Physics in November 2009: the Bragg Gold Medal presentation, Physics in Industry and a murder investigation

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

From Brian James, AIP President

Welcome to my monthly email to people around the country with an interest in physics. This email has news and events for November and beyond.

I look forward to seeing some of you in Canberra tonight, where I will be presenting the Bragg Gold Medal to Christian Rosberg, and the AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics to Hans Bachor.

The AIP is also busy across the country with: Physics in Industry Day and Postgraduate Awards Day in New South Wales; Physics Careers Evening and AGM in Queensland; International Year of Astronomy speakers in Western Australia and Queensland; IYA09 Astrofest and talks in South Australia; AGM, dinner and public lecture in Tasmania; and an undergraduate Career Night and AGM, Boas Medal presentation and lecture in Victoria.

Other public events include the physics of a murder investigation, the launch of a biography of pioneering radio astronomer Ruby Payne-Scott, and a documentary about the father and son Nobel Prize-winning physicists, William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg, who are commemorated in the AIP Bragg Medal. These events are in section 13 of our comprehensive bulletin for November.

Congratulations to John O’Sullivan and Amanda Barnard, who were both recognised for their work in physical sciences at the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes award ceremony at Parliament House last night. More details below.

On Monday 27 October, I attended the presentation in Sydney of the Barry Inglis Medal to Michael Tobar, University of Western Australia, and the National Measurement Institute Prize to Eric May, also University of Western Australia.

And in Stockholm, the inventor of optical fibres and the developers of the Charge Coupled Device (CCD) for digital imaging have shared the Nobel Prize for Physics. A physicist has also been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, for using x-ray crystallography to create a model of the DNA ribosome structure. The Ig Nobels have also been announced, and the physics prize goes to a study of why pregnant women don’t tip over.

Congratulations to the AIP past President, Cathy Foley, who has been awarded the NSW Nokia Business Innovation Award in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards last week. She’s still in the running for the national prize, which will be announced on Thursday 12 November.

I encourage you to participate in the 2009 Global Survey of Physicists, for which the link is given below.

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

If you have trouble reading the bulletin in this format, it’s also online at You can also read it and rss it on my blog at and now on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Please note that replies to this email go to Niall Byrne, Science in Public, who sends out 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. Physics at the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

3. Nobel prizes in Physics and Chemistry

4. Cathy Foley honoured in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards

5. Email addresses

6. Physics World magazine: free download of the October edition

7. Optics and photonics: Physics enhancing our lives

8. Retired science teachers wanted (in 2010)

9. 2009 Global Survey of Physicists

10.     International Year of Astronomy

11.     Science prizes

12.     AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

13.     Physics activities across the country – general

14.     Physics activities across the country – seminars

15.     Jobs and Scholarships

16.     Physics conferences

17.     Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

AIP events across the country

Australian Capital Territory

ACT: Thursday 29 October, 5.30pm, AIP

TITLE: Presentation of the Bragg Gold Medal for Excellence in Physics and the AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia.

Brian James, AIP President, will present the Bragg Gold Medal for Excellence in Physics to Christian Rosberg, formerly a student in the Non-Linear Physics Centre at the Australian National University.

And Brian will present the AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia to Hans Bachor, Director of the Australian Centre for Quantum-Atom Optics and former ACT Branch Chairman.

SPEAKER: The award ceremony will include presentations by both prize winners.

VENUE: Dunbar Physics Lecture Theatre (PHYS T), Building 39, The Australian National University

More info on the ACT AIP website.

