Speakers celebrate our 50th, women in physics and Einstein: physics in September 2013

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics
Speakers celebrate our 50th, women in physics and Einstein: physics in September 2013 post image

From Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Welcome to my round-up of physics news and events for September and beyond.

It’s 50 years since the Australian Institute of Physics broke away from the UK-based Institute of Physics to represent Australian physics in research, education, industry and the community.

To help us celebrate, Hans Bachor AM, Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University, will give a series of 50th Anniversary talks across the country over the next few months. An expert in experimental quantum optics and an active promoter of physics, Hans is a Fellow of the AIP whose contributions to physics have been recognised with many AIP and other awards over his career. I’ll bring you details of his talks in future bulletins.

This month, Ben Eggleton gives the 2013 Einstein Lecture at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and our 2013 Women in Physics Lecturer, Elisabetta Barberio, is still touring the country. Her lectures on the search for the Higgs boson and the origin of mass were really well received in Perth and Tasmania. In September she’s talking in the ACT and Victoria.

Speaking of lectures, we’re also looking for suggestions for plenary speakers at the next AIP Congress, in Canberra in 2014. If  you know of someone who’d be truly fascinating, then please let us know.

Finally, thanks to all those who responded to our member survey. You’ll find preliminary results on our website and we’ll give you a full report in Australian Physics.

Read on for a full list of events, prizes and more news. 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 aip_president@aip.org.au, and there is a comprehensive list of contact details for the AIP at the end of the bulletin.



Rob Robinson
President, Australian Institute of Physics

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In this bulletin:

AIP events

National: In September the 2013 Women in Physics Lecturer Professor Elisabetta Barberio will present lectures in ACT and in Victoria (see details below).
The tour will continue in October with NSW lectures from 15 to 17 October and then Queensland.

ACT:    AIP Women in Physics Lecture
Professor Elisabetta Barberio: Big question, Big Facilities – Discovery of the Origin of Mass?
Thursday 5 September
9.40 am – Canberra Girl’s Grammar School – school talk
12 pm – Huxley Theatre, ANU, Research School of Physics and Engineering Director’s colloquium
6 pm – Manning Clarke Theatre, ANU – public lecture

NSW:  Einstein Lecture at the Powerhouse Museum
Benjamin J. Eggleton: Photonics in the new information age – Faster, smaller and greener
Tuesday 17 September, 6.30pm
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

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

See below for details of the competition.

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:   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 10 September, 6pm – Dr Arkady Federov: Superconductivity – Celebrating the 1913 Nobel Prize to Kamerlingh Onnes
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:     Women in Physics Lecture
Professor Elisabetta Barberio: Big question, Big Facilities – Discovery of the Origin of Mass?
Wednesday 11 September, 12.45 pm – Pascoe Vale Girls College
Friday 13 September, 11 am, 12.30 pm – Mt Helen Campus, University of Ballarat

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 www.vicphysics.org/vypt.html for details. Teams must register by the first day of term 4.

WA:     Short talks with long drinks wine and cheese
Wednesday 16 October, 6pm (note the new date)
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 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.

Postgraduate conference
Thursday 10–Friday 11 October (these are now the final dates, we’ll have more details in the next bulletin)

2013 AIP AGM, Dinner and Guest Speaker
Wednesday 20 November (to be confirmed)

Who would you like to hear at the 2014 AIP Congress?

If you have a suggestion of someone who would be a truly fascinating, provocative and inspirational speaker at the next AIP Congress, then please send their name (along with a short descriptive note) to Joseph Hope (joseph.hope@anu.edu.au), the chair of the scientific program committee.

The plenaries are a very important part of the shared experience of a Congress.  Often the best plenary speakers fall in between sub-discipline boundaries, so the 2014 AIP Congress organising committee thought we’d consult the whole AIP membership directly.

We’ll consider nominations received within the next week (that is, until Friday 6 September).

Survey of members

We’ve put online the initial results of our member survey, which asked why people join or don’t join the AIP and what they think of our services and activities.

Thanks to all who contributed to the excellent response rate, which ranged from 30-65% across the various states and territories. It’s great to see so many people interested in supporting physics in Australia.

See more about the responses at http://www.aip.org.au/info/?q=article/aip-national-membership-survey-%E2%80%93-initial-summary-results.

Brian Schmidt asks teachers to make science compelling for students

Professor Brian Schmidt has called for dedicated teachers who engage children with science, in an opinion piece he wrote for Australian Teacher magazine.

He points out that a high standard of education is vital to the country’s economic success in the high value science and technology sector. But it’s also essential to maintaining a democracy where citizens make informed decisions.

