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An online series curated especially for National Science Week 2020 (15 – 23 August)

Humans are a species of creative thinkers, problem solvers, and ambitious dreamers. Together we have achieved the seemingly impossible from curing diseases, extending the average lifespan, inventing air flight, harnessing the power of the Earth’s resources to connect people all over the world, to sending people into space. What does the future hold? Will we resurrect extinct species, figure out the hard problem of consciousness, and primarily eat lab grown meat? Are time travel, invisibility, telepathy, and suspended animation ultimately possible? Will climate change, ageing, waste, and food insecurity be oh so 21st century?

Welcome to an online series of events and activities where we explore the frontiers of possibility, and ask what’s next for the human species.

From sautéed spider to seaweed cocktail, facial recognition to de-extinction, post-apocalyptic cakes to deepfakes, we investigate, taste, make and bake the future.

Wild speculation! Educated guess making! Join us this National Science Week (15 – 23 August, 2020) for Possible Impossibles, where the boundary between the possible and impossible blurs.



Possible Impossibles Q&A with experts

All ages

Read about geneticists working on resurrecting extinct species, and biologists working to prevent species from becoming extinct in the first instance. Technologists creating an enhanced future reality and friendly robot assistants, or nanotechnologists discovering new treatments for chronic pain and devices that will allow us to get just the right amount of sun to keep us healthy. Agriculturalists growing the food of the future, and sports scientists using technology to create super human athletes. Climate scientists mapping our climate past to help us predict our climate future, or material scientists ensuring that future generations can colonise Mars.

We asked a selection of scientists and other experts what impossible challenge they are working to solve, and what’s next for their field? Read More


Possible Impossibles Tales

All ages

Are time travel, invisibility, telepathy, and suspended animation ultimately possible? Will climate change, ageing, waste, and biodiversity loss be oh so 21st century?

In this series our Possible Impossibles writers speculate on discoveries and technologies that might just become possible through future scientific advancement rather than remain the purview of science fiction. Read More



All ages

Immerse yourself in the wildest places on earth and meet the humans protecting our most precious wildlife. Explore the great savannahs of Kenya, discover the ancient jungles of Borneo and dive into the rich coral reefs of Raja Ampat. Encounter elephants, orangutans, manta rays and some incredible humans, all in stunning cinematic Virtual Reality (VR).

ecosphere is a VR nature documentary series by award winning studio PHORIA. Produced in partnership with Oculus, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Silverback Films Ltd, this groundbreaking series is narrated by Emmy Award winning actress Anna Friel. More information and free download.


Barwon Listening

All ages

Imagine if we could determine the health of a river system just by listening? How many species of fish, eels, underwater insects, sea grasses, crustaceans and birds are having dialogues we can’t usually share?

Join Ros Bandt and Vicki Hallett, two environmental sound artists and performers, as they uncover the little-known sonic world the much loved Barwon River in the air, under water, underground. Exploring the river from their kayaks and using hydrophones and other recording devices, they track its voice from its source in the Otways to the estuary where fresh water meets salt water at Barwon Heads.

In this ongoing project for continued observation and reflection of the river, a range of sonic mixed media works continue to be created, performed, and shared on line. Science and art eclipse through the magic of sound and the act of listening in place.

Listen to the river from kayak in a special recording with commentary for Possible Impossibles.



PI Bake Off!

All ages (parental supervision recommended for young bakers)

This Possible Impossibles Bake Off challenged wizards with the spatula and budding kitchen chemists to create a Science Week morning tea treat without wheat flour, eggs, dairy, or sugar. Experiments realised eggless pavlovas, cheeseless cheese cake, twists on traditional cakes, and deliciously light sponge cake minus wheat flour!  Read More


 Rosetta Tomorrow Challenge

Recommended 12+

Once upon a time the Rosetta Stone gave western scholars a key to unlocking the writings of ancient Egypt. The Rosetta Tomorrow Challenge, created by Whittlesea Tech School for National Science Week 2020, challenged students to design an artefact that could share some insight about daily life in 2020 to future generations, in much the same way that the Rosetta Stone gave modern society a view into the ancient past. Over 300 people checked out the challenge with the winning design created by Ella. If you missed out on the Rosetta Tomorrow Challenge during Science Week, the Whittlesea Tech School have kept the challenge online so you can give it a go just for fun.

More information and to take the Challenge.


Sensory Science Exhibition

All ages (parental supervision recommended for young makers)

Imagine if we could see, touch, and hear viruses without the use of specialised scientific equipment?

Artists Dr Erica Tandori and Stuart Favilla plunge us into a virus’s world with Sensory Science Exhibition. Make your own virus model with couscous and chicken wire, and listen to sounds inspired by the activity of viruses.

Activities are informed by the research conducted in the Rossjohn laboratory at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, and designed to be easily accessed by everyone with instructions for people with low vision.

More information and to access the activities.


Possible Impossibles – Facial Recognition

Kids and kids at heart!

Turn yourself into an animated character, and learn about the latest facial recognition technology, what it is used for, and how it could be used in the future with this short video created by the Gippsland Tech School.

Watch video


Making For All

All people in Australia should have the opportunity to take part in scientific activities in a creative and hands-on manner, including people with disabilities. Delight your budding maker with a Making For All kit produced by Dr Kirsten Ellis from Monash University, which is custom-designed to engage participants who have sensory disabilities, significant motor or cognitive disabilities in the fun of science.

