New Chief Scientist appointed, Dirac Medal awarded, and Hidden Physicist discovered

Welcome to the final bulletin for 2020 and my final bulletin as AIP president. At our council meeting in February 2021 I will step aside as we welcome Professor Sven Rogge (UNSW Physics) as incoming president, and Professor Nicole Bell (UniMelb Physics) as vice president.

I wish them all the very best. I’m thrilled that the AIP has such a solid leadership team moving forward. Also, can I say what an honour and privilege it was to serve in this role. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over the past few years to make the AIP so strong.

Last month saw some significant awards and appointments, not the least of which was the welcome news that former AIP president Dr Cathy Foley is set to become Australia’s next Chief Scientist. See our story below.

The AIP was also proud to be co-sponsor of this year’s Dirac Medal, which was presented to Professor Susan Scott from ANU’s Department of Quantum Science.

ANSTO’s new Centre for Accelerator Science has a new leader, Dr Ceri Brenner.

You’ll find more about her, Professor Scott and a slew of other physicists doing marvellous things in this issue.

You’ll also get to meet this month’s Hidden Physicist – Tasmania’s Nicola Ramm – and catch up on the latest physics research happening around the country.

Plus, there are some jobs to be found, and another story from the Australian Physicist vaults.

And a reminder that it’s time to renew your AIP membership. For a quick and easy way to do so, please go here.

Finally, this month’s picture was taken for a media release on making diamonds at room temperature. You’ll find the story below.

I wish you a relaxed and enjoyable holiday period, and sincerely hope that 2021 will be a calmer year for us all.   

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading New Chief Scientist appointed, Dirac Medal awarded, and Hidden Physicist discovered


Renew now to get $10 off your membership fees for the 2021 calendar year

Logging into your membership profile allows you to pay your 2021 membership fees online, generate your invoice and update your membership details.

  1. Login to your membership profile, here.
  2. Click RENEW TO 1 JAN 2022.
  3. Follow the prompts to pay. To pay with credit/debit card click PAY ONLINE. To pay by direct deposit or cheque click INVOICE ME. You may also renew over the phone.

If you have forgotten your password, please click ‘Forgot password’ on the login page. Type in your email, decrypt a security code, then press Submit. This sends an email to your email account on record. Follow the steps in the email to generate a new password.

Note that this year we are not using discount codes for the $10 off. We have already taken the $10 off of your membership fee. See the Membership tab for 2021 AIP membership fee details.

We look forward to seeing you in 2021, be it in-person or virtually!

If you have any questions, or require assistance please email our Operations Manager on, or phone +61478 260 533 for assistance.

Best Regards,

AIP President Jodie Bradby and the AIP 2020 Federal Executive Team

The PM’s Prizes, online gigs galore, new links with Korea and more physics news for November

Since our last bulletin we had the announcement of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics which was of course awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for work on Black Holes. I was delighted to see Andrea Ghez being honoured as the fourth women to win a Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, announced last week, saw physics very well represented. Congratulations to David Blair, Susan Scott, David McClelland, Peter Veitch and Xiaojing Hao. I was especially thrilled to hear this news given David and Susan joined us online last month to discuss the result of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics. You’ll find a link to a recording below if you missed it.

Coming up this week there are several online AIP talks and panels around the country, including three Zoom events and talks organised by the NSW branch. This replaces the regular AIP Industry Day at CSIRO and there is a strong career development theme in the first event Three Faces of Physics on Tuesday 3 November. Register here. We are also hosting an online discussion with Dietmar Dommenget from ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes on November 6, at 11am AEST. See below.

Read on, too, to meet this month’s latest Hidden Physicist, Leon Smith.

For physics film buffs, we have five double passes to give away to the new movie, Radioactive, which charts the life of Marie Curie.

We are also looking for an eye-catching physics picture for our 2021 letterhead – please send in your physics pics now! In 2020 we featured ANU Physicist Cormac Corr and a pretty purple plasma. What physics will feature in the AIP’s 2021 communications? See below for details.

