Category Archives: Bulletin

Nanotech, patents, time travel and April physics fun

There is still time to have your say on the AIP’s submission to the Federal Government’s consultation on commercialising university research.

In February this year the Department of Education, Skills and Employment released a paper on the topic, inviting input.

Our Special Project Officer for Policy, Associate Professor Gerd Schröder-Turk, organised a member poll to seek responses. You’ll find our draft submission here . We will submit it at midday AEST on Friday, April 9.

The AIP Council and AGM were held virtually this year, and attracted such a good turn-up that we have decided to use virtual formats for all future AGMs.

At the Council meeting the idea of an advisory board was developed. Its purpose will be to advise the AIP executive on how to engage with, initially, potential industry partners. We’re seeking nominations for this project from industry and government, so if you’re interested please get in touch with me.

Speaking of meetings, from this year on, the AIP Congress and Summer Meeting will now be held in the first week of December. The two events are biennial and will alternate with each other. Read on for details of the next Summer Meeting , which will be held in Brisbane 6-9 December.

It was good to hear Dr Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist and former AIP President, specify physics as one of the country’s four foundational issues in her recent National Press Club address. The way science is practised, she noted, will be transformed by artificial intelligence and quantum technologies. You can read her speech here.

Dr Foley also took the time to acknowledge ANU physicist Professor Ken Baldwin for his leading role in establishing Science Meets Parliament, the annual series of encounters between researchers and MPs. This year’s event concludes April 1.

Professor Baldwin was the 2019 winner of the AIP’s Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia. Nominations for this year’s award are now open. We’ll have more details in next month’s bulletin.

On the subject of awards, congratulations to Professors Cathryn Trott and David McClelland, who have both been honoured by the Australian Academy of Science. See below for details for those and other awards.

In this edition we feature patent attorney Phil Burns in #Physicsgotmehere; nanotech in optics is the next livestreamed event; you have the chance to access a free copy of Physics World; and, of course, material both old and new from our own magazine, Australian Physics.

Kind regards,

Sven Rogge
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading Nanotech, patents, time travel and April physics fun

Physics in a pandemic, South Korea ties; send your science selfies

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state leaders have depended on the expert advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. One of its members include a physicist.

You can meet him in this month’s #PhysicsGotMeHere profile below.

The AIP extends hearty congratulations to University of Queensland physicist Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop – who last month became the first woman to be awarded the US Optical Society’s C.E.K. Mees Medal.

Make a note in your diary to join Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley and a star-studded physics cast for the 2021 Frontiers of Science Forum, on next week. Read on for details.

Read on, too, for news of our forthcoming Summer Meeting, committee opportunities, a prize nomination and new collaborations with colleagues in southeast Asia.

The next issue of the AIP’s print magazine, Australian Physics, will be available soon. While you wait for your copy to arrive, check out this month’s ‘From the Vault’ story’ below.

You may have noticed that the AIP’s Facebook page became a victim of the tech giant’s purge of Australian news sites last month. We’re happy to report that it’s now back online and urge you, if you haven’t already, to check it out and follow us. You can find it here.

Sloshing quantum fluids and puffy galaxies were just two of the Australian physics research stories to make the news last month. Read on for these and more.

And, of course, in this issue you’ll find news of interesting jobs, interesting meetings and many other matters that make up the physics ecosystem in this country. Enjoy!

Kind regards,

Sven Rogge
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading Physics in a pandemic, South Korea ties; send your science selfies

New hands at the helm, galactic evolution, Science Meets Parliament, and old computers the size of wardrobes

Welcome to the first edition of the AIP bulletin for the new year.

I’m Sven Rogge, president-elect of the AIP and Scientia Professor at UNSW, Sydney, studying condensed matter physics and, in particular quantum electronics.

As president-elect, I’d like to thank outgoing president, Jodie Bradby, for her tireless and inspiring work in the position. I would also like to formally welcome the rest of the new executive. We’ll all take up our offices following the AGM next week.

The priorities established by Jodie during her tenure will not be shifting. I look forward to progressively reaching more physicists – especially younger ones – around Australia, and gradually growing our membership. In addition, I want to engage more physicists outside academia to work with the industry to showcase the important work that is happing in this area.

As our long-running series, Hidden Physicist, demonstrates, the practise of physics is not confined to academia, but is a critical element of many industries.

Hidden Physicist has now been renamed #PhysicsGotMeHere. It will continue, I hope, to play a part in breaking down silos between public and private sector physicists. Read on for this month’s article.

Read on, too, to find out more about the AIP’s new vice-president, Nicole Bell.

