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University of Sydney celebrates Sydney Science Festival

6 August 2015
Black holes, pseudoscience and molecular clocks combine in fun-filled program

From Einstein's theory of gravity to Aboriginal astronomical knowledge, University of Sydney researchers are proving there's no single formula for exploring a love of science this National Science Week. 

Professor Geraint Lewis will discuss Einstein and black holes at his Sydney Science Week talk [Image: Stas1995/Flickr]

At 11 events across the inaugural Sydney Science Festival program from 13 to 23 August, University of Sydney academics will share their expertise on the wonders of science and its expression in our daily lives.

Professor of Astrophysics, Geraint Lewis, from the University of Sydney's School of Physics will lead the talk 'Einstein’s wonderful idea: A century of space-time, black holes and expanding universes' on Monday 17 August.

Despite 100 years passing since Einstein first published his theory of general relativity in 1915, we’re still yet to realise its full possibilities, Professor Lewis will argue.

"There are a lot more secrets hidden in the theory, and we're only just now getting people to attempt to uncover them. The theory could reveal some really big surprises in the way we understand how our universe behaves and the way we interact with the universe."

Closer to home, the remarkable complexity of ancient Aboriginal stone tools and their associations with geological knowledge will be explored at the free event 'No stone unturned: Aboriginal Scientific Knowledge in an Aboriginal Landscape' on Friday 21 August.

Macleay Museum's Assistant Curator of Indigenous Heritage, Matt Poll, will explain the diverse varieties of tool-making techniques, facilitated over 60,000 years as intergenerational populations migrated to every climactic region of the Australian continent.

"There's such a diversity of ways this knowledge can be applied, whether it's in relation to astronomy or food technology or building materials," Poll said.

The archaeological record reveals an intimate understanding of the ancient manufacture of stone tool resources and their application into everyday objects.
Matt Poll

A panel of experts will also unpick the pseudoscience behind pop wellness gimmicks at the event ‘Bringing Science to Wellness’, on Tuesday 18 August.

The panel will discuss the rise of wellness blogs and celebrity health coaches, and the barriers preventing evidence-based science from gaining a similar level of popular authority. Hosted by presenter of ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program, Natasha Mitchell, the panel features: 

  • Professor of Dietetics Margaret Allman-Farinelli, University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Science
  • Christopher Zinn, consumer advocate at The Determined Consumer
  • Dr Sarah McKay, health blogger and neuroscientist
  • Liz Graham, acting editor of body+soul

Guests can extract DNA and get up close to live slaters and other crustaceans after the talk ‘Time After Time: Measuring evolution with molecular clocks’, presented by Associate Professor Simon Ho from the University of Sydney’s School of Biological Sciences, on Wednesday 19 August.

National Science Week is supported by Inspiring Australia, the federal government’s national strategy for engaging communities with the sciences, with the NSW Inspiring Australia branch currently housed at the University of Sydney.

For more details of the inaugural Sydney Science Festival visit http://sydneyscience.com.au.

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