Physics in Australia – November 2008

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Welcome to my November bulletin to AIP members.

Coming events include a ‘Physics in Industry’ day in New South Wales and AGMs in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland. Physics seminars are listed at seven different institutions and the other events include a public lecture in Melbourne by Jocelyn Bell Burnell from the University of Oxford, who will also be a plenary speaker at the AIP Congress.

Congratulations to Tanya Monro, AIP member and the 2007/8 Women in Physics Lecturer, who has won the Malcolm MacIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. Tanya is an outstanding physicist and shows that even with a busy schedule of running a research centre and maintaining life balance of work and family, she is able to demonstrate high impact and a significant scientific career.

Congratulations also to Peter Drummond, who has been awarded the 2008 Walter Boas Medal in Physics by the AIP. The Walter Boas Medal is awarded by the Australian Institute of Physics for original research making the most important contribution to physics. Peter has published important theoretical work in relation to ultra-cold atoms and in quantum optics, which has been adopted by a range of experimental groups.

Also in this bulletin: a strategic plan for physics and scholarships for honours students.

We will be sending out membership renewals this month. We are moving to an online payment system where you can pay and update your details online.

I also send this bulletin each month to all AIP members. Thank you for your continuing support of the AIP.

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

If you have any questions or comments on this bulletin, the AIP or physics in Australia, please let me know.

Cathy Foley,

AIP President

In this bulletin:

1. AIP events across the country

2. Physics activities across the country – general events

3. Physics activities across the country – seminars

4. 2008 Walter Boas Medal in Physics awarded to Peter Drummond

5. Tanya Monro awarded Malcolm MacIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

6. “Investing in the future of Physics”: A strategic plan

7. AIP Honours scholarships – open for application

8. Nominations open for the AIP executive

9. 11th AIP Western Australia Postgraduate Conference – report

10. Physics conferences

11. Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

1. AIP events across the country

QLD: Tuesday 4 November, 6-7.30pm, Qld AIP and School of Physical Sciences, University of Queensland

SERIES: Tools of Science Series

A series of meetings for all those fascinated by old scientific instruments.

TITLE: Tools of the Instrument Maker

SPEAKER: Alan Emmerson

VENUE: Room 7-222 St. Lucia campus, The University of Queensland

How were scientific instruments made in previous centuries?

Traditional methods of handwork, which have their roots in medieval practices, peaked in the late 18th century, but often persist to this day. What tools were used to make those beautiful ‘tools of science’?

Alan will discuss techniques used for transforming brass and steel into an instrument and will demonstrate some traditional methods.

For details contact Norman Heckenberg on (07) 3365 3369 or


SA: Wednesday 5 November, 8pm, SA AIP and Astronomical Society of South Australia

TITLE: Dishing up the data: Parkes and space missions

SPEAKER: John Sarkissian, CSIRO Parkes Radio Observatory

VENUE: Kerr Grant lecture theatre, Physics Building, University of Adelaide

Note: arrive before 8pm as the outside doors may be locked after this time.

John will outline the role played by the Parkes Radio Telescope in the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions and its relationship with the stations in the Deep Space Network.

More information:


NSW: Wednesday 12 November, 9am-5pm, NSW AIP

TITLE: Nanotechnology: a catalyst for Australian manufacturing?

2008 Physics in Industry day, with presentations from industry, research organisations and government; laboratory tours and a research poster competition

VENUE: CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, Lindfield, Sydney

How will nanotechnology influence manufacturing in Australia? Does it represent a new paradigm in materials that will drive fantastic, futuristic products or is it destined to be a collection of incremental improvements? Do the benefits outweigh the unknowns?

Early bird rates apply for registrations before 30 October.

More information: or contact Scott Martin (02) 9413 7746 or


QLD: Friday 14 November, 4.15-6.30pm, Qld AIP

TITLE: AGM and postgraduate evening

VENUE: Room 7-222 (Parnell Building) St. Lucia campus, The University of Queensland

The AIP Queensland’s AGM will be followed by brief research presentations by physics postgraduate students from south-east Queensland universities. Light refreshments will be provided

More information


VIC: Thursday 20 November, 6.30pm, Vic AIP

TITLE: Boas Medal Presentation and Lecture; and AGM

VENUE: Hercus Theatre, Melbourne University

The Victorian Branch Annual General Meeting will be followed by the presentation of the 2008 Walter Boas Medal, recognising excellence in research in Physics, to Professor Peter Drummond, Centre for Atom Optics and Ultrafast Spectroscopy, Swinburne University of Technology.
Professor Drummond will present the work for which he was awarded the Boas Medal in a talk titled ‘The coolest place in the Universe’.

