Physics in March 2010: particle astronomy, living at the speed of light, optics, lasers and nanoscale modelling

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Welcome to my monthly email to people around the country with an interest in physics. It contains news and events for March 2010 and beyond.

At AIP branch meetings this month we will discuss particle astronomy and living at the speed of light in Sydney, optics and lasers in Hobart, and nanoscale modelling in Melbourne.

The AGM, held at Melbourne University, on Monday 8 February was well attended and was followed by a well-received talk on the Golden Jubilee of the Laser by Peter Hannaford of Swinburne University. The AIP council meeting the next day considered priorities for 2010, which will include a membership campaign and a redevelopment of our website as a gateway for physics in Australia.

Science meets Parliament, organised by FASTS, takes place on 8-9 March. The AIP can nominate two participants, and this year nominated Svetlana Petelina (La Trobe University) and Manju Sharma (University of Sydney).

The AIP was a technical sponsor of ICONN, the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, in Sydney last week. It was by all accounts a big success – my congratulations to the co-chairs Cathy Foley, Andrew Dzurack and Callum Drummond.

And the global survey of physicists is still open. I would encourage you to respond if you haven’t already.

Planning ahead – this is a Congress year for the AIP. Planning is underway for the 2010 AIP Congress in Melbourne in December this year. The conference website is now up, and more information will be added over time. Go to

Details of all of these, and more, below.

If you want to contact me regarding AIP or other physics matters please email

Please note that replies to this email go to Niall Byrne, Science in Public, whose team compiles and manages the bulletin on my behalf and handles corrections, updates and bounces. If you have news or other information for the bulletin please email Niall by the 23rd of each month.

Kind regards,

Brian James,

AIP President

In this bulletin:

1. AIP events across the country

2. AIP 2010 Congress

3. Australia’s International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN)

4. The Global Survey of Physicists is still open and collecting responses!

5. Science prizes

6. AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

7. Physics activities across the country – general

8. Physics activities across the country – seminars

9. Physics conferences

10. Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

AIP events across the country

New South Wales

NSW: Tuesday 23 March, 5.30pm

NSW AIP branch meeting – two talks, Jesse Shore at 5.30pm and Marc Duldig at 7pm

TITLE: Living at the speed of light

SPEAKER: Jesse Shore, Prismatic Sciences

TITLE: Particle astronomy – the second window

SPEAKER: Marc Duldig, Australian Antarctic Division

VENUE: Slade Lecture Theatre, University of Sydney

For more information about the events please contact Frederick Osman on

NSW: Tuesday 27 April, 5.30pm

NSW AIP branch meeting – two talks, Donald Lang at 5.30pm and Chris Stewart at 7pm

TITLE: Mr Tompkins goes to the races

SPEAKER: Donald Lang, Macquarie University

TITLE: “That’ll never work in my classroom”: Web 2.0 in physics education

SPEAKER: Chris Stewart, University of Sydney

VENUE: Slade Lecture Theatre, University of Sydney

For more information about the events please contact Frederick Osman on


TAS: Thursday 4 March, 8pm, University of Tasmania and Tas AIP

TITLE: 100 years of optics, 50 years of lasers and much more in the future

SPEAKER: Hans A. Bachor

VENUE: Physics Lecture Theatre 1, University of Tasmania

Lasers and light are one of the key components of modern technology. Hans presents a brief history of how we came to the present situation.


VIC: Thursday 18 March, 6.30pm (refreshments from 6pm), Vic AIP

Vic AIP branch meeting

TITLE: Multiplicity at the nanoscale: challenges of multi-scale modelling of multi-functional nanoparticles for multiple applications

SPEAKER: Amanda Barnard, CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering

VENUE: Monash Centre for Synchrotron Science, CSIRO, Clayton

Amanda received the 2010 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physicist of the Year.

Members are encouraged to join the speaker and members of the Branch Committee for dinner following the talk at a local restaurant. In order to assist with table reservations please contact Scott Wade (Honorary Secretary) on

AIP 2010 Congress

Preparations are well underway for the 19th AIP Congress, incorporating the 35th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology and the associated Australian Optical Society Conference.

The conference will open on Sunday 5 December with welcome drinks and continue through to Thursday 9 December.

Plenary speakers include Professor Bruce Allen (Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics) and Dr Barbara Terhal (IBM Research).

Stay tuned for the call for papers in April and further updates on plenary and keynote speakers. More info at

Australia’s International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN)

The AIP was a technical supporter of ICONN, which was held in Sydney last week and attracted 780 delegates from over 30 countries. The majority of Australian delegates were from NSW (256) with VIC (156), ACT (54), QLD (45), WA (15), SA (45) and TAS (2) also being represented. The conference focused on attracting young researchers with 363 students attending.

