Category Archives: News

Watching inside living cells; the genesis of gold; plus awards, prizes and more – Physics in November

There are lots of winners in this month’s bulletin.
Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian Synchrotron
I’d like to personally congratulate Professor Dayong Jin who received one of this years’ Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, and Dr Jacq Romero who received a L’Oreal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship, as well as all of those who received NHMRC grants, and those elected Fellows of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. You can read more about all of their achievements below.

Continue reading Watching inside living cells; the genesis of gold; plus awards, prizes and more – Physics in November


Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

The Birth of Suns

Thursday 30 November 2017, 6.00-7.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Professor Mark Krumholz
Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University

We’ve all learned that space is an empty vacuum, but it’s not. The space between the stars in our Galaxy contains, on average, about 1 atom per cubic centimeter. That’s a better vacuum than the best vacuum chamber we know how to make, but there are a lot of cubic centimeters in interstellar space, so the mass of all the gas between the stars adds up to about 10% of the mass of all the stars put together. The temperature of this gas varies enormously from place to place in the Galaxy, with temperatures as high as
millions of degrees and as low as a few degrees above absolute zero.

In the coldest regions of interstellar space, over millions of years gravity is able to draw the atoms together into immense clouds that ultimately condense into clusters of new stars. In our Galaxy, this process produces stars at a rate of about 1 new Sun per year, and the stars it makes are typically the size of the Sun or a little smaller. While we understand how this happens in general outline, many fundamental questions remain unanswered. What sets the rate at which stars form? What determines the final sizes of the individual stars? Where did our Sun form, and what happened to its siblings, the stars that formed out of the same cloud?

In this talk Mark will describe what we currently know, and what we don’t, about the birth of new Suns.

Further details: Andrew Klekociuk (T 0418 323 341, E

2018 QLD Branch Committee confirmed

At the recent Branch Annual General Meeting (26th October, 2017 held at UQ), the 2018 Branch committee was proposed and accepted.

Our 2018 Committee is:

Till Weinhold (Chair) (UQ)
Joanna Turner  (Secretary) (USQ)
Joel Alroe (Vice-Chair) (QUT)
Igor Litvinyuk (Treasurer) (GU)
Scott Adamson (All Hallows)
Simon Critchley (Qld Health)
Austin Lund (UQ)
Nunzio Motta (QUT)
Carolyn Brown (USQ)

The contact email addresses for the executive positions are provided on the Committees page found here.

Feel free to chat (to) or contact our committee members if you want to be involved in, or introduce events that you would like QLD AIP to consider being part of.

Bracketing our AGM were two marvelous talks! If you would like to be on the newsletter that is sent out about events we are running, please contact our Branch Secretary to have your name added.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Nobel for gravitational waves; Australia joins the space race; flip-flop qubits and quantum internet – Physics in October

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronSpace has featured strongly in recent news.

A new gravitational wave detection, and the first from a detector other than the LIGO detectors, means we are improving our ability to identify the source of these signals and strengthening arguments to build more, and more advanced, detectors.

Of course, there is also the small matter of a Nobel Prize!

Overnight Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of the LIGO/Virgo Collaboration were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”. Like the Higgs Boson before it there was very little doubt that this significant work was going to win a Nobel Prize, it was more a matter of who would be awarded the prize and when. You can read the full media release here.

Another success was celebrated with the end of the Cassini mission bringing world-wide media attention and reminding us just how much can be achieved with good planning and a dedicated team.

The International Astronautical Congress also gathered its share of media attention. While Elon Musk headlined with plans for going to Mars and a new acronym for a very large rocket (read the story!), the news for Australia was even more important. The announcement of a space agency for Australia signals exciting times for physics and for members of the Australian Institute of Physics.

On the topic of space, but in a different way, there are some important spaces to fill at Science & Technology Australia, with nominations open for executive committee positions. The AIP is a member of STA and this opportunity to play a role in Australia’s peak body in science and technology is one of the benefits of AIP membership. More on how to nominate below.

For more physics news you can:
1) read on;
2) renew your membership to keep receiving the AIP member only magazine – Australian Physics;
3) stay in touch with other members through events and conferences around the country; such as the Summer Meeting at the end of this year, and the 2018 AIP Congress; or
4) all of the above.
Continue reading Nobel for gravitational waves; Australia joins the space race; flip-flop qubits and quantum internet – Physics in October

Diamond lasers and nano-nails; the total eclipse; teaching physics; and the Summer Meeting: Physics in September

There were physicists galore at the “Oscars of Australian Science” – the Eureka Prizes – hosted by the Australian Museum in August.

Physicists and applied physics researchers featured in at least five Prizes, you can read more about them below. Through both the winners, and all the finalists, it was great to see the impact physics can have on people’s lives.

Another way you as a physicist can have a big impact is through becoming our AIP Special Project Officer for outreach. This is a voluntary position and is a great way to become part of the AIP Executive team. The role will also give you experience and help broaden your skills in science communication. See the information below on how to apply.

Hot off the back of the great 2017 Women in Physics lecture series featuring Katie Mack, we’re putting the call out for nominations for the next Women in Physics Lecturer – and we’re seeking an international speaker for 2018. More below on how you can nominate. 

Finally, the AIP Summer meeting is proceeding with the call for submission of abstracts well and truly open – and closing on 29 September. Make sure to get your in and I look forward to seeing you there.

All this plus information and links to the solar eclipse, teaching physics and even more are in this month’s Bulletin – enjoy!

