Category Archives: SA

The Cherenkov Telescope Array – Approaching a New Era of Gamma-Ray Astronomy

CherenkovWednesday 5th of September 2018 at 8pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
2nd Floor, Physics Building
University of Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

Dr. Sabrina Einecke
University of Adelaide
Abstract: When the term gamma radiation pops up, associations with radioactive hazards may arise. Do we have to be afraid of gamma radiation from space? Fortunately, we don’t have to be, because the Earth’s atmosphere protects us. Unfortunately, it also prevents us from directly observing this radiation from Earth. But it is in the nature of man to be curious to overcome these obstacles to investigate this vicious radiation from space. In 1961, a satellite was the first to detect gamma rays from space. At about the same time, the Cherenkov radiation was discovered – a radiation that is emitted when charged particles move through a medium at the speed of light. This led to a new technique, capable of measuring gamma rays from Earth, and paving the way for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy. However, it took 30 years until an appropriate experiment discovered the first gamma-ray emitting astrophysical source. Since then, hundreds of sources of Galactic and extragalactic origin have been discovered, and higher energies and sensitivities have been reached. The Cherenkov Telescope Array will exceed current experiments in a multitude of aspects: With more than 100 telescopes in 3 sizes at 2 locations equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, it will cover an area of 10 square kilometres on the ground, and it will provide a new view of the sky at energies of up to 300 TeV  – more than a 1000 billion times the energy of visible light. With its unprecedented capabilities, it will refine our knowledge tremendously and will mark the beginning of a new era of gamma-ray astronomy. Deeper insights into this field will be subject of this presentation.

Bio: Born around the time when Cherenkov telescopes made their first discovery, Sabrina Einecke is observing the extreme gamma-ray universe for more than 8 years. She took her first steps in gamma-ray astronomy with the ground-based experiments MAGIC, FACT and CTA. Completing research stays at the Columbia University in New York, she expanded her interests to the utilisation of machine learning approaches to combine a variety of multi-wavelength data to fully exploit the information that is available. This also led to her PhD thesis with the title “The Data Mining Guide to the Galaxy”. According to the German Physical Society, it has been among the best in Germany in 2017. After finishing her PhD studies in Germany, she moved to Australia and now supports the University of Adelaide as a postdoctoral research fellow. Her research focuses on Active Galactic Nuclei – the most extreme objects in the Universe – and data analysis using cutting-edge techniques from the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning – crucial for handling the immense amount of data collected by next-generation experiments.

The Claire Corani Memorial Lecture

The South Australian lecture in the 2018 AIP Women in Physics  Lecture Tour

at 6:30pm–7:40pm on Thursday 9th August 2018

in the Napier G04 Lecture Theatre
Napier Building, the University of Adelaide, North Terrace campus

LaserAbstract: When we press FIRE on the most powerful laser in the world,
we deliver a packet of light that is a thousand billion billion times more
intense than the sunlight you feel while out on Bondi beach in peak
summer! That’s super intense! We can use this extreme power to
recreate the conditions at the centre of Sun and in the process release
vast amounts of energy in a clean and safe way. Harnessing this power
for electricity generation is an inspiring story. It combines pure and
applied physics and requires engineering to handle the most extreme conditions in our solar system!


Biography: Ceri Brenner is a plasma physicist and innovator who uses the most powerful lasers in the world to study what happens when extreme bursts of light come into contact with matter and is using this knowledge to design new X-ray technology that can see through steel! The extreme physics she studies can also be applied for understanding supernova explosions in space or how we can ignite a star on earth for clean electricity generation.

New Designs for Nuclear Power Reactors

AIP Lecture – Visitors Welcome
6:30 pm, Wednesday 11th July 2018
Kerr Grant lecture theatre, Physics Building
University of Adelaide (North Terrace campus)

by Dr Mark Ho
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation,
Lucas Heights, NSW. President, Australian Nuclear Association

Nuclear reactors generate 11% of the world’s electricity delivering emissions-free, baseload power. Of the world’s 447 power reactors  83% are LWRs (light-water reactors) that operate in a thermal-neutron energy spectrum where the neutron capture cross-section of Uranium-235 is maximised. Light Water Reactors are a proven technology, with over 50 years of operational experience and remain the design of choice for new builds. On the 10 year horizon, small modular reactors (SMR) will become available. Essentially a small LWR by design, these SMRs promise to be safer, faster to build and thus cheaper to finance. Their smaller size may also lead to them becoming brownfield replacements for old retiring coal-fired power plants.
In the future, advanced reactors that operate in the fast neutron spectrum will become widely deployed. Using coolants such as sodium, lead or molten-salt, these reactors will operate at a higher temperature, radiation and corrosion environment but with the ability to breed fuel, burn radioactive waste and operate at a higher thermal efficiency. This talk will provide an overview of all reactor developments.

