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

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Previous AIP bulletins can be found here. Bulletins prior to June 2021 can be found here.

  • 31 Jan 2023 4:11 PM | Anonymous

    The 2022 AIP Congress secured some high quality and high impact media coverage, with over 300 news articles around the world mentioning the Congress and/or its speakers.

    Highlights of the coverage included:

    • Nobel Laureate Donna Strickland talking for twenty minutes on Radio National’s Drive program, and also on 5AA’s breakfast show
    • Andrew Stuchbery and Ken Baldwin talking ‘everywhere’ about the US fusion announcement, including RN Breakfast, ABC News, ABC News Breakfast and The Australian amongst 280 stories around the world, with the help of the AusSMC who picked up and recirculated their comments, referencing the Congress.
    • Cathy Foley with an opinion piece about investment in Australia’s quantum sector.

    More story highlights from the Congress included:

    See the Congress speakers in the news media, including:

    Ken Baldwin on ABC News Breakfast talking about fusion energy

    Andrew Stuchbery on RN Breakfast commenting on the US fusion breakthrough

    AJ Mitchell on RN Breakfast and ABC Melbourne with a call to boost nuclear science education

    Ken Baldwin in The Australian on the fusion breakthrough

    Expert comments on fusion breakthrough via AusSMC

    Cathy Foley with her opinion piece about investment in Australia’s quantum sector.


  • 31 Jan 2023 4:07 PM | Anonymous

    Opinion article written by Professor Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist, for the 24th Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics in December 2022.

    Australia’s leadership in quantum computing and quantum science today isn’t an accident. It is the result of over sixty years of investment in the physical sciences in our universities and research agencies, and it gives us the opportunity to lead the world in new technologie

    s, industries and jobs.

    It’s a truism that there’s no such thing as overnight success; achievement comes from long-term commitment.

    This is definitely the case of Australia’s investment and expertise in the quantum research sector. We invested early – largely because our researchers and public funding bodies recognised the promise of quantum, and the physicists were organised and had strong leadership.

    We’ve had 14 Centres of Excellence over the past 20 years, devoted to various aspects of quantum research. Today, Australia has 22 quantum-related research institutions, whose researchers participate in these Centres of Excellence.

    The first Australian research paper was published in 1959 on time-correlated photons, and that same year, Guy White from my old team at CSIRO published Experimental Techniques in Low-Temperature Physics, still the go-to text.

    Since then, Australian researchers have made theoretical breakthroughs and pioneered many techniques, including in silicon quantum computing, photonics and cold-atom systems.

    So, it’s a long history.

    That depth of quantum research is why we have such a wealth of expertise.

    It’s why we have around 20 and growing quantum-related start-ups in Australia spanning investments across hardware, software, communications, sensing, cryptography, biology and consultancy capability.

    This week, at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Adelaide, we’re hearing about the latest developments in precision navigation and timing without GPS; and sensing, including quantum clocks, diamond-based sensors, and sensing for defence, intelligence, navigation and earth observation.

    There are papers on superconducting quantum hardware and NV diamond foundries, and technologies that can sense the start of a volcanic eruption.

    We’re hearing about quantum technologies to explore the brain, and how enzymes in our bodies catalyse complex reaction.

    Our talent is behind many existing and emerging quantum applications, including quantum random number generators for security and sensors for mining and civil engineering – a lot of this research is done with the support of international partners.

    However, Australia’s ambition goes well beyond supplying a hungry world with expertise. We are building our own quantum industry.

    As Australia’s Chief Scientist, I am very committed to this, as is the Australian Government. We recognise the transformative implications of quantum technologies, not only to the defence and security sphere, but ultimately to the way we live our lives.

    We’re in the process of finalising a National Quantum Strategy and have established a National Quantum Advisory Committee comprising quantum and business experts around the country, along with a network of state and territory governments.

    Our goal is to advance the quantum sector to build knowledge, speed discovery, lift the complexity of our economy and improve lives.

    The way I see it, there are three things that are critical for the global quantum community as we accelerate this set of technologies.

    First, investing in basic science, the process of discovery, must continue. I have sometimes described quantum computing as being still very much a science project.

    The same can be said of many of the potential applications in quantum, in health, communications, sensing, or encryption.

    But the potential is extraordinary in many areas. Quantum computing could be a game-changer in climate technologies to help us reach that difficult net-zero target.

    In everything from battery chemistry, to the efficiency of solar cells, to reduce methane emissions, and to find new catalysts for hydrogen, quantum simulation and computing holds great promise.

    We don’t know precisely how it will play out and over what timeframe. We can’t say for sure which areas will see progress that surpasses expectations, and where it will fall short. Discovery is a rich and unpredictable process!

