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The AIP monthly bulletin reaches over 4000 scientists, future scientists and stakeholders. To subscribe to the AIP bulletin, please email aip@aip.org.auTo provide physics news, please email physics@scienceinpublic.com.au. To advertise in the bulletin, see our Jobs page.

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  • 31 Oct 2022 3:44 PM | Anonymous

    Adelaide Convention Centre

    The program for the 24th AIP Congress – 11 to 16 December at the Adelaide Convention Centre – is now live on the Congress website.

    Have you registered your spot at the Congress yet? Registrations are open until Friday 2 December 2022.

    Register here.

    We have a full schedule, with 10 plenary talks across the five days from high-profile speakers spanning the broad interests of the Congress, two poster sessions, and public lecture by Tamara Davis Cosmological Conundrums and the Dark Side of the Universe on Monday evening.

    Plus, plenty of networking opportunities including a Congress dinner on Wednesday evening, a diversity breakfast on Tuesday morning, and a high tea focused on physics education.

    Three sessions targeted to high-school teachers are also included in the program.

    See the full program for further details. The program will continue to be updated over the coming weeks.

  • 28 Oct 2022 4:11 PM | Anonymous

    Headshot of Professor Susan Scott First Australian recipient

    The prestigious Blaise Pascal Medal for Physics 2022 has been awarded to Distinguished Professor Susan Scott FAIP of ANU for her work over three decades, including discoveries in general relativity, cosmology and gravitational wave science.

    Reporting on the Award, Marion Rae from Australian Associated Press, wrote:

    ‘A theoretical physicist who studies ripples in space that span billions of years is the first Australian to be awarded the prestigious Blaise Pascal science medal.

    The Australian National University’s Susan Scott has won the 2022 medal for physics from the European Academy of Sciences, which recognises the work of the world’s best scientists.

    “I am the first Australian, and Australian woman, to be awarded this medal, so this is a tremendous honour,” Professor Scott said.

    Her work is spurring powerful advances in quantum, laser and optical technology.

    She said she hopes the award inspires the next generation of women scientists in Australia and internationally.

    “Throughout most of my career, in general relativity theory and gravitational wave science, there have been so few women, particularly in Australia,” Prof Scott told AAP from Brussels.

    “We really need to change that because we’re just missing out on so much talent.”

    She wants women and girls to know they can follow their dreams of being scientists and making discoveries.

    “It’s an incredibly fulfilling thing to do and it’s very important to me that I do have this mentorship role – for young women scientists and generally to our students and early career researchers,” she said.

    Prof Scott was part of an international team that detected gravitational waves, proving Albert Einstein’s theory on general relativity.

    “At the time, many people thought Einstein’s theory of general relativity from 1915 was very esoteric and would probably never have any use or purpose,” she said.

    “Now we all use GPS in everyday life – I was using it yesterday to navigate around Brussels. It’s taken 100 years, but it’s a flow-on effect from his theory.”

    The academy citation recognises her “ground-breaking discoveries in general relativity, cosmology and gravitational wave science” spanning more than three decades.

    “She played a leading role in Australia’s participation in the first detection of gravitational waves in 2015 and the development of the field of gravitational wave science in Australia following on from that discovery,” the academy said.

    Gravitational waves are ripples in space and time caused by massive cosmic events, including the collisions of black holes.’

    Read the full story as reported by Marion Rae, Australian Associated Press

  • 3 Oct 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Headshot of Prof Michael Brunger On 14th of September Prof Michael Brunger FAIP passed away. His friends, colleagues and the College of Science and Engineering have received this news with great sadness.

    Prof Michael Brunger has been a valued member of Flinders University for four decades, having completed his Bachelor of Science at Flinders in 1981, followed by Honours (1st class) in 1982 and later his PhD in 1988.

    Michael had an esteemed academic career, starting as a Rothmans Foundation Research Fellow at ANU from 1989-1991. Michael then took up a QEII Fellowship at Flinders in 1991, where he moved through the ranks to become Professor of Physics for the past 15 years, retiring only recently. Michael’s contributions both to Flinders University and the wider research community were recognised last week when he was awarded the prestigious title of Emeritus Professor.

    Michael specialised in atomic and molecular physics, where he focused on electron and positron collisions and their applications. He was a highly regarded international researcher, having published more than 350 refereed papers, and being recognised through Fellowships of the Australian Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics (UK).