Dr Mark Ho works at ANSTO, Lucas Heights, specialising in reactor thermo-hydraulics. He’s interested in reactor design, computational fluid dynamics, coding and boiling dynamics. He has recently returned from a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on Small Modular Reactors. He is the current President of the Australian Nuclear Association which is an organisation of professional scientists and engineers based in Sydney and with a branch in Adelaide.


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.

Bronze Bragg Presentation and Free Public Lecture

6:30 pm, Thursday February 22nd 2018

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


DavidOttawayGravitational Wave Detection and the Birth of Multi Messenger Astronomy”

Prof. David Ottaway,
University of Adelaide



The existence of gravitational waves was first predicted by Albert Einstein as a direct consequence of his Theory of General Relativity. These waves were first directly detected on Earth a little more than 2 years ago. These waves were created by the collision between two black holes that occurred over a billion years ago. The significance of this detection was celebrated with the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics to Weiss, Barish and Thorne. Further detections have helped solve the mystery of how gold and other heavy elements are created in the Universe. In this talk I will present an overview of the field of gravitational wave detection and how this has led to the opening of a new window on the universe.




The Bronze Bragg medals and merit certificates will be presented at the lecture.


The medal is awarded for highest achievement in Physics in 2017 in the SACE Stage 2 assessments, with certificates being for students who achieved a merit.

Anticipating the atmosphere: a look at the modern weather forecast process

The Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society,
Australian Meteorological Association,
and Australian Institute of Physics

present a Public Lecture

Time and place: Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre, Physics Bldg.,
University of Adelaide,

at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday 2 November 2017.

“Anticipating the atmosphere: a look at the modern weather forecast process”

Benjamin Owen

Meteorologist, South Australian Regional Forecasting Centre
Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Our complex relationship with the world around is no more apparent than that we share with the weather. On a personal level, weather has the potential to make or break our day, whether it be warm and sunny or cold, wet and windy. From a commercial perspective, weather plays a critical role to a range of important industries which include aviation, agriculture and energy. And probably on the most profound level, weather has the potential to deliver catastrophic destruction in a relatively short time frame. It is therefore unsurprising that we depend on weather forecasts to best prepare and respond to the future weather as appropriate.

Over the past 50 years, our ability to accurately predict the weather has improved dramatically. While our understanding of the atmosphere has certainly evolved over this time, the most significant advances have come through improvements in the tools a forecaster has at their disposal. Where the challenge of 50 years ago was trying to make a forecast from the sparse information available, the challenge today is trying to create the best possible forecast from the vast amount of information available. In this talk, we take a look at exactly how forecasters go about creating a weather forecast, considering the tools used to capture the current and future state of the atmosphere, and how these are used to translate this into the forecast that is sent out to the world.

Please enter via the eastern door of the Physics building, from the roadway between the Scott Theatre and the Hub Building. There will be a person at the door to let people into the building until 6:30 p.m.  Refreshments will be available in Room G10 on the ground floor from 6:00 p.m.

For more details, contact Murray Hamilton, chair of the AMOS South Australia branch ( If there are issues with access on the night, please phone 0478 453 642.

Understanding Dark Matter

The Australian Institute of Physics (AIP),
Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP) and
Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter (CSSM)
present the
2017 DARK MATTER DAY Public Lecture on

Understanding Dark Matter

Professor Anthony Williams
University of Adelaide


Tuesday 31st October, 6:30 pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
University of Adelaide


There’s more to the universe than stars, planets, asteroids, comets, and space dust and the familiar matter that we interact with on a daily basis. Despite the fantastic successes of our theories that have predicted the Higgs boson and gravitational waves, there’s a lot about the universe that we can’t yet explain.

We believe that dark matter, which we have so far only detected through its gravity-based effects in space, makes up about a quarter (26.8 percent) of the total mass and energy of the universe. Something that is driving the universe’s accelerating expansion – which we call dark energy – accounts for another 68.3 percent. The ordinary matter, like stars and planets and galaxies, makes up just 4.9 percent of the total mass and energy of the universe.

It seems likely that dark matter is made up of undiscovered particles and one of the major challenges today is how to combine this possibility with our already highly successful Standard Model of particle physics that so well explains the behaviour of normal matter.


Surviving the Red Planet: ‘The Martian’ and the Reality of Living and Working on Mars

The Australian Institute of Physics, the State Library and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics present:

            “Surviving the Red Planet: ‘The Martian’ and the Reality of Living and Working on Mars”

                 by former NASA Astronaut Dr Jim ReillyJR-astronaut

                     Friday 27th October 2017
6:15pm for 6:30pm start

          Braggs Lecture Theatre, The University of Adelaide

Register for a free ticket –


The recent best-seller novel and the blockbuster movie “The Martian” presented an adventure tale of an astronaut marooned by his crew and forced to become the first colonist required to “live off the land” on Mars.  The story is well done and, for the most part, technically plausible but what would it take to live off the Martian land?  What can Mark Watney expect if he really did exist and had to grow his own to survive? Can we make this work in reality?  Can we test that environment here on Earth?  If so, can we make “living off the land” work to reduce the mass (and cost) of exploring the Red Planet?

