Category Archives: Science

Hearing Colours Seeing Sounds




  • Producer: Michael Schubert
  • Hearing Colours Seeing Sounds : Lessons from Synaesthesia

We are used to hearing sounds and seeing colours, but what if you could hear colours or see sounds. Or what if you read a book and each letter had a colour. Dr Anina Rich researches synaesthesia with an aim to understand the associating functions in our everyday perception. Although unusual, synaesthesia is not a disorder; it can provide us with a unique view of the integration that underlies perception. Synaesthetics may just be the “pioneers of perception”.


aninarichAssociate Professor Anina Rich has two main streams of research. One explores the way in which the brain prioritises relevant information and ignores distraction – the mechanisms that allow us to pay attention. The other relates to the way the brain integrates information, both across the senses and within a single sense.

Synaesthesia, an unusual condition in which stimulation in one sensory modality generates an additional experience, provides a unique perspective of this integration. For example, in ‘sound-colour’ synaesthesia, a sound elicits a colour experience; in ‘grapheme-colour’ synaesthesia, letters, digits and words each generate particular involuntary colours. Although unusual, synaesthesia is not a disorder. She is currently conducting studies on grapheme-colour, sound-colour, and olfactory-colour synaesthesia.


SYNAESTHESIA Participant Register


Alexandre Navarro, All Around
Mystery Mammal, Lonely Satellite


As part of receiving the prestigious Paul Bourke Award in 2013 from the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, on 1st May 2014 Associate Professor Rich discussed her research on synaesthesia and the mappings we all have between our senses, giving insights into the way the brain integrates information for conscious perception of the world.


If you haven’t seen it or you’ve seen it a hundred times, it still works.  The McGurk Effect demonstrates how we use visual information when we listen .. what we see … affects .. what we hear.







Listen: Stop Doing So Much Work




  • Producer : Michael Schubert
  • Listen: Stop Doing So Much Work
  • Hearing Lessons for Creative Research

Focusing on work rather than thinking gets in the way of innovative research and collaboration, says David McAlpine. David heads a communication research group, The Hearing Hub and he walks his own talk. Collaborating with researchers, not for profits and corporate partners, he is demonstrating a new model for outcome-based research. With a focus on improving the communication experience over the lifetime, he’s worth listening to.

There are two narratives in this story. First, The Hearing Hub is a multidisciplinary collaborative research centre located within a university. The centre collaborates with academic, not for profit, government and corporate stakeholders. Making this model work, without compromising the research outcomes, is a major accomplishment for The Hearing Hub and its Director. The second narrative is a compelling ‘call to action’. David asks us to consider new paradigms of research; incorporating diverse members of the research community as well as the beneficiaries of the research. It is a model based on quality not quantity, creativity and rigour, and it is an approach that is not tied to the publish or perish imperative that drives many contemporary research centres.


DavidMcAlpineProfessor David McAlpine is Macquarie University’s Director of Hearing Research at the Australian Hearing Hub and is a 2016 Australian Laureate Fellow by the Australian Research Council (ARC). Dr McAlpine joined Macquarie University in 2015, after a decade as the Professor of Auditory Neuroscience at University College London and Director of the UCL Ear Institute.

He says that communication is a vital aspect of what it means to be human, and hearing is critical to communication. His research interests span neural modeling, methods for recording individual neurons in the brain, as well as brain-imaging and electrophysiology in normal and hearing-impaired listeners, including those who use cochlear implants. The outcomes of this research could help to improve our understanding of how we naturally perform these remarkable feats, with potential applications in how we can restore the ability in individuals who have lost their hearing and rely on hearing devices to hear.






Climate Change – Personal Experience Catalyses Acceptance & Motivation




  • Producer: Michael Schubert
  • Climate Change – Personal Experience Catalyses Acceptance and Motivation

Climate change is more than changing weather patterns, sea level rises and catastrophic events.  Dr Joseph Reser points out it is the psychological impacts on individuals of this ongoing stressor and how they will manage their psychological responses and lifestyle options that are the most important factors, yet which are receiving little attention in policy decisions and planning. Are you psychologically prepared?

The ongoing and profound threat of climate change is here and now, affecting quality of life and environment, mental health and well-being, and how people feel about and respond to environmental issues. There is a crucial need to be effectively documenting, and monitoring these psychological impacts as well as taking action to address them.”
Joseph Reser


josephreserJoseph Reser is a Professor in the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University and an Emeritus Reader at the University of Durham in England. He is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and a member of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Psychology and Climate Change. Joseph was  also the lead researcher on a recent National Climate Change Adaptation Response Facility (NCCARF)-funded research program addressing public risk perceptions, understandings and responses to climate change and natural disasters in Australia.

