Going for gold (in physics); have your say; professional development; and more: Physics in May

While some of us spent most of last month cheering on the Aussies, especially Cameron McEvoy, in the pool – there is plenty of good physics going on out of the pool as well.

Some of it will be coming to a pub near you as a part of the  Physics in the Pub event series, and there will be even more at the  AIP Congress in Perth in December. Abstract submissions are open until 15 June.

Australia produces some fantastic physicists, and that’s one of the reasons our organisation is so important. It’s great to have a solid community of physicists and physics fans to share their work and get excited about the work of others.

We recognise excellent Australian physics with our AIP medals. There are awards for physicists in a range of disciplines and at all career stages,  have a look at the list below to see if you might be eligible. Nominations close 1 June.

And we want to hear from you.

I get to write to you each month, so now we’re giving you the opportunity to talk back in our regular monthly surveys. The first one is only two questions long, so  check it out

We’re also considering whether a consolidated approach to managing the operations of the AIP could be an efficient use of members funds. Accordingly, we are seeking detailed expressions of interest to deliver AIP Operations, if you’re interested all the details are online.

Finally, I recently joined a meeting with Presidents, CEOs and other leaders of Australia’s most prominent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) organisations in Canberra, to discuss the important role that science and technology will play in Australia’s future.

As a result, we issued a statement calling for: a whole-of-government plan for science and technology; strategy to equip the future Australian workforce with STEM skills; strong investment in both basic and applied research; and creating policy informed by the best available evidence. You can read our full statement here.

Kind Regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

 AIP News

Have your say…

Have your say on the future direction of the Australian Institute of Physics – your peak organisation.

We want to make sure that the AIP gives back to our members, so as of this month we’ll begin introducing surveys into our monthly bulletin.

We’re starting off with two simple questions, but are hoping to learn more about our members, and physics-interested fans, around Australia.

We’ll be including more questions in future bulletins, but for now, let’s get started with two really simple ones.

How you can help shape Congress

The 2018 AIP National Congress is fast approaching, and we’re turning to our members to help make the event the national success we all want it to be. Member of the Organising and Program Committee, Gerd Schröder-Turk, explains how you can contribute to ensure that this Congress is your Congress.

Our 2018 AIP Congress in Perth, 9-13 Dec, is just over 32 weeks away. Get involved to make the congress the big Australian Physics event we all want it to be. Right now, we’re seeking input and ideas on the following topics:

  • Help shape the scientific program: With the high-profile plenary speakers now confirmed, the committee’s focus has shifted to the invited talks and the concurrent sessions. The bulk of the program is, as per usual, organised through the topical groups. Get in touch with the topical group representatives or the chair of the program committee to communicate your ideas and suggestions
  • Focus on industry: We’re hoping to shine a bright light on ‘Physics in Industry’ at the congress. Plans include a session on physics in industry with speakers from the industries, and a campaign “I’m a Physicist” profiling industry physicists on posters and screen backgrounds around the congress. If you are working in industry, or if any of your graduates have moved to industry, we’d love to hear from you. Please send your suggestions to Stuart Midgley.
  • Physics Education at the Congress: The PEG topical group (Physics Education) has kick-started planning for plenty of activities at the congress, including scientific sessions and beyond. Help us spread the word amongst our educators of all levels that this congress is for them! Maria Parappily is the PEG chair, and can be contacted for suggestions.

And of course, please make sure to submit your own abstract for presentation! Please encourage your postdocs, students and international collaborators to attend! Abstract submission is open until 15 June 2018.

For all the information and for abstract submissions, check out www.aip2018.org.au

“Melbourne Comedy-What?” Physics in the Pub comes to VIC.

After huge success in NSW, Physics in the Pub is finally coming to Victoria for a night of physics-inspired shenanigans. Based in an informal setting, Physics in the Pub encourages physicists, astronomers, theoreticians, educators and physics interested people to come together and share their love of science.

The call for presenters is now open, just email Phil Dooley to secure your place. You have eight minutes to present a song, poem, ventriloquist show or act of your choosing. If you’re stuck for ideas, bounce something around with Phil.

If you’re not a fan of the spotlight- make sure you come along and have a chuckle with those who are. The event is on Friday 11 May at 6:30pm. You can find further details on the Facebook page.

Move over Commonwealth Games, grab yourself a gold, silver or bronze medal for physics.

The AIP celebrate the best in Australian physics through their AIP medals. Each of these awards recognise an individual’s outstanding contribution to physics as a discipline.

Physicists come from diverse cultures, backgrounds, ethnicity and experiences. It is our goal to identify and nurture these future leaders of the organisation and ensure they are celebrated.

