Physics around the country – May 2009

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Welcome to my monthly email to AIP members.

Coming up in May: plasmas, orreries, musical wind instruments and particles in AIP events around the country.

Astronomy features at the Sydney Writers Festival and in talks in Sydney, Melbourne and the ACT. And there are teacher development courses covering nanotechnology, astronomy and astrophysics. All these and more below.

Please consider if you know people who would be eligible for several science prizes closing shortly.

I am keen to see a strong field of physicists applying for Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, in particular the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. This $50,000 prize recognises early achievers. Nominations for the Prime Minister’s Prizes close on Friday 8 May.

Nominations for the Eureka Prizes and the L’Oreal Australia fellowships both close on Friday 1 May.

More information on these, and the AIP’s own awards below.

Please also consider completing the 2009 Professional scientist remuneration survey. The survey is confidential and is a good opportunity for us to gain a better understanding of changing employment trends in the physics field. It is at

The AIP’s executive is meeting in Melbourne next Wednesday, 29 April. Amongst the issues we’ll be discussing are progress with the on-line membership system and further development of our website.

If there are any issues you want to bring to the executive please let me know.

The 2009 executive members are:

Please contact me if you are interested in the vacant special project officer position. We are particularly seeking a member who will assist with development of our website and other on-line presences.

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

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. 2009 Professional scientist remuneration survey

5. Science prizes

6. International Year of Astronomy activities

7. Jean Laby inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2009

8. Physics conferences

9. Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

AIP events across the country

NSW: Tuesday 28 April, 5.30 and 7pm, NSW AIP and The University of Sydney

The meeting of the NSW AIP will have two speakers, Bruce Yabsley at 5.30pm and Joe Wolfe at 7pm.

FIRST TITLE: How to get beyond the standard model

FIRST SPEAKER: Bruce Yabsley, University of Sydney

Bruce will review three experimental approaches seeking to complete the standard model of particle physics: increased the energy of colliding beams (as at the Large Hadron Collider), increasing the intensity of beams and using neutrinos. Australian physicists are involved in all three.

SECOND TITLE: The acoustics of musical wind instruments – and of musicians

SECOND SPEAKER: Joe Wolfe, University of New South Wales

Joe introduces some of the interesting effects, including chords, produced in woodwind instruments by the interaction of the acoustic waveguides of the instrument and the player’s vocal tract. He will describe how the player’s vocal tract can affect timbre and pitch of different instruments.

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

Upcoming meetings at 6.30pm (refreshments from 6pm):

Tuesday 26 May: Barry Allen, St George Clinical School – From stellar nucleosynthesis to cancer therapy; what is the link?

Tuesday 23 June: Bryan Gaensler, University of Sydney – The magnetic universe revealed through radio polarimetry

More info: Frederick Osman

ACT: Thursday 30 April, 6pm (refreshments from 5.30pm), ACT AIP and Women in Physics

Women in Physics program

TITLE: To planets or just to the shops: plasmas pave the path

SPEAKER: Christine Charles, AIP Women in Physics lecturer 2009, Australian National University

VENUE: Seminar room P25 (G02), PEMS South, Australian Defence Force Academy

More info: or contact David Weisser or (02) 6125 2080

VIC: Tuesday 12 May, 5-7pm, Vic AIP Education Committee

Committee meeting of the VIC AIP Education Committee. All teachers are welcome to attend.

VENUE: Camberwell High School

More info: Sue Grant at

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: The orrery

SPEAKER: Norman Heckenberg

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

In honour of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, this talk will deal with orreries, telluria, planetaria, cometaria, and other mechanical models of the solar system. Norman Heckenberg is director of the Physics Museum at The University of Queensland and designed the orrery used in the sci-fi movie Pitch Black.

Upcoming talks:

Tuesday 2 June: John Mainstone – 150 years of Queensland science

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

More info: Norman Heckenberg on (07) 3365 3369 or or the website

VIC: Thursday 21 May, 6.30pm, Vic AIP Branch

TITLE: Showcasing early career researchers

SPEAKERS to be announced

VENUE: Swinburne University

More info: Scott Wade

Physics activities across the country – general

NSW: Thursday 30 April, 6.30pm, University of Sydney and the Royal Society of NSW

TITLE: Pollock Memorial Lecture: The universe from beginning to end

SPEAKER: Brian Schmidt, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Australian National University

VENUE: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney, Camperdown campus

Brian will talk about dark matter and dark energy, two mysterious substances which make up 96% of the universe. New experiments at Mt Stromlo should give us a better understanding of these dark forms, and predict the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

More info: RSVP to (02) 9351 3383 or

VIC: Thursday 30 April, 7pm, Monash University

Public lecture and astronomical viewing

TITLE: Journey into a black hole: the universe through Einstein’s eyes

SPEAKER: Leo Brewin, Monash University

VENUE: S3 lecture theatre, Monash University

The talk will be followed by a public astronomical viewing session starting at approximately 8pm.

