Boas lecture, ANSTO apps, boson books, conferences and the return of Brian Cox: physics in December – January

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics, Bulletins
Boas lecture, ANSTO apps, boson books, conferences and the return of Brian Cox: physics in December – January post image

Posted on behalf of Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

The Australian Research Council announced a new grant round on 8 November, and there were of course winners and losers in this process. I congratulate those in physics who’ve been successful, and particularly the three AIP members who received Australian Laureate Fellowships in July this year.

Earlier in the year I congratulated Lloyd Hollenberg for receiving the 2012 Walter Boas Medal but, as is the tradition, I don’t actually hand it over to him until he delivers a lecture on his work at a Victorian Branch meeting. So his talk on 5 December is a good opportunity to hear more about what he’s been up to. Another chance is at this weekend’s Science, Technology and the Future Conference at RMIT University, where Lloyd will be presenting alongside people like Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty.

And so we round out a big year for Australian physics. This will also be my last bulletin for 2013, as we all take a break around Christmas and New Year. But I’m looking forward to a bright 2014, with many exciting events on the horizon.

In the meantime, best wishes to all AIP members, our friends and their families over the holiday period.

Please note that replies to this email 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

In this bulletin:

Australian Institute of Physics news and events

AIP events

VIC:     Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament
Wed, Dec 4 to Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 6:30pm
Quantum Victoria, Macleod West
Year 10 and 11 students tackle team-based experimental challenges, and present their findings.

2012 Boas Medal Lecture – Lloyd Hollenberg
Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 6:30pm
Hercus Theatre, The University of Melbourne
The AIP is delighted to award Prof. Lloyd Hollenberg (University of Melbourne) his 2012 Boas Medal, which was announced earlier this year. Lloyd will deliver a lecture on his research in quantum sensing and quantum computing, which involved injecting nanodiamond sensors into living human cells to measure magnetic fields with sensitivity and resolution a million times greater than any conventional MRI system. The lecture will start at 6.30pm, with drinks and nibbles from 6pm. Members are also invited to join Professor Hollenberg and the Branch Committee for dinner following the talk. Please reserve your place before Tuesday 3 December by emailing the Honorary Secretary, Kent Wootton, at

AIP AGM and annual Council meeting
Thu, Jan 30 – Fri, Jan 31, 2014
The University of Melbourne
For details, contact the Honorary Secretary, Joseph Hope:

WA:     Hey Mate – where’s my jetpack?
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 6pm
Ross lecture Theatre, UWA
We may still be waiting for the dream of the 60s, our personal jetpack, to come true but other advances in science and technology have given us many things to marvel at and enjoy. Australian Physics has made many great contributions to our lives in the last 50 years. Let’s have a look at some of the highlights and thrills, the motivation and successes.
A show presented by Hans Bachor (ANU) and Patrick Helean (Questacon)

Recognising Queensland’s best Year 12 physics students

Once again this year the AIP Queensland Branch invited schools to nominate students who achieved an A or A+ level in year 12 physics to receive a certificate hand-signed by the Branch Chair. More than 200 of these certificates were sent to roughly 60 schools, many of which made them a significant part of presentation nights.

Feedback from the schools is that the students were thrilled to receive them, with comments like: “Thanks once again for co-ordinating these certificates…they are certainly appreciated by the students and have merit being awarded by a professional body.”

The certificates are a simple, cost-effective way of the AIP maintaining links to schools, especially those in regional areas. Particular recognition should also be given to Mark Young, a Branch Committee member, who has coordinated the whole process for a number of years.

Books for review

John Macfarlane, the book review editor for Australian Physics, is seeking volunteers write a short review (300-500 words) of one of the following books:

  • Magnificent Principia: Exploring Isaac Newton’s Masterpiece, by Colin Pask, 2013, Prometheus Books
  • 40 Years of Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless Theory, edited by Jorge V Jose, 2013, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd

If your review is accepted for publication you may keep the book for your own use. Contact John at if you are interested or want to suggest another book to review.

Other physics news and events

Physics events for the general public, students and teachers


Colin Sheppard: Confocal microscopy: past, present and future
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 6:30pm
Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne free public lecture
Confocal microscopy can image in 3D, with good resolution, into living biological cells and tissue.

Fred Watson: Tourism’s Final Frontier
Mon, Dec 9, 2013, 6pm
Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus, ATC Building, ATC 101
In this entertaining and fully-illustrated talk, Fred Watson outlines what we might see as space tourism evolves into a mainstream branch of the industry.

