HELLO FROM EARTH
HELLO FROM EARTH was a viral campaign, conceived by Wilson da Silva, and run by COSMOS on behalf of the Australian government, to raise awareness for National Science Week in 2009. A website (pictured) was created to collect goodwill messages from the public which were to be transmitted to the nearest Earth-like planet outside our Solar System, known as Gliese 581d and orbiting a red dwarf star 20.3 light-years away.
In the 10 days it ran, 25,880 messages were registered from 190 national jurisdictions, ranging from Afghanistan to Antarctica. The site attracted 254,000 unique visitors and 1.25 million pageviews, was featured in more than 1,000 newspapers and linked to by more than 9,000 blogs. The messages were transmitted on 28 August 2009 by NASA's Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, and will arrive in December 2029.
COSMOS is a science magazine produced in Australia with a global outlook, lush imagery and literary ambitions. The brainchild of Wilson da Silva, it was launched in 2005 and amassed 48 national and international awards under his leadership as editor, including Magazine of the Year (2006 and 2009), Editor of the Year (2005, 2006 and Highly Commended in 2010) and four National Press Club awards.
COSMOS grew to be Australia’s #1 science media brand, reaching 421,000 readers a month via a print magazine, a daily online news site and a weekly e-newsletter. Its education products were used by 70% of Australian high schools; an interactive iPad edition launched in 2012 became the highest-rated science magazine on iTunes globally, and was named by Apple as one of the 'Best of 2012' apps on the iPad.
EQUINOX SUMMIT: ENERGY 2030
The Equinox Summit is a biennial international ideas that seeks to develop solutions to complex global issues. Run by Canada's Waterloo Global Science Initiative, a partnership between the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo, it brings together an interdisciplinary, cross-generational group of science, technology and policy experts to develop ideas in a mix of televised sessions and in-camera deliberations.
Appointed content director in early 2010, Wilson da Silva led the creation of the meeting's structure and its unique approach. Over the five days of the first summit in June 2011, he chaired the televised sessions broadcast on Canada's TVO (pictured) and the closed-door debates, and was editor of the summit report, Equinox Blueprint: Energy 2030.
The Diplomat is a documentary that followed Timorese resistance leader and Nobel Peace laureate José Ramos Horta as he travelled the world working to secure independence for his forgotten nation, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975. It was shot over a crucial 18 months: from just before the fall of Indonesian dictator Suharto from power in May 1998, to Ramos Horta's triumphant return (pictured) to a liberated East Timor in December 1999, after 24 years in exile.
Wilson da Silva, who first proposed the film and convinced Ramos Horta and the Timorese resistance to participate, was a producer and screenwriter. The Diplomat won he and fellow producer Sally Browning six awards, including the 2000 AFI Award for Best Documentary; director Tom Zubrycki also won the 2000 AFI Award for Best Direction in a Documentary.
QUANTUM TO COSMOS FESTIVAL
The Quantum to Cosmos Festival was held in October 2009 in Waterloo, Ontario, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Over 10 days, leading scientists and thinkers from around the globe gave seminars and took part in debates, some of which were televised by the Canadian public broadcaster,TVO. There were also exhibits, a film festival and cultural events.
Wilson da Silva moderated the televised opening night debate (pictured), at which nine renowned physicists from around the world mused on the big questions; as well as the closing night discussion before a live audience. He also chaired a series of six Science in the Pub sessions at the Huether Hotel in downtown Waterloo, which sold out weeks in advance, and were recorded for radio broadcast.
WORLD FEDERATION OF SCIENCE JOURNALISTS
The World Federation of Science Journalists in an international organisation representing 57 associations of science and technology journalists. Founded in 2002 in São José dos Campos, Brazil, the Montréal-based group works to further science journalism as a bridge between science, scientists and the public, and promotes the role of science journalists as key players in civil society and democracy. Wilson da Silva was elected president in 2004, and led a diverse board (pictured) and three committees with representatives from 12 nations, drafting strategies and implementing programs to improve science journalism globally. During his term (2004-07), it grew from a loose network into a focused organisation with defined aspirations, an active agenda and an annual multimillion-dollar budget. Its first major initiative was SjCOOP, a mentoring program for science journalists in Africa and the Middle East.
SCIENCE IN THE PUB
Science in the Pub was the brainchild of journalist Wilson da Silva, and began in 1997 as a monthly event at a tavern in Sydney. Two or three scientists would discuss an issue in science, quizzed by a journalist who kept proceedings fun and conversational with the use of humour, analogy and audience interaction. Regular hosts were Paul Willis and da Silva.
It spawned sessions across Australia, some of which were rebroadcast on ABC Radio National. In 1999, 15 scientists, science journalists and communicators took the series to eight regional towns in New South Wales and Queensland aboard a DC3 in ‘Science in the Pub Goes Outback’; in 2009, six sessions were staged in Canada for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics' Quantum to Cosmos Festival (pictured).
ADA LOVELACE MEDAL
The Ada Lovelace Medal is a national award recognising the contribution of women to the engineering profession and to wider Australian society, given annually by Faculty of Engineering at the University of New South Wales. The award was an idea proposed by Wilson da Silva while a communications advisor to the faculty; he named the award and commissioned the design of the medal (pictured).
The New South Wales Chief Scientist & Engineer, Mary O’Kane, was the first recipient in 2016, followed by Kathryn Fagg, a Reserve Bank board member, in 2017. Judy Raper, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at the University of Wollongong, received the award in 2018.
Known as the Ingenuity Fellowship, the Journalist-in-Residence program at the University of New South Wales was conceived and managed by Wilson da Silva while a communications advisor for the Faculty of Engineering. It brought selected foreign journalists to the Kensignton campus in Sydney for three weeks, during which they spoke with 30 academics, visited laboratories and interviewed researchers.
Four journalists took part in the program: Rebecca Morelle (pictured), global science correspondent for BBC News in London; Matthew Hutson, a writer for Wired in New York; Maura O’Connor, a writer for The New Yorker; and Dan Falk, a celebrated science writer and CBC Radio producer from Toronto. The program was discontinued in 2019.
Ingenuity was a print and digital magazine highlighting the best engineering research at the University of New South Wales. Founded by Wilson da Silva, it was a stylish publication with engaging storytelling by noted science journalists that brought the university's research to life for a global audience. Print editions were distributed to CEOs, parliamentarians and government officials in Australia, plus collaborators in science and industry globally, and multiple copies made available at Australian embassies and trade offices overseas. It was also distributed to delegates to the World Conference of Science Journalists, and at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest multi-disciplinary science society. The magazine was a finalist for the Launch of the Year Award at Australia's 2018 Publish Awards, while the first issue's cover story by Wilson da Silva won the Single Article of the Year trophy.