Nuclear reactions; Bragg’s legacy; physicists elected to the Academy – physics in April, 2013

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics
Nuclear reactions; Bragg’s legacy; physicists elected to the Academy – physics in April, 2013 post image

From Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Nuclear reactions reveal ground-water consumption, art fraud and contribute to emerging communications technologies. Dr Joseph Bevitt, of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), will discuss nuclear reactions and how we utilise them at a free public tour and lecture on Tuesday 14 May, for the NSW AIP Branch’s May meeting.

Also coming up in branch events, Dr John Jenkin from La Trobe University will give an account of Lawrence Bragg’s achievements and legacy. November marked the centenary of the announcement of Bragg’s Law, and his inauguration of the science of X-ray crystallography in collaboration with his father. X-ray crystallography has transformed the physical and biological sciences from engineering to ecology, and much more. John will give an SA AIP Branch public lecture at the University of Adelaide on Thursday 4 April.

Congratulations to former AIP President Dr Cathy Foley, who won the 2013 NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year for “leading the way for women in science and inspiring a generation of young girls to follow in her footsteps”. Read more below.

And congratulations to professors Geoffrey Taylor, Bryan Gaensler and Andrew White for their upcoming admission to the Australian Academy of Science for their outstanding contributions to science.

Sadly we lost four Australian physicists to a helicopter accident near Sydney last month and another died suddenly at work. Former CSIRO employees Dr Tony Farmer, Dr Gerry Haddad, Dr Don Price and Dr John Dunlop died in a helicopter accident on Thursday 21 March. And Professor Stephen Wilkins, also retired from CSIRO, passed away just prior to delivering his first X-ray optics lecture to Monash University’s physics honours students on 25 March.

More details on each of these are below.

Please note that replies to this address 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

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In this bulletin:

Australian Institute of Physics news and events

Australian physics loses five colleagues

Physicist Cathy Foley celebrated as one of NSW’s Women of the Year

Outstanding Australian physicists recognised with election to the Australian Academy of Science

Congress featured in Nature journal

Books for review

AIP events

Other physics news and events

Physics events for the general public, students and teachers


Professional scientist remuneration survey

New online stargazing club



Contributions and contact details

Australian Institute of Physics news and events

Australian physics loses five colleagues

It is with great sadness that I share with you that four servants of Australian physics (all former CSIRO employees at Lindfield) lost their lives in a helicopter accident just outside Sydney on 21 March. Dr Tony Farmer (former Deputy Chief Operations), Dr Gerry Haddad (former Chief of Industrial Physics), Dr Don Price (CSIRO Fellow) and Dr John Dunlop (former Senior Research Scientist) were on the helicopter.  This was a private trip by four friends and former colleagues which ended tragically.

Tony Farmer, who had recently taken over as Editor of Australian Physics for the AIP, worked with CSIRO from 1973 and since his retirement in 2010 was involved as a Fellow at Lindfield. Gerry Haddad was with CSIRO from 1982 until 2007 and his partner Jacqui De Battista also worked at CMSE as Communication Manager and is now retired. Don Price started at CSIRO in 1982 and retired in 2009, but continued as an honorary Fellow. Don was the son of Sir James Robert (Jerry) Price, who was a member of the CSIRO executive from 1966-1970 and Chair of CSIRO 1970-77. Between Don and Jerry they had nearly 70 years in CSIRO. John Dunlop worked with CSIRO from 1976 until 2008 and his partner of 15 years was Vivian Cateaux, former personal assistant to Gerry Haddad.  Many of us remember their cheery presence at the annual Wagga Condensed-Matter Physics meetings, including their last, just a few weeks ago.

Tony, Gerry, Don and John were much loved and respected colleagues and friends, and I express my deepest sympathy to their families, and their spouses Paquita Farmer, Jacqui de Battista, Diane Price and Vivian Cateaux.  The AIP also extends its sympathy to our friends and colleagues in CMSE and around CSIRO.

There is a CSIRO Alumni Online Network tribute page here.

We were also terribly sad to learn of Professor Stephen Wilkins’ passing on Monday 25 March. Tragically, Steve passed away just prior to delivering his first X-ray optics lecture to Monash University’s physics honours students.

Head of Monash’s School of Physics, Michael Morgan, said Steve was a constant source of advice and wisdom on matters both scientific and non-scientific and would be sadly missed.

Michael provided the following summary of Steve’s career: Steve had held an appointment as Adjunct Professor in Monash’s School of Physics since 1999. He had been employed by CSIRO up until his recent retirement. Steve was one of the pioneers of X-ray optics and synchrotron science in Australia, whose notable achievements include landmark papers in many aspects of X-ray science. He was awarded numerous honours, including the Boas Medal of the AIP in 1997 and the CSIRO Medal in 1998.

The AIP’s thoughts are with the Monash community and Steve’s family. A CSIRO Alumni Online Network tribute page is online here.

