AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS

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The AIP runs a monthly bulletin that goes out to over 4000 scientists, future scientists and those interested in science! 

To provide physics news or subscribe to the AIP bulletin please email physics@scienceinpublic.com.au.

To advertise in the bulletin, see our Jobs page.

  • 1 Mar 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Changes to the Constitution were passed at the Annual General Meeting on 15 Feb to allow the AIP to apply for Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status and to modernise its operations.

    The AGM, held over Zoom, was well-attended with over 40 members present.

    The major amendments to the Constitution were:

    • Changes to the allowed structure of the National Executive team;
    • Changes to enable the AIP to apply for Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status, allowing it to accept tax deductible donations;
    • Modernisation of the operations requirements (e.g. no longer requiring postal mail as the only way to communicate official votes/decisions); and,
    • Compliance with the requirements of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), including the use of more inclusive language.

    You can read the updated Constitution here.

    Other discussion items included our advocacy efforts throughout 2021, and the need for collecting accurate, nationwide, gender statistics for students studying physics at high school and university.

    A big thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the event!

    An AIP Council meeting was held following the AGM. On the final day of the Council meeting, an updated set of by-laws was voted in. These updated by-laws map to the new Constitution, and reflect the changes made to the modernisation of the Constitution and the AIP’s application for DGR status.

    The mapping of the new Constitution to the old one and the by-laws can be found here.


    Photo: Happy attendees at the online AGM. Screenshot supplied by Trevor Harris.

  • 1 Mar 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    When a recent solar storm knocked 40 of 49 newly-launched SpaceX satellites out of orbit, it demonstrated just how important it is to monitor space weather.

    The upcoming Apr – Jun 2022 edition of Australian Physics magazine (Vol. 59, No. 2) will be a special issue addressing space science, space weather from the sun to the Earth, satellites, and space exploration.

    In this edition:

    ·       Learn about how solar activity generates space weather events that affect Earth’s surrounds and even life on Earth.

    One phenomenon is geomagnetic storms – major disturbances of the Earth’s magnetosphere that can cause changes in the ionosphere and thermosphere, change the shape of the atmosphere, disrupt radio frequency signals, initiate power grid failures, and impact satellites and communication systems.

    ·       Read about how we rely on satellites to monitor space weather and conditions on Earth.

    Satellites also provide essential data about Earth for weather forecasting, climate modelling, resource monitoring, and environmental management. In recent years, the Australian and global satellite communication sector has seen a tremendous expansion, which will grow the global space economy.

    Interested? Make sure your AIP membership is up to date to get access to this special edition of Australian Physics when it comes out. Visit here to renew.

    The Solar, Terrestrial & Space Physics edition is brought to you by the Solar, Terrestrial & Space Physics (STSP) group of the AIP. It focuses on all things ‘space science’ and aims to understand the space environment and its influence on human technology.

  • 1 Mar 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Frontiers of Science Forum on 25 Mar

    Catch up on major discoveries and theories in physics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry at the Frontiers of Science Forum at the Concord Golf Club, Sydney, on Fri 25 Mar.

    The Forum will feature international experts, who will give brief talks on the latest and future developments in their fields of knowledge.

    The Forum will start with refreshments and a welcome by Dr Fred Osman FAIP, followed by the featured talks. It will close with a panel discussion and Q&A with Ian Woolf (Diffusion radio).

    Featured talks include:

    • ‘Building a quantum computing lab from the fundamental constants of nature’, by quantum physicist Prof Andrea Morello (UNSW) - winner of the 2021 AIP NSW Outreach to Physics Award,
    • ‘Beyond the compass: exploring geometric constructions via circle templates and a straightedge’, by mathematician Prof Chris Tisdell (UNSW),
    • ‘From Botanists and Butterflies to Populations and Planets’, by food scientist Prof Johannes le Coutre (UNSW), and;
    • ‘Going small to make big impacts in medicine: nanomedicine’, by nanochemist Prof Martina Stenzel (UNSW).

    The Forum is a joint meeting of the Australian Institute of Physics, the Teacher’s Guild of NSW, the Royal Society of NSW, and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

    See here for more information and how to register.

    Registrations close Mon 21 Mar.
  • 1 Mar 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Are you an early career researcher (ECR) and have you worked for less than 10 years in the sciences in Australia? Was your experience different after the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Help inform recommendations for changes to the work environment and workplace culture for ECRs in Australia by participating in a research project exploring the challenges faced by ECRs employed in the sciences in Australia.

