Katie Mack tour dates; have your say on 2018 Congress program; fusion, funding, honours; and more – Physics in July

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronThis year’s much-anticipated Women in Physics lecture tour will see Dr Katie Mack undertake a massive schedule of talks at schools and universities across the country this July and August.

The tour includes a public lecture in most states and territories titled “Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask”. So, bookmark the scheduled dates listed in this month’s bulletin to have all your questions about Dark Matter and the mysteries of the Universe answered by one of Australia’s most inspiring women in physics.

In fact, July sees a feast of public lectures across the country, many of them also listed in this bulletin. Which serves as a timely reminder – if you have an event that is physics related we’re happy to promote it for you. All you have to do is Submit Your Event to the Australian physics calendar via the link on the AIP website. We’ll then include it in this bulletin and promote it via our social media too, on Facebook and Twitter.

While there is much to anticipate there has also been much to celebrate – this edition of the bulletin reports on physicists recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours and recent grant and award successes from members of the AIP and the Australian physics community. Which just goes to show that it is not just July that is a great month in physics – every month has something for physicists in the AIP.

Being informed and active in the areas highlighted in the bulletin, and more, are part of being a member of the AIP. If you would like to become a member or to renew your membership, go to aip.org.au/joining-the-aip

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

AIP news

Dr Katie Mack – On everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask

Dates for the Women in Physics Lecture announced

University of Melbourne astrophysicist Katie Mack is comprehensively touring the country this July and August visiting 15 capital cities and regional centres.

Katie will be presenting a range of talks, from public lectures to school talks and even breakfasts.

Come along to learn everything you wanted to know about dark matter – the strange, invisible material seemingly suffusing the universe with five times the abundance of ordinary matter – and her career as a woman in physics.

There are a lot of dates and events, so follow the links or keep an eye on the AIP calendar for details of an event near you.

Women in Physics Lecture Series with Katie Mack comes to:

  • Perth – 19 July schools event at Murdoch Uni & public lecture at UWA
  • Melbourne – 20 July public lecture at Uni Melb / 21 July Girls in Physics breakfast in Hawthorn
  • Geelong – 21 July school lecture at Kardinia College
  • Toowoomba – 24 July student lecture & public lecture at the University of Southern Queensland
  • Ipswich – 25 July school lecture & public lecture TBC
  • Brisbane – 26 July event TBC
  • Canberra – 27 July Girls in STEM breakfast & public lecture at ANU / 28 July two school talks TBC
  • Newcastle – 31 July two school talks TBC
  • Wollongong – 1 August school talk at St Mary’s and university talk & public lecture at UOW
  • Sydney – 2 August school talk at Knox Grammar & university talk at UNSW / 3 August public lecture at Macquarie University
  • Launceston – 7 August school talk at Don College
  • Devonport – 7 August school talk at Launceston College
  • Hobart – 8 August school talks at Elizabeth College and The Friend’s School & public lecture at UTas / 9 August school talk TBC
  • Adelaide – 10 August school talk at Mt Barker / 11 August talk at Adelaide University TBC
  • Bendigo – 14 August public lecture at La Trobe University
  • And Melbourne again – 15 August Girls in Physics breakfast & public lecture at La Trobe University

The Australian Institute of Physics Women in Physics Lecture Tour celebrates the contribution of women to advances in physics. Under this scheme, a woman who has made a significant contribution in a field of physics is selected to present lectures in venues arranged by each participating state branch of the AIP.

WA Women in Physics Day – 19 July

The tour kicks off with headlining this year’s WA Women in Physics Day alongside Phil Bland on Wednesday 19 July 9am – 2:30pm at Murdoch University.

At the event, students will learn what a career in STEM is like, where it can take you, and what sorts of questions you will one day be able to answer. After the main presentations, they’ll join a game show-style panel discussion where science meets comedy, and explore the interactive Science Stalls where they can learn the maths and physics behind some surprisingly weird kitchen-cupboard substances.

Hosted by Murdoch University at their Perth Campus, and presented by the Western Australian branch of the AIP and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. The invitation is extended to all year 10-12 science students, teachers, and members of the interested public.

Please RSVP to f.mochrie@murdoch.edu.au before 7 July.

