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Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

The Birth of Suns

Thursday 30 November 2017, 6.00-7.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Professor Mark Krumholz
Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University

We’ve all learned that space is an empty vacuum, but it’s not. The space between the stars in our Galaxy contains, on average, about 1 atom per cubic centimeter. That’s a better vacuum than the best vacuum chamber we know how to make, but there are a lot of cubic centimeters in interstellar space, so the mass of all the gas between the stars adds up to about 10% of the mass of all the stars put together. The temperature of this gas varies enormously from place to place in the Galaxy, with temperatures as high as
millions of degrees and as low as a few degrees above absolute zero.

In the coldest regions of interstellar space, over millions of years gravity is able to draw the atoms together into immense clouds that ultimately condense into clusters of new stars. In our Galaxy, this process produces stars at a rate of about 1 new Sun per year, and the stars it makes are typically the size of the Sun or a little smaller. While we understand how this happens in general outline, many fundamental questions remain unanswered. What sets the rate at which stars form? What determines the final sizes of the individual stars? Where did our Sun form, and what happened to its siblings, the stars that formed out of the same cloud?

In this talk Mark will describe what we currently know, and what we don’t, about the birth of new Suns.

Further details: Andrew Klekociuk (T 0418 323 341, E

2018 QLD Branch Committee confirmed

At the recent Branch Annual General Meeting (26th October, 2017 held at UQ), the 2018 Branch committee was proposed and accepted.

Our 2018 Committee is:

Till Weinhold (Chair) (UQ)
Joanna Turner  (Secretary) (USQ)
Joel Alroe (Vice-Chair) (QUT)
Igor Litvinyuk (Treasurer) (GU)
Scott Adamson (All Hallows)
Simon Critchley (Qld Health)
Austin Lund (UQ)
Nunzio Motta (QUT)
Carolyn Brown (USQ)

The contact email addresses for the executive positions are provided on the Committees page found here.

Feel free to chat (to) or contact our committee members if you want to be involved in, or introduce events that you would like QLD AIP to consider being part of.

Bracketing our AGM were two marvelous talks! If you would like to be on the newsletter that is sent out about events we are running, please contact our Branch Secretary to have your name added.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Anticipating the atmosphere: a look at the modern weather forecast process

The Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society,
Australian Meteorological Association,
and Australian Institute of Physics

present a Public Lecture

Time and place: Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre, Physics Bldg.,
University of Adelaide,

at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday 2 November 2017.

“Anticipating the atmosphere: a look at the modern weather forecast process”

Benjamin Owen

Meteorologist, South Australian Regional Forecasting Centre
Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Our complex relationship with the world around is no more apparent than that we share with the weather. On a personal level, weather has the potential to make or break our day, whether it be warm and sunny or cold, wet and windy. From a commercial perspective, weather plays a critical role to a range of important industries which include aviation, agriculture and energy. And probably on the most profound level, weather has the potential to deliver catastrophic destruction in a relatively short time frame. It is therefore unsurprising that we depend on weather forecasts to best prepare and respond to the future weather as appropriate.

Over the past 50 years, our ability to accurately predict the weather has improved dramatically. While our understanding of the atmosphere has certainly evolved over this time, the most significant advances have come through improvements in the tools a forecaster has at their disposal. Where the challenge of 50 years ago was trying to make a forecast from the sparse information available, the challenge today is trying to create the best possible forecast from the vast amount of information available. In this talk, we take a look at exactly how forecasters go about creating a weather forecast, considering the tools used to capture the current and future state of the atmosphere, and how these are used to translate this into the forecast that is sent out to the world.

Please enter via the eastern door of the Physics building, from the roadway between the Scott Theatre and the Hub Building. There will be a person at the door to let people into the building until 6:30 p.m.  Refreshments will be available in Room G10 on the ground floor from 6:00 p.m.

For more details, contact Murray Hamilton, chair of the AMOS South Australia branch ( If there are issues with access on the night, please phone 0478 453 642.

Understanding Dark Matter

The Australian Institute of Physics (AIP),
Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP) and
Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter (CSSM)
present the
2017 DARK MATTER DAY Public Lecture on

Understanding Dark Matter

Professor Anthony Williams
University of Adelaide


Tuesday 31st October, 6:30 pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
University of Adelaide


There’s more to the universe than stars, planets, asteroids, comets, and space dust and the familiar matter that we interact with on a daily basis. Despite the fantastic successes of our theories that have predicted the Higgs boson and gravitational waves, there’s a lot about the universe that we can’t yet explain.

We believe that dark matter, which we have so far only detected through its gravity-based effects in space, makes up about a quarter (26.8 percent) of the total mass and energy of the universe. Something that is driving the universe’s accelerating expansion – which we call dark energy – accounts for another 68.3 percent. The ordinary matter, like stars and planets and galaxies, makes up just 4.9 percent of the total mass and energy of the universe.

It seems likely that dark matter is made up of undiscovered particles and one of the major challenges today is how to combine this possibility with our already highly successful Standard Model of particle physics that so well explains the behaviour of normal matter.


Surviving the Red Planet: ‘The Martian’ and the Reality of Living and Working on Mars

The Australian Institute of Physics, the State Library and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics present:

            “Surviving the Red Planet: ‘The Martian’ and the Reality of Living and Working on Mars”

                 by former NASA Astronaut Dr Jim ReillyJR-astronaut

                     Friday 27th October 2017
6:15pm for 6:30pm start

          Braggs Lecture Theatre, The University of Adelaide

Register for a free ticket –


The recent best-seller novel and the blockbuster movie “The Martian” presented an adventure tale of an astronaut marooned by his crew and forced to become the first colonist required to “live off the land” on Mars.  The story is well done and, for the most part, technically plausible but what would it take to live off the Martian land?  What can Mark Watney expect if he really did exist and had to grow his own to survive? Can we make this work in reality?  Can we test that environment here on Earth?  If so, can we make “living off the land” work to reduce the mass (and cost) of exploring the Red Planet?

Mars is a unique environment and the more we explore with our robotic colleagues, the more interesting and challenging the terrains become.  The soils are enriched in sulfates and phosphides which can be good fertilizers in some forms but toxic in others.  The surface is very dry; so dry there is nowhere on Earth as dry as Mars. Mars also has essentially no geomagnetic field protecting the surface from solar and galactic radiation, therefore some form of protected facility will be required for the crew and any other living organisms required to support the mission. It has a very low pressure atmosphere composed almost completely of carbon dioxide, and about half the incident solar energy seen at Earth.

Instead of OJT on Mars, as Watney had to do, we will need to consider these requirements in designing future Mars mission parameters and objectives. We can build some analog experiences here on Earth, though none can fully expose the future exploration teams to the true Martian environment.  One of the few places that can get close will be on the Moon.  For this, and other reasons, an extension of the lunar research program begun in the Apollo heroic phase of exploration needs to be an international space priority.

Special Pre-lecture tour of the State Library Exhibition

‘From Outback to Outer Space: Woomera 1955 – 1980’

5:15pm for 6:00pm, State Library of South Australia

Register for a free ticket (first 40 registrations only) using the same link as above

Woomera put Australia into the space age. The ‘From Outback to Outer Space: Woomera 1955 – 1980’ exhibition will not only tell the story of that journey into the stars, but also what life was like for the men, women and children who lived on the ground. Presented by the State Library and the National Archives of Australia.

Sponsor: The Sir Ross & Sir Keith Smith Fund

Celestial Scales

The Astronomical Society of South Australia (Celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2017) and the Australian Institute of Physics (SA branch) present

Celestial Scales

Wednesday 4th of October 2017 at 8pm

Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
2nd Floor, Physics Building
University of Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

Graeme Stanley
MA Hons (Edinburgh)

Abstract: The Solar System is a big place. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is even bigger! But how big? This lecture will explore the size of moons, planets and stars, from ‘tiny’ Vesta to the largest stars like Betelgeuse and VY Canis Majoris. Real-time 3D graphics will be used to help visualise the immense scale of the stars and planets and the mind-blowing distances that separate them. Caution: You may feel small after attending this lecture, and that’s okay.

Bio: Graeme Stanley, MA Hons (Edinburgh). Graeme graduated from Edinburgh University in 1998 with a degree in Artificial Intelligence and Linguistics. In 2005, Graeme moved to Murthly, a rural village in Perthshire. Living more than a kilometre from street lights gave him greater access to dark skies which reignited his interest in back yard astronomy and astrophotography. In 2012, Graeme moved to Adelaide with his wife and young son. He fell in love with the southern sky and joined ASSA within months of arriving. Graeme presented the ASSA public lecture in April 2014 on beginners’ astrophotography. Graeme is a software developer, specialising in mobile apps for Android.