    The project is being run by Dr Katherine Christian at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) as a follow-up to her PhD. It will explore some elements of workplace culture in more detail, including comparing experiences shared pre- and post- onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    To make sure the results are truly representative of the ECR experience, Dr Christian is hoping for more responses. She encourages any ECR, including those who took part in the 2019 study, to participate.

    Participate NOW by visiting: https://qsurvey.qut.edu.au/jfe/form/SV_5BGKcYMoKkdwlRs

    The online questionnaire is completely anonymous, participation is voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time without explanation by closing your web browser.

    The questionnaire can be completed at a time that is convenient to you. It should take about 25-30 minutes.

    The survey closes 13 Mar 2022.

    For more information, please email the Principal Investigator A/Prof Mike Doran,  School of Biomedical Sciences and Centre for Biomedical Technologies, QUT.

    Thank you for considering taking part in this research.

  • 1 Mar 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    Nominations are now open for the 2022 Early Career Scientist Prize in Computational Physics sponsored by the Commission on Computational Physics (C20) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

    Nominees should have a maximum of 8 years research experience following their PhD (as measured on January 1, 2022) and should be the principal researcher of original work of outstanding scientific quality in Computational Physics.

    The prize consists of €1000, a medal, and a certificate.

    The award will be made at the Commission's next International Conference on Computational Physics (IUPAP CCP2022) to be held virtually at the University of Texas at Austin from 31 Jul to 4 Aug 2022.

    The winner will also be invited to present a talk at this meeting.

    Procedures for making a nomination are at https://sites.google.com/view/grigraphene/announce/C20-ECSP-Award/

    Nominations should be emailed to Mei-Yin Chou (mychou6@gate.sinica.edu.tw) by 31 Mar 2022.

    Please direct questions to Mei-Yin Chou (mychou6@gate.sinica.edu.tw).

    Unsuccessful nominations remain active for an additional two years.


  • 3 Feb 2022 12:13 PM | Anonymous

    The AIP welcomes the Australian government’s investment in research and the acknowledgement of its importance for the country.

    Industry-based PhD projects and fellowships at all levels, from early career researchers to research leaders, will foster collaboration between industry and academia to help the translation of research innovations into commercial products.

    The AIP agrees that more needs to be done at the interface between industry and university-based research. At the same time, we are worried about balance and a possible drastic shift in funding. It is important to support both basic and applied research to ensure a pipeline into translation.

    • Read the Prime Minister’s address here.
    • Read press coverage on the issue here.
  • 1 Feb 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    As reported by Science in Public.

    An atomic array in silicon paves the way for large-scale devices

    A University of Melbourne-led team have perfected a technique for embedding single atoms in a silicon wafer one-by-one.

    Their technology offers the potential to make quantum computers using the same methods that have given us cheap and reliable conventional devices containing billions of transistors.

    “We could ‘hear’ the electronic click as each atom dropped into one of 10,000 sites in our prototype device. Our vision is to use this technique to build a very, very large-scale quantum device,” says Professor David Jamieson of The University of Melbourne, lead author of the Advanced Materials paper describing the process.

    His co-authors are from UNSW Sydney, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering (IOM), and RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility.

    “We believe we ultimately could make large-scale machines based on single-atom quantum bits by using our method and taking advantage of the manufacturing techniques that the semiconductor industry has perfected,” he says.

    Read the full media release.

  • 1 Feb 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    As reported by Science in Public.

    UNSW Sydney-led research paves the way for large silicon-based quantum processors for real-world manufacturing and application.

    Australian researchers have proven that near error-free quantum computing is possible, paving the way to build silicon-based quantum devices compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing technology.

    “Today’s publication in Nature shows our operations were 99 per cent error-free,” says Professor Andrea Morello of UNSW, who led the work, with partners in the US, Japan, Egypt, UTS and the University of Melbourne.

    “When the errors are so rare, it becomes possible to detect them and correct them when they occur. This shows that it is possible to build quantum computers that have enough scale, and enough power, to handle meaningful computation. This piece of research is an important milestone on the journey that will get us there,” Prof. Morello says.

    Morello’s paper is one of three published in Nature that independently confirm that robust, reliable quantum computing in silicon is now a reality. This breakthrough features on the front cover of the journal (Vol. 601, Issue 7893, 20 Jan).

    Read the full media release.

  • 1 Feb 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    * Dates and locations for the public lectures to be announced soon

    The AIP is delighted to announce Associate Professor Katarina Miljkovic (Curtin University) as the winner of the 2022 Women in Physics Lectureship.

    She is a planetary scientist with expertise in numerical and experimental impact physics and a passionate advocate for studying science.

