#NatSciWk Token Skepticism! New Podcast With Prof Brian Cox, #IFLSLive And Not-Quite Shakespeare With Tim Minchin

I am exhausted. But here’s some links to things I’ve achieved this week – please do support National Science Week in Australia and check out all the events you can attend. Here’s some things I got up to:

HUGE thanks to Gia Milinovich for helping me get an interview with Professor Brian Cox – you can hear it over on the Token Skeptic website (some of it, the beginning, was used for the student radio show I do for Sonic, hence there being some rather fun pop-culture questions to start with): Episode One Hundred And Sixty Eight – On The Australian Tour Of Prof. Brian Cox.

I probably don’t need to say much to introduce him – Professor Brian Cox, OBE is an English particle physicist, a Royal Society University Research Fellow. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. Professor Cox is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC, boosting the popularity of subjects such as astronomy and physics. He also had some fame in the 1990s as the keyboard player for the pop band D:Ream.

After that, I hopped on a plane to Sydney – and got into nuclear science! ANSTO let a select few IFLSLive folk and science communicators into see something VERY special – OPAL! They are the best, and they didn’t mind that we kept muttering “…that is so awesome!” all the way through telling us what they do at ANSTO. And they do a lot.

Outside the building:

…and no, I’m not really suggesting that we go swimming in OPAL, but I couldn’t resist it. Only VIPs get this close (and I kept excitedly waving hellooooooo at the workers over in the little glass booth over there on the left, but they were very busy doing the nuclear physics and didn’t look like Homer Simpson at all, which is a relief):

Then I worked at #IFLSLive – video from SBS:

And then I saw this play (Mr Minchin was kind enough to say hi via Twitter, but I honestly didn’t think I would see him beyond the stage – it was brilliant to see one of my favourite plays for the first time, and his appearing in it was a bonus)!

Shell asked for a review of it – so here’s my thoughts. I thought it was surprisingly “traditional”, as when I saw the programme, I thought that it would perhaps be a 80s-style punk interpretation? Must be all the fluro-yellow and Sex-Pistols-font. However, the costumes were very Elizabethan in style (as you might expect for a traditional Hamlet) and I was very impressed by the set with it’s gaping tunnel-like exits on the sides and spot lighting.

The performance by Toby Schmitz was just fantastic; it’s a very challenging role and he just blazed through the difficult dialogue with utter confidence – and Tim Minchin was very reminiscent of another performance I’ve seen him do, that of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus: goofy, innocent and completely lost in the progression of tragic events and their inevitable demise.

The pair were hilarious and were clearly comfortable with their characters and with each other on the stage – Gertrude (Heather Mitchell) was a bit of a scene stealer and the Players were just fantastic with their world-weary attitude. Overall, I agree with this review here and I’m very glad I stayed an extra day to catch it.

I also got to walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the city to the other side – a personal vertigo-challenging effort I wanted to set for myself for quite some time.

Now I have a whole bunch of work to catch up on and some cats to talk to about why I left them behind for the weekend.

Don’t forget that there’s an earlier podcast episode out too:  Episode One Hundred And Sixty Seven – On Being Chronically Skeptical.

“Chronically Skeptical” is an on-line resource specifically intended for those with chronic (and other) illnesses and disabilities who prefer their social support network free of the mystical, the magical, the misinformed, the unproven and the dangerously deluded. For this interview, I spoke to Tim McGregor.

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