Highlights of the week included:

  • Stuart Parkin, an experimental physicist at IBM, with “racetrack memory” that will be a million times faster and more reliable than today’s computer hard disks
  • David Awschalom, University of California, looking at replacing silicon chips with diamonds – using the diamond atoms to store data
  • Michal Lipson, Cornell University, bending light to communicate in computer chips, and create an invisibility cloak
  • Michael Roukes, CalTech, on silicon chips bearing several tiny nanotechnology devices that can measure each of the proteins in a single cell
  • Mark Wiesner, Duke University, on tracking where nanoparticles go in the environment
  • a free public forum hosted by James O’Loghlin from the ABC’s New Inventors, on how nanotechnology products are developed and reach the consumer
  • the opening of NSW Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) at the University of New South Wales
  • the release of a survey conducted for the Federal Government showing that most Australians feel positive that science and technology are improving society, and exploring our views of nanotechnology.
  • a series of school videoconferences in which Scott Watkins, CSIRO; Linda Nielsen, Uni of Copenhagen; Hans Hilgenkamp, Universite of Twente; Richard Blaikie, Uni of Canterbury; and Philip Whitten, Uni of Wollongong; spoke on a range of topics including organic electronics, nanomedicine, superconductivity, optics and artificial muscles.
    Over 35 schools participated in the videoconference which translates to 600-700 students. You can download the videos online at and click on the ICONN graphic.

After each evening’s poster session, two posters were awarded “best in show”. There were seven poster winners in total, the final one being a Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility (ANFF) prize for the best micrograph on a poster. The winners were:

  • Lee Hubble, CSIRO, Diameter selective solubilization of single-walled carbon nanotubes in water by way of supramolecular interactions
  • Stuart Thickett, The University of Sydney, Hydrophilic/Hydrophobic Patterned Surfaces by Dewetting and Their Use in Atmospheric Water Capture
  • Jos Campbell, RMIT University, Enhanced MRI Contrast using DMSA and silica coated magnetite nanoparticles
  • James Cooper, CSIRO, Detecting and identifying aqueous solutions of hydrocarbons with a gold nanoparticle chemiresistor sensor array
  • Siti Noorjannah, University Of Canterbury, Simulations and Design of Quadrupole Biochip Platform
  • Bakul Gupta, University of New South Wales, Oxygen assisted synthesis of Silver Nanocubes
  • Shailesh Kumar, CSIRO Material Science, winner of the Australian Microscopy & Microanalysis Research Facility Prize for the best micrograph on a poster

For more news from ICONN visit

The Global Survey of Physicists is still open and collecting responses!

The Global Survey of Physicists have sent the following message:

We are very grateful for all of the enthusiasm we have encountered and the many thoughtful responses we have so far, and we still welcome more responses. Here is the link to the survey. Please distribute it among your colleagues again, for those who haven’t responded yet.

The large volume of responses we are collecting will enable us to do some very interesting and relevant analysis. If you haven’t already, you can sign up for updates about the project here:

We will write again to let you know when the survey is closed and the analysis begins.

This is the third in a series of studies of physicists across the globe, and the first in the series to be available in a choice of languages. It is also the first to target both male and female physicists. In order to develop a broader picture of the status of physicists across the globe, this survey will provide the international physics community with data about the situation of physicists worldwide, as well as focused information about women in physics. It has been developed by staff at the American Institute of Physics in conjunction with International Union of Pure and Applied Physics conferences on women in physics, partially funded by a grant from the Luce Foundation.

Science prizes

Please consider if you know people who would be appropriate candidates for the following science prizes.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

John O’Sullivan freed the computer from its chains using his skills as an astronomer and engineer. He received the $300,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2009.

The two $50,000 early career prizes went to Michael Cowley for his work breaking the link between obesity and diabetes; and to Amanda Barnard for her virtual investigations of the properties of nanoparticles.

Nominations for the 2010 prizes close on 21 May. More information at

L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships

Hundreds of women apply each year for one of three $20,000 L’Oréal Australia Fellowships For Women in Science, perhaps because the Fellowship can be spent on any research-related expense, including child care.

In 2009 the recipients were exploring our roots in Africa, looking for dark energy and revealing what really controls our genes.

Nominations will open in April 2010. More information at

Fresh Science – nominations now open

For 12 years Fresh Science has selected the cream of early career scientists for a boot camp in media and communication. The 2009 crop generated dozens of media stories and discovered that good communication had many unexpected dividends. They were contacted by potential collaborators, commercial partners and others.

Nominations are now open and close on Thursday 25 March. We’ll be looking for 16 early-career scientists (honours, PhDs, and up to five years postdoc) with a recent peer-reviewed discovery that’s received little or no publicity.

