Category Archives: Bulletin

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

First in new series of ARC Centre talks, Extension of closing date for AIP Prize nominations, Solar Cell Windows, and more physics in May

I hope you’re coping well with the current challenges and not getting magnets stuck up your nose (sorry Dr Daniel Reardon – keep on innovating!).  

It’s great to see the AIP community remaining hard at work, educating, and creating physics events.

A number of our events are already moving online, including the former Physics in the Pub, which is now Physics in the Cloud. Members are also invited to attend virtual talks put on by FLEET, the first one by our own Dr Kirrily Rule. More details below.

Yet more events are being rescheduled. I am happy to announce that the next AIP Congress will now be held from December 5 to 10, 2021, in Adelaide.

This bulletin includes the AIP’s statement on physics education post-COVID which aims to emphasise the importance of face-to-face teaching and learning once we all get ‘back to normal’. And we meet our Hidden Physicist for the month: Sarah Lugay, who is a cyber security expert for EY.

The nominations for the NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award have opened. See below for details.

In physics news, we are excited that windows will soon generate electricity, following a solar cell breakthrough by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science. Read about it further on.

Plus the Australian Academy of Science and Australia’s other learned academies have launched a COVID-19 Expert Database. See below for details on how you can contribute.

Keep on washing those hands and stay connected.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading First in new series of ARC Centre talks, Extension of closing date for AIP Prize nominations, Solar Cell Windows, and more physics in May

How the AIP is managing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, awards and prize nominations open, 58-year-old puzzle solved, and more physics in April

Firstly, I hope you are coping as best as you can with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. It’s a tough time for everyone and I’m encourage people to do what they can to look out for each other. The response to the pandemic has meant big changes for us all as we adjust to laboratory shutdowns, online teaching, and deal with cancelled travel and events.

There has been a flurry of e-meetings and emails over the past week within the AIP and I am heartened to report that we continue to work hard to support and connect the Australian Physics community. Of course, COVID-19 is going to cause our face-to-face events to be cancelled or postponed, but we hope to take what we can online. Sadly, however, we have had to postpone our Congress, which was to be held in Adelaide in December. More details below.

The eligibility criteria have been announced for the AIP NSW Best Graduating Student annual prize. See below for details.

In this bulletin we meet another Hidden Physicist. Dr Jonathan Hall who is the co-founder and director of Life Whisperer, company that uses a machine-learning medical imaging technique to improve IVF pregnancy rates.

I was saddened to hear that former AIP national president Emeritus Professor Geoff Wilson passed away in January. As AIP president he helped form what is now Science & Technology Australia to more effectively lobby government. You can read more about him below.

A 58-year-old puzzle has been cracked on the way to a quantum breakthrough by scientists at UNSW. Read more below.
And the review of the decadal plan for physics needs case studies. See below for details on how you can contribute.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading How the AIP is managing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, awards and prize nominations open, 58-year-old puzzle solved, and more physics in April

Awards and Prize nominations open, ARC Senate Order passed, Call for stories, and more physics in March

It is my great pleasure to announce that Dr Cathy Foley has been made an Honorary Fellow of the AIP. I wholeheartedly congratulate Cathy for her contributions to physics. This month’s bulletin picture is of the AIP council members applauding after the motion was passed unanimously at our annual council meeting recently. More details below.

That event and our Annual General Meeting were held in Melbourne in early February. It was a great opportunity for representatives to come together to plan and make decisions for the year ahead. Our wonderful Honorary Secretary, Kirrily Rule, has written a great report which I encourage you to read; see below for details.

The review of the decadal plan for physics is seeking case studies for the publication. See below for details on how you can contribute.

In this bulletin we meet another Hidden Physicist with a wonderful career story. Andreas Schreiber leads the bioinformatics groups of the Centre of Cancer Biology and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Cancer Genomics Facility in Adelaide.

I was thrilled to hear the news at the end of February that the Senate has ordered a change to the way Australian Research Council grants are announced. This is a big improvement for researchers, and for transparency. Read more below.

There’s a chance to have your say on Australia’s future in space. The National Committee for Space and Radio Science is seeking your input, via an online survey – details below.

And be on the look-out for news soon about the AIP Congress 2020, which will be held in Adelaide from 7 to 11 December.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading Awards and Prize nominations open, ARC Senate Order passed, Call for stories, and more physics in March