Sydney Science Forum Archive

Sydney Science Forum

2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

2014 Sydney Science Forum
The Importance of Talking Sh*t

Rapid advances in understanding the host-microbiome relationship are now leading to better understanding of risk factors and novel strategies for treatment of microbiome-associated disease. This talk explored how we may use designer faeces in the future to improve health.

Listen to the podcast.

Presented by Associate Professor Andrew Holmes
School of Molecular Bioscience | Charles Perkins Centre
The University of Sydney

Game of Knowns In Game of Knowns, Dr Karl divulged why psychopaths make good kings, how smart phones dumb down our conversations, why the left side of your face is the most attractive, how the female worker bee gets a raw deal, and why we drink beer faster when it is served in a curved glass.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Julius Sumner Miller Fellow, the University of Sydney

 

2013 Sydney Science Forum
The Fast and the Far-Reaching: Advances in Quantum Mechanics Professor David Reilly from the ARC Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems in the School of Physics took the audience on a journey through the big questions in quantum science and the many exciting possibilities that await us in the 21st Century.

Presented by Professor David Reilly
Fear and Loathing in Australia: Reducing the ecological impact of invasive cane toads In this talk, Professor Rick Shine shared the results from his team's latest studies, including their successful development of a way to stop cane toads from breeding, and their innovative approach to keep native predators alive by teaching them not to eat toads.

Presented by Professor Rick Shine

Dr Karl's 50 Shades of Grey Matter


Australia’s favourite science ‘guy’, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, presented his latest swag of super science stories. Audience members had the opportunity to see Dr Karl live at the University of Sydney and asked their burning science questions at the end of the talk.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Forgotten Plagues: In pursuit of neglected diseases

Award winning chemists Dr Richard Payne and Dr Matthew Todd talked about the latest research projects addressing the international problem of neglected diseases and the drugs that are desperately needed for these diseases due to the rapid emergence of drug resistance.

Presented by Dr Richard Payne and Dr Matthew Todd

Dance of the Planets and the Music of the Stars: Recent revelations from NASA's Kepler mission

Professor Tim Bedding took audiences on a cosmic journey through space, revealing how planets and stars form and change, the broad implications for our understanding of how the Sun will grow old and the evolution of our Milky Way galaxy.

Click here to view and listen to the presentation.

Presented by Professor Tim Bedding

The Hunger Goals: New Solutions to Feeding the World

In this annual JD Stewart Lecture, academics from the Faculty of Veterinary Science shared their research findings on the complex links between human and livestock disease, gender, ecosystem management and agriculture, and how these factors could help the world prepare for the challenges of feeding a growing population.

Presented by Associate Professor Robyn Alders and Professor Peter Windsor

Surviving the Game

Psychology of Gambling: Skill, Luck and Myth

Many Australians gamble in some form at least once a year, whether it’s an occasional flutter at the races, buying a lottery ticket, playing the pokies or a night out at the casino. How many of us know our chances of winning, chase our losses or end up losing more than we can afford? Professor Alex Blaszczynski explained why people gamble, how problem gambling evolves and what the associated myths are.

Presented by Professor Alex Blaszczynski

Carbon Copies: Inheritance of the Human Genome

In this annual Murray Lecture, Professor Bruce Stillman, President of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, discussed how the human genome is copied and inherited each time a cell divides.

Presented by Professor Bruce Stillman

Limits of Control: Testing the extremes of human movement in mid-air

Have you ever wondered how cats manage to land on all fours, regardless of the direction of their body when they fall? How divers, skiers and gymnasts change their shape and orientation when in similar free flight situations? This lecture explained the science behind aerial motion and how it is helping to optimise performance and stretch the limits of human movement in mid air.

Presented by Associate Professor Holger R. Dullin

 

2012 Sydney Science Forum
A New Way of Looking at the Sky To make further progress in astronomy, we need to do astronomy in a different way: instead of peering at tiny patches of stars in detail, we now need to step back and look at huge parts of the sky at once. Professor Bryan Gaensler described the exciting technology that is taking shape across Australia, and explained amazing discoveries that we are making about the Universe through this bold new approach.

Presented by Professor Bryan Gaensler
The Chocolate Crisis

Professor David Guest showed how good farm management increases cacao yields, resulting in improved living standards, reduced rainforest clearing, political and social stability, and securing future supplies of chocolate. Galit Segev, food scientist and chef, then revealed the science of working with chocolate, from technique tips to practical points. After the lecture, guests were treated to an exciting array of hand-on activities including chocolate tasting.

Presented by Professor David Guest and Galit Segev

Download Professor David Guest's presentation (pdf)

Dr Karl's Brain Food


Australia’s favourite science ‘guy’, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, presented his latest swag of super science stories. Audience members had the opportunity to see Dr Karl live at the University of Sydney and asked their burning science questions at the end of the talk.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Why aren't we talking about soil?

