VIC: Dancing androids, chook-wire viruses, and the future of beer

National Science Week

Great National Science Week stories and talent up for grabs in Melbourne and around Victoria, including:

  • Real whodunnits: what’s fact and fiction on crime TV shows and disaster movies?
  • How will beer taste in the future?
  • Black holes, dark matter, tipping points and new horizons: art collides with astrophysics
  • Phasmid of the opera: performances featuring music, dance and a stick insect
  • Discover the galaxy in your kitchen
  • Vaccines, coronavirus, criminal trials, and climate change: trusting science in a time of crisis
  • Making viruses from couscous and chook-wire
  • Gamers: can you power up enough molecules to fire a laser?
  • Take a virtual reality tour of the solar system
  • Become a Carbon Counter and join the challenge cut our contribution to climate change.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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

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

Possible Impossibles – read the media release from the Victorian National Science Week coordinating committee.

Individual event details and media contacts

Forensic Science: Fact vs. Fiction – Facebook and radio

Are disaster movies and TV crime dramas true to real forensic science? How do they know who died? And how do they know whodunnit?

Join journalist and radio presenter Virginia Trioli and specialists Dr Richard Bassed and Professor David Ranson from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine as they put fictional sleuthing under the microscope.

Dr Based and Professor Ranson were in the team that used genetics to identify the body of Ned Kelly. Both have been instrumental in identifying victims of the world’s most traumatic events, including the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, the MH17 Ukraine plane crash, the war in Bosnia, and Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires. They will compare what we see on our screens with the true world of forensic science.

Monday 17 August. Event details

Brewing futures

How will climate change impact beer production? In years to come, will drinkers still like their ales and lagers?

Join Jon Seltin, head brewer from the Brick Lane Brewing Company, for a spot of beer tasting and to hear his thoughts on the future of brewing.

Pre-booking for this event is essential, because part of the fun is exploring the Brewing Futures tasting kit, which will be mailed out so participants can raise a glass with Jon in real time.

The session also includes a virtual, behind-the-scenes brewery tour, exploring emerging brewing technologies and trends, and examining the important raw ingredients.

Friday 21 August. Event details

Jon Seltin is available for interviews.

Event Horizon Symposium

This event brings together artists, physicists and cultural theorists to discuss what an ‘event horizon’ is, across topics ranging from black holes, dark matter, tipping points and new horizons.

Keynote speakers will include:

The Event Horizon Symposium, hosted by the University of Melbourne’s Centre of Visual Art and the Science Gallery Melbourne, will coincide with a special themed edition of Australia’s seminal art journal, Art + Australia, exploring the conjunction of art and science.

The symposium will take place virtually, on August 17 and 18. There will also be two live plenary sessions, via Zoom, on Friday, August 21.

Monday 17 – Friday 21 August. Event details

Body / Insect / Machine

Activators 2: Body/Insect/Machine is a series of videos featuring choreography by dancer Prue Lang, androids made by artist Mathieu Briand – and a stick insect, or phasmid. Together they comprise a movement experiment,  informed by evolutionary ecologist Professor Mark Elgar from the University of Melbourne.

The work explores the complex relationships between the natural and artificial, expressed as movement and intelligence. It is presented by dance company Chunky Move in association with Science Gallery Melbourne.

Saturday 15 – Monday 24 August. Event details

Choreographer and dancer Prue Lang, android creator Mathieu Briand, Science Gallery Melbourne creative director Ryan Jefferies, and Chunky Move artistic director and co-CEO Antony Hamilton are all available for interviews.

Astro in the Home

We’ve all heard of kitchen science, but what about kitchen astrophysics? Did you know you can measure the speed of light near your fridge, or explore the colours of galaxies by using the cleaning products stored under the sink?  Find out how by watching Astro in the Home, the new YouTube series from the ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).

The series features a new video posted every day during National Science Week, in which an astronomer will you through a space activity you can do in your own home.