    He also served our community on the Australian Research Council College of Experts and as a member of the ARC ERA research evaluation committee for several rounds. He has mentored numerous PhD students, many of whom have gone on to receive prestigious international fellowships and positions around the globe. Michael has had a significant impact on Flinders, through his high-quality research, administration, and service, and as a proud Union member, being NTEU Flinders University Branch President.

    Michael will be remembered by his smile and humour, his sharp thinking and pointed comments as well as his enthusiasm, kindness, generosity, and friendliness, and last but not least, his hat and sneakers. Michael will be missed by his many friends and colleagues.

    This tribute was written by his colleagues:
    Prof Stephen Buckman
    Prof Igor Bray
    Prof Sarah Harmer
    Dr Darryl Jones
    Dr Laurence Campbell
    Prof Gunther Andersson.

    Photo credit: supplied by the authors.

  • 3 Oct 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    False colour image highlighting impacts by meteroids crashing on Mars as detected by the NASA InSight landerAs reported by NASA.

    • Women in Physics Lecturer Associate Professor Katarina Miljkovic is a co-author on a recently published paper on impacts by meteroids crashing on Mars as detected by the NASA InSight lander.

    NASA’s InSight lander has detected seismic waves from four space rocks that crashed on Mars in 2020 and 2021. Not only do these represent the first impacts detected by the spacecraft’s seismometer since InSight touched down on the Red Planet in 2018, it also marks the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact have been detected on Mars.

    A new paper published Monday 19 Sep in Nature Geoscience details the impacts, which ranged between 53 and 180 miles (85 and 290 kilometers) from InSight’s location, a region of Mars called Elysium Planitia.

    The first of the four confirmed meteoroids – the term used for space rocks before they hit the ground – made the most dramatic entrance: It entered Mars’ atmosphere on Sept. 5, 2021, exploding into at least three shards that each left a crater behind.

    Then, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew over the estimated impact site to confirm the location. The orbiter used its black-and-white Context Camera to reveal three darkened spots on the surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter’s team used the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, or HiRISE, to get a color close-up of the craters (the meteoroid could have left additional craters in the surface, but they would be too small to see in HiRISE’s images).

    “After three years of InSight waiting to detect an impact, those craters looked beautiful,” said Ingrid Daubar of Brown University, a co-author of the paper and a specialist in Mars impacts.

    “Impacts are actually a really beautiful way of validating our previous guesses about the make-up of the interior of Mars, because we can tell how big the rock was that created that impact, so we know how much energy it would have had on impact,” said AIP Women in Physics lecturer, Associate Professor Katarina Miljkovic, who is a co-author on the paper and the only Australian working on the NASA InSight mission.

    “And then we can connect the dots about the material that must be under the surface which the seismic waves passed through, to give us a greater insight into the structure of Mars.”

    Read the full NASA media release here.
    Read more about Prof Miljkovic’s participation in an SMH article
    here.

    Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Tech/University of Arizona.


  • 1 Sep 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    As reported by the University of Melbourne.

    Located one kilometre underground in the Stawell Gold Mine, the first dark matter laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere is preparing to join the global quest to understand the nature of dark matter and unlock the secrets of our universe.

    Officially unveiled on 19 August, the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) will be the new epicentre of dark matter research in Australia. The Stawell laboratory will be managed by SUPL Ltd., which is co-owned by the University of Melbourne, ANSTO, the Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology, and the University of Adelaide.

    Lead researcher on the project University of Melbourne Professor Elisabetta Barberio said dark matter has been eluding scientists for decades.

    “We know there is much more matter in the universe than we can see,” Professor Barberio said.

    “With the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory, we have the tools and location to detect this dark matter. Proving the existence of dark matter will help us understand its nature and forever change how we see the universe.”

    With Stage 1 now complete, the lab is ready to host the experiment known as SABRE South to be installed over the coming months, which aims to directly detect dark matter.

    SABRE South will run in conjunction with the complementary SABRE experiment taking place in Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, Italy. These experiments are designed to detect Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), one of the likely forms for dark matter particles.

    Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Melbourne Professor James McCluskey said universities are places of deep discovery supported by global partnerships in advancing the frontiers of knowledge.

    “Research which is needed to address the great unanswered questions – such as ‘what is dark matter?’ – is nearly always done in collaboration," Professor McCluskey said.

    “Working with our partners and sharing our collective knowledge and expertise, the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory will facilitate experiments which are critical in the global search for dark matter.’’

