Stories from the Cosmos

Indigenous cultures have a deep emotional investment and attachment to the landscape that acts as both almanac and encyclopaedia. It’s amazing that different cultures separated by vast oceans and continents have independently perceived the patterns in constellations in strikingly similar ways, despite being geographically and temporally separated. Stories from the cosmos give both practical guidance and spiritual comfort, and this way of telling stories and reading the stars is a way of keeping knowledge constant across generations.

Victoria’s Environment: Adapting to the New Normal

Our climate is already changing. Under the Paris Agreement, Australia and the world’s great nations have committed to reducing global temperatures to a 1.5-2°C rise over pre-industrial levels. Should this exercise prove successful, a 2°C rise will still have far-reaching climate effects, with major implications for the State of Victoria. This panel of senior scientists were gathered together by the Governor of Victoria to showcase some of the work in climate adaptation produced in our state and, most importantly, share actions we could all take in our personal and professional lives to adapt to the “new normal.”

One, Two, BEE

The brains of bees are comprised of 960,000 neurons and are the size of a sesame seed. The human brain is 20,000 times bigger, and therefore insects were thought to have constrained neural processing capabilities in comparison.  But 100 years ago, Nobel Laureate, Karl von Frisch changed this mindset: he showed that bees indeed have colour vision by training honeybees to collect a sucrose sugar solution associated with coloured cards, and they continued to return to the same coloured cards in the absence of sucrose. Since then, we’ve learned that bees can even perceive ultraviolet wavelengths, which are beyond what we can see.

Humans and Robots

With technology becoming more compact, smarter (with artificial intelligence) and having greater computing power, robots can now make decisions at fast speeds. The future of robotics is rapidly evolving. Elizabeth believes that robots are becoming more human-like and that we therefore need better, smoother human-robot interactions. Professor Elizabeth Croft wants to make sure that people are considered in the design of robots. In all of her designs, she starts by first observing people. “We need to think about how we’re going to get along with the robots,” she says, after all, they are already increasingly coming into our homes.

Extrasensory

Everyone’s reality is slightly different. We all experience the world around us in different ways. Our world is sensed as numbers and electrical impulses that our brains then turn into something meaningful. At Extrasensory, everyone was challenged to make sense of the world of the senses and find the limits to their own. There were many incredible sights, tastes and sensations to behold while exploring the magnificent spaces of the Parliament of Victoria!