In our next livestreamed talk, ANU astronomer and ASTRO 3D director Lisa Kewley will discuss the physics of galactic evolution. More details below.

We bring you news of some interesting career opportunities, in the form of prizes, scholarships and an academic position.

As usual, we round up some of the exciting pieces of Australian research that have made it into the news – including a new world record for the stable transmission of a laser through the atmosphere.

And please enjoy this month’s deep-dive into the vaults of the AIP’s venerable magazine, Australian Physics.

My colleagues on the executive and I are keen to hear thoughts from any and all members about the future of physics in Australia, and how the discourse in our discipline should develop. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Sven Rogge
President-elect, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading New hands at the helm, galactic evolution, Science Meets Parliament, and old computers the size of wardrobes

New Chief Scientist appointed, Dirac Medal awarded, and Hidden Physicist discovered

Welcome to the final bulletin for 2020 and my final bulletin as AIP president. At our council meeting in February 2021 I will step aside as we welcome Professor Sven Rogge (UNSW Physics) as incoming president, and Professor Nicole Bell (UniMelb Physics) as vice president.

I wish them all the very best. I’m thrilled that the AIP has such a solid leadership team moving forward. Also, can I say what an honour and privilege it was to serve in this role. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over the past few years to make the AIP so strong.

Last month saw some significant awards and appointments, not the least of which was the welcome news that former AIP president Dr Cathy Foley is set to become Australia’s next Chief Scientist. See our story below.

The AIP was also proud to be co-sponsor of this year’s Dirac Medal, which was presented to Professor Susan Scott from ANU’s Department of Quantum Science.

ANSTO’s new Centre for Accelerator Science has a new leader, Dr Ceri Brenner.

You’ll find more about her, Professor Scott and a slew of other physicists doing marvellous things in this issue.

You’ll also get to meet this month’s Hidden Physicist – Tasmania’s Nicola Ramm – and catch up on the latest physics research happening around the country.

Plus, there are some jobs to be found, and another story from the Australian Physicist vaults.

And a reminder that it’s time to renew your AIP membership. For a quick and easy way to do so, please go here.

Finally, this month’s picture was taken for a media release on making diamonds at room temperature. You’ll find the story below.

I wish you a relaxed and enjoyable holiday period, and sincerely hope that 2021 will be a calmer year for us all.   

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading New Chief Scientist appointed, Dirac Medal awarded, and Hidden Physicist discovered

The PM’s Prizes, online gigs galore, new links with Korea and more physics news for November

Since our last bulletin we had the announcement of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics which was of course awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for work on Black Holes. I was delighted to see Andrea Ghez being honoured as the fourth women to win a Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, announced last week, saw physics very well represented. Congratulations to David Blair, Susan Scott, David McClelland, Peter Veitch and Xiaojing Hao. I was especially thrilled to hear this news given David and Susan joined us online last month to discuss the result of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics. You’ll find a link to a recording below if you missed it.

Coming up this week there are several online AIP talks and panels around the country, including three Zoom events and talks organised by the NSW branch. This replaces the regular AIP Industry Day at CSIRO and there is a strong career development theme in the first event Three Faces of Physics on Tuesday 3 November. Register here. We are also hosting an online discussion with Dietmar Dommenget from ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes on November 6, at 11am AEST. See below.

Read on, too, to meet this month’s latest Hidden Physicist, Leon Smith.

For physics film buffs, we have five double passes to give away to the new movie, Radioactive, which charts the life of Marie Curie.

We are also looking for an eye-catching physics picture for our 2021 letterhead – please send in your physics pics now! In 2020 we featured ANU Physicist Cormac Corr and a pretty purple plasma. What physics will feature in the AIP’s 2021 communications? See below for details.

On more serious matters, the AIP is proud to announce a new working relationship with a prestigious physics institution in Korea, and our colleagues over at Science & Technology Australia have just released an important survey of the fears and plans of Australian scientists. Details below.

Teachers and researchers might like to note that we’ve added a new section to our website, which is chock full of teaching tools, information packages and handy contacts. Check it out at https://aip.org.au/resources-2/

Finally, I was delighted to celebrate ‘double donut day’ (zero COVID cases, zero COVID deaths) in Victoria last week and the resulting relaxing of lockdown. Thus, this month’s image is of the Australian Synchrotron – Melbourne’s biggest double donut (as pointed out in this tweet by Jessica Hamilton). Well done Victorians and let’s keep up the physical distancing, handing washing, and mask wearing!

