Physics in February 2010: very large radio telescopes, 50 years of lasing and the AIP AGM

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 February 2010 and beyond.

The AIP year always starts with our AGM and Council.

The AIP AGM will be held in the Hercus Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne at 6 pm on Monday 8 February, followed by a talk by Prof. Peter Hannaford entitled ‘Fifty years of Lasing and how it all happened’. All members are warmly welcomed.

The AIP Council (the executive, immediate past president and branch chairs) is meeting in Melbourne on Tuesday 9 February. Representatives of AIP groups and cognate societies also attend. Issues to be discussed include a membership campaign and enhancement of the AIP website. These are major goals for 2010. We will also discuss cooperating with the Australian Optical Society activities in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first successful operation of a laser. Please contact me on if you have any issues that you would like raised.

In other upcoming activities the AIP explores very large radio telescopes in Hobart and the speed of light and particle astronomy in Sydney.

The AIP is pleased to be a technical supporter of ICONN – the International Conference of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology – in Sydney from 22 February.

And we can look forward to a packed program of talks around Australia later this year by Elizabeth Winstanley, University of Sheffield, UK, who is the 2010 AIP Women in Physics Lecturer. She’ll speak to school students, scientists and the general public.

In more news about the Space Science Program, the Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, recently announced the appointments to the Space Industry Innovation Council (Space IIC).

Read more below.

The transfer of our secretariat from Materials Australia to Waldron Smith Management is now complete. The process of transferring credit card operations has caused a delay in member’s accounts being billed for annual subscriptions. This should have occurred by the time you receive this bulletin. Members can rest assured that their continuity of membership and earlybird discount are not affected by this delay.

After two years as editor of Australian Physics John Daicopoulos is leaving, having overseen the transfer to full colour and improvements in design and content (at reduced cost!). Over the next few issues John will transfer responsibility to the new editor Paulo de Souza. Paulo is particularly interested in the possibilities of integrating internet media features with the printed journal. Best wishes and thanks to John; welcome to Paulo.

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, 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. Renew your AIP membership for 2010

3. AIP Women in Physics Lecturer for 2010

4. International Conference of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

5. Astronomy storybook

6. Space Science Program – updates

7. StatPhys24 – update and extension of early bird deadline

8. Registrations now open for CSIRO ATNF teacher workshops in 2010M

9. Science prizes

10. AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

11. Physics activities across the country – general

12. Physics activities across the country – seminars

13. Physics conferences

14. 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


TAS: Thursday 11 February, 8pm, University of Tasmania and Tas AIP

Public lecture

TITLE: Creating a Radio Telescope the Diameter of the Earth

SPEAKER: Alan Whitney, MIT Haystack Observatory

VENUE: Physics Lecture Theatre 1, University of Tasmania

Alan will explore the world of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), where individual telescopes can be spread out over very large distances to create the equivalent of a single very large telescope. He will discuss the many aspects of VLBI including a pre-view of exciting instruments planned to be built in Australia and elsewhere.

Note that the University of Tasmania is also holding a VLBI conference from 7 – 13 February (see Conference listings).


VIC: Monday 8 February, 6 pm

National AIP Annual General Meeting. All members are invited to attend.

VENUE: Hercus Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne

VIC: Monday 8 February, 6.30pm (following the AGM)

Vic AIP branch meeting

TITLE: Fifty years of Lasing and how it all happened

SPEAKER: Peter Hannaford, Swinburne University

VENUE: Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Parkville

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the laser: fifty years since Ted Maiman from Hughes Research Labs surprised the world with the first operating laser – a pulsed ruby laser. From a “solution looking for a problem”, the laser has evolved into one of the revolutionary inventions of our time, with a myriad of applications – in communications, surgery, manufacturing, microfabrication, the military, surveying, metrology, entertainment, scientific research…….  Peter will trace the controversial events leading to the invention of the laser and the race to build the first laser; the amazing advances subsequently made in laser technology; and the impact lasers are currently having on our lives.

Renew your AIP membership for 2010

You can now renew and manage your AIP membership, or sign up as a new member, online at Click the link under ‘Renew or Update your AIP Membership’.

You will have received a membership renewal email with your password just before Christmas.

To pay by credit card over the phone, call Sharon at Waldron Smith Management on (03) 9645 6311. If you have any queries about AIP membership matters, contact Waldron Smith Management on

AIP Women in Physics Lecturer for 2010

The AIP Women in Physics Lecturer for 2010 has been announced. Professor Elizabeth Winstanley, Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Sheffield (UK) is an outstanding physicist who has a reputation as an enthusiastic and inspiring speaker, at both ‘technical’ and ‘general’ levels.

