Physics around the country – June 2009

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Welcome to my monthly email to AIP members. This month AIP activities include Ziggy Switkowski on nuclear energy, Bryan Gaensler on radio polarimetry and John Mainstone on science in Queensland. Public lectures cover wind energy with David Wood and solar energy with Martin Green, and I also list some significant events coming up in July including the Parkes Observatory open day and the July lecture series in physics at the University of Melbourne.

The recent federal budget was very positive for science. Of direct relevance to physics were the announcement of a space science program, an SKA science centre in Perth, additional facilities for the Australian synchrotron and the OPAL reactor, an accelerator science centre at ANSTO and continued funding for the Anglo-Australian observatory when the UK leaves the partnership in 2010.

FASTS is holding budget briefings around Australia this week and next. The AIP is a member of FASTS (the Federation of Australian Science and Technology Societies) and AIP members are welcome at this briefings. Details below.

This monthly bulletin is our main method of sharing news within the AIP community, but now we are moving into the social networking age with AIP groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. The forums allow discussion and networking, so the information flow is not just one way.

Senior high school physics students have a few days to enter the Australian Aerospace Competition and register for the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum. This will be of particular relevance to those considering a future in the aerospace industry.

I encourage young physicists who have recently completed their PhD to consider nomination for the AIP Bragg Gold Medal. Each university is able to nominate one person to their AIP state branch. The closing date is 1 July.  Also, the AIP South Australia branch Excellence in Physics Teaching Award (secondary level) is open for nominations until Friday 19 June and the AIP is calling for nominations for the Walter Boas Medal and the Outstanding Service Award.

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 activities across the country – general

3.          Physics activities across the country – seminars

4.          Network with other physicists on Facebook and LinkedIn

5.          FASTS budget response and workshops

6.          Australian Youth Aerospace Forum and Australian Aerospace Competition

7.          So you think you can tell your research story

8.          Media training for scientists – 20% discount to AIP members

9.          Astronomical Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting

10.        Science prizes

11.        Physics conferences

12.        Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

AIP events across the country

VIC: Thursday 11 June, 7pm (refreshments from 6.30pm), Vic AIP and The Royal Society of Victoria

Public lecture

TITLE: Nuclear energy in perspective in 2009

SPEAKER: Ziggy Switkowski, Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

VENUE: The Royal Society of Victoria, 8 La Trobe St, Melbourne

Ziggy’s presentation will trace the growing importance of nuclear technology around the world, examine the concerns with its use, and conclude that nuclear power cannot be excluded if Australia is to meet its energy and climate change targets.

RSVP essential by 12 noon Tuesday 9 June 2009 to or (03) 9663 5259. Cost of refreshments is $20 (pay on the night).

VIC: Tuesday 16 June, 5-7pm, Vic AIP Education Committee

The Victorian AIP Education Committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month. All teachers are welcome to attend. At this meeting the Committee will be preparing its review of the VCE Physics June exam.

VENUE: Camberwell High School

More info: Sue Grant at

NSW: Tuesday 23 June, 6:30pm (refreshments from 6pm), NSW AIP

TITLE: The magnetic universe revealed through radio polarimetry

SPEAKER: Bryan Gaensler, University of Sydney

VENUE: Slade Lecture Theatre, School of Physics, University of Sydney

Refreshments are available from 6.00 pm. Entrance is free.

More info: Frederick Osman on

QLD: Tuesday 19 May, 6-7pm, The Physics Museum, Qld AIP and School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Qld

Tools of Science series

TITLE: 150 years of Queensland science

SPEAKER: John Mainstone

VENUE: Room 222 Parnell Building, St Lucia campus, University of Queensland

John will discuss science in Queensland from the first ‘gentlemen’ scientists who accompanied James Cook to the technology explosion of today. Yet, in the self-proclaimed ‘Smart State’, most senior school students regard physics, maths and chemistry as no-go areas.

Upcoming talks:

Tuesday 28 July: Neil Boucher – The 1909 Nobel Prize: G. Marconi and K. Braun

Tuesday 18 August: Lindsay Ball – Pocket calculators

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

Physics activities across the country – general

ACT: Tuesday 2 June, 6-7pm (refreshments from 5.30pm), Australian Academy of Science

Public lecture in the ‘Australia’s renewable energy future’ series

TITLE: Wind energy: How it works and where is it going?

SPEAKER: David Wood, Priority Research Centre for Energy, University of Newcastle

VENUE: Shine Dome, Gordon Street, Canberra

More info at the AAS website or email or phone (02) 6201 9642.

VIC: Thursday 4 June, VSSEC, Melbourne Planetarium and CSIRO ATNF

TITLE: Teaching astronomy & astrophysics in the IYA

VENUE: Scienceworks Museum, Melbourne

VSSEC (Victorian Space Science Education Centre) and the Melbourne Planetarium have joined with the CSIRO ATNF (Australia Telescope National Facility) to offer a full day Teacher Professional Learning program which explores resources for teaching astronomy & astrophysics, and programs offered by the participating organizations. Participants will be amongst to see the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition.

More info at the VSSEC website. For bookings please contact Scienceworks museum on (03) 9392 4819.

VIC: Sunday 21 June, 11am, Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 Devices and Applications

Public lecture

TITLE: Solar energy for a sustainable future

SPEAKER: Martin Green, University of New South Wales

VENUE: Level 2 Corryong Rooms, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

More info at the Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 website.

VIC: Friday 3 July, 8pm, School of Physics, University of Melbourne

July lecture series for the International Year of Astronomy

TITLE: Galileo’s astronomical telescope invention and his remarkable discoveries: moons, stars and a new planet

SPEAKER: David Jamieson, School of Physics, University of Melbourne

VENUE: Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne (adjacent to the School of Physics)

Upcoming lectures:

Friday 10 July: Brian Boyle, Director, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility – The Square Kilometre Array

Friday 17 July: Matthew Colless, Director of the Anglo-Australian Observatory, NSW – The Giant Magellan Telescope – 400+10 years after Galileo

Friday 24 July: Reinhard Genzel, Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Germany) & Dept of Physics, University of California, USA – The supermassive black hole at the centre of the Galaxy

More info at the School of Physics: events website.

VIC: Monday 6 July, Astronomical Society of Australia

Annual Harley Wood public lecture, and part of the program for the Annual Scientific Meeting of the ASA

TITLE: Australian Indigenous astronomy

SPEAKER: Ray Norris, Australia Telescope National Facility

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

More info at the scientific meeting website.

VIC: Thursday 9 July, 6-7.30pm, Australian Academy of Science and University of Melbourne

Public lecture

TITLE: Excellence in Australian Science – Australian Academy of Science New Fellows’ and Medalists’ Symposium

SPEAKERS: Newly elected Victorian Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science together with this year’s medal winners will give brief presentations about their work.

VENUE: Lecture Theatre GM15, Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham St, Carlton

More info on the University of Melbourne: events website or contact Kerry Grieser on or (03) 8344 9866.

SA: Friday 17 July, Mars Society Australia

Public lecture

TITLE: Results of the Phoenix mission to Mars and analog sites on Earth

SPEAKER: Chris McKay, Planetary Scientist, Space Science Division, NASA Ames

Dr Chris McKay of NASA Ames will open this year’s Australian Mars Exploration Conference (AMEC2009) with a public lecture on the findings of NASA’s recent Phoenix Mission.

More info on the Mars Society website.

NSW: Saturday 18 – Sunday 19 July, CSIRO Parkes Observatory

TITLE: CSIRO Parkes Observatory Open Days

VENUE: Parkes Observatory

The CSIRO’s Parkes Observatory is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. On 21 July 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the surface of the Moon. The television pictures of this historic event were received by the CSIRO Parkes telescope and relayed to 600 million people.

Parkes will be hosting open days on the weekend of 18-19 July. The open days will showcase the achievements of the Parkes Radio Telescope as a world-leading astronomical telescope as well as its roles in supporting some of the most significant space missions in history.

More info on the open day website or email the Parkes Observatory Visitors Centre

Physics activities across the country – seminars

Check the institution websites for any late changes

VIC: Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing holds regular colloquia 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
28 May Ingrid Stairs, University of British Columbia, Canada Searches for new pulsars
4 June Raquel Salmeron, Australian National University TBA
11 June Stefan Gottloeber, University of Potsdam TBA
18 June Michael Cooper, University of Arizona TBA
25 June Alan Brito, Swinburne University TBA
2 July Kai Noeske, Harvard 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

Date Speaker Title
29 May John D. Harvey, University of Auckland Similaritons in optical fibres
12 June Smriti Mahajan, University of Birmingham TBA
WA: School of Physics, University of Western Australia

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

Date Speaker Title
29 May Christine Charles, Australian National University To planets or just to the shops, plasmas pave the path
30 June Gerhardt Meurer, Johns Hopkins University TBA
NSW: School of Physics, University of NSW

The School of Physics holds regular colloquia on Tuesdays from 4-5pm in the School of Physics Common Room, Room 64, Old Main Building, University of NSW. More info here or contact Adam Micolich (02) 9385 6132 or

Date Speaker Title
2 June James Jackson, Boston University Snakes in the plane: High-mass star formation in filamentary infrared dark clouds
9 June Simon Ellis, University of Sydney TBA
16 June Steven Sherwood, University of NSW Heat stress, humidity and climate change
NSW: School of Physics, University of Sydney

The School of Physics hold 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
1 June Sebastian Juraszek, Tony Monger, George Shan, and Sue Yang, University of Sydney IT support at the School of Physics: Update
15 June Ben Eggleton, University of Sydney Nonlinear optics on the nanoscale: towards terabit optical processors
22 June Kieran Larkin, CISRA Are fingerprints holograms?
Friday 26 June Gavin Rowell, University of Adelaide TBA
6 July Rosie Hicks, Australian National Fabrication Facility The Australian National Fabrication Facility – What can it do for me?
NSW: Australia 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
3 June Michelle Cluver, California Institute of Technology The nature and nurture of a starburst supermassive HI galaxy: HIZOA J0836-43
17 June Tatiana Vasyunina, Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy TBA
22 July Ingrid Stairs, University of British Columbia TBA

Network with other physicists on Facebook and LinkedIn

The AIP has recently established itself on two networking sites: Facebook and LinkedIn. The Facebook site is open to any interested people, while the LinkedIn group is restricted to AIP members only.

Facebook has a discussion board, a wall for posting comments, photos and links, a listing of members and lots more. Personal Facebook pages can only be seen by people that you have accepted as a Facebook ‘friend’, unless you choose to allow greater access.

LinkedIn has traditionally focussed on professional networking, especially for seeking jobs. User profiles focus on career experience and skills, making it a good way make new contacts with colleagues or possible employers or employees. Your profile on LinkedIn is included in search engines such as Google.

LinkedIn has recently added more social networking features and now has discussion boards, news listings and a tab for listing jobs.  As well as joining the AIP LinkedIn group, you can make connections will others individually and keep up with professional activities.

Both of these networking sites will work best with the active participation of their members. They are a forum to get into contact with other physicists, discuss issues, advertise events and jobs and read or post news. In both sites, users can control the amount and type of information they receive or send out.

Please visit these sites and join in:

  • Facebook is at You will need to have a Facebook account, which is free and can be set up with your email address and a password of your choice. Then just search for the Australian Institute of Physics group and become a member.
  • LinkedIn is at All you need to do is search on the LinkedIn site for the Australian Institute of Physics group and ask to become a member. Please use the same email address as that in your AIP membership profile. It will help us quickly verify that you’re an AIP member.

FASTS budget response and workshops

The Federal Government announced a number of significant reforms in the budget in response to the Bradley and Cutler reviews. University teaching, research grants, performance measures and tax incentives for industry research and development are all affected.

President of FASTS, Ken Baldwin, described the budget as exceptional for science and innovation and well above expectations. Expenditure in 2009/10 will be 25% higher than expenditure in 2008/9. Read the full media release on the FASTS website.

FASTS is holding a series of free workshops for its members (which includes AIP members) to outline the key announcements, identify areas requiring consultation and provide an opportunity to shape FASTS’ response and priorities.