The chosen 16 scientists will be flown to Melbourne for a day of media training after which they present their work to the media, school students, the general public, scientists, government and industry over the course of the four day boot camp in science communication.

More information and the online application form are at

World Metrology Day Awards – Barry Inglis Award and NMI Prize

In recognition of World Metrology Day, which occurs on 20 May each year, Australia’s National Measurement Institute (NMI) is presenting two awards for outstanding achievement in measurement:

  • The Barry Inglis Medal will be awarded for major contributions to measurement science and technology through leadership or outstanding innovation.
  • The NMI Prize will be awarded to young Australians who have shown originality or excellence in the application of measurement techniques.

The recipients of the awards will be announced on World Metrology Day 2010, with the awards ceremony held in the second half of 2010.

Applications close on 31 March 2010.

For further information, contact Intending applicants should refer to the information package available from NMI’s website at

Eureka Prizes

The annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research & innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism & communication.

There are 19 awards across these categories. You can enter yourself or nominate someone else.

Entries close on Friday 7 May and the winners will be announced on Tuesday 17 August.

For more information, go to the Eureka Prize website.

AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

Dan O’Keeffe of the AIP Vic Education Branch circulates a regular newsletter for physics teachers – contact him on

Vic AIP Education Committee

The Victorian AIP Education Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 5-7pm. The next meeting is on Tuesday 9 March. All teachers are welcome to attend.

VENUE: Kew High School

If you would like to attend, contact the Chair, Sue Grant, at

Melbourne University talks for VCE physics students

The topics are relevant to the VCE Study Design, and practising physicists have agreed to deliver them. The lectures, of about 1 hour duration, will be held on Thursdays at 6 pm in the Laby Theatre of the School of Physics. Some light refreshments will be available.

Semester 1 talks are:

Date Title Unit
March 4 The Greeks and the English….Aristotle and Newton!
Speaker: Roger Rassool
VCE Unit 2 study 1, Unit 3 study 1
March 18 Let’s move in a circle….grand prix and satellites VCE Unit 3, study 1
April 15 Sustainable energy…..really? VCE Unit 1 study 3.5
April 29 Relatively moving. Einstein’s special relativity VCE Unit 3, study 3.1
May 13 Energy from the nucleus VCE Unit 1, study 3.3
May 27 Physics and medical diagnosis VCE Unit 1, study 3.6

More information at the University of Melbourne’s Physics outreach website.

AIP Travelling Scholarship for 2010 – closing soon

The AIP Education Committee is offering a scholarship to support one teacher to attend an international Physics Teachers Conference during 2010.  The scholarship is worth up to $2000.

The successful teacher is expected to actively participate in the event, if possible by offering a workshop, and to also present a session about the experience at a following Physics Teachers Conference.

Applications for the scholarship should show evidence of innovative teaching and activity in professional development and be supported by a letter of recommendation from the applicant’s school.  The applications should state the chosen international conference and indicate how the applicant might participate.

Scholarship applications should reach the AIP at PO Box 304, Glen Waverley VIC 3150 by 5th March to enable the Committee to make a quick decision, so that the successful applicant can begin planning.

More info here.

Physics activities across the country – general


VIC: Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University, public lectures

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing holds regular free public lectures on the Hawthorn campus (Room EN313) at 6.30pm. Bookings are essential. More info here or contact Elizabeth Thackray at or phone (03) 9214 5569.

Date Speaker Title
19 March Virginia Kilborn, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University Unveiling the universe in hydrogen

Western Australia

WA: Gingin Observatory, Gingin

Gingin Observatory runs a variety of public events, many suitable for families, as well as regular stargazing tours. More info is available at the Observatory website or by contacting Carol Redford or Donna Vanzetti on (08) 9575 7740 or Contact Carol or Donna to book into events.

The Gravity Discovery Centre is open every day of the school holidays, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Special events include the following:

Date Time Event
5 March 7-9.30pm Gemini zodiac stargazing
7 March & 11 April 7-9.30pm Zadko Stargazing night
27 March 7-9.30pm Earth hour stargazing night
27 March 2-10pm Stars ‘n’ tanks – Astronomy, Earth Sciences and the Military
Note: At the Army Museum, Fremantle
28 March Star Seeker bus tour. Book with Funseeker tours on (08) 9440 1770
4 April 7-9.30pm Cancer Zodiac stargazing
7 & 14 April 6-9pm Night safaris

Physics activities across the country – seminars

Check the institution websites for any updates.

New South Wales

NSW: School of Physics, University of NSW

The School of Physics holds regular colloquia on Tuesdays at 4-5pm in the School of Physics Common Room, Room 64, Old Main Building, University of NSW. More info here or contact Peter Reece on

Check the website for details.

