Igniting stars & light tweezers for Science Week; Physics at the Eurekas

National Science Week is happening from 11 – 19 August and physics is again well represented. There are over 2,000 events around the country. I encourage you to take part in the Week—whether you’re running an event or attending, you may inspire a next generation physicist or even come up with an event idea for next year. Read more about the physics events below.

Congratulations to the Australian Research Council’s 2018 Laureate Fellows—announced last week. This year’s Fellows include many involved with physics including Professor Tamara Davis, Professor Stephen Foley, Professor Julian Gale, Professor Karl Glazebrook, Professor Hanns-Christoph Nägerl and Distinguished Professor Kourash Kalantar-zadeh. Well done to the 15 Australian Research Council Physical Scientists who were awarded ARC Future Fellowships. Read about their projects here.

We also welcome Dr Ceri Brenner to Australia as she has already embarked on her month-long AIP Women in Physics Lecture Tour, delivering public lectures around the country. Be sure to go and see one of her lectures—Igniting stars with super intense lasers—around the country.

The 2018 Eureka Prize nominations were announced at the end of last month—featuring physicists around the country. Congratulations to the Optical Physics in Neuroscience Team from the University of Queensland on their novel interdisciplinary research, Associate Professor Alan Duffy for engaging the public in science communication, and Dr Mohsen Rahmani for developing a new class of nanoscale surface.

In our quick survey this month we are posing a question that should affect about 1,000 of you (the approximate number of delegates to Congress). We are interested in finding out your preferences for when Congress is held: December or July. It would be great to get a large number of responses, so follow this link to take the survey.

Australian Science Innovations is also inviting the Australian physics community to submit their toughest physics questions for the Asian Physics Olympiad, which is to be hosted in Australia for the first time. Two hundred of the world’s brightest teenagers will head to Adelaide from 5 – 13 May 2019.

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Celebrate physics this National Science Week

Don’t miss one of the 2000+ events around the country this 11 – 19 August. Here are some hand-picked physics events, with more on the National Science Week website.

  • AIP Women in Physics Lecture Tour 
    Ceri Brenner, the 2018 Woman in Physics lecturer, began her tour around the country at the end of last month and will be touring around the country until 21 August.
    National tour, more details below
  • The Quantum Computing Revolution
    Join Michelle Simmons, 2018 Australian of the Year, as she shares her insights into quantum physics and atomic electronics.
    Tuesday August 14, 6pm to 7pm, University of NSW, Sydney
  • New Light Science Spectacular
    Explore light from nanoscale biophotonics with Dr Roman Kostecki and explore the Universe with Dr Jerry Madakbas, a photonics physicist who builds night vision sensors for NASA. Miroslav Kostecki will also reveal the hidden science of light in live and interactive demonstrations. The audience will have a chance to control large colour light ribbons on stage via their smartphones, using their phone cameras to see infrared light.
    Monday August 13, 6.30pm to 9pm, University of Adelaide, Adelaide
  • Making light work
    Remarkably, light can be used to pick up and hold a single blood cell—which is the premise of Physicist Professor David McGloin’s work. At this event he’ll explain how light can be used to create tweezers and tractor beams that can probe the microscopic world, helping to study the mechanisms of disease.
    Thursday August 9, 6pm to 7pm, Guildford Library, Sydney
  • Luminary Lecture: A brief history of the Universe
    What are we seeing when we look at the night sky? Astrophysicist Josh Calcino will explore the physics of the early Universe, from the formation of the first stars and galaxies. Learn about the formation of structure in the Universe, the cosmic dark ages, and observation of the present-day Universe.
    Monday August 13, 6.30pm to 7.30pm, Broadbeach Library, Gold Coast
  • Physics laser show
    Want to learn something new about physics? This laser show promises to teach you about the wonders of the world, through physics.
    Thursday August 16, 1pm to 2pm, University of Melbourne, Melbourne
  • Fact or Fiction: Big Science Quiz Night
    Interested in where Big Science is taking us? Then it’s time to play Fact or Fiction 3, the series that takes a big look at big science. As the audience, you can be a contestant using your phone as we take a deep dive into Big Science using popular game show formats like Millionaire Hot Seat, Family Feud, The Price is Right, and Have You Been Paying Attention.
    Tuesday August 16, 7pm to 8.30pm, Sydney Grammar School, Sydney
  • Meet the NASA scientists and planet hunters
    NASA scientists are headed to Australia, bringing Saturn to Sydney, new planets to Perth, and more. Audiences will hear from NASA scientists and planet hunters at a series of events hosted by Australian National University Mt Stromlo Observatory astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker.
    Sunday 12 August to Friday 16 August, Nation-wide

AIP News

Have your say

Would you like to hear more about something in the AIP bulletin? Do you feel like you’re getting bang for your buck for your membership? Or would you like to hear from the AIP Executive Committee more about what we’re up to?

We’d love your feedback for our August survey. The survey will take less than one minute and involves one question.