    As leaders in this field, we need to keep reinforcing that message, so investors and decision-makers understand that not every avenue will emerge in the sun. We do have to play the patience game.

    Yet at every stage, we learn more, and build the knowledge base from which new and unexpected discoveries will follow.

    This is how to maintain the excitement, interest and momentum. It’s the scientific process in action, and it’s what I love about my profession.

    Second, the skills gaps. It sometimes feels as though advanced economies have entered the international talent wars.

    We’re all competing for the same pool of people and pinning hopes on skilled migration to solve significant skills shortages across a range of critical industries.

    Of course, this is a zero/sum game. The only way to tackle the skills shortage is to continue the focus on STEM engagement across the board.

    And to be frank, this shouldn’t be so hard. Kids are born scientists, explorers and inventors – all kids, not only the boys. With the right expectations and teaching, we can close the skills deficit.

    In Australia, we have a number of skills initiatives, including a focus on transferable skills which recognises the uncertainty embedded in these disruptive sectors.

    At the same time, we will continue to support the international flow of talent, always an important part of our research and innovation ecosystem.

    The third and final consideration relates to regulation – the frameworks in which we develop these technologies to ensure they remain a force for good.

    Australia was part of the development of first governance guidelines for quantum computing through the World Economic Forum process last year.

    The core values set out in the Quantum Governance Principles are an excellent and sensible guide.

    We’re pursuing the promise of quantum partly for the sake of discovery, simply to learn. But also – and ultimately – this shared mission is about improving our lives.

    It’s about solving environmental, medical and energy challenges, understanding more about our place in the cosmos as we chart humanity’s future.

    Those are the goals to guide our actions.

    Read more stories from the 2022 AIP Congress.

  • 31 Jan 2023 4:01 PM | Anonymous

    Media release from the 24th Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics in December 2022.

    The US fusion news is amazing. But it’s a long way from endless clean power. The researchers probably generated enough excess energy to boil a kettle.

    The US experimenters apparently have got out more energy than they put in in a fusion experiment, thus technically achieving ignition. This indeed is a breakthrough worthy of celebration.

    However, there is a long way to go. From the nature of the facility where the experiment was performed, I’d say this energy came in a single pulse or “flash”. So, for a viable power source it would be necessary to have sustained repeated such pulses, and be able to collect the energy released efficiently. There’s still a long way to go. That said, achieving ignition is an essential milestone that apparently now has been reached. Practical fusion power is a step closer to reality.

    A bit more technical detail. This is probably deuterium plus tritium fusion – the joining of the two heavy isotopes of hydrogen that is the favoured nuclear reaction to achieve fusion power. The two positively charged nuclei have to be pushed together against their electrical repulsion, which in this case is achieved by heating the isotopes in a plasma to temperatures where the nuclei are going so fast that they can overcome the repulsion and bang together.

    Professor Andrew Stuchbery
    Head, Department of Nuclear Physics and Accelerator Applications, ANU

    Nuclear fusion – the energy that powers the sun – has been a holy grail of physics for decades 

    There are two main routes to nuclear fusion.  The first is magnetic confinement fusion that contains extremely high temperature nuclei in a magnetic bottle.  The second is inertial confinement fusion that uses high power lasers to blast together nuclei in a miniature hydrogen bomb, as pursued at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

    Both have come close to demonstrating energy breakeven, but now it appears that Livermore may achieved this for the first time – a truly ground-breaking achievement.

    I’m at the national physics congress in Adelaide where the announcement has attracted lots of interest.

    However, it’s unlikely that fusion power – which generates no greenhouse gases and minimal nuclear waste – will save us from climate change.  The energy apparently released from the Livermore experiments is only enough to boil a kettle.

    All the heavy lifting for the energy transition will be done by renewable energy and nuclear fission (existing nuclear power) – with nuclear fusion at commercial scale unlikely to be available until later this century, well after the 2050 deadline needed to keep global warming below two degrees.  But beyond that fusion might provide limitless energy for centuries to come.

    Professor Ken Baldwin, Research School of Physics, ANU

     

    Note: these comments were made ahead of the US announcement and were distributed with the support of the Australian Science Media Centre, AusSMC.

    Read more stories from the 2022 AIP Congress

  • 31 Jan 2023 3:47 PM | Anonymous

    Media release from the 24th Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics in December 2022.

    • A call to action to train a nuclear savvy generation
    • Australia will need thousands of people trained in nuclear science
    • For submarines, cancer treatments, space industry, mining…

    Our new submarine fleet, new cancer therapies, quantum computing, space industry and satellites, the extraction of critical minerals and monitoring the environment will all demand levels of training in nuclear science we cannot at present meet.

    Australia’s physicists, meeting in Adelaide today, are calling for a national plan to boost education and training in nuclear science.

