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Previous AIP bulletins can be found here

Current News:

  • 2 Aug 2021 1:16 PM | Anonymous

    AIP Women in Physics Lecturer,  nuclear physicist Associate Professor Susanna Guatelli, will be very busy this month.

    She’s set to deliver talks about her work – which includes how to keep astronauts safe from radiation during the long haul to Mars – in Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

    To check dates and venues, click here .

  • 2 Aug 2021 1:14 PM | Anonymous

    Our universe is dominated by the dark side. Dark matter and dark energy have shaped the evolution of the cosmos. But just what is happening in the dark? And how can we be confident that we are not just jumping at shadows?

    These important topics come under the spotlight – in a very light-hearted way – during the fifth episode of the online talk show, Zoom into Physics, on Wednesday, August 25, kicking off at 8pm AEST.

    Join philosopher Tibor Molnar, experimentalist Kirrily Rule, theoretician Geraint Lewis and moderator Scott Martin as they spend 90 minutes joyfully exploring the Great Unseen.

    For more details and the all-important Zoom link, click here .

  • 2 Aug 2021 12:13 PM | Anonymous

    In July, six Australian astronomers were recognised by the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA), the country’s professional body for the field.

    The awards were presented at the ASA’s Annual Science Meeting, hosted by the School of Physics at The University of Melbourne.

    Searching for meaning in our cold, dark universe: Professor Geraint Lewis from Sydney University wins the David Allen Prize.

    The fundamental make-up of space and time, the prospects for extra-terrestrial life and whether there is one universe or many – these are some of the topics tackled by Sydney University’s Professor Geraint Lewis, both as a scientist and as a communicator. Through pop-sci books, magazine articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, public appearances and radio interviews, Geraint poses questions designed to spark searches for origin and meaning in a cold, dark universe. He believes that encouraging the next generation of STEM students is fundamental for Australia’s scientific and technological future.

    Using ancient stars as fossils: Madeleine McKenzie from the University of WA wins the Bok Prize.

    The mechanics governing the formation of globular clusters – spherical concentrations of stars tightly bound by gravity – were a mystery until University of WA student Madeleine McKenzie uncovered a key dynamic during research for her Masters’ degree. Madeleine demonstrated how the material between stars plays a critical role in generating multiple populations of stars in globular clusters. These clusters are nearly as old as our Universe and, she suggests, represent the “fossilised record of the chemical evolution of the parent galaxy”. Now awarded her degree, Madeleine has moved to the Mount Stromlo Observatory at the Australian National University to start her PhD.

    Tracing the origin of fast radio bursts: CSIRO’s Dr Keith Bannister wins the Anne Green Prize.

    Fast radio bursts are transient high-energy pulses – lasting at most a few milliseconds – that streak through the cosmos. CSIRO’s Dr Keith Bannister succeeded in detecting a once-off FRB and, for the first time ever, identified its originating galaxy.  Keith combines engineering and astronomy, developing new techniques for detecting FRBs by adapting the antennas of CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) in Western Australia. He created a search technique, dubbed “fly’s eye mode”, which has thus far allowed him and colleagues to double the number of recorded FRBs.

    Does spacetime have memories? Dr Colm Talbot of Caltech wins the Charlene Heisler Prize.

    In his PhD thesis Dr Colm Talbot – formerly of Monash University, now at Caltech, created models to probe how binary black holes form, and developed a Bayesian code to better infer the properties of gravitational wave sources. The code quickly became a standard tool used by LIGO-Virgo research teams to classify the origins of detected black hole mergers. His work tests the prediction arising from Einstein’s general theory of relativity that a gravitational wave form will permanently deform the fabric of spacetime, leaving behind a “memory”. His research yielded tools that are now being deployed by various teams engaged in the hunt for the first confirmed memory detection.

    Finding the most extreme object in the Universe. Dr Joseph Callingham from Leiden University wins the Louise Webster prize.

    Dr Joseph Callingham discovered the brightest and most extreme stellar object found so far in the Universe. Dubbed Apep, after the ancient Egyptian god of chaos, it comprises at least three massive hot stars enshrouded in spectacular spiralling plumes of dust. Joseph and colleagues demonstrated that Apep is generating two types of stellar wind, one moving six times faster than the other – a profoundly strange result. Since the finding was first reported in Nature Astronomy in 2019, the work has ignited many new research projects and generated hundreds of media stories. Joseph is based at Leiden University in The Netherlands.

    Look out for a feature on Joseph and his work in the next issue of Australian Physics.

    Illuminating dark matter and dark energy: Professor Tamara Davis from the University of Queensland.

    University of Queensland astrophysicist Professor Tamara Davis has spent two decades trying to uncover the nature of dark matter and dark energy, which are invisible to our eyes, but can be “seen” by their gravitational effects.  To do this she’s helped discover thousands of supernovae to trace the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, and detected the remnants of sound waves from the early universe in the pattern of galaxies over the sky. 