At the AGM elections will be held for the branch committee and executive positions.

If you would like to join Peter Drummond and members of the branch committee for dinner following the talk, please RSVP to Gaby Bright at or phone (03) 8344 3768 by Friday 14 November.


WA: Wednesday 26 November, 6pm, WA AIP

TITLE: AGM and dinner

SPEAKER: Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia is the after-dinner speaker

VENUE: The Club, University of Western Australia

More information:


TAS: Thursday 27 November, 5.00pm, Tas AIP

TITLE: The 2008 Nobel Prize in physics – broken symmetry; and AGM

SPEAKER: Bob Delbourgo, University of Tasmania

VENUE: Physics Lecture Theatre 3, Sandy Bay Campus, University of Tasmania

Half the 2008 Nobel Prize for physics went to Y. Nambu “for the discovery of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics”, while the other half was shared by M. Kobayashi and T. Maskawa “for the discovery of the origin of broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature”. Bob will discuss the historical context in which these discoveries were made and the vagaries of the awards.

Bob’s talk at 5.30pm will be preceded by the Tasmanian branch AGM at 5pm.

More information or phone (03) 6226 2725.


VIC: Saturday 6 December, 10am – 12 noon, Vic AIP Education Committee

TITLE: Medical physics in-service at Peter Mac

This is an in-service for Physics teachers, aimed at those who will be teaching the Medical Physics detailed study in 2009, including talks from practitioners and a tour of the facilities at Peter Mac.

There is no cost, but you must register as there is a limit of 20 participants.

Teachers can register by sending their name, school and phone/fax/email details to the Australian Institute of Physics (Victorian Branch) Education Committee at or PO Box 304, Glen Waverley, VIC 3150.  If you are registering by email the subject of your email should read “Booking: Peter Mac In-Service”, otherwise your email may be missed.

In recent years at the end of the in-service, some participants have adjourned to the restaurant in the Fitzroy Gardens opposite Peter Mac for a light lunch.  If you are interested in coming to lunch, please include this in your registration.

For more information about the program, please contact Kate Wilkinson at


VIC: Wednesday 10 December, 6.30pm, Vic AIP

TITLE: Bell’s inequalities and quantum information; plus awarding of the Undergraduate Practical Award

SPEAKER: Alain Aspect, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France

VENUE: Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre, Melbourne University

Drinks and food will be available from 6pm.

2.Physics activities across the country – general events

VIC: Friday 14 November, 9am-3.30pm, University of Melbourne

TITLE: A focus on the ‘New Study Design’ for VCE physics

In-service day for VCE physics teachers

VENUE: Laby Theatre, School of Physics, University of Melbourne

Specialists from a number of universities and institutions will clarify the changes to the year 12 study design, and there will be the chance to inspect some of research projects, resources and equipment.

Register by Friday 31 October.

More information: or contact Cilla Gloger (03) 8344 5124 or


NSW: Thursday 13 November, 6.30pm, School of Physics, University of Sydney

Free public talk

TITLE: The New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt

SPEAKER: Dr Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado, USA

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

Pluto – the planet that used to be. But does that matter? To the scientists behind NASA’s New Horizons mission, Pluto and its moon Charon hold unlocked secrets about ice dwarf planets, the least investigated but most common type of planet in our solar system.

RSVP and more information to 9351 3472 or


VIC: Thursday 20 November, 6pm, Centre of Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Free public talk

TITLE: The astronomical frontier: New opportunities for discovery at the W.M. Keck Observatory

SPEAKER: Taft Armandroff, Director of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii

VENUE: AGSE 207, cnr Wakefield and William Streets, Hawthorn Campus, Swinburne University of Technology

The twin Keck 10-metre telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii have been the largest optical telescopes in the world for more than the last decade. They have been at the forefront of astronomical discovery, through their unrivalled observations of planets around other stars to galaxies seen billions of years back in time.