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Diamond lasers and nano-nails; the total eclipse; teaching physics; and the Summer Meeting: Physics in September

Public Lecture – 20 September 2017

2017 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

Giant Icebergs and the Future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Wednesday 20 September 2017, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Dr Sue Cook
Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre

Events such as the 1 trillion-tonne iceberg which recently broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf capture headlines around the world. But what can these icebergs really tell us about the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet? This lecture examines what we know about how icebergs form, how they are affected by climate change, and the implications for Antarctica’s future contributions to sea level rise.

Further details: Andrew Klekociuk (T 0418 323 341, E

Science Week physics; PhD opportunities; school talks; and teachers honoured – Physics in August

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronThis Saturday, August 12, is the start of National Science Week and physics is well represented – read about some of the great events below.

Science week is a great opportunity to promote our discipline, whether you’re running your own event; or taking a friend, colleague, kid, or yourself along to one of the great events on around the country. Who knows, you might inspire a next-generation physicist, or come up with an idea for an event next year.

Taking inspiration from the generation of ideas in science week, it is not too early to help with suggestions for focus sessions or speakers for the AIP 2018 Congress. This premier event in the AIP calendar is made successful by input from members – so if you have a hot topic or a great suggestion for a plenary talk please let the organisers know.

Another event that will be great for members is the AIP Summer meeting. Designed to benefit students and early-career researchers, the first Summer meeting will be held 3-8 December at UNSW. We’ll be calling for abstracts shortly – watch this space

Being informed and active in the areas highlighted in the bulletin, and more, is part of being a member of the AIP. If you would like to become a member, or to renew your membership, go to

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Science Week physics; PhD opportunities; school talks; and teachers honoured – Physics in August

Meet the John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour Speakers

The 2017 AIP Lecture Series will be delivered by Dr Helen Maynard-Casely.


Helen Maynard-Casely is a Planetary Scientist based at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) where she uses the neutrons and synchrotron x-rays to investigate the materials that make up our solar system.  She has a PhD in high-pressure physics from the University of Edinburgh and has been lucky enough to have collected data in facilities all over the world, blowing up a few diamonds along the way.  Always keen to tell anyone who’ll listen about planetary science, she writes a column ‘The Tides of Venus’ for The Conversation and tweets @Helen_E_MC.

Helen’s talk “Journeying to the centres of the planets” takes us on a journey, not just to visit the planets of our solar system, but to get to know them more intimately though understanding their varied and downright dangerous insides.  We’ve yet to actually dive under the clouds of the gas giants, crack through the ice of the dwarf planets or drill into the rocks of the terrestrial planets – so how do we know what lies beneath planetary surfaces?

An additional regional lecture will be delivered in Mount Isa in 2017 by Dr Sean Powell. Sean Powell’s research experience is in theoretical and computational modelling of particle dynamics and diffusion and MRI characterisation of diffusion in complex pore spaces. In addition, Sean has industry experience in computer software and hardware engineering, 3D visualisation systems, and solar thermal energy research. Presently, he leads the biofabrication research team within the Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology research group at the Queensland University of Technology. His quantitative and problem solving skills as a physicist complement those of the multi-disciplinary team of biologists, organic chemists, clinicians and medical engineers. He is also passionate about learning and teaching and lectures undergraduate physics at all year levels from introductory to advanced.

John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour 2017

This year’s AIP youth lecture tour will promote physics to senior high school students and science teachers in a selection of regional centres throughout Queensland.

Commencing in August, Dr Helen Maynard-Casely and Dr Sean Powell will present their lectures in major centres across Queensland.


Scroll down to see if they are coming to a school near you!

Event Date City Venue and time
1 Tuesday 8 August Brisbane City, Brisbane


Mary Place Level 1

All Hallows’ School

547 Ann Street, Brisbane

3:30 pm for 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Local Host Organiser: Mr Sean Lynch

P: 07 3230 9509

2 Wednesday 9 August


Nathan, Brisbane


N78_0.11 Lecture Theatre

Griffith University,

Nathan Campus

1:30 pm for 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Local Host Organiser: Nathalie Ferquel

P: 07 3735 7439

3 Thursday 10 August




Lecture Theatre R113

University of Southern Queensland

Toowoomba Campus

1:00 pm for 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Local Host Organiser: Ms Karlee Kuzma

P: 07 3470 4296

4 Friday 11 August


Sunshine Coast


Ken Thamm Centre Lecture Theatre

Immanuel Lutheran College

Wises Road, Buderim

10:45 am for 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

Local Host Organiser: Mrs Cheryl Fillmore

P: 07 5477 3467

5 Thursday 17 August Townsville


Flexible Learning Area
St Margaret Mary’s College

Crowle Street, Hyde Park

1:00 pm for 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Local Host Organiser: Mr Theo Koulakis

P: 07 4726 4900

6 Friday 18 August Cairns


The Auditorium

Redlynch State College

Jungara Road, Redlynch

1:00 pm for 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Local Host Organiser: Ms Allison Sneddon

P: 07 4039 9222

+1 Monday 7 August Mount Isa* Multimedia Centre

Spinifex College, Mount Isa2:00 pm for 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

*Guest lecture delivered by Sean Powell in 2017

Local Host Organiser: Mr Grant Salmond 07 4744 7222

Dr Katie Mack – Women in Physics Lecture Tour 2017 – VIC 14 -15 August

Dr Katie Mack is the Women in Physics Lecturer for 2017.

See if she is coming to a location near you!


14th August – Bendigo, Victoria

Event: Public lecture

Topic: A Tour of the Universe (and Selected Cosmic Mysteries)

Where: La Trobe University

When: 12.00pm


15th August – Bundoora and Melbourne, Victoria

Event: Girls In Physics Breakfast

Topic: Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask.

Where: La Trobe University, Bundoora

When: 7am


Event: Public Lecture

Topic: Dispatches from a Dark Universe

Where: The Laby Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne

When: 6.30pm