    “The need is urgent. The captain of our first nuclear submarine is probably already in secondary school today,” says Dr AJ Mitchell, senior lecturer in physics at the Australian National University (ANU).

    “As nuclear science takes an increasingly important part of our day-to-day life, we need to make people understand that ‘nuclear’ is not something to be scared of, but rather to cherish and appreciate,” he says.

    “While some of the initial training for submarine operations can take place in the US and the UK, we must take this role on ourselves. This must be a sovereign capability. And it needs to start yesterday.”

    He has brought together leaders across Australia to discuss a National Vision for Nuclear Science and Applications at the 2022 Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) Congress at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

    “Today we are starting construction of an Australia-wide program of nuclear science education and training,” AJ says.

    Topics include:

    “Emerging radiation therapies for cancer treatment. The Bragg Centre is currently being built near the Royal Adelaide Hospital and is due to open in 2025. It will be the first facility in Australia to provide advanced radiation treatment for cancer using heavy particle beams already available in Europe,” says Associate Professor Scott Penfold from the Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research.

    But it demands computer modellers and machine operators trained in nuclear physics to make it work. Similar facilities are on the drawing board for Australia’s other major population centres.

    Radiation in the mining industry, led by Professor Nigel Spooner of the University of Adelaide

    Keeping up with demand for radiation safety skills, led by Cameron Jefferies of the Australasian Radiation Protection Society. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency already has positions it can’t fill, AJ says.

    “People tend to be less afraid of things they understand. So we’re looking at changing the nuclear mindset across a whole range of industries and a general uplift in scientific literacy. So, for instance, wherever the submarine bases end up, people will be able to understand and assess the risk.”

    Read more stories from the Congress


  • 2 Dec 2022 11:33 AM | Anonymous

    Headshot of Professor Nicole Bell Incoming AIP President Nicole Bell (pictured) and Vice President Stuart Midgely will lead the AIP National Executive for 2023, alongside many continuing members who continue to generously offer their time, skills and enthusiasm to the physics community.

    The incoming Executive is:

    • President:  Nicole Bell
    • Vice President: Stuart Midgley
    • Honorary Treasurer: Dongchen Qi
    • Honorary Secretary: Kirrily Rule
    • Honorary Registrar: Stephen Collins
    • Immediate Past President: Sven Rogge
    • Awards Officer: Joanna Turner
    The new Executive will take office at the conclusion of the AIP’s 60th AGM (held on 2 Feb 2023) and will appoint up to four Special Project Officers (SPOs). Current SPOs are eligible for re-appointment.
  • 2 Dec 2022 11:20 AM | Anonymous

    Dr Karen Livesey standing in front of a whiteboard, which is covered in physics equations

    Meet our 2023 Women In Physics Lecturer

    Tiny magnets, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, are used in cancer treatments, computers and even in self-repairing paints.

    The AIP is thrilled to announce that Dr Karen Livesey, theoretical physicist at the University of Newcastle, will be touring Australia in 2023 as the AIP’s Women in Physics Lecturer.

    Karen is designing new nano-sized magnets to address technological challenges, such as reducing the energy that today’s computers use, and heating inoperable cancer tumours to improve health outcomes.

    The Women In Physics Lecture tour celebrates the contribution of women to advances in physics. This annual award recognises a woman who has made a significant contribution in a field of physics.

    Karen is a Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Newcastle, and an Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low Energy Electronic Technologies. She is also a Superstar of STEM funded by Science and Technology Australia for 2023-24.

    Prior to Newcastle, she worked at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for almost 10 years, reaching the rank of Associate Professor.

    It was while the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, in 2020, that she moved with her family to Newcastle, NSW. Australia is home for Karen. So is physics. She was the first in her family to finish high school and went on to study physics at the University of Western Australia, completing her PhD in 2010.

    Along with a passion for physics and mathematics, Karen has a love for sharing this through her university teaching and through chats with community groups. She gives invited talks around the globe and has received research and teaching awards in the United States, Canada, UK and Australia.

    Tour dates and locations will be announced in 2023.

  • 2 Dec 2022 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    Submit your views to the ARC or let us know what you think. 

    The Australian Government is currently seeking feedback to inform its review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001. The consultation paper can be found here. The consultation paper requests feedback on nine specific themes.

    The AIP encourages all members to submit their individual feedback directly to the ARC, through their survey. The deadline is 14 December 2022.

    The National Executive also intends to submit feedback on behalf of the AIP.

    A preliminary draft for discussion of the AIP position can be found here, for member feedback. The National Executive welcomes any comments by Saturday 10 December, by emailing feedback@aip.org.au.

    Please note the earlier public statements by the AIP regarding several of the themes. These statements can be viewed at www.aip.org.au/advocacy.