Take this chance to have your say on the future direction of the Australian Institute of Physics, and help us to make your membership more worthwhile. We’ll be releasing the results soon.

Submissions for Young Scientist Prize in Nuclear Physics valued at 1,000 € now open

If you know a physicist who is undertaking promising experimental or theoretical research in nuclear physics, nominate them today for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics’ Young Science Prize in Nuclear Physics.

The Prize consists of 1,000 €, a medal, and certificate that cites the recipient’s contributions. It recognises and encourages promising experimental or theoretical research in nuclear physics, including the advancement of methods, procedures, techniques or devices that contribute in a significant way to nuclear physics research.

Candidates must have a maximum of eight years of research experience (excluding career interruptions) following the Ph.D., or equivalent degree.

Nominate here before September 1:  http://iupap.org/commissions/c12-nuclear-physics/news/

Nominations for prizes will be awarded at the next International Nuclear Physics Conference, July 29 – August 2, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Ceri Brenner’s Women in Physics Lecture Tour: on now!

Dr Ceri Brenner, the 2018 Woman in Physics Lecturer, began her tour around the country at the end of last month and will be touring around the country until 21 August.

Ceri is a physicist using the most powerful lasers in the world to develop innovative imaging technology for the medical, nuclear and aerospace fields. She is passionate about application-focused research and extreme conditions physics.

Make sure you head to one of her public lectures around the country:

Vic Physics Teachers’ Network Physics Extravaganza

Spend an evening with the stars at the Vic Physics Teachers’ Network physics extravaganza on Friday 17 August at Swinburne University.

The program includes:

  • 4:30pm. Igniting stars with super intense lasers with Dr Ceri Brenner
    Dr Ceri Brenner is the AIP Women in Physics Lecturer for 2018 and is in Australia as part of her national tour. Her research combines pure and applied physics and requires engineering to handle the most extreme conditions in our solar system.
  • 5:30pm. DEEPER DARKER BRIGHTER Art exhibition with refreshments
    Pamela Bain and Carolyn Lewens convey the wonder of science through art and explore the Universe with the Swinburne University Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing. The result is an odyssey of aesthetic and sensory experiences. (See image below).
  • 6:30pm. State of the Universe VIII—the people’s edition with Dr Rebecca Allen
    Dr Rebecca Allen is astronomer at Swinburne University and will discuss some of the contemporary men and women who have advanced the studies of astronomy, and where we are today.
  • 7:30pm. Telescope viewing. 
    Weather permitting.

Register for the free event here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScjtokl2r_q6o4HVKDBGe1Zdoy0Lj3CgLdcr3CqUNA_TDdStQ/viewform

ECLIPSE, Carolyn Lewens, digitally remastered Cyanotype Photogram on cotton rag.

Notice to all members

The auditor McLean Delmo Bentleys, of Level 3, 302 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122 has resigned from their position of auditor and since the AIP is defined as a small company limited by guarantee (as defined in section 45B of the Corporations Act 2001) we are not required to replace the auditor at this time.

Other Physics News & Opportunities

Physicists acknowledged in Eureka Prize nominations

The 2018 Eureka prize nominations have been announced, showcasing the work of physicists around the country.

Well done to:

  • Associate Professor Alan Duffy, nominated for the Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science (pictured right)
  • The Optical Physics in Neuroscience Team from the University of Queensland, nominated for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
  • Dr Mohsen Rahmani nominated for the Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Associate Professor Duffy regularly appears in Australian media and demonstrates that astrophysics can stand alongside sport or business as a news segment. He says that “science communication is about reminding the public of the incredible world that lies beyond their everyday experiences, but is intimately connected with their everyday lives.”

The University of Queensland’s Optical Physics in Neuroscience team (pictured left) has been nominated for their cutting-edge methods in studying how brains work to detect gravity and motion. They’ve used optical trapping and novel microscopes to successfully image the functioning brain circuits that process gravity and motion.

Dr Mohsen Rahmani has developed a new class of nanoscale surfaces that have transformed the capabilities of today’s miniaturised consumer devices. His research has a wide range of applications including night-vision technology, adjustable lenses and ultra-sensitive biochemical detectors, and several organisations are interested in commercialising his work. Dr Rahmani was also the 2017 International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Young Scientist Prize in Laser Physics and Photonics (Fundamental Aspects).

Winners will be announced at the Eureka Prize Award Dinner on 29 August, 2018. 

Mentoring and guidance in careers workshop: MAGIC!

Applications are open for the second Mentoring and Guidance in Careers (MAGIC) workshop for women and gender diverse early career researchers with a PhD in mathematical or physical sciences, awarded within the past seven years.

The workshop will explore the many facets of forging a career in academic, government or industry settings. It focuses on creating building blocks for success and resilience.

Successful applications will receive financial support for economy round-trip travel from their home institution to the workshop and will be provided accommodation from 29 October – 2 November at University House in Canberra.

Please see http://wp.maths.usyd.edu.au/MAGIC/ for further information and for the application form. Get in quick, applications close at midnight tonight (August 6 2018).