You can learn how to break light into a rainbow, model the universe in your backyard, and make a mini light-bending galaxy.

Saturday 15 August onwards. Event details

Within reason: trusting science in a time of crisis

Why do people deny the life-saving efficacy of vaccines? How does a jury decide which forensic evidence to trust? What if we trust science, but it turns out to be wrong?

At this event four speakers from the University of Melbourne will explore how and why people trust—or distrust—science during crises.

Speakers:

  • Professor David Balding will ask who checks the reliability of forensic evidence in a criminal trial, and how we maintain trust in science while probing flaws and debunking pseudo-science.
  • Dr Jessica Kaufman will discuss communicating science in a pandemic and readying the public for vaccines.
  • Professor Fiona Fidler will talk about bias in science.
  • Dr Kate Dooley will analyse the unavoidably political nature of climate science. 

This online event will be hosted by astrophysicist, science communication lecturer, and former Catalyst host Dr Graham Phillips.

Tuesday 18 August. Event details

Sensory Science Exhibition: see, touch, and hear viruses

Make your own virus model using couscous and chicken wire. Listen to sounds inspired by virus activity. 

In the Sensory Science Exhibition, artists Dr Erica Tandori and Stuart Favilla plunge us into a microscopic world, allowing us to see, touch, and hear viruses without the use of specialised scientific equipment.

Dr Erica Tandori is a legally blind artist-in-residence in the Rossjohn laboratory at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. She creates sculpture and interactive artworks designed to make the science of viruses accessible to people with low vision and other disabilities.

Stuart Favilla is a sound artist and lecturer within the School of Design at Swinburne University. His research interests span human computer interactions, ultrasound, mood disorders, and aged care.

The exhibition is designed to be easily accessed by everyone, with instructions and ASMR for people with low vision.

Exhibition now online

Video games and making electricity from sunshine

Gamers! Battle your friends in It’s on like Exciton! — a new set of online science games challenging players to connect quantum dots, build solar cells and create lasers by energising molecules.

Teachers! There are lesson-plan resources to go with it.

From Friday 14 August. Event details

Take the Solar Cell Challenge

The Solar Cell Challenge is a classroom-based experiment and competition for student groups from Years 7 to 12. Solar energy scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science provide them with a basic method and some equipment, and all they need to do is harness the energy of the sun and convert it into electricity.

Students will work in teams and present their results in the form of a short, creative video.

Find out more by watching this video or visit excitonscience.com/solar-cell-challenge.

From Friday 24 July Event details

SciVR: a virtual reality trip around the solar system

Discover storms on Jupiter, exploding stars and mysterious signals from space. From global events using dozens of telescopes to watching the sky in Australia, SciVR takes audiences on a virtual reality tour of the Universe using a smartphone app and a foldable VR headset.

SciVR comprises two online events, presented by astrophysicists Rebecca Allen and Alan Duffy, live-streamed to homes and venues (where COVID-19 restrictions allow) around the country. They will include Auslan interpreting. The second is especially for children.

Friday 21 – Saturday 22 August. Event details

Rebecca Allen and Alan Duffy available for media interviews.

Carbon Counter: cut your contribution to climate change—national

How much carbon will you pledge to save this National Science Week? Put on a jumper when you’re cold, cut your shower time, eat roo or fish instead of beef, cycle instead of driving. These are some of the small changes that you, your household or your school can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint.

Join in at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project invites individuals, households and schools to make small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

A running tally of the tonnes of carbon saved shows the collective impact of you and your fellow challengers.

Visit: www.abc.net.au/carboncounter.

Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Andrew Masterson, andrew@scienceinpublic.com.au, 03 9398 1416 or 0488 777 179

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year 1.5 million people participated in more than 2050 events around the country, in metropolitan, regional and remote locations.

In 2020, the festival is almost entirely virtual, online, DIY and well-spaced. This means most events, large and small, is open to anyone, no matter where they live.

National Science Week 2020 will run from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au, public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.