Ending COVID-19, lighter x-rays, safe vaccines, and a teddy bear goes under the knife

Exclude from Home Page, National Science Week

Friday 20 August 2021

Highlights from day seven of National Science Week

262 events and exhibitions, 131 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

Researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country.

  • NSW: Quashing pandemics
  • TAS: Hacking Minecraft, insect worlds, and cuddly animals at the Festival of Bright Ideas
  • NSW: What 60,000 years of Indigenous knowledge tells us about the night sky
  • TAS: What dissecting a teddy reveals about plastic and waste
  • VIC: How quickly can you make a safe vaccine?
  • SA: Space sci-fi fact and fiction
  • SA: Lighter, faster, portable x-rays
  • VIC: The blind artist making books you can read with your eyes closed

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

Also today:

National Science Week 2021 runs from 14 to 22 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au. Or visit the National Science Week website for more events and activities: 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

Killing COVID-19 – online (NSW)

Scientists are already working on preventing the next global pandemic. But how do we end the current one?

Experts are examining how pandemics have changed the course of history. And how COVID-19 will be stopped. Hear from:

  • Investigative journalist Dr Norman Swan
  • Tony Cunningham AO is Co-Director of the Centre for Virus Research at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Director of the Australian Centre for HIV and Hepatitis Virology Research.
  • Medical virologist and infectious diseases physician Dominic Dwyer – Australia’s representative on the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of COVID-19.
  • Professor Raina MacIntyre, head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute (UNSW)

Friday 20 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/pandemics-past-present-and-future/

Media enquiries: Sasha Haughan, sasha@articulatepr.com.au, or 0405 006 035; or Kym Elphinstone, kym@articulatepr.com.au or 0421 106 139.

Hacking Minecraft, insect worlds, and meet the animals – at the Festival of Bright Ideas, TAS

These are just some of the speakers, activities and displays at the Festival of Bright Ideas, all under one roof at Princes Wharf 1 on Hobart’s waterfront.

Friday 20 August (schools day).

Saturday 21 August. Event details: https://www.scienceweek.net.au/event/festival-of-bright-ideas/hobart/

Media enquiries: Dipon Sarkar, dipon.sarkar@utas.edu.au or 0498 511 509.

Indigenous Astronomy in Australia – online (NSW)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia have a long history of using astronomy stretching back for over 60,000 years. Astronomical observations made by Indigenous peoples – such as the movements of the sun, moon and stars – are used in navigation, to predict weather and in conjunction with seasonal calendars.

These observations are intimately linked with traditional stories that have been passed down the generations over tens of thousands of years orally and through song and dance.

This session of the Indigenous Science Experience will explore a range of knowledge and stories of the sky held by Indigenous peoples and explore the links between the sky and the land. With:

Friday 22 August. Event details: events.humanitix.com/indigenous-astronomy-in-australia

Media enquiries: Joanne Jamie, joanne.jamie@mq.edu.au or 0439 170 683.

Teddy bear dissection – Fern Tree, TAS

Chopping up a teddy bear helps explain how plastics are manufactured, what their uses are and how long they take to decompose.

What are plastics made of? And why do tonnes end up in our oceans, impacting sea life and seabirds?

Environmental consultant Evan Boardman is available for interviews.

Friday 20 August. Event details:


Media enquiries: Evan Boardman, evan@e3planning.com.au or 0438 376 840; or Dipon Sarkar, dipon.sarkar@utas.edu.au or 0498 511 509.

Smaller, lighter, faster X-rays – Tonsley, SA

How does X-ray imaging work? How is it different to photography? And how will it change in the future? Find out about X-rays and see the high-tech equipment involved, without breaking an arm or leg.

This series of events will give people the opportunity to see inside Adelaide’s Micro-X factory, which develops and produces new generation X-ray imaging equipment incorporating innovative design and carbon nanotube technology. There, they can also take part in visible light photography workshops. In addition, science and engineering talks at Flinders University will explore physics of X-ray production, engineering and problem solving, 3D printing, and how photography works.

Friday 20 August to Saturday 21 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/seeing-things-differently/tonsley/

Media enquiries: Tennille Reed, treed@micro-x.com or 0428 271 243.

Engineer and CEO Peter Rowland is available for interviews.

How fast can a rocket go? – Adelaide, SA

Rocket scientist Dr Patrick Neumann’s fascination with space travel led him to develop a super-efficient rocket engine.

He’s available to discuss how quickly a trip to space could be and how safe it is, along with the what’s (im)plausible about space in science fiction.

He will join Associate Professor Alice Gorman (aka ‘Dr Space Junk’) and space medicine researcher Vienna Tran at a space travel science fact and fiction Q & A event.

Friday 20 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/the-science-and-science-fiction-of-space-travel/adelaide/

Media enquiries: Hugh Scobie, Ancient World, ancientworld5000@gmail.com, 0497 346 952

Making fast and safe vaccines – online, VIC talent

Vaccines save lives, having eradicated once-common illnesses such as polio and smallpox.

The global COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the speedy development of a new set of vaccines.

How were they made so swiftly? And are they safe?

Dr Jennifer Juno from The Doherty Institute is available for interview.

Friday 20 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/mid-afternoon-masterclass-vaccine-development-then-and-now/

Media enquiries: Daryl Holland, daryl.holland@unimelb.edu.au or 0434 952 009.

Meet the legally blind artist making sensory science ‘books’ you can read with your eyes closed – Clayton, VIC

Dr Erica Tandori creates tactile displays and multi-sensory, multimodal artworks. She has vision loss due to an inherited eye disease, and is artist in residence at Monash University’s Rossjohn Laboratory. 

‘My Goodness’ is an exhibition of 10 interactive multisensory science ‘books’ designed for low-vision, blind, hearing-impaired, and deaf audiences, using large print text, braille, tactile artworks, haptic and 3D audio, visual tracking and tactile sensor interaction technologies.

The Books explore the relationship between infection, immunity, food, and nutrition. They make science accessible to more people by using large print text, braille, tactile artworks, haptic and 3DAudio, visual tracking and tactile sensor interaction technologies.

Friday 20 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/monash-sensory-science/clayton/

Media enquiries: Wendy Smith, wendy.smith1@monash.edu or 03 9905 2050.

Erica Tandori is available for media interviews.

More about National Science Week

National Science Week 2021 runs from 14 to 22 August. First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year about 1.1 million people participated in more than 1200 events, despite a global pandemic.

In 2021 there will be online events, virtual tours and experiences, DIY science and home-based activities held all around Australia. And there are some in-person events planned in line with local pandemic restrictions.  Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au; public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.