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Entertainment, Science

Science vs fake news, dark matter art, planet-saving urban forests, and diving to the bottom of the Mariana Trench

National Science Week 5 mins read
Toby Walsh with a robot

Saturday 12 August

Highlights from day one of National Science Week

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

NSW: A writer, a broadcaster and an AI expert discuss science in the age of fake news.

NSW: Nicole Yamase: the first Pacific Islander to visit the deepest point of the Mariana Trench.

VIC: Can art shed light on invisible dark matter?

ACT: First Nations food and medicine with Wiradjuri man Adam Shipp.

SA: Tree scientist encourages gardeners to grow the urban forest.

TAS: Science, music, Indigenous astronomy at NOCTURNA Dark Sky Retreat.

WA: Finding aliens, love, energy, innovation, and the bottom of the ocean at The Anti-conference.

WA: Why it’s good to have a bird brain.

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

Also today:
Coming up tomorrow:

Spider crabs, data for dolphins, science while you shop, and a play by ChatGPT – see a preview of Sunday’s highlights.

National Science Week 2023 runs from 12 to 22 August.

Visit ScienceWeek.net.au/events to find more stories in your area.

Media centre here. Images for media here.

General Science Week media enquiries: Tanya Ha: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863

More about the event highlights

Nicole Yamase: the first Pacific Islander to visit the deepest point of the Mariana Trench – Ultimo, NSW

Presenting in Australia for the first time for Sydney Science Festival, acclaimed ocean scientist Dr Nicole Yamase, shares her childhood experiences in Micronesia and her lifelong dedication to ocean conservation.

Dr Yamase is a community builder, leading the Madau Project which empowers Micronesian youth to re-connect with the navigational heritage that enabled their ancestors to explore the Pacific. Recently Dr Yamase led an expedition to the lowest point of the Mariana Trench.

Dr Nicole Yamase is from the islands of Pohnpei and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia. She received her PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she studied the ecophysiological responses of native Hawaiian macroalgae. As an Micronesian scientist, weaving together her culture and science background, she hopes her love for the ocean and expeditions will inspire Indigenous youth across the globe to pursue STEM fields.

Saturday 12 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/keynote-nicole-yamase-pacific-odyssey/ultimo/

Media enquiries: Siân Davies, sian@articulatepr.com.au, 0402 728 462; or Sasha Haughan, sasha@articulatepr.com.au, 0405 006 035.

Science in the age of fake news – Sydney, NSW

Hear how science and fiction can be separated and whether science is being weaponised.

Australian Museum Eureka Prize founder Robyn Williams AO hosts a panel discussion with a scientist and a news maker:

  • Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI and 2062: The World that AI Made author and Chief Scientist of the University of New South Wales’ AI Institute, Professor Toby Walsh.
  • Award-winning science journalist and Senior Reporter (Asia Pacific) at Nature Magazine, Dyani Lewis.

Saturday 12 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/eureka-talks-series-science-in-the-age-of-fake-news/sydney/

Media enquiries: Claire Vince, claire.vince@australian.museum or 0468 726 910.

The art of dark matter – Carlton, VIC

Dark matter consists of a mysterious substance that does not present an interaction with electromagnetic forces, which means it does not absorb, reflect it, or emit light.

The DARK MATTERS exhibition explores the mysterious substance that makes up 85 per cent of the matter in the universe. It’s a collaboration between Science Gallery Melbourne, Arts at CERN and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics.

Through local and international experimental projects – some developed in conversation with scientists and researchers – explore life and all the dark matter that flows through it, under it and collides with it.

Wednesday 5 August - Thursday 30 November: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/dark-matters-2/carlton

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

First Nations food and medicine – Acton, ACT

What Australian plants are good to eat and useful as medicine? Ask the people who have used them for thousands of years. And see, smell and touch some of the plants at the National Museum’s Christina and Trevor Kennedy Garden, a living museum of First Nations food and medicine plants from across Australia.

Yurbay (‘You-ra-bi’) is the Wiradjuri word for seed. Wiradjuri man Adam Shipp of Yurbay Consultancies shares his knowledge of the food and medicine plants that grow in ACT in a series of tours that with the opportunity to sample some of the flavours found in the Kennedy Garden and around Canberra.

