NASA’s hunt for life; spot wildlife not Pokémon; and evil weevils in your pantry

Media releases, National Science Week

National Science Week starts tomorrow with over 1,700 events from Darwin to Antarctica

  • lightbulb_explosion_with_text Is that an evil weevil? What pests are in your pantry? – from Saturday 13 August across WA
  • Dinosaurs, bees, and a shark in a bus – Saturday 13 August in Sydney
  • Bleaching hits a crocheted coral reef – in Darwin all next week
  • How hard is it to get scientists to believe BS (bad science)? – Wednesday in Adelaide
  • Born in Atherton, he co-invented lasers –Wednesday to Saturday in Townsville/Atherton/Cairns
  • What do changes in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica mean for Tasmania? – Tuesday in Hobart, Wednesday in Launceston
  • The muddy trenches of World War I and the mucus-lined trenches of a nurse’s gut – a graphic novel – Saturday 20 August in Melbourne

Just a few of the highlights, and there’s more on each below. 

From laser shows celebrating Far North Queensland’s Nobel hero, down to ‘Brain Break’ science-themed morning teas in the Antarctic bases. From finding pests in Perth’s pantries to dinosaurs in Sydney—over 1,700 events and activities have been registered across Australia for National Science Week.

Running from 13-21 August, National Science Week 2016 is expected to reach over a million Australians—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert talks, art installations and performances, interactive hands-on displays, open days, online activities, and even a Women in Science WikiBomb.

There are science festivals in Hobart, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, the Sapphire Coast, Lismore, Geraldton, Ulverston, Hunter Valley, Alice Springs, and more.

And there are expert panel discussions, exploring topics such as ‘will robots replace teachers?’, ‘what can we do about science denial?’ and ‘what’s happening in the Antarctic and why should we care?

‘Wildlife Spotter’—the ABC’s citizen science project for National Science Week 2016—is inviting ordinary Australians to be citizen scientists from the comfort of their own homes, contributing to real science by identifying quolls, malleefowl, Tassie devils, feral cats, and many more animals captured in photos.  These citizen scientists will identify animals in roughly a million images taken all across Australia by automated cameras. Visit:

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year’s program saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in over 1,500 events and activities.

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government; partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC; and sponsors Cosmos, Discovery Science, New Scientist and Popular Science.

Visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area:

For general media inquiries:

Dinosaurs, bees, and shark in a bus – Centennial Parklands, Sydney, NSW

Science-in-the-Swamp_700x530-300x227 Meet a dinosaur, pot a plant, and learn the science of beekeeping at ‘Science in the Swamp!’ Centennial Parklands will host a dinosaur, snakes and other wildlife, the ‘Shark in a Bus’ mobile mini museum, physics and chemistry demonstrations, and other activities in a free family fun day.

Photo opportunities of family science fun.

Saturday 13 August, 11am – 3pm Event details

Media enquiries: Vanessa Barratt, or 0450 018 752

Pantry Blitz: what pests might be lurking in your pantry? – WA

Elephant_weevil What potential pests are hiding in your pantry?

If you love local wines, be on the lookout for the elephant weevil, a vineyard villain.

This citizen science activity will involve the community in learning about insects and helping to protect our food, environment, and livelihoods from pest damage.

Participants will place a pantry trap in their pantry for one month and use free reporting tools to send insect reports for identification. The findings will be published on the Pantry Blitz webpage.

Saturday 13 August to Sunday 30 October Initiative details

Crocheted coral and knitted reefs communicating climate change – Darwin, NT

crocheted_-corals-300x225 Territory Wildlife Park has been working with local community craft groups as well as individuals from around Australia to create a three-dimensional artistic installation. It consists of six two-metre tall jetty pylons that will be covered in crocheted, knitted, and needle felted corals and marine animals.

This community art installation has been designed to raise awareness of the impact of global warming on our coral reef systems in oceans and seas around the world. The installation will also serve as a visual explanation of what coral bleaching looks like as the coral pylons will transition from a pylon covered with healthy brightly coloured corals to a pylon with dead bleached corals.

Mon 15 – Fri 19 August Event details

Enquiries: Jasmine Jan, or 08 8988 7228

Can scientists spin and spot the Bull S…cience – Adelaide, SA

What do the moon landings, global warming, and vaccination all have in common? They’re conspiracies perpetuated by scientists, right? WRONG!

Just how hard it is to get scientists to believe BS (bad science)? The Science Nation is holding a contest of intelligence, interrogation and intimidation that sees a lineup of scientists each trying to have their peers believe complete and utter BS.

Adelaide’s participants include: metaboloepigeneticist and comic Dr Hannah Brown; botanist and molecular biologist Associate Professor Rachel Burton; anthropologist and evolutionary scientist Professor Alan Cooper; physical chemist and surface scientist Dr Andrew Stapleton; and paleontologist, RiAus Director and train aficionado Dr Paul Willis.

Wednesday 17 August Event details

Organiser and host Andrew Stephenson is available for interviews.

Contact Andrew directly via or 0421 400 688.

Prokhorov LaserShow: highlighting Far North Queensland’s Nobel hero – Townsville, Smithfield and Atherton, QLD

LaserShow-300x210 How many Australians know that one of the co-inventors of the laser is from regional Queensland? A series of public presentations in Townsville, Smithfield and Atherton will highlight the curious story of Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Prokhorov, born in 1916 in the Atherton Tablelands, who subsequently returned with his parents to their Russian homeland.

The LaserShow is a 45-minute interactive show with demonstrations and audience participation, followed by a Q&A session.

Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 August Event details

Scientists available for interviews.

Contact: Errol Hunt, or 0423 139 210

What’s happening down south and why should we care? – Hobart and Launceston, TAS

Find out from a water and sea ice expert, a biologist, and an ice sheet expert what’s going on with the Southern Ocean and Antarctica and what this means for Tasmania and beyond in public lectures to be held in Hobart and Launceston. These presentations will be followed by a panel discussion with the audience and will be streamed live online.

Experts from diverse backgrounds speaking for 15 minutes on the topic of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, and a 40-minute panel discussion with the audience. The speakers include Professor Matt King, Dr Delphine Lannuzel, and Dr Mary-Anne Lea, with Dr Guy Williams as master of ceremonies.

Hobart: Tuesday 16 August Event details

Launceston: Wednesday 17 August Event details

Microscopic battles in the large intestine – Melbourne, VIC

What does World War I have in common with your large intestine? Find out in a new graphic novel The Invisible War, to be launched at the Royal Society of Victoria.


The story is set in 1916, partly around the muddy trenches of World War One, and partly in the mucus-lined trenches of a nurse’s large intestine. It describes a vast, unseen world populated by bacteria and viruses, where microscopic battles between ancient enemies are waged on a daily basis.

The afternoon will feature an exhibition of original artwork by Ben Hutchings (illustrator of The Invisible War) and an interdisciplinary panel discussion led by The Science Show’s Robyn Williams.

Saturday 20 Aug Event details Enquiries: Mike Flattley, or 03 9663 5259

Why NASA’s hunt for water in the solar system is the hunt for life – Canberra, ACT

Are we living alone in the universe? How did life emerge on Earth?

Heggy_lecture_AAS-300x168 Searching for signs of water and understanding what’s on and under the surface of Earth, the Moon, Venus, Mercury, and Mars is important in the search for signs of life.

Explore ice on comets from the ROSETTA mission and take a look at NASA’s future plans to probe subsurface water on Jupiter’s icy moons in a public lecture from visiting planetary scientist Dr Essam Heggy, from the University of Southern California NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Sunday 21 August Event details