Her lecture topic will be “Mini black holes and the Large Hadron Collider”. Lectures will be presented around Australia to school students, scientists and the general public during July and August, 2010. Further details will be advised later in the year.

International Conference of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

The AIP is pleased to be a technical supporter of ICONN – the International Conference of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology – in Sydney from 22 February.

Cathy Foley reports that, “This conference is shaping up to be a wonderful exposé of the latest developments in nanoscience and nanotechnologies. We have eight fabulous plenary speakers, 45 invited speakers, eight symposia, a public forum on ‘What are the big issues about small technologies?’, receptions, an exhibition, a conference dinner dance, launches, excursions, school events, four short courses and a bumper number of earlier career scientists as well as senior researchers all coming together to share their latest research from nanomaterials, devices, applications, and safety”.

More details at

Astronomy storybook

Put your astronomy in front of the world’s science journalists, astronomy decision-makers and the public.

Niall Byrne, of Science in Public, invites you to nominate stories and people for inclusion in Stories of Australian Astronomy.

He is producing this magazine-style collection of short astronomy stories in collaboration with the International Year of Astronomy and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Thanks to financial support from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and the International Year of Astronomy in Australia, you do not have to pay to be included in the publication.

Stories of Australian Astronomy will include stories which:

  • highlight Australia’s rich history of achievement in astronomy
  • showcase the breadth of talent amongst our astronomy – including the next generation – current PhDs and post-docs
  • demonstrate the benefit of involving Australia in the world’s big astronomy projects.

Contact Niall on 0417 131 977 or with your ideas for stories to be included, by Wednesday 10 February.

Space Science Program – updates

The Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, announced the appointments to Australia’s newly established Space Industry Innovation Council (Space IIC) on Wednesday 20 January.

Drawn from industry, research, defence and government, the Space IIC will advise the Government on building Australia’s capabilities in space science and technology.

The committee members are:


  • Dr Rosalind Dubs


  • Mr Brett Biddington, Chair, Australian Space Industry Chamber of Commerce (ASICC)
  • Mr Chris Jenkins, Managing Director, Thales Australia
  • Mr Paul Sheridan, Director Satellites, Optus
  • Dr Terry Stevenson, Chief Technology Officer, Raytheon Australia
  • Dr Ben Greene, Chief Executive Officer, Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited
  • Rob Lorimer, Position One consulting
  • Dr Susan Anderson, R&D Tax Concession Manager, BAE Systems
  • Dr Philip Diamond, Chief, CSIRO Astronomy & Space Sciences Division
  • Professor Peter Hall, Professor of Radio Astronomy Engineering and Director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy
  • Professor Andrew Parfitt, Pro Vice Chancellor, Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the Environment, University of South Australia
  • Ms Naomi Mathers, Research Scientist & Program Developer, Victorian Space Science Education Centre
  • Dr David Nayagam, Astronaut candidate with the European Space Agency
  • Dr Roger Lough, former Chief Defence Scientist
  • Dr Sue Barrell, Observations and Engineering Branch, Bureau of Meteorology
  • Dr Chris Pigram, Chief of Division, Geospatial and Earth Monitoring Division, Geoscience Australia
  • Dr Michael Green, General Manager Innovation and Space, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

StatPhys24 – update and extension of early bird deadline

The StatPhys24 organising committee is very pleased to announce some recent developments for the 24th StatPhys conference, being held in Cairns, Qld, from 19-23 July 2010. The line-up of plenary and invited speakers will feature two Nobel Prize winners as well as a Fields Medallist and numerous other distinguished speakers from around the world. The confirmed plenary speakers for StatPhys24 are R. Baxter, M. Cates, S. Ciliberto, B. Eynard, D. Fisher, M. Freedman, W.Ketterle, H. Nishimori, S. Sachdev, M. Wang and C.N. Yang. Please visit our website for a list of all invited speakers and further information about the conference and its numerous satellite meetings being held throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Also note that StatPhys24 now has extended its early bird registration deadline to Monday 1 March 2010.

Registrations now open for CSIRO ATNF teacher workshops in 2010

Astrophysics for physics teachers, Marsfield, Friday 26 March

This is a one-day workshop held at CSIRO ATNF Marsfield headquarters, Sydney on Friday 26 March 2010. It covers the theory required for parts of the Cosmic Engine core topic and Astrophysics option for the NSW Stage 6 Physics syllabus although the content is also suitable for teachers from other states. A range of professional astronomers discuss techniques used in modern astronomy and what their observations reveal about the Universe. Participants discuss practical ideas for addressing syllabus requirements with their students and receive a range of useful resources including software and other material. The cost is $80.