The upcoming meetings, which include a light lunch, are:

Canberra, Friday 29 May, Noon – 2pm
Leonard Huxley Theatre, in the Leonard Huxley Building, ANU
Building #56, Map grid B4

Brisbane, Monday 1 June, Noon – 2pm
University of Queensland – room TBC

Sydney, Tuesday 2 June, Noon – 2pm
Science meeting Room, Room 450, Level 4
Carslaw Building
Building F07, Map grid 19L

Perth, Wednesday 3 June, Noon – 2pm
Seminar Room G35
Ground floor, Molecular & Chemical Sciences Building
University of Western Australia.

Adelaide, Thursday 4 June, Noon – 2pm
Council Room, 5th Floor, Hawke Building
City West Campus, North Terrace
University of South Australia.

RSVP to Bradley Smith at or (02) 6257 2891 or mobile 0408 511 261

Meetings have already been held in Melbourne and Hobart.

Australian Youth Aerospace Forum and Australian Aerospace Competition

The first ever Australian Youth Aerospace Forum will be held 6-10th July, 2009 at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane. The forum will give 100 senior high school students nationwide the opportunity to gain unparalleled exposure to the aviation, aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical industries through presentations, practical experiments, activities, tours and social events.

Applications are due by Monday 1 June. More info on the forum website.

The forum and the Queensland University of Technology are running the first Australian Aerospace Competition, open to year 12 students. Students must answer the following question in 150 words or less:

Imagine a 747 plane is sitting on a conveyor belt, as wide and long as a runway. The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. The pilot performs normal take off procedure. Can the plane take off?

Applications close Monday 1 June. The best answer will win entry into the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum.

More info on the competition website.

So you think you can tell your research story

AMP is looking for PhD students to participate in their Technology on Tap Open Mic Night at Circular Quay, Sydney, on Tuesday 23 June. The challenge is to present your complex PhD research in a simple and accessible way to non-academics. The audience and a panel of academics and business people will choose a winner who will walk away with a $5,000 grant towards their research.

More info on the Technology on Tap website.

Media training for scientists – 20% discount to AIP members

Science in Public is offering AIP members a 20% discount for the Science in Public’s media training for scientists workshops in Melbourne on 9 June, 15 July or 20 August. The discounted price is $520+GST.

This practical media training workshop will help you feel comfortable with the media and help you get your message out as accurately as possible. Working journalists from television, radio and newspapers will interview you and will also discuss how science stories are treated in the media.

More info at Science in Public: media training or contact Niall on or (03) 9398 1416.

Astronomical Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting

The Astronomical Society of Australia is holding its 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting at the University of Melbourne from Sunday 5 to Thursday 9 July. Ray Norris will give the annual Harley Wood public lecture, on ‘Australian Indigenous astronomy’ on 6 July (details above).

The scientific meeting is preceded by the Harley Wood Winter School, from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 July, which brings honours and postgraduate students together with Australian and international experts in astronomy and astrophysics. The Harley Wood Winter School is being held in Geelong.

Late registration is open until Friday 19 June.

More info at the conference website.

Science prizes

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

I’ve also listed the AIP’s awards.

2010 Bragg Gold Medal for excellence in physics (AIP)

The Bragg Gold Medal is awarded annually to the student who is judged to have completed the most outstanding PhD thesis under the auspices of an Australian university.

The thesis must have been approved between 1 June 2008 and 1 July 2009. Each university may submit one candidate. Nominations from the universities must reach the Secretary of the local state AIP branch by 1 July 2009. This award will be announced in 2010.

For further information see the AIP website: Bragg Gold Medal or contact Olivia Samardzic, Honorary Secretary, at or phone 0410 575 855.

2009 Walter Boas Medal (AIP)

The Walter Boas Medal was established to promote excellence in research in physics and to perpetuate the name of Walter Boas (University of Melbourne 1938-47, CSIRO 1947-69). The award is for physics research carried out in the five years prior to the date of the award, as demonstrated by both published papers and unpublished papers prepared for publication.

Nominations should reach Olivia Samardzic, Honorary Secretary, at or by mail at 205 Labs, EWRD, DSTO, P.O. Box 1500, Edinburgh, SA 5111 by 1 September 2009.

