Skip to main content
Hand holding circle with collage elements

Seeing the unseen: from brains to black holes

How far can we push our brains to achieve brilliance?
How does the mind conjure an idea of something that doesn't exist, or that we haven't experienced? Join us for this special Innovation Week event.

Event details
Date and time:
 Tuesday 20 August, 6 – 7.30pm
Venue: MacLaurin Hall in The Quadrangle
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry: free and open to all with online registrations essential

A big part of ground-breaking science is seeing what couldn’t be seen, imagining the unimaginable. Every great scientist has a fundamental capacity for creativity – crossing new frontiers of outside-the-box thinking and pushing their brainpower to superhuman levels.

What is the limit of our brain capacity and how can we translate potential brainpower into powerful discoveries? Hear from Fernando Calamante and Michael Barnett from Sydney Imaging and the Brain and Mind Centre talking about how to map brain structural networks, and how networks can be affected in disease (either by the disease process or as external modified for treatment). Physicist Céline Boehm will be talking about the recent images of black holes and dark matter. Joining them is philosopher David Braddon-Mitchell.

How can these images help us answer our big questions of space, the brain, and the world? Join us for this special event during Innovation Week 2019, which celebrates landmark discoveries and transformative inventions by the University's academics and students.

To close out the programme, Dr Benjamin Carey will be performing a new audio-visual performance for modular synthesiser and live visuals. His performance will interactively explore some of the event’s themes through interactive sound and visuals. 

Benjamin is an artist and researcher working at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, whose work incorporates equal parts improvised performance, composition and the development of musical software systems. His chosen instrument, the modular synthesiser, is a complex musical system which places the human performer in a symbiotic relationship with often-unwieldy networks of electricity.

This event will be Auslan interpreted and have live captioning.

The speakers

Michael is a Professor of Neurology and a member of the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

Fernando is the Director of Sydney Imaging, the biomedical imaging Core Research Facility at the University of Sydney. He is also a Professor in the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering. 

Céline joined the University of Sydney in January 2018 and is only the second woman in history to be Head of the School for Physics. As an astroparticle physicist, Céline has worked around the world, most recently as Chair of Physics at the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology at Durham University, in the UK, for seven years. She has previously held academic positions in physics at the Laboratoire d’Annecy-le-Vieux de Physique Théorique in France, CERN in Switzerland, and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

David is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He was previously at the University of Auckland and a Research Fellow at the Australian National University.

Event information

This event is free and open to all but online registration is essential.

Simply click the 'Register now' button or follow this link.

Entry to ticket holders will be prioritised and given on a first-in, best-dressed basis until the room reaches capacity. If an event is full, this may result in standing room or delayed admittance until an appropriate time.

We recommend early arrival to allow time for finding the venue and securing a seat to the event. Doors open 15 minutes before the advertised start time. 

If you could not register but would like to attend, you are welcome to join a stand-by queue on the night as seats may become available due to late cancellations. Please note, this is not guaranteed so you come at risk of non-admittance.

The event will be Auslan interpreted and have live captioning.

This venue provides wheelchair access and infrared hearing system.

Access requirements

If you have other access requirements or want more information, get in touch with us on 9351 2943 or email with 'Access | August – Innovation Week' in the subject line at the earliest opportunity to allow us to respond in a timely manner.

MacLaurin Hall is located in the Quadrangle at the top of University Avenue.

To help you plan your trip, visit

By train

The Quadrangle is roughly a 20 minute walk from Redfern station. Catch a train to Redfern station and take Lawson St up to Abercrombie St. At the roundabout, follow Codrington St up to Butlin Ave. Follow Butlin Ave through to the campus and up Eastern Ave towards the Quadrangle.

By bus

Buses to the University are readily available from Railway Square, Central Station (Broadway). Please use campus maps tool and tick the ‘State transit bus stops’ box under the ‘Amenities’ column to view all possible bus stops.

  • via Parramatta Road: Take one of these buses: 413, 436, 438, 439, 440, 461, 480, 483, m10, L38 or L39 and alight at the main gate (University Ave). Take University Ave to the Quadrangle.
  • via City Road: Take one of these buses: 352, 370, 422, 423, 426, 428, m30, L23 or L28 and alight at the footbridge before Butlin Avenue. Cross the road or go across the bridge and take Eastern Avenue to the Quadrangle.

There is limited parking campus. Carparks available include:

  • New Law Building carpark (accessed via Barff Road or City Road)
  • Western Avenue carpark (accessed via Cadigal Lane)
  • Shepard Street carpark (accessed via Shepard Street)

Fees are $2/hour after 3pm to a maximum of $6 (valid until 6am the next day). Head to the University's Parking page for more information about fees and opening hours.

Use the University Campus Maps tool to find out more details about parking and access areas: search for the 'MacLaurin Hall'.

Getting there

Sign up for our newsletter

Each month we'll send you details about upcoming events, and a selection of podcasts.