On more serious matters, the AIP is proud to announce a new working relationship with a prestigious physics institution in Korea, and our colleagues over at Science & Technology Australia have just released an important survey of the fears and plans of Australian scientists. Details below.

Teachers and researchers might like to note that we’ve added a new section to our website, which is chock full of teaching tools, information packages and handy contacts. Check it out at

Finally, I was delighted to celebrate ‘double donut day’ (zero COVID cases, zero COVID deaths) in Victoria last week and the resulting relaxing of lockdown. Thus, this month’s image is of the Australian Synchrotron – Melbourne’s biggest double donut (as pointed out in this tweet by Jessica Hamilton). Well done Victorians and let’s keep up the physical distancing, handing washing, and mask wearing!

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading The PM’s Prizes, online gigs galore, new links with Korea and more physics news for November

AIP Certificate of Excellence in Physics for QLD Year 12 students

The Queensland Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics calls for nominations from Queensland schools for 2020 AIP Certificates for Excellence in Physics.

This certificate is awarded to students with a confirmed raw result for internal assessment of 27/30 (90%) (or IB level 7) as of the beginning of Term 4.  The committee’s aim is to make these certificates of achievement available to schools for presentation at the school’s final year 12 assembly or speech night late in term four.

To nominate students, please use the “AIP [School Name] Certificate Mail Merge Spreadsheet 2020”. Please complete this spreadsheet, replacing the words ‘[School Name]’ with the name of your school in the file name.

Send your completed spreadsheet, as an email attachment, to no later than 3 p.m. on Friday 16 October 2020 in order to have certificates to you in time for your school’s presentation. Please submit your nominations any time from now. Submissions after the date may not be able to be provided prior to any award ceremony.

Correct use of the spread sheet makes this process quick and simple. Remember, the committee loves to hear your good news stories about the impact these certificates have on your students!

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for Black Holes

ONLINE EVENT: Wed 21 Oct 11am AEDT

Presented by Susan Scott and David Blair

Register here:

In the first half of the talk Susan will outline the development of the concept of singularities and the related notion of a black hole in General Relativity theory. She will describe Roger Penrose’s spectacular theoretical breakthrough in this field for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. David will briefly touch on Penrose’s other work, and then present an overview of the quest to explore the centre of the Milky Way, and why it was of special interest to gravitational wave physicists. He will review the seminal contributions by Australian radio astronomy pioneers, and then outline the discoveries made by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for which they were also co-recipients of the Nobel Prize.

Continue reading The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for Black Holes

The Nobel approaches, the Ig Nobels pass, Eureka Prize finalists, physics poetry, ET and more in October

With the Nobel Prizes to be announced shortly here is a fun Nobel Physics trivia question for you. Who is the only person to win the Physics Prize twice? When the 2020 Prize is announced we will be staging an online event to celebrate and discuss the science behind it so watch out for that announcement.

As usual the Ig Nobel’s were a stellar list of “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Congratulations to Swinburne University’s Ivan Maksymov and Andrey Pototsky, a physicist and mathematician, for their award on their work on vibrating worms! See more below.

The AIP has been active in defence of research and teaching, and is quoted twice in the recent report of the Senate Inquiry into the Federal Government’s proposed job-ready graduates legislation. Read on for details.

I was pleased to see that physics features heavily in the finalists for this year’s Eureka Prizes. You’ll find several examples below. Good luck to all involved! And don’t forget the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, coming up at the end of the month.

In this month’s bulletin you’ll meet our latest Hidden Physicist, Shermiyah Rienecker. I was particularly fascinated to hear how Shermiyah is working on culturally appropriate approaches for BreastScreen Australia with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as part of the Closing the Gap initiative. One more amazing #PhysicsGotMeHere story!

You’ll also find a rundown of what’s in the current issue of the AIP’s Australian Physics magazine, along with an excellent contribution to the little-known literary genre of physics poetry.

Find out, too, what was making headlines in the magazine four decades ago.

Australian physics in the news includes impossible black holes, no signs of ET, and vibrating worms.

