There is a lot to be excited about in physics and the Australian Institute of Physics in 2017. We have some new members and people in new roles on the AIP executive committee this year and I am delighted to welcome them to the team. We are looking forward to exploring physics in Australia throughout the year and bringing it to this audience. More on the new committee below.
I recently had the pleasure of writing my first president’s column for the Australian Physics magazine and there is nothing like reflecting on what we do as an organisation to bring the inherent strength and value of the AIP into focus.
This month, I’d like to welcome the new President—not Donald Trump, but our new AIP President Professor Andrew Peele.
Andrew has been the Director of the Australian Synchrotron since 2013 and is also a Professor of Physics at La Trobe University. With his leading role in science and experience in research facility management, as well as his past life as a lawyer, I know that the AIP will be in great hands and I look forward to working with Andrew in my role as Immediate Past President. You can read more about Andrew below.
For my part, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as President, helping to modernise the AIP, attract more members, and raise the profile of Australian physics in the national science policy domain and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. For the latter, one of the highlights has been holding the very first joint AIP Congress and Asia-Pacific Physics Conference in Brisbane in December. This brought together 850 attendees including ~250 from the Asia-Pacific region—the highlights of which were covered in our special January Bulletin.
Welcome to 2017, and to a special edition of the AIP Bulletin where we are sharing with you some of the great stories from the Joint 13th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Physics Congress (APPC-AIPC), held in Brisbane in December.
As I write, we are in the first full day of the Joint Physics Congress in Brisbane. This week over 100 Australian and Asia-Pacific physicists will be presenting their research. The stellar cast of international physicists includes Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita, LIGO head David Reitze, experimental quantum physicist Alain Aspect, Korean government science advisor Youngah Park, and fusion researcher Jean Jacquinot. Continue reading Physics Congress kicks off – Physics in December→
We live in a world of neutrinos. Thousands of billions of neutrinos—mostly created by the Sun—are flowing through your body every second. You cannot see them and you do not feel them; and they are very hard for scientists to measure.
Then, when scientists were finally able to catch them, there were fewer than they expected. But why? Was our Sun losing its power?
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.
We are now on the final countdown to the joint Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and AIP Congress in Brisbane, with just five weeks to go before it kicks off on 4 December. The full program containing an outstanding mix of plenary, keynote, invited and contributed talks has now been released, many of which will be given by physicists from the Asia-Pacific region. It is still not too late to register.
As usual, October was a big month in physics. Congratulations to US physicists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and Michael Kosterlitz, who were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”. We take a peek at some Australian research in this area of topological phase transitions later in this bulletin.
Closer to home, congratulations to physicists Michelle Simmons and Lloyd Hollenberg, whose work in quantum computing has been recognised by the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award and the Royal Society of Victoria’s 2016 Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research, respectively. Congratulations also to physicist Colin Hall from UniSA, who won the inaugural Prime Minister’s “New Innovator” Prize for leading the invention of the highly successful plastic automotive mirror.
As we near the end of the year, state AIP branches are holding their AGMs, and I encourage you to get along and engage with the championing of physics in your area. (See the full list below.) You may also consider becoming one of our office bearers or committee members to help the AIP promote physics in research, education, industry and the community.
The scientific media was abuzz recently with hints that a fifth force of nature had been seen. If confirmed, this would be big news, a revolution of our understanding of the fundamental workings of the universe. But should we get getting excited just yet?
The story begins with a team of Hungarian physicists bombarding a target of lithium-7 with protons, resulting in an excited state of beryllium-8. This then decays to the ground-state with the emission of a positron-electron pair. By examining the properties of these ejected particles, the Hungarian team was searching for the potential signature of an additional particle playing a role in the decay, an unseen intermediate that exists for only a moment before itself decaying.
It is an exciting time for Australian physics research, with five of the new ARC Centres of Excellence announced in September being in physics and astronomy. We briefly outline these four Centres later in this bulletin.
The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Greg Hunt, delivered his Innovation speech this month at the AFR National Innovation Summit. I encourage you to read this speech (linked to below) and vision for the next waves of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, including the strong, simple message: “innovation is about both old and new businesses”.
There is also more below regarding Minister Hunt’s announcements about CSIRO and more funding for quantum computing.