Become a volunteer for the World’s toughest physics competition: 5 –13 May 2019

In last years’ Asian Physics Olympiad in Russia, the experimental exam on photonic crystals went for five hours (have a go for yourself here). And now Australian Science Innovations want you to submit your questions for the World’s toughest physics competition, held in Australia for the first time next year.

The Asian Physics Olympiad will be held in Adelaide in 2019 and will host 200 of the world’s best and brightest teenagers from 25 countries. They’ll be in Australia for nine days of academic competitions and cultural activities, from 5 – 13 May 2019.

Australian Science Innovations is inviting the Australian physics community to contribute questions, or question ideas for the 2019 APhO exams. They’re looking for volunteers to help with judging and marking too.

Submit your tough physics question here by 31 August 2019.

Or apply to become a volunteer at the world’s toughest physics competition.

The wide and harmful reach of light pollution

Article originally published on July 11 in The Lighthouse – Macquarie University’s daily news website. See the original article here, written by Sarah Maguire.

There are eight billion people on the planet, and roughly one-third of them can’t see the Milky Way when they look up at the night sky.

This inability to see the galaxy that for millennia has fired humanity’s imagination and curiosity is the result of the electric lighting—on streets and in homes, across industry and commerce—that humans use to keep the dark at bay. And the widespread adoption of energy-efficient LED lighting has, ironically, made the situation even worse.

For astronomers like Dr Richard McDermid, a dark sky is all-important to their science. And it’s a no-brainer that the massive investment made to build and run observatories needs to be protected by keeping light pollution to a minimum in the areas where they operate. But, as the Macquarie University academic has discovered after looking further into light pollution, it has serious impacts right here on Earth that are only beginning to be fully understood.

“The impact of light pollution is surprisingly broad, touching on very disparate issues— ecology, marine biology, human health, urban development, cultural heritage, as well as astronomy,” says Richard, a senior lecturer and ARC Future Fellow.

There is the obvious impact of energy wastage: “there’s really no reason for us to illuminate the Universe,” Richard says, referring to the significant amount of artificial light from human activity that is visible from space, and naming street lights and domestic skylights as among some of the major culprits. However, as humans light up the night to remove the limitations that darkness places on our own activities, animals that share our environment are affected, too.

Read the full article here: www.lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/july/from-animals-in-peril-to-human-illness-light-pollutions-wide-and-harmful-reach

Or register for the Dark Sky Conference here: http://www.fredwatsontours.com.au/dark-sky-conference.html

Aussie Physics in the News

Want to charge your iPhone instantly? A world-first ‘super battery’ could make it possible

Cosmic neutrinos traced to their source for first time: A distant, violent black hole called a blazar 

No One Tell Australian Scientists That Nanotechnology Research Is BS, ‘Cause They Are Nailing It 

Like a car aerial: tuning in from the quietest place on the planet 

Australian Scientists Made A Liquid Metal Heartbeat 

How an alien seaweed invasion spawned an Antarctic mystery 

Books for review

If you are interested in reviewing this book for publication in Australian Physics, please contact the Australian Physics editors Peter Kappen and David Hoxley at aip_editor@physics.org.au.

  • Diffusive Spreading in Nature, Technology and Society by Armin Bunde, Jurgen Caro, Jorg Karger, Gero Vogl
  • Lectures on General Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Black Holes by Badis Ydri
  • The Quantum Labryrinth—How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Relativity by Paul Halpern
  • Gravity, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Gradiometry by Alexey V Veryaskin (ebook)
  • Thermal Properties of Matter by Joe Khachan (ebook)
  • Semiconductor Integrated Optics for Switching Light by Charlie ironside (ebook)
  • The Black Book of Quantum Chromodynamics by John Campbell, Joey Huston, and Frank Krauss (printed copy)


[QLD] Island Physics 2018: Advancing quantum technologies in Australia
6 August @ 12:00 pm – 9 August @ 12:00 pm
Peppers Blue Resort, Magnetic Island QLD

International Conference on Laser, Optics and Photonics
August 23 @ 9:00 am – August 25 @ 5:00 pm
Paris, France

[NSW] 9th International Microscopy Congress (IMC19)
9-14 September 2018
Sydney International Convention Centre
Sydney, NSW

[SA] The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education
September 28 2018
Flinders University, SA

[SA] Engineering and Physical Sciences in Medicine Conference 2018
October 28 – October 31 2018
Adelaide Convention Centre, SA

[WA] South Pacific Environmental Radioactivity Association Conference 2018
6-9 November 2018
University of Western Australia
Perth, WA

[NSW] 17th Australian Space Research Conference 2018
13 – 15 November 2018
University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW

[WA] 2018 AIP Congress
9-14 December 2018
University of Western Australia
Perth, WA

[NSW] 43rd Condensed Matter & Materials Meeting (“Wagga 2019”)
5-8 February 2019
Wagga Wagga, NSW