World Science Festival Brisbane

Space rocks, helium spheres and 'Metropolis' with a live score: they're all on this science, technology and art festival's 2024 lineup.
Sarah Ward
Published on February 01, 2024


When someone mentions staring at the stars, life on mars, the ocean's deeps, volcanoes or fossils, do you instantly start paying attention? Are futuristic visions your catnip? Do you love hearing smart people explore how everything works, and why? Being curious about the world we live in and beyond isn't just the realm of kids — and it's also the reason that World Science Festival exists, including from Friday, March 15–Sunday, March 24 in 2024.

If you're keen on installations and interactive creativity, WSFB's past fest-within-a-fest Curiocity Brisbane has evolved into the Art/Science program, swapping a trail of works for heroing large-scale pieces. One certain highlight is Karina Smigla-Bobinski's ADA, with the German Polish artist bringing the three-metre helium sphere to Australia for the first time. It's a piece that you can play with, pushing and spinning the globe — which comes covered in 300 charcoal spikes — to make impressions upon the surrounding walls.

Want to see sand rumble? Snooks+Harper and Philip Samartzis's Tectonic Resonance will allow just that using sand 3D printing and geophone recordings from the Pilbara region, all while musing on how humans use geological resources. Svenja Kratz and Bill Hart's Simulated Selves features an AI-filled room with two human forms representing the artists, and chatting with visitors. And with Drawing on Complexity: Experiment 9, Briony Barr wants attendees to contribute to a work that uses coloured paper tape. You'll add your own lines over eight days, helping to create patterns, as complex adaptive systems are in the spotlight.

Art's intersection with science is just one part of the full World Science Brisbane 2024 program, of course. Elsewhere across the Queensland Museum-hosted event, talks abound. A reliable headliner, physicist Professor Brian Greene is back, this time for a multimedia trip through the cosmos, diving into artificial intelligence and its implications for humanity, and chatting about what space rocks and moon rocks can tell us about the evolution of our solar system.

Also on the bill: Craig Reucassel presenting a session about waste and climate change, enlisting scientists to share practical ways that we can all make a difference; ABC weather presenter Nate Byrne delving into volcanoes, and Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb leading a panel about scientific discovery.

First Nations takes on science will be the focus in a session overseen by Rhianna Patrick — and Mark Humphries hosts the returning Night of the Nerds, where two teams of scientists and comedians do battle, featuring Reucassel, Byrne and astrophysicist Kirsten Banks, as well as a band comprised of The Grates' Patience Hodgson, Velociraptor's Georgie Browning, Ball Park Music's Jen Boyce and Paul Furness, and Simi Lacroix.

Obviously Dr Karl pops up, with great moments in science his wheelhouse for 2024's fest. For a great moment in sci-fi cinema history, Fritz Lang's iconic and influential 1927 masterpiece Metropolis is screening at the Gallery of Modern Art, complete with a live score.

The overall program also spans the future of food, where medicine is heading, looking back on what Australia has learned since Black Summer, animal consciousness, parasites, shipwrecks and the red planet. If The Abyss isn't just a movie to you, there's a panel that'll pique your interest. And if insect superpowers get you thinking, there's one on that as well.

Cocktail-fuelled social science sessions, the pop-up City of Science at South Bank, fighting robots, a walking tour of Brisbane's green infrastructure, fulldome film Earth Above: A Deep Time View of Australia's Epic History at the planetarium and the always-popular (and cute) turtle hatching are also included. And, so is the chance to step inside the Queensland Academy of Sport, Queensland Herbarium, Griffith Sea Jellies Research Lab and QIMR Berghofer.

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