• Exploring the corridors of CERN. Photo credit Nick Rochowski (Science Museum)Source: Science Museum
Located at the Powerhouse museum, the Collider exhibition literally takes people inside the experiment.
Signe Dean

12 Aug 2016 - 1:16 PM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2016 - 1:17 PM

This year marks the second time that Sydney gets its very own science festival, a collection of events that highlights what the National Science Week has on offer.

Launched yesterday (11 August), the 2016 Sydney Science Festival comprises talks, exhibitions and workshops all over the city, but its biggest drawing card this year is an exhibition that has travelled to Australia direct from the London Science Museum.

"Collider is the closest you can get to the world's greatest science experiment,” says Dr Alan Duffy, an astrophysicist at Swinburne University and this year’s festival ambassador.

This great experiment in question is the Large Hadron Collider, the 27-kilometre-long circular particle accelerator built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (known as CERN).

LHC shot to world fame in 2012, when scientists announced they had finally detected the most elusive particle predicted by standard physics, the Higgs boson. And while LHC is still in operation now, looking for new discoveries, it has also earned its very own museum exhibition, currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

“With its recreated tunnels and work spaces this is the place where the very hot meets the intensely cold, where the big sits alongside the extremely small and where art and science intersect,” says Dolla Merrillees, acting director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, of which Powerhouse Museum is the flagship.

“You'll be taken on a journey through the science that we uncover with this collider,” explains Duffy. “You'll see actual bits of the collider itself - I'm curious how they've stolen pieces out of CERN - and, more importantly, also see the people, the scientists who are behind those discoveries.

"What I really hope is that, especially for the younger audience, they can imagine themselves being those scientists or engineers one day.” 

Science is finally more popular than sport
The inaugural World Science Festival Brisbane attracted more people than two sporting events happening at the same time.

Apart from the collider exhibition, the public is also invited to attend other events, such as Science in the Swamp at the Centennial Park, and the Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern Community Centre.

With so many things on offer, there’s a chance that people will be lost in the abundance of offerings, but Dr Duffy believes there is no such thing as too much popular science - and crowded, sold-out events are a good indication of that.

“It’s also exploring what science actually means to different cultures and peoples. We have Indigenous science talks later on in the festival,” says Duffy.

“There is a range of ways you can interpret science, and people can feel connected to that science. And the more you have of it, the more people you connect."

2016 Sydney Science Festival runs from 11-21 August, and you can check out the whole program on the festival website.



Can't get to Sydney? We have Particle Fever, a documentary that follows six brilliant scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider. Find it on SBS On Demand or watch below right now: