Herding caterpillars, good science, and bad behaviour in space

Media releases, National Science Week

Thursday 20 August 2020

Highlights from day six of National Science Week

209 events, 401 competitions and online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

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

  • NSW: When artificial light becomes pollution
  • NSW: How do you take climate change action that works?
  • NSW: What do algae have to do with beer making?
  • QLD: Finding Nemo—and checking the water quality of his home
  • QLD: Cover coming eco-anxiety to survive and thrive: Generation Z to the rescue
  • SA: What’s good and bad behaviour in space?
  • SA: How can you tell good science from bad? Ask the experts (if you trust them!)
  • SA: Discover the love-hate relationship between butterflies and ants
  • TAS: Beauty from the ashes: recovery after bushfires
  • WA: A visit to the (ancient) beach – Kalgoorlie-Boulder style
  • NT: Water, desalination and sugary drinks—water is life in Arnhem Land
  • National: Lifehacks to cut your carbon and your fuel bills

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

Also today:

Coming up:

Storms on Jupiter, swim with sea dragons, and Australia’s first scientists – see a preview of Friday’s highlights

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

For general Science Week media enquiries:

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

More about the event highlights

When artificial light becomes pollution—NSW

Remember when the night sky used to be dark? Light pollution harms wildlife, disrupts sleep, wastes electricity, infuriates astronomers and obscures our view of the Milky Way. Find out about the growing movement to bring back darkness where it’s needed.

Join the Australasian Dark Sky Alliance science committee in an online panel eve nt revealing how light is impacting the environment and the simple steps you can take to help. Featuring:

  • University of Melbourne ecologist Dr Theresa Jones
  • Macquarie University astronomer Dr Richard McDermid
  • Perth-based ecologist Dr Kellie Pendoley
  • South Australian environment manager Ms Sofia Oliver

The Australian Dark Sky Alliance, by the way, recently secured a Guinness World Record. Be sure to ask for details!

Thursday 20 August. Event details

How to take effective action on climate change—NSW

Fighting climate change is going to need more than science. How do we all get involved and make our efforts count?

This panel will explore how people can take effective action to reduce carbon emissions, hosted by TV presenter and author Lee Constable.

The panel expertise spans science, business, economics, policy and politics, the media and community change, with panellists:

  • Prof Lesley Hughes – climate change and ecology researcher at Macquarie University and councillor for Climate Council
  • Tennant Reed – principal policy advisor at The Australian Industry Group
  • Greg Bourne – Climate Council councillor and former head of BP Australasia
  • A/Prof Caroline Fisher – journalism and political communication researcher at the News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra, and
  • Katerina Gaita – founder and CEO of not-for-profit organisation Climate for Change.

This panel discussion will explore the opportunities and obstacles for reducing carbon emissions, with a goal of finding concrete actions that individuals can take.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Beer & algae: brewing a greener future—NSW

Did you know that the carbon dioxide produced by the fermentation of a six-pack of beer takes a tree two full days to absorb? So can we make beer carbon neutral?

Independent brewers Young Henrys were on a mission to tackle their carbon emissions when they came across the Climate Change Cluster (C3) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Together they’ve developed a way to use algae to efficiently convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.

This online event features brewery co-founder and director Oscar McMahon and UTS researcher Dr Janice McCaughly. Find out how the fusion of brewing science and climate change innovation led to an Australian-first, and discover how one humble organism is changing the future of our planet.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

How and why we monitor water quality on the Great Barrier Reef—QLD

We check the water quality in our fish tanks to keep our sea creatures alive. How do we do this for an entire ecosystem?

Water quality affects the health and productivity of many ocean communities, including seagrasses and coral reefs.  Long-term monitoring of water quality can tell us important information about the marine environment, including its status and responses to local and global pressures.

Join biological-chemical oceanographer Dr Renee Gruber for a webinar about the Australian Institute of Marine Science’s water quality monitoring science in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Discover why we collect water quality information and learn about the tools and methods scientists use to collect these data out in the ocean.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Renee Gruber is available for interviews.

The future is in their hands—QLD

Growing up is tough enough. Add the knowledge and threat of climate catastrophe and you have Generation Z, a cohort of young adults with an enormous degree of eco-anxiety to manage.

