In the news: Scientists bringing dark matter to the pub

—by Stephanie Gardiner for Australian Associated Press

Dark matter and quantum physics might seem out of place among the Coffin Bay oysters, schnitzels, and icy schooners on the menu of a country pub in South Australia.

But that will all change when a group of scientists stop in at The Bentleys Hotel in Clare, north of Adelaide, later this month to talk about the mysteries of the universe.

Researchers from several major universities are embarking on a 7000 kilometre road trip throughout August, bringing the complex science to schools and pubs in 38 regional towns.

Jeremy Bourhill, from the University of Western Australia’s school of physics, says the trip aims to educate and unearth the next generation of scientists.

“History has shown that great scientists can come from anywhere, from all walks of life,” Dr Bourhill told AAP.

“If we can highlight some of this ground-breaking science to regional communities, maybe we can inspire one or two kids to think about it as a career.”

Dark matter is particularly intriguing for young minds because although it accounts for 85 per cent of matter in the universe, it remains shrouded in mystery, Dr Bourhill said.

Future scientists will discover the greater potential of quantum technologies, already used in smart phones, medical imaging, transport and manufacturing.

“Science has always been a field where we stand on the shoulders of giants,” he said

“So to explain the cutting edge is to expose younger people to something they won’t have seen in school.”

During a similar road trip in regional Western Australia last year, Dr Bourhill mixed science with schooners when he took a dark matter demonstration to country pubs.

Dr Bourhill said revellers at the Rose Hotel in Bunbury proved to be enthusiastic amateur scientists.

“I was expecting a much more cynical reaction than we received. We were greeted with open arms,” he said.

This year’s road trip will include three pub trivia events – in Clare, Bendigo in Victoria, and Quairading in WA – and Dr Bourhill hopes the events will open up science to young people who may not think they are smart enough to get involved.

“There’s such a road block for children if they feel like they’re weak in maths,” he said.

“But science is for everybody, you don’t have to be an expert.”

The National Quantum and Dark Matter Road Trip, which received funding through a Science Week grant, will visit towns across Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria, SA and WA until August 26.

Media release: Quantum & dark matter road trip sets off around Australia

The National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip has set off on its journey to visit 40 cities and towns across Australia over the next 19 days.  

Scientists will run demonstrations and workshops, deliver public lectures, run pub trivia nights and visit schools as part of the National Science Week 2022 event. 

The road trip is organised by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS). 

It aims to spread the word about the cutting-edge research being done by Australian scientists to schools and communities across rural, regional and metropolitan areas. 

Road trip organiser and physicist Dr Ben McAllister, from CDM, EQUS, Swinburne Institute of Technology and the University of Western Australia, said the 25 scientists taking part were looking forward to meeting local students and communities. 

“We are really excited about the extraordinary work that Australians are doing in the fields of dark matter and quantum technologies, and we want to share that excitement with all Australians, whether they live in the city or the bush,” Dr McAllister said. 

Public events throughout the road trip include: 

Quantum and dark matter demos and workshops

  • University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Gatton QLD, Monday 8 August
  • Marvell Hall, Byron Bay NSW, Tuesday 9 August 
  • University of Sydney, Sydney NSW, Saturday 13 August 
  • Lanyon Homestead, Tharwa ACT, Sunday 14 August
  • City Library, Adelaide SA, Saturday 20 August

Public talks and lectures 

  • University of Sydney, Sydney NSW, Friday 12 August
  • Stawell Town Hall, Stawell VIC, Wednesday 17 August
  • University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA, Saturday 20 August

Pub trivia, with a twist of science 

  • Brougham Arms Hotel, Bendigo VIC, Tuesday, 16 August 
  • Bentleys Hotel, Clare SA, Thursday 18 August 
  • Quairading Hotel, Quairading WA, Thursday, 25 August 

More information about the road trip is available at https://www.qdmroadtrip.org. 

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY: Scientists are available for interview throughout the road trip.  Contact Fleur Morrison on 0421 118 233 or email fleur.morrison@unimelb.edu.au to arrange an interview or photo opportunity. 

Quantum Diorama Challenge

Get out your pipe cleaners, post-its, pop sticks and pencils!  If you’re being visited by the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip, we invite you and your school to participate in our Quantum Diorama Challenge.

Your challenge is to create a shoe-box exhibit showcasing a concept or experiment related to quantum physics.  It could include moving parts, models of famous physicists, electronic components, text panels—let your imagination and creativity guide you!

To find out more check out https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/diorama/, or explore https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/resources/ for inspiration.

 

 

2 weeks to go!

It’s now only 2 weeks until the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip kicks off!

If you’ve already started checking out our website and socials, then you might have noticed our logo.  But what’s it all about?

The logo for the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip combines:

  • A map of Australia—where our road trip and world-class research take place
  • A conceptual drawing of an atom—representative of the physical sciences and the small length scales at which quantum mechanics becomes important
  • The cosmic microwave background—key evidence for the existence of dark matter.

To find out more about our logo, visit https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/about/.

Media release: Quantum & dark matter road trip to visit 40 locations across Australia

Scientists will travel 7,000 kilometres over 19 days and visit 40 cities and towns across Australia on the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip.

The road trip will begin in Brisbane on 8 August and visit metropolitan, regional and rural schools and communities before finishing in Perth on 26 August.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) and ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) are organising the event as part of National Science Week 2022.

The road trip aims to introduce quantum and particle physics to Australians, inspire the future generation of scientists and engineers, and highlight the potential of quantum technologies and dark matter discovery for the benefit of our society.

During the road trip, 25 scientists will present talks and demonstrations at 26 schools and hold public events including talks and pub trivia nights.

The cities and towns it will visit are:

Brisbane/Meanjin QLD, Oakey QLD, Gatton QLD, Murwillumbah NSW, Byron Bay NSW, Ulmarra NSW, South Grafton NSW, Coffs Harbour NSW, South Kempsey NSW, Port Macquarie/Guruk NSW, Kew NSW, Wingham NSW, Taree NSW, Newcastle/Malubimba NSW, Morisset NSW, Narara NSW, Sydney/Gadi NSW, Canberra/Ngambri ACT, Yass NSW, Corryong VIC, Mount Beauty VIC, Bendigo VIC, Stawell/Yirip VIC, Manangatang VIC, Red Cliffs VIC, Clare SA, Adelaide/Tarndanya SA, Ceduna SA, Border Village SA, Norseman WA, Kalgoorlie WA, Esperance WA, Ravensthorpe WA, Katanning WA, Lake Grace WA, Narembeen WA, Corrigin WA, Quairading WA, Cunderdin WA & Perth/Boorloo WA.

Road trip organiser and physicist Dr Ben McAllister, from CDM, EQUS, Swinburne Institute of Technology and the University of Western Australia, said the route had been carefully selected to visit rural and regional areas.

“We want to share the excitement of science, and physics in particular, with students and communities that might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet scientists face-to-face and learn about the cutting-edge science happening in Australia,” Dr McAllister said.

“We want to build a diverse scientific community and that means engaging with regional and rural people, along with those living in cities, to inspire them to consider a career in science and show them how fun physics can be.”

“We urge people to attend our public events, to celebrate science, meet our world-leading scientists and have a great time.”

More information about the road trip is available here on our website.

3 weeks to go!

The National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip is officially less than a month away from hitting the road!

We’re still busily planning demonstrations, presentations and activities.  But if you can’t wait to dive into the world of quantum and dark matter, we’ve provided a bunch of resources to get you started!

There’s a SciArt activity, a quantum podcast, videos, virtual labs tours and more!

Check out our resources