This event was a rare chance to see the world's experts in soil science and security sharing a stage and presenting their latest research along with real world implications.

The panel of experts included Professor Alex McBratney, Professor Edward B Barbier, Professor Johan Bouma, Professor Cornelia Flora and Professor Rattan Lal

Download the presentations and view the photo gallery

Sympathy for the devil

Cancer is not normally contagious, however Australia’s Tasmanian devil is facing extinction due to a new transmissible cancer: Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). Associate Professor Katherine Belov discussed her fascinating and award winning genomics research and spoke about preserving Tasmanian devils both in the wild as well as captivity.

Afterwards, guests learned more about Australian marsupials and participated in activities and interactive demonstrations.

Presented by Associate Professor Katherine Belov

Crowd Control: The Principles of Collective Behaviour

In this annual Murray Lecture, Professor Iain Couzin from Princeton University discussed how individual behaviour contributes to group dynamics and how large animal groups can move in unison. Professor Couzin's research focuses on the principles of collective behaviour in crowds, flocks, schools and swarms including the critical role that uninformed, or weakly-opinionated, individuals play in democratic consensus decision-making.

Presented by Professor Iain Couzin

Download Teacher's Notes for a collective movement workshop

Gorgeous Geometry: Art, Optics & Butterflies

Audience members joined Associate Professor Leon Poladian on a gorgeous geometric journey from the mathematics of geometry in art to how geometry and optics combine to produce the amazing colours of butterflies.

Presented by Associate Professor Leon Poladian

Emotional Intelligence: Figuring Fact from Fad

In this fascinating lecture, Dr Carolyn MacCann explored the idea of emotional intelligence, or EQ. She answered questions such as "Does emotional intelligence exist?", "Can we measure it?" and "Is it really as important to life success as the hype suggests?" and explored the different ways that researchers conceptualise and measure emotional intelligence. The audience discovered the usefulness of emotional intelligence in business, education and well-being.

Presented by Dr Carolyn MacCann

Rewriting Himalayan History: Ancient Oceans on the top of the world

Professor Jonathan Aitchison and his research team have spent the past 16 years working in Tibet and their data indicates India experienced multiple collisions as it travelled north, with the final collision between India and Asia occurring considerably later than originally thought. Audience members found out about this developing story and how Professor Aitchison’s discoveries may rewrite Himalayan history.

Presented by Professor Jonathan Aitchison

2011 Sydney Science Forum
Life and Death in Antarctica Tim Jarvis is an environmental scientist who has been able to combine his love for adventure with his passion for the environment. His expeditions have covered both polar regions- including a record-breaking journey to the South Pole- and many of the world's deserts, mountains and rainforests.

Watch Tim recount his recent unassisted expeditions and highlights some of his intriguing environmental findings.
Full video | Highlights
Footage courtesy of ABC Big Ideas.

Presented by Tim Jarvis, AM
The Blue Future: the robotic exploration of the oceans

Professor Haymet introduced his innovative work on sea and air robots. He described how this research will lead to a whole new era of robotic exploration of our blue planet and ultimately enhance our understanding of factors influencing the earth’s atmosphere, climate and biodiversity.

Presented by Dr Tony Haymet

Curious & Curiouser Australia’s favourite science ‘guy’, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, presented his latest swag of super science stories. Audience members had the opportunity to see Dr Karl live at the University of Sydney and asked their burning science questions at the end of the talk.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Solis to Society: the unseen power beneath our feet Healthy soil is crucial for nutritional food production and the provision of vital micronutrients essential to human health. But we are now placing greater and greater demands on this valuable resource and topsoil is already being lost faster than it is being replaced in many parts of the world. Professor Crawford addressed these issues and more in his engaging talk.

Audio + slides: Part 1 | Part 2

Presented by Professor John W. Crawford
Synthetic Biology: the next gen of GM Dr Jim Haseloff, from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, took the audience to the cutting edge of this emerging field and explained how Synthetic Biology goes beyond traditional genetic modification of inserting a single gene into an organism, to using formal engineering principles for construction of genetically programmed biological systems.

Presented by Dr Jim Haseloff
The Brain on Drugs: Psychopharmacology, the effects of drugs on the brain How do drugs affect the brain to change mood and behaviour? What is Australia’s biggest drug problem? How do people become addicted to drugs and how can we help people overcome addictions? Professor Iain McGregor addressed these questions and more in his fascinating lecture.