To achieve this, he believes Australia urgently needs devoted science teachers who are competent and passionate about their subject.

He’s also backing the Academy of Science’s Primary Connections program for younger children, as well as its Science by Doing resources for secondary students.

These programs build on children’s natural curiosity about how the world works and aim to teach critical thinking skills, rather than mere facts. This helps enable students to reach evidence-based conclusions on contemporary issues, like climate change.

As Brian says, the issues will change during their lifetime, the thought process will not.

You can read more of his views on science education online at http://www.ozteacher.com.au/opinion/hardword/why-we-must-make-science-compelling-for-our-students/23120

Big questions, big facilities – the Women in Physics lecture in Perth

Chris Creagh from the AIP WA Branch, reports on their recent event:

On Monday 5 August, high-energy physicist Professor Elisabetta Barberio from the University of Melbourne presented the AIP Women in Physics/John de Laeter Youth lecture, on the topic “Big question, Big Facilities: Discovery of the Origin of Mass?”

Students from Perth metropolitan and country schools, as well as many physicists, were taken through a tour of Elisabetta’s ‘lab’ at the Large Hadron Collider, as she explained her work with the Higgs boson and its importance for our understanding of matter.

The label ‘Big Science’ seems inadequate for the scale of this project, given the thousands of physicists and engineers involved, the size of the equipment, the amount of computing power within ‘The Grid’, and the innovation and materials science development needed to bring the LHC into being.

Despite the enormity of this achievement, in question-time after the lecture students were reassured that they could still commence their undergraduate study in WA, and they didn’t have to move straight to Melbourne if they dreamt of working on the LHC.

The AIP WA Branch thanks Prof Barberio for taking the time out of her demanding teaching and research schedule to come to Perth and enthuse a new generation of physicists.

AIP medals and competitions

The annual UNSW-AIP High School Physics Competition

Conduct a physics experiment to investigate a physical phenomenon of your choosing and report your findings at the UNSW Student Experiment Symposium on November 15th 2013.

Last year’s winners, a team from Gosford High School, looked at the physics of water being poured onto a flat surface. They found that the size of the resulting water ripples is determined by more than simple pressure forces.

You can download the full 2012 proceedings at http://www.outreach.phys.unsw.edu.au/images/Student%20Experiment%20Papers%202012/SymposiumProceedings2012.pdf

To enter this year’s competition, register your interest by 15 September, and submit your experiment by 5 October. All the details are at http://www.outreach.phys.unsw.edu.au/highschool-experiment-competition-2013.html

Explain a physics AIP Vic Branch video and photo competitions

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.

Tweeting the Universe – tiny explanations of very big ideas by Marcus Chown and Govert Schilling, 2011, Faber and Faber

Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering (2nd edition) edited by Alexander Wu Chao, Karl Hubert Mess, Maury Tigner, Frank Zimmerman, 2013, World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd

The Theory of the Quantum World: Proceedings from the 25th Solvay Conference on Physics edited by David Gross, Marc Henneaux, Alexander Sevrin, 2013, 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 jcmacfarlane@netspace.net.au 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

Fred Watson: Cutting Edge Astronomy
Tuesday 10 September, 6.30-7.30pm – In a public talk at the University of Wollongong, astronomer and popular scientist Fred Watson will explore astronomy from the latest research to the earliest advances


Brisbane Writers Festival
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, medical doctor, physicist, mathematician and engineer is appearing in three different events at the festival:
Friday 6 September, 4.30–6.30pm – Planets, particles and pitchdrops, Free
Saturday 7 September, 10-11am – Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Saturday 7 September, 1-2pm – Save your brain: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Barbara Arrowsmith-Young interviewed by Kelly Higgins-Devine


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 13 September, 6.30pm – Pamela Gay, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illionois: CosmoQuest – Science inside (powered by you!)

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
Tuesday 1 October, 2:00pm
Wednesday 2 October, 7:00pm
Thursday 3 October, 10:00am
Thursday 3 October, 2:00pm

Western Australia

Physics day@Adventure World
Thursday 26 September, 9am – 3pm
For senior secondary physics students

Have input into a new online advisory service for school science

The Australian Science Teachers Association would like your help in developing a new national online advisory service for science educators and school laboratory technicians

The service, Science ASSIST, will be freely available to all Australian schools from all education jurisdictions and sectors in every state and territory.

ASTA would like to receive responses from as many teachers and laboratory technicians as possible to their online survey at http://tinyurl.com/ASSIST13. And also please forward the link to friends and colleagues and ask them to complete the survey too.

At the end of the survey you can choose to join the mailing list to be kept up to date with future developments.

