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The Science Guide
16 -17 Featured Events
$7.2 10 - 11 The return of the
18 - 20 Wanna be a science professor
- Ian Chubb - Ben Eggleton - Magdeline Lum - Ingrid Scheffer
12 Science jobs to dream about
14 - 15 Follow the money
22 - 23 How much do we know about science?
27 Science Week Event Directory
f Australian science was a person, they’d be in pretty ship-shape. According to the report put out by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, Australian science is in good health - our scientists are some of the most productive in the world and ourbillion education system is producing scientists in the areas we need them. But The Health of Australian Science report also revealed a curious vulnerability. Where Australia produces the most science is a result of the choices of school kids. The more students a discipline at a university gets, the more funding and staff it gets, and as a
result it can do more research. billion scientist” (see pages 10-11) In most areas, students happen to find out exactly how you to be making choices in areas can get involved from your we need them. But there are own backyard. n weaknesses when it comesto the supply of graduates in physics, chemistry, maths, agricultural science and forestry. However, as we discover in this year’s Science Guide, pragmatic science graduates can easily turn these vulnerabilities into their own opportunities (see pages 18 - 20). And as illustrated in “Science jobs to dream about” (see page 12), science careers don’t always have to equal a lab coat plus periodic table. Perhaps most importantly though, this science guide has aimed to illustrate that when it comes to science, there really is something for everyone. If you’re a science fan who’s not necessarily interested in a formal science career path, there are still lots of opportunities to make a difference. Make sure you read the “Return of the gentleman
Our scientists are some of the most productive in the world and our education system is producing scientists in the areas we need them.
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profiles Kate Prideaux
efore he became Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb spent more than two decades in leadership roles at some of Australia’s top universities including ten years as Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU) and high-ranking positions at Flinders University, Monash University and The University of Wollongong. He has also been president of the International Alliance of Research Universities, chairman of the Group of Eight university lobby group and named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 1999. During his first year at the helm as Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Chubb has delivered an impressive total of 70 speeches and - with at least two more years remaining in the job - he’s just warming up.
NAME: IAN CHUBB JOB: AUSTRALIA’S CHIEF SCIENTIST DEGREE: Masters in Science, DPhil
from the University of Oxford and awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Flinders University.
IN A NUTSHELL: As Australia’s
Chief Scientist, Professor Chubb aims to highlight the importance of science to all Australians, by speaking to the media, students, teachers and the general public at major events and conferences. He is also responsible for advising the federal government on scientific and technological issues.
We tracked the busy man down to pick his brain and ask - what is it like being Australia’s Chief Scientist? When I’m not preparing to give a speech I spend much of my time with my team looking at present policies and how they might be improved and also thinking of new ways to explain to people how and why science is central to their lives and how science is at the core of some of the solutions we need to secure the future of the planet. Does being Chief Scientist mean you have to know every aspect of science insideand-out? I don’t think anybody can be an expert on everything in science these days, it would be silly for me to pretend to know as much about an aspect of science as somebody who has been working in the area for 20-30 years - even if I started now I couldn’t read all
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the literature. Part of my job is not to be an expert on everything but to know where the experts are. What was your vision when you began your work in higher education? Did you see it come to fruition? Most of my jobs have been about trying to build something and shift it from where it is to where it needs to be. Universities that don’t adapt to changes in the context they operate in soon wither, but people don’t like change so being able to make change - the change you believe is right - is important. It’s in Australia’s interest to have universities, all of them, getting better and I hope to have been able to play some part in that over the years and I hope to continue to play some part in that. What has been the greatest challenge of your career? I think the future is what’s really interesting. I don’t spend my life looking in the rear vision mirror. You do the best you can at the time with what you know at the time, in each job you try and use your opportunity to try and position your organisation so it’s ready for anything. What do you aim to achieve during your time as Australia’s Chief Scientist and what are the biggest scientific hurdles we face as a nation? I want to try and position Australia in science so it’s ready for anything. I don’t believe that anybody could seriously forecast in any fine detail what we’ll need in 2020 to be a healthy, prosperous, culturally-rich, economically welloff country, so we’re going to have to be ready to act in a number of areas across a broad range of interests. We’ve to be nimble, alert, responsive and comprehensively prepared. n
I want to try and position Australia in science so it’s ready for anything. I don’t believe that anybody could seriously forecast in any fine detail what we’ll need in 2020 to be a healthy, prosperous, culturally-rich, economically well-off country.
The Science Guide
NAME: BEN EGGLETON JOB: DIRECTOR OF SYDNEY’S INSTITUTE OF PHOTONICS AND OPTICAL SCIENCE DEGREE: Bachelor of Science in
Physics and a PhD in Physics, both from the University of Sydney.
IN A NUTSHELL: Professor Eggleton leads a large group of researchers on projects which have led to increased capacity of the internet and the development of a photonic chip, which has the potential to displace the present-day electronic chip. He also supervises the work of PhD students as a professor at the University of Sydney.
umping on a plane is all part of the job for Sydney-based physicist Ben Eggleton. Eggleton is Director of CUDOS – the Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh-Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems – a job that sees him travel to venues around the world every few weeks to speak to large groups of people. Eggleton’s days in Sydney are spent mainly at CUDOS discussing the latest projects, workshops and outreach programs with the centre’s staff. Established in 2002, CUDOS was funded by the federal-government’s Australian Research Council under the Centres of Excellence Program. Eggleton was already a professor at the University of Sydney when the university asked him to lead a bid to establish the centre. “The vision was to build a science centre that combines and marries basic science, physics and nanotechnology and nanophotonics and focuses that towards information systems,” he explains. Last year, the professor was awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science at the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes - a moment he describes as “surreal.” But, despite the award, leadership wasn’t something he set out to do, he says. “I think [leadership] takes a combination of skills which I feel I have but I’ve also been very fortunate to work in such a good culture of collaboration.”