    UPDATE Jan 2023: Read our final submission, which has been published in COSMOS Magazine

  • 30 Nov 2022 11:12 AM | Anonymous

    The NSW AIP Branch had a full calendar of events and public lectures this year.

    If you missed out or you’d like to re-watch an event, many are now available on-demand:

    See the 2022 NSW AIP Branch Annual Report  for further details about the events.

  • 25 Nov 2022 2:54 PM | Anonymous

    The National Executive of the Australian Institute of Physics wishes to encourage AIP members and the public to take note of proposed changes to the NSW School Curriculum for the Sciences, and to provide feedback to the NSW Education Standards Authority through their own survey by 5 December.

    The draft syllabus for the year 7-10 high school syllabus for Science and the consultation form can be found on the web pages of the NSW Education Standards Authority at: https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/about/news/consultations

    The AIP Executive is concerned by the proposed removal, from the year 7-10 science curriculum, of some fundamental core concepts from the compulsory curriculum items, including some in relation to the solar system and astronomy. 

    For example, "predictable phenomena on the Earth, including day and night, seasons and eclipses are caused by the relative positions of the sun, the Earth and the moon" has been removed. In its place it is proposed to include as an item in the draft syllabus "the observations of different people and/or cultures about the phases of the moon, seasons and tides, and how their conclusions guide them in understanding and interacting with the world".

    The nature of physics, and of science more generally, lies in the pursuit of matters of fact, established through investigations and discourse that follow scientific principles, such as hypothesis testing. Science aims to achieve these goals in an objective manner that is as free from bias as possible in relation to opinion, belief or culture.

    We consider that the heliocentric model, its consequences for the predictable phenomena on earth (incl seasons, eclipses and day-night variations) and other phenomena in astronomy previously included in the syllabus are fundamental physical insights of such everyday relevance that they require explicit inclusion in the curriculum. 

    These concepts have been established as matters of fact, through scientific endeavour over the last few hundred years. In our view they should be taught as such in our nation's high schools' science classes.

    Aside from the above, the AIP Executive also wishes to encourage the physical community across Australia to examine the draft syllabus for rigorous nomenclature consistent with scientific terminology and for the removal of previously included subject matters. Some proposed changes, such as the classification of heat and electricity as forms of kinetic energy (in the classification of “types of energy as either kinetic energy such as movement, heat and electricity, or potential energy such as chemical, elastic and gravitational”), may require clarification or correction.

    Members who wish to provide feedback to the Education department are welcome to refer to this statement. The AIP Executive will aim to also provide direct feedback to the department.

    The consultation survey by the NSW Education Standards Authority closes on 5 December 2022.

  • 24 Nov 2022 11:04 AM | Anonymous

    Dr Devika Kamath holding the AIP NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award Congratulations to all recipients of the NSW AIP Awards for their outstanding achievements in physics outreach, postgraduate and graduate studies, and K-12 science.


    • Dr Devika Kamath from Macquarie University (pictured) received the AIP NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award. This award is in its ninth year and is presented to an individual that engages our community and contributes to public engagement within physics. 
    • Yuanming Wang, University of Sydney, School of Physics received the AIP NSW Postgraduate Physics Award.
    • Shankar Dutt, Australian National University, Research School of Physics received the AIP NSW Postgraduate: Royal Society of NSW Jak Kelly Award.

    AIP NSW Annual Postgraduate Awards in Physics are open to nominated postgraduate individuals to compete for the AIP NSW Postgraduate Medal and the Royal Society of NSW Jak Kelly prize. These awards have been created to encourage excellence in postgraduate physics research.

    Receiving AIP NSW Postgraduate Excellence Certificates were:

    • Saurabh Bhardwaj, Macquarie University, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
    • Giovanni Pierobon, University of New South Wales, School of Physics
    • Ivan Zhigulin, University of Technology Sydney, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences 
    • Levi Madden, University of Wollongong, School of Physics 
    The NSW Best Graduating Student Prizes acknowledge individuals nominated by each Physics Institution, with superior performance in their studies. Winners were:
    • Armando Perri, University of New South Wales, School of Physics
    • Jay Archer, University of Wollongong, School of Physics
    • Adrien Di Lonardo, University of Technology Sydney, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

    AIP NSW Most Outstanding Physics K-12 prizes with the Science Teachers Association of NSW Young Scientist Awards

    The branch committee assessed and awarded prizes to the top three projects in the theme “Drones, Droids and Robots”,  which were:

    • First prize: TARS (Year 11-12 project)
    • Second prize: Timmy The Bushfire Rover (Year 5-6 project)
    • Third prize: Robot Hand (Year 3-4 project)

    The Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch congratulates all recipients for their incredible achievements.


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