Mars is a unique environment and the more we explore with our robotic colleagues, the more interesting and challenging the terrains become.  The soils are enriched in sulfates and phosphides which can be good fertilizers in some forms but toxic in others.  The surface is very dry; so dry there is nowhere on Earth as dry as Mars. Mars also has essentially no geomagnetic field protecting the surface from solar and galactic radiation, therefore some form of protected facility will be required for the crew and any other living organisms required to support the mission. It has a very low pressure atmosphere composed almost completely of carbon dioxide, and about half the incident solar energy seen at Earth.

Instead of OJT on Mars, as Watney had to do, we will need to consider these requirements in designing future Mars mission parameters and objectives. We can build some analog experiences here on Earth, though none can fully expose the future exploration teams to the true Martian environment.  One of the few places that can get close will be on the Moon.  For this, and other reasons, an extension of the lunar research program begun in the Apollo heroic phase of exploration needs to be an international space priority.

Special Pre-lecture tour of the State Library Exhibition

‘From Outback to Outer Space: Woomera 1955 – 1980’

5:15pm for 6:00pm, State Library of South Australia

Register for a free ticket (first 40 registrations only) using the same link as above

Woomera put Australia into the space age. The ‘From Outback to Outer Space: Woomera 1955 – 1980’ exhibition will not only tell the story of that journey into the stars, but also what life was like for the men, women and children who lived on the ground. Presented by the State Library and the National Archives of Australia.

Sponsor: The Sir Ross & Sir Keith Smith Fund

Celestial Scales

The Astronomical Society of South Australia (Celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2017) and the Australian Institute of Physics (SA branch) present

Celestial Scales

Wednesday 4th of October 2017 at 8pm

Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
2nd Floor, Physics Building
University of Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

Graeme Stanley
MA Hons (Edinburgh)

Abstract: The Solar System is a big place. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is even bigger! But how big? This lecture will explore the size of moons, planets and stars, from ‘tiny’ Vesta to the largest stars like Betelgeuse and VY Canis Majoris. Real-time 3D graphics will be used to help visualise the immense scale of the stars and planets and the mind-blowing distances that separate them. Caution: You may feel small after attending this lecture, and that’s okay.

Bio: Graeme Stanley, MA Hons (Edinburgh). Graeme graduated from Edinburgh University in 1998 with a degree in Artificial Intelligence and Linguistics. In 2005, Graeme moved to Murthly, a rural village in Perthshire. Living more than a kilometre from street lights gave him greater access to dark skies which reignited his interest in back yard astronomy and astrophotography. In 2012, Graeme moved to Adelaide with his wife and young son. He fell in love with the southern sky and joined ASSA within months of arriving. Graeme presented the ASSA public lecture in April 2014 on beginners’ astrophotography. Graeme is a software developer, specialising in mobile apps for Android.

Free, visitors welcome. Booking not required (*Please note: university security locks entrance doors at 8pm sharp*)

For further information visit: Or contact the Publicity Officer on: 0402 079 578

Dr Katie Mack – Women in Physics Lecture Tour 2017 – TAS & SA 7 -11 August

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

See if she is coming to a location near you!


7th August – Devonport and Launceston, Tasmania

Event: School Lecture

Topic: Dispatches from a Dark Universe

Where: Don College

When: 8.45am


Event: School Lecture

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

Where: Launceston College

When: 1.00pm


8th August – Hobart, Tasmania

Event: School Lecture

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

Where: Elizabeth College

When: 9.00am – 10.00am


Event: School Lecture

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

Where: The Friend’s School – The Farrall Centre

When: 12.00pm – 12.45pm


Event: Public Lecture

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

Where: Physics Lecture Theatre 1, Sandy Bay Campus, University of Tasmania

When: 8.00pm


9th August – Hobart, Tasmania

Event: School Lecture

Topic: TBA

Where: Taroona State High School

When: 9.40am


Event: School Lecture

Topic: TBA

Where: Ogilvie High School

When: 11.40am


10th August – Adelaide, South Australia

Event: School Lecture

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

Where: Eastern Fleurieu School

When: 10.00am


Event: Afternoon Tea

Topic: STEM women

Where: Physical and Chemical Sciences Tea Room, Flinders University

When: 2.00pm-3.00pm


Event: Public Lecture

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

Where: University of Adelaide, Napier G04

When: 7.30pm


11th August – Adelaide, South Australia

Event: Department Colloquium

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

Where: Physics Building Room 121, University of Adelaide

When: 12.00pm-1.00pm