More details and registration:

Astronomy from the ground up! Parkes observatory, 14 – 16 May

Astronomy from the Ground Up! is an annual three-day workshop held at the Parkes Observatory, in the shadow of “The Dish”. The 2010 workshop runs from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 May. It targets the requirements of junior science syllabi from around Australia whilst also providing depth and enrichment for teachers of senior physics. Teachers meet professional astronomers, hear lectures on different aspects of astronomy including some of the latest discoveries and tour the radio telescope. Emphasis is placed on practical and hands-on activities to take back and use in the classroom. Explore the wonderful dark night skies through optical telescopes. Participants also receive an extensive range of resources.

More details and registration:

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 will open on 10 February and 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

For 12 years Fresh Science has selected the cream of early career scientists with discoveries 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.

2007 Freshie Dr Tu’uhevaha Kaitu’u-Lino went on to win the $10,000 Cosmopolitan Fun, Fearless, Female, Woman of the Year.

We will open nominations for Fresh Science 2010 in early February. 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 at

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. The last meeting was on Tuesday 2 February. All teachers are welcome to attend.

VENUE: Camberwell High School

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

Support for new physics teachers

The AIP Vic Education committee offers an in-service program and a mentor scheme to support new physics teachers.

More information on the VicPhysics website.

2010 Physics Teachers Conference, 5-6 February 2010, AIP, STAV

This annual conference is organised by the Education Committee of the Vic Branch of the AIP, and administered by the Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria.

The conference, at Monash University, Clayton, includes day and evening sessions, a physics oration by Andrew Melatos, University of Melbourne, and 50 workshops over five sessions.

The conference is now open for bookings. More info at the Vic Branch Education Committee website and book on the STAV website.

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
February 18 Let’s start with a big bang…astrophysics VCE Unit 1, study 3.1, 3.2
March 4 The Greeks and the English….Aristotle and Newton! 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.

VCE Physics days at Luna Park

The VCE Physics Days next year are Tuesday 2, Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 March.  To make a reservation contact Luna Park by phone on (03) 9525 5033 or fax to (03) 9534 5764, or mail to Luna Park at PO Box 1083, St Kilda South, Victoria, 3182.  A confirming deposit will be required by Friday 12 February.  The cost of the day is unchanged at $20.95 per student, with teachers free.  The VicPhysics website, has details of the worksheets and arrangements for each of the days.

AIP Travelling Scholarship for 2010

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

None are currently timetabled.

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 February 7.30-10pm Taurus stargazing night
7 February 7.30-10pm Zadko stargazing night
13 February 7.30-10pm Mars with Peter Birch
14 February 6-9pm Valentine’s day – romancing the stars!
19 February 7.30-10pm Global warming – the science
21 February 6.30-9.30pm BYO telescope class
5 March 7-9.30pm Gemini zodiac stargazing

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

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

None are currently timetabled.

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
10 February Nick Tothill Mapping Southern Molecular Clouds – from AST/RO to NANTEN2
3 March Natasa Vranesevic Galactic Distribution and Evolution of Pulsars
10 March Maik Wolleben, NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics GMIMS – The Global Magneto-Ionic Medium Survey


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 February TBA TBA
11 February TBA TBA
18 February TBA TBA
25 February Julia Scharwaechter, RSAA, Australian National University TBA
4 March Mike Gladders, University of Chicago, USA TBA
11 March Max Pettini, IoA, Cambridge University, UK TBA


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

None are currently timetabled.

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.

Physics conferences

2010 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 5-6 February 2010

Monash University, Clayton, Victoria

05/02/2010 – 06/02/2010

Now open for registration

NEW The 6th IVS General Meeting

IVS is an international collaboration of organisations which operate or support Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLB I) components

University of Tasmania, Hobart

07/02/2010 – 13/02/2010

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

NEW 3rd Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference (CHAOS2010)

Chania, Crete, Greece

01/06/2010 – 04/06/2010

Abstract submission deadline extended to 30 January 2010

Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting

Taipei, Taiwan

22/06/2010 – 25/06/2010

Session proposals are open until late October 2009

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 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

Deadline for abstract submission is 1 March 2010

NEW Statphys 24

Cairns, Queensland

19/07/2010 – 23/07/2010

Early bird registration until 1 March 2010

20th International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2010)

Sydney, Australia

23/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

Deadline for abstract submission is 22 February 2010, early registration before 28 May 2010

International Conference on Earth and Space Sciences and Engineering (ICESSE 2010)

Sydney, NSW

10/11/2010 – 12/11/2010

Deadline for paper submission is 31 July 2010

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 February, will cover events in March 2010. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Wednesday 24 February. 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 10 February. 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,