NSW: School of Physics, University of Sydney

The School of Physics holds regular colloquia on Mondays at 3.15pm (refreshments from 3pm) in the Slade Lecture Theatre, School of Physics A28, University of Sydney. More info here or contact Bruce Yabsley (02) 9351 5970 or

Date Speaker Title
8 March H.K.Yasuda, University of Missouri, USA Mischievous free electrons: from static charge shock to the aurora borealis
15 March Gino DiLabio, National Institute for Nanotechnology, Canada Controlled coupling and occupation of silicon atomic quantum dots at room temperature
22 March TBA
29 March TBA

NSW: Australian Telescope National Facility

The Australian Telescope National Facility holds regular colloquia on Wednesdays at 3.30pm (coffee at 3.15pm) in the ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre. More info here or contact Bjorn Emonts on or (02) 9372 4368.

Date Speaker Title
10 March Maik Wolleben, NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics GMIMS – The Global Magneto-Ionic Medium Survey
17 March Mercedes Molla Lorente, Departamento de Investigación Básica, CIEMAT Systematical errors on cosmology: impact of star forming bursts and chemical enrichment
21 April Natasa Vranesevic Galactic distribution and evolution of pulsars
16 June Volker Heesen Magnetic fields in galaxies


VIC: Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing holds regular colloquia, usually on Thursdays at 11.30am, in the Swinburne Virtual Reality Theatre (AR Building, Room 104). More info here or Jonathon Kocz on

Date Speaker Title
4 March Mike Gladders, University of Chicago, USA TBA
11 March Max Pettini, IoA, Cambridge University, UK TBA
12 March A.E.L.Davis, Imperial College, UK Celebrating Kepler’s Astronomia Nova: a geometrical success story
18 March Caroline Foster, Swinburne 30 month PhD review
25 March Ken Freeman, RSAA, Australian National University TBD
15 April Geoff Clayton, Louisiana State University, USA TBD


QLD: Physics Department, University of Queensland

The Physics Department holds regular colloquia on Fridays at 4pm (refreshments from 3.30pm) in the Parnell Building Room 222, University of Queensland. More info here or

Date Speaker Title
5 March Eric Cavalcanti, Griffith University What Bohr could have told Einstein if he knew about Bell

Western Australia

WA: School of Physics, University of Western Australia

The School of Physics holds regular seminars on Tuesdays at 3.30-4.30pm in the Physics Lecture Room 2.15, Physics Building, University of WA. More info here or (08) 6488 2738.

Date Speaker Title
16 March Brian J. O’Brien, University of Western Australia Back to Basics on Climate Change: Key Roles for Physicists

Physics conferences

3rd Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference (CHAOS2010)

Chania, Crete, Greece

01/06/2010 – 04/06/2010

Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting

Taipei, Taiwan

22/06/2010 – 25/06/2010

Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s National Convention (RACI 2010) and the 12th International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry (IUPAC 2010)

Melbourne, Victoria

04/07/1010 – 08/07/2010

Deadline for abstract submission is 19 March 2010

NEW Astronomical Society of Australia Annual Science Meeting

Hobart, Tasmania

05/07/2010 – 08/07/2010

Early bird registration until 2 May, final registration 1 June

52nd International Field Emission Symposium (IFES2010)

Crowne Plaza, Coogee Beach, Sydney, NSW

05/08/2010 – 08/08/2010

Abstract submission deadline is 5 March 2010. Early bird registration by 10 May 2010.

9th International Conference on Excitonic and Photonic Processes in Condensed and Nano Materials (EXCON’10)

Brisbane, Queensland

11/07/2010 – 16/07/2010

Abstract submission deadline has been extended to 15 March 2010.

Statphys 24

Cairns, Queensland

19/07/2010 – 23/07/2010

Registration now open.

20th International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2010)

Sydney, Australia

23/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

Early registration before 28 May 2010

2010 AIP Congress

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Vic

06/12/2010 – 10/12/2010

NEW XXV International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) General Assembly

Earth on the Edge: Science for a Sustainable Planet

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Vic

28/06/2011 – 07/07/2011

Register your expression of interest on the website to receive updates

Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

Our next bulletin, to be sent out at the end of March, will cover events in April 2010. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Wednesday 24 March. Please send your submissions to Niall or Margie Beilharz from Science in Public on or call (03) 9398 1416.

And the AIP’s journal, Australian Physics, welcomes your articles. The deadline for the next issue is 15 April. Email your articles and ideas to the new editor, Paulo De Souza on


For more information on physics events visit and click on ‘physics events’ or on your state branch.

If you know of anyone who would like to receive these updates, please feel free to forward this to them.

Kind regards,



Assoc. Prof. Brian James

President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Phone: +61 (2) 9351-2471


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