Science in Cabinet, the Eurekas and the next Brian Cox: physics in October

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics, Bulletins
Science in Cabinet, the Eurekas and the next Brian Cox: physics in October post image

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

Now that the federal election is over, things are starting to settle down and, while “Science” no long has its own named Cabinet seat, my own perception is that we may have a strong friend of science in Ian Macfarlane as the new Industry minister. I met with Mr Macfarlane twice last year—he visited us at ANSTO, and joined Science Meets Parliament, and he showed a keen and educated interest in a wide variety of research issues.

I’ve had less interaction with Christopher Pyne who now controls the ARC within the education portfolio. His appointment has been welcomed by Universities Australia.

Your executive will work through Science and Technology Australia to watch developments and lobby the new government on behalf of the physical sciences.

Plans are well underway for the 2014 AIP Congress in Canberra (with John Howard as Conference chair and Joe Hope chairing the Program Committee, both from ANU).  We have also won our bid to hold the 13th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference in Brisbane in 2016, in conjunction with the AIP’s own biennial conference.

Our friends at the Australian Optical Society are also meeting in December for their annual conference and celebrating 30 years of support for optics research.

The AIP executive will meet in Brisbane on Thursday 17 October, after which Vice-President Warrick Couch and I will meet the Queensland organisers of the 13th Asia Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Congress (both will be held in Brisbane in 2016). Our visit will include a tour and lunch with local members and other physicists on the 17th.

For those keen to reach out beyond the physics community: grants are now open to fund next year’s National Science Week projects; and the search is on for the next TV star physicist—Australian documentary-maker Sonya Pemberton is looking for a female physicist to host her next international TV series.

Finally, congratulations to Lloyd Hollenberg and his team from the University of Melbourne, who won one of the popular and high-profile Eureka Prizes—for Interdisciplinary Scientific Research. It was also lovely to see the students from Beauty Point Primary School in Sydney win for their excellent video on the science of friction.

Read on for more details, more news and a full list of events and competitions.

Please note that replies to this email go to Science in Public, who send the bulletin out for me. You can contact me directly on, and there is a comprehensive list of contact details at the end of the bulletin.



Rob Robinson

President, Australian Institute of Physics

Follow the AIP on: Facebook      Twitter @ausphysics       LinkedIn (AIP members only)

In this bulletin:

NSW:  Pollock Memorial Joint Lecture with the Royal Society of NSW
Michelle Simmons: The Future of Computing – Manipulating Atoms
Wednesday 23 October, 6.00-8.30pm
Eastern Ave Auditorium, University of Sydney (TBC)
Physics in Industry Day
Thursday 7 November, from 8.30am
CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, Lindfield

UNSW Student Experiment Symposium, with the winners of the AIP/UNSW High School Physics Experiment Competition 2013

Friday 15 November, 3pm

School of Physics, UNSW Kensington campus, and Australia-wide by teleconference
Martin Green: The physics of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar energy conversion
Tuesday 19 November, 2pm – NSW AIP Branch 2013 Postgraduate Awards, AGM, guest speaker and Annual Dinner, University of Sydney and Buon Gusto

QLD:   Women in Physics lecturer, Prof Elisabetta Barberio, visits Queensland in October:

Tuesday 22 October, 2pm – The mysteries of particle physics, All Hallows’ School, Brisbane (school event)

Tuesday 22 October, 6.30-7.30pm – Big Questions, Big Facilities: the discovery of the origin of mass?, University of Queensland St Lucia (public lecture)

Wednesday 23 October, 11am – Big Questions, Big Facilities: the discovery of the origin of mass?, University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba (public lecture)
Thursday 24 October, 2.10pm – The mysteries of particle physics, St John’s Anglican College, Brisbane (school event)

Thursday 24 October, 5.30pm – The Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider, Queensland University of Technology (specialist colloquium)

AIP Queensland Branch Annual General Meeting
Friday 22 November, 5-7pm, Griffith University
The AGM will be followed by a the 2013 Queensland Youth Lecturer Prof Christian Langton presenting: This is QIC – Quantitative Ultrasound Imaging & Characterisation.

