21 things to blow your mind at World Science Festival Brisbane

Get ready Brisbane, science is going to ignite when the World Science Festival Brisbane pops, rocks and sizzles into the city. From the arts to mathematics, to thought-leadership talks and hands-on activities, the 2018 festival will explore what makes us human and the science behind our evolution across five days.

World Science Festival Entrance

The best part? Some events are free, and ticketed events range from $10-35 a pop, so really there’s no reason to miss out on something that catches your eye.

And yes, the turtles are back.

1. See a cult masterpiece performed LIVE

Cinema, science and film are set to collide as more than 160 artists perform the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg’s 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind as the film plays above them. In its world premiere, the stars will align for a spectacular Saturday night as the Queensland Festival Philharmonic Orchestra and Voices of Birralee bring John Williams’ score to life. 

The performance is an international collaboration between World Science Festival Brisbane, Film Concerts Live and Columbia Pictures. Tickets will sell out.

2. TURTLES. That is all.

World Science Festival

An absolute festival favourite, the turtle hatchlings have been timed to emerge from their shells during the World Science Festival Brisbane in March. Go along to the Queensland Museum to view them before they get released offshore in North Queensland.

Hot tip: The queues to enter the Hatchery are HUGE, so try to arrive early and be prepared to wait in line. A limited number of tickets will be released each day for the morning. Trust us, it’s worth it.

3. Who wants to live forever?

Did you know that for the first time in history, six generations are alive at the same time? From organ transplants to antibiotics to 3D-printed prosthetics, there’s no denying that science has made significant breakthroughs that have drastically increased our life expectancy. 

Discuss the possibilities and impacts of science helping us to live longer at Chasing Longevity: The Quest for Longer Life, join the fight as Bugs & Drugs: The Resistance Wars delves into the rising army of superbugs and the pharmaceutical defences that are struggling to fight against it or put the science of self-renewal under the microscope during Bespoke Bodies: The Path to Human Regeneration

4. Discover the science behind the sporting greats

Usain Bolt. Serena Williams. Michael Phelps. How do they do it? Venture into the outer limits of human sporting achievement during A Sporting Change: Building the Ultimate Athlete. The panel will explore how advances in bioengineering, physiology, psychology and genetics are pushing physical achievements to the limit every single day, but also ask: how much further can we push?

5. Explore 300,000 years of DNA discoveries

The Longest Walk: Winning the Human Race will walk through 300,000 years of human survival and question how Homo sapiens survive and thrive to become the planet’s dominant species. If DNA really is your thing, check out Ancient DNA: How Genetics Can Reveal the Secrets of Evolution to gain further insight into how DNA is decoded centuries later.

6. Science in the streets

World Science Festival

Over a whole weekend, South Bank will transform into a science playground with dozens hands-on and immersive activities that will explore the science behind robots, drones, augmented reality, solar energy, fossils, slime and so much more. Head to the Cultural Forecourt and get involved over two days – kids big and small will love it.

7. See a mathemagician perform

They say magicians never reveal their secrets, but apparently mathemagicians can. Arthur Benjamin will share the secrets of making rapid-fire calculations during a mind-bending performance that showcases his extraordinary mathematical knowledge and extreme mental agility. 

8. Delve deeper into the mind

Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel leads a panel of experts during Freud’s Divide: Bridging the Brain-Mind Gap to discuss approaches to understanding the human mind, while Probing the Eternal Sunshine: Memories and Fears explores how and why we form and process a lifetime of memories - and fears.

9. Let’s talk about…

World Science Festival

From Ancient Egypt, to turtles and frogs, to the Hubble Space Telescope, gain a deeper insight in just 60 minutes into rituals, ecosystems, biodiversity and astronomy during the Let’s Talk Series.

10. Explore the potential origins of faith

Every culture throughout history has held a belief in a higher power of sorts, but why do these beliefs hold such a powerful influence over our species? Renowned physicist – and festival cofounder – Brian Greene will be joined by neuroscientists, philosophers, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists for The Believing Brain: Neuroscience and the Spiritual Instinct to explore one of the most profound mysteries of the human race.

11. Meet people with cool jobs

World Science Festival Brisbane

An astrophysicist for NASA, an engineer revolutionising recycling, a neuro-ecologist who was Chief Science Consultant when David Attenborough filmed on the Great Barrier Reef and a quantum physicist. Take this opportunity to meet these incredible people – any many more – with the coolest jobs in science, to ask them questions and hear their stories. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in science, this is the event of the festival for you.

12. Expand your mind with stacks of talks

Look ahead into the uncertain future the human race faces. Listen in on panels made up of experts in their field discussing urban environments in the future during Extreme Cities: Build Against the Tide and hear how science and technology can prevent us from drowning in our own waste during Waste Not, Want Not: Creating A Circular Economy.

Also worth checking out is the Pioneers in Science program which features past Australians of the Year Professor Fiona Wood and Professor Alan Mackay, or find out how nature and science can create good from bad during Venom and Pain: An Unlikely Alliance.

13. It’s a by the numbers game

Math is everywhere - from your favourite song to Pythagoras theorem, from your Facebook feed to launching a ship into space. See how math is embedded in every element of life during For the Love of Math: More Than Just Numbers and The Language of the Universe: Can Math Explain Everything, before diving into the world of encryption during The Art of Cryptology. We’re expecting minds will be blown.

14. Reach for the sky

Turn your attention upwards, towards the vast universe that exists beyond our humble little planet. Space Invaders: To Infinity and Beyond will explore the legal and practical minefield that is extra-terrestrial exploration, while Space Junk: Cleaning Up After Ourselves highlights the environmental and safety problem that ‘space junk’ poses, and discusses how we can fix it.

Love to talk about aliens? Go along to Alien Contact: What Happens Next to listen to discussions on the consequences of such a momentous - and apparently inevitable - discovery.

15. Feed your mind

Brain Food Breakfast Series

Go along to the Brain Food Breakfast Series to see and hear scientists sharing their science-related stories, knowledge and experiences. Learn about what makes a great athlete over a breakfast of champions, hear from biological anthropologist Tanya Smith about how teeth tell a tale of millenia of human development, find out why you should listen to your gut to when it comes to your health or give your brain a boost with Dr Karl as he shares his knowledge on all things health.

16. Whirl through time and space with Doctor Karl

World Science Festival

Doctor Karl will present Extreme Moments in Science. If you’re looking for answers to questions you’ve never even thought to ask, this is the presentation for you.

17. Separate fact from fiction

The hoverboards dreamed up in Marty McFly’s future became a reality - of sorts. Scientific discoveries continue to blur the line between science fiction and science fact. Test the science behind the stories at Scully To Your Mulder.

18. Spot the second star to the right

Stargaze in South Bank’s Cultural Forecourt and take in the beautiful night skies above Brisbane. Who knows, you may be able to spot the man in the moon. 

19. Become an apprentice

You’re the apprentice – learn from the masters. Join real-life scientists in the lab: be a museum curator, try your hand at solving crimes or be a paleontologist apprentice for a day. Places are limited in these sessions, so if you think this is a chance to find your calling, do not miss out.

20. Discover the science of sleep

Do you forget the sweet dreams but remember the nightmares vividly? We sleep talk, we sleep walk, some of us experience night terrors. Venture into the dark hours to explore sleep patterns, that elusive REM and the wondrous world of dreams at Pillow Talk.

21. Get in touch with the senses

The Australian Cinematheque at GOMA will play a program of documentaries that reflect on the expectations we place on our minds and bodies. Full program here.

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