Whisky, money in muck, the invisible Universe, and the search for junior weather presenters

Media releases, National Science Week

Thursday 16 August 2018

Highlights from day six of National Science Week

382 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.


  • There’s money in waste – turning our rubbish into new products, Melbourne
  • A virtual reality tour of the invisible Universe, over a beer with astrophysicists


  • Can we edit away epilepsy? And is it as easy as it sounds?
  • The revolution in cancer treatments


  • The Element in the Room: a radioactive musical comedy about the death and life of Marie Curie
  • Whisky business: what happens to whisky when combined with liquid nitrogen?


  • Ask NASA scientists and planet hunters about the weird weather on Mars and the search for habitable planets beyond our solar system


  • The search for Australia’s next top junior weather presenter
  • The Great Barrier Reef is huge! How citizen scientists across Australia can help monitor its 350,000 square kilometres.

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 www.scienceinpublic.com.au. Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area: www.scienceweek.net.au.

For general Science Week media enquiries:

Tanya Ha: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0417 131 977

More about the event highlights

Waste away: the future of garbage—Melbourne Museum

Rubbish or resource? EPA has gathered together a panel of experts to discuss the future of waste.

Waste has become a hot topic: China is taking less of our collected recyclable materials, plastic bag bans have come into force, there are new discussions of ‘waste to energy’, and growing stockpiles of waste in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia.

Hear from the expert panel and join in the conversation about waste opportunities and resources. Join the panel:

  • Ruby Chan—Inventor of eco-friendly compostable food containers ‘Moducware’
  • Mark Glover—Founder of Renewed Carbon, a specialist sustainable resource use consultancy
  • Barry Sullivan—Business Development Manager of Renewables Downer Utilities Australia
  • Trevor Thornton—Deakin University lecturer focused on recycling contamination and waste management education.

Thursday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Carlie Newman, events@epa.vic.gov.au or 03 8458 2655

Immersive Science II: a VR tour of the invisible Universe—Richmond, VIC

From the outer reaches of the cosmos to the tiny world of the microcosmos, how can you see the science that’s invisible to the naked eye?

Science communicators and astrophysicists Alan Duffy and Rebecca Allen will host Immersive Science II, guiding audiences through the Universe and the ripples in the fabric of spacetime, and exploring the nano- and microscopic realms—all with the help of immersive virtual reality technology.

Alan and Rebecca will answer questions from the audience and those submitted via social media. Join them for a beer at the Mountain Goat Brewery, or via regional viewing parties and online video streaming.

Thursday 16 August. Event details (multiple locations)

Media enquiries: Alan Duffy, aduffy@swin.edu.au

As simple as cut and paste? The gene editing generation—Adelaide

How much can we do with gene editing? And is it as easy as it sounds?

Developmental genetics researcher Paul Thomas knows all about the genes (and their variations) that can cause intellectual disability, epilepsy and disorders of sexual development. Heather Bray is researching genetically-modified crops and food, and farm animal welfare.

Meet the panel of genomic editing experts, as they speak about gene editing trials in cancer therapies and potential uses in the agriculture industry, facilitated by SAHMRI Chief Science Storyteller Hannah Brown.

By understanding the genetic blueprint that makes every human unique, mixed with the discovery of new tools that can ‘cut and paste’ DNA, the gene editing generation has begun.

Thursday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Hannah Brown, hannah.brown@sahmri.com or 0402 113 462

The future of cancer research in Australia—Adelaide

Cancer is a leading cause of death for Australians, however research advances in this area are helping Australians live longer and healthier lives.

Hear from a panel of experts as they outline the revolutionary cancer therapies that are leading to better health outcomes for cancer patients worldwide. With world-renowned cancer researchers, including:

  • What are genetic mutations, and when, how and why do they occur?—molecular pathologist Hamish Scott
  • Lymphatic vessels—a ‘highway’ for cancer cells to spread through a patient’s body—lymphatic development expert Natasha Harvey
  • How cancers hijack and modify the body’s tissue scaffolding—tumour microenvironment researcher Michael Samuel.