Tools of Science is a series of talks on old scientific instruments
Hosted by the Physics Museum at the University of Queensland, and sponsored by UQ’s School of Maths and Physics and the AIP Qld Branch
Tuesday 22 October, 6pm – Dr G Mate: Metrology at Workshops Museum
Tuesday 19 November, 6pm – Dr J Leach, Dr M Burns: Frontiers of Science communications

VIC:     Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament, Quantum Victoria, Macleod West
Wednesday 4 – Thursday 5 December.
Year 10 and 11 students tackle team-based experimental challenges, and present their findings.
Check for details. Teams must register by the first day of term 4.

WA:     Annual AIP Postgraduate Conference
Thursday 10 – Friday 11 October, Holiday Haven, near Jarrahdale

This is a wonderful opportunity for your professional development, to network, and to talk about your research to your peers, in a beautiful bush setting. Feedback from previous conferences has been overwhelming positive, and hence we are organising it again. Note that the AIP and your department are heavily subsidising this event.
To register your interest and attendance, please email your details to Mario Zadnik on by 5 October 2013.
This is a very popular event and only the first 30 registrants will be accepted. Supervisors and students are also welcome to attend just for one day, if that is more suitable (please let Mario which day).

 Short talks with long drinks wine and cheese
Wednesday 16 October, 6pm
Join the WA Australian Institute of Physics and physics community for a networking evening with invited talks from members of industry and research organisations (including a representative from the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)). Hear about some of the latest work and research in WA.

Stimulating conversation, drinks and nibbles in a room filled with Physicists.  Who could ask for more?
Follow the link for RSVP details.

2013 AIP AGM, Dinner and Guest Speaker
Wednesday 20 November (this date is now confirmed)

Nano–scale sensors earn Eureka prize

Congratulations to AIP member Prof Lloyd Hollenberg and his University of Melbourne team, who have won the 2013 Australian Museum University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research. The team won the prestigious award for their invention of nano-scale diamond sensors that light up the insides of cells.

The 2013 University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize – Primary was also won by physicists of a sort; a group of five Year 6 students from Beauty Point Public School in Sydney was awarded the prize for their video about friction. You can watch the video at

The Eureka Prizes were awarded across 18 categories at a ceremony in Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday 4 September.

Australian Optical Society celebrates its 30th anniversary

The Australian Optical Society, a cognate society of the AIP, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013. The AOS was founded at a meeting at the National Measurement Laboratory in Sydney in May 1983 following discussions during an AIP Conference on Applied Physics in 1981.

From the outset, the AOS has welcomed anyone interested in optics in the widest sense. Although many of its members are physicists, the society welcomes technicians and members of other professions involved in optics such as chemists, biologists and engineers.

Thirty years after its establishment, the AOS continues to provide a forum for those involved in optics, seeks to strengthen the teaching of optics in Australia, promotes research and other activities in optics and fosters collaboration in optics both nationally and internationally.

The society also runs an annual meeting which has been incorporated into recent AIP Congresses. This year’s meeting will be the ANZ Conference on Optics and Photonics to be held in Fremantle in December.

For more information about the AOS, visit

AIP Vic Branch video and photo competitions – entries close soon

Each competition is open to students in Victorian schools, has a prize pool up to $1,000, and closes on the first day of term 4.

The challenges are:

Books for review

John Macfarlane, the book review editor for Australian Physics, is seeking reviewers for the journal to write a short review (300-500 words) of one of the following books. If your review is accepted for publication you may keep the book for your own use.