Planning well underway for Summer AIP Meeting this December

Accessible. Affordable. Annual. These ideas motivated the Australian Institute of Physics to add a Summer Meeting to the Australian physics calendar. The Summer Meeting, held in alternate years to the AIP Congress, will cover the full spectrum of physics research, with an emphasis on students and early-career researchers.

The first Summer meeting is scheduled for this coming December at UNSW. Please keep an eye out for announcements on abstract submission, invited speakers and registrations shortly.

More at: www.aip2017.org.au

AIP 2018 Congress – call for Focus Sessions and plenary speakers

PerthBigBangThe 2018 AIP Congress Program Committee is seeking expressions of interest from scientific associations and other interest groups to propose and organise Focus Sessions for next year’s national Physics Congress.

Focus Sessions are intended to broaden and enrich the Congress by providing a range of forums to supplement those organised by our topical groups and cognate societies.

Sessions may be focussed around hot topics, up-and-coming research communities, or even just a common interest. A Focus Session usually consists of one invited speaker alongside contributed talks and a poster session.

Focus Session proposal should include the following information:

  • Proposed session title
  • Lead organiser & co-organiser names and contact details
  • 200 to 300 word description and rationale of the session topic
  • Estimate of interest in session e.g. number of groups in Australia, likely number of talks, or attendance at recent similar symposia
  • A plan for how the proposed session will be advertised
  • Preliminary suggestion of an invited speaker

The Program Committee is also seeking suggestions for high profile national and international plenary speakers to invite to the Congress.

Please send your proposal for both Focus Sessions and for plenary speakers to the Program Committee, by email to AIPCongress2018program@gmail.com before the 15 August 2017. Any questions can also be directed to this address.

The 2018 AIP Congress will be held in Perth, Western Australia, from 9 to 14 December 2018 at UWA.

Updates will be posted at: https://aip2018.org.au

How close are we to fusion power? Ask the experts at this free public event

Join us for The Future of Fusion, a panel discussion on the technology and infrastructure challenges of one of the world’s most exciting engineering endeavours.

Have all your questions about nuclear fusion technology answered by some of the field’s leading figures:

  • Professor Heinrich Hora, University of NSW theoretical physicist and CERN visiting professor
  • Grahame Campbell, developer of major energy infrastructure in Australia, North America, and Asia
  • Professor Richard Garret, ANSTO Senior Advisor for Strategic Projects and Australia’s delegate to the Fusion Power Coordinating Committee of the International Energy Agency

This free public event will be held at the ANSTO Discovery Centre in Lucas Heights on Tuesday 1 August from 5:30 – 7pm. Be sure to register your attendance here.

An optional dinner at the RockSalt Menai will follow at 7:30pm ($50 per person) – email tours@ansto.gov.au for details.

The event is brought to you by the AIP, RACI, RSNSW, and ANSTO.


From gravitational waves to the Bermuda Triangle – Dr Karl presents this year’s Einstein Lecture

karlEnjoy Dr Karl’s lecture at the new Nanoscience Hub at The University of Sydney on 16 August

Einstein was deep – some of his ideas took a century to be proven. Come along for a ride through gravitational waves, the benefits of coffee and other ‘substances’, the ‘right’ way to kiss, the Bermuda Triangle, the real story behind autism and vaccines, and of course, the hilarious Goods & Services Act (Commonwealth of Australia), Section 165-55.

It’s a whirlwind tour of some of the great moments in science with one of Australia’s most beloved science communicators, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

The free event will take place at the Sydney Nanoscience Hub (Building A31) at the University of Sydney on 16 August 2017. Refreshments will be provided at 5:30 before the lecture starts at 6pm.

AIP WA General Meeting with guest speaker Sabetta Matsumoto – on virtual reality and materials science

AIP members are warmly invited to attend the Western Australian branch’s General Meeting at the UWA Physics building 6pm Tuesday 11 July.

Enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, stimulating conversation, and plenty of food and drinks with your fellow physicists as we discuss what’s new in the physics world and anticipate the year to come. If you’re not yet a member, signing up is quick and easy through the AIP site here.

The guest speaker for the evening will be Professor Sabetta Matsumoto of Georgia Tech. She’s an expert in soft matter and nano-engineering and she’ll be speaking about her group’s recent leaps in 3D-printed ‘programmable matter’ – a potential revolution in manufacturing.