ACT: Monday 16 November, 6pm, ACT AIP Branch meeting

TITLE: Exploding stars and the accelerating cosmos: Einstein’s blunder

SPEAKER: Robert Kirshner, Harvard University


More info on the ACT AIP website – Meeting list or from Anna Wilson

New South Wales

NSW: AIP NSW branch meetings, held in conjunction with the University of Sydney

The NSW branch holds meetings in the Slade Theatre, School of Physics, University of Sydney, from 6.30pm. Refreshments are available from 6pm and entrance to all events is free. More info at the NSW AIP website or contact Frederick Osman on

Date Speaker Title
24 November
See below for event details
Marc Duldig, Australian Antarctic Division Particle astronomy – the second window

NSW: Thursday 19 November, Physics in Industry Day 2009, NSW AIP

TITLE: NSW Medical Physics Showcase

VENUE: CSIRO, Lindfield facility, Sydney

Healthcare in Australia and around the world is too expensive. It is horrendously labour intensive and access is far from equitable. While new technology has improved health, it has done nothing to reduce overall cost — quite the opposite — healthcare expenditure is rising alarmingly as a percentage of GDP.

Effective new medical products and therapies tend to be expensive and drive up demand. If our future health systems are going to keep us healthy at a reasonable cost, then we must find new delivery models.

Speakers from research, industry and government will provide their perspectives on this challenge, as well as industry trends, new developments in the lab/clinic, and some local commercial successes, at this Australian Institute of Physics event.

More info at or contact Scott Martin on or follow it on Facebook.

NSW: Tuesday 24 November, Postgraduate Awards Day, AGM, guest speaker and annual dinner, NSW AIP

VENUE: Lecture Room 1, The Darlington Centre, University of Sydney, followed by dinner at Buon Gusto

2009 Postgraduate Awards

These awards have been created to encourage excellence in postgraduate work. Each New South Wales University is invited to nominate one student to compete for the $500 prize and Postgraduate medal.

Students are asked to make a 20 minute presentation on their postgraduate research in physics. The students will be judged on the scientific quality, clarity and their presentation skills.

The Awards are sponsored by the Australian Institute of Physics and the Astronomical Society of Australia as part of the International Year of Astronomy, CSIRO and Campus Review.

Nominations close on Friday 16 October. The application form is here.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM will be held at 6–6.30pm.

Guest lecture

TIME: 6.35pm

TITLE: Particle astronomy – the second window

SPEAKER: Marc Duldig, Australian Antarctic Division

Marc will discuss cosmic rays, particles travelling almost at the speed of light that bring information about their sources and where they have been in their travels to Earth. Cosmic rays are used for practical purposes, such as sample dating and climate change research, and give us information about the sun. Also, they are still interacting with the big bang!

Annual dinner

TIME: 8–10pm

VENUE: Buon Gusto, 368 Abercrombie St, Chippendale

To attend the dinner, book by Friday 13 November.

More info and payment form (for the dinner) is here.


QLD: Tools of science series, The Physics Museum, Qld AIP and School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland

Tools of science talks are held on Tuesdays in Room 222, Parnell Building, St Lucia campus, University of Queensland, at 6-7pm. The lecture, illustrated where possible with items from the Physics Museum collection, will be followed by a discussion period where participants will be encouraged to show items they have brought along. Light refreshments will be provided courtesy of the School of Mathematics and Physics. The Physics Museum will be open from 5.30pm.

More info at the Tools of Science website or contact Norman Heckenberg on (07) 3365 3369 or

The Tools of Science program has finished for the year, but will re-commence in March 2010. Talks will include Islamic Science and the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser.

QLD: International Year of Astronomy events, Qld AIP and the School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland

Talks are at the Regatta Hotel – Winterford Room (Upstairs), Coronation Drive, Toowong, starting 6:30 pm

More info at the Qld AIP website or contact Lynelle Ross (07) 3346 9935 or at, or go to the school events website.

Date Talk
12 November Brian Boyle, Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, will explain the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest proposed radio telescope, and Australia’s involvement in this ambitious project.

QLD: Thursday 19 November, from 5.50pm, Qld AIP

TITLE: Physics Careers Evening and AGM, followed by refreshments

VENUE: Room 222 Parnell Building, the University of Queensland.

Especially for current postgraduate students, the Physics Careers evening brings together several interesting speakers with different backgrounds, for topics such as:

  • how to make the most of your PhD
  • building a successful research career
  • physics consulting and research outside universities
  • careers in physics teaching.