In this talk, Taft Armandroff, the Director of the Keck Observatory, will look to these powerful telescopes’ future, describing the exciting new discoveries they are poised to make in the next decade and beyond.

More information: email or phone Carolyn Cliff on (03) 9214 5569.


VIC: Thursday 27 – Friday 28 November, La Trobe University, Bundoora

TITLE: STAVCON – the annual conference of the Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria

THEME: Experience, Experiment & Explore science

Including the launch of AccessNano, an Australian nanotechnology resource for secondary schools, by the Hon. Julia Gillard on Friday 28, 2.30pm.

Closing date for registration is Thursday 20 November.

More information:


VIC: Monday 8 December 6.30-7.30pm, University of Melbourne

Public lecture

TITLE: Our universe in poetry, pictures and music

SPEAKER: Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford, UK

VENUE: Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne

A reflection on the astronomical topics and themes presented in poetry, music and the arts throughout the ages, along with an explanation of the astronomy.

More information:,-pictures-and-music


ACT: Monday 8 – Friday 19 December, ANU Centre for Complex Systems and the ARC Complex Open Systems Research Network, Canberra

TITLE: Complex physical, biophysical and econophysical systems

The 22nd Canberra International Physics Summer School

The 2008 Summer School covers a wide range of topics in complex physical, biophysical and econophysical systems. The Summer School brings together leading international and Australian experts in complex systems science to provide students with a broad introduction to this exciting field.

The Summer School is targeted towards 3rd and 4th year undergraduates, Masters and PhD students and professional researchers. The level of exposition will be senior undergraduate or beginning postgraduate. We welcome participation by students from both Australian and foreign institutions.

Students will also become part of the ARC Complex Open Systems Research Network (COSNet) which provides links to researchers around Australia and the world.

All intending participants must register by November 10th. Early registration is advised as places are limited.

For detailed information and to register go to:


VIC: Friday 16 January 2009, 11am, Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields, Ballarat

TITLE: Acoustics from the musician’s perspective

SPEAKER: Lamberto Tronchin, University of Bologna

More information and to purchase tickets:


NSW: Saturday 5 – Thursday 9 April 2009, Sydney

TITLE: PECS VIII – The 8th photonic and electromagnetic crystal structure meeting

VENUE: Dockside Venue, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney

Photonic and electromagnetic crystals offer unprecedented control of photons and have emerged as an important new class of optical materials. Continued developments in the analysis and calculation of photonic crystals, as well as rapid advances in nano-fabrication techniques, have enabled us to design and prototype ever more intricate and functional photonic crystal structures and devices.

In PECS-VIII, we will review the significant advances in the field and, most importantly, discuss future directions of photonic crystal research.

Abstract submission is open until Friday 5 December 2008. Registrations will open soon, but you can already register your interest in the conference.

For details go to


WA: Monday 24 November – Wednesday 26 November, 2009 University of Western Australia

TITLE: Tenth International Symposium – Frontiers of Fundamental & Computational Physics (FFP10), Perth

VENUE: School of Physics, University of Western Australia

For over a decade the International Symposium Series Frontiers of Fundamental Physics has attracted some of the greatest physicists in the world as well as many other physicists.  The broad objective of the series has been to enable scholars working in slightly different areas to meet on a single platform and exchange ideas and status reports and even dissenting views.

The areas covered have included astronomy and astro physics, particle physics, theoretical physics, gravitation and cosmology, computational physics and related areas. The symposia have been held in India, Italy, Spain and Canada.

Abstracts can now be submitted; closing date is Monday 24 August, 2009. Registration will open late 2008. For more information or contact John Hartnett or phone (08) 6488 7013.

3. Physics activities across the country – seminars

VIC: Thursday 6 November, 11.30am, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University


SPEAKER: Ned Taylor, Leiden University

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

Thursday 13 November: Krzysztof Bolejko, Melbourne University – Large scale inhomogeneities acting like dark energy

Friday 21 November: Taft Armandroft – Progress and Prospects at the W.M. Keck Observatory

Tuesday 4 December: George Hobbs, ATNF  – TBA

More information or


QLD: Friday 7 November, 4 pm, University of Queensland

TITLE: Hubble space telescope and Hectospec study of the Coma cluster and its galaxy population

SPEAKER: Terry Bridges, Anglo-Australian Observatory

VENUE: Parnell Building Room 222, University of Queensland

Upcoming colloquium:

Friday 12 December: Karen Kheruntsyan, UQ – Theory and experiments with colliding Bose-Einstein condensates

More information: or


NSW: Tuesday 18 November, 4 -5pm, School of Physics, University of NSW

TITLE: Quantum information science with photons on a chip

SPEAKER: Jeremy O’Brien, University of Bristol, UK

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

Upcoming colloquium:

Friday 21 November: Luis Orozco, University of Maryland, USA – What we know about Francium

More information: Adam Micolich or (02) 9385 6132 or


WA: Tuesday 4 November, 3.30-4.30pm, School of Physics, University of Western Australia

TITLE: A long overdue synthesis image of Centaurus A


VENUE: Room 2-15, School of Physics, University of Western Australia

Upcoming seminars:

Tuesday 11 November: Lister Staveley-Smith, UWA – How to be a radio astronomer

Tuesday 18 November: Andre Luiten, UWA – TBA

More information or (08) 6488 2738


NSW: Tuesday 4 November, 11am-12noon, Australia Telescope National Facility and Anglo-Australian Observatory

TITLE: CII and OII recombination lines in the optical spectra of HII regions (and a brief report on the current status of the 10m GTC telescope at La Palma).

SPEAKER: Cesar Esteban, IAC, Tenerife, Spain

VENUE: ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre

Upcoming seminars:

Wednesday 26 November: James Green, ATNF – TBA

Wednesday 10 December: Karl Glazebrook, Swinburne University of Technology – Red nuggets at high-redshift. The diminutive early history of elliptical galaxies

Wednesday 17 December: Joris Verbiest, Swinburne University of Technology – Pulsar timing and the gravitational wave background
More information: Tobias Westmeier (02) 9372 4622 or


NSW: Monday 3 November, 3.15pm, School of Physics, University of Sydney

TITLE: Low Coherence Interference Microscopy: A Versatile 3D Imaging Technology for Applications in Material Science and Biomedicine

SPEAKER: Maitreyee Roy, National Measurement Institute, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

VENUE: Slade lecture theatre, School of Physics, University of Sydney

Upcoming colloquia:

Monday 10 November: Renae Ryan, University of Sydney – Structure and function of a glutamate transporter homologue

Monday 17 November: Jeremy O’Brien, University of Bristol, UK – Quantum information science with photons on a chip

Monday 24 November: Manfred Stamm, Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden, Germany – Functional polymers at nanoscale: single molecules, brushes and nanodots

More information: Andrew Hopkins (02) 9351 7688, or


VIC: Saturday 7 November 1-2.30pm, School of Physics, University of Melbourne

TITLE: Theory Seminar: Flavor physics in a warped extra dimension

SPEAKER: Matthias Neubert, Mainz University, Germany

VENUE: Geoff Opat Seminar Room (360), School of Physics, University of Melbourne

More information:

4. 2008 Walter Boas Medal in Physics awarded to Peter Drummond

The AIP Boas Medal Selection Panel has unanimously recommended the award of the 2008 Walter Boas medal to Peter Drummond, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum-Atom Optics, and Centre for Atom Optics and Ultrafast Spectroscopy, Swinburne University of Technology.

The Walter Boas Medal is awarded by the Australian Institute of Physics for original research making, in the opinion of the examiners, the most important contribution to physics. This is judged in papers published during the four years immediately preceding the date on which entries for the award close.

Peter’s research dealing with many-body problems, particularly in relation to ultra-cold atoms and in quantum optics, has led to the development of new theoretical calculations in both fields. This theoretical work has been characterised by testable predictions and consequently Peter’s work has been adopted by a range of experimental groups.

Peter will be awarded the medal and give a talk at the Victorian AIP AGM on Thursday 20 November.

5. Tanya Monro awarded Malcolm MacIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year

Optical fibres are the backbone of the internet, carrying vast amounts of data across cities, countries and oceans. Without them global communication would be more expensive and much slower.

Tanya Monro’s research has contributed to their performance. But she thinks that optical fibres can do much, much more for humanity. She’s dreaming of aircraft that know when they’re getting metal fatigue; water plants that react within seconds of cryptosporidium entering the water supply; tractors that know how much fertiliser every metre of the field needs; and wearable sensors that detect certain proteins or viruses.

Tanya leads a team of over 20 researchers at the Centre of Expertise in Photonics at the University of Adelaide. She and her colleagues have created a new class of optical fibre using soft glass. These holey optical fibres have thousands of potential applications in industry, health, agriculture and defence.

For her leadership in photonics Tanya Monro receives the 2008 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year.

More information:

6. “Investing in the future of Physics”: A strategic plan

The Australian Academy of Science National Committee for Physics is joining with the Australian Institute of Physics to formulate a strategy for Physics based on an open consultation with the physics community in Australia.

The aim is to create a report that highlights the key issues for Physics in Australia and to provide both a snapshot of where physics currently stands and the opportunities available to the discipline over the coming decade.

We will hold a briefing forum at the AIP Congress in 2008 and consult with researchers throughout 2009.  The final report will be completed in late 2010. It is vital, not just for the success of this endeavour but also for the health of our discipline that you as a physicist participate in this exercise and have your say.

The full details of this announcement are on the AIP web-site at

7. AIP Honours scholarships – open for application

Two honours scholarships will be available this year.

One scholarship will be merit only based of the value of $10,000. This is funded by a generous donation from an AIP member and AIP funds.

A second scholarship is being sponsored by CSIRO. It is again merit based but has the additional requirement that the student have some interaction with CSIRO either by joint supervision or time spent undertaking research in a CSIRO division during the term of their project.

Applications will close at the end of November.

Applicants submit their application to the head of school in their university. They put forward the best candidate for each category to the local branch president. The branch selects the best in each category and submits to the AIP executive by mid December. The AIP executive will select the best application from each category and winners will be notified by the end of December.

8. Nominations open for the AIP executive

The AIP Executive is nominating for the 2009-2010 national executive elected positions:

President: Assoc Prof. Brian James

Vice President: Dr Marc Duldig

Hon Secretary: TBA

Hon Treasurer: Dr Judith Pollard

All position are now open for others to be nominated. Nominations should be submitted in writing with the nominee’s approval, a nominator and a seconder to Dr Cathy Foley who is the returning officer ( by 30 November 2008.

We are seeking people for the roles of secretary, policy development officer and a new role of early career/student position. The policy development officer and early career/student role are ex-officio members. If you are interested in nominating contact Cathy Foley on

9. 11th AIP Western Australia Postgraduate Conference – report

The WA AIP branch held a successful and enjoyable Postgraduate Research Conference at Jarrahdale in September. There were over 45 participants with 29 students delivering technologically-savvy presentations on a broad range of subjects, including: super-sensitive geophysical devices, a means to measure dust in the Magellenic stream, magnetic properties of red blood cells, mathematical models of radiation therapy as well as modelling LNG hydrodynamics in storage chamber as well as talks regarding gravitational wave detection, high stability oscillators, and ferrofluids.

Andre Luiten, for the WA AIP, thanks the AIP for its support in holding this conference which promotes the AIP and its activities to the student population.

10. Physics conferences

28th International Congress on High-Speed Imaging and Photonics

Canberra, ACT

9/11/2008 – 14/11/2008

STAVCON – the annual conference of the Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria

La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic

27/11/2008 – 28/11/2008

18th National AIP Physics Congress

Adelaide, South Australia

30/11/2008 – 05/12/2008

22nd Canberra International Physics Summer School

Australian National University, ACT

08/12/2008 – 19/12/2008

See article above

33nd Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting

Wagga Wagga, NSW

03/02/2009 – 06/02/2009

2009 VCE Physics Teachers Conference

Monash Uni, Melbourne


Brighter Deeper Greener – Geophysics in a Changing Environment

Adelaide, South Australia

22/02/2009 – 26/02/2009

PECS VIII – The 8th Photonic and Electromagnetic Crystal Structure Meeting

Sydney, NSW

05/04/2009 – 09/04/2009

The Many Faces of Centaurus A

Sydney, NSW

28/06/2009 – 03/07/2009

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

Perth, WA

24/11/2009 – 26/11/2009

11. Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements for next month’s bulletin. Our next submission deadline is Tuesday 25 November. 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 next deadlines are Saturday 20 December for the January/February issue and Friday 20 February for the March/April issue. Email John Daicopoulos on


For more information on physics events visit and click on ‘physics events’ or on your state branch.