Although he was interested in science as a teenager, it wasn’t until he visited a telescope in his second year of university that his passion for physics was ignited, he explains. “I got the opportunity to work with the astronomy department in the development of a very exciting new instrument that they were building in [the north-western NSW town of] Narrabri,” he says. “It opened my eyes to physics and optics.” These days the award-winning professor’s passion for both physics, and the centre he helped establish, remain strong. “It’s such an exciting field of research to be in. We’re constantly making groundbreaking discoveries that bring new physics into the world.” n
We’re constantly making groundbreaking discoveries that bring new physics into the world.
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T NAME: MAGDELINE LUM JOB: CHEMIST/ METALLURGIST AND SCIENCE WRITER DEGREE: Bachelor of Science in
Chemistry and a Graduate Diploma in Extractive Metallurgy both from Murdoch University
IN A NUTSHELL: Magdeline works as a chemist and metallurgist at a nickel mine in WA. Her days off are spent in Perth writing science articles and blogging.
o say Magdeline Lum has a lot going on is an understatement. The young Australian scientist is employed as a “fly-in fly-out” chemist and metallurgist at a nickel mine at Radio Hill, 30km south of Karratha in WA. Each fortnight she works eight days at the mine followed by a six day break in Perth. Her days off are spent as a mentor to both high school and primary school students and writing articles for Science Network WA and Australasian Science Magazine. Magdeline grew up in mining towns in the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions of WA. Last year she embarked on a mission to blog about chemistry every day of the year on her blog, Chem365, which so far has received over 94, 000 hits. If that’s not enough, Magdeline is also a keen photographer – snapping shots of everything from flowers and sunsets to stars and storms. Magdeline was among the 2010 finalists in the New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography. It comes as no surprise that Magdeline Lum admits she has a passion for science. We tracked her down at Radio Hill to find out how she manages to fit it all in. What inspired you to start your blog Chem365? With chemistry it’s always a bad news story - whether it’s a chemical spill or a story about
a chemical that’s going to kill you - so I just decided to blog every day about chemistry and show another side of chemistry. What did you personally get out of the blog? Was it a positive experience? Definitely, I came in contact with so many people from all around the world who were asking questions and having discussions about chemistry. Did starting the blog open up any new opportunities for you? Yes, it caught the attention of Science WA! One day they asked if I’d like to write for them and by the end of that day I had a story to write. How do you think blogging and social media are changing the way science is communicated? It’s made it more accessible to people. People outside the scientific community often don’t have access to science journals but now there’s people all around the world blogging about new journal articles, explaining them, creating discussions and involving regular people. What I find really incredible is when I find a scientist blogging; I wish there were more. n
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ngrid Scheffer almost chose to study law over medicine, but thankfully for the thousands of children worldwide who suffer epilepsy, she thought twice. The world-renowned child neurologist has spent almost two decades conducting groundbreaking research into epilepsy and discovered that some forms of the disorder have a genetic base. Her research has changed the way epilepsy is treated around the world and unlocked potential for predictive testing for the disorder within families. Professor Scheffer was recently named the L’Oreal-UNESCO women in science Asia Pacific region laureate for 2012. We spoke to Professor Scheffer at the end of a busy working day and asked what she enjoys most about her work?
NAME: INGRID SCHEFFER JOB: CHAIR OF PAEDIATRIC NEUROLOGY RESEARCH AT THE FLOREY INSTITUTES, THE UNIVERSITY, OF MELBOURNE AND PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENTS OF MEDICINE AND PAEDIATRICS, THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE. DEGREE: Degree in Medicine from
Monash University and a PhD from University of Melbourne
My passion lies in both my clinical work and my research. I love interacting with my patients. I see every patient as a new research question, but I also enjoy the fact that my research can help in finding the basis of their disorder, find the genes that are causing it and help with genetic counseling. What is your main focus? My main interest is severe epilepsies beginning in early childhood often associated with significant learning problems, intellectual problems and Autism Spectrum disorders. I get very excited when my gene-finding scientist colleagues discover a new gene and I translate it back to help my patients. You have received a number of awards in your career, how was it different to be named the L’Oreal-UNESCO women in science Asia Pacific region laureate for 2012? I was very excited to get this award because it’s global and because it’s saying clinical science is real science. A lot of PhD scientists don’t see clinical science as real science. It’s
also opened a whole lot of media attention which I find a little uncomfortable at times but it has given me a new mantle for promoting women in science. I have two sons and a lovely husband but I think it’s exciting to be able to stand up and say women can do it. It has also highlighted to me that it’s important scientists communicate with the wider community – and take people on the journey of what we’re working on. What are your thoughts on women in science? Only 10 per cent of professors are women so there’s absolutely no doubt that women are underrepresented. What would you tell a young woman considering a career in science? First of all I’d say science is about discovery, finding the cornerstone of why something happened, in the human body, the brain or disease, and building on it. Yes you can make a lot of money in business or commercial work, and that���s what a lot of people want to do, but in science you can discover something that’s going to really affect human health, sick children and families - that’s what I love. I enjoy seeing patients but what I really love about science is it touches a much broader population. To me that matters a lot - but I think it shouldn’t just be young women everyone should think about science. I was going to do law before I decided to do medicine and as I get older I haven’t regretted that decision. What is the next step you plan in your career? I’m so busy I have little time to think about it – I love what I do. I work with fantastic people, both collaborators and a superb team. I feel very privileged. n
IN A NUTSHELL: Ingrid spends most of her day seeing patients - children with epilepsy - and recommending treatment. She uses the information she gathers to further her research into human genetics. Science is about discovery, finding the cornerstone of why something happened in the human body, the brain or disease, and building on it.