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading The PM’s Prizes, online gigs galore, new links with Korea and more physics news for November

The Nobel approaches, the Ig Nobels pass, Eureka Prize finalists, physics poetry, ET and more in October

With the Nobel Prizes to be announced shortly here is a fun Nobel Physics trivia question for you. Who is the only person to win the Physics Prize twice? When the 2020 Prize is announced we will be staging an online event to celebrate and discuss the science behind it so watch out for that announcement.

As usual the Ig Nobel’s were a stellar list of “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Congratulations to Swinburne University’s Ivan Maksymov and Andrey Pototsky, a physicist and mathematician, for their award on their work on vibrating worms! See more below.

The AIP has been active in defence of research and teaching, and is quoted twice in the recent report of the Senate Inquiry into the Federal Government’s proposed job-ready graduates legislation. Read on for details.

I was pleased to see that physics features heavily in the finalists for this year’s Eureka Prizes. You’ll find several examples below. Good luck to all involved! And don’t forget the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, coming up at the end of the month.

In this month’s bulletin you’ll meet our latest Hidden Physicist, Shermiyah Rienecker. I was particularly fascinated to hear how Shermiyah is working on culturally appropriate approaches for BreastScreen Australia with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as part of the Closing the Gap initiative. One more amazing #PhysicsGotMeHere story!

You’ll also find a rundown of what’s in the current issue of the AIP’s Australian Physics magazine, along with an excellent contribution to the little-known literary genre of physics poetry.

Find out, too, what was making headlines in the magazine four decades ago.

Australian physics in the news includes impossible black holes, no signs of ET, and vibrating worms.

And keep scrolling to discover news from Science & Technology Australia, and some really interesting jobs open in the sector.

The answer to my Nobel Prize trivia question, by the way, is John Bardeen. He won in 1956 for the discovery (with William Shockley and Walter Brattain) of the transistor effect. He won again in 1972 (with Leon Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer) for the theory of superconductivity.

Finally, this very challenging year has entered its final quarter. We are all thinking about our fellow Australians in Victoria and it is really great to see the COVID numbers coming right down. I hope the warmer weather is a pleasant it can be, given the circumstances.

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading The Nobel approaches, the Ig Nobels pass, Eureka Prize finalists, physics poetry, ET and more in October

AIP fights physics education cuts, photovoltaics and machine-learning, Hidden Physicists, and physics springs into September

Over the past month, the AIP has been lobbying against proposed proposed Federal Government legislation set to significantly cut funding for science degrees in Australia. We believe this will impoverish both teaching and research  ultimately damaging Australia’s ability to produce top-quality physics graduates.

We are grateful to all the members who responded to our call for feedback during the government’s short consultation period. I wish to acknowledge the hard work of A/Prof Gerd Schröder-Turk, the AIP Policy officer who pulled together the AIP submission under difficult circumstances.  It was great to see our submission picked up by many news outlets, including the ABC and Campus Morning Mail. This month’s picture is a screen shot of the story in the Financial Review. See more on this issue below.

This month’s AIP live-streamed event is from Exciton Science and focusses on machine learning to predict the properties of photovoltaic material. Read on for details. And if you missed the 2020 Einstein Lecture ‘The World According to Physics’, co-organised by the AIP NSW branch, you can catch it here.

Read on to meet this month’s Hidden Physicist – communicator and comedian Phil Dooley.

Check out our new regular feature – From the Vault, from the AIP’s magazine, Australian Physics. Our Australian Physics editors, Peter Kappen and David Hoxley, are also seeking articles, poems, cartoons, book reviews – and an editorial assistant! Read on for details.

As always, in this edition of the bulletin you’ll find lots of physics news, physics awards and some excellent physics jobs.

Finally, I am sure many of you will join me in rejoicing that winter 2020 is officially over. Happy Wattle Day!

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading AIP fights physics education cuts, photovoltaics and machine-learning, Hidden Physicists, and physics springs into September

the photonics economy, quantum computing, alien life, the search for a lecturer and more physics fun in August

One of our cognate societies – the newly rebranded Australian and New Zealand Optical Society – has launched a report called The Future is Bright: The Photonics Industry in New Zealand and Australia.

It is impressive to see the scope and impact of this industry. I think that in the post-COVID-19 Australian-based manufacturing sector, it will become even more important.

There’s good news on the recommencement of visa processing for international students – even though the borders remain closed. This is an issue that Science & Technology Australia, of which the AIP is a member, has highlighted with the Federal Government. See more below.

Outcomes for the ARC Future Fellowships were announced last week. We congratulate the physicists who were successful. Read on for details.

If you ask most people to nominate their two most exciting areas of science, chances are you’d get a lot of votes for quantum computing and looking for alien life.

