Frozen fossils, superbugs, humans 2.0, and the Ultimate Drone Challenge

Media releases, National Science Week

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Highlights from day five of National Science Week

422 events and exhibitions, 22 online activities, and dozens of great stories.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.


  • Bob Brown’s battle for the planet, from the Franklin River to Federal Parliament
  • Will coral reefs survive climate change? Ask the scientists
  • Superbugs: what we need to do to become resistance fighters


  • Humans 2.0: what’s the future look like for humanity?


  • The world’s most powerful laser. Meet Ceri Brenner, the UK physicist pressing FIRE


  • Frozen fossils: palaeontologist reveals unseen footage of 1970 Antarctic Fossil Expedition


  • Drone enthusiasts compete for a place in the Ultimate Drone Challenge finals


  • Young scientists with healthy advice for senior Australians


  • The science, songs and stories of the night sky and Indigenous astronomy.

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

Also today:

More than 2,000 events and activities are registered throughout Australia—from Corals in the Outback in Queensland, to events at our Antarctic bases, and from STEM meets dance in Perth to The Innovation Games at Sydney Olympic Park—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

National Science Week runs until 19 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area:

For general Science Week media enquiries:

Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977

More about the event highlights

The battle for the environment with Bob Brown—NSW

Hear from one of Australia’s leading environmentalists and former politician, Bob Brown.

As both an activist and a politician, he has a unique perspective on our environmental battles, successes and failures.

But what has been achieved by the environmental movement since its 1970s renaissance? Where should we focus our efforts to protect the planet? And how does his trademark optimism stand up to the tremendous environmental challenges that we face?

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Matt Fraser,, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Will coral reefs survive climate change?—Ultimo, NSW

Is it too late to save the Great Barrier Reef—our national icon and one of the wonders of the world? What will warmer waters mean for shifting fish populations? What are ‘super corals’ and are they the key to saving our reefs?

In a perfect way to celebrate International Year of the Reef, join in conversation with deep sea marine ecologist Professor David Booth and marine bio-geochemist Dr Emma Camp, who is investigating what we can learn from mangroves and the impact of future climate change on coral reefs.

The UTS Science in Focus event will explore whether or not coral reefs can survive climate change, and will be followed by audience Q & A.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media contacts: Rebecca Gallegos,, or 02 9514 827

David Booth, Emma Camp and marine biologist David Suggett are available for interviews.

What should we do about antimicrobial resistance?—Kogarah, NSW

Antimicrobial resistance is a global health problem, but can the everyday person do anything to help?

Join microbiologist Julia Wong in this talk about how patients, healthcare providers, and the average person can practice antiobiotic stewardship.

Julia will also explore what the future of treating antibiotic resistance might look like, based on current research.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Marisa Bottaro, or 02 9330 9579

Humans 2.0—from future food to an AI dance-off—Melbourne

Augmented brains and bodies, or a return to nature? Cyber or solar? Humans 2.0—what is the future of our species?

Humans 2.0 is an evening of short talks, immersive experiences and science over drinks, exploring wearables, transplantables, cognitive enhancement, robot assistants, genetic engineering and nanotechnology.

Hear about new modes of communication, the sports and transport that may be available to future humans, and the sounds of a healthy river. Augment yourself using the latest in AR technology, compete in a dance-off with artificial intelligence, watch your brainwaves, or see the technology restoring sight to blind people.

Mini talks include:

  • bioethicist Chris Gyngell on the future of human genetic engineering. Dare we use it?
  • science comedian and neuroscientist David Farmer on blurring the line between dead and alive
  • ex-Pixar virtual reality expert Stephanie Andrews on technologies to expand human imagination and perception
  • urban horticulture expert Chris Williams on why hipsters are here to stay.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Annika Priest, or 0413 058 509

Dr Alex Ritchie and the Antarctic Fossil Expedition of 1970—Acton, ACT

Retired Australian Museum palaeontologist Alex Ritchie spent his career unearthing and displaying fossils from the freshwater ocean that covered parts of Australia 370 million years ago. More recently, he unearthed forgotten reels of film footage he filmed on an Antarctic fossil expedition nearly 50 years ago!

In 1970, Ritchie was part of an expedition to Antarctica where prehistoric fossils were discovered, and his findings helped piece together the puzzle explained as plate tectonics (or continental drift).

Alex will share and discuss this previously unseen 16mm footage of his Antarctic voyage in an event at the National Film and Sound Archive.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Cris Kennedy, or 02 6248 2189

Southern Skies: one sky, many stories—Midland

What do the stars mean to you? Explore Australia’s night skies through music, astronomy and Indigenous science.

The Griffyn Ensemble—bringing together director Michael Sollis, Indigenous song writer Warren H Williams, and Astronomer Fred Watson—has been collecting stories and exploring Western and Indigenous Astronomy through the medium of music.

This collaboration began with The Griffyn Ensemble’s Southern Sky—a piece of music written by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask tracing the constellations that can be seen from Australia. The project recently travelled to Tennant Creek, where community members contributed their own stories, played to a soundtrack of songs written by Warren.

The result is One Sky, Many Stories, reworking Southern Sky alongside the new songs and stories. These performances bring together Western and Indigenous understandings of the night sky, told through music and the spoken word.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details Midland, WA

Media enquiries: Michael Sollis, or 0411 113 769

Ceri Brenner: laser power in science, medicine and art—Toowoomba

UK plasma physicist Ceri Brenner is pressing ‘fire’ on the most powerful laser, delivering a packet of light a thousand billion billion times more intense than sunlight on a hot summer’s day. And she’s putting it to good use.

Ceri’s work aims to improve the speed and performance of important imaging technology in healthcare, aerospace, nuclear and engineering—from figuring out how we can ignite a star on Earth for clean electricity generation, to using lasers to scan nuclear waste containers and map any hazardous materials inside.

Lasers are beautiful as well as powerful. Ceri reveals the beauty behind her work, and how she is inspired by the extreme technology and world-changing applications that she and her team work on.

Wednesday 15 August. Event details

Media contacts: Rachael Vorwerk or 0408 829 327

Science for seniors—Holdfast Bay, SA

Young scientists have some healthy advice for senior (50+) Australians on a range of healthy ageing topics, including:

  • Tiffany Gill—arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions
  • Melissa Hull— the ‘forget me not’ program
  • John Carragher—functional foods for healthy ageing
  • Rachel Burton—dietary fibre: how much to eat and what foods
  • Jyoti Khadka—isn’t a better qaulity of life what we all are chasing after?

Science for Seniors is a new initiative to provide a series of engaging and interesting seminars on current research on health and ageing for seniors in the local community.

Wednesday 14 and Friday 17 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Lyn Bermudez, or 0419 337 587

The Ultimate Drone Challenge—Darwin

Drone enthusiasts will battle it out over three days to win the title of the Ultimate Drone King or Queen. They will use drone technology to simplify tasks related to infrastructure inspections, the construction of roadways and forest roads, monitoring gas and oil pipelines and high tension electricity lines, and keeping an eye on shoreline erosion.

Drone software, hardware and engineering are already starting to cater to clients in agriculture, land management, energy, and construction. Drones will soon be boosting crop yields, verifying insurance claims, and assisting in future Hollywood blockbusters. It’s a business sector that’s due to boom by more than 6,000 per cent by the end of the decade.

Join the Young Engineers Australia NT as they celebrate National Science Week 2018 by taking part in The Ultimate Drone Challenge, with two days of knockout rounds, followed by a Grand Final.

Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Jaimi-Leigh Acres, or 08 8914 1702