A week of physics stories – starting Monday: our neutrino world; hunting dark matter; Australia’s role in big international science; and more


More on these and other stories from this week’s Physics Congress below.

Leading researchers from every state, plus international and Asian leaders are available for interview – contact Toni in Brisbane on 0401 763 130 or toni@scienceinpublic.com.au

We’ll be sharing stories from the Congress throughout the week in this bulletin and at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/physicscongress.

Some of the stories coming up include:

  • Australia’s new constellation of satellites – packed up and ready for launch in 2017
  • The rubies and diamonds that will make your cancers glow
  • Arc welders in the operating room: plasma’s surprisingly soft touch
  • No more exploding smartphones: the Australia-China supercapacitor collaboration that could do away with lithium-ion batteries
  • Squinting at alien Earths with the aid of ANU’s clever new photonic chip
  • Embracing life’s chaos to improve solar power.

Plus dozens more physics stories.

We’ll be working to demonstrate the impact of physics in health, technology, energy, the arts, everything. If that doesn’t’ work for you, then tune out for a week – we’ll resume normal broadcast from 9 December.

I won’t be at the Congress myself. Sarah and I have a new baby boy, Ben, born on Thursday. So I’ll be introducing Ben to home life this week. There’s a photo of Ben and Sarah at www.scienceinpublic.com.au.



Our neutrino world – explained by 2015 Nobel Prize winner Professor Takaaki Kajita

We live in a world of neutrinos. Thousands of billions of neutrinos—mostly created by the Sun—are flowing through your body every second. You cannot see them and you do not feel them. So how did we discover they have mass, and why does that challenge our standard model of the Universe?

Professor Kajita will give a public lecture, telling the story of shape-shifting particles and underground super-labs on Monday night hosted by Australian physicist Hans Bachor (ANU), with early career astronomer Tamara Davis (UQ) and neutrino physicist Yvonne Wong (UNSW).

He’ll also meet two QLD year 11 students at 10.30am on Monday:

Brody Phillips, from Brisbane Adventist College, will ask Professor Kajita, “Are there any reasons as to why you did research into the study of neutrinos?”
Courtney Smith from Rockhampton Girls’ Grammar School wants to know, “If a fourth type of neutrino is discovered might it be a suitable candidate to classify as dark matter and as such unlock the mysteries of dark matter and energy, bridging gaps in our cosmological knowledge?”

Australian scientists stalking, sensing and trapping elusive dark matter

Australian physicists are using all the skills of experienced hunters in their quest for dark matter, the 85 per cent of matter in the Universe we have not been able to detect. And they are getting closer to their quarry. They’ll share their progress with the Congress.

Gravitational waves. Have more been found, what is Australia’s role, and why should we care?

Last week LIGO resumed the search for gravitational waves and the world is eagerly awaiting the results. Hear from one of the leaders on what’s it’s like to make a potentially Nobel Prize winning discovery, and what’s next. Australian researchers will also talk about their role in the biggest discovery of 2016, and the new OzGRav ARC Centre starting in 2017.

The world’s largest science experiment hopes to crack fusion power

Speakers from around the world, including senior advisor to the ITER project Jean Jacquinot, will speak about the global race to harness the process that powers our Sun. Researchers from ANU will be available to speak about Australia’s involvement and this opportunity for Australian high-tech industries to be a part of the multi-billion-Euro construction project.

Australia set to ride the quantum computing wave

We have the technology! The first simple quantum computers are being built all over the world as decades of research and development culminate in technology that accurately build structures atom by atom. Michelle Simmons from UNSW will give an update on their progress, along with other quantum researchers from around the word.

The APCC-AIP Congress is the Joint 13th Asia Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd Australian Institute of Physics Congress incorporating the Australian Optical Society Conference. It’s on at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 4 to 8 December 2016.

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