Science fiction becomes science fact

(From left) Professor Barry Brook, Professor Yuri Kivshar, and Associate Professor Cath Suter with lecture convener Dr Rod Lamberts

This year’s series of public lectures at the Shine Dome is proving to be a winner with audiences in Canberra and online.

Professor Barry Brook’s Techno-fixes for climate change in July explored the mounting problems of climate change, pollution, energy security and dwindling supplies—and the need for a near-total transformation of the world’s energy systems. He argued that next-generation nuclear technologies offer the best chance of curing our hydrocarbon addiction, backing it up with new science that might just change the way we think about nuclear energy.

In the August lecture, Metamaterials: invisibility cloaks and bending light, Professor Yuri Kivshar described how a new branch of physics—nanophotonics—has opened a host of new possibilities, not only to mimic nature but to create whole new classes of nanostructured materials with unique properties not found in the natural world. With these metamaterials we can achieve many effects previously only imagined in science fiction, including bending light in opposite ways and the creation of invisibility cloaking.

Most recently, Associate Professor Cath Suter explained how epigenetics—literally ‘above our genes’—works to control how our DNA instructions are interpreted. She also looked at how aberrations in this system can have dramatic consequences for future generations; that we may be creating in our own living conditions a legacy for our descendants’ health, and even the future evolution of the species.

Don’t miss out on the coming lectures in the series; if you can’t get to the Shine Dome they are streamed live online and afterwards published on YouTube. Final topics this year explore nanoparticles, quantum computing and robotics.

Newsletter number 101 September 2015

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