Here are the stories that emerged from The 19th Australian Institute of Physics Congress incorporating the 35th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology that took place from 5-9 December 2010 at the Melbourne Convention Centre.
Use the table of contents below to see a brief paragraph on each story and then click on the story headline to view the full story.
For more information contact Niall Byrne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomorrow’s technology pioneers recognised today
Good Aussie home wanted for gravitational wave detector
First results from the ATLAS experiment
Director General CERN announces $25M Australian centre on origins of universe
Australians to play with the Large Hadron Collider
Space storms threat to power and phones
Dark matter: detecting the invisible
Pulsar found with 250,000 home computers
A cubic kilometre of South Pole ice looking for dark matter
Are solar flares damaging our ozone layer?
Diamond dust adds sparkle to medical imaging
Acquiring a better feel for disease
Silk microchips for instant blood tests
Healthy and unhealthy brain states – what role does electrical conductivity play?
Sun sneaks up on winter workers
Particle physics & nanotechnology
The physics of money – testing the stability of the system
Superconductors reveal their secrets
Bionic valves without the batteries
The future of nuclear science
Lies, damn lies and climate change sceptics: what has really caused recent global warming?
From the chaos of stirring coffee to stirring rocks and cleaning up polluted ground water
What technologies will surround us in 2060? The clues are in the work of four physicists recognised with awards at the annual conference of the Australian Institute of Physics held in Melbourne in December. Working in fields that will become household names – plasma nanoscience, quantum optics, acoustics and coherent radiation—these scientists are literally creating tomorrow’s world.
- Prof Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov, a CSIRO scientist who set the ground rules for constructing new materials atom by atom using collections of charged particles known as plasmas, received the Walter Boas Medal.
- Prof Hans-Albert Bachor from the Australian National University (ANU), whose work on the graininess or particle nature of light is leading to new technologies such as quantum encryption and teleportation received the Harrie Massey Medal and Prize.
- A/Prof Robert Scholten, a University of Melbourne physicist, who has established a thriving and profitable business which makes and exports laser controllers, received the Alan Walsh Medal for Service to Industry.
- Prof Joe Wolfe of the University of New South Wales, an expert on the acoustics of music whose multimedia learning resources are accessed about 60,000 times a day, AIP Education Medal.
US researchers are offering Australia a gravitational wave detector worth $140 million provided Australia can build an appropriate facility, costing a further $140 million, to house it.
By Vivien Lee
It took less than 19 days of smashing lead ions together at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland for physicists confirm a new state of matter, the Australian Institute of Physics Congress was told in Melbourne. What the huge particle detector attached to the collider, known as the ATLAS experiment, has found is the first direct evidence of the Quark-Gluon Plasma—a 200 million degree Celsius soup of subatomic particles.
The Director General of CERN, Switzerland, Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, has announced a new $25m Australian Research Council Centre to explore the origins of the universe after the big bang at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress today.
Led by the University of Melbourne, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Experimental Particle Physics at the Terascale will explore particle physics at terascale energies (a million million electron volts) through the ATLAS experiment, which is a giant particle detector attached to Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
By James Mitchell Crow
UK physicists have developed new ways of generating industrial lasers powerful enough to slice through steel. The trick is to pass the beam along active optical fibres, David Payne from the University of Southampton told the Australian Institute of Physics conference in Melbourne. And 50 years after the first demonstration of a laser, the intense beams that can be generated in this way are so powerful they can be used to cut out car parts and weld them together.
By James Mitchell Crow
Recurring prostate cancers can be subdued with a blast of laser light, say Swedish researchers who presented their latest research at the Australian Institute of Physics conference in Melbourne.
Katarina Svanberg and colleagues at Lund University Hospital use lasers to build 3D maps of the tumours, and then to kill the cancerous cells in them.
Kumar Ganesan and colleagues from University of Melbourne think they may have found the perfect material from which to build bionic eyes—diamond. They are using the ultra-strong, biocompatible material to build the electrodes needed to pass light signals to the optic nerve. And they are already testing their devices.
In March 1989, six million people in the Canadian province of Quebec suffered a nine-hour blackout due to currents induced in their electricity grid by a geomagnetic storm. The currents themselves were caused by charged particles from a solar coronal mass ejection which struck Earth. There are reports of a storm 150 years ago with many times that power.
Melbourne physicists are trying to detect the undetectable – by searching for signs of its demise.
By Vivien Lee
Anyone can discover a neutron star in their own home, says the director of the Einstein@Home Project, Prof Bruce Allen. You don’t even have to be awake—your computer screensaver does it for you. In fact, it’s already been done.
A sprinkle of diamond dust could help doctors to diagnose disease better. Ewa Rej and David Reilly from the University of Sydney are testing nanoparticles of the precious gem for their potential to improve MRI scans.
The world’s first high resolution, 3D pictures of the flexibility of living tissues could lead to significant advances in disease detection, according to Brendan Kennedy and colleagues from the University of Western Australia.
The major protein in silkworm silk is being used by Peter Domachuk and his colleagues at the University of Sydney as a platform for sophisticated new health tests.
The protein, fibroin, is extremely strong and so bio-friendly that it allows long-term studies of the interactions of molecules which, until now, have been too sensitive to handle in the laboratory outside of cells. Fibroin is also transparent, and can be spun into structures that manipulate light.
By Vivien Lee
The danger of sunburn for construction workers is just as high in autumn and winter as in spring and summer, a researcher told the Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Melbourne.
Just as skiers need to be careful of UV rays reflected off snow, she said, construction workers run the risk of exposure from light reflected by metals on the building site. And in winter they’re less likely to be wearing sunscreen.
By James Michell Crow
An international team of researchers based in Colorado has captured the movements of single electrons in a chemical bond, using ultra-short x-ray pulses. The technique, which allows them to follow the movement of electrons across solar cells and other materials, was presented at the Australian Institute of Physics conference in Melbourne.
Alessandro Tuniz and colleagues at the University of Sydney have designed a fibre that would be invisible over a range of colours. And because of recent developments in ways to draw hybrid materials into fibres, their proposal may be relatively straightforward to put into practice.
Dr Andrea Morello reported on the progress of a team led by University of New South Wales engineers and physicists which has developed a “single electron reader”, one of the key building blocks needed to make a quantum computer using silicon.
CSIRO researchers reported that metallic nanoparticles can be used as components of computers powered by light rather than electric currents.
The nanoparticles can control and manipulate the flow of light in photonic circuits in computers that should be much more powerful than their electronic counterparts.
Every working day some $150 billion flows through Australia’s Interbank system.
Postgraduate student Andrey Sokolov from the University of Melbourne, together with colleagues from Melbourne and Swinburne universities, is analysing the flow of that money to study the dynamics of the overnight loan flows and the stability of the network.
By James Mitchell Crow
US researchers are beginning to understand how copper oxides can transmit electricity with no power loss at temperatures not far below -100˚C. Research which gives clues as to just how these superconductors work was presented at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Melbourne by Michael Norman from Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.
Implanted medical devices may no longer need batteries, says Ajay Tikka from Victoria University in Melbourne. Instead, he and his colleagues have developed technology that can wirelessly beam power to a device implanted under the skin.
Discoveries in diagnosing diseases, finding new clues to detect climate change and the structural soundness of materials have all emerged from Australia’s nuclear research reactor. Adi Paterson, the director of ANSTO (the body that manages the reactor) spoke about the role that nuclear science will play in Australia’s future.
David Karoly will rebut the common arguments and misinformation that question the role of human activity, particularly increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, as the main cause of recently observed global warming.
UK researcher Anthony Brown reported on the IceCube neutrino telescope under construction at the South Pole.
Adding to chaos underground could help manage polluted water, according to CSIRO physicist Guy Metcalfe.
His team has been working on “chaotic advection”, which describes the motion of particles carried in a flow—from smoke drifting in the air, to the mixing of the milk into your morning coffee.