End-of-year AIP events around the country in November have brought members and supporters together to recognise up-and-coming physics stars and long-standing performers, and elect branch officers to help drive AIP contributions in 2017.
The WA branch AGM and dinner at the University Club, University of Western Australia, included a talk by Gerd Schröder-Turk on entropy.
By his quote “Only entropy comes easy” Anton Chekhov captures one of the most robust principles physics has ever produced, the second law of thermodynamics: Entropy always increases! (*).
Gerd’s talk described classical systems where, counter-intuitively, entropy is responsible for the formation of ordered structures, includin formation of sparkling opal-like photonic crystals of highly-ordered arrays of tiny spherical particles.
In nano-engineering of ordered materials, avoiding the battle against entropy and rather ‘making entropy your ally’ is a route to sustainable low-energy designs.
Branch office bearers elected were :
- Chair – Gerd Schröder-Turk
- Vice Chair – Dean Leggo
- Treasurer – Elaine Walker
- Secretary – Andrea F. Biondo
- Committee – John Chapman, Mitchell Chiew, Diana Tomazos, Marjan Zadnik, Huu Dang
- Sub Committee – Christine Creagh
The NSW branch of the AIP’s AGM and annual dinner at UNSW began with presentations and awards from the AIP’s Undergraduate Awards, and included a talk from the University of Sydney’s Iver Cairns on solar activity and coronal mass ejections.
The Postgraduate Awards Day was held in conjunction with the Royal Society of NSW.
The winner of the AIP Postgraduate Presentation was James Titchener, Australian National University (How can lazy people measure quantum states?).
The winner of the Royal Society of NSW Jak Kelly Award was Matthew Barr, University of Newcastle (Imaging with a deft touch – the scanning helium microscope (SHeM)).
The excellent work of Joe Wolfe from the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales in bringing science to school students and the general public, via extensive websites and radio
programs. was recognised with the Community Outreach to Physics Award.
Joe strongly believes that the best researchers are often the best teachers, and is worried by trends that lead academics to specialise in research-only or teaching-only careers. Joe made a massive open online course (MOOC) on mechanics aimed at high school students internationally. Disadvantages and remote students use it, but many ‘students’ are actually teachers who come for teaching ideas, revision, and exam questions.
Any physicist invested in public outreach is likely to participate in (or organize) numerous events, but the sheer volume—as well as the exceptional quality—of activity Professor Wolfe has undertaken places his head and shoulders above his peers in terms of advancing the understanding and appreciation of physics among the public.
The Postgraduate Awards day was followed by a talk from Iver Cairns on space weather and solar radio bursts, summarising the history and characteristics of type II bursts. and demonstrating a new theory and simulation capability that can accurately predict the evolution of coronal mass ejections and explain type II emission. Discussions continuing later during the annual dinner at the Giovanna Restaurant.
Branch office bearers elected in the annual general meeting were:
- Chair: Matthew Arnold
- Secretary: Dr Frederick Osman
- Treasurer: Mrs Erin Munn
- Committee: Chris Garvey, Phil Burns, Les Kirkup, Scott Martin, Graeme Melville, Michael Lerch, Boris Jovanoic, Stephen Foster
The Tasmanian branch AGM followed a talk by John Howard of the ANU on fusion research in Australia and the road to ITER.
The recipient was announced for the AIP’s Ken McCracken Prize for best performance in final year (Honours) physics at the University of Tasmania: Madeline Marshall for her thesis on Triggering Active Galactic Nuclei in Galaxy Clusters.
Branch officers elected were:
- Chair: Jason Dicker
- Vice Chair: Peter Wilson
- Secretary: Andrew Klekociuk
- Treasurer: Stephen Newbury
- Committee: Elizabeth Chelkowska, Andrew Cole, Simon Ellingsen, Stas Shabala
The Victorian branch AGM at Swinburne University of Technology was preceded by a very popular talk by Michael Fuhrer on the condensed-matter physics that won this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.
Branch officers elected at the AGM were:
- Chair: Anton Tadich
- Vice Chair: Brenton Hall
- Secretary: Mark Edmonds
- Treasurer: Geoff Cousland
The South Australian branch AGM at the Adelaide Public Schools Club followed a talk on the recent investigations into radioactive waste storage in SA. Branch officers elected at the AGM were:
- Chair: Andrew McKinnon
- Vice chair: Sarah Harmer-Bassell
- Committee: Gunther Andersson
And coming up…