Nominations for these awards close on 1 June 2018.

Harrie Massey Medal The bi-annual award recognises contributions made by an Australian physicist working anywhere in the world, or a physicist carrying out work in Australia.

Alan Walsh Medal This award is a contribution by the NSW Branch of the AIP and recognises significant contributions by a practicing physicist in Australia.

Walter Boas Medal This medal recognises and promotes excellence in physics research in Australia within the past five years.

Education Medal An initiative of the 2000 AIP Congress in Adelaide, this medal recognises an outstanding contribution to university physics in Australia.

Bragg Gold Medal An initiative of the SA branch in 1992, the Bragg Gold Medal is designed to recognise the work of a PhD student which is judged to be of outstanding quality. The recipient must be under the auspices of an Australian university.

TH Laby Medal Recognises an outstanding body of work completed by an honours or masters student in Australia.

Ruby Payne-Scott Medal To recognise outstanding contributions made by a physicist (theoretical, experimental, computational, or technical) who is just beginning their career, and to help promote the careers of exceptionally promising young physicists.

Meet UNSW’s AIP gold medallist

Last month, the University of New South Wales held its annual School of Physics Student Awards Ceremony. The ceremony is designed to recognise and celebrate the achievements of top performing undergraduate physicists from the previous year and congratulate them on their hard work and success.

The AIP contributes to this ceremony with The Australian Institute of Physics Prize, which is given to a young top-performer who has accomplished high achievement across the course of the year.

This year’s Australian Institute of Physics Prize recipient was Adam Lackner, who was awarded for the highest aggregate in PHYS3111 Quantum Mechanics, PHYS3112 Experimental and Computational Physics; PHYS3113 Thermal and Statistical Physics; and PHYS3114 Electrodynamics.

Good luck in your future studies Adam, it’s wonderful to see physicists at the beginning of their careers performing so well.

We would also like to congratulate the following recipients:

The B L Turtle Memorial Astrophysics PrizeDean McClure
For the best performance in PHYS3116 Astrophysics

The First Year Director’s Prize: Jointly awarded to Jacob Saad & Jonathan Yates
For the best performance in PHYS1131 Higher Physics 1A and PHYS1231 Higher Physics 1B in the Engineering Program.

The Gordon and Mabel Godfrey Prize in Theoretical Physics 3Liam Hayes
For the best overall performance in a selection of courses chosen from PHYS3111 Quantum Mechanics; PHYS3113 Thermal and Statistical Physics; and PHYS3114 Electrodynamics; and PHYS3115 Particle Physics and the Early Universe

The Gordon and Mabel Godfrey Award in Theoretical Physics 4Jasraja Grewal
For the best performance in the Honours courses, Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Solid State Physics and Electromagnetism and the Standard Model, by a student in the Bachelor of Science program.

The Head of School’s Prize in PhysicsMitchell Kiczynski
For the best Year 4 Honours thesis in Physics in the Bachelor of Science program.

The Physics Staff Prize in Experimental PhysicsStephen Roche
For the best performance in PHYS3112 Experimental and Computational Physics and PHYS3117 Physics Laboratory

The Physics Staff Prize for HonoursWilliam Pappas
For the best performance in the Physics Honours Year in the Bachelor of Science program.

The Physics Staff Prize for Physics 1: Ian Thorvaldson
For the best performance in PHYS1141 Higher Physics 1A and PHYS1241 Higher Physics 1B (Special) in the Bachelor of Science program.

The Physics Staff Prize for Physics 2: Jointly awarded to Linda Wong & Samuel Thirurajah
For the highest aggregate in the courses PHYS2111 Quantum Physics, PHYS2113 Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity, and PHYS2114 Electromagnetism, in the Bachelor of Science program.

Other Physics News & Opportunities

Team up with your local MP to promote STEM

After another successful Science meets Parliament, the team behind the event—Science & Technology Australia—have launched a new initiative to help scientists build relationships with parliamentarians: The STEM Ambassador program.

The program works on a buddy system by pairing scientists and parliamentarians together over a 12-month period to encourage an enduring impact in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Australia. The aim is simple—to develop a strong Australian STEM sector.

The successful candidates will be expected to invest their time and energy into forming a professional relationship with their local MP by attending workshops, meetings and media conferences. This will create a network of ambassadors who will form relationships with their local Member of Parliament.

Much like Science meets Parliament, the purpose of this program is to deepen understanding of science and technology and build support among Australia’s political leadership.

The first round of applications close 3 June. The program will run from July 2018 to June 2019 in a variety of electorates.