The Theory of the Quantum World: Proceedings from the 25th Solvay Conference on Physics, 2013 edited by David Gross, Marc Henneaux & Alexander Sevrin, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd

100 Years of Subatomic Physics edited by Ernest M Henley & Stephen D Ellis, 2013, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd

40 Years of Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless Theory edited by Jorge V Jose, 2013, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd

Contact John at if you are interested in reviewing one of the books or have a suggestion of another book to review.

Other physics news and events

Physics events for the general public, students and teachers

Around Australia

Thursday 3 October, 9.30-5pm – International masterclass on high energy physics for high-school physics students, run concurrently at the Universities of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Free but places are limited. Follow the link in your city to register your interest.

New South Wales

Friday 5 October – Monday, 7 October – StarFest at the Siding Spring Observatory – the Sliding Spring Observatory is opening its doors to the public, presenting talks and holding a star party. On the Friday the local bowling club hosts ‘Science in the Pub’ with a Nobel Laureate (Brian Schmidt), a Prime Minister’s Science Prize winner (Ken Freeman), with the head of Mt Stromlo (Matthew Colless) and Fred Watson.
Friday 4 October – Sunday 6 October – StarFest Star Party
Friday 4 October, 7pm – Science in the Pub
Saturday 5 October, 10am – 5pm – Siding Spring Open Day
Saturday 5 October, 3:30pm – Brian Schmidt, ANU: Bok Lecture

The Dr Peter Domachuk Memorial Lecture – a public lecture at the University of Sydney

Monday 4 November, 4.45pm
Prof Fiorenzo Omenetto, Tufts University, Boston, USA: The multiple forms of silk – from ancient textile to future technology
Hosted by the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science, University of Sydney

CUDOS Showcase Photonics and Optics: Pivotal Technologies for 21st Century Australia. The Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems is showcasing the photonics research being performed by the Centre and how it will bring value to our community and, potentially the world.
22 November, 1-5pm, Australian Technology Park, Sydney


Science Pathways 2013: engaging with industry and innovation
How can early and mid-career researchers effectively engage with industry and apply a more innovative approach to their research.
17-18 October, AMREP Education Centre (Alfred Hospital), Melbourne
Australian Academy of Science

Free Astronomy public lectures, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Friday 11 October, 6.30pm – Chris Blake, Swinburne: Observing echoes of the Big Bang in the Universe’s most distant light

Friday 8 November, 6.30pm – Eyal Kazin, Swinburne: Einstein and astronomers – An ongoing cosmic saga
Monday 9 December, 6.30pm – Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory

Experience the Universe in 3D: Astro Tours
Swinburne University’s Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing is running 3D AstroTours for the general public during the next school holidays:
Tuesday 1 October, 10:00am;  2:00pm
Wednesday 2 October, 7:00pm
Thursday 3 October, 10:00am; 2:00pm


Prof Makoto Asashima: Research and Policy Trends in Life Sciences in Japan.
In a public lecture hosted by Questacon, Makoto Asashima will examine some of the recent trends and developments in life science research, and provide a Japanese perspective on issues affecting the broader scientific community.
3 October 2013, 4:15–5pm, Japan Theatre, Questacon

Calling all women in physics – are you the next Brian Cox?

Work with Emmy-award winning documentary maker Sonya Pemberton

The team at Genepool are looking for a female physicist to host their next international documentary series.

She must have a background in physics – in particular, nuclear or particle physics. She must hold a doctorate, or be currently studying at post-grad level. It’s not essential to have had previous TV experience, but a passion for communication is a must.

You can find details on how to apply here; and Sonya would like to hear from applicants by 7 October.

Read more about Genepool’s past TV projects at


PULSE@Parkes gives high school students the opportunity to control the famous Parkes radio telescope. Students observe pulsars under the guidance of professional astronomers and analyse the data obtained to try and determine a number of properties of the pulsars.

Applications are now open for the next six-month observing schedule, including sessions on Thursday 24 October and Thursday 7 November. For more information visit

Universe@CSIRO Blog

If you have an interest in astronomy, you might be interested in CSIRO’s Universe@CSIRO blog. The blog features space and astronomy-related material from a number of bloggers.