He is also a contributing author to the most recent [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC Report and a just released U.S. government interagency report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States. Joseph is a U.S. trained environmental and social psychologist with a long term involvement in human response to environmental threat.


Sarah Farnsworth, The World Today, 30 April 2015, Climate change report warns of health impacts
Michael Edwards, The World Today, 8 March 2016, Climate change could bring more rain to desert areas
Michael Bressenden, The World Today, 22 September 2015, Defence under-prepared for climate change security threat
Simon Lauder,  The World Today, 22 March 2016, World Meteorological Organization warns of unprecedented climate change
Tony Blair [AP Archives], Former UK PM Blair urges world leaders to deal with Climate Change
Al Gore [Guardian Interviews], Climate change deniers won’t win

Alex Fitch, We Call This Home III [Free Music Archive]
Alex Fitch, Milepost 1 [Free Music Archive]
Sound effects AUDIOBLOCKS



Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2014) IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2014: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (AR5): Contributing author to Chapter 25, Australasia. Reisinger, A., Kitching, R., et al. Geneva, Switzerland: IPCC Secretariat.

Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L., Glendon, A.I., Ellul, M.C. & Callaghan, R. (2012) Public risk perceptions, understandings and responses to climate change and natural disasters in Australia: 2010-2011 national survey findings. Gold Coast, Qld: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Dodgen, D., Donato, D., Dutta, T., Kelly, N., La Greca, A., Morganstein, J., Reser, J.P., Ruzek, J., Schweitzer, S. & Shimamoto, M. (2015) Mental health and well-being. In U.S. National Climate Assessment/U.S. Global Change Research Program US Global Change Research Program (USCGRP) Climate and Health Assessment: Interagency special report on the impacts of climate change on human health in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. National Climate Assessment/U.S. Global Change Research Program. In press.


Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L. & Ellul, M.C. (2015) Public risk perceptions, understandings and responses to climate change. In J. Palutikof, S. Boulter, J. Barnett, & D. Rissik (Eds) Applied studies in climate adaptation (pp 43-50). Chichester, England: Wiley-Blackwell.

Bradley, G. L., Reser, J. P., Glendon, A. I., & Ellul, M. C. (2014). Distress and coping in response to climate change. In K. Kaniasty, Buchwald, P., Howard, S., & Moore, K. (Eds.), Stress and anxiety. Applications to social and environmental threats, psychological wellbeing, occupational challenges, and developmental psychology (pp. 33-42). Berlin: Logos Verlag.

Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L. & Ellul, M.C. (2012) Coping with climate change: Bringing psychological adaptation in from the cold. In B. Molinelli & V. Grimaldo (Eds) Handbook of the psychology of coping: Psychology of emotions, motivations and actions (pp 1-34). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Reser, J.P., Morrissey, S.A. & Ellul, M. (2011) The threat of climate change: Psychological response, adaptation, and impacts. In I. Weissbecker (2011) (Ed) Climate change and human well being (pp 19-42). International and Cultural Psychology Series. New York: Springer Publications.


Reser, J.P. (2015) Coming to terms with climate change: The multiple benefits of psychological preparedness and taking action. The Dialogue, 11 (2) 4-5.

Reser, J.P., Bradley, G.L. & Ellul, .C. (2014) Encountering climate change: ‘Seeing’ is more than ‘Believing’ Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5 (4) 521-537. Doi:1002/wcc.286

Hine, D.W., Reser, J.P., Phillips, W., Cooksey, R., Nunn, P., Morrison, M. (2014) Audience segmentation and climate change communication: Conceptual and methodological considerations. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5 (4) 441-459.

Reser, J.P. (2012) What does ‘belief’ in climate change really mean? The Conversation, 10 August, 2012.

Reser, J.P. & Swim, J. (2011) Adapting to and coping with the threat and impacts of climate change. American Psychologist, 66 (4) 277-289.

Swim, J., Clayton, S., Doherty, T., Gifford, R., Howard, G., Reser, J., Stern, P. & Weber, E. (2011) Psychological contributions to understanding and addressing global climate change. Special issue. American Psychologist, 66 (4) 241-328.

Reser, J.P. (2011) Polls, framings and public understandings: Climate change and opinion polls. The Conversation, 1 July, 2011.  

Reser, J.P. (2011) Australia and climate change – Beliefs about public belief may be quite wrong, The Conversation, 9 June 2011. 

Compression Obsession




  • Producer Michael Schubert
  • Compression Obsession

Sound engineers in broadcast radio studios originally developed dynamic compressors to stop the transmitter going down and damaging equipment.  But the recording engineers discovered other opportunities for adjusting first the voice, then all instruments, and the compression obsession had begun.  Now it has entered the digital age, with analog and digital compressors still being developed every year.

