The ‘Madhouse Effect’; evil weevils; the funniest physicist; the language of plants; dingo puppies; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Highlights from day five of National Science Week

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

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

Canberra (10am, Parliament House)



Western Australia and South Australia




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

Also today:

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in more than 1,800 events and activities.

In 2017, National Science Week celebrates its 20th birthday, with 2,000+ events registered throughout Australia—from insect Olympics in Darwin to ‘Blood’ at Melbourne’s new Science Gallery, to Antarctic science in the Apple Isle—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, open days and online activities.

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

For general Science Week media enquiries:

More about the event highlights

Launch of STARportal: an Australian first—Canberra, ACT

MEDIA ALERT from the Office of the Chief Scientist

STARportal is the gateway to a better future for STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) in Australia.

The event will be hosted by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel and the CEO of Engineers Australia Peter McIntyre.

STARportal will be launched by Industry, Innovation and Science Minister, Arthur Sinodinos AO as part of National Science Week.

Students from Canberra’s Melrose High School will be on hand to demonstrate STARportal that connects students with STEM activities.

10am Wednesday 16 August, House of Representatives Alcove at Parliament House, Canberra.

Media enquiries:

  • Office of the Chief Scientist: Clinton Porteous 0410 029 407
  • Engineers Australia: Catherine Garrett 0467 003 866

Greenhouse Effect or Madhouse Effect?—Sydney Opera House, NSW

Paris got Trumped. Abbott axed the tax. What is stopping action on climate change, despite mountains of evidence of the reality of global warming?

The Madhouse Effect event brings together noted US climatologist Michael E. Mann, UK-based psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and activist Anna Rose to look at these complex questions from a range of perspectives and to share their suggestions for how to break the stalemate.

Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media contact:  Liza Cassidy, UNSW Media,, 02 9385 3249 or 0429 390 737

Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern—Sydney, NSW

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is our native flora used in bush medicine? What can we learn about sustainable living from 50,000+ years of Indigenous culture?

The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern is a celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and Indigenous youth and Elder achievements. Part of the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week, the four-day event at the Redfern Community Centre will demonstrate the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology, and the relevance of science to our everyday lives.

Schools Days: Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 August. Event details

Family Science Fun Day: Sunday 20 August. Event details

Media and event enquiries: Joanne Jamie, or 02 9850 8283

See Interstellar with the guy behind the visual effects—Melbourne, VIC

How do you build a black hole for the big screen? And make it convincing, entertaining and true to the science?

See the movie Interstellar—in which a team of researchers must find a way through a wormhole to a new home for humanity—and hear a short talk and Q&A with Oliver James, the Chief Scientist from Double Negative, the team responsible for bringing the science behind Interstellar to life.

Melbourne (Mornington): Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Brad Tucker, 02 6125 6711 or 0433 905 777

How does your garden grow? Inside the mind and conversations of plants—Gosnells and Perth, WA

Did you know plants can communicate through sound and smell using both their leaves and their roots?

Dr Monica Gagliano unearths the secret language of plants, sharing research showing plants can sense gravity, light, temperature, soil quality and moisture content.

Plants also repel enemies and trick animals into helping them reproduce. The event will also pose bigger questions such as are plants capable of learning and do plants have consciousness?

Dr Monica Gagliano is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Centre for Evolutionary Biology at the University of Western Australia.

Gosnells on Wednesday 16 August. Event details

City of Perth Library on Friday 18 August. Event details

Media and event enquiries: Kerry Mazzotti, or 08 9397 3208

Is there an evil weevil lurking in your pantry?—WA & SA

What potential pests are hiding in your pantry? The WA Department of Agriculture and Food wants your help to protect our food, environment and livelihoods from damaging pests by taking part in Pantry Blitz.

Observe what’s in your household pantry and report what you see. For example, did a sweet potato weevil hitch a ride in a bag of produce? They can ruin sweet potato crops.

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 12 August to Saturday 9 September. Initiative details

Media enquiries: Dionne Tindale, or 08 9368 3208

Experience science and ‘why I became a scientist’—Cairns, QLD

The ‘Come and try!’ art-science collaboration space will encourage people to interact directly with scientists and their research via an interactive platform. The ‘Café Scientifique: Why I became a scientist in the Tropics’ event will provide an open forum to hear from local researchers and postgraduate students. And a PechaKucha Night will tell science stories with fast-paced slideshows.

Wednesday 16 – Thursday 17 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Tasmin Rymer, or 07 4232 1629

Who is the funniest physicist? Battle of the Brains—Adelaide, SA

Who is Adelaide’s best, brightest and funniest physicist? Science meets Spicks ‘n’ Specks at this panel event, hosted by physicist and science communicator Dr Andrew Stephenson.


  • physicist and electrical engineer who doesn’t have an identity crisis, Prof Derek Abbott
  • nuclear and medical physicist, and mad AFL supporter Prof Eva Bezak
  • computational physicist, lapsed pianist, and novice Dungeon Master Alex Chambers
  • physicist ordinaire specialising in applications of relativity and elbow patches Dr Sam Drake
  • particle flavour physicist, indie game developer, and offbeat fashion fan Sophie Hollitt
  • particle astrophysicist, Large Hadron Collider expert and Scandinavian indie-pop record producer Dr Martin White.

Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media and event enquiries: Andrew Stephenson, or 0421 400 688