Physics around the country – December 2008

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

From Cathy Foley (AIP President)

Welcome to my December blog.

The highlight of upcoming events is of course the AIP Congress, starting on Sunday in Adelaide. I hope to see you there!

At the Congress dinner, two AIP medals will be presented. I congratulate Judith Pollard who will receive the AIP Education Medal, and Tony Farmer, Tony Murphy and Trevor Macalister who will jointly receive the Walsh Medal.

Many of the plenary speakers at the Congress are also giving external talks, including public lectures by Jocelyn Bell Burnell in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney; a lecture by Michael Geyer in Adelaide; and Alain Aspect will talk at the Victorian AIP meeting. These are among the many events listed in this bulletin.

Looking forward, 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy.  The AIP is keenly interested in the success of this Year. Astronomy is arguably the most accessible of the physical sciences. The program has received federal funding for overall coordination, and programs are under development. The Congress will provide a preview of the year ahead, and there are ways for you to keep in touch and be involved.

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.          AIP Congress

5.          AIP Education and Walsh Medals awarded

6.          AIP Honours scholarships – applications closing 30 November

7.          Honours scholarships in Physics/Nanotechnology at University of Technology, Sydney

8.          Nominations open for the AIP executive – closing 30 November

9.          2009 International Year of Astronomy

10.        Physics conferences

11.        Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

1. AIP events across the country

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, 5pm, 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.


SA: Monday 1 December, 7.30pm, University of Adelaide, SA AIP and Australian & New Zealand Solar Energy Society (SA)

Free public lecture

TITLE: Concentrated solar power on the international scene – worldwide incentives, policies and projects

SPEAKER: Michael Geyer, Abengoa Solar

VENUE: Lecture theatre 1-02, The Napier Building, University of Adelaide, North Terrace

More information:


SA: Wednesday 3 December, 5.30pm, University of Adelaide, AIP

Free public lecture presented by the AIP 18th National Congress

TITLE: Pulsars and extreme physics

SPEAKER: Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford, UK

VENUE: Elder Hall, University of Adelaide, North Terrace

More information:


VIC: Saturday 6 December, 10am-12noon, 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.

More information: Kate Wilkinson at


TAS: Tuesday 9 – Wednesday 10 December, Grote Reber Museum, Tas AIP

TITLE: Professional development seminar for Year 11/12 physics and chemistry teachers on developments in physics, particularly astronomy.

VENUE: Grote Reber Museum, University of Tasmania Mt Pleasant Radio Telescope Observatory, Cambridge.

Register by Monday 8 December.

More information: John Humble (03) 6226 2396 or


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.

More information:

2. Physics activities across the country – general events

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 November, 2.30pm.

Closing date for registration is Thursday 20 November.

More information:


VIC: Monday 1 – Friday 5 December, Melbourne

TITLE: The Asia Oceania week of the Australian Synchrotron

VENUE: Novotel, St Kilda, Melbourne

The AO week incorporates the: Australian Synchrotron science advisory committee meeting; the Australian Synchrotron users meeting; the 3rd AOFSRR Asia Oceania forum 2008; and the Next Generation science workshop.

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


NSW: Tuesday 9 December, 2-3.30pm, Sydney Observatory

TITLE: The discovery of pulsars

SPEAKER: Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford, UK

VENUE: Sydney Observatory

In 1967, young Cambridge UK postgraduate student Jocelyn Bell noticed some interesting ‘scruff’ in the data she was analysing from a radio telescope.

Little blips were occurring on a regular basis that didn’t seem to make sense. At first, these blips were called LGMs – short for Little Green Men – because it was initially thought that perhaps they were a sign of alien communication. Yet upon further research looking at data from other sources, there were far too many of the same sort of scruff coming from lots of places in the sky. It was then determined that these sources were actually rapidly spinning collapsed stars that were sending out radio waves like a lighthouse sends out beams of light, so they are now known as pulsars. Jocelyn Bell’s thesis supervisor Anthony Hewish received the Nobel Prize in physics in part for this discovery.

More information: and bookings (essential): (02) 9921 3485


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: Monday 16 – Wednesday 18 February, Sydney

TITLE: An international workshop in honour of Agnès Acker: Legacies of the Macquarie/AAO/Strasbourg Hα planetary nebula project

VENUE: Australia Telescope National Facility lecture theatre, Marsfield

Major topics covered: PN surveys, the galactic distance scale and PN luminosity functions in our galaxy, the Magellanic clouds and beyond, PN morphology, the PNe population of the galactic bulge and CSPN binarity

Registrations are now open.

More information: or email

3. Physics activities across the country – seminars

VIC: Thursday 27 November, 11.30am, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

TITLE: The origin of the UV upturn in elliptical galaxies

SPEAKER: Philipp Podsiadlowski, Oxford University

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

Upcoming colloquia (11.30am unless otherwise stated):

Friday 28 November, 2-4pm: Tim de Zeeuw, European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), Presentation on ESO with Q&A session

Thursday 4 December: George Hobbs, ANTF

Tuesday 9 December: Joris Verbiest, Swinburne

Wednesday 10 December: Roberto Abraham

Thursday 18 December: Chris Blake, Swinburne

Thursday 26 February: Michael Drinkwater, University of Queensland

Thursday 5 March: Ashley J. Ruiter, Harvard CfA

More information: or Sarah Brough or George Hau on


QLD: Friday 28 November, 4pm, University of Queensland

TITLE: Xerocoat

SPEAKER: Paul Meredith, University of Queensland

VENUE: Parnell Building Room 222, University of Queensland

Upcoming colloquium:

Friday 12 December: Karen Kheruntsyan, University of Queensland – Hubble Theory and experiments with colliding Bose-Einstein condensates

More information:More information: or


NSW: Tuesday 2 December, 4-5pm, School of Physics, University of NSW

TITLE: Quarks, hadrons and the constants of nature

SPEAKER: Craig Roberts, Argonne National Laboratory, USA

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

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


WA: Tuesday 27 January, 3.30-4.30pm, School of Physics, University of Western Australia


SPEAKER: Andre Luiten, University of Western Australia

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

Upcoming seminars:

Tuesday 3 February: Jean-Pierre Macquart, Caltech, USA

Tuesday 10 February: Ivan Baldry, Liverpool John Moores University, UK – Accounting for stellar and baryonic mass in the galaxy population:  checks and balances

More information:, email or (08) 6488 2738


NSW: Wednesday 17 December, 3.30-4.30pm, Australia Telescope National Facility and Anglo-Australian Observatory

TITLE: Pulsar timing and the gravitational wave background

SPEAKER: Joris Verbiest, Swinburne University of Technology

VENUE: ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre

More information: Tobias Westmeier (02) 9372 4622 or


NSW: Monday 1 December, 3.15pm, School of Physics, University of Sydney

TITLE: The 1011 Msun question: massive galaxy formation and the rise of the red sequence

SPEAKER: Edward Taylor, Leiden University

VENUE: Slade lecture theatre, School of Physics A28, Physics Road, University of Sydney

Upcoming colloquia:

Monday 8 December: Dr Peter Papathanasiou, Australian National University – Stem cells: Don’t believe the hype! Believe the science

Monday 15 December: Indra Bains, Swinburne University

More information: Bruce Yabsley (02) 9351 5870, or

4. AIP Congress

It is only days away until the largest gathering of Australian physicists happens in Adelaide at the University of Adelaide. There will be some excellent plenary lectures including Jocelyn Bell Burnell who discovered pulsars and is the new IOP president.

There will be: seven parallel session covering all aspects of physics; a women in physics sponsored forum on work life balance; physics Heads of Department meetings; AIP medals awarded and scholarships awarded at the Congress dinner; public lectures; an outreach program and much more.

It is not too late to register.

More information:

5. AIP Education and Walsh Medals awarded

The winner of the AIP Education Medal is Judith Pollard from the University of Adelaide for the development of university education of physics programs.

The AIP Walsh Medal for industry application of physics has been awarded to Tony Farmer, Tony Murphy and Trevor Macalister from CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering. They were awarded for the development of Plascon used for the plasma destruction of ozone depleting substances and its commercialisation and use internationally.

These medals will be presented at the AIP Awards dinner which is also the AIP Congress Dinner.

6. AIP Honours scholarships – applications closing 30 November

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 are to submit their application to the head of school in their university who will put forward the best candidate for each category to the local branch president. The branch will then select the best in each category and submit these 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.

7. Honours scholarships in Physics/Nanotechnology at University of Technology, Sydney

The Department of Physics and Advanced Materials, at the University of Technology, Sydney, is offering up to eight Honours scholarships, worth $5,000 each, to students undertaking a one-year program for an Honours degree in Physics or Nanotechnology in 2009.

For further information on the scholarships and Honours research projects on offer, please take a look at the Department’s web page (, or contact Cuong Ton-That (

Scholarship applications close on 5th December 2008.

8. Nominations open for the AIP executive – closing 30 November

The AIP Executive’s nominations for the 2009-2010 national executive elected positions are:

President: Brian James

Vice President: Marc Duldig

Hon Secretary: TBA

Hon Treasurer: Judith Pollard

All positions 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. 2009 International Year of Astronomy

One of the major events of the international IYA calendar is the “100 hours of Astronomy” running over 2-5 April. Around the world, public star-gazing sessions will give thousands or even millions of people a chance to look at the sky through a telescope – many of them for the first time. Professional observatories will take part in a 24-hour global webcast. Planetaria, museums and other outreach centres will throw open their doors for special programs.

Details of international events can be found at, under “Global Projects”.

The Australian IYA website is If you have an event planned, please register it on this site.

Helen Sim is the single point of contact for IYA activities. She is coordinating the publicity for events, and also overseeing opportunities for collaboration between people and organisations. For example, if you are hosting an astronomy researcher, she may be able to help you line up speaking opportunities or media coverage for them, or link them in to other activities in your region. She can also provide an IYA logo, for publications or merchandise.

Helen and Niall Byrne will be releasing regular IYA bulletins over the year. If you have some ideas for Helen, contact her on If you would like to receive the IYA bulletins, contact Niall on

10.  Physics conferences

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

The Asia Oceania week of the Australian Synchrotron

Melbourne, Victoria

01/12/2008 – 05/12/2008

22nd Canberra International Physics Summer School

Australian National University, ACT

08/12/2008 – 19/12/2008

33nd Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting

Wagga Wagga, NSW

03/02/2009 – 06/02/2009

2009 VCE Physics Teachers Conference

Monash Uni, Melbourne


Legacies of the Macquarie/AAO/Strasbourg Hα Planetary Nebula project

Sydney, NSW

16/02/2009 – 18/02/2009

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

Our next bulletin will be for February 2009. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Monday 26 January. 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 Friday 19 December for the January/February issue and Friday 13 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.

Kind regards



Dr Catherine P. Foley

President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Phone: + 61 2 9413 7413