Michael investigates the origins, development and future trends in compression engineering, with examples of the kind of effects you can expect to hear.




Courtesy of Wikipedia Dynamic Range Compression

Climate Change – Coming Ready or Not




  • Michael Schubert
  • Climate Change – Coming Ready or Not

bennewellProfessor Ben Newell is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. He is also an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate System Science. He’s particularly interested in judgement and decision-making, with particular interest in the cognitive mechanisms underlying the decisions we make. He is co-author of the book Straight Choices: The Psychology of Decision Making.

He recently coauthored an article in Nature Climate Change, reporting on an experiment he did on the decision making challenges facing people when confronted with catastrophic events like tsunamis or bushfires. The research indicated, counterintuitivley, that rare disaster information can increase risk-taking.


Audio samples, Audioblocks
The World Today, Tropical Cyclone Winston: Reaching Affected Communities A Big Challenge.
The World Today, Shock turns to anger as Yarloop residents push for reconstruction of town destroyed by fire.
ABC Ballarat, 10-year-old Gippsland boy’s dramatic telephone call reveals bravery under fire.
ABC Ballarat, Carngham couple reflects on fire six months after losing everything.


NASA Goddard Space Flight, Sunset Over Earth.





Deconstructing Pride




  • Michael Schubert
  • Deconstructing Pride

Pride gets a bad press, and Dr Lisa Williams is a researcher with a very different view on the value of pride, its role in our personal interactions and mechanisms by which we can investigate this topical emotion. Too much or too little is not the question; it is about the value proposition that pride represents in your life story.

Dr William’s innovative work started out as a discussion with her PhD supervisor, drawing on her experience of the college rowing team (and all those early morning starts in bad weather). Her unique person-centered approach to the emotional drivers of our behaviour has allowed her to extend her investigation into a pioneering real time study of the role of pride in the blood donation experience.

Beyond that, her research on pride provides valuable insights with regard to management, sports, parenting and social normative paradigms, challenging many long held “beliefs” from the perspective of research derived conclusions.

lisa wiliams

Dr Lisa A Williams is a social psychologist. Her research interests include the dynamics between emotional experience and social interaction. Specifically, her research considers positive emotions that arise in the context of social interactions – namely pride, gratitude, compassion, and admiration. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, University of New South Wales. Her research is funded by the Australian Research Council as well as the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.


Searching for The Sound of Sunlight




  • Producer Michael Schubert
  • Searching for The Sound of Sunlight

barry hillDr Barry Hill is an eclectic, engaging academic teaching music. But that doesn’t tell you about his work at the interface of Electronic Dance Music and Live Performance; solar audio technology; and his views on the hipsters of their day – Bach, Mozart and Schoenberg. Barry and the staff at Southern Cross University (SCU) are redefining the boundaries of modern music education and seeking a truly personal and accessible definition of music.


Dr Barry Hill is a musician and music researcher. As a bass player and guitarist, Dr Hill has performed and recorded with many popular music ensembles, theatre and dance groups and multimedia projects both in Australia and overseas. His published research specialises in the fields of popular music culture and performance practice, audio technology and musicology. Dr Hill currently holds the position of Senior Lecturer at Southern Cross University School of Arts and Social Sciences.and teaches into the SCU Bachelor of Contemporary Music Undergraduate program.


All audio used with permission of the artists.

Barry Hill : Interactconnect kinect camera prototype 1 Musical Collaboration and Gestural Interactions.

Barry Hill : Music for double bass, iPad & EEG brain activity display
The Bird : The Making of the Birdville Sessions

Cyberbass :  Live Electronic Project 2007-2011

Excerpt from Human Machine Music, SCU
Jamming Laurent Garnier riff

Improvised Trio Kulchajam Festival 2013
Barry Hill Double Bass Ipad Electronics
Greg Sheehan Percussion Electronics
Ben Blay Saxophone Electronic Wind Instrument Virus Synth

Greg Sheehan : Laura


Image of Ray, the interactive audiovisual display, courtesy SCU

What The Antarctic Teaches Us About The Science of Space Exploration




  • Producer Dallas Rogers
  • What The Antarctic Teaches Us About The Science Of Space Exploration

It’s 2026 and you are on board the Ares. The largest interplanetary spacecraft ever built. You are on the first colonial voyage to Mars and your crew will be the first hundred Martian colonisers.

This is how Kim Stanley Robinson opens his award-winning science fiction Mars trilogy – a set of three books about the colonial settlement of Mars. For Associate Professor Juan Francisco Salazar, this science fiction series opens up some important philosophical questions about what we think were doing as we colonise Antarctica and beyond.

In 2015 he release a documentary film based on ethnographic research undertaken in the Antarctic. The documentary is a speculative piece that sits at the intersections between science and social science. In this episode, he talks about his research and film making.  Along the way, he raises questions about what we, as humans think we are doing in Antarctica. He says our actions in places like Antarctica tell us much about how we might act in the future when we set out to colonise other planets.


 Juan Francisco Salazar is an anthropologist and media scholar and practitioner. He currently holds an Associate Professor position in communication and media studies at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and has been a member of the Institute for Culture and Society since 2006. His research interests and expertise centre on media anthropology; visual/digital ethnographies; citizens’ media; Indigenous media and communication rights in Chile and Latin America; documentary cinemas; environmental communication; climate change; future studies; cultural studies of Antarctica.

He is a co-author of the book Screen media arts: introduction to concepts and practices (Oxford University Press), which was awarded the Australian Educational Publishing Award 2009 for best book in the Teaching and Learning Category. As a media artist, he has produced several documentary and experimental short films exhibited internationally and has been a digital storytelling trainer and producer in Australia, Chile and Antarctica. His 2015 documentary film is Nightfall on Gaia.


Audio Blocks


Photograph of Mars: Hubble Space Telescope 2003

How Old Is Your Lobster? A Scientific Quest




  • Producer Michael Schubert
  • How Old Is Your Lobster? A Scientific Quest

Age determination in any population of animals is vital information for understanding the ecology of the system they inhabit and if you are part of our food chain, essential for good management.  Enter the lobster, or any crustacean who lives beyond a couple of years.  No one knows how old you are because you shed your exoskeleton and don’t have any boney parts.   Or do you?

Dr Daniel Bucher of Southern Cross University managed a scientific quest with young knights, fine surgical blades (Excalibur), all a result of an investigative mind and good supervision.  Discover how a fisherman researching the age of beach worms triggered a quest that resulted in a way to accurately date the age of our long lived crustaceans.


danielDr Daniel Bucher is a marine ecologist and  Senior Lecturer and researcher in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University (Lismore).  He has particular interests in the biodiversity of subtidal habitats such as reefs and sediment. Another area of interest is the ageing and growth studies of marine species including fish, worms, crustaceans and molluscs.

Daniel also scored a ‘hat trick’ at the 2015 National Finals of the 5 Minute Research  Competition, where academics are limited to 5 minutes and 3 slides. Daniel won the best overall pitch, along with the Science and Health section and the People’s Choice category with The quest for the grail: direct ‎age determination of ‎crabs and ‎lobsters’.  [Watch video below.]


Black of White Oar by PC III
Waiting For The Click
by David Krayb


Ornate Rock Lobster, Panulirus ornatus [photo: Robert Kerton, CSIRO]


Childbirth, midwives, hospitals and home; & never the twain shall meet?




  • Dallas Rogers
  • Childbirth, midwives, hospitals and home; & never the twain shall meet?

Professor of Midwifery Hannah Dahlen talks to sociologist and mother to be Dr Jacqueline Nelson about being a sociologist and 37 weeks pregnant. It has raised a few questions for Jacqueline.

  • Why do we only hear negative birth stories?
  • Why do birth classes talk about labour in different ways?
  • Should I choose a midwife or an obstetrician to help me during childbirth?
  • How should we think about the relationships between women’s
    bodies, childbirth, hospital and the home?

Jacqueline and her husband, producer Dallas Rogers, talk to Professor Hannah Dahlen about the way we think about and describe pain before, during and after childbirth, the relationship between time and labour in the birthing room, and the role of the home, hospital, midwife and obstetrician in contemporary childbirth practice.


Professor Hannah Dahlen is a Professor of Midwifery and Higher Degree Research Director in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the Western Sydney University. Hannah has experience with both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and her area of expertise includes: midwifery, normal birth, birth interventions, media, water birth, perineal trauma, incontinence, epigenetics, oral health, health policy, acupuncture, homebirth, birth centres, fear, risk, birth trauma, human rights in childbirth, models of care, vaginal examination, maternal death, maternal complications, perinatal outcomes, young parents, obesity, CALD women’s outcomes, birth positions and birth experiences.

Dr Jacqueline Nelson is a Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Social Inquiry Program, at the University of Technology Sydney. She is interested in how racism manifests, and exploring how we can respond to racism, both as individuals and by challenging cultures and practices that reproduce racism and inequality. In previous work, Jacqueline has examined local or place-based responses to racism and discourses of denial. Her Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Research uses ideas of performativity to look at how people respond to racism within their own families.


Cherly KaCherly, Using air bubbles as lenses I see the outside. I suspect the world is not what it seems
Trans Alp, Gnossienne No.1
Trans Alp, Gnossienne No.1
MGee, Atlantic state of mind (a long winter)


Copyright © 2015 Dallas Rogers