Congress deadline and physics tours: physics in July

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Are you coming to the Physics Congress in Brisbane this year? If so, a reminder that to get a significant discount on the cost of registration, the early-bird deadline is next Monday, 4 July. This is also the deadline for abstract submission. There is more information about the joint meeting later in this bulletin.

We are calling for nominations for four key roles within the AIP. Details, and the Executive’s nominations for these four roles, are given below.

Two great physics tours coming up will bring the search for exoplanets and alien life to Queensland (John Mainstone youth lecture tour) and dark energy and particle physics to venues across the country (the AIP Women in Physics tour). See below for details.

Congratulations to Don Melrose of the University of Sydney, who has been awarded the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Prize of the Association of Asia-Pacific Physics Societies’ Division of Plasma Physics.

Warrick Couch
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Joint Asia-Pacific Physics Conference/AIP Congress deadline

Are you presenting your work at this year’s joint 13th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Congress in Brisbane? If so, you need to submit your abstract by this coming Monday 4 July. Abstracts are being sought for both oral and poster presentations, and are to be submitted electronically.

And if you’re coming, remember that the early bird discounted registration rate closes the same day.

This year’s joint meeting will bring together the brightest physicists from Australia and the Asia Pacific region for a week-long program of science and networking.

  • Brisbane 4–8 December 2016
  • Early-bird (discounted) registration – deadline Monday 4 July
  • Calling for abstracts – deadline Monday 4 July
  • Registration and call for abstracts at
  • Meeting Honorary Chair: Brian Schmidt
  • Meeting co-Chairs: Warrick Couch and Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop
  • Joint 13th Asian-Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Congress

Grants are available to assist parents with childcare costs, such as additional childcare required at home or childcare required in Brisbane. Applications must be received by September.

Astrobiology & the Queensland youth lecture series

The search for exoplanets and life outside our Solar System will be brought to Queensland this month and August.

The AIP Queensland branch’s John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour takes in eight venues across the state. This year’s lecturer is Jonti Horner – an astronomer and astrobiologist from the University of Southern Queensland.

The lecture tour is a tribute to University of Queensland physicist John Mainstone in honour of his dedication to physics education in the state. For over 50 years, John was also custodian of UQ’s famous pitch-drop experiment.

The Mount Isa lecture will be delivered by Helen Maynard-Casely, a planetary scientist based at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

For more details, contact Scott Adamson.

Women in Physics tour dates

Catalina Curceanu’s talks in August will range from the Fermi paradox (‘if aliens are so common, where is everybody?’) and dark energy’s role in the evolution of the Universe, to opportunities and challenges of a career in particle physics. The AIP’s Helen Maynard-Casely interviewed Catalina this week – you can read it here.

Venues for Women in Physics events are now being booked in each state. Check the Australian Physics events calendar for details, including contact details for each event.

  • Tasmania 8–9 August
  • NSW 10–12 August
  • Queensland 15–16 August
  • South Australia 17–18 August
  • Western Australia 19 August
  • ACT 22 August
  • Victoria 23–25 August.

The tour will overlap, and be promoted with, National Science Week (August 13–21).

Nominations for AIP roles

Every two years the Australian Institute of Physics elects a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Registrar. The current President and Vice President may not seek re-election for their current positions.

Any AIP member can nominate a candidate for these positions. In accordance with our constitution, the current Executive has nominated the following:

  • Andrew Peele (as President)
  • Jodie Bradby (as Vice President)
  • Joe Hope (as Secretary)
  • Ian McArthur (as Registrar)
  • Judith Pollard (as Treasurer).

In accordance with the constitution, if you’d like to submit a nomination for any of these positions, please send it with a named and signed nominator and seconder (all of whom must be financial AIP members, Fellows or Honorary Fellows), along with a signed letter of consent from the nominee, to, or by mail to AIP, PO Box 546, East Melbourne Vic. 3127 Australia.

Nominations close 21 August 2016.

Finding Australia’s best physics PhD, and NSW outreach award

The AIP’s Bragg Gold Medal is awarded to Australia’s best physics PhD each year. Nominations for this year’s award need to reach local branches for selection and submission to the national selection process by 1 July (this Friday). For more information, contact Olivia Samardzic.

Last month we introduced the most recent recipient of the Bragg Medal – you can read about her work here.

Nominations are still open for the NSW Community Outreach Award for contributions to physics education or community engagement and demonstrated passion for the study of physics—until 9 October.

Seeking book reviewers

If you are interested in reviewing any of the books below for the AIP’s bimonthly Australian Physics please contact magazine editor Brian James.

  • PWA90: A Lifetime of Emergence – Eds P Changdra, P Coleman, G Kotliar, P Ong, D Stein & C Yu
  • What does this give to physics? Attributing the properties of superfluid 3He-B to physical vacuum? – LB Boldyreva
  • Gliding for Gold: The physics of winter sports – Mark Denny
  • Substance & Method: Studies in Philosophy of Science – Chuanh Liu
  • Reviews of Accelerator Science and Technology: Vol 6 Accelerators for High Intensity Beams – Eds A Chao & W Chou
  • Symmetry, Spin Dynamics and the Properties of Nanostructures: Proceedings of the Eleventh International School on Theoretical Physics –– Eds A Wal, J Barnas and V Dugaev
  • The thermodynamics of Quantum Yang-Mills Theory – Ralf Hofmann

Spin Physics – selected papers from the 21st International Symposium – Eds Haiyan Gao & Bo-Qiang Ma

Happy one-hundredth to the Australian father of lasers

Lasers are ubiquitous in medicine, industry, measurement and telecommunications. But few Australians know that one of the technology’s godparents was Australian born.

This coming 11 July  is the one-hundredth birthday of Alexander Prokhorov, the Queensland-born Soviet physicist who won the 1964 Nobel Physics Prize for pioneering work in the development of lasers and masers.

Alexander Prokhorov’s parents had fled to Australia as refugees from Tsarist Russia. They returned home following the Russian revolution, where Alexander finished school and studied radio wave propagation before serving in the infantry during WW2.

Returning to physics following the war, he eventually turned to the problem of quantum oscillation, and with colleague Nikolay Basov developed the optical pumping technique that made masers (the microwave predecessor of the laser) feasible.

The work was also significant as the first practical demonstration of quantum physics.

Alexander Prokhorov, with his collaborator Basov and US researcher Charles Townes, received the 1964 Nobel Prize for Physics “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle”.

In Townsville, the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s LaserShow will celebrate Prokhorov’s birthday during Science Week.

National Science Week

Australia’s annual celebration of all things science and tech runs from 13 to 21 August, and will include:

See the National Science Week website for more.

If you want to run a Science Week physics event, the first step is to register the event on the National Science Week website – you’ll then receive information to help publicise your event.

CSIRO alum support for physicists

Each year, CSIRO Alumni fund connect the brightest young physicists or mathematicians travel to a leading research centre overseas or in Australia.

The CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics commemorates the contribution of CSIRO scientists John Dunlop, Tony Farmer, Gerry Haddad and Don Price who died in a tragic helicopter accident in 2013.

Donations are received at 

The Scholarship is used to visit and/or conduct research at an overseas or interstate institution such as a University or research establishment of international standing, kickstarting a graduate just embarking on a research career.

Plasma prize to Sydney astrophysicist

The seminal plasma research of University of Sydney astrophysicist Prof Don Blair has been recognised by the Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies’ Division of Plasma Physics.

He has been awarded the society’s 2016’s Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Prize of Plasma Physics.

This recognises his sustained and original contributions to the theory of coherent emission processes in astrophysical and space plasmas and contributions to the theory of quantum plasmas. The press release includes more information about Don’s research.

Don will receive his prize at the joint 13th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Congress in Brisbane in December.

Visiting teaching fellow and postdoc fellowship

A new one-year teaching fellowship at UNSW is designed to create links between UNSW physics and secondary schools. The teaching fellow will be involved in lab lessons, problem-solving workshops and resource development. The teacher would return to their school at the end of the year with a new fellow appointed the following year. More details.

And a reminder that nominations for the Harry Messel postdoc research Fellowship at the University of Sydney close this Friday. Early career, female physicists are encouraged to apply here.

Physics shorts

Physics news from around Australia

More gravitational waves! Australian researchers involved in developing LIGO’s hardware and software components celebrated the announcement last month of a second gravitational wave discovery. See announcements from Monash University, the Australian National University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Adelaide. Our March bulletin listed the Australian teams involved in the gravitational waves consortium.

The University of South Australia has partnered with industry to fund molten-salt technology that will significantly reduce energy and water usage in mineral processing. The research builds on molten-salt research on solar energy applications.

Tasmanian businessman and researcher David Warren has partnered with the University of Tasmania to establish a new endowed chair in astrophysics at the University. The David Warren Professor will lead astrophysics research and supervise select PhD students.

Dayong Jin and other microscopy researchers from the University of Technology Sydney have worked with US and Chinese universities to resolve biological cells clearly in all three dimensions, allowing researchers to resolve structures within the cell that were difficult to view in previous, 2D-focussed techniques.

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s SpaceNet collaboration have developed three ‘CubeSat’ satellites – just a few centimetres across – to be launched from the International Space Station. The first three Australian CubeSats are looking at space weather and solar activity – vital for systems such as GPS and electricity grids.

Murdoch University researchers have been studying WA’s endangered Carnaby cockatoo using satellite transmitters and solar powered GPS trackers to gain information on flight paths and, via  accelerometer GPS, a fine-scale 3D reading of the birds’ activity at any time.

Superconductivity researchers at the University of Wollongong are developing novel methods of cleaning up oil spills. Based on magnetic nanomaterials that bond with the oil, it creates a magnetic liquid that can be pushed or driven using a relatively simple magnet. The technique has been likened to a magnetic leaf blower.

UNSW and University of Melbourne quantum computing researchers have achieved an important breakthrough: identifying the exact position of a single atom in a silicon crystal. Individual phosphorus atoms in a silicon crystal can be used as quantum bits (qubits), which would form the building block of quantum logic.

Waterbird feathers submitted by citizen scientists around Australia to UNSW and ANSTO’s Feather Map of Australia will be analysed by mass spectrometry and high resolution X-ray fluorescence to track waterbird movement and establish diet and habitat without capture.

CSIRO and University of Queensland researchers have used satellite data to verify models of eddies within the five, huge subtropical circulating ocean currents that dominate global ocean movement. Their work overturned previous theories on the mixing of nutrients (and thus productivity of the marine food system) within these huge circulating flows.

Radio National’s Top 5 Under 40 this year includes Monash University’s Niraj Lal, solar energy researcher.

RMIT quantum photonics researchers have developed a new method for measuring high-dimensional entanglement between qubits that would allow rapid, efficient testing of quantum computing systems.


It’s a bumper crop of physics this edition, with events thru to mid August. That’s because the next bulletin will come out just before National Science Week (starts 13 August), and we didn’t want you to miss out on early-August physics.

Reach a bigger audience. The Australian physics events calendar is the definitive source for physics events around the country. If your physics event isn’t listed here, ask us about adding it, having it included in these regular bulletins, and tweeted from the AusPhysics account.


Solar Energy R&D and Materials by Design
Thu, 7 Jul 2016, 4pm
Engineering Lecture Theatre – Engineering Building [32], North Road, ANU

Professor Brian Cox – A Journey into Deep Space
Tue, 9 Aug 2016, 7pm
Canberra Theatre


Central West AstroFest
Sat, 16 Jul 2016

Trinity Grammar School Mathematics Club
Mon, 18 Jul 2016, 8am
Trinity Grammar School

Sydney Astrofest 2016
Sat, 30 Jul 2016, 4pm
Charles Perkins Center, University of Sydney

Professional learning event: Nanoscience
2 Aug 2015, 5pm
University of Sydney

Catalina Curceanu Women in Physics at North Sydney Girls High School
Wed, 10 Aug 2016, 2pm
North Sydney Girls High School

Women in Physics Sydney Observatory Special Public Lecture
Wed, 10 Aug 2016, 6pm
Sydney Observatory


Exploring the solar system with the bright lights of Australia
Tue, 19 Jul 2016, 1:45pm
Spinifex College, Mt Isa

Queensland Astrofest
Fri, 29 Jul to Sun 7 Aug 2016
Lions Camp Duckadang near Linville, QLD

Rocks from Space: University of Queensland
Mon, 1 Aug 2016, 9:30am
University of Queensland, Brisbane

Rocks from Space: Brisbane
Thu, 4 Aug 2016, 3:30pm
All Hallows’ School, Brisbane

Rocks from Space: Gold Coast
Fri, 5 Aug 2016, 1:30pm
Griffith University, Gold Coast

Professor Brian Cox – A Journey into Deep Space
Sat, 6 Aug 2016, 7pm
Great Hall, Brisbane


Professor Brian Cox – A Journey into Deep Space
Tue, 16 Aug 2016, 7:30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre – Theatre


Catalina Curceanu: Mysteries of Modern Physics – from dark matter to oscillating neutrinos
Tue, 9 Aug 2016, 8pm
Sandy Bay Campus, University of Tasmania


Mount Burnett Observatory members night
Fridays from 1 July 2016, 8pm
420 Paternoster Road, Mount Burnett, VIC

Lecture: Lost planets, Australian Eclipses and warped space
Fri, 1 Jul 2016, 6:30pm
University of Melbourne

Lecture: The Discovery of Gravity Waves: The Breakthrough by LIGO
Fri, 8 Jul 2016, 6:30pm
University of Melbourne

Lecture: Pulsars: Nature’s naturally-occurring gravitational laboratories
Fri, 15 Jul 2016, 6:30pm
University of Melbourne

Lecture: Dark Matter and Gravity: Searching for missing mass at Stawell gold mine
Fri, 22 Jul 2016, 6:30pm
University of Melbourne

Lecture: Einstein’s Gravity: Black Holes, Dark Matter and Gravitational Lensing
Fri, 29 Jul 2016, 6:30pm
University of Melbourne

Professor Brian Cox – A Journey into Deep Space
Fri, 5 Aug 2016, 7–8pm
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

ANSTO Fact or Fiction
Tues, 16 Aug 2016
Australian Synchrotron, Clayton

Western Australia

Professor Brian Cox – A Journey into Deep Space
Thu, 18 Aug 2016, 7:30pm
Riverside Theatre

Catalina Curceanu: modern quantum technology – the offspring of Schrodinger’s famous cat
Fri, 19 Aug 2016, 11am
Murdoch University

10th International Conference on Residual Stresses (ICRS-10)
3–7 July 2016, Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach, Sydney

Energy Future Conference and Exhibitions 2016
4–5 July 2016, UNSW, Sydney

International Conference on Supersymmetry and Unification of Fundamental Interactions (SUSY 2016)
4–8 July 2016, the University of Melbourne

IWPCTM:  15th international workshop on the physics of compressible turbulent mixing
10-15 July, University of Sydney

Astrobiology Australasia 2016
10–12 July 2016, CSIRO Perth, WA

NUSOD—2016 International Conference on Numerical Simulation of Optoelectronic Devices Sydney
11–15 July 2016, University of Sydney

The Multi-Messenger Astrophysics of the Galactic Centre
18–22 July 2016, Palm Cove, Queensland

LHP V: 5th International Workshop on Lattice Hadron Physics
20–24 July 2016, Cairns Colonial Club Resort, Cairns, Queensland

OSA Congress: Photonics and Fiber Technology
5 Sep 2016, SMC Conference & Function Centre, Sydney

Topological matter, strings, and K-theory conference
5 September 2016, The University of Adelaide

International Conference on Nuclear Physics (INPC2016)
11–16 September 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre

NEW ARPS2016: Australian Radiation Protection Society Conference
11-14 September 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre, SA

The changing face of galaxies: uncovering transformational physics
18–23 September 2016, Wrest Point Hotel, Hobart

ICEAA — 2016 International Conference on Electromagnetics in Advanced Applications
19–23 September 2016, Cairns, Queensland

IEEE-APS Topical Conference on Antennas and Propagation in Wireless Communications (APWC)
19–23 September 2016, Cairns, Queensland

Boden Research Conference 2016 Animal, Vegetal, Mineral?
19 September 2016, Yallingup, WA

SPIE Bio-Photonics Australasia 2016
16–16 October 2016, SA

NEW Understanding the origins of the Galaxy and its stellar content
21-25 November 2016, Shine Dome Canberra

NEW IAU Symposia: The lives and death-throes of massive stars
28 November to 2 December 2016, Auckland NZ

2016 AIP Congress (in association with the Asia-Pacific Physics Conference)
4–8 December 2016, Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane, QLD

Conference on Optoelectronic and Microelectronic Materials and Devices COMMAD 2016 (Colombo Theaters, UNSW)
12–14 December 2016, UNSW Sydney

Wagga 2017 – The 41st Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting
31 January to 3 February, Wagga Wagga Campus Charles Stuart University

International Conference on Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology
12–16 February 2017, Queenstown, NZ

International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions (ICPEAC XXX)
26 July to 1 August 2017, Cairns
Note the AIP student travel scheme for AIP student members will be available for this conference.