Category Archives: Public Lecture


2018 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

Glitch – Investigating the densest matter in the universe: The 2016 glitch of the Vela pulsar

Thursday 7 June 2018, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Jim Palfreyman
School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania

Pulsars are neutron stars that are the remnants of supernova explosions. They are highly dense and rotate rapidly, some with accuracy better than atomic clocks. The Vela pulsar famously “glitches” or speeds up in rotation roughly every three years. No glitch has ever been observed in-action with a radio telescope large enough to see individual pulses, until now. Some remarkable events occurred and these will be covered in detail. The presentation will be aimed at people who have a general interest in astronomy.

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

International Day of Light Public Lecture

6:30 pm, Wednesday 16th May 2018

Napier 102 lecture theatre, Napier Building,
University of Adelaide (North Terrace campus)

Heike Ebendofff-HeidepriemLight for Extra-Sensory Perception


Professor Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem

Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS),
ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP),
The University of Adelaide


Photonics is a disruptive technology whose impact and potential to transform industry and our lives has been likened to those of electronics. We all use photonics enabled devices every day such as lasers, sensors and optical fibres, even without realising it. The global photonics market is currently worth around USD$500 billion and is expected to grow to over US$600 billion by 2023, which makes physics and photonics a very attractive prospect to join this locally and internationally growing high-tech industry.

This talk will explore the different approaches and devices used for harnessing light to measure the world around us, for example temperature, magnetic fields, gravity, corrosion and much more.


Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem received the Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Jena, Germany, in 1994. She subsequently held two prestigious fellowships and received the Weyl International Glass Science Award in 2001. During 2001-2004 she was with the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton, UK. Since 2005, she has been with the University of Adelaide, Australia. Currently, she leads the Glass and Fibre Group and is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing. Her research focuses on the development of novel optical glasses, fibres, surface functionalization and sensing approaches.

PUBLIC LECTURE – 10 May 2018

2018 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

Shedding light on dark matter

Thursday 10 May 2018, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Professor Chris Power
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, University of Western Australia

A standard cosmological model has emerged over the last 30 or so years in which the matter content of the Universe is predominantly in the form of an exotic non-baryonic matter, quite unlike the ordinary matter of everyday experience. Uncovering the physical nature of this dark matter is one of the most pressing problems facing fundamental physics and cosmology in the 21st century.

Astronomical observations and modelling have played a key role in establishing what we think we know so far about the dark matter – the widely favoured Cold Dark Matter (CDM) model predicts successfully the large-scale distribution of galaxies in a cosmic web, and is consistent with our deepest observations of the early Universe, which show that galaxies, groups, and cluster are the product of mergers over the last 13 or so billion years of cosmic time. The CDM model is not without its problems, however, and, in particular, it is on the smallest galactic mass scales of dwarfs and satellites of the kind we find around the Milky Way that it has faced its most severe challenges.

I will review what the latest observations and numerical simulations are telling us about dark matter, and I will speculate on what we might learn in the coming years, especially as observation, theory, and experiment place more stringent limits on what the dark matter can be.

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


2018 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

From Mad Scientists to Eco-Warriors: The changing image of scientists in fiction and film

Tuesday 10 April 2018, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Adjunct Associate Professor Roslynn Haynes
School of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales

For approximately 600 years, from 1380 to 1980, scientists or their predecessors, the alchemists and natural philosophers, fared ill at the hands of writers and, later, film makers.

They were obsessed to the point of madness, or evil, amoral, arrogant, impersonal, and inhuman. At best, they were well intentioned but blind to the dangers of forces they barely controlled. They were Faustus and Frankenstein, Jekyll and Moreau, Caligari and Strangelove – the scientists of film and fiction, cultural archetypes that reflected ancient fears of tampering with the unknown or unleashing the little-understood powers of nature.

Yet, since the 1990s, there has been a trend by novelists to present scientists as more complex, realistic figures, many honest and admirable even if confused as to their role. They are eco-warriors saving the planet, or medical researchers discovering new cures for humanity. However, in films, the mad, evil stereotype endures. What are the reasons for this disparity?  What do they teach us about the difficulties scientists have in convincing politicians and large sections of society of the need to take environmental pollution and climate change seriously?

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


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

QLD Branch AGM 2017

Dear Members of the Australian Institute of Physics, Queensland Branch,

I would like to hereby invite you to join us at the upcoming Annual General Meeting and the two talks preceding and following the AGM.


The meeting will be held on Thursday the 26th of October from 17h (AGM~17:40h) onwards at Brian Wilson Chancellery, 61A- Senate Room, University of Queensland, St. Lucia. For catering purposes it would be appreciated if you could register your attendance by Tuesday the 24th of October via reply email or to Catering will involve pizza and cold drinks.


The talks will additionally be streamed online. If you are unable to attend in person, please feel free to join us online using the following link:

Presentation and AGM details:
This year our meeting will be preceded by the AIP QLD Bragg Gold Medal Nominee Dr. Martin Ringbauer giving a presentation based from his PhD: “Experimental Metaphysics and the Nature of Reality” starting at 17:00h.

The AGM will follow Martin’s talk at approximately 17.40h.

After the AGM concludes, we are proud to present Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely (based at ANSTO) who will present us with this year’s AIP-QLD sponsored John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour Talk entitled: “Journeying to the centres of the planets”.  Helen has presented this highly entertaining talk to hundreds secondary school students throughout Queensland, reaching from the urbanised south-east corner, to the tropical reaches of Cairns in the north. For online viewers we anticipate Helen’s talk to commence at 18.00h.
Please feel free to encourage non-members to attend the presentations as they are geared towards a general audience.

Part of our business for the AGM will be to elect the branch committee for 2018.
As per the AIP by-laws, the retiring committee has made nominations for next year’s committee, and these are listed below:

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), and
Carolyn Brown (USQ).


Members may make further nominations, which need to be duly proposed and seconded and forwarded to the Secretary at least 24 hours before the AGM, directed to I look forward to seeing you on the 26th October!

Kind Regards
Joanna Turner
Secretary of the AIP QLD  

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


2017 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

Measuring Radiation Doses in 3-D with Polymer Gel Dosimeters

Tuesday 22 August 2017, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Professor Clive Baldock
University of Tasmania

Polymer gel dosimeters are fabricated from radiation sensitive chemicals which, upon irradiation, polymerize as a function of the absorbed radiation dose. These gel dosimeters, with the capacity to uniquely record clinical radiotherapy (radiation therapy) radiation dose distributions in three-dimensions (3D), have specific advantages when compared to one-dimensional dosimeters, such as ion chambers, and two-dimensional dosimeters, such as film. These advantages are particularly significant in dosimetry situations where steep dose gradients exist such as in intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery. Polymer gel dosimeters also have specific advantages for brachytherapy dosimetry. Potential dosimetry applications include those for low-energy x-rays, high linear energy transfer (LET) and proton therapy, radionuclide and boron capture neutron therapy dosimetries. These 3D dosimeters are radiologically soft-tissue equivalent with properties that may be modified depending on the application. The 3D radiation dose distribution in polymer gel dosimeters may be imaged using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), optical-computerized tomography (optical-CT), x-ray CT or ultrasound. The fundamental science underpinning polymer gel dosimetry will be reviewed along with the various evaluation techniques. Clinical dosimetry applications of polymer gel dosimetry will be presented.