    Read the full media release here.

    Photo: PhD student Madeleine Zurowski with lead researcher Professor Elisabetta Barberio in the Stawell Underground Physics Lab. Credit – Olivia Gumienny/University of Melbourne.


  • 1 Sep 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    As reported by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney.

    UNSW Sydney Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs has announced Scientia Professor Sven Rogge as the new Dean of UNSW Science.

    Prof Rogge is an internationally recognised expert in condensed matter physics and quantum information science. He has held several research and leadership positions at UNSW since joining from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands in 2011.

    Prof Brungs congratulated Prof Rogge on his appointment and highlighted his strong track record as a leader in both academic research and administration.

    “Prof Rogge will bring enormous experience to his role as faculty dean. Since joining UNSW, he has successfully steered the School of Physics and the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research portfolio. His research on condensed matter physics, in particular quantum electronics, spans the full funding pipeline from blue sky basic research through to translational applications,” Prof Brungs said.

    “I look forward to working with him as he leads the Science faculty in an exciting time ahead, as innovative technologies and other scientific solutions are developed to address challenges in an uncertain and rapidly changing world.”

    Prof Rogge grew up in Germany and a fascination with science from an early age led him to study Physics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. He then went on to obtain a PhD in Physics from Stanford University in 1997.  He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the President of the Australian Institute of Physics, and a program manager at the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology.

    As an experimental physicist, his research focuses on quantum systems in a solid-state environment and their translation to applications in quantum materials and technology. His work on gaining atomistic insight into the interactions of quantum objects, such as atoms and qubits, is a key component in Australia’s world-leading progress in quantum physics.

    Prof Rogge said he was honoured to be appointed Dean of Science.

    “UNSW is one of Australia’s leading universities for science education and research. Our staff and students learn and specialise in a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines as they strive to help overcome many of the most pressing challenges facing our world today,” Prof Rogge said.

    “I look forward to continuing my work on the University leadership team as the Dean of Science. I think the role of the faculty is to educate students in critical thinking and give them a toolbox of analytical skills that will ready them for a diverse and rewarding career. We also have a responsibility to drive research that will guide Australia into a sustainable future with new insights from ageing well to quantum technologies.”

    Prof. Rogge will start in his new role on 10 October 2022.

     

    Read the full media release here.

    Photo credit: UNSW Sydney.


  • 1 Sep 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    AIP Vice President elected as Council member

    The Australian physics community will continue to be well-represented at the Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS) with the recent election of our VP Professor Nicole Bell as one of 15 Council members for 2023 – 2025.

    She will follow in the footsteps of our Immediate Past President, Professor Jodie Bradby, whose term as Council member ends this year. Other past Council members include AIP Fellows Dr Cathy Foley, Prof Robert Robinson, and Dr Marc Duldig.

    The AAPPS is an umbrella organisation of 20 physical societies in the Asia Pacific region, of which the AIP is part. It was founded in October 1989 with the aim to promote the advancement of physics knowledge in the region, encompassing research, applications, and teaching, especially through international collaboration.

    The activities of the AAPPS include organisation of the triennial Asia Pacific Physics Conference, collaboration with other organisations such the American Physical Society, and encouraging young physics researchers through the C. N. Yang Award. 

    Last month, the AAPPS and the Korean Physical Society held the 15th Asia Pacific Physics Conference (APPC15) online.


    The newly elected AAPPS Council members are:

    1. Nicole F. BELL (Australian Institute of Physics)

    2. Xiudong SUN (The Chinese Physical Society, Beijing)

    3. Tao XIANG (The Chinese Physical Society, Beijing)

    4. Ruiqin ZHANG (The Physical Society of Hong Kong)

    5. Mio MURAO (The Physical Society of Japan)

    6. SHEN Qing (The Japan Society of Applied Physics)

    7. Hyoung Joon CHOI (The Korean Physical Society)

    8. Jae-Hyung JEON (The Korean Physical Society)

    9. Keun-Young KIM (The Korean Physical Society)

    10. Kurunathan RATNAVELU (Malaysian Institute of Physics)

    11. Narayan Prasad CHAPAGAIN (Nepal Physical Society)

    12. Rajdeep Singh RAWAT (Institute of Physics Singapore)

    13. Meng-Fan LUO (The Physical Society located in Taipei)

    14. VU Dinh Lam (Vietnam Physical Society)

    15. Kadyr G. GULAMOV (Council of Physicists of Uzbekistan)


    Photo credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP).