Bookings are recommended. Contact Doris Herft (03) 9905 4465 or

WA: Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 May, Scitech

TITLE: IYA2009 Astronomy WA Space Camp

An Astronomy WA Space Camp will be held for teachers and secondary students from Western Australia and beyond to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy and to encourage awareness and understanding of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

More info: here or contact Pete Wheeler at or (08) 9215 0830

VIC: Saturday 9 May, 7.30-9pm, University of Melbourne

Free public lecture

TITLE: The dark side of the universe: beyond stars and the starstuff we are made of

SPEAKER: Michael S. Turner, University of Chicago, USA

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

More info or contact Stuart Wyithe

NSW: Monday 18 – Sunday 24 May, Sydney Writers Festival 2009

The Sydney Writers’ Festival (18 to 24 May 2009) is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy with a series of eight events:

  • Explore quantum theory and Einstein’s general theory of relativity with astronomer and author Marcus Chown and fellow star gazer Fred Watson.
  • Get lost in parallel universes – could you meet your identical self in an identical world? Astronomers explore the paradoxes of the latest cosmology theories in a Café Scientific session with ABC radio.
  • Ask anything of News Scientist cosmology consultant Marcus Chown in an open forum.
  • Take your children to Black Holes, Wormholes and Vomit Balls in space for insights into life on in earth and in space. Delve into the world of Black Holes, Wormholes and Vomit balls in space – cosmologist Marcus Chown gives an insight on how some scientists think life on Earth came from Mars on board a meteorite – so you could be a Martian! Especially for children.
  • Be inspired by the notebooks of 18th century astronomer William Dawes, which led Kate Grenville to write her bestselling novel The Lieutenant. Then view the night sky at Sydney Observatory.
  • Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy with Auburn Poets and Writers Group. Their multilingual performance explores the sky as an inclusive space, and probes a planet they experience differently beneath one sky.

More info:

ACT: Wednesday 27 May, 6-7pm, Australian National University

Public lecture

TITLE: Origin of the elements of life

SPEAKER: Timothy C. Beers, Michigan State University, USA

VENUE: DNF Dunbar Physics Lecture Theatre, Building 39, Daley Rd

More info: or contact Maxine Whittaker or (02) 6125 7676

VIC: Wednesday 27 May, Australian Office of Nanotechnology, DIISR

TITLE: AccessNano teacher professional development

VENUE: CSIRO Science Education Centre, Graham Road Highett

This is a one-day workshop for teachers to learn how to use AccessNano ( as a resource to incorporate nanotechnology into their lesson plans.

More info: and bookings on (03) 9252 6387

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 one of the first to see the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition.

For bookings please contact Scienceworks museum on (03) 9392 4819.

More info:

NSW: Sunday 12 – Saturday 25 July, Science Foundation for Physics, University of Sydney

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

VENUE: University of Sydney

Up to 140 of the brightest and most highly motivated Year 11 & 12 students from around Australia and nine other countries will stay on campus and experience two weeks of lectures, workshops and special activities. This is a scholarship program where all in-country student costs are covered by the Science Foundation for Physics.

Applications close on Friday 3 April.

More info:

Physics activities across the country – seminars

VIC: Thursday 30 April, 11.30am, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

TITLE: The Anglo-Australian planet search: selection effects, new planets & long winter nights

SPEAKER: Simon O’Toole, Anglo-Australian Observatory

VENUE: Swinburne Virtual Reality Theatre, AR Building, Room 104, Hawthorn

Upcoming colloquia:

Thursday 14 May: Geraint Lewis, University of Sydney – TBA

Friday 15 May: Andy Green, Swinburne University – 18 months PhD review

Thursday 28 May: Ingrid Stairs, University of British Columbia, Canada – Searches for new pulsars

Thursday 4 June: Raquel Salmeron, Australian National University – TBA

More info: or George Hau on

VIC: Tuesday 28 April, 12noon-1pm, School of Physics, University of Melbourne

TITLE: Simulating electron spectroscopy for biological molecules

SPEAKER: Feng Wang, Swinburne University

VENUE: Hercus Theatre, David Caro Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville

Upcoming colloquia:

Tuesday 26 May: John Love, Australian National University – Optical fibres: yesterday, today and tomorrow

More info:

QLD: Friday 1 May, 4-5pm (refreshments from 3.30pm), Physics Department, University of Queensland

TITLE: Quantum coherence and decoherence in nuclear collisions

SPEAKER: Mahananda Dasgupta, Australian National University

VENUE: Parnell Building Room 222, University of Queensland

Upcoming colloquia:

Friday 8 May: Tim Duty, University of Queensland – TBA

Friday 15 May: Austin Lund, Griffith University – TBA

Friday 22 May: Warwick Bowen, University of Queensland – TBA

Friday 29 May: Matthew Davis, University of Queensland – TBA

More info: or

WA: Tuesday 12 May, 3.30-4.30pm, School of Physics, University of Western Australia


SPEAKER: Robert Braun, Australia Telescope National Facility

VENUE: Physics Lecture Room 2.15, Physics Building, University of Western Australia

More info: or (08) 6488 2738.

NSW: Friday 1 May, 4-5pm, School of Physics, University of NSW

TITLE: Separating the universal from the particular in strongly correlated metals

SPEAKER: Ben Powell, University of Queensland

VENUE: School of Physics Common Room, Room 64, Old Main Building

Upcoming colloquium:

Monday 4 May: Ilya Eremin, Max-Planck Institut für Physik komplexer Systeme, Dresden, Germany – Superconductivity at dawn of the iron age: pairing fluctuations and competing orders

More info: Adam Micolich (02) 9385 6132 or

NSW: Monday 27 April, 3.15pm (refreshment from 3pm), School of Physics, University of Sydney

TITLE: Fabrication and measurement of nanodiamonds for quantum and biological science

SPEAKER: James Rabeau, Macquarie University

VENUE: Slade Lecture Theatre, School of Physics A28, University of Sydney

Upcoming colloquia:

Monday 4 May: Tim Duty, University of Queensland – Artificial atoms, microwave quantum optics and quantum nano-mechanics using nano-structured superconducting circuits

Monday 11 May: James Lloyd, Cornell University, USA – TBA

Monday 18 May: Ben Powell, University of Queensland – Insights into the quantum many-body problem from measured ratios

Monday 25 May: Robert Scholten, University of Melbourne – TBA

More info: Bruce Yabsley (02) 9351 5970, or

NSW: Tuesday 5 May, 3.30-4.30pm, Australia Telescope National Facility

TITLE: A novel approach to finding B-modes in CMB polarization

SPEAKER: Siddharth Malu, The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India

VENUE: ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre

Upcoming colloquium:

Wednesday 6 May: Andy Fruchter, Space Telescope Science Institute, USA – TBA

More info: Patrick Weltevrede or

2009 Professional scientist remuneration survey

For the past 2 years APESMA and FASTS have cooperated to produce an annual professional scientists remuneration survey. The 2009 survey is now open and I encourage you to take 5-10 minutes to fill out the online survey. No identification is necessary and all information will remain strictly confidential and used in aggregate form only.
The survey is at the following link:
The survey is a good opportunity for us to gain a better understanding of changing employment trends in the physics field.
The survey is open for completion until Friday, 15 May 2009. General results will be made available in June.

Science prizes

Please consider if you know people who would be appropriate candidates for the following science prizes. I’m particularly keen to encourage a strong field of physicists for the Prime Minister’s Prizes – they are a powerful tool for bringing science achievements to the attention of the Prime Minister and his colleagues. Nominations for the Prime Minister’s Prizes close on 6 May. The L’Oréal Fellowships close on 1 May as do the Eureka Prizes.

I’ve also listed the AIP’s awards.

We’re currently finalising the details for some of these. Nominations close from 30 June onward. I’ll provide further details on each prize in future bulletins.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science have a $500,000 prize pool.

The major prize, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, is worth $300,000 to the recipient. This and two of the other prizes are particularly relevant to physicists: the $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year and the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools.

Please consider if you know early career achievers who would be suitable nominees for the McIntosh Prize.

Applications close on Friday 8 May.

More info:

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

The Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research & innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism & communication.

There are 21 prizes on offer this year – most come with a $10,000 prize and several target early career researchers.

Applications close on Friday 1 May.

More info:

L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science fellowships

The L’Oréal For Women in Science Fellowships offers three $20,000 fellowship for post-doc women no more than five years past their PhD, excluding periods of maternity leave.

Applications close on Friday 1 May.

Further details at:

AIP medals, prizes and awards

The AIP awards prizes for outstanding work in physics in a number of different fields. Listed below are some of the prizes coming up in the next few months:

  • Bragg Gold Medal for the best PhD thesis by a student from an Australian University (closing 1 July 2009)
  • 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)
  • Walter Boas medal for physics research carried out in the last five years (closing 1 August 2009)
  • AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia, which recognises the contribution made to physics by people outside research (closing 1 August 2009).

Find more information on all of these awards at the AIP 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:

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.

Closing dates are 1 May (citations) and 10 July (program and teaching awards).

More info:

Jean Laby inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2009

The late Jean Laby (1915-2008) was one of Australia’s pioneer atmospheric physicists, and in 1959 she became the first woman to receive a PhD in physics at the University of Melbourne. Her work on climate change and pollution laid the foundations for our understanding of the earth’s climate.

Jean Laby was one of 20 women inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women this year by Maxine Morand MP, Minister for Women’s Affairs.

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

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.

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

University of Melbourne, Vic

20/09/2009 – 25/09/2009

Abstracts are due by 30 April; early bird registration closes 25 May. 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

Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

Our next bulletin will be for June 2009. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Friday 22 May. 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 May/June issue the deadline is Monday 11 May and 29 June for the July/August issue. 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