The pint sized science of worms and robots

By Arli Fender-Barnett

2 May 2017

Instead of sitting around singing along to ‘Wonderwall’ at your next pub outing, why not grab your shandy and get ready for three nights of a pint sized glimpse into the wonderful world of science, parasitic worms and all.

This year the international Pint of Science festival is running from 15-17th May is bringing a stellar line-up of scientists and researchers from around Oz to your local drinking haunts to share some of their insights into everything from gut microbes and chlamydia to dark matter and food addiction.

To wet your whistle, here’s a tasting sample of what you can expect at the festival.

Parasitic worms in medicine and agriculture

It sounds a bit gross, but that’s what Dr Peter Hunt researches for a living. There are many different kinds of worms, and they live in all sorts of creatures. These aren’t the type of worms that you find in the garden, but the type that you try to prevent by medicating your dog, cat or sheep. Like everything else, they are evolving to live the best they can in today’s society. But what will be the effect of this on us and our animals as their hosts? Will our medicines still be effective in the future? Dr Peter Hunt will be speaking at the Tamworth Pint of science event on the 17th May.

Pint of coeliac science

Are you fortunate enough to enjoy a beer at the end of a busy working week? Well lucky you! Unfortunately 11% of us Aussies are either Coeliac or gluten sensitive which means enjoying a gluten laden beer can be tricky business. The good news is our scientists have combined grains of barley missing each of the types of gluten to produce a revolutionary new barley named Kebari™ – for beer and food.

Recently unveiled and only available in Germany our special Kebari™ barley is being used to make the world’s first commercially produced, full-flavoured, barley-based, gluten-free beer. Historically, the only true beer as defined by the German beer purity law “Reinheitsgebot” is beer made from only water, barley, yeast and hops. By using our Kebari barley in their new Pionier beer, Radeberger have been able to release the first ever gluten free beer marketed in Germany.

Sit down with Dr Phil Larkin, Chief Research Scientist, Cereal Quality Traits, Agriculture and Food at the Canberra Pint of Science festival on the 17th May and hear about the Kebari journey.

Evolving robots

Look out! Are robots taking over the pub? Probably not. But can robots evolve? We all know Darwin’s theory of evolution and “survival of the fittest” as applied to living things. But can the same principles be applied to robots?  Are we heading towards a future where robots are considered to be a life-form?  And what can artificial evolution teach us about the origins of life on earth? So many questions! Our research scientist, Dr David Howard, enlightens us on the world of evolutionary robotics at the Brisbane event on 15th May.

Click here for the full line up of speakers and events running across the country.

See you at the pub!