Mark Kruse: The Universe and the Large Hadron Collider: Is the Truth Really Out There?
Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 6:30pm
Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne free public lecture
This non-technical talk will explain why the LHC is so exciting scientifically beyond the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, its broader importance to society, and what we might expect in the coming years.

Brian Cox returns to Australia with lectures and music

After a sell-out tour in 2013, British particle physicist Professor Brian Cox OBE will return to Australia in October 2014 with a new stage show, Making Sense of the Cosmos.

Hosted by Adam Spencer, this new presentation will take audiences on a dazzling journey through space and time, at times delving into ‘high science’ and at others freewheeling on the edges of the known cosmos.

Tickets will go on sale in early 2014 for shows in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

Brisbane certainly won’t miss out, because from 6–9 November 2014 Brian Cox and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra will combine physics with music in Journey Through the Cosmos.

This orchestral and theatrical event will feature the specially commissioned Voyager Violin Concerto by Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning composer Dario Marianelli, performed by violinist Jack Liebeck, and accompanied by a presentation on the Voyager spacecraft by Professor Brian Cox.

It will also include lectures by physicist Professor Brian Foster and UK music critic Stephen Johnson, and performances with Maestro Johannes Fritsch and the Australian Voices.

Get up to speed with accelerators in January

From 14–16 January 2014 the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne will host two significant events on accelerator physics: the 5th Asian Forum for Accelerator and Detector (AFAD) and the 4th Australian Collaboration for Accelerator Science (ACAS) Workshop on future light Sources.

The special topic for these combined events is X-ray free electron lasers, but sessions will cover the development of a range of other accelerator and detector technologies and their industrial and medical applications.

Also at the Australian Synchrotron and overlapping with these events is the ACAS School for Accelerator Physics 2014 (ASAP2014). This is an accelerator physics school aimed at final year undergraduate and early postgraduate student as well as for professional development.

The school 13–24 January 2013 and will consist of academic lectures given by Prof. Phil Burrows from the John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science at the University of Oxford, as well as hands-on laboratory classes and tutorials.

Rheology conference in July 2014

The 6th Pacific Rim Conference on Rheology, to be held in Melbourne from 20–25 July 2014, will showcase the latest developments in rheological research in the Asia-Pacific region. Over five days scientists and engineers from rheology and related fields will discuss topics including self-assembling systems, gels, glasses and granular materials, polymeric fluids and food and biological rheology.

As the conference is being held by one of our cognate societies, AIP members receive a 10% discount on registration fees. Please note abstracts are due by 6 December 2013.

New chairs at the Perimeter Institute

Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, a supporter of foundational physics research and education, has partnered with the Krembil Foundation to create two new research chairs.

Kevin Costello will hold The Krembil Foundation William Rowan Hamilton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute, while Davide Gaiotto will hold The Krembil Foundation Galileo Galilei Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute.

You can find out more about this announcement and the Perimeter Institutes conference and training opportunities at

Seed grants for National Science Week now open in the ACT

Those interested in doing outreach in the ACT are invited to apply for a seed grant of $500 – $2000 (incl. GST) to support science engagement events, programs and activities conducted between 1 July and 31 October 2014. The ACT National Science Week Coordinating Committee is seeking proposals that will attract new audiences, and actively engage people in National Science Week activities.

To apply, complete and submit the online application form before 5pm AEST, Friday 13 December 2013. Applicants will be notified of their application’s outcome via email before Christmas.

For enquiries, please email or call 02 6246 5432.

ANSTO celebrates its 60th anniversary with apps and an e-book

On 15 April 1953 the Federal Parliament passed the Atomic Energy Act, leading to what is today the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). This year, ANSTO has been celebrating its 60 years of delivering research and nuclear medicines to the Australian public.

To commemorate this milestone, ANSTO has developed an e-book and Apple app that provide a summary of ANSTO’s history, present day achievements and important infrastructure including the OPAL Research Reactor, Centre for Accelerator Science and the Australian Synchrotron.

ANSTO has also produced a fun and interactive app for students called Elementals. Suitable for all levels, there are five games that will familiarise students with the various elements, their atomic numbers and their groups. The app can be downloaded from either the Apple App store or Google Play – just type “ANSTO Elementals” into the search field.

Electronics innovator elected President of the Australian Academy of Science

A pioneer of research in organic electronics, Professor Andrew Holmes, has been elected as the next President of the Australian Academy of Science. He will assume the role after the Academy’s next Annual General Meeting in May 2014.  The presidency alternates between the physical and biological sciences and the term lasts for 4 years.

Professor Holmes is a Laureate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute, a CSIRO Fellow and Distinguished Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the Imperial College London.

“Professor Holmes will lead our Academy with great distinction, energy and integrity,” said the current President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Suzanne Cory.

“As Foreign Secretary, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Academy and its programs, with the deep conviction that Australia’s future prosperity depends on strong research and education in science and mathematics and in further developing international science linkages.”

In the 1990s, Professor Holmes achieved international prominence when, in collaboration with Cambridge physicists in England, the team developed a new class of light-emitting polymers. These polymers transformed technology for televisions and computers with lightweight, super-thin, flexible video screens bright enough to be viewed even in direct sunlight.

Professor Holmes returned to Melbourne in 2004 as a Federation Fellow to establish a laboratory at the then newly established Bio21 Institute. He was instrumental in forming the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium.

Story of the Higgs boson wins science book prize

The Higgs boson has won yet another honour, with The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll being awarded the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize, worth £25,000.

The judging panel were unanimous in their decision, with one member, Dr Emily Flashman, saying, “It takes a difficult subject, makes it interesting, accessible and exciting. It tells the whole story of the experiment to find the Higgs boson.”

Dr Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. His previous books are From Eternity To Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time (2010) and the textbook Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity (2003).



The Director’s Colloquium – Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University
Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 12pm – Detlaf Lohse—Floating on Air

Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

New South Wales

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), Marsfield

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 3:30pm – Michael Burton, UNSW—The Mopra Southern Galactic Plane CO Survey – the formation of molecular clouds

Macquarie University Department of Physics & Astronomy – MQ Photonics Seminar Series

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

School of Physics, University of Sydney

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

School of Physics, University of NSW

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.


Physics colloquia, University of Queensland

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 3pm – Rainer Blatt: TBA
Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 3pm – Christopher Springob: TBA

South Australia

Chemical and Physical Sciences Seminar Series, Flinders University
Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 1pm – Wenjing Angela Zhang: Shaping our Energy Future with Electrospinning
Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 1pm – Lars Kloo: TBA


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 11:30am – Syed Uddin: 18 month PhD thesis review
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 11:30am – Guido Moyano Loyola: 30-month review

Monash Centre for Astrophysics, Monash University
Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 3pm – Peter Williams: TBA

Western Australia

Department of Physics, University of Western Australia
No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.


OzCarbon 2013
1–3 Dec 2013, Melbourne, Vic
Monaco ITER International Fusion Energy Days (MIIFED2013)
2–4 Dec 2013, Monaco
Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF)
3–12 Dec 2013, Hanoi, Vietnam
3rd Journal Conference on Applied Physics and Mathematics (JCAPM 2013 3rd)
6–7 Dec 2013, Sydney, NSW
ANZ Conference on Optics & Photonics (ANZCOP)
8–11 Dec 2013, Fremantle, WA
NEW ASAP 2014 – ACAS School for Accelerator Physics
13–24 Jan 2014, Australian Synchrotron, Melbourne, Vic
NEW The 4th Australian Collaboration for Accelerator Science Workshop: Future Light Sources
14 Jan 2014, Australian Synchrotron, Melbourne, Vic
NEW The 5th Asian Forum for Accelerator and Detectors
15–16 Jan 2014, Australian Synchrotron, Melbourne, Vic
23rd Australian Conference on Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM23) and the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2014)
2 – 6 Feb 2014, Adelaide, SA
38th Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting
4 – 7 Feb 2014, Auckland, New Zealand
2014 VCE Physics Teachers Conference
14 Feb 2014, Melbourne, Vic
International Conference on Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology (ICNN-2014)
3 – 5 March 2014. Karachi, Pakistan
Solar 2014 Conference and Expo
8 – 9 May 2014, Melbourne, Vic
Abstracts are due by 12 November 2013
19th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference/39th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (OECC/ACOFT 2014)
6 – 10 July 2014, Melbourne, Vic
NEW 6th Pacific Rim Conference on Rheology
20–25 Jul 2014, The University of Melbourne, Vic
Joint International Conference on Hyperfine Interactions and Symposium on Nuclear Quadrupole Interactions 2014
21 – 26 Sep 2014, Academy of Sciences, Canberra, ACT


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
  • membership enquiries to the Secretariat
  • 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 Chris Lassig 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 Chris, as above)
  • to receive these bulletins, please email Chris, as above (you don’t need to be a member of the institute).

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