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Music that melts in your mind . . . science as nature didn't intend

The next generation, under our influence

We don’t do many shows for schools and we haven’t done one in Victoria for ages (seriously it’s been years), so we were pleased that about 400 secondary school students and teachers turned up to RMIT’sStorey Hall to watch the show. They were a great audience, so big thanks to them for being ace. 

We were also very pleased that we were able to secure the photographic services of Nick Pitsas to capture the moment(s). Here are a few choice shots from the gig and there are some more in our photos section.

Next stop, Tassie.

Windy web streams

CSIRO has an archive of air dating back to 1978. Researchers from around the globe can ask to use very small samples in their work, but of course there is a limited supply of any particular year. Limited because the air is different now, because atmospheric and geologic processes – and us - are constantly changing it.

So if you want some “standard” air, where does it come from? Tasmania, specifically Cape Grim on the north-west coast. Most of the winds at Cape Grim arrive from Antarctica and the Indian Ocean, without passing over any other major land masses. This makes them a standard or “average” global air source.

The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station is jointly run by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO and is crucial to our understanding of climate and atmospheric systems.

It’s also a completely beautiful and wild part of the world and we’re utterly stoked to be going there.

We’re not quite sure why we chose to visit a wind-swept coast of north-western Tasmania in June, but we urge you to tune in to our web-streamed gig on Tuesday 10 June to see how we fare. The gig will start some time between 12 noon and 2pm (AEST), depending on agreeable technology, so check our Twitter feed on the day for updates and the url.

Eventually everything connects

Well ahead it’s time (we reckon), Powers of Ten is a fantastic journey through scale. In nine minutes you’ll sail from the depths of outer space to the endless void of inner space, from intergalactic to sub atomic. The soundtrack is sensational too.

Astonishingly it was produced in 1977, but it’s lost none of its power or fascination. It was the work of the Charles and Ray Eames with a soundtrack composed and performed by Elmer Bernstein (who, among many other things, wrote scores for The Great EscapeTo Kill A MockingbirdGhostbusters and Stripes). The narrator is Philip Morrison (Emeritus Professor of Physics at MIT and one-time employee of the Manhattan Project).

If you only watch it once (which is unlikely), it’s well worth the nine minutes.

Do something special

Australia is awash with festivals – Wikipedia lists more than 350. Festivals offer excitement and information, sometimes intrigue and possibly inspiration. They are a gathering point for expression, expertise and entertainment. Really good festival moments bring something else, too, genuineness and a welcoming quality. These are moments where expression is embraced without judgement. The result can look strange from the outside, but is stimulating and affirming for those involved, and why stay on the outside anyway? Great festival experiences often happen away from large cities, away from huge crowds and corporate sponsorship. There is something wonderfully and appropriately earthy about festivals that stay close to the grass roots. image

So we are very pleased to announce that we will be performing at one such festival, the biennial Nati Frinj. We’re playing on the Saturday night, 2 November, but Nati Frinj kicks off with the Hay and Thespian Parade the day before and runs right through the weekend.

If you’re in Melbourne, this is the weekend before the Melbourne Cup holiday and we highly recommend making the trip up to Natimuk.

If you’re in Victoria on holiday, take the chance to come and see a part of the state (and the country) that tourists visit all too rarely. You can drive to Natimuk in just a few hours or catch the train/bus.

If Wikipedia is right, then there is a festival for every 65,000 Australians. Make yours special, do something unusual, go (north) west and we’ll see you at the Natimuk Bowls Club.

You can check out the whole program here: 2013 Nati Frinj program.

Adventures in Lab 22 - 3D printing with titanium

We’re very lucky to be able to meet researchers all over the place. We’re not sure that people really understand just what an invaluable asset these people (and their brains) are and we are often struck by how genuinely excited scientists are about their work and its potential. Our visit to CSIRO’s Lab 22 was a great example. And well they might be excited - they do 3D printing with titanium. As part of CSRO’s extensive additive manufacturing group, they are changing the way we make things.

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Additive manufacturing technologies are about building from zero, rather than machining things into shape. This idea is becoming more familiar as 3D printing becomes more common, but it is a profound change. 3D printing with metals (in this case titanium) is simply awesome. It is more efficient and less wasteful than traditional machining approaches and you can make things that would be impossible to make any other way.

You can learn more about this exciting work at CSRO’s additive manufacturing site, and in the meantime, here’s the video of our web-streamed visit to Lab 22. 

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