And keep scrolling to discover news from Science & Technology Australia, and some really interesting jobs open in the sector.

The answer to my Nobel Prize trivia question, by the way, is John Bardeen. He won in 1956 for the discovery (with William Shockley and Walter Brattain) of the transistor effect. He won again in 1972 (with Leon Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer) for the theory of superconductivity.

Finally, this very challenging year has entered its final quarter. We are all thinking about our fellow Australians in Victoria and it is really great to see the COVID numbers coming right down. I hope the warmer weather is a pleasant it can be, given the circumstances.

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading The Nobel approaches, the Ig Nobels pass, Eureka Prize finalists, physics poetry, ET and more in October

AIP fights physics education cuts, photovoltaics and machine-learning, Hidden Physicists, and physics springs into September

Over the past month, the AIP has been lobbying against proposed proposed Federal Government legislation set to significantly cut funding for science degrees in Australia. We believe this will impoverish both teaching and research  ultimately damaging Australia’s ability to produce top-quality physics graduates.

We are grateful to all the members who responded to our call for feedback during the government’s short consultation period. I wish to acknowledge the hard work of A/Prof Gerd Schröder-Turk, the AIP Policy officer who pulled together the AIP submission under difficult circumstances.  It was great to see our submission picked up by many news outlets, including the ABC and Campus Morning Mail. This month’s picture is a screen shot of the story in the Financial Review. See more on this issue below.

This month’s AIP live-streamed event is from Exciton Science and focusses on machine learning to predict the properties of photovoltaic material. Read on for details. And if you missed the 2020 Einstein Lecture ‘The World According to Physics’, co-organised by the AIP NSW branch, you can catch it here.

Read on to meet this month’s Hidden Physicist – communicator and comedian Phil Dooley.

Check out our new regular feature – From the Vault, from the AIP’s magazine, Australian Physics. Our Australian Physics editors, Peter Kappen and David Hoxley, are also seeking articles, poems, cartoons, book reviews – and an editorial assistant! Read on for details.

As always, in this edition of the bulletin you’ll find lots of physics news, physics awards and some excellent physics jobs.

Finally, I am sure many of you will join me in rejoicing that winter 2020 is officially over. Happy Wattle Day!

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading AIP fights physics education cuts, photovoltaics and machine-learning, Hidden Physicists, and physics springs into September

the photonics economy, quantum computing, alien life, the search for a lecturer and more physics fun in August

One of our cognate societies – the newly rebranded Australian and New Zealand Optical Society – has launched a report called The Future is Bright: The Photonics Industry in New Zealand and Australia.

It is impressive to see the scope and impact of this industry. I think that in the post-COVID-19 Australian-based manufacturing sector, it will become even more important.

There’s good news on the recommencement of visa processing for international students – even though the borders remain closed. This is an issue that Science & Technology Australia, of which the AIP is a member, has highlighted with the Federal Government. See more below.

Outcomes for the ARC Future Fellowships were announced last week. We congratulate the physicists who were successful. Read on for details.

If you ask most people to nominate their two most exciting areas of science, chances are you’d get a lot of votes for quantum computing and looking for alien life.

Well, we’ve got both in this bulletin, with AIP lectures on solutions to scaling up the first and better ways to hunt for the second.

You’ll also get to meet our latest Hidden Physicist – NSW education analyst and LGBTQ activist Dr Sarah Midgely OAM.

We’re looking for an outstanding female physicist to become our 2021 Women in Physics lecturer. See below for more details.

Read on, too, for news on some upcoming events and awards, and some of the great media stories generated by Australian physicists in recent weeks.

Good luck to all the students and staff heading back to universities around Australia for classes – both in person and virtually. 

This month’s pic features me lecturing at ANU. I’m wearing a mask to protect my students as I teach my class. As a native of Victoria, my thoughts are with those in Melbourne battling the current surge in COVID-19 cases. Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of droplets and aerosols while we talk and breathe, and it makes sense we all start to accept them as part of daily life.

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading the photonics economy, quantum computing, alien life, the search for a lecturer and more physics fun in August