Saturday 12 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/tasting-australia-with-adam-shipp/acton/

Media enquiries: Penelope Vaile, penelope.vaile@nma.gov.au or 02 6208 5057; or Diana Streak, Diana.streak@nma.gov.au or 02 6208 5091.

Adam Shipp is available for media interviews.

Tree scientist encourages gardeners to grow the urban forest – Aberfoyle Park & Noarlunga, SA

Trees reduce pollution, create shade and encourage biodiversity, according to plant scientist Dr Kathryn Hill.

Kathryn studies how well trees are growing and how much carbon they’re storing by measuring their scientific values.  She even compares how plants grew 65 million years ago to how the same species grow today. 

Amateur plant scientists can help her grow and study more trees in Adelaide by attending her National Science Week workshops.

Multiple dates and locations.

Media enquiries: Kathryn Hill, kathryn@debillenvironmental.com.au or 0423 693 733.

Science, music, Indigenous astronomy at NOCTURNA Dark Sky Retreat – Triabunna, TAS

lutruwita (Tasmania’s East Coast) is one of the darkest inhabited spots on Earth.

NOCTURNA is a weekend of stargazing, Indigenous astronomy, live music, Tassie food and drink, fascinating scientific talks and more, held under still-pristine dark skies – a precious natural resource that is under threat from light pollution.

Situated at Spring Bay Mill, visitors will hear from astronomers, neuroscientists, members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and Dark Sky Tasmania about preserving the darkness and our connection to nature.

Key events:

  • Friday 11 August: the Dark Sky Dinner prepared by celebrated Tasmanian chef Lilly Trewartha, featuring music by harpist Emily Sanzaro and talks by Dark Sky Tasmania’s Landon Bannister and Professor Barbara Holland.
  • Saturday 12 August: storytelling around the fire, and astronomy talks under the stars. With current custodians, Graeme Wood and Anna Cerneaz.
  • Sunday 13 August: breath workshop with Dave Murphy and a cold water swim, followed by a day exploring the East Coast.

Friday 11 – Sunday 13 August: Event details: https://www.scienceweek.net.au/event/nocturna-dark-sky-retreat/triabunna

Part of the Beaker Street Festival. See full program: www.beakerstreet.com.au.

Media enquiries: Laura Dyba, laura@paxmondo.agency or 0432 256 582.

Finding aliens, love, energy, innovation, and the bottom of the ocean at The Anti-conference – Perth, WA

  • Exploring ocean depths with Paige Maroni, the deepest diving Australian woman.
  • Is human hair the new fingerprint? Meet the people developing a new technique for human identification by analysing proteins in hair.
  • Can the power of estimation in physics help finding alien life forms in the galaxy or romantic partners in a big city?
  • Debating the best renewable energy sources.
  • How a robot helped construct a part of Murdoch University’s newest building, Boola Katitjin.
  • Marine tech exploring the private lives of mantra rays.

These are just some of the attractions planned for ‘The Anti-conference: Innovation, Inspiration, Intelligence’, along with workshops, quizzes, debates, food trucks and drinks. On at Perth Mess Hall and WA Museum Boola Bardip. Not your typical conference. Open to all.

Saturday 12 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/the-anti-conference-innovation-inspiration-intelligence/perth

Media enquiries: Imogen Winsborough, imogen.winsborough@scitech.org.au or 0448 888 938.

Why it’s good to have a bird brain – Clarkson, WA

Calling someone a “bird brain” is traditionally an insult. But the brains of birds are capable of thinking, communicating, making decisions, acting on information from their environment, responding to changes, and plastically altering their behaviour in amazing ways.

Join three scientists from the University of Western Australia who study cognition and communication in birds.

  • Heat stress and cognition in pied babblers, an arid zone South African bird: Camilla Soravia.
  • Wild Western Australian magpies and whether they can respond to man-made changes:  Grace Blackburn.
  • Meaning from sounds – the ability of humans to create seemingly infinite meaning from a finite set of sounds has been critical for our success as a species: Sarah Walsh

Saturday 12 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/bird-brain-clarkson-library/clarkson

Media enquiries for UWA scientists: Simone Hewett, simone.hewett@uwa.edu.au or 0432 637 716.

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