    “Lately I’ve been looking a lot at gravitational waves as well,” she says. “These provide a new amazing window we now have on the universe, where we can feel space rippling as two black holes collide, and there’s plenty of awesome new science we can do with that.”

    Tamara was awarded the Robert Ellery biennial lectureship. She is only the third woman to be honoured.

    She will deliver her lecture in 2022. This year’s lecture will be delivered by the 2019 winner, Professor Matthew Bailes, an astrophysicist at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, in Victoria. Professor Bailes’ lecture was delayed by the pandemic.

    ASA president Associate Professor Cathryn Trott from Curtin University in WA commented, “The prizes celebrate research excellence, and demonstrate the breadth and impact of Australian astronomical research.”

  • 2 Aug 2021 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    Physicists from 50 countries last month called for physics leaders to take action against extreme gender inequality. They met online in July at the Seventh Conference on Women in Physics, organised by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physicists (IUPAP).

    The AIP hosted the conference, which was originally scheduled to be held in Melbourne in 2020.

    Delegates heard about the global state of play. For example:

    ·         over 99 per cent of physics students at Burkina Faso’s largest university are male

    ·         no women have graduated in physical sciences at The University of El Salvador between 2017 and 2020

    ·         in Chile, the percentage of women working full time in universities and research centres has stayed around 14 per cent for years

    ·         only four per cent of Irish girls study physics in their final years

    ·         and, in Australia, it will take until 2060 for women to comprise just 33 per cent of the astronomy workforce.

    The conference made 21 recommendations to IUPAP and the wider physics community. Highlights include:

    ·         Improving IUPAP conferences through anonymised applications and other initiatives

    ·         Mentoring and training opportunities for women physics entrepreneurs and leaders

    ·         No IUPAP awards for researchers involved in harassment or misconduct

    ·         Increased access and support for women and girls in developing countries.

  • 1 Jul 2021 2:49 PM | Anonymous

    Several physicists received hefty honours during June, both here and overseas.

    Several eminent scientists from the Australian National University were included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, including Kurt Lambeck (pictured), James (Jim) Williams, Lawrence Cram and Neil Manson.

    In the 2021 Australian Space Awards, astrophysicist Dr Sascha Schediwy from The University of Western Australia and International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) took out both Academic of the Year and the overall Excellence award.

    And Eric Huang from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics secured a Fulbright Future Scholarship, with which he will pursue a PhD in physics at the University of Maryland.

  • 1 Jul 2021 12:47 PM | Deleted user

    In a first for the AIP since the introduction of national AIP medals, we are celebrating the fact that all four of the biennial medals have been awarded to women. These awards include the Harrie Massey Medal (awarded in conjunction with the Institute of Physics), the Alan Walsh Medal, the Education Medal and the Ruby Payne-Scott Award. In these awards, we are recognising very talented physicists and congratulate these winners on their achievements and success!

    Since the awarding of the first AIP medal, the Walter Boas medal (1984), the overwhelming majority of medals have been awarded to men. Indeed, before 2008, only the Bragg Gold Medal had ever been awarded to a woman. The AIP has been working to encourage nominations from across gender and background, and we encourage you to consider those among your colleagues and peers who might be eligible for these awards in the future.

    We also acknowledge all nominees submitted to these awards, as the selection panels have noted it can be very difficult to choose the winner each year. To provide some information about the selection process for the awards, we can advise that nominations of both men and women were received, thanks to our now established focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the process and the effort of the nominators. For each award there was a separate, independent selection panel (and for some awards a two-stage selection process with different panels), where each selection panel comprised volunteers with a mix of gender and backgrounds.

    The annual awards (Walter Boas medal, Bragg Gold Medal, TH Laby medal and Outstanding Service to Physics Award) will be announced later in the year and we look forward to discovering who amongst the nominees will be successful.

  • 1 Jul 2021 10:48 AM | Anonymous

    The AIP Theoretical Physics Group recently hosted a talk by MIT’s Professor Tracy Slatyer on possible signals of novel dark matter physics. If you missed it, you can catch it here.

  • 1 Jul 2021 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    The AIP has teamed up with the Astronomical Society of Australia to form the Group for Astroparticle Physics (GAP). The group provides a new forum for scientists working in astronomy and particle physics to discuss the many areas of overlap between the two.

    In coming weeks, we’ll issue a shout-out for members interested in joining the inaugural committee.

    For more information, email Gavin Rowell via

  • 1 Jul 2021 10:19 AM | Anonymous

    A workshop on writing grant applications and papers will be held at the Australian National University in Canberra across three days starting on Monday, September 20.

    The program is designed for female early career researchers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. More details and registration here.

  • 1 Jul 2021 10:09 AM | Anonymous

    The Diversity and Equity Group in Australian Physics (DEGAP) is on the hunt for a new Chair, following the departure of the former office holder, Victoria Coleman.

    If you are interested in the role of Chair of DEGAP please reach out to Victoria herself, Sven Rogge, Nicole Bell or Jodie Bradby. The AIP views this as an important leadership position.

    Information on DEGAP can be found here.

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