Wine science; Bull S…cience; flying robocops; and a ‘rock’ musical

South Australia launches National Science Week tonight

4 August 2015, launch at 5pm, Goyder Pavilion Mezzanine, Adelaide Showground

  • Flying robocops: how are Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems being used by SA police?
  • Going batty: are you living with tiny bats that you can’t see?
  • America’s 1950s Dyna-Soar spaceplane
  • Moonlandings, global warming, and vaccinations – all science conspiracies, right? WRONG.
    But how hard is it to get scientists to believe BS (bad science)?
  • The chemistry of your buttery chardonnay
  • Plus Brian Cox, dolphins after dark, space robots and more.

More than 170 National Science Week events will be held across the state – these are just some of the highlights. More on each below.

The whole SA science shebang will be launched at 5pm tonight at the showgrounds, the home of Science Alive!

The Curiosity Show legend Professor Rob Morrison will host the event, plant biophysics researcher and Prime Minister’s Prize for Science winner Professor Graham Farquhar will speak on the topic of ‘Feeding the World,’ and Ruben Meerman will tell his story ‘From Play School to the British Medical Journal’.

At this function, attended by the Hon Kyam Maher MLC, Minister for Science and Information Economy, the Unsung Heroes of SA Science and Science Communication and the Australian Institute of Physics SA Excellence in Physics Teaching Award winners will also be announced. Launch event details

Media interviews and photo ops with SA Science Week patron Rob Morrison, Minister Kyam Maher, Ruben Meerman and award winners.

Contact: Rona Sakko, Chair, SA coordinating committee on or 0419 827 723.

SA’s National Science Week highlights

Full event listing online at

Surfing Scientist, Stardomes, & stroll through a giant human body at Science Alive!

1 Walk through a supersized human body; see science on stage with the ‘Surfing Scientist’ Ruben Meerman; try ‘mixed reality’ goggles; and meet native animals at this weekend’s Science Alive! at the Adelaide Showground.

Friday is ‘Careers Day,’ with Science Alive! open for everyone on Saturday and Sunday. Last year’s events attracted more than 25,000 people over the three days.

Visitors can explore Stardomes, robots, electronics, The Curiosity Show, slime, smoke ring canons and even meet a Dalek, with more than 70 science organisations offering interactive and fun activities, and free entry for kids. Event details

Brian Cox – Journey into Deep Space – Hindmarsh

Join Brian Cox as he shares what we know and explores some of the great unanswered questions about our Universe. Are we alone in the Universe? Will we ever know what happened before the Big Bang? What is the nature of the 95 per cent of the Universe we know to be missing? What was the origin of Life on Earth?

“We’ve detected gravitational waves from colliding black holes and seen Higgs Particles at the Large Hadron Collider,” says Brian Cox. “We’ve discovered that the Universe is accelerating in its expansion for unknown reasons, and we even have credible theories that seek to answer one of the eternal questions: ‘What happened before the Big Bang?’” Event details

Retro rocket science with Amy Shira Teitel: ‘Death of the Dyna-Soar’ – Hindmarsh

hindmarsh Before the Space Shuttle, there was the Dyna-Soar—a spaceplane developed by the US Air Force in the late 1950s.

Visiting American Space Historian, author and blogger, Amy Shira Teitel, will present an absorbing talk on Dyna-Soar, the massively capable space plane that America didn’t know it needed.

Amy Shira Teitel is one of the international guests touring the country for National Science Week. She is an American Space Historian and the author of the popular science title ‘Breaking the Chains of Gravity’. She also has a blog and a YouTube channel called ‘Vintage Space’. Event details

Spot the Bull S…cience – Adelaide

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. Event details

Synaptic ping pong and optical illustions: ‘Kids Navigate Neuroscience’ – Adelaide

ping Why does food not taste good when we have a cold? How do neurons communicate? What does the brain look like up close? Come meet your brain and find out!

