Years of crystallography and light, Michio Kaku and prize opportunities: physics in April

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics, Bulletins
Years of crystallography and light, Michio Kaku and prize opportunities: physics in April post image

Posted on behalf of Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

This year we are celebrating the United Nations International Year of Crystallography, marking 100 years of using X-ray diffraction to study the structure of materials. There’ll be all kinds of events: the public art exhibition Crystals in the City will tour Australia in August, and the AIP and ANSTO will host a public talk on crystallography in May.

And then 2015 is the International Year of Light. The theme of “light” encompasses so much of physics, so it gives us all a chance to shine in public. Our colleagues at the Australian Optical Society will lead the way, and anyone with ideas for the steering committee can email

Michio Kaku – you may know him from his books and TV programs. He’ll be visiting our shores in June, with public talks in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney discussing and answering questions on his speciality, string field theory, and his attempts to unify the fundamental forces.

Thanks to Elisabetta Barberio, who brought the Higgs boson to schools and universities across Australia as our 2013 Women in Physics lecturer.

Applications for the 2014 tour are open until 31 March: it’s a great opportunity for a woman who’s made a significant contribution to physics research to share her work.

Remember too that the AIP medals and awards are open, recognising research, education and service to physics.

Now is a good time for award nominations, with the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science also open—including the Malcom McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, won last year by Andrea Morello—as well as the honorific awards from the Australian Academy of Science.

And for those keen to hear from some young high-flyers, the FameLab Australia state heats will feature early-career researchers talking about their science before a live audience, in plain English and with only 3 minutes each. These events will take place around the country over the next few weeks, and there’s sure to be some physicists involved.

On a sad note, former AIP President Fred Smith passed away from cancer on 1 March. Fred was instrumental in setting up the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, which is now known as Science and Technology Australia, and he was its first president.  He was a long-time Professor of Physics at Monash University, before moving to La Trobe in 1987 as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research).

Please note that replies to this email go to Science in Public, who send the bulletin out for me. You can contact me directly on, and there is a comprehensive list of contact details at the end of the bulletin.



Rob Robinson
President, Australian Institute of Physics

In this issue…

AIP member news

New administration arrangements

The AIP’s database, financial and membership services will soon be provided by Professional Association Management Services.

They are taking over from Waldron Smith Management, who have served us well for many years, including organising the 2010 Melbourne and 2012 Sydney AIP Congresses.

The changeover will start on Friday 21 March and should be complete by Tuesday 1 April. Although we’re trying to make the process as seamless as possible, there will inevitably be some differences, so please bear with us.

The new contact details for the AIP will be:

  • Tel: 03 9895 4477 (which will be answered as “The Australian Institute of Physics”)
  • Address: PO Box 193, Surrey Hills VIC 3127
  • Email: (same as previously).

Crystallography’s big year

2014 International Year of Crystallography2014 is the United Nations International Year of Crystallography, commemorating a century of X-ray diffraction, which made possible the study of crystal structure. (It’s also just over 400 years since Johannes Kepler made his first observations of the symmetry of snowflakes).

Of course, here in Australia we’ve been celebrating for some time our own connection with William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg, who received the 1915 Nobel Prize for their work. This has included the Bragg Symposium in Adelaide in 2012, special-issue Australia Post stamps, and a video hookup between the Australian Synchrotron, ANSTO and facilities in Grenoble, France, in December 2013.

But this year brings even more ways to celebrate, including Crystals in the City, a public display of person-sized crystal structure models, designed to reflect their surroundings and build awareness of the achievements of Australian crystallographers. It will appear in all Australian capital cities from 9–30 August 2014.

There will be many other events and activities, with public lectures in Melbourne in March and May. And naturally the AIP will be doing its bit, with a lecture at ANSTO on 17 May on crystallography and the Australian Synchrotron.

To find out more about what’s going on around the world, you can check out the International Year of Crystallography website, and of course we’ll be putting Australian events into the AIP calendar.

Nominate for AIP medals & awards

Remember to submit your nominations for the AIP medals and awards to Olivia Samardzic,, by 31 May 2014.

The AIP President will present these prizes at the 2014 Congress in Canberra in December, along with the Bragg Gold Medal for the most outstanding physics PhD thesis.

The Bragg Medal has a separate nomination process, with entries submitted by Australian universities to their state AIP branch.

Further information on all the awards can be found on the AIP website.

Other physics news

String theorist Michio Kaku to visit

Dr Michio Kaku

“Imagine a world of time travelling, teleportation, telekinesis, advanced evolution species and galactic colonisation…the possibilities are endless.”
– Michio Kaku.

American theoretical physicist and best-selling author Michio Kaku is coming to Australia this June for a series of public talks about string field theory and the multiverse.

With a 60 minute “fire-side chat” followed by 30 minutes of Q&A, he will explain how string field theory extends Albert Einstein’s legacy by combining the theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics, all with the goal of uniting the four fundamental forces of nature.

As a well-known science communicator and radio and TV presenter, Dr Kaku is sure to pitch his presentation at a general audience, suitable for anyone looking for a fresh perspective on the world as we know it.

Bookings are open now for talks in Brisbane on 5 JuneMelbourne on 6 June and Sydney on 7 June. Dr Kaku’s visit is organised by Think Inc., who aim to promote rational thought and smart discussions through a platform that is both educational and entertaining.

New home for plasma physics

Plasma physicists are invited to join a newly-formed division of the Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS).

This is the first specialised division for the association, building on the success of the plasma science program at the AAPPS conference in Japan in July 2013. The hope is to have a similarly strong program at the next conference, which is to be held in Australia.

It will cover everything related to plasmas, including fundamental plasma physics, plasmas in astro, solar and space physics, the Earth dynamo, accelerator physics, high-intensity laser plasma science, magnetic and inertial confinement fusion, and engineering applications such as plasma processing, medicine and propulsion.

Membership is currently free. You can find out more at

AIP events

The Art of Physics, 2014 AIP Congress

7–11 Dec 2014
ANU, Canberra

Graphene: deep physics from the all-surface material

Thu 27 Mar 2014, 6.30pm
Latham Theatre, Redmond Barry Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC

Public lecture

Michael S. Fuhrer from Monash University will try to give a sense of why graphene, a single atom-thick plane of graphite, has sparked, and continues to generate, such excitement in the condensed matter physics community.

Beginning physics teachers in-service

Mon 7 Apr 2014
Brunswick Secondary College, VIC

For teachers

The AIP Education Committee is keen to assist new physics teachers with a full day in-service.  The event is free and travel coverage is available for country participants..

The Australian Synchrotron in the International Year of Crystallography

Tue 13 May 2014, 6pm
ANSTO Discovery Centre, Lucas Heights, NSW

Public lecture and tour

Andrew Peele will discuss some of the outstanding science produced at the Australian Synchrotron that was made possible by the work of “Australia’s” W. L. Bragg.

More events below

News in brief

Signs of inflation and gravitational waves

Australian astrophysicists discuss the sensational new BICEP observations.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Nominations are open for Australia’s top awards for science and science teaching, including the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

Academy of Science prizes

Nominations for the Australian Academy of Science honorific awards for scientific excellence are open until 17 April 2014.

FameLab Australia state heats

Hear young researchers communicate their science to a live audience.

Space education news

Learning opportunities and prize winners from the Victorian Space Science Education Centre.

Smart textiles from graphene oxide

Researchers from the Universities of Wollongong and Sydney have created high-capacitance yarn that could be used in wearable technology.

Mature galaxies in the early universe

Astronomers from Macquarie and Swinburne Universities have found massive galaxies with old stars only 1.6 billion years after the Big Bang.

Natural brilliance from refracted light

In this podcast, Ullrich Steiner explains how the structure of materials produces the vibrant colors seen in many butterflies and beetles.

University of Sydney Physics Foundation hits 60

Anniversary marks 60 years of pursuing excellence in scientific research, education and outreach.

Books for review

John Macfarlane, the book review editor for Australian Physics, is seeking volunteers write a short review (300-500 words) of one of the following books:

Nambu: A foreteller of modern physics

Edited by T. Eguchi & M.Y. Han, World Scientific 2014

Microcosmos: The world of elementary particles

Harald Fritsch, World Scientific 2014

Symmetry and fundamental physics: Tom Kibble at 80

Edited by Jerome Gauntlett, World Scientific 2014

One Hundred Physics visualizations using Matlab

Dan Green, World Scientific 2014

Living in a warmer world

Edited by Jim Salinger, CSIRO Publishing 2013

Particle Physics – a graphic guide

Tom Whyntie and Oliver Pugh, Icon Books 2013

40 Years of Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless Theory

Edited by Jorge V Jose, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd 2013

If your review is accepted for publication you may keep the book for your own use.

If you are interested or want to suggest another book to review, contact John at


AIP event denotes AIP events


Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Fri, 24 Oct 2014, 7pm
Royal Theatre, National Convention Centre Canberra
Public lecture


AIP event Andrew Peele: The Australian Synchrotron in the International Year of Crystallography
Tue, 13 May 2014, 6pm
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights
Public lecture

NASA head Charles F. Bolden Jr and Exploration
Mon, 24 Mar 2014, 11:30am
Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney – live or online
For students and teachers

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Wed, 22 Oct 2014, 7pm
State Theatre, Sydney
Public lecture

An evening with Dr Michio Kaku
Sat, 7 Jun 2014, 6pm
Sydney Town Hall
Public lecture


An evening with Dr Michio Kaku
Thu, 5 Jun 2014, 6pm
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
Public lecture

Journey Through the Cosmos with Brian Cox and the QSO
Thu, 6 Nov 2014
QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane
Public lectures and music


Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Tue, 14 Oct 2014, 7pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Public lecture


No upcoming events are currently listed.


Max Thompson: VCE Lecture 3 – When I was very young: Misconceptions in Physics
Thu, 20 Mar 2014, 6pm
Laby Theatre, School of Physics, The University of Melbourne
For students and teachers

Jenny Martin on the history of the Braggs
Thu, 27 Mar 2014, 6pm
Cuming Theatre, Chemistry Building, University of Melbourne
Public lecture

AIP event Michael S. Fuhrer: Graphene – deep physics from the all-surface material
Thu, 27 Mar 2014, 6:30pm
Latham Theatre, Redmond Barry Building, The University of Melbourne
Public lecture

Jenny Martin on the history of the Braggs
Fri, 28 Mar 2014, 11:30am
Discovery Centre seminar room, Melbourne Museum, Carlton
Public lecture

AIP event Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service
Mon, 7 Apr 2014
Brunswick Secondary College, Melbourne
For teachers

An evening with Dr Michio Kaku
Fri, 6 Jun 2014, 6pm
The Plenary, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Public lecture

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Sat, 18 Oct 2014, 7pm
The Plenary, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Public lecture


Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 7pm
Riverside Theatre, Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre
Public lecture


SIEA 2014 – Workshop on Strain/Stress Scanning and Imaging for Engineering Applications
1–2 April 2014, ANSTO, Lucas Heights, NSW

NEW SQF2014 — 2014 Sydney Meeting on Quantum Foundations
2–5 April 2014, Tusculum Mansion, 1-3 Manning St, Potts Point, Sydney

NEW CRYSTAL 29 – the 29th Biennial Conference of the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand
22–25 April 2014, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Mt Lamington Plateau

Solar 2014 Conference and Expo
8–9 May 2014, Melbourne, Vic

CRC Association National Conference: Innovating with Asia 2014
20–21 May 2014, Perth, WA

Powerful AGN and Their Host Galaxies Across Cosmic Time
16–20 June 2014, Port Douglas, Qld

19th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference/39th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (OECC/ACOFT 2014)
6–10 July 2014, Melbourne, Vic

6th Pacific Rim Conference on Rheology
20–25 July 2014, The University of Melbourne, Vic

Joint International Conference on Hyperfine Interactions and Symposium on Nuclear Quadrupole Interactions 2014
21–26 September 2014, Academy of Sciences, Canberra, ACT

NEW MEDSI 2014 – Mechanical Engineering Design of Synchrotron Radiation Equipment and Instrumentation
20–24 October 2014, Hilton on the Park, Melbourne

XRM2014 — 12th International Conference on X-ray Microscopy
26–31 October 2014, Melbourne, Vic

OSA Optics and Photonics Congress on Light, Energy and the Environment
2–5 December 2014, Australian National University, ACT

AIP Congress – The Art of Physics
7–11 December 2014, Australian National University, ACT

NEW AMN7 Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology
8–12 February 2015, The Rutherford Hotel, Nelson, New Zealand

Contributions and contact details

Please get in contact if you have any queries about physics in Australia:

  • Rob Robinson, AIP President
  • the AIP website is
  • membership enquiries to the Secretariat or 03 9895 4477
  • ideas for articles for Australian Physics to the Chair of the Editorial Board and Acting Editor Brian James, on, or the editorial board, which is listed in your latest copy of the magazine
  • contributions to the bulletin (e.g. activities, conferences and announcements) to Chris Lassig from Science in Public on or call (03) 9398 1416, by the 23rd of the month prior
  • the AIP Events Calendar to check what’s on, and also to submit your own physics-related events (any queries to Chris, as above)
  • to receive these bulletins, please email Chris, as above (you don’t need to be a member of the Institute).

(Sent by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on behalf of the Australian Institute of Physics,