Thirsty for knowledge

“TEN professors walk into a bar…”

While it sounds like the start of a bad dad joke, it’s actually the idea behind a series of talks that have sold out across the globe and are now coming to Perth.

On September 11, 10 world-leading UWA researchers will head to different bars across the city to tell you about their latest works and ideas, while you sip beer and nod thoughtfully.

The intellectual gaggle includes self-confessed water geeks, sleep experts, oceanographers, astronomers and computational biologists.

The free talks are part of Raising the Bar, a world-wide initiative that wants to make education a fun part of a city’s culture.

The initiative was started in New York by citizens from all walks of life who shared a passion for learning.

At the Perth event, environmental engineering professor Anas Ghadouani will discuss water and chocolate at The Deck at the Grand.

“It requires 24,000 litres of water to make one kilogram of chocolate,” says prof Ghadouani.

“But I can tell you; I’m not giving up chocolate.”

• Anas Ghadouani is mad about water, but you can drink beer while he talks about it. Photo courtesy University of Western Australia

It’s not because he doesn’t care about the environment; it’s because prof Ghadouani reckons food wastage has a lot to do with water wastage, and he has a theory on how we can combat both, while still chomping on our favourite chocolate bar.

He first came across a Raising the Bar event in San Francisco where he says he ended up in a “bit of a dodgy pub in a dark place, wondering what was going on”, but then “two professors of physics took to the stage and sat with pints in their hands talking about the cosmos and it was just the most beautiful thing ever”.

Dr Laura Boykin will be at the Laneway Lounge, talking about how computing can save cassava crops in East Africa.

She uses supercomputing and genomics to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa control pesky whiteflies, which cause devastation to local cassava crops.

“Farmers in East Africa need food, and for us to care about them,” says Dr Boykin.

“Let’s spend the evening talking about scaling, new tech ideas and impacting lives.”

To find out more about the Perth events go to http://www.rtbevent.com/perth

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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