More info at the Qld AIP website

South Australia

SA: Thursday 19 November, 6 pm, SA AIP

TITLE: The arrow of time

SPEAKER: Sean Carroll, CalTech

VENUE: Union Hall, University of Adelaide

More info:

SA: Monday 23 November, 6.30pm, SA AIP

TITLE: Exploding stars and the accelerating cosmos: Einstein’s blunder

SPEAKER: Robert Kirshner, Harvard University

VENUE: Union Hall, University of Adelaide

More info:

SA: Wednesday 25 November, 9.30am-2.30pm, SA AIP – event booked out

TITLE: IYA09 AstroFest

VENUE: Flinders University

The Astronomy Festival (IYA09 AstroFest) is for year 9 students. This event consists of a lecture (The Milky Way in a Different Light) given by astrophysicist Dr Gavin Rowell from the University of Adelaide, followed by a number of interesting astronomy-related activities including Q&A sessions with several university students, a discussion on an astronomy/space-related topic (such as new missions to the Moon, Mars, how to see black holes) and telescope viewing of the Sun and planets (weather permitting).

More info at the SA AIP website.


TAS: Thursday 19 November, from 5pm, Tas AIP AGM, annual dinner and public lecture

Annual General Meeting

The AGM will be held at 5–5.45 pm at the Physics Lecture Theatre 2, Physics, University of Tasmania

Annual dinner

TIME: 6–7.30 pm

VENUE: The Bay Leaf Bistro, 160 Sandy Bay Road, Sandy Bay, ph (03) 6223 1771

To attend the dinner, book by Friday 13 November.

Public lecture

SPEAKER: Marc Duldig, Australian Antarctic Division

TIME: 8pm

TITLE: Particle astronomy – the second window

VENUE: Physics Lecture Theatre 1, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay

Marc will discuss cosmic rays, particles travelling almost at the speed of light that bring information about their sources and where they have been in their travels to Earth. Cosmic rays are used for practical purposes, such as sample dating and climate change research, and give us information about the sun. Also, they are still interacting with the big bang!

TAS: Monday 7 – Tuesday 8 December, Physics and Chemistry Teachers Seminar, Tas AIP

TITLE: Year 11/12 Physics and Chemistry Teachers Seminar

TIME: 10.30am – 5.30pm Monday 7 September and 9am – 3.30pm Tuesday 8 September.

VENUE: Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston

SPEAKERS include: John Macfarlane, Nigel Brooks, John Innes, Paulo De Souza and Martin George. Martin will also demonstrate the new Planetarium.

Register by Tuesday 1 December to John Macfarlane Cost is $30, payable at the seminar.


Wednesday 18th November 2009, 6 – 8pm, Undergraduate Career Night, Vic AIP

VENUE: Staff Room, Level 7, School of Physics, Melbourne University

Aimed at students currently studying a physics degree, this event will allow students to have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on what makes a physicist employable. Panel members will talk about their work, family, career opportunities, what they enjoy about their job. The panel members confirmed to date are:

  • Amanda Barnard – CSIRO Research Scientist (and winner last night of the
  • James McCaw – NH&MRC Research Fellow, Melbourne University
  • Mark Boland – Australian Synchrotron Physicist
  • Donald Tournier – Brain Research Institute Scientist

Moderator: Chris Pakes – Academic, LaTrobe University

Pizza and drinks will be provided and you have the chance to win an iPod.

RSVP by 9 November to Scott Wade, or mobile 0408 387 337.

Thursday 19 November, 6.30pm, AIP Victorian Branch Annual General Meeting, Boas Medal Presentation and Lecture

VENUE: Hercus Theatre, School of Physics, Melbourne University

Refreshments provided from 6pm

More info from Scott Wade, or mobile 0408 387 337.

Western Australia

WA: International Year of Astronomy public lecture series

The Astronomical Society of Australia has chosen speakers to communicate the excitement of astronomy to the general public in Perth, as part of the International Year of Astronomy. The public lectures are at 6pm, at venues shown below.

