UNSW celebrates National Science Week

Art inspired by wetlands and quantum computing, the latest research on fusion energy, and the effects of gut microbes on the body and brain are highlights of events to be held at UNSW during National Science Week.


A floodplain north of Birdsville. Image: Richard Kingsford

Art exhibitions inspired by wetlands and quantum computing, the latest research on fusion energy, and the effects of gut microbes on the body and brain are highlights of events to be held at UNSW during National Science Week.

UNSW scientists will also give talks at venues around the city on topics including the search for exoplanets, plastics in the environment, and how internet encryption works, as part of the national public celebration of all things science.

Children and young people attending the Science in the Swamp event at Centennial Parklands on Saturday 13 August and the two-week long Australian Museum Science Festival will also be treated to science demonstrations organised by UNSW Science to help encourage students to become the next generation of scientists.

The annual National Science Week will be held this year between Thursday 11 August and Sunday 21 August, and incorporates the Sydney Science Festival, with more than 100 events occurring across the city.

UNSW Professor Richard Kingsford hopes to inspire a national conversation about the importance of rivers and wetlands with River Journey, a science-meets-art exhibition he has co-curated with Director of UNSW Galleries Dr Felicity Fenner.

The project combines the latest science with commissions from leading contemporary artists including Andrew Belletty, Nici Cumpston, Tamara Dean and Janet Laurance.

“The exhibition follows a river’s journey from source to sea, capturing its vibrancy in photography, video and sound; reflecting its incredible biodiversity; but also illustrating the enormous management challenges and effects of competition for scarce water resources,” says Kingsford, Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science.

“The exhibition offers broad audiences new ways of engaging with science. Through art we bring life to the science of river ecology," he says.


Quantum Consciousness by Paul Thomas – an analogy of human and ‘Quantum Computer Thinking’

There will be a panel discussion with scientists and artists, and Kingsford will give a talk, on Thursday 18 August at UNSW Galleries.

In Quantum Physics and Art, Associate Professor Paul Thomas from UNSW Art and Design and Professor Andrea Morello from UNSW Engineering and CQC2T will present and discuss their collaborative work demonstrating links between quantum physics, computing, consciousness and artistic expression at an event on Wednesday 17 August between 6pm and 9 pm in Paddington.

On Monday 15 August, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ian Hutchinson, will provide the latest information on the quest to harness nuclear fusion – the energy source of the sun and stars.

His Star Power talk explaining how scientists and engineers at MIT have achieved the temperatures, densities and plasma confinement needed for fusion – although not all at the same time – will be held in the Scientia building between 6 pm and 8 pm.

How the billions of microbes in your body can influence everything from your weight and smell through to your mood and thoughts will be explored at an event on campus co-hosted by UNSW Science and New Scientist.

Discounts are available for staff for tickets to the Meet Your Microbes event on Saturday 13 August between 2 pm and 4pm, where Dr Elisa Hill from the University of Melbourne and Professor Gabrielle Belz from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research will discuss how better understanding of the powers of microbes could lead to new tools in medicine.

The Einstein Lecture of the Australian Institute of Physics will be given this year by UNSW astronomer Professor Chris Tinney who will discuss the search for planets outside our solar system on Wednesday 17 August from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Powerhouse Museum. Bookings are essential.

For details about UNSW-related events see the UNSW Science website.

For details of all events see the Sydney Science Festival website.


Ian Hutchinson. Photo: supplied