Recent posts covered Joss Bland-Hawthorn talking at the Galaxy Zoo conference in Sydney last week about the erratic behaviour of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, and ASKAP (the Australian SKA Pathfinder) picking up the ‘Innovations and Inventions’ award at the 2013 Australian Engineering Excellence Awards on 20 September.

You can sign up on the site for regular updates.

Grants available for National Science Week 2014 – do you have an idea for an event to promote physics?

It would be great to have lots of physics events in next year’s National Science Week – if you have an idea that would require funding, then consider applying for a grant from Inspiring Australia.

The Australian Government has funding to assist National Science Week events to be bigger than they would otherwise be, support innovative science engagement and reach new audiences. Grants of between $2000 and $25,000 will be awarded.

You can find the grant guidelines, a sample application and other information on the Inspiring Australia pages of the Department of Industry.

The grant round will be open from Tuesday 1 October to Thursday 24 October.

More competitions for school students

60 Second Science Challenge – create a video to explain the world around us

The 60 second science challenge aims to celebrate our ability to better understand the world around us. The challenge is to create a 60 second video that explains an invention, an experiment, a science concept or an idea.

The competition is open to all age groups across the world, with divisions including primary and secondary school students in each state and territory in Australia. Winners share $10,000 of cash prizes.

Registration closes on 14 November and entries are to be submitted by 20 November. For more details and to register, go to

Space competitions for school students – take a water rocket to Vietnam

In conjunction with the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF), which will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December (see conference listing), VSSEC (the Victorian Space Science Education Centre) is holding two competitions for school kids across Australia:

Primary students between the age of 8 and 11 are invited to design a poster based on the theme: “Space and Me”.

Secondary students aged 12 to 16 are invited to design a water rocket that they can build and launch at a target 70m away – the winning Australian team will get to go to Hanoi for the APRSAF-20 Water Rocket Launch Competition, at Hanoi University of Education on Sunday 1 December 2013,

Entries close on 11 October. See details online at



The Director’s Colloquium – Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

New South Wales

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), Marsfield

Wednesday 2 October – James Allison, SIfA

Wednesday 9 October – William Coles, University of California: The fine structure of the ionized interstellar medium

Wednesday 16 October – Megan Johnson, CASS

Wednesday 23 October – James Allison, SIfA

Monday 4 November – James Jackson

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

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

School of Physics, University of Sydney

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

School of Physics, University of NSW

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.


Physics colloquia, University of Queensland

Friday 11 October – Michael Bromley

South Australia

Chemical and Physical Sciences Seminar Series, Flinders University

Tuesday 1 October – Richard Tilley, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Tuesday 8 October – Daniel Gruszecki, Flinders University

Tuesday 8 October – Sian La Vars, Flinders University

Tuesday 22 October – Oskar Majewski, Flinders University

Tuesday 22 October – Rhys Murphy, Flinders University

Tuesday 29 October –Paul Raston, Adelaide University


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

Tuesday 1 October – Ivan Minchev, Potsdam

Thursday 3 Oct – Pablo Galaviz, Macquarie University: Binary Black Hole mergers in f(R) theory

Tuesday 8 October – Mark Durre, Swinburne University: 6 month review

Thursday Oct 10 – Paola Oliva, Swinburne University: 18-month PhD review

Monday Oct 14 – Frazer Pearce, Nottingham: Special Colloquium

Tuesday Oct 15 – Antonio Bibiano, Swinburne University: 6 Month Review

Thursday Oct 17 – Daniela Carollo, Macquarie University

Tuesday Oct 22 – George Bekiaris, Swinburne University: PhD Student Review

Thursday Oct 24 – Themiya Nanayakarra, Swinburne University: 6 month PhD student review