For more info go to the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Western Australia, website or call (08) 6488 1340 or email

Date Speaker Title Venue
4 November Paulo de Souza, Tasmanian ICT Centre, CSIRO From Mars to Earth: a journey fostered by science, technology and fascination Social Sciences Lecture Theatre, UWA

The lecture series is hosted by the Astronomical Society of Australia, with the AIP, University of Western Australia, Scitech, Curtin University of Technology Institute of Theoretical Physics and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

Physics at the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Congratulations to John O’Sullivan and Amanda Barnard, who were both recognised for their work in physical sciences at a ceremony at Parliament House last night.

2009 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science awarded to John O’Sullivan for achievements in astronomy and wireless technology.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science to John O’Sullivan, a systems engineer at CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility.

When you use a WiFi network—at home, in the office or at the airport—you are using patented technology born of the work of John and his CSIRO colleagues to make the wireless LAN fast and robust. Their patented invention is now built into international standards and into computers, printers, smart phones and other devices used by hundreds of millions of people every day.

The discovery came from John’s efforts to hear the faint radio whispers of exploding black holes. Today John is working on the design of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope—a step towards the giant Square Kilometre Array which will be able to look back 13 billion years—almost to the Big Bang itself.

John and his team were also recently awarded the CSIRO’s Chairman’s Medal for Research Achievement, CSIRO’s highest honour.

2009 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year awarded to Amanda Barnard for achievements in modelling nanoparticles.

Amanda Barnard, a member of the AIP, and leader of CSIRO’s Virtual Nanoscience Laboratory, leads the world in her field of nanomorphology—predicting the shape, structure and stability of nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles—materials made small, less than a few millionth of a millimetre in size— have the potential to create new materials that will dramatically improve drug delivery, medical diagnostics, clean and efficient energy, computing and more, but they could have significant health and environmental impacts. Using supercomputers, Amanda hopes to predict which nanoparticles will work most efficiently and which could be dangerous.

For her early career achievements in modelling nanoparticles Amanda Barnard receives the 2009 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

Nobel prizes in Physics and Chemistry

The inventor of optical fibres, the veins of modern communication, and the two physicists behind the development of the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor, a Charge-Coupled Device (or CCD), have received the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics.

The development of optical fibres – fine threads of glass that can transmit light – for communication made great strides when Charles Kuen Kao, while working at the Standard Telephones and Cables laboratories in Harlow, UK, realised that light loss could be kept down to acceptable levels by removing impurities in the glass. He calculated that with a fibre of purest glass it would be possible to transmit light signals over 100km, compared to only 20m for the fibres available at the time.  In recognition of Kao’s key developments, he takes half of this year’s prize.

The second half of the prize has been shared between two physicists, Willard Sterling Boyle and George Smith, from Bell Labs in New Jersey, US, for developing an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor. CCD is capable of turning light into electric signals, thereby eliminating the need for film because images can be captured electronically on the device, making the digital camera possible. The CCD became the first truly successful technology for the digital transfer of images.

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, a senior research fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, UK, Thomas Steitz from Yale University, USA and Ada Yonath from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for using x-ray crystallography, a physics-based technique which uses x-rays to determine atomic arrangements, to create a model of the DNA ribosome structure, furthering our understanding of the chemical processes that create life.

Meanwhile, the Ig Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to Katherine Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don’t tip over. The Ig Nobel’s honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes, organised by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative – and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Cathy Foley honoured in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards

The AIP’s immediate past president, and president-elect of FASTS, Cathy Foley, was awarded the NSW Nokia Business Innovation Award in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards last week.

Cathy is a Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO, Australia’s largest government research organisation. As one of Australia’s top applied physicists, she has achieved international recognition in her field, particularly for the commercialisation of systems for mineral exploration.