Other awards, competitions and fellowships

NSW Science and Engineering Awards

The nominations for the 2013 NSW Science and Engineering Awards are now open!

The NSW Science and Engineering Awards recognise and reward NSW’s leading researchers in education, and science and engineering, for cutting-edge work that generates economic, health, environmental or technological benefits for the state.

Nominations close Sunday 15 September. More details at http://www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/awards.

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 8and 11 are invited to design a poster based on the theme: “Space and Me”.

Secondary students aged 12-16 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 http://www.vssec.vic.edu.au/events/competitions/.

Western Australian Science awards

The 2013 WA Science Awards will celebrate the State’s best in scientific research, and science engagement. The awards cover all fields of science, including engineering, new technologies and mathematics.

There are categories for early-career and students scientists as well as Scientist of the Year, which last year was awarded to Professor Peter Quinn, Director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. Professor Steven Tingay, Director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, was the Science Ambassador of the Year.

It would be great to see another strong showing from physicists in 2013.

Details are at http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/science/ScienceAwards/Pages/Default.aspx and applications close on Friday 6 September.

The Australian Innovation Challenge – deadline extended

If you have a great idea with the power to affect people’s health, wealth or environment, you should enter the The Australian Innovation Challenge awards recognise people with great ideas to improve our health, wealth or environment. Categories include: minerals and energy; manufacturing and hi-tech design; ICT; and education.

Entries have been extended to 9 September. More info at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/innovationchallenge.



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

Thursday 5 September, 12-1pm – Elisabetta Barberio, University of Melbourne: The Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider

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

Tuesday 10 September, 12pm – Iurii Sushch: The evolved pulsar wind nebula HESS J1303-631 across the electromagnetic spectrum

Wednesday 11 September, 3pm – Gary Fuller, Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

Wednesday 18 September, 3pm – Amy Kimball, CASS

Friday 27 September, 3pm – Amit Kapadia, University of Minnesota

Wednesday 2 October – James Allison, SIfA

Wednesday 9 October – William Coles, University of California

Wednesday 16 October – Megan Johnson, CASS

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

Wednesday 18 September, 11am – Snjezana Tomljenovic-Hanic, University of Melbourne: Fluorescent nanoparticles for biosensing applications

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

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

South Australia

Chemical and Physical Sciences Seminar Series, Flinders University

Tuesday 3 September, 1pm – Jonathan George, University of Adelaide

Tuesday 10 September – Daniel Tune, Flinders University

Tuesday 17 September – Milos Toth, University of Technology, Sydney

Tuesday 24 September – Frederico Rosei, INRS University, Canada

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


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

Thursday 5 September, 11:30am – Jesus Falcon Barroso, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias

Tuesday 10 September, 11:30am – Elodie Thilliez, Swinburne University

Friday 13 September, 11:30am – Pamela Gay, Southern Illinois University: Moon Mapping – Understand the accuracy of science done by hand

Tuesday 17 September, 11:30am – Mark Hutchison, Swinburne University

Thursday 19 September, 11:30am – Michael Brown, Monash University

Friday 20 September, 11:30am – Sara Ellison, University of Victoria, Canada

Thursday 26 September, 11:30am – Sreeja Kartha, Swinburne University

Monash Centre for Astrophysics, Monash University

Tuesday 3 September, 3pm – Ross Parkin, ANU

Tuesday 10 September, 3pm – Maria Cunningham, UNSW

Tuesday 17 September, 3pm – Orsola De Marco, Macquarie University

Tuesday 24 September, 3pm – Simon Ellingsen, University of Tasmania

School of Physics, University of Melbourne

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

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

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


Italian National Conference on Condensed Matter Physics, FisMat 2013
9 – 13 Sep 2013, Milan, Italy

NanoS-E3 International Workshop and School on Nanotechnology

15 – 20 Sep 2013, Airlie Beach, Qld

STANSW Annual Conference 2013. Inquiry Science: Bedding down the NSW Syllabus

20 – 21 Sep 2013, UNSW, Sydney, NSW

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

NEW 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

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

NEW 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
Email: aip_president@aip.org.au

Contributions and contact details

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

  • Rob Robinson, AIP President  aip_president@aip.org.au
  • the AIP website for more information is www.aip.org.au (note this is a new site – don’t get stuck in the old one at aip.org.au)
  • membership enquiries to the Secretariat aip@aip.org.au
  • ideas for articles for Australian Physics to the Chair of the Editorial Board and Acting Editor Brian James, on b.james@physics.usyd.edu.au, 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 margie@scienceinpublic.com.au 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).