Free, visitors welcome. Booking not required (*Please note: university security locks entrance doors at 8pm sharp*)

For further information visit: Or contact the Publicity Officer on: 0402 079 578

QLD Branch AGM 2017

Dear Members of the Australian Institute of Physics, Queensland Branch,

I would like to hereby invite you to join us at the upcoming Annual General Meeting and the two talks preceding and following the AGM.


The meeting will be held on Thursday the 26th of October from 17h (AGM~17:40h) onwards at Brian Wilson Chancellery, 61A- Senate Room, University of Queensland, St. Lucia. For catering purposes it would be appreciated if you could register your attendance by Tuesday the 24th of October via reply email or to Catering will involve pizza and cold drinks.


The talks will additionally be streamed online. If you are unable to attend in person, please feel free to join us online using the following link:

Presentation and AGM details:
This year our meeting will be preceded by the AIP QLD Bragg Gold Medal Nominee Dr. Martin Ringbauer giving a presentation based from his PhD: “Experimental Metaphysics and the Nature of Reality” starting at 17:00h.

The AGM will follow Martin’s talk at approximately 17.40h.

After the AGM concludes, we are proud to present Dr. Helen Maynard-Casely (based at ANSTO) who will present us with this year’s AIP-QLD sponsored John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour Talk entitled: “Journeying to the centres of the planets”.  Helen has presented this highly entertaining talk to hundreds secondary school students throughout Queensland, reaching from the urbanised south-east corner, to the tropical reaches of Cairns in the north. For online viewers we anticipate Helen’s talk to commence at 18.00h.
Please feel free to encourage non-members to attend the presentations as they are geared towards a general audience.

Part of our business for the AGM will be to elect the branch committee for 2018.
As per the AIP by-laws, the retiring committee has made nominations for next year’s committee, and these are listed below:

Till Weinhold (Chair) (UQ),
Joanna Turner  (Secretary) (USQ),
Joel Alroe (Vice-Chair) (QUT) ,
Igor Litvinyuk (Treasurer) (GU),
Scott Adamson (All Hallows),
Simon Critchley (Qld Health),
Austin Lund (UQ),
Nunzio Motta (QUT), and
Carolyn Brown (USQ).


Members may make further nominations, which need to be duly proposed and seconded and forwarded to the Secretary at least 24 hours before the AGM, directed to I look forward to seeing you on the 26th October!

Kind Regards
Joanna Turner
Secretary of the AIP QLD  

Public Lecture – 20 September 2017

2017 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

Giant Icebergs and the Future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Wednesday 20 September 2017, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Dr Sue Cook
Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre

Events such as the 1 trillion-tonne iceberg which recently broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf capture headlines around the world. But what can these icebergs really tell us about the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet? This lecture examines what we know about how icebergs form, how they are affected by climate change, and the implications for Antarctica’s future contributions to sea level rise.

Further details: Andrew Klekociuk (T 0418 323 341, E


2017 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

Measuring Radiation Doses in 3-D with Polymer Gel Dosimeters

Tuesday 22 August 2017, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Professor Clive Baldock
University of Tasmania

Polymer gel dosimeters are fabricated from radiation sensitive chemicals which, upon irradiation, polymerize as a function of the absorbed radiation dose. These gel dosimeters, with the capacity to uniquely record clinical radiotherapy (radiation therapy) radiation dose distributions in three-dimensions (3D), have specific advantages when compared to one-dimensional dosimeters, such as ion chambers, and two-dimensional dosimeters, such as film. These advantages are particularly significant in dosimetry situations where steep dose gradients exist such as in intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery. Polymer gel dosimeters also have specific advantages for brachytherapy dosimetry. Potential dosimetry applications include those for low-energy x-rays, high linear energy transfer (LET) and proton therapy, radionuclide and boron capture neutron therapy dosimetries. These 3D dosimeters are radiologically soft-tissue equivalent with properties that may be modified depending on the application. The 3D radiation dose distribution in polymer gel dosimeters may be imaged using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), optical-computerized tomography (optical-CT), x-ray CT or ultrasound. The fundamental science underpinning polymer gel dosimetry will be reviewed along with the various evaluation techniques. Clinical dosimetry applications of polymer gel dosimetry will be presented.