Ep 19. Program or be Programmed with Kelly Tagalan

“Program or be programmed”

-Douglas Rushkoff

Understanding how to read and write code is becoming essential in the rapidly advancing digital world that we live in. By preparing the next generation with the skills to write code we are ensuring that we control technology and not the other way around.

In an interview with In Situ Science general manager of Code Club Australia Kelly Tagalan tells us why it is so important to make coding education accessible and universal. Code Club Australia is a charity that hopes to get every kid in Australia the opportunity to learn to code. They do this by training school teachers and setting up free coding workshops run by volunteers in schools libraries and community centres.

To donate, volunteer or find a code club near you visit www.codeclubau.org

Follow Code Club Australia on twitter @CodeClubAus or follow Kelly @kellytagalan

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What are animal weapons?

In this episode of In Situ Science we travel to New Zealand to spend some time with a research group from the University of Auckland that specialise in studying the behaviour and evolution of insects, spiders and harvestmen. This research group is currently working towards understanding the evolution of animal weapons.

The lab’s leader Dr Greg Holwell introduces us to spiders and harvestmen with enormous and exaggerated that the males use for fighting. We also meet the world’s longest weevil, the New Zealand Giraffe weevil (Lasiorhynchus barbicornis). Male giraffe weevils use their enormous rostrum to fight for access to females, whereas the females use their long rostrum like a drill to dig into tree trunks and make small holes where they can lay their eggs.

For more behind the scenes science stories visit http://www.insituscience.com

Find out more at http://www.gregholwell.com and http://www.chrissiepainting.com

Music: ‘Zest’ by Basematic is used under a creative commons license.

Ep 18. Space, Startups and Saucepans with Solange Cunin

The space industry is more than just astronauts and moon landings. It is essential for maintaining satellites, keeping our telecommunications running and collecting data about earths environments. Australia however doesn’t have its own space industry and has to rely on other countries to monitor our landscapes and and keep our phones lines working. According to many commentators it is high time that this changed and Australia should start investing in space programs.

Entrepreneurs Solange Cunin and Sebastian Chaoui are finding unique ways to get Australia into space with their educational startup Cuberider. Schools can take part in real life space missions by programming data sensors that are sent up to the international space station. Its an amazing world we live in when school kids can become pioneering space explorers ad learn about science, space and technology all at the same time.

In an interview with In Situ Science Solange Cunin tells us about how an early fascination with the stars, inculcated in her by her ‘hippy’ parents, lead to her studying mathematics and starting a career in space exploration and startup development. To find out more and get involved in the Cuberider program visit http://www.cuberider.com

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – http://www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 17. Orchid hunting, bird spotting and book writing with Julia Cooke

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living”

– David Attenborough

All you need to do is look and you will find that the natural world holds endless wonders. Scientists that spend their careers studying the natural environment delve into a world beyond the superficial. The grasses and plants around us are not mere scenery, they tell the story of life, of the organisms that they are and the environments that they have formed in. On each leaf, within every stream and under every rock are more creatures, each with a dynamic life story of their own waiting to be be told by natural historians.

In an interview with In Situ Science Dr Julia Cooke takes us into her ‘little world’. On a walk through Lane Cove National park in search of duck orchids Julia takes us on a journey through the natural history of Australia and her passion for the elusive and beautiful creatures that are hidden all around us. In fact she even wrote a children’s book about it ‘My Little World’, illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall Her passion for discovery is matched only by her delight in sharing these stories with her family and friends, her students and the public.

Find out more about Julia and her work at www.juliacooke.net and follow her on twitter @CookeJulia

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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 16. Exploration, Entrepreneurs and Abyss Solutions with Nasir Ahsan

Scientists can find their skills having enormous impacts beyond the walls of academia. In many cases people with scientific training make wonderful entrepreneurs. Their skills in developing ideas and managing projects, combined with their self motivation and dedication to long term goals has already prepared them for the dynamic challenges of business development and management.

Dr Nasir Ahsan began his scientific career researching and developing autonomous robots. The tantalising lure of the unknown led him to develop a passion for deep sea exploration and discovery. In this interview with In Situ Science he tells the story of how navigating a remote operated submarine to the unexplored depths of the ocean floor inspired him to start his own company, Abyss Solutions. Nasir and his team are developing underwater ‘drones’ that can navigate autonomously underwater and collect information about the environment around them. Using this technology they can monitor underwater infrastructure such as dam walls, reservoirs and pipelines. Using robots lets them use specialised sensors to explore areas too difficult or dangerous for divers.

For more information visit www.abysssolutions.co, follow them @AbyssSolutions, or visit their YouTube Channel.

Abyss Solutions are developing underwater drones to autonomously monitor submerged infrastructure. Image copyright: Abyss Solutions

Ep 15. Knödel, computing and tin foil hat stuff with Tim Kahlke

In this age of big data even scientists can struggle to keep up with the massive amounts of information available to them. With exponential advances in data storage and computation new fields of science are opening up and new types of scientific professionals are emerging. Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing field using computer programming to organise, analyse and interpret large scale datasets in new an exciting ways.

In an interview with In Situ Science, bioinformatician and marine ecologist Dr Tim Kahlke introduces us to the power of programming in science, but also talks openly about the responsible use of this power. Tim uses large datasets of bacterial genomes to understand the responses of microbial communities to climate change. He also makes a mean Knödel and is maybe a little bit freaked out about Skynet taking over the planet.

Follow Tim on twitter @TimKahlke and visit the Climate Change Cluster website.

Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com

Ep 14. Rage lizards, snake probes and turtle tunnels with James Baxter Gilbert

If you catch a scientist in action, chances are they will be doing something strange. After all the entire profession involves pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and conducting experiments that have never been done before. In this pursuit scientists find themselves coming up with creative solutions to new problems.

In this interview James Baxter Gilbert tells tales of his adventures trouble shooting snake probes, protecting threatened species and avoiding bear attacks. His journey as a scientist and herpetologist has taken him from his homeland of Canada to the holy land of reptiles that is Australia. He now spends his days chasing rage lizards in canoes and stealing their babies, best listen to the interview…

Follow James on Twitter @JamesBG_27 or check out http://www.whitinglab.com

Find out more at http://www.insituscience.com
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Music: ‘Strange Stuff’ by Sonic Wallpaper – http://www.sonicwallpaper.bandcamp.com