Factchecking 5G, future energy, swarming behaviour, and how real is virtual reality?

Exclude from Home Page, National Science Week

Dozens of Science Week stories around Victoria

More on these highlights below.

Scientists, experts and event organisers are available for interview throughout National Science Week.

Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

Visit ScienceWeek.net.au/events to find stories in your area using the event listing.

Media centre here. Images for media here.

National Science Week in Victoria: event highlights

Swarm – Parkville

From nanobots to native bees, superorganisms to social media – is it better to be part of a pack or go it alone?

Part exhibition, part experiment, SWARM uncovers the very essence of collective behaviour and questions what drives us to be social.

More than half of Earth’s 7.9 billion people live highly urbanised lives; increasingly connected through social media and digital interfaces, we share our lives to hordes of followers, crowdsource ideas, digitise our workforces, and become part of global political movements.

Swarming behaviour underlies nearly everything: swarms of social insects, murmurations of birds, molecular movements, swarm algorithms driving choices, and even swarms of drones and nanorobots helping (or hindering) the very essence of what it means to be human.

At a time of unprecedented societal upheaval due to the current global viral pandemic, Science Gallery Melbourne is delving into the science and art behind what it means to be part of a pack.

Saturday 13 August – Saturday 3 December. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/science-gallery-melbourne-swarm/parkville

Media enquiries: Katrina Hall, kathall@ozemail.com.au or 0421 153 046.

Available for interview:

More information: melbourne.sciencegallery.com/swarm

Saturn up close – Ballarat

Saturn is at opposition on Monday 15 August. This occurs when Saturn is closest to the Earth, with the sun on the other side of Earth. It’s literally the best time to see the ringed planet through the telescope at Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum.

Visitors to the observatory will learn about Saturn, the sun, and observing the night sky.

Saturday 13 to Saturday 20 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/saturn-up-close/mt-pleasant

Media enquiries: info@ballaratobservatory.org.au

Hydrogen energy 101 – Hawthorn

Hydrogen is a promising solution to tackle climate change and it will also create jobs across a range of sectors. But what is hydrogen? How is it applied in daily life? Why is it important? And, most importantly, how does it impact your future?

Ask the experts at the Victorian Hydrogen Hub at Swinburne University of Technology.

Monday 15 August and Tuesday 16 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/lunch-and-learn-hydrogen-101/hawthorn

Media enquiries: Breck Carter, breckcarter@swin.edu.au or 0402 015 037

Dr Kim Beasy, Victorian Hydrogen Hub Research Fellow, is available for media interviews.

Moving images: virtual reality helps us accept death – Carlton

Guided meditation in virtual reality could comfort the dying in their final moments.

Psychology scientist Dr Nicholas Van Dam will talk to artist Efterpi Soropos about using virtual reality to improve people’s moods, even in the saddest circumstances.

Efterpi has been creating art in palliative care, transforming bleak patient rooms with light, sound and video.

Can guided meditations in virtual nature environments affect our mood and emotions? Can a virtual environment help soothe those in palliative care? And can it ever compare to meditating on the side of a mountain or deep in a forest? Ask the experts.

Date: Tuesday 16 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/immersive-mindfulness-can-real-life-compare-with-digital-worlds/carlton

Media enquiries: Amy Bugeja, abugeja@unimelb.edu.au or 0447 586 191

Nicholas and Efterpi (Effe) available for media interviews.

Misinformation puts the Q into 5G – Parkville

Radiation scientists are ready to correct phoney information.

Scientists will publicly measure wifi and mobile phone tower radio waves in Melbourne’s busy, built-up inner city to address health concerns about 5G networks.

Radiation experts from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency will counter misinformation about the 5G rollout and bust the myth that mobile phones cause cancer.

Wednesday 17 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/misinformation/parkville

Media enquiries: David Sibenaler, eme@arpansa.gov.au or 03 9433 2211

Photo and filming opportunities as scientists measure radio waves from sources like broadcast radio, WiFi and mobile phone towers in Melbourne.

Electromagnetic energy experts are available for media interviews.

Who wants to be an epidemiologist? – Torquay

Doctors, nurses, and paramedics save lives one at a time. But public health researchers save lives by the thousands!

Ask real epidemiologists (not the armchair type) what it’s like to have a career in public health, working in this era of major global health issues.

Hear from three epidemiologists at different stages of their careers:

  • Professor Catherine Bennett – The Alfred Deakin Professor, Chair in Epidemiology, Deakin University
  • Professor Emeritus Joan Ozanne-Smith – Monash University Department of Forensic Medicine.
  • Jessy Hansen – Data Analyst and PhD student.

They will share their motivations and passions, their experience in the field and in the lab, how they got their start and where they are today in an event at Torquay Library.

Thursday 18 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/who-wants-to-be-an-epidemiologist/torquay

Media contact for Catherine Bennett: Pauline Braniff, pauline.braniff@deakin.edu.au or 0418 361 890

Caring for the rare: meet the people saving Victoria’s species – online via Parliament House

Victoria’s Zoos, Museums and Botanic Gardens are more than places for people to visit - they are also engines of scientific research and field work:

  • Reproductive Biologist Marissa Parrott is breeding bandicoots and pygmy-possums at Zoos Victoria to save these species.
  • Conservation horticulturalist John Arnott is developing collections of locally significant rare and threatened plant species. It’s part of Care for the Rare, a Victorian Botanic Gardens initiative.
  • Plant identification expert Megan Hirst is saving seeds for the Victorian Conservation Seedbank.
  • Geneticist and conservation biologist Joanna Sumner is biobanking tissue samples and DNA, from Australian animals, used for research on evolution, taxonomy, and conservation. She manages the research laboratories and the Ian Potter Australian Wildlife BioBank at Museums Victoria.
  • Darren Grover managing Zoos Victoria’s challenging mission to protect 27 key species from extinction in Australia.

Find out about the ways these scientsts and their colleagues are planning to help plants and animals adapt and persist through multiple challenges in our immediate future. 

Sunday 21 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/care-for-the-rare

Panellists are available for media interviews.

Media enquiries:

  • For Joanna Sumner, contact the Museums Victoria media team, media@museum.vic.gov.au or 0466 622 621
  • For John Arnott and Megan Hirst, contact Maraika vanWesse, Maraika.vanWessem@rbg.vic.gov.au or 0497 200 989

Wattle vs woollybutt: what is Australia’s favourite tree? – online

Do you love the water-bulging boab or the towering mountain ash, the world’s tallest flowering tree? Are you intrigued by the carbon capturing power of grey mangroves or the ‘living fossil’ story of the Wollemi pine?

The search is on to find Australia’s favourite tree. This National Science Week, ABC Science wants people to go online to explore the wonder and science of the plant kingdom, and vote for their favourite tree.

33 different tree species have been long-listed by ABC’s resident tree-lovers in consultation with horticulturalists so that people can get to know our natives and vote for their favourites.

Monday 1 – Friday 26 August. Visit: www.abc.net.au/trees.

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, laura@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 166 426

Experts available for media interviews. Media kit at: www.scienceinpublic.com.au/abc/trees.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is Australia’s annual opportunity to meet scientists, discuss hot topics, do science and celebrate its cultural and economic impact on society—from art to astrophysics, chemistry to climate change, and forensics to future food.

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year—despite a global pandemic—1.3 million people participated in more than 1,750 events and activities.

National Science Week is proudly supported by the Australian Government, CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association, the ABC, and Cosmos magazine.

National Science Week 2022 will run from Saturday 13 to Sunday 21 August. Event details can be found at www.scienceweek.net.au.