In this online panel event, three young changemakers share their creative solutions for surviving and thriving on the future planet Earth. Moderated by entrepreneur and ‘tech-head prodigy’ Scott Millar, and featuring Global Shapers Gold Coast Hub leader Rachell Angeles Hansen, CSIRO Data61 research analyst Jessica Atherton, and Queensland Committee President of United Nations Association of Australia Joe Lindsay.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

How to be a star citizen in space—SA

People are rocketing out into the unknown, talking about colonising Mars, populating the Low Earth Orbit with shiny satellites, and relying more than ever before on data beamed up and back down. But what are our rights and responsibilities?

This new frontier sparks ethical questions about our obligations as spacefarers, and who is responsible if things go wrong? The truth may be out there, but we have to start talking about the search for it, down here.

This online event, facilitated by journalist and author Tory Shepherd, explores these questions with:

The panel will reflect on the ethical considerations space raises, such as the impact human activity has on ourselves and our celestial neighbours, planetary defence and archaeological preservation.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

What makes science good?—SA

How can you trust a scientist? Defining what makes science ‘good’ is surprisingly complex.

Explore these thorny issues by asking the experts through an online Q&A event hosted by Professor Rachel Ankeny, convenor of the Public Engagement in Science and Technology Adelaide (PESTA) research cluster at the University of Adelaide.

Joining Professor Ankeny:

  • Professor Frank Grützner, who will use a project known as EchidnaCSI as an example of how citizen science can be a powerful tool for research, public engagement and education.
  • Professor Veronica Soebarto and Dr Helen Barrie, who will will share their experiences in using citizen science to engage the communit in the co-design of public and green spaces.
  • Dr Kim Barbour, who will explore the notion of trust by discussing markers of expertise and relevance in online scientific discussions.
  • Professor Sean Connell, who will talk about the innate attraction of communicating optimism and the influence it can yield in driving positive change.
  • Dr Ian Musgrave, who will discuss the concept of communicating risk in a time of uncertainty.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Herding Caterpillars—Adelaide, SA

 To get beautiful butterflies, you need caterpillars … and ants!

Find out about the Lycaenidae family of butterflies and their unique relationship with ants, as protectors and prey.

This webinar features short talks from Butterfly Conservation SA experts, providing insight into the life of the chequered copper butterfly (Lucia limbaria), how Lycaenid larvae produce a secretion that attracts and rewards ants who in turn protect them, and how some larvae prey upon the ants.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

A visit to the beach – Kalgoorlie-Boulder Style—WA

Kalgoorlie is a very long way inland, but 2.5 billion years ago it was right on the coast. Join researchers from the WA Museum for a virtual stroll along this ancient beach.

What do the rocks tell us about conditions back then? Watch an experiment to discover which way the wind was blowing when the waves were rolling in.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Event type: Online

Beauty from the ashes—TAS

Tasmania is a flammable island. The impact of bushfires can range from disturbance to disaster.

This online event explores how we respond to fire. It will begin with a short film about landscape recovery in areas of high conservation value that were affected by recent fires – including the Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s Five Rivers Site. The film also explores Tasmanian artists’ responses to the fires.

It will be followed by a discussion, led by Dr Penelope Jones and Dr Amy Jackett, featuring scientists, conservation leaders, artists and members of the Aboriginal community.  

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Organisers and panellists available for media interviews.

Water is Life— NT

The Ramingining school in Arnhem Land, NT, will host a “pop-up laboratory” so children and other locals can assess the health impacts of drinking water and sugary drinks.

Organisers – scientists, health professionals and Indigenous trainees from the Menzies HealthLAB – will also provide the school with a desalination kit.

The Menzies School of Health Research HealthLAB is an innovative, interactive, educational experience that allows participants to measure their own biomedical risk factors for chronic diseases.

Thursday 20 August Event details

Carbon Counter: cut your contribution to climate change—national

How much carbon will you pledge to save this National Science Week? Put on a jumper when you’re cold, cut your shower time, eat roo or fish instead of beef, cycle instead of driving. These are some of the small changes that you, your household or your school can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint.

Join in at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project invites individuals, households and schools to make small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

A running tally of the tonnes of carbon saved shows the collective impact of you and your fellow challengers.

Visit: www.abc.net.au/carboncounter.

Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Andrew Masterson, andrew@scienceinpublic.com.au, or 0488 777 179; or Ben Keirnan, ben@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 184 858.

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 www.scienceinpublic.com.au, public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.