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of the gentleman
scientist? Michael Slezak
efore the 19th century, science was done by the average Joe. Well, not really the average Joe, but usually by a rich, white, male Joe with a lot of time and some really good ideas. Slowly however, science became professionalised, driven by increased specialisation, speed and cost. With that change it moved from the living-room lab to the university and the corporate research centre. But could this shift be turning back around? The very fruits of that explosion in professional science have allowed it, at least to some degree, to be deprofessionalised again. Once more, the average Joe can play an important role in the next big scientific advance, helping find the first signs of extraterrestrial intelligent life with their laptop, solve the hardest of chemical problems with their iPhone, crack codes for spy agencies in their spare time or provide clues to how the world is warming. While the professionalisation of science undoubtedly put a rocket under its advancement, John Gascoigne, professor in history of science at the University New South Wales says there were some things amateur science did well. “English science has been noted for its originality and this can in part be attributed to the way in which there were fewer career openings than in a place like France,” he says. “Some scientists, then, did not pursue a conventional career path and hence thought ‘outside the square’.”
He says Darwin, the founder of modern biology and possibly one of the greatest ‘citizen scientists’ in history, was “a classic case of this”. But fast forward 200 years, and technology has allowed people not employed as scientists to once again contribute to cutting-edge biology. Last year people solving puzzles
Darwin, the founder of modern biology, was possibly one of the greatest ‘citizen scientists’ in history.
in an online game helped untangle a tricky problem in molecular biology, which was then published in the leading journal, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Foldit is a game where players try to literally untangle a protein – a problem scientists need to solve in order to treat diseases like HIV. “Following the failure of a wide range of attempts to solve the crystal structure of M-PMV retroviral protease by molecular replacement, we challenged players of the protein folding game Foldit to produce accurate models of the protein,” scientists from the University of Washington wrote in their published paper.
“Remarkably, Foldit players were able to generate models of sufficient quality for successful molecular replacement and subsequent structure determination. The refined structure provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs.” While those citizen scientists from all over the world might be helping cure HIV, right here in Australia, other remarkable average Joes have been making a contribution to climate science that professional scientists don’t have the power to do. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in 2007, there were 26,000 data sets from around the world. But only six were from Australia and New Zealand. “Australia is a massive country with a diverse range of environments,” says Rich Weatherill, Program Manager at citizen science project ClimateWatch. “We do not have enough dedicated scientists to monitor the different areas.” ClimateWatch was set up after Australia’s disappointing contribution to the IPCC report caught the eye of two of Australia’s leading phenologists – the scientists that record observations on the seasonal behaviour of plants and animals. With their encouragement and input, ClimateWatch was started in 2009. “More than 4000 people have registered with ClimateWatch contributing over 20,000 observations since 2009,” says Weatherill. And technology has been at the heart of the program’s success. “Having the ClimateWatch app on your phone means you record when you see a bird nesting or plant flowering right on the spot
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www.newscientist .com and you know the data is saved and ready for analysis,” says Weatherill. “People feel that climate change is so big they don’t know what they can do to help. ClimateWatch is one of the things they can practically do.” With ClimateWatch, citizens have been able to cover the breadth of a country too large for professional scientists. Birds in Backyards is a citizen science project that harnesses the power of citizenry for another purpose – to peer into parts of the urban environment scientists don’t see much of. “Citizen scientists are vital for allowing us to understand the ecology of the urban landscape,” says Holly Parsons, manager of the project. Birds in Backyards started in 2005 when people noticed small birds like Fairy-Wrens were disappearing from our cities and being replaced by larger, more aggressive birds like Noisy Miners, Rainbow Lorikeets and Pied Currawongs. Parsons says there are now 14,000 members of the website, who submit surveys about what types of birds they’re seeing. “In letting us know what’s happening in their yards, we can start to build up a picture of what is going on in the bird community,” she says. If these guys are citizen ornithologists, then participants in a host of other projects are citizen spies, citizen special-agents and citizen alien-hunters.
Last year the FBI called on the public to help it decipher a code that may help solve a decade old murder and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency called on the public to solve a puzzle, piecing together shredded documents. They even offered a $50,000 reward. And running now for 13 years, SETI@Home has allowed anyone with a home computer to help the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Could all the new technology driving citizen science change the way science is done, returning it to the way it was when Darwin revolutionised the way we see the world? “The web certainly allows the public dissemination of scientific ideas outside the conventional avenues of journals, conferences, etcetera,” says Gascoigne. “How far it is really possible to ‘do’ science without access to such networks and their labs... I have my doubts.” But Weatherill says the people in ClimateWatch are, at least in some sense, ‘doing’ science. “The website and mobile app provide detailed field guide information including bird and frog calls which help people confidently identify species and contribute data,” he says. “Just with your eyes, ears and a mobile phone you can be a citizen scientist.” n
HOW TO GET INVOLVED Whatever you are doing, you can probably do some science at the same time… l Use the Hubble space telescope to spot galaxies with Galaxy Zoo. www.galaxyzoo.org l Contribute to models of the effects of climate change with ClimateWatch. www.climatewatch.org.au l Donate some spare computer power to find the nearest alien. www.setiathome.berkeley.edu l Going fishing in Tasmania? Help map where rare fish are going. www.redmap.org.au l Thinking about diving in waters off South Australia? Gather some data about the health of our oceans. www.reefwatch.asn.au
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Science jobs to dream about
isions of Bunsen burners and lab coats might pop into your head when you think about “jobs in science”. But, dig a little deeper and you’ll find an array of exciting and truly bizarre scientific professions. How about diving into a pool of radioactive liquid for a hard day’s work? Nuclear divers swim into the belly of nuclear power reactors to clean and maintain their pipes. There are no higher education requirements to become a nuclear diver, but you will need to complete a Scuba Diving Certification course. These courses are available in most capital cities and many coastal towns around Australia. If you prefer a life on land, however, you might consider becoming an animal therapist. Experts in animal therapy don’t counsel troubled dogs; they train animals to help sick people. Being around trained dogs can lower blood pressure and give your brain a boost of neurochemicals associated with relaxation. Canines can also reduce aggression, and promote social behaviour in people with dementia. The St. Louis County Family Courthouse in Missouri, USA even employs a “court therapy dog”, called Sophie, to help the victims feel safe so they’re able to talk about their horrific experiences. It’s not clear whether the benefits of being around animals are long term, but that’s something you could research. To become an animal therapist you’ll need a bachelor degree in psychology or social work. Plus, make sure you get some experience in working with animals, for example by volunteering at your local RSPCA. “I was always better at talking about
science rather than doing it,” says Joel Werner, the host of ABC Radio National’s Off Track. That’s why each week Werner travels to intriguing locations across Australia to interview scientists, farmers, conservationists, and even hunters about their work in the outdoors. Back in the ABC studios in Sydney, he’ll edit the interviews for broadcast, and tweet about his adventures, @joelwerner.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Edwin Land, cofounder of Polaroid, all dropped out of Harvard before becoming entrepreneurial behemoths. Werner didn’t take the straight path into journalism. He studied psychology at the University of Sydney and, after completing his honours, became a researcher. Over the next few years, Werner dove into the science of sleep, and created mathematical models to predict the number of Australians likely to suffer from dementia in the future.
