AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronThis Saturday, August 12, is the start of National Science Week and physics is well represented – read about some of the great events below.

Science week is a great opportunity to promote our discipline, whether you’re running your own event; or taking a friend, colleague, kid, or yourself along to one of the great events on around the country. Who knows, you might inspire a next-generation physicist, or come up with an idea for an event next year.

Taking inspiration from the generation of ideas in science week, it is not too early to help with suggestions for focus sessions or speakers for the AIP 2018 Congress. This premier event in the AIP calendar is made successful by input from members – so if you have a hot topic or a great suggestion for a plenary talk please let the organisers know.

Another event that will be great for members is the AIP Summer meeting. Designed to benefit students and early-career researchers, the first Summer meeting will be held 3-8 December at UNSW. We’ll be calling for abstracts shortly – watch this space

Being informed and active in the areas highlighted in the bulletin, and more, is part of being a member of the AIP. If you would like to become a member, or to renew your membership, go to

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Celebrate physics this National Science Week

It’s National Science Week time. This years’ science week runs from August 12 to 20 (there’s just too much science to fit into 7 days) and there are plenty of physicsy events to get along to.

Below are some of our picks, but you can find out more about these events and many more on the National Science Week website.

  • Immersive Science: The Next Frontier in Australian Astronomy
    Join astronomers Dr Alan Duffy and Dr Katie Mack on an exploration of the universe in an immersive science talk blending live events and virtual reality. Learn how Australia’s astronomers are leading the world in understanding the cosmos around us, from our own solar system to mapping out galaxies and seeing colliding black holes.
    – Sunday 13 August, 2pm to 3pm, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
  • The Glass Universe
    Join us for the exclusive Sydney Science Festival presentation by Dava Sobel. She will be in conversation with Jessica Bloom, a young University of Sydney astrophysics PhD student, studying galaxy evolution.
    – Wednesday 9 August, 6pm to 7:30pm, Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium, Sydney
  • Physics in the Pub
    Local physicists show off their research in a relaxed environment. Be prepared for talks, music, dance, and singalongs, a night unlike any other.
    – Tuesday 15 August, 6:30pm to 9pm, The Loft, Brisbane
  • Battle of the Sciences
    As science continues to amaze us all with discovery and invention, the Adelaide University Sciences Association has invited a panel of experts to argue why their field will be the one to save the world!
    – Wednesday 16 August 2017, 1pm to 2pm, Bonython Hall, Adelaide
  • And many more…

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. Running each year in August, it features more than 1000 events around Australia, including those delivered by universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres. These events attract a wide audience from children to adults, and science amateurs to professionals. Over one million people participate in science events across the nation.

science week

AIP News

Nominate for the 2017 NSW Community Outreach Award

$500 prize for someone who has made a clear contribution to physics outreach and education

The Australian Institute of Physics in New South Wales are looking for someone who has:

  • worked to engage the academic community with the public
  • effectively developed community events for the public, or other activities that engage our physics community
  • increased students’ awareness, knowledge, and learning opportunities in the discipline of physics

If you know someone fitting this description, nominate them now for the annual Community Outreach Award.

To nominate, a statement of 500 words should be lodged with Dr Frederick Osman, NSW Branch Secretary of the AIP, by mail to PO Box 649, Moorebank, NSW 1875, or by email to

The award will be presented at the AIP NSW Postgraduate Awards and Annual Dinner on Tuesday the 14 November at the University of New South Wales.

National Katie Mack Women in Physics tour continues: catch the dates

Dr Katie Mack’s tour continues through August with engagements in the ACT, NSW, Tasmania, SA, and Victoria. The Dark Matter expert and AIP Women in Physics lecturer for 2017 has already blazed a path through Queensland, NSW, and the ACT with a hectic schedule of Girls in Physics breakfasts, university colloquia, and free public lectures.

Now she’s hitting the southern states. Don’t miss her when she comes your way:

  • 8 August – Hobart: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries), 8pm, University of Tasmania
  • 10 August – Adelaide: STEM Women Afternoon Tea, 2pm, Flinders University; A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries), 7:30pm, University of Adelaide
  • 14 August – Melbourne: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries), 12pm, La Trobe University
  • 15 August – Melbourne: Girls in Physics Breakfast, 7am, La Trobe University Bundoora; Dispatches from a Dark Universe, 6:30pm, University of Melbourne

You can also catch Katie Mack and fellow astrophysicist Alan Duffy at the National Science Week event Immersive science: the next frontier in Australian astronomy, on 13 August at 2pm at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. They’ll be taking audiences on an exploration of the universe in an immersive science talk blending live events and virtual reality. Don’t miss it.

