Scientists on 7,000 kilometre dark matter road trip to country schools and pubs

Scientists, including a team from The University of Western Australia, have embarked on a 7,000 kilometre road trip with a difference — talking quantum physics and dark matter in schools and pubs across Australia.

The road trip started in Brisbane on 8 August and goes through four States before arriving in the WA Goldfields city of Kalgoorlie and ending in Perth on 26 August.

UWA Department of Physics Research Associate Dr Jeremy Bourhill said the trip, which went national after a successful South West WA tour last year, will visit 40 towns and cities.

“The road trip aims to introduce quantum and particle physics to Australians, inspire the future generation of scientists and engineers, and highlight the potential of quantum technologies and dark matter discovery for the benefit of the community,” Dr Bourhill said.

scientist doing experiment in pub in front of patronsImage: Physics Research Associate Dr Jeremy Bourhill speaks to pub patrons on last year’s road trip.

“During the road trip, 25 scientists will present talks and demonstrations at dozens of schools and hold public events including pub trivia nights.

“We want to excite people about ground-breaking research in this area and inspire high school students to start thinking about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.”

Quantum technologies are crucial in the hunt for dark matter, and they’re already used in smart phones and cars, medical imaging, manufacturing and navigation.

Dr Bourhill said he was heartened by what he experienced on last year’s WA road trip.

“There is an optimism about science among the younger generation that perhaps wasn’t present when I was that age, likely a result of their recognition that scientific breakthroughs will be necessary to overcome some of the immense challenges facing humanity,” Dr Bourhill said.

“To be able to speak to that optimism with real world examples and highlight the pathway these students can take if they want to get involved is very rewarding, and hopefully presents these kids with some new ideas they maybe hadn’t thought about.”

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems and ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics are organised the event as part of National Science Week 2022.

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