Back in 1911 when Australia first had an official national census, the island nation's population stood at nearly 4.5 million inhabitants, excluding Aborigines. A recent estimate puts Australia's population more than four times higher with more than 22 million. But government officials will know for sure after Aug. 9 when the nation begins a census a full century after conducting its first.
Scientists from around the world will descend on the Microsoft Center in Redmond, Wash., on Aug. 12 to compete in the 2011 Space Elevator Conference and NASA Strong Tether competition. Competitors hope to impress NASA with their designs for a space elevator-a hypothetical system of anchoring a cable in space to transport goods and objects without the use of a rocket. Though NASA will award prize money for the best entry, it still calls the idea "audacious and outrageous."
Iowa straw poll
Republican candidates will test their mettle in Iowa when the party holds an official straw poll in Ames on Aug. 13. Two days before the poll, the candidates will have a chance to impress voters in a debate hosted by Fox News at Iowa State University in Ames. Late July polls showed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann rising (see "Minnesota twins?" by Edward Lee Pitts).
Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro celebrates his 85th birthday on Aug. 13, and unlike his previous 45 birthdays, Castro won't be the leader of the island nation's Communist Party when he blows out the candles. Castro officially stepped down from his post as party secretary in April after holding the position since 1965.
World Youth Day
Spain will host the Catholic Church's World Youth Day events for the second time when festivities kick off in Madrid on Aug. 16. The archbishop of Madrid will begin the six-day event with an opening Mass in the city's Plaza de Cibeles. Pope Benedict XVI won't arrive in Spain until Aug. 18, but will keynote the final Mass on Aug. 21.