Mayan astronomy; biomedical future; black holes on the big screen; a bloody Science Gallery; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 325+ Science Week events in Victoria

  • Art meets science in BLOOD: Attract & Repel.
  • A virtual reality look inside a plant cell.
  • The science of food at Queen Victoria Market.
  • Game your children’s interesting in science.
  • Will Australia’s biomedical research future be as bright as our past achievements? With Gustav Nossal, Anne Kelso and other research leaders.
  • What do actress Hedy Lamarr, nuclear physicist Lise Meitner and Nobel winner Marie Curie have in common? Their science stories on stage.
  • Ask the Interstellar visual effects wiz how to make a black hole on the big screen believable.
  • Can science make the world’s most liveable city even better?
  • Are your genes your destiny? Gattaca 20 years on.
  • What can we learn about ancient astronomy from Mayan ruins? Ask an expert from Honduras.
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone? Researchers want to know.

More on these highlights below, and others at, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

About National Science Week

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 events held 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.

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.

National Science Week 2017 will run from 12 – 20 August. Find an event at

More about the event highlights

Blood—is it art? Is it science?

Science Gallery Melbourne is giving us a taste of what to expect when it sets up permanently in 2020, combining art, science and controversy with its pop-up exhibition.

BLOOD: Attract & Repel features 22 works which address the themes of taboo, stigma, identity, giving, health, future.

As well as international artists, the exhibition also involves many of The University of Melbourne’s staff and students – from almost all disciplines; only the business and architecture streams are not involved – and a curatorial advisory panel like few other galleries, among them a cardiologist, a haematologist, an Indigenous bio-artist and a performance art lecturer.

Embedded at the University of Melbourne, Science Gallery Melbourne will involve, inspire and transform curious minds through arts and science.

Tuesday 25 July – Thursday 5 October Event details

Talent available for interviews:

  • Rose Hiscock – Science Gallery Melbourne director
  • Ryan Jeffries – Blood creative director

Media enquiries: Katrina Hall –

Event enquiries: Lee Casey, or 03 9035 4484

Market of the Mind—Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Socialise with science after work at Market of the Mind in Southbank, with ice-sculpture, inside-out people, a virtual reality look inside a plant cell, and taste fine wines from the grapes CSIRO developed to suit Australia’s growing conditions.

Friday 11 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Carly Siebentritt, or 03 9545 2615

Living Science at Queen Vic Market—Melbourne

A day of food, facts and fun for the whole family at Queen Victoria Market, with DNA from fruit, zebrafish embryos, liquid nitrogen shows, hands-on experiments, and a marine touch tank.

Sunday 13 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Carly Siebentritt, or 03 9545 2615

Game your kids’ science skills at family science games nights—Warrnambool, Geelong and Burwood

Gaming is an ideal means of engaging participants in science. Science games nights in Warrnambool, Geelong and Burwood will provide participants with the opportunity to play a variety of games relating to different scientific concepts and skills that they may not have previously thought about.

The games provide a fun and exciting avenue for exploring scientific concepts that are normally difficult to relate to and which might be perceived as too difficult to understand or not relevant to participants’ lives.

Each child attending will be given a ‘science games bag’ with science games and information about resources that will enable them to pursue their interest in playing or creating science games.

Warrnambool on Monday 14, Geelong on Wednesday 16, and Burwood on Friday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: John Cripps Clark, 03 924 46467 or 0403 878 021

Buffeted by Global Headwinds: Challenges Facing Biomedical Research—South Wharf

Biomedical research in Australia has a distinguished history with our universities, medical research institutes and hospitals ensuring we enjoy high standards of health and care. Our contribution to health and well-being is recognized internationally: half of Australia’s sixteen Nobel Prize recipients received the award for either Physiology or Medicine.

The Convergence Science Network brings together a distinguished panel—including Sir Gustav Nossal, Prof Anne Kelso, Prof John Carroll, and MC Dr Rachel Nowak—for a public conversation about the state of biomedical research in Australia. This is an opportunity to understand the headwinds biomedical research faces and to have a say about how we might respond, to ensure we remain a nation that not only enjoys the benefits of cutting edge health care but contributes to a world where good health is not only the preserve of wealthy nations.

Monday 14 August. Event details

Event enquiries: Luan Ismahil, or 03 8344 8405

Curie Meitner LaMarr Indivisible—Clayton

Radiation. Nuclear fission. Frequency hopping.

