Mathematician, comedian, broadcaster, author and “self-confessed science geek” Adam Spencer will be the keynote speaker at Griffith University’s 2014 Cutting Edge Science Professional Learning Days for teachers and scientific operations officers.
To be held on December 1-2, the event is a partnership between Griffith and the Department of Education, Training and Employment and comprises workshops, demonstrations and speakers across multiple scientific fields.
Spencer will speak at the Nathan campus on Monday, December 1, and the Gold Coast campus on Tuesday, December 2, and says audiences can expect a glowing tribute to the marvels of mathematics and science.
“I’ll be speaking through the prism of my own experience in mathematics which, as well as being the most noble pursuit in the history of humankind, will also be the foundation for all the science of the coming century,” he says.
“Science is a miraculous thing. Look at what has happened in recent days. We just landed a spacecraft on a comet. Sure, Kim Kardashian may have taken all the publicity, but come on people, we just landed a spacecraft on a comet!”
With a PhD in pure mathematics, the asteroid 18413 Adamspencer bearing his name and as the University of Sydney’s first ambassador for mathematics and science, Spencer happily describes himself as a numbers nerd. His latest book, Adam Spencer’s The Big Book of Numbers, is unequivocal in its appreciation for all things numerical.
He is especially thrilled by the relation of numbers to science.
“As much as I may be an uber-nerd, the fact is that science is very, very cool and it’s moving very, very fast,” says Spencer. “It’s amazing what humans can do and that sense of wonder needs to celebrated and encouraged.
“For example, a couple of years ago the Roche company performed a single experiment that created more data than all the data it had collected during the previous 100 years.
“I reckon that’s a beautiful, symmetrical thing and it offers plenty of evidence as to how important maths and science will be in the future in terms of employment, innovation and opportunities.”
Spencer is keen to use his Griffith University visit to excite teachers, students and others about the value, virtue, audacity and sheer fun of science. However, he will not shrink away from his concerns over attitudes towards science within some areas of Australian politics.
He says that for Australia to be at the forefront of a bold scientific future, more needs to be done to engage the next generation of scientists and to overturn policies that reduce funding for scientific research and compromise science education.
“All great economies are built on innovation and ideas in science and Australia needs to stop ceding that opportunity to others,” says Spencer. “Young people in Australia need to know there is security and strength in science careers.
“We must nurture our scientific talents and, if we do, you can be assured that the outcomes will be dazzling.”
Adam Spencer keynote addresses
8.45am on Monday, December 1, at Griffith University’s Nathan campus
8.45am on Tuesday, December 2, at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus
Limited public spaces. Register at app.griffith.edu.au/sciencesimpact
For more information, go to Cutting Edge Science