To apply, you need to have a 150-200-word biography prepared, answer six questions of similar length and pay a small application fee. You can apply and find a preview of the application form here.

Scientists from all disciplines are encouraged to apply, so let’s make sure physics is represented in the first round of the program!

$3,000 to $8,000 leadership training grants available for women in science

Women & Leadership Australia are offering scholarships of between $3,000 and $8,000 for women in the science sector to participate in leadership courses.

In 2017, gender equality was put into the spotlight, as efforts to eliminate gender bias gained traction. The program intends to build on this momentum for 2018 by providing women in science with development and leadership opportunities.

Women & Leadership Australia has developed professional programs ‘for women’ but not necessarily ‘about women’. Participants experiences are tailored by the opportunities and complexities of being a female leader in Australia today.

Flick through the development opportunities on the website and don’t hesitate to apply-spots are strictly limited.

Expressions of Interest are being sourced until 15 Junewww.wla.edu.au/funding2

Add your voice to the global survey addressing the Gender Gap in Science

The Gender Gap in Science Project is calling for participants of all genders, ages and ethnicity to answer a few questions to help gauge the status of scientists and mathematicians all over the world. The insights obtained from this survey will help inform interventions by ICSU and member unions to increase participation in STEM fields, especially for women.

A crucial component of the Gender Gap in Mathematical, Computing, and Natural Sciences project is the compilation of self-reported data from scientists via a global, multilingual, and multidisciplinary survey.

The goal is to study social dynamics in the fields of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, computer science, and mathematics by asking a large number of scientists and practitioners about their experiences, challenges, and interests, as well as focused information about women in these fields.

The analysis of the compiled data will allow comparisons across regions, countries, disciplines, level of development of the country, sector of employment, and age.

All answers are confidential and may help form future interventions.

If you’re human and you’re reading this, you’re eligible to take part. You can find the survey here.

International Microscopy Congress – call for abstracts open until 31 May

The 19th International Microscopy Congress is reopening abstract submissions from the 10 May 2018 to 31 May 2018 and is strongly encouraging the submission of late abstracts.

The Congress is held in Sydney from the 9-14 September 2018 and showcases an impressive line-up of plenary speakers, including local talent Dr. Sophie Primig, UNSW Sydney, Australia and international legend Assoc. Prof. Jennifer Dionne.

IMC19 aims to attract speakers from all scientific backgrounds with this year’s theme: Microscopy: Bridging the Sciences

Held at the Sydney International Convention Centre, the new venue boasts a backdrop which includes both the Sydney harbour bridge and the Opera House.

After the opening date, late abstracts can be submitted here.

Einstein’s spooky action goes massive

The elusive quantum mechanical phenomenon of entanglement has now been made a reality in massive objects.

Results published in Nature show that two vibrating drumheads, each the width of a human hair, can display the “spooky action at a distance” that famously troubled Einstein.

The discovery was made by an international team of researchers including UNSW Canberra Senior Lecturer Matt Woolley.

“This demonstration is the culmination of several years’ work,” Dr Woolley says.

Such work opens the door to the future demonstration of teleportation between massive objects and the study of the poorly understood interplay between quantum mechanics and gravity.

Entanglement, whereby two distant objects become intertwined in a manner that defies both classical physics and a “common sense” understanding of reality, is perhaps one of the strangest phenomena of quantum theory. In 1935, Einstein expressed his concern over this concept, referring to it as a “spooky action at a distance”.

Read full article via SciMex.

Underwater rocket

Commonwealth Games ambassadorCameron McEvoyCameron McEvoy has taken home gold for the men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay, but Cameron’s more than just a gun in the pool. The 24-year-old athlete is also a hopeful astronaut.

Cameron’s signature swimming cap bears a familiar mark; the signal detected by LIGO in September 2015 during a black hole merger. The event was a pivotal moment in physics, as the event lead to the first detection of gravitational waves.

By displaying the wavelength on his swimming cap, Cameron keeps himself close to his two passions at all times. When asked about the mark, he’ll eagerly jump into a physics discussion with reporters; never missing an opportunity to talk about Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Cameron is currently studying a Bachelor of Science (Advanced Honours) at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. His majors are physics and mathematics, two of the prerequisites for becoming an astronaut. He’s also labelled the ‘fastest teenager in history’ for the 100m freestyle.

Cameron admits that his love for astrophysics helps keep him grounded while performing in a high-profile career. So, once he retires from his swimming career, Cameron can’t wait to see where he ends up— hopefully in outer space.