    The title of Professor Miljkovic’s proposed public lecture is ‘Impact physics in planetary science’.

    It was only during the mid-20th century that impact craters on Earth were confirmed as originating from rocks which arose in outer space. Since then, space missions have brought back data from similar phenomena affecting the crusts of other planetary bodies. These impact events play a key element in planetary evolution, including that of Earth.

    In her lectures, Prof Miljkovic will outline her modelling work on impact processes, cratering mechanics and shock physics applied to geological materials. She will further discuss how her numerical modelling compares with data from space missions such as NASA’s GRAIL and InSight.

    Prof Miljkovic joined Curtin University in 2015 under a Curtin Research Fellowship. She now teaches in the Advanced Science degree there. She is also currently an Australian Research Council Fellow.

    Prior to joining Curtin, she graduated from the University of Belgrade in 2006 in astrophysics and obtained her PhD from the Open University in the UK in 2010. She has held postdoctoral roles at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris in France, and Imperial College London in UK.

    Prof Miljkovic has won several competitive awards, including an ARC DECRA Fellowship, an Australian L'Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship and a WA Tall Poppy Young Scientist of the Year award.

    The Women in Physics Lecture Tour celebrates the contribution of women to advances in physics. Lecturers offer presentations, including school lectures, public lectures and research colloquia, in Canberra and each of the six Australian State capital cities and surrounding regions.

    The 2021 winner of the Lectureship was medical physicist Associate Professor Susanna Guatelli (University of Wollongong).

    Photo credit: supplied by Katarina Miljkovic.

  • 1 Feb 2022 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    For their exceptional contributions to the furtherance of Physics as a discipline, we have recognised both Emeritus Professor Bruce McKellar (University of Melbourne) AC FAIP and Dr Marc Duldig (University of Tasmania) FAIP with a 2021 AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia.


    A pioneer on many fronts

    Prof McKellar won the Award for his service and leadership in the Australian and international physics community.

    Throughout his career, Prof McKellar held several roles that actively facilitated physics research, policy development and collaboration in Australia as well as internationally, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region.

    He was a founding member of the Australian Research Council (ARC), helping establish and develop the institution. He was its Chair for the Chemical, Mathematical and Physical Sciences Panel from 1988-1990.

    On the international front, he was the first Australian and the first representative from the Southern Hemisphere to become President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics 2014.

    He chaired the Asia-Pacific regional committee of the International Council for Science (2009-2011) and Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (1992-1998).

    Prof McKellar was a theoretical particle physicist who studied weak interactions and published a seminal paper on three nucleon forces known as the ‘Tucson-Melbourne’ force. His excellence in research was recognised by the AIP with a Walter Boas Medal in 1992 and Harrie Massey Medal and Prize in 2006.

    Elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1987, Prof McKellar later served in varied roles within the Physical Sciences arm of the academy including secretary and Vice President. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and the American Physical Society.

    A list of Prof McKellar’s career roles can be found here.


    A stellar effort

    Dr Duldig won the Award for tireless service to the Australian Institute of Physics and the wider Physics community.

    He was the AIP President from 2011-2013, Vice President from 2009-2011 and Treasurer from 2007-2009.

    Dr Duldig was an astrophysicist and worked for more than 30 years with the Australian Antarctic Division, studying the bombardment of the Earth with cosmic rays using neutron monitor and muon detector telescope networks.

    One line of research he was interested in was ‘space weather’ - what he described as ‘the impact that variations in the space environment have on us and our technology’. 

    Dr Duldig was involved in the establishment of the Global Muon Detector Network with international collaborators. With telescopes in Nagoya, Hobart, Brazil and Kuwait, the network allows for global coverage to monitor space weather, including the early detection of solar storms.

    In addition to his research, he served on various committees and boards. As part of Science and Technology Australia (2011-2013), he was the board member representing Physical Sciences and a member of the executive.  

    He was a board member of the Asia Pacific Physical Societies (2010-2013) and member of the National Committee for Antarctic Research of the Australian Academy of Science (2012-2014).

    After retiring in 2011, he still found time to establish an international team to run a cosmic ray physics facility at the Mawson Base in Antarctica, in which he remains involved. He is also still active as a member of the Tasmanian Radiation Advisory Council, and is the long-term joint secretary of the Astronomical Society of Australia – a position he has held for more than 37 years!

    The AIP warmly thanks Prof McKellar and Dr Duldig for their excellent service to the physics community.

    Photo credits: supplied by the researchers.

AIP news and bulletin posts prior to 20 June 2021 can be found here.

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