Friday Oct 25 – Florian Beutler, LBNL

Tuesday Oct 29 – Elodie Thilliez, Swinburne University: 6 month review

Thursday Oct 31 – Randall Wayth, Curtin University

Monash Centre for Astrophysics, Monash University

Tuesday 08 October – Shravan Hanasoge, Princeton University

Tuesday 15 October – Luca Casagrande, RSAA/ANU

Tuesday 22 October – Alina Donea, MoCA: The violence of the Sun – solar quakes

Tuesday 29 October – Anibal Garcia-Hernandez, Canary Islands Institute for Astrophysics

School of Physics, University of Melbourne
Tuesday 1 October – Hendra Nurdin, UNSW: Quantum filtering and feedback control: from classical to quantum

Tuesday Oct 15 – Alessandro Feddrizzi, UNSW

Tuesday 22 October – Thomas Volz, Macquarie University

Tuesday 29 October – Kai Zuber, University of Dresden

Western Australia

Department of Physics, University of Western Australia

Wednesday 2 October, 4-5pm – Bipul Bhuyan, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati: Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment

Friday 4 October, 1-2pm – Maximilian Albert, Institute of Complex System Simulation (ICSS), University of Southampton, UK: A computational productivity toolbox: applications to nanomagnetism and computational science

Wednesday 9 October, 4-5pm – Dr Amir Karton, UWA: First-principles computational thermochemistry – theory and applications


4th World Conference on Science and Technology Education (World STE)
29 Sep – 3 Oct, Sarawak Malaysia

Nuclear Science and Engineering in Australia (ANA2013)
11 Oct 2013, Sydney, NSW

Australasian Radiation Protection Society (ARPS) Conference
13 – 16 Oct 2013, Cairns, Qld

Healthy, Wealthy and Safe: Metrology Society of Australia 12th Biennial National Conference
15 – 17 Oct 2013, Sydney

Science Pathways 2013: engaging with industry and innovation
17 – 18 Oct 2013, Melbourne, Vic

Looking to the Future: International Research in a Changing World – Humboldt Colloquium
17 – 19 Oct 2013, Sydney, NSW

Engineering and Physical Sciences in Medicine conference, EPSM 2013
3 Nov – 7 Nov, Perth, WA

37th Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Biophysics
24 Nov – 27 Nov, Melbourne, VIC

OzCarbon 2013
1-3 Dec 2013, Melbourne, VIC

ANZ Conference on Optics & Photonics
8 – 11 Dec 2013, Fremantle, WA

Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF)
3 – 12 Dec 2013, Hanoi, Vietnam

23rd Australian Conference on Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM23) and the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2014)
2 – 6 Feb 2014, Adelaide, SA

38th Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting
4 – 7 Feb 2014, Auckland, New Zealand

2014 VCE Physics Teachers Conference
14 Feb 2014, Vic

19th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference/39th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (OECC/ACOFT 2014)
6 July 2014, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Vic

Joint International Conference on Hyperfine Interactions and Symposium on Nuclear Quadrupole Interactions 2014
21 – 26 Sep 2014, Academy of Sciences, Canberra


Dr Rob Robinson

President of the Australian Institute of Physics
Phone: +61 (2) 9717-9204

Contributions and contact details

Please get in contact if you have any queries about physics in Australia:

  • Rob Robinson, AIP President
  • the AIP website for more information is (note this is a new site – don’t get stuck in the old one at
  • membership enquiries to the Secretariat
  • ideas for articles for Australian Physics to the Chair of the Editorial Board and Acting Editor Brian James, on, or the editorial board, which is listed in your latest copy of the magazine
  • contributions to the bulletin (e.g. activities, conferences and announcements) to Margie Beilharz from Science in Public on or call (03) 9398 1416, by the 23rd of the month prior
  • the AIP Events Calendar to check what’s on, and also to submit your own physics-related events (any queries to Margie, as above)
  • to receive these bulletins, please email Margie, as above (you don’t need to be a member of the institute).