These discoveries are made by women – double Nobel Prize winner and discoverer of radioactivity Marie Curie, the Austrian-Swedish nuclear physicist Lise Meitner and the Viennese Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr with the invention of frequency hopping.

As pioneers in their chosen fields in the early 20th century, what triumphs and challenges have they faced in both their personal and professional lives as they battle a world where science is thought of as a male endeavour?

The Monash School of Physics and Astronomy presents Curie Meitner Lamarr Indivisible – a play featuring the stories of these three remarkable women who have challenged the assumptions of their day that women are viewed as incapable of advanced abstract thought.

Directed by Sandra Shuddekopf, with the three scientists portrayed by Austrian improv actress Anita Zieher and staged by Viennese theatre group portraitheater.

Tuesday 15 August. Event details

Wednesday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Silvia Dropulich,, 03 9902 4513 or 0435 138 743

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

Can science make the world’s most liveable city better?—Melbourne, VIC

Melbourne has ranked as the ‘world’s most liveable city’ for the seventh consecutive year.

What does science and research reveal about Melbourne’s future liveability?

Dr Anthony Boxshall (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientist, longtime 3RRR presenter, and Principal Fellow at University of Melbourne) will host a panel discussion of the science of Melbourne’s liveability, from air quality to train tunnels to behavior change. With panelists:

  • Walkability and healthy urbanism expert Billie Giles-Corti

Distinguished Professor, NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Director RMIT Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform, Director Healthy Liveable Cities Group

  • Architecture guru and lead researcher at the Sagrada Familia Basilica (Barcelona) Mark Burry

Director of the Smart Cities Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology

  • City planner Andy Fergus

Urban Designer for City of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Design, Melbourne Architours

  • Behaviour change researcher Sarah Kneebone

Research Fellow at BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute

Friday 18 August. Event details The event will also be livestreamed online.

Anthony Boxshall and Andrea Hinwood, Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist, are available for interview.

Media enquiries: John Rees, or 03 9695 2903

Gattaca: Are your genes your destiny?—Melbourne, VIC

How close is Gattaca to reality, 20 years on from its cinema release? Are we choosing the gender of our children? Are we creating designer babies? Are we profiling people with DNA?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi film Gattaca. This modern classic explores the consequences of genetic selection and manipulation on society through the eyes of genetically less-than-perfect Vincent (Ethan Hawke) and genetically perfect Irene (Uma Thurman).

This event is a screening of Gattaca, followed by an expert panel discussion of the science, art and ethics of the movie. Scientists are available for interview.

Friday 18 August. Event details

Media contact: Jacqueline Savard,, 02 9036 3427 or 0406 484 170

Mayan Astronomy—Emerald, VIC

What can we learn about ancient astronomy from the remains of a lost civilisation?

The Mayan Classic period (250 CE- 900CE) was the height of the arts, astronomy, architecture and urbanism for the Maya. Observations of the celestial landscape arise in sculptures, buildings, calendars, numbering, writings and all Mayan cultural expressions.

Mount Burnett Observatory and Emerald Secondary College are hosting a mini festival of astronomy, with telescopes, interactive activities for the kids and a lecture by Dr Javier Mejuto on Mayan Astronomy.

Visiting academic Dr Mejuto (Professor of Cultural Astronomy at the National Autonomous University in Honduras) will share his knowledge of Mayan Astronomy. He will focus on Copan Ruinas—a site known for outstanding architecture and symbolic language that shows the role of time and cosmos in the religion, rituals, and social ends of the Mayan people.

Friday 18 August. Event details

Dr Javier Mejuto and Dr James Murray will be available for interview.

Media enquiries: James Murray, or 0409 703 929

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—national

Are you a slave to your smartphone? Or have you mastered your mobile? Researchers want your help to build a deeper understanding of our relationship with our smartphones.

Take part in Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—the online project for National Science Week.

How has having a smartphone changed your life? Has it made your life easier? Or harder? How much time do you spend on it? Does it help you connect (or disconnect) with people? And could you live without it?

The survey will run on the ABC website for two weeks from Friday 11 August. Join in by heading to the Smartphone Survey website at

Several researchers and science communicators are available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Suzannah Lyons, 03 9398 1416 or 0409 689 543