Well, we’ve got both in this bulletin, with AIP lectures on solutions to scaling up the first and better ways to hunt for the second.

You’ll also get to meet our latest Hidden Physicist – NSW education analyst and LGBTQ activist Dr Sarah Midgely OAM.

We’re looking for an outstanding female physicist to become our 2021 Women in Physics lecturer. See below for more details.

Read on, too, for news on some upcoming events and awards, and some of the great media stories generated by Australian physicists in recent weeks.

Good luck to all the students and staff heading back to universities around Australia for classes – both in person and virtually. 

This month’s pic features me lecturing at ANU. I’m wearing a mask to protect my students as I teach my class. As a native of Victoria, my thoughts are with those in Melbourne battling the current surge in COVID-19 cases. Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of droplets and aerosols while we talk and breathe, and it makes sense we all start to accept them as part of daily life.

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading the photonics economy, quantum computing, alien life, the search for a lecturer and more physics fun in August

Black Lives Matter, gravity wave detector, Hidden Physicist in review, physics in the news, and more physics fun in July

This month’s photo is the AIP National Executive team on a recent Zoom meeting. I’m sure many of you have had hours and hours of such meetings over the past few months and for those who are doing online teaching or learning I sincerely hope you get a wonderful mid-year break and stay well.

This month we welcomed the news that Murdoch University has dropped its legal action against AIP member Dr Gerd Schroder-Turk. The AIP strongly defends the rights of staff and students to respectfully question their organisations in the pursuit of excellence, equality, and freedom of speech.

Read the latest on the case below.

We also added our voice to the statement released by Science and Technology Australia supporting the #BlackLivesMatter and #AboriginalLivesMatter movements. Read the full statement below.

On June 19 the government’s proposed education package was announced which will see students paying much more for various humanities degrees but also a total funding reduction for science of about $4,758 per student. I spoke to a Times Higher Education reporter about my disappointment at this announcement. You can find the story later in this bulletin.

In this bulletin we look back on a full year of our Hidden Physicists, #PhysicsGotMeHere series. I am always in awe of all the amazing things people do with a physics degree.

The proposed Australian high-frequency gravitational wave detector is the subject of the next AIP-FLEET seminar. Read on for details.

Nominations are open for the AIP Executive roles, including President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Registrar. See below.

Huge congratulations to CSIRO Chief Scientist and past AIP president Dr Cathy Foley AO, and 2011 Women in Physics lecturer Professor Tamara Davis AM, who were both recognised in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours List. See below for details.

From X-ray-spewing pulsars to a citizen science project measuring light pollution, there have been some brilliant stories of Australian physics in the news recently. Take a look at our top picks below.

And, of course, you’ll find listings for exciting physics jobs and other upcoming events.

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading Black Lives Matter, gravity wave detector, Hidden Physicist in review, physics in the news, and more physics fun in July

Australia’s Quantum Future, Physicists Honoured, Hidden Physicist, Physics in the News, and more physics fun in June

As COVID-19 continues to shape our lives it is heartening to see the Australian scientific community rising to the challenge.

AIP is a member of Science and Technology Australia, which is part of the Rapid Research Information Forum collaboration led by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. I encourage you to read through the rapid response reports provided to government. You can find them here.

And with COVID in mind we have extended the time to nominate a colleague or student for an AIP medal or award. See below.

We’ve published a list of our AIP Fellows. You can apply to become a Fellow of the AIP by completing the online application form.

Read on, too, to meet our Hidden Physicist for the month. Matthew Wiggins is a health physicist providing radiation science solutions to the Queensland Government, as well as to public and private sector clients.

I congratulate all the new Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science who were recently announced. I was delighted to see physics was well represented. Congratulations to three AIP members – Cathy Foley, Ping Koy Lam, Tim Bedding – who were elected this round. See below for details.

I also congratulate Professor Warwick Bowen on being the recipient of the 2020 Barry Inglis Medal from the National Measurement Institute, and ANU student Marika Niihori who will be heading to the UK with a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Read about them further on.

Recently Cathy Foley launched the National Quantum Roadmap, which started from a meeting at an AIP congress back in 2016. We’re holding an online forum, discussing the future of quantum technology in Australia, on June 4. In July, there is another, on the future of the gravitational wave detector. Read on for details.

From missing matter to a cosmic ring of fire, there have been some excellent stories of Australian physics in the news recently. You can find a good selection below.

And of course, you’ll find listings for exciting physics jobs.


Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading Australia’s Quantum Future, Physicists Honoured, Hidden Physicist, Physics in the News, and more physics fun in June