Diamonds, swarm intelligence, super-oysters, and seahorse sex: Inspiring Science at the local library

Local Councils have great libraries and links to local communities, but limited connections to scientists. Universities have great scientists, but are concentrated on campuses. Inspiring Australia in NSW is bringing the two together in the Inspiring Science talk series at Ultimo Library.

Have you ever wondered how ants, with brains smaller than a grain of sand, are able to find and ruin your picnic so quickly? You might find out at Ultimo Library without even opening a book.

University of Sydney entomologist Tanya Latty—a scientist studying the behaviour of ants, bees and slime moulds—is just one of the guest speakers who have presented at Inspiring Science events at Ultimo Library.

Inspiring Science is a joint initiative of Inspiring Australia NSW and the City of Sydney. Inspiring Australia NSW manager Jackie Randles finds the scientists and works on themes, while the council provides the venue and gives its local residents the opportunity to hear about the latest developments in science from the researchers making it happen. For scientists like Tanya Latty, it’s an opportunity to share their work with the broader community.

Other Inspiring Science topics and speakers include:

  • Evolutionary biologist Camilla Whittington presenting her research on the bizarre sex and reproduction of seahorses.
  • Materials engineer Igor Aharonovich, who studies the colours and clarity in diamonds to find new ways to control their impurities.
  • Coastal ecologist Dominic McAfee showing how restoring oyster beds could help curb the alarming loss of biodiversity among our ocean wildlife.

Jackie is now working with Willoughby City Council on a similar series of science talks for Willoughby Library. Science talks in regional libraries are also on the cards for Inspiring Australia NSW.

Photo credit: City of Sydney

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