Thursday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Angela Ziaei, angela.ziaei@sa.gov.au or 08 8302 7916

Whisky business at Questacon—Canberra

Whisky: It’s made from grains, gets old in a barrel, and has travelled to space and back.

Questacon’s whisky enthusiasts are back with the ever popular Whisky Business. Using drams from around the world they will be exploring the science of whisky.

How does the smokiness of whisky relate to climate change? What will happen to whisky when combined with liquid nitrogen? What has Bog Man got to do with any of it? Through comparing and contrasting, science will be closely examined through the bottom of the whisky glass.

Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Joel Barcham, info@questacon.edu.au or 0408 449 147

UK actor brings dead scientists to life on stage—Canberra

“If at first you don’t succeed, pretend,” says acclaimed science theatre writer/performer John Hinton, who has made a career out of his interest in science, story-telling and singing.

Two of his three Tangram Theatre Company ‘Scientrilogy’ shows are returning to Australia for National Science Week, after successful UK shows, and a sell-out award-winning season at the Adelaide Fringe festival.

The Element in the Room: A Radioactive Musical Comedy about the Death and Life of Marie Curie tells the story of the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and whose work continues to affect our lives today.

Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 August. Event details

Media contacts: Michelle Cooper, michelle.cooper@cbrin.com.au or 0420 507 374

Meet the NASA scientists and planet hunters—Perth

NASA scientists are headed to Australia, bringing Saturn to Sydney, new planets to Perth, and more.

What have we learnt from the hundreds of planets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope? How will the information beamed back to Earth continue to advance science once Kepler runs out of fuel this year? Will we find more worlds outside our solar system? Are we alone in the Universe?

What did we learn from the Cassini spacecraft’s 13 years with Saturn before its ‘death dive’ into the atmosphere? What’s the weather like on Mars? Ask NASA scientists.

Alex Kling studies the atmospheres of planets, from gas giants to the weird weather on Mars. Megan Shabram is an astrophysicist working on the Kepler Mission’s search for worlds outside our solar system. She is researching how exoplanet systems form.

Alex and Megan will be in Perth as part of a series of events hosted by Australian National University Mt Stromlo Observatory astrophysicist Brad Tucker.

Thursday 16 August. Event detail

Friday 17 August. Event details

Saturday 18 August at Living Universe screening. Event details

Media enquiries: Brad Tucker, brad@mso.anu.edu.au, 02 6125 6711 or 0433 905 777

Presenting my local weather—national

Calling all weather cadets! The Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society (AMOS) is launching a national video competition for primary and secondary students.

Working TV weather presenters and meteorologists Nate Byrne (ABC News Breakfast) and Jane Bunn (7 News Melbourne) show how to create weather segments, including where and how to get weather information, tips on screen presentation, shooting on location, and using props.

Hop onto the competition website for resource kits about weather prediction and presentation, and tools for understanding our changing climate. Participants must film and enter their own two-minute videos to go in the running for prizes around the country.

Tuesday 3 July to Friday 31 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Melissa Lyne, melissa@amos.org.au or 0415 514 328

Virtual Reef Diver: dive into your computer screen to help scientists—national

Ribbon Reef, Great Barrier Reef – Credit: The Ocean Agency, XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Dive online to help the Great Barrier Reef this Science Week—and you could win a GoPro camera!

The ABC’s citizen science project Virtual Reef Diver is celebrating the International Year of the Reef, inviting people to dive through their computer screens into the Great Barrier Reef.

They will review and classify underwater images of the Reef to help scientists identify areas of sand, coral and algae to help build a better picture of coral cover. This work will allow scientists and reef managers to make critical decisions to ensure that the Reef has a future.

Keep an eye out for half-time virtual reef diving at the footy with the Broncos—tonight at Suncorp Stadium.

The project has been developed by the Queensland University of Technology, in collaboration with a host of scientific and community organisations.

Monday 6 to Friday 31 August. www.virtualreef.org.au

Several researchers, divers and science communicators are available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Suzannah Lyons suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au; 03 9398 1416, 0409 689 543