Tired of holidays at the beach? Looking for something to stimulate your cerebrum?
We asked some superstars of science for their top science bucket list travel adventures. You might want to add them to yours.
See coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef
“Go to the Great Barrier Reef in the week after the full moon in October (inner reef), or November/December (outer reef) to see the coral spawning,” Dr Karl Kruszelnicki says.
“All the coral usually release their eggs and sperm on the same night. They are timed by special ‘love molecules’ (cryptochromes) that detect the intensity of the moonlight falling on them.
“At full moon the difference between high and low tides is very low, and this makes it easier for the spawned eggs and sperm to get together and not get lost. I’ve never seen this, but I want to.”
“Everyone should participate in at least one excavation of a dinosaur in their lifetime,” palaeontologist and RiAus director Dr Paul Willis says.
“It’s something that will stick with you forever. You develop a parental attachment to the beast as you liberate it from the ground and that will come back to enchant you on a regular basis.
“A dinosaur I helped dig up 25 years ago recently made the news when it was renamed Kunbarrasaurus— that brought a tear to my eye and a glowing pride in my heart.”
Dive under the ice-sheets in Antarctica
“Scuba diving should be on everyone’s bucket list,” marine ecologist Emma Johnston says.
“But diving under three metres of solid sea-ice is the best because it’s like diving into the deep sea.
“The anemones are so large it feels like they could swallow you whole and there are giant sea spiders and meadows of gently waving fanworms.
“Shallow-water polar invertebrate communities are only found where the sea-ice is persistent so we are increasingly concerned for their future.”
Watch the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
“This fire-in-the-sky display is caused by the interaction of charged particles from the solar wind with the gas molecules in the upper atmosphere,” Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel says.
Dr Finkel is heading off in the near future to check out the Aurora Borealis.
“We are going in the dead of the northern winter because the displays are best against the dark sky; and we are going for three weeks because the occurrence is very unpredictable and we want to maximise our chances for seeing the lights. Please wish us luck!”
See the Compact Muon Solenoid at the Large Hadron Collider
“The Compact Muon Solenoid was one of the detectors used to identify the Higgs boson in 2012,” Professor Fred Watson, from the Anglo Australian Observatory, says.
“Its cavern is at the ‘bottom of Europe’, at 100 metres underground. I’ve been to the Large Hadron Collider a few times, but only scored an underground visit earlier this year.”
Visit the K-T (Cretaceous/Tertiary) boundary
“There are a couple of dozen places around the world where you can stand astride the second greatest extinction of all time. Somewhere between your legs, the dinosaurs died,” Dr Willis says.
“I’ve been to two of these locations, one in New Zealand where I interviewed the boundary for The Science Show and several times on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is a great excuse to go and see the frozen continent.
“Actually that should be on the bucket list all by itself — go see Antarctica before it melts.”
Stand before the Thirteen Towers of Chankillo, Peru
“The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo were built 2,300 years ago as a gigantic solar calendar,” Professor Watson says.
“I was involved with one of the first science tour groups to visit the site back in 2007, accompanied by the principal Peruvian archaeologist on the project, Ivan Ghezzi.
“It was only in that year that Ivan and his collaborator, Clive Ruggles, had worked out the towers were a solar calendar.”
Take a trip to Snaefellsjokull glacier in Iceland
“Standing almost 1.5 kilometres high, this stunning ice-tipped volcano was the backdrop to Jules Verne’s adventure Journey to the Centre of the Earth,” Science V podcast presenter Wendy Zukerman says.
“I’ve never read Verne, and I can’t pronounce Snaefellsjokull. But one day, I will.”
See the display of a bird of paradise in New Guinea
“Nothing in the bird world can match the insane performances of some of New Guinea’s birds of paradise,” Australian Birdlife editor Sean Dooley says.
“While we do have four species of birds of paradise in Australia, there is no greater spectacle in nature than some of New Guinea’s birds of paradise as they parade their ludicrous plumage in their seductive dance to impress the ladies.
“And by travelling to New Guinea to see this you are providing much-needed income to some extremely poor communities and creating a viable economic alternative to cutting down these forests for timber export.”
And maybe in the future … take a walk on the Moon
“I’d like to be the first woman on the Moon,” CSIRO astrophysicist Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith says.
“I have always wanted to walk on another celestial body. Mars would be amazing but takes two years to get there and I would miss gravity. And cheese.
“The moon is much closer and as we all know, it is made of cheese.”