Listen to the lecture (.wav)
Download the lecture slides (.pdf)

Presented by Professor Iain McGregor
An explosive night of Molecular Gastronomy In this special event to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry, the father of molecular gastronomy, Professor Herve This and acclaimed Sydney chef, Martin Benn of Sepia Restaurant, demonstrated the science behind famous molecular gastronomy techniques. The event also featured special guest compere Adam Spencer.

Watch highlights from the event

Presented by Professor Herve This, Chef Martin Benn and Adam Spencer

2010 Sydney Science Forum
On the Origin of Epidemics How do epidemics start and spread in human populations? Can we predict what epidemics will occur next? In this lecture Professor Holmes addresses these fundamental questions by examining how evolving RNA viruses are able to jump species boundaries and emerge in humans, sometimes with devastating effects. This online video (Part 1, Part 2) is courtesy of SlowTV.

Presented by Professor Edward C. Holmes
  Nevermind the Bullocks, Here's the Science

Australia’s favourite science ‘guy’, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, presented his latest swag of super science stories. Audience members had the opportunity to see Dr Karl live at the University of Sydney and asked their burning science questions at the end of the talk.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Energy: The Global Challenge? Starting with an overview of what is perceived as ‘the energy crisis’, and what our options are, Professor Cahen explored short and medium-term approaches to overcome this global challenge. Audience members learned that basic science will be the major player for long-term solutions to our energy needs.

Presented by visiting Professor David Cahen
Some like it hot: Life in the central deserts of Australia In this lecture, Professor Dickman explored the extraordinary ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ cycles that characterise inland Australia and examined how life persists during good times and bad. Audience members learned about the amazing adaptations that frogs and desert mice use to cope with the extreme conditions, how floods, wildfires and invasive species affect the native small mammals, and how so many species seem to appear and disappear at different times and places over the desert landscape. Watch this lecture online (presentation slides included).

Presented by Professor Chris Dickman
Law of the Locust: A tale of cannibals, ageing and human obesity

Locust plagues are one of the most infamous insect scourges, affecting the lives of 1 in 10 people on the planet. But they have also provided important new clues into the causes of human obesity, how we age, and the complex behaviour of crowds. Professor Steve Simpson took audience members on a strange journey that began in the midst of a locust swarm and ended with the human obesity epidemic.

Watch highlights.

Presented by Professor Steve Simpson

Nemesis: the search for antimatter in the universe It's the ultimate battle of the universe: when normal matter and antimatter come together, they're annihilated, and all the mass is converted into energy. Fortunately, the Universe today is composed almost entirely of matter, with very little antimatter. However, the laws of physics require that the Universe began with equal amounts of both. The origin of the asymmetry is not known, but a possible explanation relies on some bizarre events in the early Universe.

View lecture slides

Presented by Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn
Lizards in an evolutionary tree:  studies on the origin and ecology of biological diversity In this presentation, Jonathan Losos focused on his research which has synthesised experimental and observational approaches of habitat use, behaviour, function, and genetics to understand the evolution of a particularly diverse group of Caribbean lizards that have become a model for studying evolution.

Listen to this lecture
(14MB mp4)

Presented by visiting Professor Jonathan Losos
Music and the Cosmos, Shanghai event The Sydney Conservatorium of Music, in collaboration with the Shanghai Conservatorium of Music performed Holst’s ‘The Planets’, and audience members learned about the latest in astronomy research with leading astronomers from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics.

Presented by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Shanghai Conservatorium of Music & Sydney astronomers
Beaming with pride: celebrating 50 years of laser innovation We use lasers every day, but where and how? Audience members found out at this free public talk by eminent laser physicist, Professor Barry Luther-Davies, as part of Laser Fest – celebrating 50 years of laser innovation.

Presented by visiting Professor Barry Luther-Davies

2009 Sydney Science Forum
Science is Golden Australia's favourite science 'guy,' Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, kicks off the 2009 Sydney Science Forum with his latest swag of super science stories. If you like your science dished up with a big serving of humour, then don't miss this opportunity to see Dr Karl live at the University of Sydney.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Out of Sight: The Science of Invisibility

Invisibility has always been the stuff of science fiction - until now. Thanks to physics, researchers are a step closer to perfecting a real invisibility cloak, capable of hiding people and objects from plain view. But what secret ingredients do scientists need in order to make this fantasy a reality? Disappear into the exciting world of optical science and metamaterials with internationally renowned physicist, Professor Sir John Pendry of Imperial College, London.

Watch: Part1 | Part 2. Courtesy of SlowTV.

Presented by Professor Sir John Pendry

Music and the Cosmos This special event, celebrating the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, featured Radio National's Robyn Williams as MC, a Sydney Conservatorium of Music Brass Ensemble performing select movements from Holst's 'The Planets', and Sydney astronomers Professor Bryan Gaensler, Professor Tim Bedding and Professor Geraint Lewis. This audio recording is courtesy of ABC Radio National's Science Show.

Presented by Sydney astronomers and the SCM brass ensemble
Saving your skin: the science of reconstructive burns surgery This fascinating lecture explored the the amazing technologies being pioneered to assist in the body's ability to heal itself and generate new skin and tissue. Leading burns specialist and reconstructive surgeon Professor Peter Maitz discussed the challenges in burns treatment, and Professor Tony Weiss examined the science behind the amazing self-assembling elastic tissues being engineered by his team in the quest to improve the quality of life for burns victims.

Presented by Professor Peter Maitz & Professor Tony Weiss
Perception, Illusion and Reality: what do illusions tell us about mind and nature? What can illusions tell us about the way we perceive reality? About the way our brain processes black and white? In this highly visual presentation, Professor Bart Anderson presented a variety of striking visual illusions that revealed some of the processes responsible for transforming our sensory input into visual experience.

Presented by Professor Bart Anderson

2008 Sydney Science Forum
Solutions for the Future: Sustainability through Clever Chemistry How can we produce the goods and supply the energy to power our modern lifestyle, in an environmentally sustainable way? Professor Thomas Maschmeyer from the University of Sydney's School of Chemistry explores the latest chemical technologies and how they are driving the revolution in the way we generate power.

Presented by Professor Thomas Maschmeyer. Listen to this lecture.
Dark Horizons: The Future of Deep Sea Exploration
It is remarkable that in the beginning of the 21st century only 5% of the deep sea has been explored. Marine scientists Professor Maria Byrne and Dr Adele Pile have been exploring the waters off Northern Australia and discovering fascinating creatures in the ocean depths. Hear all about their discoveries and how they are using their research to predict how we can expect the oceans to change with impending climate change.

Presented by Professor Maria Byrne & Dr Adele Pile
Please Explain
Dr Karl is at it again! Come along on another thoroughly entertaining exploration of the world around us. Do diamonds really last forever? Is a yawn a silent scream for air? Do you have to be dying to have a near-death experience? Dr Karl answers all these questions and more.

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Zebra Societies & Conservation: Different Types for Different Stripes
Come along on a fascinating journey across the African landscape, as visiting professor Dan Rubenstein of Princeton University shares with us his research on zebra societies and their conservation. In this talk he examines the ability of different zebra societies to withstand human-induced environmental change, and shows how working with people to reduce their impact on the landscape can foster environmentally friendly economic development.

Presented by Professor Dan Rubenstein
Magnets in the Sky: A New Window on the Universe One of the more remarkable discoveries made by 20th century astronomers was that stars, planets and galaxies are all magnetic. These cosmic magnetic fields play a vital role in controlling how stars and galaxies form, age and evolve. Award-winning astronomer and former Young Australian of the Year, Professor Bryan Gaensler, will explore the role magnets play in the Universe's evolution, and how they have maintained their strength over billions of years of cosmic time.

Presented by Professor Bryan Gaensler. Listen to this lecture.

2007 Sydney Science Forum
Obesity: A Weighty Problem Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate among Australians, with around seven million now overweight or obese. Sadly, the issue remains one of Australia's most neglected. A University of Sydney research team is tackling the issue head on. Hear about their groundbreaking research into which diets work, and why, and how studies into the eating habits of insects might help humans stay on top of their own consumption patterns.

Presented by Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, Professor Ian Caterson & Professor Steve Simpson. Listen to this lecture.
Genetically Modified Organisms: Is GM the Future? Although Australians are generally optimistic about science and technology, most are still confused about the idea and technologies behind genetically modified organisms (GMO). Some say No to genetic engineering, while others believe GMOs are the answer to eliminating problems such as world hunger. So what are GMOs? Should we be worried about them? What are the benefits and risks?

Presented by Professor Chris Leaver. Listen to this lecture.
It Ain't Necessarily
So... Bro
Is the Daddy Long Legs really the most venomous spider in the world? Do ostriches really bury their heads in the sand? Will a frog willingly sit in a pot of gently warming water until it has boiled to death? Dr Karl has all the answers! Be dazzled by the king of popular science, as Dr Karl separates fact from fiction, and dishes the dirt on how cool science can be!

Presented by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
The Psychology behind Ostracism: From the Real World to the Lab Ostracism typically has damaging psychological, behavioural, and physiological consequences, but this phenomenon has only recently been the focus of empirical investigation. Join psychology expert Dr Lisa Zadro, as she takes us on a fascinating journey from ostracism in the real world to ostracism induced in the lab, and reveals new research that has identified several strategies that may ameliorate the aversive effects of being excluded and ignored.

Presented by Dr Lisa Zadro. Listen to this lecture.