And explore the warped world of nanoscale physics in VR at a free public event

Catch Professor Sabetta Matsumoto at her free public lecture: Warped Spaces – a VR journey through a space that technology has yet to explore on Monday 10 July.

Join her for a strange journey through the bizarre and exotic realm of the very small with the aid of the latest in virtual reality technology. The event is being hosted by the Murdoch University at the Kim E Bezley Lecture Theatre 6 – 7:30pm.

Register your attendance here.


Physics news & opportunities

AstroLight Festival to return to Scienceworks this September

A festival of light for all ages at Melbourne’s science museum

astrofestMuseum Victoria, Mount Burnett Observatory, and Telescopes in Schools have announced the return of their annual AstroLight Festival, 6-10pm Saturday 10 September at Scienceworks, Spotswood.

It’s a celebration of astronomy and light full of fun and engaging activities for all ages. Talks, shows, panels, demonstrations, and hands-on activities are all on offer, not to mention a field of telescopes for peering into our beautiful southern skies.

Tickets will be on sale soon and you can find all the details on the website.

Max Planck Institute seeks Light Microscopy Imaging Specialist

Early-career researchers with a doctorate in physics, computer science, mathematics, or biomedical engineering are invited to apply now for the new position at Leipzig’s Max Planck Institute.

For the applicant fluent in the science behind super high-resolution MRI technology, it’s a great opportunity to join the world leaders in your field working on problems of immediate and vital importance in cognitive and brain sciences.

Find all the details here.

Over $40 million of ARC funding for physics

June saw the release of the latest round of $170 million in Australian Research Council funding.

There was $40 million in it for physics projects across ten universities to pursue research outcomes ranging from atomic physics and quantum computing to nanomaterials and optomechanics – and that’s in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars of ongoing Centre of Excellence support.

The funding includes $10 million for new ARC training centres for biomedical imaging at the University of Queensland and CubeSats at the University of Sydney. Innovation-focussed research projects attracted significant funding, but pure research was not overlooked, with galaxy formation, planetary accretion, global geodynamics, and fundamental particle physics among the recipients.

Find the full media release here.

Seven physicists enter the Order of Australia in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Several members of the physics community were admitted into the Order of Australia for the Queen’s Birthday 2017, including two to the rank of Companion:

  • Professor Peter Malcolm Colman is a decorated structural biologist and University of Adelaide alumnus now working out of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute studying the biochemical pathways of cell death – an essential process in the development of cancers. Professor Colman followed in the footsteps of the legendary Australian physicist Sir William Lawrence Bragg with his major contributions to the field of X-Ray crystallography, a technology which underpins modern pharmaceutical development. Professor Colman was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his lifelong service to biophysics and medicinal chemistry.
  • Professor Kenneth Charles Freeman is a University of Western Australia alumnus currently working at the Mount Stromlo Observatory at the Australian National University. His career has been dedicated to the study of galaxy formation and dynamics. His analysis of spiral galaxies provided some of the early evidence for the prevalence of so-called ‘dark matter’ in our cosmos. Ken Freeman was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his pioneering contributions to astrophysics and his outstanding commitment to tertiary education and mentorship for young scientists.

Four scientists in the broader physics community were made Officers of the Order of Australia.

  • Emeritus Professor Graeme Austin Bird at the University of Sydney was recognised for his distinguished service to aeronautical engineering. His work on molecular gas dynamics has helped demystify the complex fluid dynamics that enable flight.
  • Professor Andrew John Gleadow is a University of Melbourne researcher and educator who was recognised for his pioneering work on apatite fission track dating. This revolutionary method enabled the accurate dating of common sedimentary materials for the first time, with wide-ranging applications from basin evolution to the dating of Homo sapiens’ recent ancestors.
  • Dr Phillip Lyle McFadden, Chief Scientist at Geoscience Australia, was recognised for his contributions to the field of geophysics and his distinguished science leadership. He is widely regarded as a world leader in the study of geomagnetic reversals – the key piece of evidence underpinning the theory of plate tectonics.
  • Dr Brian Gordon Richards, currently of the University of Queensland, was honoured for his research on the physics of soils and its application to geotechnics – the science of mining. He has formally served as Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO and has spent a lifetime criss-crossing Australia and the world designing and constructing tailings dams, structures which prevent the release of toxic mine run-off into the environment.

Finally, for his lifetime of dedication to science and science education, Emeritus Professor Robert Alan Vincent of the University of Adelaide was made a Member of the Order of Australia. His specialty is solar-terrestrial physics, a discipline which studies the forces underpinning climate change.

Boeing brings new R&D facility to the University of Queensland

Boeing Research and Technology Australia moves to new centre at St Lucia campus

Leading research and development organisation Boeing Research and Technology Australia (BR&T–Australia) has moved its Brisbane-based team into a new centre at The University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus.

The move marks the first time Boeing has co-located its research within a university in the Asia-Pacific region. The move will be a boon for Australian students hoping to enter the aerospace industry, with much of the facility dedicated to education and outreach.

Victorian materials scientist made 2017 Veski Inspiring Women Fellow

$150,000 Fellowship awarded to Cara Doherty of CSIRO

Dr Cara Doherty has received one of two Veski Inspiring Women Fellowships in recognition of her efforts in the field of materials science.

The fellowships are intended to combat the attrition of early to mid-career female scientists and build diversity in innovation. While pregnant and on maternity leave, Dr Doherty published several highly-cited review papers in her field of metal organic framework research. In addition to the money, the recipients receive a guarantee of ongoing institutional support and mentoring for future senior leadership roles.

Read more about the Veski fellowships.

Aussie physics in the news

SAHMRI II building to offer first proton therapy unit in the southern hemisphere (The Advertiser) www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sahmri-ii-building-to-offer-first-proton-therapy-unit-in-the-southern-hemisphere/news-story/c2b34c0583d8bb29b87da36b5e5a8629

First Australian Kyoto Prize won by ANU scientist Graham Farquhar (Canberra Times) www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/first-australian-kyoto-prize-won-by-anu-scientist-graham-farquhar-20170616-gwsim1.html

Australian experts help LIGO open new eyes on universe using gravitational waves (Sydney Morning Herald) www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australian-experts-help-ligo-open-new-eyes-on-universe-using-gravitational-waves-20170601-gwi0ho.html

Australia’s ‘loaf of bread’ satellite is now orbiting Earth (Business Insider) www.businessinsider.com.au/australias-loaf-of-bread-satellite-is-now-orbiting-earth-2017-5

The breakdown: hydrogen on the horizon (Drive.com) www.drive.com.au/motor-news/the-breakdown-hydrogen-on-the-horizon-20170623-gwxnp2.html

Sphere made to redefine kilogram has purest silicon ever created (Scientific American) www.scientificamerican.com/article/sphere-made-to-redefine-kilogram-has-purest-silicon-ever-created

Australian cubesats lost in space found again with help from Dutch telescope, ham radio operators (ABC) www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-26/australian-cubesats-lost-in-space-found-with-international-help/8651514

Books for review

  • Why String Theory? by Joseph Conlon
  • Quantum Optomechanics by W P Bowen & G J Milburn
  • Materials Aspect of Thermoelectricity edited by Ctirad Uher
  • Blackbody Radiation: A History of Thermal Radiation Computational Aids and Numerical Methods by Sean M. Stewart, R. Barry Johnson
  • An Introduction to Quantum Theory by Jeff Greensite
  • The Dark Universe by Catherine Heymans
  • Complex Light by Jeff Secor, Robert Alfano and Solyman Ashrafi
  • The Physics of Thermoelectric Energy Conversion by H Julian Goldsmid


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.


[ACT] Women in Physics lecture: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask.
Thu, 27 Jul 2017
ANU Campus or Mt Stromlo (location and time to be confirmed)

[ACT] Girls in Physics breakfast
Thu, 27 Jul 2017, 7pm
ANU Physics

[ACT] Australian satellites and where to find them (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 5:30pm

[ACT] Journeying to the centres of the planets (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 17 Oct 2017, 5:30pm

[ACT] Australia’s role in looking for life on Mars (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 5 Dec 2017, 11am


[NSW] Sydney Ideas – Fusion: the perfect energy source
Thu, 6 Jul 2017, 6pm
Lecture Theatre 4002 (Messel), Sydney Nanoscience Hub

[NSW] Darko Donevski Seminar
Fri, 21 Jul 2017, 3pm
Macquarie University in room E6B 2.300

[NSW] The Future of Fusion – Free Public Event
Tue, 1 Aug 2017, 5:30am
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights, NSW 2234

[NSW] Women in Physics lecture: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Tue, 1 Aug 2017, 6:30pm
Wollongong Science Centre and Planetarium, Innovation Campus, 60 Squires Way, North Wollongong

[NSW] Women in Physics lecture: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Thu, 3 Aug 2017, 12pm
Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109

[NSW] Great Moments in Science with Dr Karl – free public lecture
Wed, 16 Aug 2017, 5:30pm
Sydney Nanoscience Hub (Building A31) – University of Sydney


[Qld] Women in Physics lecture: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)
Mon, 24 Jul 2017, 1:15pm
R113, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba

[Qld] Women in Physics lecture: Dispatches from a Dark Universe
Mon, 24 Jul 2017, 5:30pm
R113, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba


There are no upcoming events.


[Tas] Women in Physics lecture:A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)
Tue, 8 Aug 2017, 8pm
Physics Lecture theatre 1, Sandy Bay Campus, University of Tasmania


[VIC] July Lectures in Physics 2017: Methods for reaching extremely high speeds: what are the prospects for fast trips to the stars?
Fri, 7 Jul 2017, 6:30pm
Basement Theatre B117, Melbourne School of Design

[VIC] July Lectures in Physics 2017: Humans in space: what are the human impacts of space travel and living on other planets?
Fri, 14 Jul 2017, 6:30pm
Basement Theatre B117, Melbourne School of Design

[Vic] Women in Physics lecture: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Thu, 20 Jul 2017, 6pm
Hercus Theatre, University of Melbourne

[VIC] Girls in Physics Breakfast: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Fri, 21 Jul 2017, 7am
Hawthorn Arts Centre, 360 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, VIC 3122

[VIC] July Lectures in Physics 2017: The promise of nanosatellites: getting the University of Melbourne’s fast response telescope into space
Fri, 21 Jul 2017, 6:30pm
Basement Theatre B117, Melbourne School of Design

[VIC] July Lectures in Physics 2017: Antimatter in space: the Alpha spectrometer on the international space station and the cosmological implications
Fri, 28 Jul 2017, 6:30pm
Basement Theatre B117, Melbourne School of Design

[Vic] Women in Physics lecture: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)
Mon, 14 Aug 2017, 12pm
La Trobe University

[Vic] Women in Physics lecture: Dispatches from a Dark Universe
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 6:30pm
La Trobe University

[VIC] Girls in Physics Breakfast – Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 7pm
La Trobe

[VIC] ANSTO PD for teachers (November)
Thu, 16 Nov 2017, 9am
Australian Synchrotron, 800 Blackburn Rd, Clayton, Victoria


[WA] Warped Spaces – a VR tour of the nano-realm
Mon, 10 Jul 2017, 6pm
Kim E Beazley Lecture Theatre

[WA] AIP General Meeting with guest speaker Sabetta Matsumoto
Tue, 11 Jul 2017, 6pm
Physics Building tea-room, University of Western Australia

[WA] WA Women in Physics Day
Wed, 19 Jul 2017, 9am
Murdoch University

[WA] Women in Physics lecture: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Wed, 19 Jul 2017, 6pm
Ross Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, University of Western Australia

[WA] Perth Science Festival
Sat, 12 Aug 2017, 1pm
Perth Cultural Centre, James Street, Northbridge


[QLD] International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions (ICPEAC XXX)
Wed, 26 Jul 2017
Cairns Convention Centre, Queensland

[NSW] 2017 Australasian Radiation Protection Society Conference
Sun, 6 Aug 2017
Novotel Wollongong North Beach

[VIC] RheoScattering – Structural perspectives on complex fluids
Mon, 14 Aug 2017, 9pm
Burwood Corporate Centre, Deakin University

[Int’l] 2nd International Conference on Physics
Mon, 28 Aug 2017, 8am
Brussels, Belgium

[Int’l] Optics Congress 2017 Conference Canada
Wed, 20 Sep 2017, 9am
Park Inn by Radisson Toronto Airport West, ON

[NSW] AIP Annual Scientific Meeting
Sun, 3 Dec 2017
UNSW, Sydney, Australia

International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Mon, 29 Jan 2018
University of Wollongong

[NSW] The 42nd Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting
Tue, 30 Jan 2018, 2pm
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

5th Asian and Oceanic Congress on Radiation Protection – AOCRP5
Sun, 20 May 2018
Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre