Scitech in VIVID

Coinciding with National Science Week in August 2021, Vivid Ideas presents a host of science themed talks and events, including for all ages. The events below are just some of this year’s thought-provoking talks, panel discussions and workshops with some of the world’s sharpest minds and future shapers.

Undersea. Head to the Australian National Maritime Museum for a family fun filled day of ocean science, exploration and discovery! You’ll hear remarkable stories of individuals and organisations working to ensure our oceans remain healthy for generations to come. Dip into creative works, research and experiments that explore every level of the sea – from the foreshore to the deep abyss! Get hands on with installations and activities alongside information booths, lively panel discussions, tours, trails and workshops for the whole family.

Too much stuff? The science of letting go. Does the idea of minimalism intrigue you or do you dream of de-cluttering, but just can’t seem to get started? This science-based talk and workshop led by A/Prof Melissa Norberg will help you to understand why you may find it hard to resist acquiring and letting go of possessions you do not need.

Future of Drugs – discover the latest developments in medicinal and recreational drugs with Professor Iain McGregor and Dr Sam Banister – two of Australia’s leading experts in the chemistry and pharmacology of psychoactive substances. They will unpack the history and promise of future drugs, and share insights regarding their effects revealed by advances in biology, neuroscience and brain imaging.

Artificial Sex with Rob Brooks. In this free talk at the Australian Museum, evolutionary biologist and author Rob Brooks shines a light on the very near future of human relationships in conversation with Nat Tencic from The Hook Up (triple j). Join them to explore questions such as will artificial sex rival human flesh and touch and what are the unexpected delights of sex tech.

Conspiracy-gate. Dr Norman Swan and Sarah Wilson talk about the rise of misinformation and conspiracy theories in a free talk at the Australian Museum. Find out why conspiracy theories take hold, how they spread and what it takes to change the narrative. Find out about some of the myths floating around in the social-sphere and how they are impacting select groups, such as men and various socio-economic clusters.

In AI we trust. In this interactive panel discussion, you’ll have to chance to meet UTS’s own robots and be pushed to ponder your own ethical questions around AI. The emergence of worrying examples of AI use has led to a burgeoning collection of ethical frameworks from academic, industry and government parties. But, while they’re promising, they often amount to little more than high-level guidelines. What’s really lacking is the translation of these guides into practical tools that industry can actually use to ensure artificial intelligence solutions deliver value, without putting people at risk.

Pushing Boundaries – what drives people to extreme behaviour? Join Jenny Valentish, author of an addiction memoir Woman of Substances and Harder Than Everyone Else, a story of those who are hell-for-leather in their physical pursuits, no matter what the cost to their bodies, in conversation with Australian wrestling legend KrackerJak. Together they will explore the art of suffering – and whether there could be constructive societal and personal outcomes from pushing the self to the extreme.

Feature image: Yarrkalpa – Hunting Ground lighting the sails at Sydney Opera House. Martu Artists and Curiious (Inspired by Yarrkalpa – Always Walking Country 2014). Browse the full program of 80 events in this years’s Vivid Ideas, a program that runs from 6-28 August 2021.