This month is our bumper National Science Week edition of the AIP Bulletin. Science Week kicks off on Saturday 13 August and runs until the following Sunday 21 August.
Federally, things have settled down following last month’s election, with Government departments no longer in caretaker mode.
We are looking forward to working with Greg Hunt, the new Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. It was great to see him visit Questacon almost immediately after he was appointed and hear him speak on how critical science and innovation are to Australia’s future prosperity. His instruction to the CSIRO to renew its focus on climate science is also very encouraging.
The particle physics community was left shuffling its feet in mild embarrassment recently as the new 750 GeV di-photon resonance, which had inspired upwards of 500 submitted papers, turned out to be just another statistical fluctuation in the data.
The apparent resonance was first publicly announced by CERN in December last year, when both the ATLAS and CMS Collaborations, using new 13 TeV data produced by the Large Hadron Collider and collected by the two multi-purpose detectors, reported seeing more events than predicted by the Standard Model in data containing two high-energy photons. Significantly, both experiments saw this excess occurring when the two photons had an invariant mass close to 750 GeV (indicating a single new heavy particle at the same mass), with local significance measures of 3.9 sigmas (ATLAS) and 3.4 sigmas (CMS). Typically, a significance of 5 sigmas is required before a discovery can be claimed.
Are you coming to the Physics Congress in Brisbane this year? If so, a reminder that to get a significant discount on the cost of registration, the early-bird deadline is next Monday, 4 July. This is also the deadline for abstract submission. There is more information about the joint meeting later in this bulletin.
We are calling for nominations for four key roles within the AIP. Details, and the Executive’s nominations for these four roles, are given below.
With Warrick away this month, I am taking on the task of writing to you on behalf of the AIP Executive.
As current AIP Vice President it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the wider physics community, beyond my day job as Director of the Australian Synchrotron – there is always so much activity underway in Australian physics.
Last month’s Federal Budget included new funding for some important physics infrastructure projects. See later in this bulletin for details, as well as an excellent analysis from the Australian Academy of Science (AAS).
The AAS announced the election of 21 new Fellows last week, including three AIP Fellows and one member of the AIP Executive.
This Bulletin is being distributed at an eventful time. Firstly, it was very pleasing to hear last week that CSIRO will establish a new Climate Science Centre in Hobart, which will focus on climate modelling and projections for Australia, exploiting both national and international research expertise. This is in response to the rather negative feedback CSIRO received from its stakeholders and staff on the job cuts it proposed to make in the climate change area – announced in February.
Coupled with this good news is the establishment of a scientific committee to advise Government on the future direction of Australia’s climate science capability and research priorities. Continue reading Meeting this year’s women-in-physics lecturer – and who was Australia’s top physics publisher: Physics in May
The AIP places great importance on recognising excellence and outstanding contributions in physics, and promoting the important roles played by women in physics. One of the tangible ways it does this is via its awards, and I am delighted to be able to announce the recipients of two of its most prestigious such honours in this context: Cathy Foley has been awarded the Outstanding Service to Physics Award for 2015 in recognition of her leadership and many outstanding contributions to physics and the physics community. And Catalina Curceanu will be this year’s AIP Women in Physics Lecturer. Stay tuned for further information on these two awards in both this Bulletin and in our Australian Physics magazine.
What a fantastically exciting month it has been with the announcement of the first transient gravitational wave event due to a binary black hole merger. This will surely go down as one of the most significant discoveries in physics over the last century.
Some of the Australian researchers involved in the discovery are acknowledged in an article in this bulletin. It was also great to see how many took the opportunity in the weeks following the announcement to reach out to a curious public.
Friday 12 February 2016
In 1915, Einstein’s theory of general relativity presented a new way of understanding how the Universe worked.
It was a whole new way of thinking about time and space—but it was all theory.
Over the intervening century, nearly all of Einstein’s work has been proven. Except no one could find the gravity waves—dubbed ‘the drums of heaven’ by some physicists.
Happy New Year from the AIP Executive. It has been a busy couple of months in physics, with rumours of the first gravitational wave detection with LIGO, further confirmation of an unexpected bump in the data coming from the Large Hadron Collider, and the possible presence of a large, distant ninth planet in the far reaches of our solar system. Not to mention the addition of four new elements to the periodic table.