Obama’s energy guru, 11 dimensions, women in physics going backwards

Australian Institute of Physics, Australian Institute of Physics Congress, Media releases
  • Obama’s energy guru on managing climate change and growth

  • 11 dimensions and librettos – Harvard physicist Lisa Randall

  • Women in physics going backwards

Day one at the national physics and optics congress

There’s more information on these below and much more at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/category/conferences/physicscongress


Steven Chu on prudent management of risks of climate change with continued economic growth.

Steven Chu, former Obama energy advisor and 1997 Nobel laureate, will discuss the global energy and climate challenge, the reinvention of the microscope, and when science matters—culminating in a National Press Club address on Wednesday, 10 December. His first talk is this Friday, then Monday and Tuesday.

The first real Nobel laureate to be appointed to the US cabinet, he’s an advocate of urgent transition from fossil fuels to nuclear and renewable energy to combat climate change. Prof Chu’s time will be limited—contact Phil Dooley at ANU for interviews +61 (2) 6125-5575, +61 478 337 740, phil.dooley@anu.edu.au.

Women in physics still going backwards

Australia’s physicists will hear today that they’re still losing the fight for gender equity in the physical sciences. The ANU’s Joanna Sikora has found that Australian schoolgirls still prefer life sciences to physical sciences (chemistry, physics etc) – with a 2:1 ratio. At university that worsens to 4:1 locking out women from many career options. University of Melbourne researchers Sharon Bell and Lyn Yates have found that the proportion of women in senior science positions is improving at just 1 per cent per annum, and going backwards in lower levels. Institute of Physics President Frances Saunders will explain how UK physicists are fixing the problem with Project Juno. Could Australia follow them?

Finding the creative dimension of physics

Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall thinks that creativity and great science go hand in hand. Not only is creativity essential in science, she says, but a logical, scientific approach helps creative people illuminate the world. Lisa’s work connects fundamental particles with cosmological phenomena like dark matter. Her most prominent contributions to physics relate to multi-dimensional theories: she co-wrote the warped-spacetime model that proved extra dimensions didn’t need to be vanishingly small, and believes the Universe has 11 spacetime dimensions. In keeping with the Congress theme—The Art of Physics—Lisa has written a libretto for an opera and curated art exhibits. Lisa’s two public speaking engagements today are

  • Monday 6.15 pm, in a panel discussion on the topic ‘When Does Science Matter?’ (see below).
  • Tuesday 9.45 am, The Ways that Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

In Conversation: When does science matter?

Steven Chu, our own Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt, theoretical physicist and bestselling author Lawrence Krauss and Harvard cosmologist Lisa Randall will discuss when and why science matters. A funny question you might think, as we rely on science for much that we do in our daily lives, but there are many who still question its value and legitimacy. Tonight and open to the public.

Bookings and more info at http://billboard.anu.edu.au/event_view.asp?id=110374

And later in the week

  • The catastrophe of a four degree temperature rise. Are they listening in Lima?
  • Looking for dark matter in the Stawell Gold Mine
  • A portable synchrotron?
  • Recognising endangered birdsong automatically
  • The beauty and serendipity of blue sky research – Nobel Laureate Serge Haroche

Media contacts: Niall Byrne 0417 131 977; Errol Hunt 0423 139 210; Margie Beilharz 0415 448 065; niall@scienceinpublic.com.au   Twitter @aipc2014 #aipc2014