In this fun and interactive children’s event, held in the School of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, kids (aged 5-11) will explore how the brain and nervous system work in a fun and hands-on way by participating in a series of interactive neuroscience exhibits created by faculty and students at the University of Adelaide.

Examine how information moves between neurones by playing a game of Synaptic Ping Pong, build layers (meninges) around an egg to see what types of protection are best for the brain, explore how optical illusions work, look at human brains up close, and more. At each station, children can collect a stamp in their ‘Passport to the Brain,’ and work towards earning an official ‘Brain in Training’ certificate. Event details

A Big Glass of Wine Science – North Adelaide

wine Dive nose first into a wild-fermented Shiraz or relish the texture of a big Cab Sav. Find out where that buttery flavour comes from in your barrel-fermented Chardonnay, or the tropical aroma in your Sav Blanc. Or maybe you always wanted to know what the differences are between a biodynamic, natural or conventional wine.

Join fellow enthusiasts for a forum exploring the scientific wonders of wine, led by enthusiastic wine-loving scientists from the industry’s own research and development organisation, The Australian Wine Research Institute (yes, it’s a real place!).

We will also conduct our own myth busters segment to debunk some common wine-related folklore and give you the opportunity to ask questions about all things wine and science at a panel discussion. Event details

Professor Flint’s ‘A Brief History of Life, the Universe, and Everything’ – Adelaide and regional SA

Every great story has a hero. In ‘Professor Flint’s A Brief History of Life, the Universe, and Everything,’ life itself, and its awesome ability to adapt and survive across billions of years, is the hero. Join Professor Flint and performers from the Adelaide Youth Theatre on this delightful, paleontological, musical adventure and discover where you and your family fit in to this extraordinary story.

Performances in Oaklands Park, Angle Park, Nangwarry, Mount Gambier and Hilton. Event details

What space robots are on the cards for NASA? ‘The Future of US Planetary Exploration’ – Adelaide

space Excited about Juno and the Mars Curiosity rover? American astronautics expert Dr Randii Wessen knows the technology we will be excited about in 20 to 30 years.

Randii has been an employee of the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1984 and is the A-Team Lead Study Architect for JPL’s Innovation Foundry. He’s in Australia for two weeks to discuss the robotic planetary missions currently in operations at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and those planned for the upcoming decades. The public talk will include the search for ‘Terra Nova,’ an Earth-like planet outside our Solar System. Event details

Night Moves: dolphins after dark – Kingscote, Kangaroo Island

Nocturnal? Diurnal? …the possibilities are myriad and mysterious, particularly as it relates to our oceans at night, especially in the coastal inshore areas which are so close to human habitation.

What happens in our waters after dark, with Cetaceans and other marine species?

Join this day of events and activities, including a forum with international Cetacean expert Dr Mike Bossley AM and Professor Sean Connell, a ‘Meet the Marine Scientists’ session for students, night on-water surveys, Whale Spotters training and workshops, and a Brain Break Morning Tea. Event details

Flying robocops! Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems – Adelaide

What are Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and why are they useful for SA Police? How do they compare with other policing techniques?

Join Officer Charles Theakstone from SA Police as he shares his expertise on SAPOL’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and examples of real case work at an evening event hosted by the SA Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society. See real RPAS on display. Event details

Discover the microbats: Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Kaurna Park Wetlands, and Warriparinga Wetland

bottom Nine microbat species occur within Adelaide’s metropolitan area, but because they’re small, nocturnal and difficult to detect, few people notice them. Specialised equipment and training is required to decipher their echolocation signals, so microbats provide a great opportunity for community engagement with scientific techniques, novel technologies, monitoring activities and analytical skills and reporting.

This series of workshops is designed to teach participants about how scientists work and about local biodiversity – you can come to one or more of the workshops with local bat researcher Dr Annette Scanlon, under the guidance of bat expert, Terry Reardon (SA Museum). Event details