The Making For All kits have been fully subscribed for National Science Week 2020. For more details about the kits and to contact Dr Ellis to request a kit as they become available, visit Making For All.



Possible Impossibles Online Forum

The Victorian Parliament partnered with the Royal Society of Victoria to host a live online community forum on Sunday 23 August 2020 as part of National Science Week exploring how science can help create the sort of future Victorians want.

The Possible Impossibles online forum was hosted by award-winning ABC journalist Natasha Mitchell, and featured the following panelists, Professor Elizabeth Croft (Monash University), Dr Gail Iles (RMIT), Associate Professor Julie Mondon (Deakin University), and Dr Kudzai Kanhutu (Royal Melbourne Hospital), who answered questions from an online audience and reflected on the way science can respond to community demands to improve people’s lives.

View a recording of the forum event 

Read an overview of the forum and the main challenges identified to be addressed by science in the future.

Read the key summary points from each speaker presented at the forum.



Fake Out: citizen science challenge

Recommended: 13+

Do you believe what you see? Did Obama really say that (he probably did but not on video)? What are Spiderman and Iron Man doing in Back to the Future? Deep fakes, like YouTuber EZRyderX47’s Back to the Future deepfake video (image featured here), are getting better and better and humans remain the best judges of the truth despite the efforts of AI. Can you tell real from fake? And if you could, would you share it? Take the ‘Fake Out’ challenge and find out

Fake Out has been created by Dr Simon Cropper, Dr Gergely Nyalasy, Sarah Lorenz and Jennifer Nguyen from the University of Melbourne and citizen scientist responses will help inform their research into deep fakes.

More information and to take the ‘Fake Out’ Challenge


A Taste of Tomorrow: fake meat, sautéed spider and lobster lollies?

This series of events by our friends in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Nutrition and Physics at La Trobe University explored what foods you might eat in the future, how they will be produced, and showcased both the technologically enhanced and the downright bizarre.

The Taste Tomorrow taster box released especially for National Science Week 2020 delighted those willing to try fake meat, insect flour, seaweed snacks, and products made from bioengineered crops.

To learn more about future food trends and to access some fun new recipes with future foods head over to the Taste Tomorrow website.


Brewing Futures

Adults – strictly 18+

On this behind the scenes brewery tour for National Science Week 2020, Jon Seltin, Head Brewer from Brick Lane Brewery, wound the clock forward on beer brewing and invited viewers to discover emerging brewing technologies and trends while sampling some great brews and important brewing raw ingredients.

Watch a recording of the event to find out how climate change and advances in sensory science might affect beer production, and gain an insight into the manufacture of your favourite brew.


Seaweed Salon

Recommended: 18+

A speculative algal bloom of ideas to get you thinking about how we can live our lives more sustainably.

In this workshop presented by Science Gallery Melbourne for National Science Week 2020, artists Lichen and Jessie from the Seaweed Appreciation Society International speculate on a radically sustainable seaweed future.

Dive into the recorded workshop video to be transported on a field trip to another world – an alternate seaweed reality, where edible algae bioplastics are mixed up alongside refreshing seaweed cocktails.

Proudly supported by BASF. Image credit: Jessie French. Watch recorded workshop.


Body / Insect / Machine

Recommended: 15+

Could an insect, human and android communicate through dance?

Body / Insect / Machine is a movement experiment between Prue Lang’s choreography, artist Mathieu Briand’s androids and a Phasmid (stick insect). The work explores the body/androids/artificial movement/intelligence on the one side and the body/human instinct/natural movement/nature on the other.

Videos were available through-out National Science Week 2020.

Body / Insect / Machine: Prue Lang & Mathieu Briand is presented by Chunky Move in association with Science Gallery Melbourne. Body / Insect / Machine is part of the ACTIVATORS program and is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program. With thanks to Professor Mark Elgar, Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Animal Behaviour at University of Melbourne. Image credit: Mathieu Briand.


WindmillOur Resilient Future: Water, Agriculture & Biodiversity

Recommended: 18+

Enormous changes and transitions are already upon us, and we find ourselves unprepared. This summer’s devastating bushfires and the unprecedented disruption to industries and the business of government here in Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic have given us a disquieting insight to the sustained uncertainty we’ll be facing under a rapidly changing climate in the decades to come.

It seems impossible, but there are success stories we can learn and build from. Watch a series of six-minute presentations across the disciplines that consider the formation of localised resilience strategies for regional Victoria, drawing on the experience and unique challenges of the Goulburn Murray region as a case study.

Our Resilient Future is presented by the Royal Society of Victoria, featuring Mr David McKenzie, Ms Claire Flanagan-Smith, A/Professor Lauren Rickards, Professor Brendan Wintle, Professor Richard Eckard, Dr Briony Rogers and Professor Sarah Bekessy. MC: Mike Flattley, CEO of the RSV. Watch presentations


Possible Impossibles is presented by the Royal Society of Victoria for National Science Week 2020 in collaboration with: Brick Lane Brewery, Gippsland Tech School, Parliament of Victoria, PHORIA, Science Gallery Melbourne, Whittlesea Tech School, and scientists and experts from CSIRO, La Trobe University, Monash University, RMIT, Swinburne University, the University of Melbourne, and Victoria University.

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