The prestigious award is primarily for Cathy’s invention of the method to make a highly sensitive magnetic field sensor using a high-temperature superconductor.  This sensor is the basis of the mineral exploration tool, LANDTEM™, for which she led the initial development and commercialisation in collaboration with BHP Billiton and then the Canadian mining company, Falconbridge.  LANDTEM has since been licensed to an Australian start-up company, Outer-Rim Development and has ultimately helped to unearth around $6 billion of new mines worldwide.

As the NSW winner in the Nokia Business Innovation Award category, Cathy is eligible to win the national title in that category. The national awards will be announced on Thursday 12 November.

More info:

Email addresses

For some time the AIP has been able to offer to members email addresses via the UK Institute of Physics. Due to costs of maintaining this service, and the ready availability of free web-based email services such as hotmail and gmail, the IoP is considering whether or not to continue its email service.

AIP members will be informed as soon as any decision is made, but in the meantime it might be prudent for those using email addresses to consider alternatives in case the IoP discontinues the service.

Physics World magazine: free download of the October edition

Find out about the biggest barriers to a low-carbon economy, check out how policymakers use climate models and discover how we could all be connected to a hydrogen SuperGrid, by downloading a free copy of the October issue of Physics World.

The special October edition, published by the UK’s Institute of Physics, focuses on energy and climate change, with the former BP chief executive Lord Browne, who originally trained as a physicist, arguing that the biggest barriers to a low-carbon economy are not scientific or technological but political.

You can also check out how climate models are becoming more useful to policymakers; investigate the materials-science challenges standing between us and clean, long-lasting energy; read about why scientists need to do a better job of alerting the world to the dangers of global warming; and discover how in the future we could all be connected to a hydrogen SuperGrid.

You can download the special issue (68 page, 12MB pdf file) at

Optics and photonics: Physics enhancing our lives

A new booklet from the UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP) explores how fundamental research in physics is delivering practical technologies for everything from optical communications to medical scanning and semiconductor fabrication.

Optics and photonics: Physics enhancing our lives is a 20 page booklet, with six chapters, covering topics such as photonic waterfalls and plasmonics.

The chapter on photonic waterfalls explains why the quantum cascade laser has a bright commercial future, while the perfect image chapter outlines how adaptive optics developed by astronomers are being used in a wide range of applications including security scanning and microscopy. Other topics covered include the use of plasmonics to beat the diffraction limit and how electromagnetically induced transparency could revolutionise optical communications.

It can be downloaded at The file is 4.8MB.

The IOP has also published Physics for an advanced world: A look at the vital contribution that physics research has made to a number of major technological developments. The 44 page booklet has articles on: cancer diagnosis and treatment, DNA and physics, the global positioning system, holography, lasers, liquid-crystal displays, magnetic resonance imaging, optical fibres, the ozone layer, the World Wide Web. Each article starts with an explanation of the technology, followed by sections on the science, applications, current developments and impacts. It also includes a discovery timeline and weblinks. The file is 4.1MB

Retired science teachers wanted (in 2010)

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) needs casual mentors to visit and help schools involved in the Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance (STELR) Stage One Project in 2010.

Successful applicants will need to attend a two-day training seminar with teachers from participating schools.  These seminars will be held in March 2010 in major centres. Mentors will visit each school once while the project is running. There will be approximately 20 days of work for each mentor spread across the year, mostly in terms two and three and most likely in the mentor’s home state.

Travel and accommodation will be provided for the training seminar and the school visits, where needed. Mentors will be paid at the relief teacher rates for the relevant state or territory.

For more details, contact Peter Pentland, STELR Project Manager, or go to

2009 Global Survey of Physicists

I encourage you to participate in the 2009 Global Survey of Physicists.

This is the third in a series of studies of physicists around the globe, and the first in the series to be available in a choice of eight languages. In order to develop a broader picture of the status of physicists, this survey will provide the international physics community with data about the situation of physicists worldwide, as well as focused information on women in physics. Survey responses are anonymous and individual level information will not be shared or made available.

