The Launch of RiAus

Written by: Captain Skellett // October 11th, 2009 // Science Communication

‘Tis late at night, the storm has passed, I am exhausted from my weekend and long to crawl into bed to read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

But no… it has been too long and I have been too slack on writing. Don’t let me weasel my way out of this. I am GOING to write a post. Oh yes, though my internet issues are still not completely sorted out and I can’t upload images, no matter. I’m posting.

So much has happened this weekend! RiAus (the Royal Institution of Australia – not the Royal Institute as I was hastily corrected) launched on Thursday with much fancy, and I volunteered for the Open Day on Saturday and the Family Fun Day on Sunday. I’m still trying to process all of what I saw, and wishing I’d seen a mite more. Allow me to paint a picture with my words in lieu of posting pictures, which I will do as soon as pirately possible. They say a picture says a thousand words, so consider this the low res version.

The Science Exchange is a mix of heritage rooms and contemporary spaces, of electronica galore and art exhibitions and people, people people. There were plenty of people filtering throughout the day taking a gander at everything on offer. I was stationed in the basement with the Art – two semi-permanent exhibits which will be stationed there until December. The first was a fascinating but dark display of two huge antenna’s created by looping 8 km of copper wire around and around so that it picked up low frequency electromagnetic radiation, and sent it to speakers and an oscilloscope. The result was a loud electronic hum, much like the hum of a computer or ear-ringing after a concert only louder, and to contrast this industrial soundtrack was a video projected on the wall of lurid green suburbia overgrown with weeds and introduced species. As I explained numerous times over the day to confused people, the artists were taking something usually invisible to us, and making it something we can see and here – contrasting this urban, electrical noise with images of nature but drawing a comparison as well – both electronics and the plants in the video are things we have introduced into our lives which now grow rampant and wild, taking over what was once there and although we may not always be aware of it, it is always under the surface. Makes you think.

The second exhibition was a bit more interactive and also very cool. You lay down on a bed and hold electrodes in your hands which measure your heart beat. You can hear your heart on speakers under your head, and there are coloured spots projected onto the ceiling – the spots go red when your heart beat goes up, and they go blue when your heart beats slowly. Lying there in a darkened room, an intimate setting with a heartbeat sounding around you, controlling the lights in the room by reminiscing on past experiences was a beautiful thing – and people were invited to paint their experiences afterward with paints and paper provided.

On the Family Fun Day I was outside, which was a massive change from the basement with heartbeats and electronic hums. When I heard they needed a volunteer for the Dalek group I stuck up my hand and said “I’ll do it!” faster than you can say “WALK THE PLANK OR FEEL MY STEEL” when in a temper. I’m a big fan of Doctor Who (well, David Tennant to tell the truth. And I love Converses, so what can I say?). The Daleks were human sized and moved and talked just like a Dalek does, with moving periscopes and shooty things and flashing lights and all sorts! They are the brain child of Andrew Corson, and I wish I could post some pictures up right now because I have some great ones! They are controlled by a person INSIDE the Daleks, and it is hot and sweaty work in there. Thus come midday some of the operators wanted a break. Guess who took their place.

Seriously, guess.

I totally took their place! OMG, I was a freaking DALEK today – the grey one – and I was all “Exterminate, Exterminate!” and shooting at people and freaking out kids! Even though it was really hot work and it took a while to get used to the controls, it was totally awesome and seriously – how often can you say you were a Dalek on the weekend? I can’t get over it.

There was a bunch of other stuff on at the Fun Day, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of it because of the AWESOME DALEKNESS. It is a shame though, because they had very cool performers on, although most of it was for a younger crowd.

And just to top off my weekend (because I wasn’t busy enough) I dressed up like a pirate and made slime with a bunch of friends. I’ll show you the video if it came out okay – I now have blue goo all over my backyard. Don’t tell my landlord, I mean sealord.

And now adieu – 859 words will have to be enough for this picture. I’m going to lie down now.

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google

   

3 Responses to “The Launch of RiAus”

  1. lindsay says:

    so many daleks in Adelaide at once – it made my heart stop and my head spin. luckily they were only on reconnaissance and not taking over as yet….

  2. Lisa says:

    Heya!

    As one of the mere mortals working the crazy stretch of events that was our opening weekend can I just say you were AWESOME both at helping the lost people appreciate the art and with your Dalekness. In that heat as well.

    Hope to see you more round the RiAus was awesome having you help us out!

    Captain Skellett Reply:

    Thanks Lisa! ‘Twas most enjoyable and we’ll have to do it again sometime!






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