Growing meat in vats, beating addiction, listening out for owls and the demise of social media

Exclude from Home Page, National Science Week

Plus dozens of Science Week stories around NSW:

  • Why addiction is so hard to beat
  • Eating meat grown in vats
  • Is science in movies fair dinkum?
  • A call to delete our social media accounts
  • Can a musician help bring about climate action?
  • Bizarre, ancient Aussie fish with giant jaws
  • Bush medicine’s healing qualities
  • Astronauts exposed to the risk of cancer
  • Help map Australia’s owls by listening to their calls

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

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

▪ Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
▪ Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416.

National Science Week in NSW: event highlights

Celebrate Australian Science in National Science Week – read media release from NSW’s Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer.

Deadly science, delete your account, killing COVID, and marine experts on a Blue New Deal – Sydney Science Festival goes online

  • Our first scientists, Australia’s Indigenous culture, learnt from the land, sea and sky. Learn about bush medicine, astronomy, engineering from Corey Tutt, founder of Dearly Science and 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year.
  • Ocean defender Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson says saving the oceans is key to fighting the climate crisis. Ask her and Australian marine scientist Emma Johnston about a Blue New Deal and how women leaders are pioneering global climate action.
  • Why does Jaron Lanier, one of the pioneers of Virtual Reality, say we should delete our social media accounts?
  • Scientists are already working on preventing the next global pandemic. But how do we end the current one? Hear from Dr Norman Swan and a panel of experts.

Hear from compelling speakers on science’s hot topics.

Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 August. Multiple events.

Media enquiries: Sasha Haughan,, or 0405 006 035; or Kym Elphinstone, or 0421 106 139.

The Indigenous night sky, bush food, and technology – online

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is native flora used in bush medicine and soap-making? How do Indigenous Australians make axes and other artefacts from stone? What can we learn about sustainable living from more than 60 000 years of Indigenous culture?

The Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern Community Centre is an annual celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and Indigenous youth and Elder achievements. This year it goes online and will demonstrate the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology, and the relevance of science to everyday lives. Indigenous students from National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) partner schools will assist in demonstrating activities.

Saturday 21 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Joanne Jamie, and 0439 170 683.                  

Joanne Jamie and Indigenous student leaders are available for media interviews.

Music inspired by Antarctic sights, sounds and science – online

Can The Arts can help scientists communicate their research to a wide audience and spark action on climate change?

Acclaimed Australian Earth scientist and author Professor Chris Turney and composer and multi-instrumentalist are collaborating to produce a new Antarctic science-inspired sound and image work: ‘Sounds from the Ice’.

Marine scientist and ‘Deep Blue on My Doorstep’ podcast host Tracy Ainsworth will facilitate this online event, presented by Sydney Recital Hall.

Wednesday 18 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Jackie Randles, or 0481 006 158.

Disappearing cakes, quokka ecology and CSI wildlife – online

  • Where have the world’s cakes disappeared to?
  • Solving ecological crimes in detective botany and wildlife forensics.
  • Is the science in movies backed up by real research?
  • How to keep Quokka ecosystems stable.
  • Gaming days on Twitch, and more.

Sydney Science Trail returns for National Science Week 2021, with a program of online activities and live virtual events.

The program, exploring the theme Food: Different by Design, will celebrate food, science, and sustainability through a wide range of activities and experiences, including video games, virtual lab tours, live-streamed conversations, and science people can do outdoors and in the kitchen.

Presented by The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, and Australian Museum.

Friday 13 August – Monday 13 September. Event details:

Media enquiries: Daniel Rockett, or Claire Vince

How to help an addict – online

Professor Dan Lubman is available to discuss how to help a friend or family member battling addiction.

He can explain why we get addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or the internet and why we struggle to control our behaviour.

Professor Lubman has published more than 500 reports, having worked across mental health and drug treatment settings in the UK and Australia.

He will speak at the event ‘The Science of Us: rethink addiction’.

Thursday 19 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Rebecca Lawrence, or DanLaubman,

Is meat grown in vats any good? – online

Scientists are turning to no-kill meat to help feed the world.

UNSW food science researcher Johannes le Coutre and food journalist Joanna Savill are experts in cellular agriculture.

Ask them how meat is grown in vats, what it tastes like and who’s going to eat it.

Monday 16 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426

Johannes le Coutre available for media interviews.

Protecting Mars astronauts from cancer – online

How do you stop Mars astronauts from developing cancer?

Space experts Sarah Brough and Iver Cairns and Susanna Guatelli can discuss what’s being done to shield astronauts from space weather, which exposes them to acute long-term radiation.

Tuesday 17 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426

Sarah Brough is available for media interviews.

Science from the swamp to the scrub – online

Who was Australia’s very own dinosaur? Which nocturnal superhero animals only come out at night?

Which backyard weeds can be turned into a salad? How do ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’ seeds travel through the country?

‘From Swamp to Scrub’ take people on a virtual tour through the wetlands of Centennial Park to the woodlands and scrub of Western Sydney Parklands (the city’s biggest backyard) to discover the plants and animals that call Australia’s biggest city home.

Saturday 14 August – Tuesday 14 September. Event details:

Media enquiries: Christian Eckardt,, 02 9339 6664 or 0420 534 053.

Fish with croc jaws – Wyangala

360 million years ago, huge fish swam in the mighty rivers of Central West New South Wales.

Bizarre ancient fish were aplenty – they were armoured, others had lungs or even jaws like crocodiles.

Thousands of their fossils have been found, providing a unique glimpse into life during the Devonian Period.

In a series of online workshops illustrator Angus Fisher and artist Todd Fuller will work with participants to create individual fish and habitats, culminating in a giant, interspecies billabong.

Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Phoebe Cowdery, The CORRIDOR Project,, 0413 910 697

Angus Fisher and Todd Fuller available for media interviews.

Ending loneliness – online

Researchers warn that social disconnection poses a greater health threat than smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.

What makes us feel lonely? How can we form meaningful relationships?

Psychology researchers Dr Michelle Lim and Professor Catherine Haslam will discuss loneliness, its effects on physical and mental health, and what we can do about it.

Tuesday 17 August. Event details:

Contacts: Michelle Lim,; Catherine Haslam,

Are Australia’s volcanoes about to erupt? – online

Australia’s fiery volcanic past has left behind an expanse of volcanoes stretching more than 4000 kilometres down the country’s eastern margin.

How prepared is Australia for a volcanic eruption?

Where will it be?

What are the warning signs?

Volcanologist and science communicator Heather Handley is available for interview.

Wednesday 18 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Heather Handley, or 02 9850 4403.

Can you find the owls in the night? Researchers recruiting Hoot Detectives – online

Hark, is that an owl hooting?

Researchers are after volunteers to help map five native Australian owl species, by listening to short recordings made in the bush. 

The idea is to hunt for Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owls.

The results will provide important information about the range and numbers of these beloved birds of prey. They will also help researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems to use in a new field of science, known as “eco-acoustics”.

This nationwide project is called Hoot Detective, and is produced by the ABC Science in collaboration with the Australian Acoustic Observatory for National Science Week.

Tuesday 10 August – Tuesday 31 August. Visit:

Media enquiries: Ben Keirnan, or 0408 184 858.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals, first held in 1997.

Last year about 1.1 million people participated in more than 1200 events, despite a global pandemic.

It is proudly supported by the Australian Government; and partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC. More information:

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