  • 1 Sep 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Latest updates on the 2022 AIP Congress

    We’re excited to catch up with you at the AIP Congress in Adelaide this December. So far, we’ve had close to 800 abstract submissions and the committee are working tirelessly to put them together into an excellent scientific program for you to enjoy.

    This year’s Congress will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 11 – 16 Dec.

    It will be co-located with the Australian and New Zealand Conference on Optics and Photonics (ANZCOP) in addition to the Workshop of Specialty Optical Fibres (WSOF).

    The program currently features the following focused sessions:

    • The culture of Physics and Research
    • Metaphotonics and Metasurfaces
    • Unveiling emergent Physics of Novel Functional Materials with Neutron Scattering
    • Australia’s Future in Gravitational Wave Physics and Astrophysics
    • Time Crystals
    • National Vision for Nuclear Science and Applications
    • Strong Interaction Dynamics and the Pursuit of Fundamental Symmetries
    • Quantum Biotechnology


    Early bird registration ends this month

    Register now for the AIP Congress and take advantage of the early bird registration discount, which ends on 30 Sep. Members of the AIP also enjoy a further discount. See here for more details.

    If you’re a postgraduate student and don’t already qualify for Member registration for the AIP Congress, join the AIP as a member full-time student for only $30. This offer is available until 1 November 2022 and applies to full-time postgraduate students who hold a recognised bachelor's degree with a physics major.

    Note that Student Associates (free online members) are not considered AIP members and thus need to pay the non-member student congress registration fee. To make use of the Member discount for congress registration, Student Associates need to apply to be an Associate Full-time Student or Member Full-time student. Students can apply for AIP Membership through https://aip.org.au/Member-(MAIP) or https://aip.org.au/Associate-Member, or click ‘change’, next to their Membership Level in their AIP Student Associate profile.

    Standard registration is open until 2 Dec.

    Please visit the official Congress website for regular updates.


    A stellar showing

    Astrophysicist superstar Professor Tamara Davis AM (University of Queensland) will present a public lecture at the Congress on the evening of Mon 12 Dec. She was our 2011 Women in Physics Lecturer.

    In her lecture ‘Cosmological Conundrums and the Dark Side of the Universe’, Prof Davis will talk about the latest updates on dark energy, dark matter, black holes, and gravitational waves so you can update your cocktail party conversation.

    Prof Davis’ current work aims to make precise maps of dark matter, determine whether dark energy changes with time, and measure the mass of a neutrino, amongst other things.  She previously helped make one of the largest maps of galaxy distribution in the universe and measured time-dilation in distant supernovae as well as the growth of supermassive black holes.

    She was also recently featured in Carbon: The Unauthorised Biography, a documentary film from Emmy-awarding Australian company, Genepool Productions.

    Other confirmed speakers include plenary speakers A Prof Ania Bleszynsky Jayich (University of California, Santa Barbara; 2021 Frew Fellow) and Prof Donna Strickland (University of Waterloo; 2018 Nobel Prize Laureate and 2019 Frew Fellow). In unfortunate news, Prof Kip Thorne (Caltech; 2017 Nobel Prize Laureate) has had to cancel his trip to Australia and his plenary talk.

    A full list of plenary speakers can be found here


    Meet the AIP National Exec and Branch Chairs

    Do you have suggestions for AIP initiatives, want to express concerns about research and grants etc., or simply want to meet the people that run the AIP?

    You’ll have the opportunity to chat in-person with the AIP leadership during the ‘Meet the Exec and Branch Chairs’ session of the Congress.

    We would love to meet our members and to hear your feedback on how the AIP is run.

    Further details TBA.


    Photo: Inside the Adelaide Convention Centre. Credit: NW Group.
  • 1 Aug 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    As reported by NASA.

    The dawn of a new era in astronomy is here as the world gets its first look at the full capabilities of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

    The full set of the telescope’s first colour images and spectroscopic data uncover a collection of cosmic features elusive until now. They are available at: www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

    “Today, we present humanity with a ground-breaking new view of the cosmos from the James Webb Space Telescope – a view the world has never seen before,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “These images, including the deepest infrared view of our universe that has ever been taken, show us how Webb will help to uncover the answers to questions we don’t even yet know to ask; questions that will help us better understand our universe and humanity’s place within it.”