The survey is available at:

International Year of Astronomy

I have listed a number of public lectures (above) that come under the IYA banner, but there is a lot more happening. Don’t forget to check out the IYA website for activities in your state.

Highlights of upcoming activities include:

  • From Earth to Universe – a photographic trip through space, on show at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney until July 2010
  • Hastings Sky Show Spectacular – a three-day sky show spectacular of astronomical events, star parties and exhibitions, Port Macquarie-Hastings, NSW from 5 November
  • 9th Snake Valley Astronomy Camp – four nights of observing and astrophotography (and swimming and fishing), west of Ballarat, Victoria, from 13 November
  • Zircon crystals of Jack Hills and the early history of the Earth – lecture by Simon Wilde about the oldest crystals on Earth, in Perth, 16 November
  • Lunchtime organ recital at St Andrews cathedral – by French astronomer Dominique Proust, Sydney, 20 November. Dominique also plays with the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra on 22 November, Lake Kawana Community Centre, Sunshine Coast, and 28 November, St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane

Also, Perth Mint and Australia Post are offering sets of stamp and coin covers for IYA, featuring astronomical images chosen by astrophotographer David Malin. More info on the IYA website.

Science prizes

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

2010 Kavli Prizes in Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Neuroscience

The biennial Kavli Prizes, one each in Astrophysics, Nanoscience and Neuroscience, recognise scientists for their outstanding research achievements. The international prizes are a partnership between the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and the Kavli Foundation.

Each Prize consists of US$1 million, a medal and a scroll. Nominations are open until 15 December and more info can be obtained from

AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

Vic AIP Education Committee

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

VENUE: Camberwell High School

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

Entries open for 2009 AIP Physics Video Contest

Students in Victorian schools can submit a video demonstrating physics concepts. Teachers may also submit a video in a separate category.

Entries close on 30 October.

For more information go to the events page at Vicphysics.

Engineers without Borders: Appropriate Technology Expo Friday 27 November, Melbourne University

One day of the Engineers without Borders Annual Conference at Melbourne University will be devoted to an Appropriate Technology Expo. This will be Friday 27 November.

In past years they rganizers have invited school students to visit the Expo. This year they want to attract the Year 10/11 age group, especially students who have an interest in the sciences. Senior students who have finished school for the year are able to attend unaccompanied, but the registration still needs to come through the school.

For further details and a registration form go to

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 (AR Building, Room 104) at 6.30pm. Bookings are essential. More info here or contact Carolyn Cliff at or phone (03) 9214 5569.

Date Speaker Title Room
18 November Karl Glazebrook, Swinburne University The origin of galaxies AGSE207

New South Wales

NSW: Wednesday 25 November, 6-8pm, University of Sydney

Book launch

Under the radar: the first woman in radio astronomy – Ruby Payne-Scott by Miller Goss and Richard McGee will be launched in the Great Hall, Main Quadrangle, the University of Sydney on Wednesday 25 November.

Ruby Payne-Scott, alumna of the University of Sydney’s School of Physics was an early pioneer of radio astronomy. Even though she worked on top secret radar projects in World War II she was under surveillance by ASIO. In order to keep working in the days when married women could not have a permanent job in the public service she kept her 1944 marriage to Bill Hall a secret for six years.

The authors and Ruby Payne-Scott’s children, Australian contemporary artist, Fiona Hall and mathematician, ARC Federation Fellow, Professor Peter Hall will talk about Under the Radar and life with Ruby.

More info:

RSVP by Wednesday 18 November to Alison Muir by email or phone (02) 9036 5194.

NSW: Thursday 19 November, 6.30pm, University of Sydney

Public lecture

TITLE: Evidence for murder: how physics convicted a killer

SPEAKER: Rod Cross, University of Sydney

VENUE: Footbridge Theatre, Camperdown campus, Parramatta Road, University of Sydney

Rod Cross will give an account of his physics investigations into the death of Australian model Caroline Byrne, whose body was found at the base of a cliff known as The Gap, a popular suicide spot. Rod’s investigation showed that Caroline was thrown, and this was critical evidence at the trial of Gordon Wood.