You can find details on these and lots of other physics events all over the country on the national Physics Events calendar here.

Shape the agenda for AIP 2018 Congress

We were pleased to announce in June that the next AIP Congress will be held at UWA, Perth, in December 2018. There is still time to submit proposals for Focus Sessions and to recommend high-profile national and international plenary speakers.

Please send your proposals to the Program Committee by email before the 15 August 2017 to

Any questions can also be directed to this address. Updates will be posted at:

In the meantime, the inaugural Summer Meeting of the Australian Institute of Physics will be hosted by the University of New South Wales from 3 – 8 December 2017.

The Summer Meeting will deliver a comprehensive science program with a lower registration cost, making it more accessible for students and early-career physicists. More information to come, keep an eye on the website for updates

Queensland schools will journey to the centres of the planets

Planetary Scientist Helen Maynard-Casely is this year’s guest lecturer for the Queensland AIP’s John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour, which will hit schools in Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, Townsville, and Cairns throughout August.

Helen’s talk, Journeying to the centres of the planets, will take students on a voyage not just to visit the planets of our solar system, but to get to know them more intimately though understanding their varied and downright dangerous insides. We’ve yet to actually dive under the clouds of the gas giants, crack through the ice of the dwarf planets or drill into the rocks of the terrestrial planets – so how do we know what lies beneath planetary surfaces?

The AIP is pleased to announce an additional regional lecture, to be delivered in Mt Isa by Sean Powell, who is an expert in biofabrication technologies.

The lectures are scheduled at one hour long, including a Q&A for students after, and come at no cost to schools.

Queries should be addressed to Scott Adamson at

SA physics teacher honoured by her students with AIP award

Our congratulations go out to Zahra Pirvali, University Senior College physics teacher, who was today selected as the recipient of the AIP’s 2017 SA Excellence in Physics Teaching Award.

Since 2015, candidates for the prize have been nominated directly by students at three SA universities. Zahra is further distinguished as the only teacher to have been so nominated in multiple consecutive years.

The AIP South Australian branch also awarded the Bronze and Silver Bragg Medals to two outstanding physics students, John Crowley and Adam Gambell. Congratulations and best wishes to both.

Physics educators invited to share their innovations at ACSME in September

The AIP’s Physics Education Group is organising a Physics Discipline day at this year’s Australian Conference for Science and Mathematics Education.

Join us and share all your research-based teaching innovations and practices to engage more students into our discipline.

Taking place on the last day of the conference, Physics Discipline day is free for AIP physicists. The event will be formed around the following themes:
• Evidence-based teaching practices in physics.
• Teaching transformation with PACE studios.
• Object-based learning.

ACSME is being held at Monash University in Melbourne, 27-29 September.

Physics news & opportunities

Microsoft commits to new quantum partnership with Sydney University


Microsoft and the University of Sydney have announced a new partnership on quantum technology. The multi-year commitment represents a huge injection of resources into Sydney’s Quantum Nanoscience Laboratory with the aim of constructing a workable quantum computer, a feat which could have wide-ranging ramifications from medicine to artificial intelligence and cryptography.

Sydney is one of eight research hubs around the world to be incorporated into the ‘Station Q’ consortium, representing Microsoft’s “global effort to bring together the world’s mathematicians, computer scientists, quantum physicists, and engineers to build a scalable, fault-tolerant, universal quantum computer.”

A spokesman said the tech giant is optimistic that “major achievements” in scalable quantum computing lie just around the corner. Microsoft has invested heavily in universities around the world to hasten the breakthrough.

Adelaide to host 2019 Asian Physics Olympiad

In May 2019, Adelaide will host the Asian Physics Olympiad – Asia’s toughest physics competition for high school students – thanks to funding provided under the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Australian Science Innovations, the not-for-profit organisation behind Australia’s representation at the International Science Olympiads, was awarded the funding to bring the Asian Physics Olympiad to Australia.

“Just as you see a wave of soccer registrations following a football world cup, or participation in Little Athletics increase after the Olympics, we look forward to seeing an increase in the uptake of physics following the Asian Physics Olympiad,” said Lillian Lesueur, executive director of Australian Science Innovations. “We commend the Prime Minister on his recent science and innovation strategy and look forward to playing our role in creating Australia’s ideas boom.”

The Adelaide Convention Centre will be the hub of the event, which will see 200 of our region’s best and brightest teenagers competing over 9 days in a daunting series of physics challenges. As students battle it out to prove their mettle, they will also boost their self-esteem and make long lasting relationships and networks from all over the world.

The Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO) will be delivered in partnership with the Commonwealth and South Australian governments, Adelaide’s three universities, industry, like-minded science and education organisations, and a team of local volunteers.

If you would like to be involved in APhO2019, please contact Ruth Carr at

ACEx on the hunt for passionate PhD students to join teams in Melbourne, Sydney

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (ACEx) is offering new scholarships for PhD students. It’s a great opportunity for early-career researchers to become a part of the future of energy.

Applications are welcome from any country. The Centre encourages female applicants and applies family-friendly workplace policies. Students will need to meet the entry requirements from the relevant university.

There are openings at the University of Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UNSW, and the University of Sydney.

Learn more here:
Enquiries should be directed to

Mentoring and guidance for early-career female and gender-diverse scientists

The first ever Mentoring and Guidance in Careers Workshop has been announced, to be held at ANU in November.

The inaugural MAGIC Workshop will present an opportunity to explore the many facets of forging a career in academic, government or industry settings, and to discuss how to create building blocks for success and resilience in careers.

Participation is limited to a maximum of 35 early career researchers (0-7 years post PhD) who are female or of diverse gender identity and who have a PhD in mathematical or physical sciences. Applicants should be based in Australia, and submissions are due to by 13 August.

The workshop is organised by Professors Mahananda Dasgupta (ANU) and Nalini Joshi (The University of Sydney) and is supported through the Australian Research Council’s Georgina Sweet Award as part of their Australian Laureate Fellowships. The organising committee members include Dr Merryn McKinnon from the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science, ANU.

Find out more here, and please any direct questions to

Latest events from the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will take place on Sunday 17 August at Melbourne Girls’ College from 5pm. The meeting will be followed by a workshop on laboratory skills and assessment, then an optional dinner.

The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network organises and collates events for teachers and students throughout Victoria. Here’s just a sample of what’s coming up:

  • Laboratory sessions and tours of the Australian Synchrotron
  • ANSTO Big Ideas Forum
  • Medical Radiations Careers Open Day at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

You can find all the details on their website here, where you can also sign up for their newsletter.

Charming new particle discovered in LHCb


Researchers at CERN last month announced the discovery of a bizarre new subatomic particle. The Xi-cc++ particle is a baryon consisting of two heavy charm quarks and one up quark. The discovery has revived interest in a controversial 2002 experiment out of the US, which claimed similar results.

Though the particle is well anticipated by the Standard Model, it is not without its surprises. Four times more massive than a proton, this short-lived baryon is expected to exhibit unusual behaviours which may have come into play in the hot, dense early universe.

Professor Anthony Thomas from CoEPP talked through the discovery with ABC Science when the story broke. The interview is worth a read.

Australian space agency mooted

Minister for Industry, Innovation, and Science, Arthur Sinodinos, this month announced a review into the prospect of a true Australian space agency, which would support satellite launches for Australian commercial and scientific endeavours.

Most countries comparable to Australia have had space agencies for some time. The long-awaited announcement comes as Australian and international space scientists prepare for the impending International Astronautical Congress, to be held in Adelaide in September.

The review will be carried out by former CSIRO chief Megan Clark and is due in March 2018.

Space agency on the cards as Government announces review (ABC)

Aussie physics in the news

Indigenous rock shelter in Top End pushes Australia’s human history back to 65,000 years (ABC),000-years/8719314?section=scienceEvents

Rockstar scientist David Reilly takes the axe to quantum physics (SMH)

Sydney University banks on quantum leaps as Microsoft inks major tie-up (SMH)

Australia to review future in space (The Australian)

Books for review

  • Quantum Optomechanics by W P Bowen & G J Milburn
  • Materials Aspect of Thermoelectricity edited by Ctirad Uher
  • Blackbody Radiation: A History of Thermal Radiation Computational Aids and Numerical Methods by Sean M. Stewart, R. Barry Johnson
  • Complex Light by Jeff Secor, Robert Alfano and Solyman Ashrafi
  • The Physics of Thermoelectric Energy Conversion by H Julian Goldsmid


Reach a bigger audience. The Australian physics events calendar is the definitive source for physics events around the country. If your physics event isn’t listed here, ask us about adding it, having it included in these regular bulletins, and tweeted from the AusPhysics account.