While continuing his research, he studied a Masters of Journalism at the University of Technology in Sydney, and honed his radio skills at Sydney’s community radio station 2SER. “Getting experience is really important,” he says. Werner was a science reporter for Radio National, before hosting his own show. He enjoys every part of his job – from meeting Australia’s top scientists, to whittling complicated science into entertaining radio. But, the best bit? “I have the opportunity to tell the world about science,” he says. Many successful people have found their jobs through curly paths. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Edwin Land, co-founder of Polaroid, all dropped out of Harvard before becoming entrepreneurial behemoths. Australia’s Anthony Goldbloom, founder of the multi-million dollar data mining website, Kaggle, completed a Bachelor of Economics at The University of Melbourne, and worked for the Department of Treasury before starting his own company. I was on “the common path,” he says. But, Goldbloom quickly veered off it after scoring an internship at The Economist. He hatched the idea of starting his own website while writing an article about the swathes of data being produced by companies. “Kaggle started to get serious traction and great results, so I moved the company from Australia and raised a round of venture finance,” says Goldbloom, now in San Francisco. Kaggle raised $11 million last November. From data mining to asteroid mining, there’s a bundle of science jobs that await you outside of the laboratory. Just put down the periodic table, and start dreaming. n
11-19 AUGUST 2012 www.scienceweek.net.au
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Follow the money: Where Australian science funding comes from & where it goes By Michael Slezak
Illustration by Michael Bevan
here does the $27.7 billion spent on research in Australia come from? Through what does it get channelled? Where does it end up? How can I get some of it? New Scientist is on the case. Cobbled together from the most recent data we could find, here is your guide to the path of the Australian research dollar. All up, Australia spends about $27.7 billion on research and development, about 91% of which goes into scientific research. That places us right in the middle of similar countries, as a percentage of the amount of money in the country. Of the 28 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australia is ranked 14th.
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How we compare to other countries n Australian scientists produce 3% of the worldâ€™s scientific publications, despite Australia only making up 0.3% of the worldâ€™s population. n Australian research accounted for 4% of overall citations *Source: Office of the Chief Scientist Health of Australian Science Report, 2012
n The amount Australian business spends on research and development is 1.3% of GDP. Israeli business spends 3.42%, Finland 2.83%, Japan 2.53%, USA 2.02% (in 2008-2009), Canada 1%, Poland 0.19%. *Source: - 2009-2010 ABS Research and Experimental Development, Business
n The amount Australia spends on research and development (both government and business) compared to other countries, as a percentage of GDP: Australia 2.21%; Israel 4.8%; Finland 3.73%; Japan 3.42%; USA 2.77%; Canada 1.84%; Poland 0.61%. *Source: 2008-2009 ABS Research and Experimental Development, Business
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New Scientist are proud sponsors of National Science Week 2012. The Science Guide 2012 aims to raise awareness of science and technology opportunities in Australia and combines information on key events across every state and territory. Below are a selected few events running across the country. For a more detailed list of events per state, refer to our Event Directory on pages 25-30 or visit www.scienceweek.net.au 11-19 August 2012
NATIONAL Wipeout! The Energy Evolution Musical Touring 6 - 24 August 2012
WIPEOUT! celebrates the 2012 schools theme ENERGY EVOLUTION direct in schools, taking students on an hilarious, interactive, musical journey full of scientific facts, emphasising the importance of access to clean energy technology while exploring the diverse range of Australian ecosystems under threat.
More info: www.performmusicals.com
NEW SOUTH WALES Ultimo Science Festival
Harris Street, Ultimo, 16 - 26 August 2012 11 days and nights of serious science fun. Highlights include Maths Comedy at the Loft Bar, Molecular Gastronomy at TAFE, the Einstein Lecture at Powerhouse Museum, Talks and Forensic Science lab tours at UTS, art from climate change data at The Muse, the Surfing Scientist and other activities for kids at Powerhouse and the Library and sensational sessions for schools.
More info: www.ultimosciencefestival.com
Simon Pampena in The Fame Algorithm Brisbane - Sydney - Tasmania, 16 - 24 August 2012
What’s maths been good for? Physics? Chemistry? Economics? BORING! Finally maths is being used forstuff that matters… Popularity! Entertainment! LOLcats! Simon Pampena, the angry mathematician, is your guide on maths’ modern adventure to the dark side. A stand-up comedy show suitable for +16 years.
More info: www.numbercrunch.com.au
NEW SOUTH WALES Science on Saturday @ the Australian Museum Australian Museum, 11 August 2012
Explore a huge line up of science based activities and fun for the entire family: • Meet the Jolly Professor and Rusty the Robot in a mind-blowing ‘Jollybops Energy’ show • Discover the amazing effects of liquid nitrogen with the ‘ABC Surfing Scientist’ show • Meet some Aboriginal elders and listen to their stories • Make your own slime, play with invisible ink, handle some of our native Australian animals and more!
More info: www.australianmuseum.net.au
QUEENSLAND Oceans in the Outback
Dalby – Roma – Charleville – Longreach, 14 – 21 August 2012 Oceans in the Outback is an interactive marine science exhibit bringing an ocean experience to regional Queensland communities. This free exhibition is suitable for all ages and will include virtual diving with sharks and fish, sensor equipment, talks by scientists, give-aways, and displays and multimedia about oceans and coastal science.
More info: www.csiro.au
2012 Gold Coast Science Fair
Evandale Parklands, Bundall, 4 August 2012 The Gold Coast Science Fair provides a fun and interactive event showcasing education, innovation and industry within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector; the day will see education providers, industry representatives, live demonstrations and interactive exhibits the event promises to excite and blow your mind along with ‘myth busting’ some of those stereotype theories associated with the industry. Admission and Showbags FREE!
More info: www.goldcoastsciencefair.com.au
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SOUTH AUSTRALIA SciWorld Sunday in Mount Gambier
Main Corner Complex, Mount Gambier, 5 August 2012
Free science fair for all ages. Join SciWorld and the Shell Questacon Science Circus with StarDomes to explore the night sky, science shows and experiments, teach a robot to fetch a ball, pat a snake with Remabi Park Native Animals, or get up close to some Bugs ‘n’ Slugs.
Science as a Human Endeavour
South Australian Museum 6 - 10 August and 13 - 17 August
Students will be encouraged to participate in scientific enquiry and observation while working with a scientific illustrator and drawing specimens from the South Australian Museum’s diverse collections. Become involved in the science of taxonomy, and discover the important role that museums play in researching, describing and protecting the earth’s cultural and natural heritage.
More info: www.sciworld.org.au
More info: www.samuseum.sa.gov.au
Science Open Season
QVMAG, Launceston, 11 - 19 August 2012 Over the nine days of Science Open Season at the QVMAG you will be able to experience many programs including: Scinema - Travelling Science Films, Energise 2012, Crazy Critters, Women in Science Breakfast, Scientific Illustration, Stars in the Backyard, Insect Pinning, Playgroup – Science of Colour, Map It 2012 and Be a Scientist! There is an event for everyone, we will see you there!
Market of the Mind – A City Science event City Square, Melbourne, 10 August 2012
Join us at Market of the Mind for some adult science. Boggle your brain, alter your perceptions and spot the pseudo-science. Live music, speed-meet a scientist, charlatans, magicians, circus performers - Market of the Mind has it all! Free event. Recommended ages 15+ This is a City Science event brought to you by National Science Week.
More info: www.qvmag.tas.gov.au
More info: www.re-science.org.au/science-event/market-mind-2649
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Geoscience Australia Open Day
Geoscience Australia, corner Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive, 19 August 2012
desertSMART EcoFair 2012
Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, Alice Springs, 10-14 August 2012 The desertSMART EcoFair will be at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, Alice Springs between 10 - 14 August and provides numerous opportunities for people to participate, learn, create and celebrate a sustainable future in Central Australia. Highlights include Eco-Science Schools Day, special guest Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Eco-Markets, discussion panels, workshops, competitions, music and much more.
Geoscience Australia’s Open Day will offer a diverse program of activities, science displays, tours and talks. Learn how earthquakes are detected, pan for gold, sieve for sapphires, visit the laboratories, view Australia in 3D or become a mineral detective. Spot the roving Earth dinosaur or talk to a real geoscientist.
More info: www.ga.gov.au/education/public-events/open-day.html
More info: www.ecofair.org.au
WESTERN AUSTRALIA Colours of Science Community Expo
Canning River Eco Education Centre, 19 August 2012
From the physics of drumming to didgeridoo music, from birds of paradise to animal camouflage, participants will engage in stimulating, innovative approaches to science associated with colour. Inspiring guest speakers/ researchers/scientists/performers will facilitate this exploration and students have opportunities to contribute through solar energy challenges, photography and interpretive art work competitions.
More info: www.aaeewa.org.au
2012 Sustainable Energy and Innovation Expo Geraldton, Western Australia, 11-19 August 2012
The SEIE2012 focus is to inspire, explore and engage community in the innovation of the Northern Agricultural, Mid West and Gascoyne Regions of WA. Exhibitions, workshops, presentations, tours and awards will cover river and beach biodiversity, community gardens, digital economy, climate change, carbon farming, clean energy futures and business innovation.
More info: www.SEIE2012.com
The Science Guide
Brought to you by newscientistjobs.com
a science professor?
etween the global financial crisis, the return to a budget surplus in Australia and the increasing demands on universities to do more with less, it could seem as if there aren’t many job opportunities for science graduates who want to work in an academic environment.
But what if some of the pressures on the science job market could actually be opportunities for graduates seeking a job in academia? Michael Biercuk is 32 years old and already a leader in his field. An experimental physicist at the University of Sydney, he is currently working on some of the most promising quantum computing projects in the world. “I enjoy doing work everyday that is on the
absolute edge of human knowledge and capability,” he says. “There is little that’s ‘routine’ about research in this field.” But having worked as a physicist inside and outside universities, he says it’s not always easy getting a job as a scientist. And recent economic conditions have made the situation worse. “The academic job market is extremely competitive. With the onset of the GFC and a
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slowdown in academic appointments, a large backlog of talented candidates flooded the market increasing the competitiveness of hiring even further. As such, many people are having trouble finding academic positions.” With increasing competitiveness, a pragmatic strategy for scoring a career in academia seems worthwhile. Australia punches above its weight in science (see “Follow the money,” on page 14). But while the system is definitely healthy, its health is not evenly spread. A recent report by Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb identified several areas that were ‘vulnerable’ – at risk of being left short of researchers. But where some see vulnerability, others see opportunity. One such vulnerability was the age of researchers in the physical sciences – the areas of science that study non-living things.
www.newscientist .com producing the latest technology needed for many other areas of science. “All of those technologies are applicable from medical through to food production and agriculture through to animal health, public health, water and environment,” she says. The ageing workforce wasn’t the only vulnerability-come-opportunity identified in the chief scientist’s report. His report noted that while the proportion of funding going into experimental and applied sciences like engineering and agriculture was growing, the “enabling” sciences like mathematics, which every other science depends on, were dwindling by comparison. In the 1920s, Australia spent about twice as much on basic and enabling sciences as it did on applied and experimental science. Since then, the difference between the two has steadily diminished, with applied and
SO WHAT DO YOU CARE ABOUT? Here’s how much Australia spends on science, researching different things you might care about.
In the most recent data, almost 25 per cent of the academic staff in the physical sciences were at Level D or E – levels most people achieve only five or 10 years before retirement. When those senior researchers do retire, there may be unmet demand for researchers at universities, wrote Chubb. But as any economist could tell you, unmet demand is a good thing if you’ve got what’s in demand. “As that group gets older there will be a vacuum there and we will be looking for people,” says Jasmine Chambers, Director of External and International Relations in the Division of Natural Sciences at the University of Sydney. And the physical sciences could be a particular problem – or particular opportunity – since not only do they have an ageing workforce, they are increasingly underpinning research in a wide variety of areas. According to Chambers, many of the physical sciences like material science are
Eysden recently finished a PhD in physics and a PhD in mathematics, both at The University of Melbourne. He loved the work so much, mastering one field wasn’t enough: “In both projects I am motivated by finding neat, elegant and useful solutions to problems.” Acknowledging the job market in academia can be tough, van Eysden says you don’t need to be a genius to be a successful academic researcher. “There are jobs for people with a wide range of skills: observational, instrumentation, experimental, theory, computational,” he says. Besides making pragmatic choices about what to study, van Eysden, Biercuk and Chambers all say there are things you can do to maximise your chances of scoring a job in academia. Chambers says university training is a
TOTAL = 24.6 billion
Total spending (government and business) split up via the “socio-economic objective”. 5 billion spent on manufacturing 4 billion spent on health 3 billion on energy 2.8 billion on mineral resources excluding energy resources 2.4 billion on Information and communication services 1.2 billion on construction 6.2 billion on other scientific objectives
experimental science just overtaking the basic sciences over the past decade. Mathematics, perhaps the most basic science of all, has dwindled more than most, driven by a myriad of things. Chambers says the university is seeing a lot of first year students without enough high school maths to study science at a higher level. “I’m talking about the bulk of people who can do it but get frightened of it. It’s not supposed to be easy but it’s not something we want people to be scared of,” she says. Studying a basic or “enabling” science like mathematics or physics opens up more options than almost any other field. “They go into pretty much every industry,” says Chambers. “A science and mathematics based training is a fantastic preparation for a huge range of careers.” Biercuk agrees. “Classmates pursued careers in academia, industry, policy, management consulting, and finance,” he says. Something of a prodigy, Anthony van
unique experience presenting opportunities that are sometimes rarely taken up. She says the key is to get involved in research from the start – putting your hand up to work on projects, being involved in academic papers and volunteering in the field you’re studying in. “You have to go and get your hands dirty.” Van Eysden agrees. He says knowing the right person can be instrumental in getting a job and letting senior faculty know you’re enthusiastic will encourage them to help you. Biercuk says a little bit of humility often goes a long way. “Many bright students enter an academic research environment focused on how talented and knowledgeable they consider themselves, and struggle with the realisation that often they really have a limited understanding - if any at all - of a discipline or field.” “Embrace how little you actually know and take the opportunity to learn from peers and senior academics,” he says. n
Mathematics, perhaps the most basic science of all, has dwindled more than most, driven by a myriad of things. Chambers says the university is seeing a lot of first year students without enough high school maths to study science at a higher level.
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The Science Guide
How much do we know about science? Kate Prideaux
o you know the name of the chemical in coffee that gives it its kick? That’s easy right? Yes it’s caffeine. How about the length of time for the Earth to travel around the Sun? Is that a little tougher? The answer is of course one year, but if you answered one day, you are not alone. A survey two years ago, by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) and Australian Academy of Science, found one in four Australians incorrectly believe it takes one day for the Earth to travel around the Sun. The survey aimed to find out the level of science literacy among Australians, and it found many lacked basic science general knowledge. Around one in four people incorrectly believe humans were on the Earth at the same time as dinosaurs, the study revealed. So how much do Australians know about science? While general knowledge nationwide is hard to measure, we can get some idea by looking at how our high school students’ science literacy compares with the rest of the world. In 2008, a report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed Australia’s 15-year-olds were sixth in the world for science literacy, beaten only by 15-yearolds from Finland, Estonia, Canada, Korea and Japan. Not too bad, really. How about beyond 15 years? In Australia studying science is compulsory for students in most schools until year 10, but many of these students choose to continue their studies. In NSW, out of the total 72,000 students who sat their HSC exams last year, around 13 per cent, or almost 9500 students, studied physics, around 15 per cent, or 11,000, sat for
the chemistry exam and almost 24 per cent, around one in every four students, chose biology. Another seven per cent or roughly 5500 students sat for the more general exam, senior science. Formal education aside, there are efforts by the federal government to expand our general knowledge of science and put a spotlight on the importance of science in our lives. Funding is devoted to initiatives such as National Science Week, aimed at putting a spotlight on the importance of science in our lives, and the government also appoints a Chief Scientist to help spread the message. Today’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb says part of his job is to work out ways “to get science on the front page for good reasons.” Professor Chubb speaks not only to scientists, but teachers, students and the general public. However even Professor Chubb admits it’s impossible to know everything about science. “I don’t think anybody can be an expert on everything in science these days,” Professor Chubb says. Boosting our general knowledge about chemistry, her favourite field of science, became a mission for West Australian chemist Magdeline Lum who was frustrated at what she felt was a one-sided negative sentiment about chemicals among most people. The chemistry behind chocolate, coffee, vaccines and even winemaking are among the posts on Magdeline’s blog, Chemistry365. And it seems she is at least partially achieving her aim. “I came in contact with so many people from all around the world who were asking questions and having discussions about chemistry,” Magdeline says. n
Around one in four people incorrectly believe humans were on Earth at the same time as dinosaurs.
The Science Guide
So how much do you know about science?
Take our quick quiz to test your science general knowledge: Questions
2. I n mathematics a reflex angle is: a) More than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees b) More than 180 degrees but less than 360 degrees c) More than 360 degrees d) Unable to be measured 3. T he largest of the dinosaurs, called sauropods, shared which common trait: a) They were slow-moving plant-eaters b) They could fly to escape predators c) They were slow-moving meat-eaters d) They were fast and able to swim
5. Which continents that exist today once formed a supercontinent called Pangaea thought to have existed about 250 million years ago? a) South America, Australia and Antartica b) North and South America c) Africa and Europe d) All of the above 6. In a multi-cylinder car engine, what are the three ways in which the cylinders can be arranged? a) Inline, V and flat b) Stacked, Z and inline c) Flat, T and parallel d) V, T and inline 7. Approximately how many active volcanoes are there in the world today? a) 5 b) 50 c) 500 d) 5000
4. With an atomic number of 9, what chemical element is the lightest element of the halogen series? a) Helium b) Argon c) Lithium d) Fluorine
8. W hich Greek letter is used to represent both surface energy in relation to materials science and the Lorentz factor in the theory of relativity? a) Alpha b) Beta c) Delta d) Gamma
12. The inner core of the Earth is believed to consist of: a) A hot, solid ball of iron nickel-alloy b) Boiling, hot liquid - mostly water c) Cold, hard rock - primarily carbon d) Hydrogen gas
9. S corpions are members of the arthropod family and emit a fluorescent glow when they: a) Are about to attack b) Want to attract a female c) Are exposed to strong Ultraviolet light d) Are sprayed with water
13. Marie Curie is the only person to have won a Nobel prize both in chemistry and which other category? a) Physics b) Medicine c) Literature d) Peace
10. Nitrous oxide is a chemical compound used by: a) Dentists as “laughing gas” b) Engineers and mechanics as an oxidizer in rocketry and motor racing c) Neither – even tiny amounts are lethal to humans d) Both a and b
14. The Earth is the densest planet, which is the least dense? a) Mars b) Venus c) Mercury d) Saturn
11. Which mosquitoes suck our blood? a) Males b) Females c) Both males and females d) Only mosquitoes that are less than 24 hours old
Well it seems you already know a thing or two about science! In this guide you’ll discover more about the world of science and meet the scientists making waves in Australia.
15. The alcohol in wine is made when: a) Yeast eats sugar b) Yeast eats salt c) Sugar is exposed to oxygen d) The grapes are squashed
Your science general knowledge needs a little work. Don’t despair; you can get started right now. In this guide you’ll discover more about the world of science and meet the scientists making waves in Australia.
Do you love science? We do too! Like our new Facebook page and join the conversation New Scientist has launched a Facebook page exclusively for fans in Australia and New Zealand. Join the conversation today to discover all that is weird and wonderful in the world of science.
Like us today www.facebook.com/nslovesscience ANSWERS: 1.d 2.b 3.a 4.d 5.d. 6.a 7.c 8.d 9.c 10.d 11.b 12.a 13.a 14.d 15.a 16.b
1. Where in the human body do we find tiny finger-like projections known as villi? a) The lungs b) The inner ear c) The skin d) The small intestine
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Australian Museum Science festival Science unleashed
Book now to take part in Australia’s largest annual science event for school students at the Australian Museum Your students will: • engage in fun hands-on workshops, shows and talks • learn about the huge range of career opportunities in the sciences • meet Australia’s top presenters and inspiring scientists from CSIRO, Questacon, University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney and more!
Where Australian Museum, 6 College St Sydney
Don’t miss the nation’s leading scientific institutions and organisations during National Science Week 2012 at the Australian Museum.