Aussie Physics in the News

Corals build ‘cloud umbrellas’ to help keep cool under blazing sun, study says:

How cosmic collisions and epic explosions create the elements:

How Gold Coast surfer Jay Gambetta became one of IBM’s top quantum physicists:

Changemaker in STEM sets sites on the States:

Peter Thonemann, Australian fusion pioneer:

Graduates with autism recognised for unique skill set, given new opportunities in public sector:

Australian scientists pioneer new way to hear black holes colliding across the universe:

Gender gap in science to last hundreds of years unless more is done:

Australians Will Attempt to Break Stargazing Guiness World Record:

Curious Kids: If Australia is at the bottom of the world, why are we the right way up?

Shine on you bendy diamond:

Weird quantum physics is key to keeping your credit card safe:

There Are Giant Plasma Tubes Floating Above Earth:

Books for review

If you are interested in reviewing one of these books for publication in Australian Physics, please contact the editor Brian James at aip_editor@physics.org.au.

  • Lectures on General Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Black Holes by Badis Ydri
  • The Quantum LabryrinthHow 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 Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action by Jennifer Coopersmith (printed copy)
  • The Black Book of Quantum Chromodynamics by John Campbell, Joey Huston, and Frank Krauss (printed copy)


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. Alternatively, feel free to submit your event to the AIP calendar for members to access.


Physics in the Pub
May 9 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Smith’s Alternative, 76 Alinga St, Canberra


Sydney Science Forum – Karl, The Universe and Everything
May 9 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
York Theatre, Seymour Centre City Road, Camperdown

Dude, where’s my hoverboard?
May 15 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Botany View Hotel 597 King St, Newtown

Minute molecular mechanics and best bras
May 15 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
UOW UniBar Building 12, Northfields Ave, Gwynneville

Challenging the Laws of Physics
May 16 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm (sold out)

What the quark?
May 16 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Harold Park Hotel 70A Ross St , Forest Lodge


Australian Tour | “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo” featuring Apollo 16 astronaut, Charlie Duke, and Apollo mission control flight director, Gerry Griffin, live on stage
May 10 @ 7:30 pm
Brisbane City Hall

Light Play
May 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Science and Engineering Centre (P Block), 2 George Street, Brisbane QLD Australia The Cube, Level 4

Here comes the future: AI and 3D printing
May 15 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
The Normanby Hotel 1 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill

Scintillating tech
May 15 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
The Irish Club Hotel 80 Russell St , Toowoomba

Farming fuel
May 15 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Heritage Exchange 151 Flinders St, Townsville


Amazing atoms
May 14 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Wheatsheaf Hotel 39 George St, Thebarton


AIP eventPublic Lecture – Shedding Light on Dark Matter
May 10 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
University of Tasmania, Physics Lecture Thearte 1, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Colloquium: Evolution of star formation and dust properties of galaxies over cosmic time
May 10 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Swinburne Virtual Reality Theatre AR Building, Room 104

AIP eventPhysics in the Pub
May 11 @ 6:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Beer Deluxe, 329 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn

Make it, Shake it, Bake it: Warm Gas in the Circumgalactic Medium
May 15 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Medley Theatre 104 Redmond Barry Building, The University of Melbourne

Closing in on the Hidden universe
May 16 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
University of Melbourne David Caro building, Level 7 conference room

The basics of building the Universe
May 16 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
The Royal Melbourne Hotel 629 Bourke Street, Melbourne

The lithium-rich giant star puzzle
May 25 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
University of Melbourne David Caro building, Level 7 conference room

2018 AGM & May Public Meeting | Countdown to an Australian Space Agency
May 28 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
RMIT University – Swanston Academic Building Building 80, Level 09, Room 12, 445 Swanston Street, Melbourne


Australian Tour | “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo” featuring Apollo 16 astronaut, Charlie Duke, and Apollo mission control flight director, Gerry Griffin, live on stage
May 13 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Perth Concert Hall

Scoping out the answers
May 14 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
The Boston 205 James St (Entry Via Milligan Street), Northbridge

AIP event denotes AIP events


[VIC] 5th Asian and Oceanic Congress on Radiation Protection – AOCRP5
20-23 May 2018
Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre
Melbourne, Vic

[Int’l] XXXIX International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP2018)
4-12 July 2018
Seoul, South Korea

[NSW] International Workshop for Superconducting Sensors and Detectors 2018
24-27 July 2018
CSIRO Lindfield, 36 Bradfield Rd,
Lindfield, NSW

[NSW] 9th Vacuum and Surface Science Conference of Asia and Australia
13-16 August 2018
SMC Function and Conference Centre
Sydney, NSW

[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
Adelaide Convention Centre, SA

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

[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