[ACT] Australian satellites and where to find them (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 5:30pm
The Shine Dome,15 Gordon St, ACT

[ACT] How Old is the Sphinx? What the Evidence Reveals
Thu, 21 Sep 2017, 6pm
Finkel Lecture Theatre, Australian National University, Canberra ACT.

[ACT] Journeying to the centres of the planets (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 17 Oct 2017, 5:30pm
The Shine Dome,15 Gordon St, ACT

[ACT] Australia’s role in looking for life on Mars (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 5 Dec 2017, 11am
The Shine Dome,15 Gordon St, ACT


[NSW] This sounds like science: Quantum science explained through the electric guitar
Mon, 14 Aug 2017, 12:30pm
City Recital Hall

[NSW] Great Moments in Science with Dr Karl – free public lecture
Wed, 16 Aug 2017, 5:30pm
Sydney Nanoscience Hub (Building A31) – University of Sydney

[NSW] Dark Matter – An alternative fact cabaret
Tue, 22 Aug 2017, 6:30pm
Wayward Brewery

[NSW] AIP Annual Scientific Meeting
Sun, 3 Dec 2017
UNSW, Sydney, Australia

[NSW] NSW secondary science teacher professional development day (December)
Fri, 8 Dec 2017, 9:25am
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights, NSW


[QLD] Battle of the Brains
Sun, 13 Aug 2017, 4pm
The Edge, State Library, South Brisbane

[QLD] Physics in the Pub
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 6:30pm
Loft Bar, 100 Boundary St


[SA] Women in Physics lecture: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)
Thu, 10 Aug 2017, 7:30pm
Napier G04, University of Adelaide

[SA] Battle of the Brains
Wed, 16 Aug 2017, 6pm
RiAus, The Science Exchange, Adelaide

[SA] Gravitational Waves
Thu, 31 Aug 2017, 5:30pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide


[Tas] Women in Physics lecture:A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)
Tue, 8 Aug 2017, 8pm
Physics Lecture theatre 1, Sandy Bay Campus, University of Tasmania

[Tas] The Climate Experimentum Show
Sat, 19 Aug 2017, 2pm
Hellyer College, 41-43 Mooreville Road, Burnie, TAS, 7320


[VIC] Immersive Science: The Next Frontier in Australian Astronomy
Sun, 13 Aug 2017, 2pm
Experimedia room

[Vic] Women in Physics lecture: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)
Mon, 14 Aug 2017, 12pm
La Trobe University

[Vic] Women in Physics lecture: Dispatches from a Dark Universe
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 6pm
The Laby Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne…

[VIC] Girls in Physics Breakfast – Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 7pm
La Trobe

[VIC] Meeting & Workshop w/ Vicphysics Teachers’ Network
Thu, 17 Aug 2017, 5pm
Melbourne Girls’ College, Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Melbourne

[VIC] ANSTO PD for teachers (November)
Thu, 16 Nov 2017, 9am
Australian Synchrotron, 800 Blackburn Rd, Clayton, Victoria


[WA] Perth Science Festival
Sat, 12 Aug 2017, 1pm
Perth Cultural Centre, James Street, Northbridge

[WA] Future Earth Makers at the Library
Mon, 14 Aug 2017, 12pm
Curtin University Library

[WA] The Innovators’ Tea Party
Sat, 19 Aug 2017
191 St George’s Tce Perth WA

[WA] Battle of the Brains
Mon, 21 Aug 2017, 7:30pm
Astor Theatre, Mount Lawley, Perth


[VIC] RheoScattering – Structural perspectives on complex fluids
Mon, 14 Aug 2017, 9pm
Burwood Corporate Centre, Deakin University

[Int’l] 2nd International Conference on Physics
Mon, 28 Aug 2017, 8am
Brussels, Belgium

[Int’l] Optics Congress 2017 Conference Canada
Wed, 20 Sep 2017, 9am
Park Inn by Radisson Toronto Airport West, ON

[NSW] AIP Annual Scientific Meeting
Sun, 3 Dec 2017
UNSW, Sydney, Australia

[NSW] International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Mon, 29 Jan 2018
University of Wollongong

[NSW] The 42nd Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting
Tue, 30 Jan 2018, 2pm
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

[VIC] 5th Asian and Oceanic Congress on Radiation Protection – AOCRP5
Sun, 20 May 2018
Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre