked an international conversation about Moon mining and the associated ethical, technological, scientific, environmental, and legal issues.

Giving the Moon the legal rights of a human will make it much harder to mine its minerals.

Put the hard questions at this online event, featuring:

  • Donna Lawler, space law specialist;
  • Michelle Maloney, co-founder and national convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA);
  • Associate Professor Alice Gorman, also known as Dr Space Junk, space archaeologist and author;
  • Gabriel Harris, founder and managing director of management consultancy Interchange; and
  • Ceridwen Dovey, essay writer for

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Speakers and hosts available for media interviews.

Eating for the planet—Kensington, NSW

Is it possible to feed 10 billion people a healthy diet without destroying the planet?

Four years ago, this question was posed to a group of doctors and dieticians from all over the world, and their response became the Planetary Health Diet – a way of eating created by scientists to bring together the health needs of humans with what our planet can afford.

Join public health advocate and CEO of VicHealth Sandro Demaio, Alexandra Jones from The George Institute for Global Health, clinical dietitian Jennifer Cohen and director of That Sugar Film Damon Gameau as they discuss how we can all eat better and contribute to a healthier world.

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Damon, Sandro, Alexandra and Jennifer are available for interviews

Deeper Blue Ocean Innovation Challenge

How might we change the future of our oceans-for the better? What innovative idea would you love to see applied here in WA?

Your challenge is to help us find and lead on an innovative solution from around the world and suggest where or how it could be applied locally in WA. Submit your idea and go in the draw to receive an Ocean Innovator’s support package to help bring the idea to life.

On now until Sunday 23 August. Event details

Dr Keal Byrne, chair of the WA National Science Week coordinating committee, is available for interviews.

Aerospace in the Northern Territory

Will the Territory be the centre of Australia’s new space race? In this webinar, three experts working in the NT aerospace industry reveal how they use physics, biology, chemistry, electronics, mathematics and more in their working life.

  • Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Carley Scott will talk about the Arnhem Space Centre and the future of launch operations in Australia.
  • Dr Rebecca Murray from the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance will talk about using 3D metal printing to develop real world applications. She is part of a team assisting the global response to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Physicist Dr Stefan Maier from Maitec will talk about developing, implementing and operating remote sensing systems for environmental monitoring, including tracking bushfires.
    The event will include a Q&A session, and is ideal for schools, students and anyone with an interest in aerospace.

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

From sky to sea: Bushfires, the atmosphere and the marine environment—Hobart, TAS

What does plankton have to do with bushfires? How does weather influence fire, and what can Tasmania expect in the future? Hear from two experts at this online event.

Paul Fox-Hughes is a researcher working in the Bureau of Meteorology, mostly on the interactions of fire and weather, after spending two decades as a severe weather forecaster.

Pete Strutton is a biological oceanographer at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. He uses satellites, ship-based data and autonomous ocean observing platforms to investigate how climate affects ocean life.

Paul and Pete share their science for the annual public lecture of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society and the Australian Marine Science Association.

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Within reason: trusting science in a time of crisis—Parkville, VIC

Why do people deny the life-saving efficacy of vaccines? How does a jury decide which forensic evidence to trust? What if we trust science, but it turns out to be wrong?

At this event four speakers from the University of Melbourne will explore how and why people trust—or distrust—science during crises.


  • Professor David Balding will ask who checks the reliability of forensic evidence in a criminal trial, and how we maintain trust in science while probing flaws and debunking pseudo-science.
  • Dr Jessica Kaufman will discuss communicating science in a pandemic and readying the public for vaccines.
  • Professor Fiona Fidler will talk about bias in science.
  • Dr Kate Dooley will analyse the unavoidably political nature of climate science. 

This online event will be hosted by astrophysicist, science communication lecturer, and former Catalyst host Dr Graham Phillips.

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Factory of the future—Brisbane, QLD

Smart or not, the future will still need factories to make the stuff humans use everyday. How will existing production models cope with the staggering and ongoing rate of digital disruption and advanced capabilities?

Join this online event to hear three innovators predict the future of manufacturing and how the human worker fits into this fast-changing land space. Featuring:

  • Leanne Kemp, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Founder and CEO of Everledger
  • Associate Professor Cori Stewart, Chief Investigator, Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Hub
  • Stefan Hajkowicz, Senior Principal Scientist Strategy and Foresight Data61 CSIRO

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Several panellists are available for media interviews.

Essential medicines and their accessibility—Sydney, NSW

Use your hacking skills in an eight hour online dig to uncover ways of improving access to essential medicines. 

Essential medicines include drugs such as Amoxicillin, Paracetamol and Lorazepam. In this live-streamed talk and panel discussion find out about their history, and learn about their  chemical structures, manufacture and pricing.

Work together with other citizen scientists to improve their availability and access.

Hosted by Alice Motion, chemistry professor at the University of Sydney.

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Alice Motion is available for interviews.

Chemical and sensory comparison of Australian pinot noir wines—TAS

August 18 is International Pinot Noir Day – which might prompt the question: does it matter where your wine comes from?

Wine scientist Dr Rocco Longo from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture conducted a pinot noir tasting study. He found there are differences in the chemistry, flavour and aroma of wines depending on the region from which they originate.

Rocco’s webinar, ‘Chemical and Sensory Comparison of Australian Pinot Noir Wines: A Preliminary Study’, in which he shares his findings will be launched online, fittingly enough, on August 18, and will be available until August 23. 

Tuesday 18 – Sunday 23 August. Event details

What’s wrong with ultra-processed food?—Melbourne, VIC

Hear the latest research into the dietary and health impacts of ultra-processed foods from Associate Professor Gyorgy Scrinis, food politics and policy expert at the University of Melbourne, and author of the book Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice.

Learn how ultra-processed foods are regulated, produced, distributued and marketed in this online event, hosted by Dr Jennifer Henry.

Tuesday 18 August Event details

Event type: Online

More about National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year 1.5 million people participated in more than 2050 events around the country, in metropolitan, regional and remote locations.

In 2020, the festival is almost entirely virtual, online, DIY and well-spaced. This means most events, large and small, is open to anyone, no matter where they live.

National Science Week 2020 will run from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at, public event listings at