For further information see the AIP website: Walter Boas Medal or contact Olivia Samardzic as above or phone 0410 575 855.

2009 Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia (AIP)

The AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics recognises an exceptional contribution on the part of an individual who gives great amounts of time and effort to the furtherance of physics as a discipline.

Nominations should reach Olivia Samardzic, Honorary Secretary, at or by mail at 205 Labs, EWRD, DSTO, P.O. Box 1500, Edinburgh, SA 5111 by 1 September 2009.

For further information see the AIP website: Outstanding Service or contact Olivia Samardzic as above or phone 0410 575 855.

AIP Women in Physics Lecturer

The AIP Women in Physics Lecturer, a woman who has made a significant contribution to physics will give a series of lectures to a non-specialist audience to interest students in studying physics (closing 31 July 2009). More details in the next newsletter.

AIP South Australia branch Excellence in Physics Teaching Award (secondary level)

The SA branch of the AIP will present the Excellence in Physics Teaching award to an outstanding secondary teacher of physics in South Australia or the Northern Territory. The award consists of a medal and $1,000.

Nominations close on Friday 19 June 2009.

More info on the SA branch website.

Australian Academy of Science prizes

The Australian Academy of Science offers several awards for scientific excellence. Three are of particular interest to physicists:

  • AAS Frederick White Prize for scientists in Australia whose research has contributed, or could contribute, to community interests, rural or industrial progress or the understanding of natural phenomena (closing 31 July 2009)
  • AAS Matthew Flinders Medal and Lecture for physical science research by early scientific researchers who are fellows of the Academy (closing 31 July 2009)
  • AAS Pawsey Medal for outstanding research in physics by scientists under 40 years old (closes 31 July 2009).

More info on the AAS awards website.

Australian University Teaching Awards

The Australian Learning and Teaching Council offers a number of awards and citations recognising teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to student learning.

The closing date for the program and teaching awards is 10 July.

More info on the ALTC awards website.

Physics conferences

Nanophotonics Down Under 2009 Devices and Applications

Melbourne Convention Centre, Vic

21/06/2009 – 24/06/2009

The Many Faces of Centaurus A

Sydney, NSW

28/06/2009 – 03/07/2009

Harley Wood Winter School

Geelong, Vic

03/07/2009 – 05/07/2009

The Astronomical Society of Australia Inc. Annual Scientific Meeting

Melbourne, Vic

05/07/2009 – 09/07/2009

5th International Conference on Advanced Vibrational Spectroscopy (ICAVS5)

Melbourne, Vic

12/07/2009 – 17/07/2009

35th Professor Harry Messel International Science School: ISS2009 Genes to Galaxies

Sydney, NSW

12/07/2009 – 25/07/2009

9th Australian Mars Exploration Conference (AMEC2009)

Adelaide, SA

17/07/2008 – 19/07/2009

Register before Sunday 31 May for the ‘early bird’ discount.

The Elizabeth and Frederick White Conference on Nuclear Astrophysics

Australia Academy of Science’s Dome, Canberra

24/8/2009 – 25/8/2009

11th International Symposium on Radiation Physics (ISRP-11)

University of Melbourne, Vic

20/09/2009 – 25/09/2009

The workshop below is held in conjunction with this symposium.

Workshop on advances in analytical techniques in geology, conservation science, forensic science, border technology, biomedical & other applications

University of Melbourne, Vic

26/09/2009 – 27/09/2009

This workshop is held in conjunction with the symposium above.

10th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI09)

Melbourne Convention Centre, Vic

27/09/2009 – 02/10/2009

International Conference on Physics Education (ICPE) 2009

Bangkok, Thailand

18/10/2009 – 24/10/2009

Shanghai International Congress and Exhibition on Renewable Energy 2009

Shanghai, China

22/10/2009 – 24/10/2009

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

Abstracts are due by Monday 1 June

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

Online registration will be available from August 2009

Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

Our next bulletin will be for July 2009. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Tuesday 23 June. Please send your submissions to Margie Beilharz from Science in Public on or (03) 9398 1416.

And the AIP’s journal, Australian Physics, welcomes your articles. The deadline for the July/August issue is 29 June. 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,