The Hobart

When Science And Art Collide

by Stephanie Williams
When Science And Art Collide

With so many festivals not going ahead right now, Dr Margo Adler from Beaker Street shares how they’re filling the festival void.

What is Sci Art Walks and how does it work?

Sci Art Walks is a new project by Beaker Street Festival, which we’ve been working on since it became apparent the festival would be taking a new form this year. The project features fascinating talks by some of Tasmania’s most innovative and accomplished scientists and cultural figures, paired with iconic walking trails around the state. Woven through each episode is music originally composed and performed by an incredible lineup of Tasmanian musicians. Sci Art Walks will be released as part of National Science Week this month, and people will be able to stream or download the episodes free, and from anywhere in the world. We hope the project will encourage people to get away from their screens and out exploring some of Tassie’s beautiful natural environments. But even if you can’t make it to the suggested walking location, we think the episodes are best listened to while basking in the fresh air. Access Sci Art Walks via

Where can people experience the walks?

We have suggested walk locations all around the state – we’ve done our best to cover every corner of Tasmania. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to make a road trip out of it, including a few walk locations, and maybe visit somewhere new. Or perhaps you’ll rediscover your own backyard.

And there’s also the photography prize…

Entries for the competition are now closed but you can visit the exhibition of finalist photographs, on show at TMAG from 23 August – 13 September. While there, you can vote for your favourite photo to become the People’s Choice Winner.

Why are science festivals like Beaker Street important?

An understanding and appreciation of science is essential for an equitable, well functioning society. These days, the importance of science is clearer than ever, with our hopes of eradicating Coronavirus and combating climate change (just to name a couple) pinned on the work of scientists. But sometimes scientists get put on a pedestal, and they can seem unapproachable or unrelatable. Beaker Street Festival aims to break down barriers between scientists and the public.

What’s your favourite science fact?

I just learned this from our Sci Art Walks episode featuring Dr Cathy Byrne, Tasmania’s resident moth expert: Moths have the best sense of smell of any animal on Earth, and they use this to find mates. Females “call” to males by releasing pheromones, and the males can pick those up from huge distances. In the silk moth, for example, the male can detect one molecule of pheromone released by a female from 10km away. So if a female silk moth in Hobart was looking for a partner, a male silk moth in Kingston could smell her pheromones and fly straight to her!

Do you have a hidden Hobart science secret?

Yes! The Evolve Spirits Bar at MACq01 Hotel has the most incredible, underappreciated collection of fossils on display. They belong to an unnamed collector and are housed in all manner of museum cases, which serve as everything from huge displays (like the cave bear skeleton in the middle of the bar) to the tables you can sit your drinks on top of.

You will find the whole program here, but highlights include listening to Professor Barbara Holland talk maths and evolution at Cataract Gorge alongside the sounds of Brian Ritchie, or hear David Walsh discuss risk on the GASP! Track in Glenorchy with Zac Henderson. There’s also First Dog On The Moon, Bob Brown, Professor Gretta Peci, Emily Sanzaro and Ben Salter.

Image of musician Emily Sanzaro at Knocklofty Reserve.

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July 2022

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