Your school can’t travel to Sydney’s CBD? Visit www.scienceunleashed.net for information on our science outreach programs
Dates Primary school program: August 7,8,9 High school program: August 14,15,16 Public day program: August 11
Want more? The Indigenous Science Experience and Science on Saturday @ the Australian Museum is on during National Science Week. For information call 02 9320 6389
Book now w www.scienceunleashed.net t 02 9320 6389 e firstname.lastname@example.org
The Science Guide
For full details of National Science Week events please visit www.scienceweek.net.au
11-19 August 2012 NAME
Rock me, Galileo! The astronomy musical
Schools within 1 hour of the CBD in NSW, VIC, QLD, WA
Wipeout! The science week musical
Schools within 1 hour of the CBD in NSW, VIC, QLD, WA
2012 Sustainable Energy and Innovation Expo
Various venues across Australia
SCINEMA Festival of Science Film 2012
Various venues across Australia
60 second science video competition
1 Jun-26 Aug
National computer science school challenge
6 Aug-9 Sep
Murder under the microscope 2012
23 Jul-23 Aug
ACT Cloudy with a chance of rain: Canberra
National Gallery of Australia
Giants of science: Professor Brian Schmidt, Professor Mike Raupach, Professor Chris Goodnow & Peter Mcleish
Shine Dome, Academy of Science
11, 13, 15 and 17 Aug
The twisted tale of humans and reptiles
Canberra Reptile Sanctuary
11, 12, 18, 19 Aug
Canberra Family Science Spectacular
CSIRO Discovery Centre
In poor health
CSIRO Discovery Centre
Geoscience Australia Open Day
7-9, 14-16 Aug
Australian Museum Science Festival
Cloudy with a chance of rain
Albury Library Museum
Science under the sea
National Marine Science Centre
Nanotechnology open day
University of Wollongong
Science week lecture at WEA Sydney
Taking science to the streets
CWA Hall, Dungog
Super science week energy show
CSIRO Education Centre
Oakhill science fair
2012 Hunter Valley electric vehicle festival
Ultimo Science Festival
Harris St, Ultimo
Olive Pink Botanic Gardens
CSIRO Science Education Centre
Science week dance party
CSIRO Science Education Centre
Manme Mayh: The Gardens of Stone Country
Nomad Art Gallery
The Science Guide NAME
www.newscientist .com VENUE
Gold Coast Science Fair
Steam Train Sunday
Roma St Station
Diesel Revolution, Heritage Railway Workshops Tours & Annual Workers Reunion and Ipswich Heritage Faire
The Workshops Rail Museum
Queensland Launch of National Science Week, Strawberry DNA extraction , Science On the Go, Nitrogen Show, CSI Forensics & more
Queen Street Mall, Brisbane
After Dark, Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb, Curate Your Own Museum Exhibition, Climate Change & Café Scientifique
State Library of Queensland
Back to Front at MTQ & Your Shipwreck Adventure
Museum of Tropical Queensland
Inside the Odditorium
Ripleys, Cavill Mall, Surfers Paradise
Customs House, Brisbane
A Taste of Science: Mouldy Murder & Star Optica: Solar Car Race
University of Southern Queensland
The Fame Algorithm – with Simon Pampena
Queensland University of Technology, Sir George Kneipp Building & Cultural Fest
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Oceans in the Outback
Dalby, Roma, Charleville, Longreach
‘Ologism’ Rock Cabaret & Science Stall at the Cultural Fest
The Strand, Townsville
National Science Week Family Fun-tastic
Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park
Tim Costello at JCU Open Day
Crowther Lecture Theatre
Corals at your doorstep
Wellington Point / Raby Bay
Steve Irwin Memorial Lecture
Hands-On Science Mania!
4, 5, 18 , 19 Aug
Sciworld sunday in Mount Gambier
Main Corner Complex, 2 Commercial Street West, Mount Gambier
Rocket town on tour
Science alive! Cabaret
Science as a human endeavour
South Australian Museum
Microscopy @ The University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide
Science in the city student workshops
Art Gallery of SA, State Library of SA and Artlab Australia
Sir Charles Todd symposium
SARDI Lecture Theatre, Urrbrae
Arid Recovery Reserve Open Day
Coastwatchers beach clean-up
Adventure Bay Beach
Spoiling our spelling or enhancing communication?
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Science Open Season
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
UTAS Open Day, A universe from nothing, Dots on the rox, Plastic not so fantastic!, The square kilometre array and much more
University of Tasmania (Hobart, Launceston and Cradle Coast campuses)
www.utas.edu.au/openday and www.tas. aip.org.au
Science in the pub: where do we come from?
Dr Syntax Hotel
CSIRO Education Open Day & hands-on science programs
CSIRO Education Centre
11, 13-17 Aug
Powering up science gig
Smithton Christian Fellowship
CSIRO’s spectacular science show: the why behind the wow!
Rosny LINC, Kingston LINC, Glenorchy LINC
14, 15, 16 Aug
The evolution of energy in Tasmania: wood to water to wind symposium
Hard to swallow – what’s in an albatross pellet?
Waterside Pavilion at Mawson Place
Sustainable forestry and the future
National Forest Learning Centre
Why does that gum tree grow there?
Simon Pampena in the fame algorithm
UTAS School of Chemistry
Australian Maritime College Open Day
Australian Maritime College
Mt Pleasant radio telescope observatory and Grote Reber museum open day
Mt Pleasant Radiotelescope Observatory
Great moments in science with Dr Karl
Harcombe Centre, Marist Regional College
The Science Guide NAME
www.newscientist .com VENUE
NERP Marine Biodiversity Hub Exhibition – ensuring a future for life in Australia’s oceans
Sir John Gorton Library
30 Jul - 18 Aug
Cloudy with a chance of rain: Melbourne
Discovery Science and Technology Centre
City Science 2012
QV Square and Queen Victoria Market
DNA Fun Day
Gene Technology Access Centre
Monash University, Gippsland campus
Knox innovation opportunity and sustainability centre
Swinburne University of Technology
Energy Smart Summit
Ballarat Mining Exchange
Dark sky night
Discovery Science and Technology Centre
Knox innovation, opportunity and sustainability centre
Swinburne University of Technolgy
Discovery Science and Technology Centre
Behind the shock machine: Did science go too far?
Treating Cancer with Chemotherapy – where to now?
The University of Melbourne
Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
‘Make it so I can be an engineer’ student night
Tompkins on Swan Function Centre & Challenge Stadium
Mozzie mash & mud pies
Broome Hospital, Derby Hospital & Kununurra Hospital
Celebrate the bay
Town Beach, Broome
Carnarvon science and innovation festival
Carnarvon – various locations
Great Southern Great Science 2012
Albany Entertainment Centre
Perth Cultural Centre
11-12, 1619 Aug
The sun – powering our planet
Gravity Discovery Centre
Rocket Girl: Rocket Show
Meet the scientists & New discoveries in the world around us
Western Australian Museum
Southwest Super Science Spectacular
Ocean Forest Lutheran College
Colours of science community expo
Canning River Eco Education Centre
SapientNitro VUR 957/FP
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TO GO? FIND THE COURSE FOR YOU AT VICTORIA UNIVERSITY To learn how you can go places with a career in engineering, information technology or science, visit our website or phone 1300 VIC UNI.
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