Physicist Cathy Foley celebrated as one of NSW’s Women of the Year

Congratulations to Dr Cathy Foley, who has won the 2013 NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year for “leading the way for women in science and inspiring a generation of young girls to follow in her footsteps”.

Cathy is Chief of the CSIRO’s Materials Science and Engineering Division and a former AIP President.

She is one of very few women at the top level of science in Australia, responsible for about 900 people and a budget of more than $60 million.

As a student, she thought she would be a teacher, although she loved physics, because she reckoned “only really smart people were scientists and I did not know any”. And she once overheard a teacher describe her as “not very good at maths”.

The AIP’s full note is online here.

Outstanding Australian physicists recognised with election to the Australian Academy of Science

Three physicists are among 20 new Fellows to be elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2013.

They are AIP members Professor Bryan Gaensler from the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics and Professor Geoffrey Taylor from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale; and also Professor Andrew White, from the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland.

Geoff, who is based at the University of Melbourne, played a major role in the design and construction of the advanced detectors for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Bryan, from the University of Sydney, made fundamental contributions to understanding the Universe through research on high-energy astrophysics, cosmic magnetic fields and the structure of our Galaxy.

And Andrew pioneered world-leading experiments in quantum computation and quantum optics.

The new Fellows will be admitted to the Australian Academy of Science and present summaries of the work for which they have been honoured at the Academy’s annual three-day celebration, Science at the Shine Dome, on Friday 29 May in Canberra.

The Academy’s media release is online here.

Congress featured in Nature journal

Nature Photonics’ March issue features an article on last year’s physics congress, AIP/ACOFT 2012.

The two-and-a-half-page News & Views article reports that the congress was the “biggest and most diverse scientific meeting in the Australian physics calendar”.

The article says that ‘optics and photonics dominated; although traditional Australian strengths like quantum optics and X-ray science were well represented, there were some shifts to other fields’.

Article author David Pile says a highlight of the meeting was a session dedicated to the historical aspects of physics, mentioning talks by the University of Queensland’s Tim Nieminen on radiation pressure and Norman Heckenberg on a 100-year-old microbarometer.

He mentions David Davis and Fatima Eftekhari from Monash University’s work on plasmonics and Kylie Catchpole’s team from the Australian National University’s work on improving solar cells.

Other topics covered include Audrey Sukhorukov and Ping Koy Lam from ANU, as well as David Moss from the University of Sydney.

For those who have Nature access, it is online here.

Books for review

Australian Physics Book Review Editor John Macfarlane has no books for review this month and is always glad to receive suggestions from readers. If you would like to nominate a book you would be particularly interested in reviewing, please contact John at

AIP events

ACT:    Stephen Barrass, University of Canberra: Digital Fabrication of Acoustic Sonification
Monday 15 April, 6pm – ACT AIP Branch joint meeting with the Australian Acoustical Society
UNSW, Canberra (ADFA campus)

NSW:   Josepht Bevitt: The chemistry of the nucleus
Tuesday 14 May, 6pm – NSW AIP Branch May Meeting, public lecture and tour
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights

SA:       John Jenkin, La Trobe University: Bragg’s Law: 100 years on and stronger than ever
Thursday 4 April, 6.30pm – SA AIP Branch public lecture
University of Adelaide

VIC:     AIP Vic Branch Education Committee meeting
Tuesday 9 April, 5pm – for teachers
Kew High School (non-members welcome)

Beginner physics teachers in-service
Friday 12 April – full day
Kew High School

Other physics news and events

Physics events for the general public, students and teachers

New South Wales

Launch of Star-Craving Mad, Tales from a Travelling Astronomer, Fred Watson’s journey through time and space – final NSW public book launch:
Wednesday 3 April – Bowral Supper Club


Swinburne 3D Astro Tours
Tuesday 9 April to Thursday 11 April (four sessions between these dates)
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Anna Sippel, Swinburne University of Technology: Chasing dead stars
Friday 19 April, 6.30pm – public lecture
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Rafael Guzman, University of Florida: The “Gran Telescopio de Canarias” (GTC) – first light of the largest optical telescope on Earth
Friday 3 May, 6.30pm – public lecture
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Jonathan Whitmore, Swinburne University of Technology
Friday 17 May, 6.30pm – public lecture
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Western Australia

Free screening: Memento (2000) by the University Physics Society
Tuesday 9 April, 6pm, University of Western Australia

Campus Partner Talk: Light as a Medical Diagnostic Tool
Friday 12 April, 1pm, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

University Physics Society Quiz Night
Thursday 2 May, –7pm, University of Western Australia


Three $25,000 L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships

L’Oréal will award three $25,000 Fellowships to women who have shown scientific excellence in the five years since finishing their PhD.

The one-year Fellowships can be used to help finance the scientific research and also for child care or hiring a research assistant to cover maternity leave.

Applications close at midnight on Monday 6 May 2013 and will only be accepted via the online form.

Click here for information on how to apply.

Australian Academy of Science awards

Several of the 2014 AAS awards, fellowships, and conference supporting funds are open to physicists, including the following:

Professional scientist remuneration survey

The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (APESMA) is currently undertaking the 2012 STA /APESMA Professional Scientist Remuneration Survey.

This is the only survey of its kind in Australia, and now in its 6th year, an important body of data is being built that now allows for trend analysis. The Association is seeking professional scientists’ assistance by completing the 10-minute questionnaire.

A summary of the survey results will be available on the APESMA and STA websites later in the year.

The survey is online here. It closes on Monday 6 May, 2013.

If you require further information or clarification, please contact Dominic Angerame, Surveys Unit, APESMA on 03 9695 8835 or

New online stargazing club

Carol Redford, former owner of WA’s Gingin Observatory, has launched a new online stargazing club – Stargazers Club WA –to promote astronomy science, associated events and news.

“I’m still so passionate about the bright future of astronomy in WA,” she says.

“There are some great opportunities with big projects such as the Square Kilometre Array.

“WA’s children are very fortunate to have such an explosion of astronomy science right on their doorsteps.”

Click here for information.

Or contact Carol on 0427 554 035 or


New South Wales

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), Marsfield

Wednesday 3 April – Kurt Liffmann, CSIRO:  Accretion Disk Processes

Wednesday 10 April – Brian Boyle, Astronomy Australia: Update

Wednesday 17 April – John Bally, University of Colorado

Wednesday 24 April – Nate Bastian

Wednesday 1 May – Ciriaco Goddi

Wednesday 22 May – Michele Pestalozzi, IAPS/INAF

School of Physics, University of New South Wales

Tuesday 9 April – Michael Fuhrer, Monash University: Graphene and Topological Insulators – Teaching Electrons New Tricks

Tuesday 16 April – Tim Bedding, University of Sydney


Physics colloquia, University of Queensland

Friday April 5 – Mandyam Srinivasan, UQ

Friday April 12 – Michael Fuhrer, Monash University

Friday May 31 – Final Colloquium

South Australia

Chemical and Physical Sciences Seminar Series, Flinders University

Tuesday 9 April – David Garrett, University of Melbourne

Tuesday 16 April – Keith Stubbs, University of Western Australia


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

Thursday 4 April – Erika Nesvold, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Tuesday 16 April – Andrew Johnson, Swinburne: Six-month review

Thursday 18 April – Anna Sippel, Swinburne: 30-month review

Thursday 30 April – Giulia Savorgnan, Swinburne: Six-month review

Thursday 11 July – Rob Crain, Leiden Observatory (Netherlands)

Monash Centre for Astrophysics, Monash University

Tuesday 9 April – Ken Chen, ASIAA, The cosmic dawn: physics of the first luminous objects

Tuesday 23 April – John Eldridge, University of Auckland

School of Physics, University of Melbourne

Tuesday 16 April –  Stephen Gensemer, CSIRO: Precision measurements of the quantum phase of an atom as a test of fundamental physics

Tuesday 23 April – Alex Clarke, University of Sydney: Nonlinear quantum photonics: the generation and manipulation of single photons

Tuesday 30 April – Daniel Price, Monash University

Western Australia

Department of Physics, University of Western Australia

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.


2nd Heavy Ion Accelerator Symposium on Fundamental and Applied Science
8 – 12 Apr 2013, Canberra, ACT

2nd Geant4 School and Monte Carlo Workshop
19 – 24 Apr 2013, University of Wollongong, NSW

17th International Conference on the Use of Computers in Radiation Therapy
6 – 9 May 2013, Melbourne, Vic

CRCA Collaborate | Innovate | 2013 Conference – the Cooperative Research Centres Association conference
15 – 17 May 2013, Melbourne, Vic

Science at the Shine Dome – Power to the people – Australian Academy of Science conference
29 – 31 May, 2013, Canberra, ACT

6th Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference
11 – 14 Jun 2013, Istanbul, Turkey

NEW 10th Annual Meeting of the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society
14 – 28 Jun 2013, Brisbane, Qld

12th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference
14 – 19 July, Chiba, Japan

Nuclear Energy for Australia?
25 – 26 July, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

21st International Symposium on Plasma Chemistry (ISPC 21)
4 – 9 Aug 2013, Cairns, Qld

4th World Conference on Science and Technology Education (World STE)
29 Sep – 3 Oct, Sarawak Malaysia

NEW ANZ Conference on Optics & Photonics
8 – 11 Oct 2013, Fremantle, WA

NEW 23rd Australian Conference on Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM23) and the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2014)
2 – 6 Feb 2014, Adelaide, SA

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




Dr Rob Robinson

President of the Australian Institute of Physics
Phone: +61 (2) 9717-9204

Contributions and contact details

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

  • Rob Robinson, AIP President
  • the AIP website for more information is (note this is a new site – don’t get stuck in the old one at
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  • 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 Georgina Howden-Chitty 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 Georgina, as above)
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(Sent by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on behalf of the Australian Institute of Physics,