RSVP to (02) 9351 3472 or More info here.

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.

Date Time Event
1 November 7-9.30pm Aboriginal astronomy – life under the stars! With Noel Nannup, a laser beam constellation tour and stargazing through telescopes
6 & 7 November From 7pm each night Tom Jones and Jupiter – combine stargazing on Friday 6 November at Gingin Observatory with a Tom Jones tribute show at nearby Willowbrook Farm on Saturday 7 November. Camp overnight. Bookings for the tribute show on (08) 9575 7566.
14 November 7.30-10pm In a galaxy far, far away… Journey beyond the Milky Way with astronomer Peter Birch
22 November 6-9pm BYO telescope class
25 November 7-9pm Seniors’ stargazing night – the marvelous Moon
29 November From 4pm Galileo’s gastronomy – renowned astronomer, Fred Watson will host an afternoon and evening of Galileo and Italy, with a three-course dinner.

WA: Astrofest 2009, Saturday 28 November, 2-10.30pm, Astronomy WA

Astrofest is a huge, free astronomy festival for the general public, featuring portable planetariums, astrophotography exhibitions, talks, stalls, displays, activities, rocketry, solar observing, night sky observing and telescope demonstrations.

Astrofest will be at the Curtin Recreation and Events Centre, Curtin University of Technology (next to Edinburgh Oval, Bentley). More info at AstronomyWA.

WA: LotteryWest-Scitech Big ‘Scope viewing nights, Astronomy WA

Hosted by astronomer Peter Birch, the Big ‘Scope viewing nights provide advice on getting involved in astronomy and viewing from home. View stars and planets with high quality telescopes and discuss what you can see.

Date Title Venue
7 November Darlington Arts Festival Darlington Oval
19 November Big ‘Scopes at Dwellingup Town Centenary TBA
23 November Big ‘Scopes at Northam Northam Senior High School
24 November Big ‘Scopes at Northam St Joseph’s School
25 November Big ‘Scopes at Goomalling Sacred Heart Primary School
30 November Big ‘Scopes at Inglewood Inglewood Primary School
4 December Joondalup Concert Event Joondalup CBD

More info at AstronomyWA.

South Australia

SA: Wednesday 2 December, 6.30-8pm, the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus)

Documentary screening

TITLE: Driven to diffraction

VENUE: The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide

‘Driven to diffraction’ is new documentary about the joint 1915 Nobel Prize winners William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg, whose work across a range of fields has made possible an astonishing list of breakthroughs including Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA, radio therapy for cancer, solid state electronics, modern pharmaceuticals, superconductivity and radio astronomy.

Hosted by John Carver from the School of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Adelaide.

More info on the RiAus website.

Physics activities across the country – seminars

Check the institution websites for any late changes

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

None are currently timetabled.

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
2 November Stan Owocki, University of Delaware What physics sets the upper mass limit of stars?
9 November Chris Tinney, University of NSW TBA
16 November Boyd Blackwell, ANU Future plans for the H1 National Fusion Facility
23 November Robert Kirshner, Harvard University TBA
30 November Mike Wheatland, University of Sydney 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 Patrick Weltevrede

Date Speaker Title
18 November Shea Brown, CSIRO/ATNF Probing large-scale structure with radio observations
9 December Christopher Thom, STScl Where are all the Baryons? Searching for the missing mass in the IGM


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 George Hau on

Date Speaker Title
5 November Shea Brown, ATNF Probing large-scale structure with radio observations
12 November Virginia Kilborne, Swinburne University TBA
17 November, 2pm Robert Kirshner, Harvard University Fundamentals of supernova cosmology
18 November, TBC George Djorgovski, Caltech TBA
19 November Martin Stringer, Durham University Analytic and numerical realisations of a disk galaxy
26 November Serena Bertone, University of California at Santa Cruz The metal line emission of the intergalactic medium in OWLS
3 December John Wise, NASA TBA
8 December Stephane Courteau, Queen’s University, Canada TBA
15 December Arna Karick, Liverpool John Moores ACS Coma Cluster Treasury Survey


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
30 October Andrew Doherty, University of Queensland Nobel Prize in Physics
6 November Ben Upcroft, University of Queensland TBA

QLD: Monday 30 November, 6-7pm, Brisbane Writers Festival in association with BrisScience

Free public talk

TITLE: Opening the door to science

SPEAKER: Len Fisher, Ig Nobel Prize-winning physicist

VENUE: State Library of Queensland, Auditorium 1

Len has captured the public imagination with his personal approach to popular science writing. His books cover topics from the physics of biscuit dunking to the use of the mathematics of co-operation to help resolve resource depletion and global warming.

More info here or contact Lynelle Ross on

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.

None are currently timetabled.

Jobs and Scholarships

PhD Scholarships in Quantitative Marine Science

Up to four scholarships valued at $30,000 per annum are available for a PhD in Quantitative Marine Science at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, in conjunction with CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Suitable students will have a strong quantitative background, for example, in mathematics, physics or statistics, from the physical sciences, life sciences or engineering.

Applications close 30 October 2009.

For more info contact Ms Denbeigh Armstrong, Quantitative Marine Science Program Manager on (03) 6226 2838 or

Two Physicist/Instrument Scientist positions at ANSTO

ANSTO is seeking two new scientists in ion beam accelerator physics (one in accelerator mass spectroscopy and one in ion beam analysis). It will suit post doctoral fellows or PhD students who have submitted their thesis recently, as well as mid-career researchers. Online applications can be made at Closing date is 20 November.

Physics conferences

EPSM-ABEC 2009 Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Conference

Canberra, ACT

08/11/2009 – 12/11/2009

Tenth International Symposium – Frontiers of Fundamental & Computational Physics (FFP10)

Perth, WA

24/11/2009 – 26/11/2009

International Science Education Conference 2009: Science Education – Shared Issues, Common Future

National Institute of Education, Singapore

24/11/2009 – 26/11/2009

Australasian Conference on Optics, Lasers and Spectroscopy and Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology in association with the International Workshop on Dissipative Solitons (ACOLS ACOFT DS 2009)

The University of Adelaide, SA

29/11/2009 – 03/12/2009

AINSE/ANBUG Neutron Scattering Symposium, AANSS 2009

Lucas Heights, Sydney, NSW

07/12/2009 – 09/12/2009

Inaugural Sydney International Workshop on Synergies in Astronomy and Medicine (AstroMed09)

Sydney, NSW

14/12/2009 – 16/12/2009

Sixth International Symposium on the Basic and Application of Plasma Technology

Hsinchu, Taiwan

14/12/2009 – 16/12/2009

Conference on Computational Physics 2009, Taiwan

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

15/12/2009 – 19/12/2009

5th Australasian Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

16/12/2009 – 18/12/2009

NEW The 16th Gaseous Electronics Meeting (GEMXVI)

Murramarang Resort, NSW

31/01/2010 – 03/02/2010

Early bird registration and abstract submission deadlines are Friday 27th November 2009

Biology and Synchrotron Radiation (BSR)

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

15/02/2010 – 18/02/2010

Early bird and abstract deadline is 27 November 2009

Held concurrently with the conference on Medical Applications of Synchrotron Radiation, below

Medical Applications of Synchrotron Radiation (MASR)

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

15/02/2010 – 18/02/2010

Early bird and abstract deadline is 27 November 2009

Held concurrently with the conference on Biology and Synchrotron Radiation, above

2010 International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2010)

Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour

22/02/2010 – 26/02/2009

Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting

Taipei, Taiwan

22/06/2010 – 25/06/2010

Session proposals are open until late October 2009

2010 AIP Congress

Melbourne, Vic

06/12/2010 – 10/12/2010

Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

Our next bulletin, to be sent out at the end of November, will cover December 2009 and January 2010. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Monday 23 November. 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. Email John Daicopoulos 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,