Shape shifting particles; underground labs; QLD’s forgotten Nobel Prize winner; and more

Australian Institute of Physics Congress, Media releases

Sunday 4 December 2016

  • Highlights from Day 1 of the Physics Congress
  • Australian and international researchers available for interview throughout the week
  • For more highlights, and daily updates visit

Our neutrino world – explained by 2015 Nobel Prize winner Professor Takaaki Kajita

We live in a world of neutrinos. Thousands of billions of neutrinos—mostly created by the Sun—are flowing through your body every second. You cannot see them and you do not feel them. So how did we discover they have mass, and why does that challenge our standard model of the Universe?

Professor Kajita will give a public lecture, telling the story of shape-shifting particles and underground super-labs on Monday night hosted by Australian physicist Hans Bachor (ANU), with early career astrophysicist Tamara Davis (UQ) and neutrino physicist Yvonne Wong (UNSW). 

He’ll also meet two QLD year 11 students at 10.30am on Monday:

  • Brody Phillips, from Brisbane Adventist College, will ask Professor Kajita, “Are there any reasons as to why you did research into the study of neutrinos?”
  • Courtney Smith from Rockhampton Girls’ Grammar School wants to know, “If a fourth type of neutrino is discovered might it be a suitable candidate to classify as dark matter and as such unlock the mysteries of dark matter and energy, bridging gaps in our cosmological knowledge?”

Celebrating lasers; and Australia’s forgotten Nobel Prize winner

Lasers – today they are used in everything from barcode scanners to 3D printers, manufacturing, surgery, telecommunications and even measuring gravitational waves.

What many people don’t know is that a man born 100 years ago in Atherton, Far North Queensland developed the technologies that made the laser possible and won a Nobel Prize for the work.

Alexander Prokhorov won the Nobel Prize in 1964 along with Nicolay Basov (USSR) and Charles Townes (USA). You can read more about Prokhorov at here.

The Australian Optical Society (AOS) sessions at the Congress on Monday morning will be held in honour of Prokhorov— AOS President, Professor Stephen Collins can speak to the topic.

Also tomorrow:

  • Australian scientists stalking, sensing and trapping elusive dark matter (NSW, WA, SA)
  • A new constellation of Australian satellites–packed up and ready for launch in 2017 (Canberra)
  • ANU’s new telescope-on-a-chip will help us squint at alien Earths (Canberra)
  • Why antimatter matters: mass producing hydrogen’s opposite (WA)
  • What’s next for Cosmology? How ‘new physics’ is taking us from the theories into the ‘real world’ to hunt for the origins of the Universe (University of Auckland)


Media contacts

@AsiaAusPhysics #BrisPhys16

The APCC-AIP Congress is the Joint 13th Asia Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd Australian Institute of Physics Congress incorporating the Australian Optical Society Conference. It’s on at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 4 to 8 December 2016.