    NASA explores the unknown in space for the benefit of all, and Webb’s first observations tell the story of the hidden universe through every phase of cosmic history – from neighbouring planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.

    “This is a singular and historic moment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It took decades of drive and perseverance to get us here, and I am immensely proud of the Webb team. These first images show us how much we can accomplish when we come together behind a shared goal, to solve the cosmic mysteries that connect us all. It’s a stunning glimpse of the insights yet to come.”

    Webb’s first observations were selected by a group of representatives from NASA, ESA, CSA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). They reveal the capabilities of all four of Webb’s state-of-the-art scientific instruments:

    • SMACS 0723: Webb has delivered the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe so far – and in only 12.5 hours.
    • WASP-96b (spectrum): Webb’s detailed observation of this hot, puffy planet outside our solar system reveals the clear signature of water, along with evidence of haze and clouds that previous studies of this planet did not detect.
    •  Southern Ring Nebula: This planetary nebula, an expanding cloud of gas that surrounds a dying star, is approximately 2,000 light years away.
    • Stephan’s Quintet: Webb’s view of this compact group of galaxies, located in the constellation Pegasus, pierced through the shroud of dust surrounding the centre of one galaxy, to reveal the velocity and composition of the gas near its supermassive black hole.
    • Carina Nebula: Webb’s look at the ‘Cosmic Cliffs’ in the Carina Nebula unveils the earliest, rapid phases of star formation that were previously hidden. 

    Read the full media release here.

    Cover Photo: The Carina Nebula. Credits for all photos - NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI.

  • 1 Aug 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    As reported by the Australian National University (ANU).

    A theoretical physicist from The Australian National University (ANU) whose pioneering work has fundamentally altered our understanding of the deepest and darkest parts of the Universe and space-time itself has been recognised among the world's best gravitational scientists.

    Distinguished Professor Susan Scott has been newly elected as a Fellow of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation (ISGRG) for 2022. Scott is the first Australian to be elected as a Fellow of the Society and she joins an elite club of exceptional scientists including world renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureates Roger Penrose and Kip Thorne.

    Distinguished Professor Scott, who is also the Chief Investigator with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), has been appointed to the Society for ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of the singularities and the structure of space-time. Singularities are known as places in space and time where things go very wrong, for example, if a travelling particle simply blips out of existence and has no future.

    Much of Distinguished Professor Scott's research involves investigating the properties of these singularities related to black holes. Her work also seeks to understand the properties of systems of black holes and neutron stars, by studying the gravitational waves they emit.

    Distinguished Professor Scott, from the ANU Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics (CGA), says she is "deeply honoured" to be the first Australian Fellow of the ISGRG.

    "Election to Fellowship of the ISGRG is very prestigious, and there are only a few tens of Fellows across the world," she said.

    "In Australia, and also at ANU, we now have a very established and successful research base in many areas of endeavour in gravitational research, including the detection of gravitational waves, which help us to unlock many of the Universe's mysteries.

    "My research is all about gravity. I seek to understand how it shapes the Universe and warps it to the extent that it creates black holes."

    In 2015, Distinguished Professor Scott was part of a 1,000-strong cohort of scientists from around the world that detected gravitational waves for the very first time. These waves are ripples in space and time caused by extremely violent events in the Universe.

    This monumental discovery scientifically proved Albert Einstein's theory that gravitational waves would be caused by a collision of massive objects in space such as black holes. It also ushered in a new era of gravitational-wave astronomy and paved the way for a raft of new space discoveries, including the merging of two black holes, the collision of two neutron stars and the detection of black holes swallowing neutron stars – breakthrough discoveries Professor Scott played a key role in.

    A prominent figure in Australian science, Distinguished Professor Scott's contribution to the world-first discovery of gravitational waves earned her and fellow ANU researcher Professor David McClelland the 2020 Prime Minister's Prize for Science.

    Distinguished Professor Scott, who is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, says she wants to use her newly obtained platform with the ISGRG to continue to champion Australian science and voice her aspirations for Australia to be a major player in the next generation of gravitational wave astronomy.

    She's hopeful her appointment could help throw weight behind growing calls to establish and operate a gravitational wave detector in Australia.

    "For many years, myself and other fellow scientists have been on a quest to site and operate a gravitational wave detector in this country. This would enable us to play a leading role in learning more about gravitational waves and their role in the Universe," Distinguished Professor Scott said.


    Read the full media release here.

    Photo credit: Tracey Nearmy/ANU.


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