National Science Week: physics in August

National Science Week is upon us, beginning this Saturday and running until 23 August. The country’s annual celebration of all things scientific will be a festival of physics this year, most notably with visits from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, astronaut Chris Hadfield, multiple public events and this year’s national experiment: ‘Galaxy Explorer’. There’s more detail on these events later in this bulletin, and a complete listing on the National Science Week website.

The AIP’s annual Women in Physics Lecture Tour is now under way. The 2015 Lecturer, Associate Professor Jodie Bradby from ANU, has already visited Tasmania and Victoria, and next will speak in South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and the ACT. For Jodie’s complete itinerary, see below.


Warrick Couch
President, Australian Institute of Physics


Australia’s annual celebration of all things science runs from 15 to 23 August, with a feast of physics on show.

Astrophysicist, ‘world-recognised badass’, and host of Cosmos Neil deGrasse Tyson has kicked off his tour in Melbourne, and will speak at events in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. Event details

Famed astronaut and YouTube sensation Colonel Chris Hadfield will share his space experiences such as breaking into a Space Station with a Swiss Army Knife and being temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. He will be visiting Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Event details

School activities come under this year’s theme of ‘Making waves: the science of light’, in line with 2015 being the International Year of Light.

What’s the Matter? is an educational theatre performance exploring the connection between Newton’s and Einstein’s research on gravity. It is a fact-filled theatrical experience using an action packed narrative, appealing characters, comedy, high energy and audience interaction, along with some famous historical scientists explaining light, photonics, matter and gravity. Event details

This year’s national experiment ‘Galaxy Explorer’ invites Australians to help understand galactic evolution(see below).

And there’s much more. See the National Science Week website for all 1500 events around the country.

Citizen scientists explore galaxies far, far away

Reaching out to all who’ve ever wanted to be an astronomer.

ABC’s ‘Galaxy Explorer’, Science Week’s national experiment, is up and running for the month of August, with ordinary Australians doing real science from their own homes, classifying 300,000 galaxies 3-4 billion light years away to help researchers understand how galaxies grow and change.

Dr Karl’s radio and television promos for Galaxy Explorer are being broadcast across the ABC network. In its first five days alone, about 22,000 galaxies had been classified thanks to the group effort of over 2,000 citizen scientists. Now it’s up to almost 80,000 galaxies, but there are still 140,000 to go.

Get involved at:

Help break the world records for stargazing

This Science Week will see Australians attempt to smash two Guinness World Records: Most People Stargazing at a Single Site (Canberra) and Most People Stargazing Across Multiple Sites in a Country.

Mt. Stromlo Observatory will be leading both record attempts (and Canberrans can be involved in both).  Elsewhere, you can join the attempt to break the multiple site record at one of the more than 40 registered stargazing sites at schools, observatories and other venues dotted across the Eastern states. You can participate in: Brisbane, Broken Hill, Ballarat, Belanglo, Oyster Bay, Sydney, Albury, Melbourne, Huonville, Tasmania, and more. Find sites here.

Friday 21 August, 7pm. Contact details.


Women in Physics Lecture Tour

The 2015 Women in Physics Lecture Tour is under way, with this year’s Women in Physics Lecturer,Jodie Bradby (pictured) already having spoken at 10 school and public events in Victoria and Tasmania.The full itinerary is:

  • Victoria 5–7 August
  • Tasmania 10–12 August
  • South Australia
  • New South Wales
    • 24 August (Newcastle): two schools in Newcastle TBA
    • 25 August (Sydney): North Sydney Girls High School and MLC School Burwood
    • 26 August (Wollongong): St Mary Star of the Sea College and public talk at Wollongong Science Centre
    • 27 August (Sydney): public talks at Macquarie University and Sydney Observatory
  • WA 16 September
  • Queensland 14–15 (and possibly 16) October

For details regarding WA, Queensland and the ACT, contact Elizabeth Chelkowska.

NSW physics stars sought

The NSW AIP community outreach award is looking for nominations until 9 October. The Award recognises notable contribution to physics education or community engagement and a demonstrated passion for the study of physics.

NSW universities are invited to nominate one student for the $500 AIP NSW Postgraduate Award, and for the Royal Society of NSW Jak Kelly Scholarship prize, also $500. These awards have been created to encourage excellence in postgraduate work. For more information, email Frederick Osman by Friday 9 October.


Physicists up for Eureka prizes

A number of physcisists and physics projects have been named as finalists for the Australian Museum’s Eureka Prizes.

More information about all of the finalists can be found at the Australian Museum website.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Sydney Town Hall on 26 August. We wish all of them the best of luck. If you are familiar with any of them, you’ll know they all well deserve the recognition. Watch the Twitter hashtag #Eureka15 on the 26th to be first to know the results.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Communication and Journalism, and School Science.