Canberra will raise a glass to a fresh take on politics in the pub this week as the Pint of Science festival debuts in the capital.
The national series, funded by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the ACT government, brings some of the most brilliant scientists into city pubs to discuss their latest research and field questions about their findings.
The action will begin on Monday at King O'Malley's in Civic.
For just $5 punters can delve into how we learn and the power of the brain at Beautiful Mind from 7pm.
At the same time on Tuesday evening ANU professor of physics Daniel Shaddock and ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt will explain how we listen to and measure things in space at Ever Expanding Gravitational Pull.
And the finale event, Driven Into Crazy Stupid Love, on Wednesday from 7pm will cover self-driving cars and what the world will be like with increased human-robot interaction.
University of Canberra professor Damith Herath, who will speak at Wednesday's event, has worked in the tech start-up field for years and through his company Robological finds nifty applications for human-centred robotics.
"The moment I say 'robots working with humans' immediately people jump to the idea of a humanoid, but it is not about having a human likeness," he said.
"Early industrial robots did one thing and did it repeatedly. We aren't creating anthropomorphic forms, they are just machines, but they're smarter, understand human gestures and work much more safely with humans."
Professor Herath said the Pint of Science series would generate great value by giving the public a relaxed way to access science and discuss cutting-edge developments.
"We need broader understanding of the current state of robotics and what it can do to improve the economy and levels of efficiency in Australia," he said.
"Robotics is just a tool. But the prices have come down, so now it's affordable for small and medium-size business to consider."
Projects can range from robots delivering meals to hospital patients or providing "an extra set of hands" to make boutique manufacturing or assembly faster.
Professor Herath has worked with artists, psychologists and most recently material scientists on a recycling scheme in which robots pick apart old mobile phones and retrieve valuable micro-elements such as gold, platinum and glass.
"Imagine one day you bring your phone to a vending machine where this all happens, robots disassemble the phone and we can mine tonnes of precious metals once thought of as not worth the time retrieving," he said.
■ Get along to Pint of Science at King O'Malley's from Monday, May 23, to Wednesday, May 25. Visit pintofscience.com.au or tune into the Twitter discussion @pintofscienceAU.