Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's National Science Week!

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO)
Ecosystem Sciences building where Andrew works
It's National Science Week here in Australia.  Being the nerds that we are, Andrew and I are ridiculously excited about this.  All week long, there are lectures and workshops that cover a wide range of topics, from Diseases Under the Microscope to Armchair Space Explorers, from Cloning the Tasmanian Tiger to How Science Can Help Write Your Book.  The topics are all aimed at a general audience and there are also a large number of activities devoted to kids.  Over 1000 events will occur all over Australia between August 13-20.  In Canberra, several of the lectures take place at CSIRO, where Drew works.

We picked up a program of activities this past weekend while at the Botanic Gardens and have been circling the lectures that catch our interest.  That hardest part is deciding which events to attend since there are multiple activities for each time slot.  Here are a few that we're thinking about attending:

The Skull Beneath the Skin: The Anatomical Art of Facial Reconstruction
Dr Susan Hayes, School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia discusses the intricate ways flesh and bones connect and combine to create unique individuals.

Witch-hunters, Injustice and Superstition - How science and scepticism will benefit Africa
Leo Igwe from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, will talk about how science and scepticism has been used to challenge irrational beliefs systems that have resulted in children being killed for being witches. He will also discuss the consequences of challenging such beliefs in Africa and the role science and critical thinking can play in Africa’s future.

Cafe Scientifique - Sustainable Energy for the Future: Nuclear or Not
How can Australia best ensure its future energy supply for an increasingly demanding society?  Hear experts on nuclear, solar and wind energy along with other renewable energy solutions give their varying views.  Come to this French cafe-style debate with finger food and wine, and ask questions or give your own point of view.  (Definitely want to go to this one!  Sponsored by the Alliance Francaise, this event comes with wineneed I say more??)

New Perspectives on Old Giant Forests
The Mountain Ash forests of Victoria are some of the most spectacular on earth, with old growth trees exceeding 90 metres in height (that's almost 300 feet!).  These forests are also critical for biodiversity conservation, water production and carbon storage.

Mandy petting dinosaurs

Lest you think that Science Week is all highfaluting lectures, there are also dinosaurs involved, like the one above.  As part of Science Week, you can download an app for your phone and "discover" dinosaurs in key places around town.  When you're in the vicinity of a dinosaur, it will appear in your phone camera's field of view.  It's not the best technology so the dinosaur appears to be just floating in the air next to me.  Still fun though, and educational since I learned that the Stegosaurus had a brain the size of a walnut.

I think it's great that Australia is celebrating science and involving the community.  I've heard announcements for Science Week on the radio station and we saw a whole group of face-painted  teens coming from one of the Saturday workshops.  As Bill Nye says, "Science Rules!"


  1. Very neat! Wish I could go to science week haha :]

  2. Wow! Are those all free to attend? How cool!

  3. Oh my, I don't think Mat knows about this. He is a big ol' nerd and would absolutely love it.

  4. I know I am late- but sounds really neat.


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