Australian Institute of Physics Congress

Four degrees – a message for Lima; laser privacy; letting the quantum cat out of the box

Tomorrow at the national physics and optics conference in Canberra:

  • The catastrophe of a four degree temperature rise – clouds not helping
  • LabPunk – scientific jewellery
  • Letting the quantum cat out of the box
  • Finding airports on Alpha Centauri’s planets
  • Laser beams guarantee data privacy for companies and governments
  • Shrinking X-ray microscopes down to fit on the laboratory bench
  • Using science to create patterns
  • Bending light for faster communication and light-driven computing

There’s more information on these below and much more at

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The art of science in jewellery, metal, tape and music

  • laser rod to lapel pin
  • space–time silver cuff
  • complex art from simple rules
  • geometry, videos and lace on exhibition

Artworks inspired by science are on display and under discussion at the national physics and optics congress at the Australian National University in Canberra from 7 to 11 December. The congress theme is ‘The Art of Physics’.

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Women in physics going backwards, 11 dimensions, MOOCs

Today at the national physics and optics conference in Canberra:

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Education stories at the national physics congress

  • Letting first-year students loose in the lab

  • Girls in physics—what’s keeping the door closed?

  • MOOCs—better than uni?

  • Special effects improve understanding of complex science

Speakers available for interview in Canberra. Photos available. Stories embargoed until conference presentation.

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Women in physics still going backwards

Australia’s physicists will hear today that they’re still losing the fight for gender equity in the physical sciences.

International and national speakers at the national physics congress in Canberra today will reveal:

  • Australian schoolgirls still prefer life sciences to physical sciences (chemistry, physics etc) – with a 2:1 ratio

  • At university that worsens to 4:1 locking out women from many career options

  • The proportion of women in senior science positions is improving at just 1 per cent per annum, and going backwards in lower levels.

  • UK physicists are fixing the problem with Project Juno. Could Australia follow them?

There are also some remarkable role models of women in physics speaking at the conference including: string theory guru Lisa Randall, SKA astronomer Lisa Harvey-Smith, Bronwyn Dolman studying weather and footballers’ hamstrings; Elisabetta Barberio looking for dark energy in a gold mine; quantum computing guru Michelle Simmons and many others. [continue reading…]

Lasers and burps, a four degree catastrophe, fusion in five years, Chu at the Press Club and more

Coming up next week:

Fusion power in five years, 30 years or never; dark matter in a gold mine; lasers and burps, eleven dimensions, the worldwide spider web, and much more at the biennial physics congress in Canberra opening Monday morning.

And today – How obesity causes hypertension, a Monash paper in Cell

We also have five free tickets for journalists to see James Randi in Melbourne tonight at 6pm at the Convention Centre.

The physics conference highlights include:

  • The catastrophe of a four degree temperature rise. Steve Sherwood’s work on clouds suggests it’s more likely. But are they listening in Lima?
  • At the National Press Club Steven Chu on prudent management of risks of climate change with continued economic growth.
  • Looking for dark matter in the Stawell Gold Mine
  • Why we need 11 dimensions, and physics librettos – Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall
  • Lawrence Krauss, a cosmologist at the University of Arizona, who thinks Lisa’s ideas are far too complex, and also wrote The Physics of Star Trek
  • Women in physics are still going backwards – in schools, and academia in Australia. Speakers tell us how bad it is. Then UK physics leader Frances Saunders will tell us how to fix it
  • A portable synchrotron? The $200 million Australian Synchrotron’s X-ray microscopes are amazing. A Monash physicist thinks he can create a lab bench sized X-ray microscope.
  • The sound of a dozen birds – a system that can recognise any sound is being used to track the elusive orange-bellied parrot and can follow twelve songs at once – bird, fish, whale, human…
  • The beauty and serendipity of blue sky research – Serge Haroche from the College De France, who won a Nobel for trapping photons between super-reflective mirrors
  • Brian Schmidt from the ANU, whose Nobel-winning discovery that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating won his team the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics last month.

It’s Australia’s biennial physics congress—this year, it’s in Canberra from 7 to 11 December. Here are some of the highlights. All stories are embargoed until presentation at the conference. [continue reading…]

Obama’s energy guru, lasers and cows, fusion power and how many dimensions do we need?

This week the magician and sceptic James Randi begins touring the country. Back in the day he debunked Uri Geller’s psychic spoon-bending. More below.

And then next week I’ve got:Congress_banner_900x291_72dpi

  • Nobel winners on the future of energy and science
  • lasers measuring burping cows
  • spiders making optical fibres
  • the truth about fusion power
  • arguments about the number of dimensions in the Universe
  • the maths of The Great War
  • the physics of Star Trek
  • physics jewellery and art.

It’s Australia’s biennial physics congress —this year, it’s in Canberra from 7 to 11 December. Here are some of the highlights. All stories are embargoed until presentation at the conference.  [continue reading…]

Stories from the 2012 AIP Congress

New ideas on our energy future; hand-held cancer probes; ultra-powerful, high speed quantum computers;  and freeing up space on the mobile network.

These stories and more were presented at the national physics and optics conference, AIP/ACOFT 2012, at the University of New South Wales, Kensington.

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