Eureka-winning physics: physics in September

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Congratulations to the physicists who were among the winners of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes announced this week, listed below.

Last month’s National Science Week was a resounding success. Many science enthusiasts came to hear particle physicist Brian Cox, space historian Amy Shira Teitel, and femtosecond laser researcher Eric Mazur, as well as attending so many other physics events around the country.

The AIP’s Women in Physics Lecturer tour meshed nicely with Science Week this year. In this bulletin we include a report from our 2016 lecturer, Catalina Curceanu. Also, we are now calling for nominations for the 2017 Women in Physics Lecturer. Details below.

Are you coming to the joint Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and AIP Congress in Brisbane in December? Standard registrations close at the end of September, so if you are coming, register now.

And finally it is very heartening to hear that Australian radio-astronomy pioneer Bruce Slee, who passed away two weeks ago, is to have a planet named in his honour as recognition of the many outstanding contributions he made to his field.


Warrick Couch
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Physics Congress Registration deadline this month

Are you coming to the Physics congress in December? Standard registrations close 30 September.

Also a reminder that the AIP provides financial support for students to attend the conference. The closing date for applications has been extended to 16 September. Details available online.

Notifications of acceptance of abstracts and scheduling will be sent shortly.

The joint Asia-Pacific and Australian Physics Congress in Brisbane will unite the brightest physicists from Australia and the Asia Pacific region for a week-long program of science and networking.

  • Brisbane, 4–8 December 2016
  • Registration at, standard registrations close 30 September
  • Meeting Honorary Chair: Brian Schmidt
  • Meeting co-Chairs: Warrick Couch and Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop

Joint 13th Asian-Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Congress

A message from the 2016 Women in Physics lecturer, and looking to 2017

My first visit to Australia saw me speaking to girls and young women in colleges all around Australia about gravity, the standard model, neutrinos, black holes, and my own research activities in Italy, and answering their questions about my career as a scientist.

I visited wonderful laboratories in universities and science centres and discussed with Australian colleagues their research activities and possibilities for collaboration.

I think I understand what makes Australia such a wonderful country: people with so many different cultural backgrounds coming from all places in the world, and all of them so proud to be Australians. We, the rest of the world, can only learn the lesson Australia teaches us!

I was helped by so many AIP members and colleagues – it would have been impossible to do it without their continuous help, support and friendship.

I am sure I’ll be back in Australia in the future, as tourist and as a scientist. And I am also sure I’ll meet again some of the young girls and boys I lectured in Australia, in various laboratories in the world, trying to unveil the mysteries of the Universe.

Catalina Curceanu
2016 Women in Physics Lecturer
Would you like to help inspire the next generation of great Australian physicists? The AIP is now seeking nominations for the 2017 Women in Physics lecturer. Conditions and information online.

AIP NSW Physics Outreach Award

Nominations close soon for the NSW Community Outreach Award, which recognises contributions to physics education or community engagement and demonstrated passion for the study of physics.

Nominations close 9 October. More information.

Student video competition

Physics teachers: is your class involved in a cool research project? Are they always seeking answers to interesting questions: Why is the sky blue? How do stars form? How do lasers work?

The AIP’s Frame Your Physics competition is open to students across Australia.

An entertaining and informative three-minute physics video could win awesome prizes for your school.

Entries are now open and must be submitted before October 31. So get filming, be creative, and have some fun with it.

Details online.

Report from Physics in the pub ACT, Phil Dooley

Nearly a hundred people packed out Physics in the Pub in Canberra last month. Ten ACT physicists took the audience on a journey from magnetic measurements in the outback (Richard Chopping, Geosciences Australia) through the solar system (Matthew Colless, ANU, with help from Carl Sagan) to searching the Milky Way for distant antimatter (Fiona Panther, ANU).

Rod Boswell (ANU) produced a breadloaf-sized satellite from under his Gandalf costume, while Craig Savage (ANU) took his belt off to demonstrate the difference between bosons and fermions (by twisting it through 720°). Galactic archaeology student Pete Kuzma revealed the Milky Way’s murderous habits and AIP stalwart Peter Price chatted about Isaac Newton and his fictitious forces.

The crowd had to work for their fun – Leon Twardy making them form a sonic standing wave with their fists, and myself getting them to sing along in search of funding. But it was nuclear physicist Ed Simpson who brought the house down with tales of explaining to a customs officer about everyday radioactive isotopes. Beware bananas!

Phil Dooley
Phil Up on Science


…and from around the states

The NSW branch’s annual Einstein Lecture at the Powerhouse Museum saw over 200 people introduced to exoplanet science by UNSW’s Chris Tinney.

The Queensland AIP’s Youth Tour visited eight schools across the state in July/August with around 450 students learning about exoplanets. The branch are currently holding a competition for schoolkids to meet Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita.

The South Australia branch will hold their first year Physics lecture given by an inspiring Physicist this month – Daniel Shaddock from the ANU. Details of both events are in the Aus Physics events calendar, below.

The Tasmania branch hosted the first talks by Women in Physics lecturer Catalina Curceanu, with 200 schoolkids attending at three schools.

Regular host for AIP Victorian branch members’ nights, Mt Burnett Observatory, are holding a crowdfunding drive to upgrade their telescope and dome. No more perching on ladders to view!

Lots of events from the Western Australia branch, but we thought we’d share this picture of branch stalwart Gerd Schröder-Turk with Brian Cox and Women in Physics lecturer Catalina Curceanu.

Physicists on the Eureka winners’ podium

Congratulations to all the winners whose great physics saw them named as winners in this year’s Australian Museum’s Eureka Prizes, announced last night.

If you are familiar with any of the winners, send them a note to congratulate them.

