The World Science Festival Brisbane is in town for the first time with a week-long, high-energy, supercharged celebration of science! Here’s our list of the top 10 things to do!

Held across five days from Wednesday 9 to Sunday 13 March, the World Science Festival Brisbane will see more than 100 scientific luminaries from nine countries come together to astound and inspire audiences with their incredible inventions, experiments and discoveries.

During the festival, audiences can enjoy a huge program of free and ticketed events. Science is coming out of the lab and onto the streets with topics ranging from deep space to deep oceans, the search for alien life, madness and creativity, sports science and ethics, engineering, design, maths, physics, dinosaurs, robots, comets, genetics, science fiction, reality, and technologies of the future.

Some of science’s brightest stars are making special appearances during this year’s festival, including Emmy award-winning actor, author, science enthusiast and World Science Festival board member Alan Alda; Nobel Laureate physicist Brian Schmidt; pioneering marine biologist Sylvia Earle; celebrated astronaut Andy Thomas and renowned physicist, best-selling author and festival co-founder Brian Greene.

With so many things to see and do, it’s hard to know where to start — so here’s our list of the top 10 things to do at this year’s festival!

Light Falls: Space, Time and an Obsession of Einstein

Direct from New York, Brian Greene and an ensemble cast perform a new theatrical work tracing Albert Einstein’s electrifying journey towards one of the most important ideas ever conceived – the General Theory of Relativity.

With state-of-the-art animation and innovative projection techniques, Light Falls illuminates Einstein’s breakthrough moments, near misses, agonising frustrations and final emergence into the light, as one intrepid mind took on the universe and won.

Light Falls: Space, Time and an Obsession of Einstein performances will be held on both Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 March at QPAC.

Street Science

This free spectacle will showcase science like you’ve never seen it before!

The weekend of full-on activities feature everything from turtle hatching, giant drones and dancing robots to humungous bubbles, bionic hands and magic mud!

The kids can learn all about the science behind computer coding, solar power, autonomous cars and 3D printing, race wind powered animals and even dig for fossils and hunt for spiders. Or they can do what kids do best and get messy, with slime, snow and sherbet making!

Street Science will be held from Saturday 12 to Sunday 13 March from 10am to 4pm.

Dear Albert

Written by Alan Alda and performed by an ensemble cast, Dear Albert delves into Albert Einstein’s personal correspondence, tracing an intimate and unfamiliar line across his life and work.

The performance humanises a giant in the pantheon of great scientists and sheds light upon his momentous scientific insights through first-hand accounts of his ground-breaking discoveries.

Dear Albert performances will be held on both Friday 11 and Saturday 12 March at QPAC.

Little Scientist’s Day Out

South Bank’s Little Scientists’ Day Out provides the perfect opportunity for kids as young as two to get hands-on with mesmerising scientific substances.

Coinciding with the World Science Festival Brisbane’s Street Science program on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 March, South Bank will be bubbling over all weekend with junior geologists, chemists, physicists and future robotic engineers.

Held from 10am to 4pm, activities include making a bubble lava lamp or glowing bubble slime, or the whole family will marvel at the 30-minute liquid nitrogen demonstrations by science communicators, the Street Science Team, happening throughout the day.

Dawn of the Human Age

Over millennia, has humankind evolved into the strongest force of nature on earth – far more powerful than a meteor strike or earthquake?

That’s the starting point for a robust discussion among an international and multidisciplinary team of scientists as they look to classify our current geological era as The Human Age.

Join an international line of biologists, oceanographers, climatologists and an award-winning journalist as they explore the evidence of what will likely be termed The Human Age, and what the implications might be for future civilisations.

Dawn of the Human Age discussion will be held on Thursday 10 March in the Plaza Auditorium from 8pm at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

To Infinity and Beyond: The Accelerating Universe

It’s cosmologies biggest mystery – an unexplained energy that one day could rip the universe apart. It’s called dark energy, an anti-gravitational force that confounds the conventional laws of physics.

Two decades after its discovery, the scientific world still know very little about dark energy, and the quest to explain dark energy’s existence and purpose is currently being studied by the world’s top scientists including cosmologists, physicists and astronomers.

Join experts as they search for clues to solve the universe’s biggest mystery!

To Infinity and Beyond: The Accelerating Universe discussion will be held on Friday 11 March in the Plaza Auditorium from 11:30am at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Alien life – will we know when we find it?

Are we alone in the universe? Scientists haven’t yet found aliens, but by scanning the sky, they’ve shown that our galaxy harbours billions of planets, many of which may have conditions similar to those of Earth.

When searching for life beyond our home planet, do we know what to look for? What human prejudices might cause us to overlook life that is very different from what we expect?

In this discussion, learn how scientists across different disciplines – astronomy, physics, chemistry and astrobiology – are combining their knowledge about life on Earth to identify life beyond.

Alien life – will we know when we find it? discussion will be held on Sunday 13 March from 12pm in the Plaza Auditorium at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

CSIRO’s Infinity Swing

The CSIRO Infinity Swing is just one of the cool experiments CSIRO is working on and it’ll be down at South Bank beside the Wheel of Brisbane from Wednesday 9 to Sunday 13 March for everyone to try as part of the festival.

Free to try, the swing converts the energy of people swinging into electricity to light up its letters and power music!

You can jump on the swing from 5pm to 10pm, Wednesday to Friday and 10 to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday.

The Moral Maths of the Robots

Can machines learn right from wrong? As the first generation of driverless cars and battlefield warbots filter into society, scientists are working to develop moral decision-making skills in robots.

These decisions may be based on algorithms created with a defined set of parameters – the international laws of war, for example, or they might be influenced by ‘ethical adapters’, programs that simulate human emotions like guilt and shame.

It may even be possible for intelligent machines to develop a moral framework through accumulated experience much like a child does. But as ‘ethical robotic software’ proliferates, who will be responsible for those decisions? What other emotions might robots acquire? And how will society adapt to machines that appear human?

In this discussion leading cognitive scientists, roboticists, philosophers and computer scientists will audiences inside the emerging field of robot morality and tackle the tough questions.

The Moral Math of Robots discussion will be held on Sunday 13 March from 4pm at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind

Virginia Woolf, John Keats, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe – teetering on the thin line between madness and genius, they contributed to the world some of the greatest works of literature at the cost of their own mental vitality. Even they suspected a link between the moments of crystal clear lucidity amongst their disordered emotions. Now science is proving them right.

Research shows that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia correlate with high creativity and intelligence, raising tantalising questions: What role does environment play in the oath to mental illness? Are so-called mental defects being positively selected for the gene pool? Where’s the line between gift and disorder?

As studies mount supporting the storied link between special aptitudes and mental illnesses, science is re-examining the shifting spectrum between brilliance and madness.

Join global experts as they untangle the complicated nature of genius, creativity and exceptionality.

Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind discussion will be held on Saturday 12 March from 12pm in the Plaza Auditorium at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The World Science Festival Brisbane will be on from Wednesday 9 to Sunday 13 March. For more information about events and programs visit www.worldsciencefestival.com.au