Queensland laser shows, Margaret Wegener & Hans-Albert Bachor

One of the inventors of the laser was born in Queensland in 1916, though he studied and worked in Russia. Should we claim Alexandr Prokhorov as an Australian Nobel Laureate?

Whatever the answer, his life is a great example for students, our next generation of engineers and scientists.

The AIP, Australian Optical Society and Questacon co-operated to present a laser-inspired program touring through National Science Week. Laser shows and make-your-own hologram workshops were enjoyed by almost 800 school kids and members of the public.

In Townsville, Cairns, Atherton and Butchers Creek (where Prokhorov first went to school), audiences learned about Prokhorov’s life and the contributions lasers have made to Australian industry and our daily lives.

The story was covered by the ABC, The Townsville Bulletin, The Tablelander and The Cairns Post. It was also picked up by the Australian embassy and consulates in Russia, and shared via their Russian-language newsletters.

Margaret Wegener, University of Queensland
Hans-Albert Bachor, Australian National University

Sydney physics–dance event and tickets for members

Like dance? And physics? We’ve got three double tickets to the immersive physics–dance performance Metadata to give away – featuring a guest appearance by Sydney Uni physicists Maryanne Large and Geraint Lewis.

Metadata combines dance, video and physics, and following each performance there’ll be a cosmology Q&A where artists and guest scientists will discuss recent science developments in the context of the performance. More information here.

We’ll give the tickets to the first people who email us at and tell us the names of Aleksandr Prokhorov’s Nobel co-recipients.

If you miss out on the free tickets, Metadata are kindly offering a discount for AIP members. Use the code word COSMOS when ordering.

Do you want to be a Future Leader?

Science Pathways 2016: Future Leaders will share insights into science leadership. Breakout sessions and networking events that will help develop the leadership skills of early- and mid-career researchers.

The EMCR Forum of the Australian Academy of Science is the national voice of Australia’s emerging scientists, representing researchers up to 15 years post-PhD. Sign up to receive their newsletter.



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.

Australian Capital Territory

Colloquium: Topological Electronics
Tue, 6 Sep 2016, 12pm
Australian National University

Let the quantum be!
Wed, 21 Sep 2016, 6:30pm
Finkel Theatre

Colloquium: Alfonso Aragon-Salamanca (University of Nottingham) “Transforming Spirals into S0s”
13 Sep 2016, 11am
Australian National University

Mt Stromlo Observatory Public Astronomy Night
23 Sep 2016, 7pm
Mt Stromlo Observatory

New South Wales

Colloquium : Transforming Spirals into S0s
Thu, 15 Sep, 2016, 11am
Australian Astronomical Observatory

Metadata dance performance
15-17 Sep, 2016
Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

Sat, 1 Oct 2016, 9:30am
Siding Spring Observatory, Coonabarabran

An Evening with Dr Lisa Randall
Sat, 19 Nov 2016, 7pm
Seymour Centre


Queensland University of Technology Physics Society AGM
Fri, 7 Oct 2016, 12pm
Artisian’s Café, QUT

An Evening with Dr Lisa Randall
Thu, 17 Nov 2016, 6pm
Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre

AIP Congress – in association with the Asia Pacific Physics Conference
Sun, 4 Dec 2016
Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre

South Australia

A nuclear future – a waste of time or no time to waste?
Mon, 12 Sep 2016, 6pm
The Science Exchange

Hadron Beam Therapy – Free public lecture
Tue, 13 Sep 2016, 5:45pm
Adelaide Convention Centre

Daniel Shaddock: Detecting gravitational waves from the ground and space
Thu, 15 Sep 2016, 1pm
University of Adelaide

Daniel Shaddock: Detecting gravitational waves from the ground and space
Fri, 16 Sep 2016, 11am
Flinders University


Our Inspiring Universe – Learning Through Astronomy
Mon, 29 Aug 2016, 8pm
University of Tasmania Sandy Bay campus


Mount Burnett Observatory members night
Fridays from 2 Sep 2016, 8pm
420 Paternoster Road, Mount Burnett

AstroLight Festival
Sat, 10 Sep 2016, 6pm

Meeting Vicphysics Teachers’ Network
Tue, 13 Sep 2016
University of Melbourne.

Exoplanets with Jonti Horner
Fri, 23 Sep 2016, 4pm

Discovering the Unexpected: Pulsars, Fast Radio Bursts and Aliens?
Fri 30 Sep 2016, 6.30pm
Swinburne University

Western Australia

Physics Day @ Adventure World
Thu, 22 Sep 2016
Adventure World, Bibra Lake
OSA Congress: Photonics and Fiber Technology
5–8 Sep 2016, SMC Conference & Function Centre, Sydney

NEW Australian Synchrotron New Users Symposium
6 September 2016, Australian Synchrotron, Clayton, VIC

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

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

The changing face of galaxies: uncovering transformational physics
19–23 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

Topological matter, strings, and K-theory conference
26–30 September 2016, The University of Adelaide

SPIE Bio-Photonics Australasia 2016
16–19 October 2016, SA

NEW The First Pietro Baracchi Conference: Italo-Australian Radio Astronomy in the Era of the SKA
1–4 November 2016, Australian Resources Research Centre,  Perth WA

NEW Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine Summer School 2016
4–6 November 2016, UNSW

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

Australian Synchrotron User Meeting 2016
24–25 November 2016, Australian Synchrotron, Clayton, VIC

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

NEW Australian X-ray Analytical Association (AXAA) 2017 Conference and Exhibition
5–9 February 2017, Pullman Albert Park, Melbourne

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

Cosmic Stars Astronomy and Space Science Education Workshop
4 Mar 2017, Giralang Primary School

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.