[ASC-list] Weighing the earth at school – physics in February

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Mon Feb 18 05:11:58 UTC 2013

Dear ASCers,

We put together a bulletin of physics news and events every month on behalf of the President of the Australian Institute of Physics. The Institute's new President is Rob Robinson of ANSTO. Here’s a taste of what’s in this month's bulletin.

You can view the full bulletin online here<http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/bulletins/aip-presidents-blog/february-2013>.

Kind regards,



>From Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

It is a great pleasure and honour to be the incoming president of the Australian Institute of Physics, and to be joined by Warrick Couch, of Swinburne University, the incoming Vice-President.

For me, one of the highlights of 2012 was to help organise the recent Congress in Sydney: one of my main roles was as overall Scientific Program Chair, and I got to know more about the wide range of physics activities, beyond my own interests in condensed-matter physics.  I like the idea of a “big physics” that asserts inclusion of all the overlap with chemistry, astronomy, biology and indeed engineering and medicine. The alternative of a small “ivory-tower” of pure research will lead, I fear, to marginalisation of our subject.  So I think that we need to be relentless in promoting ourselves to physicists (and others who are really doing physics) as broadly in society as possible.
Welcome to my first bulletin as president, with physics news and events across Australia.

Science and Technology Australia this week announced that their new CEO is Catriona Jackson. We look forward to working with Catriona, who brings a lot of experience at federal politics, the tertiary sector and the media.

Deborah Kane still has vivid memories of her excitement when she discovered new features of atomic structure in the wee hours of a morning 30 years ago as a PhD student. Deborah, who is still researching laser physics, generated atomic spectra that resolved previously unseen features. She will reflect on what her decision to do a PhD achieved for herself and for society during a NSW Branch talk in Sydney next month.

Australia was home to the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere after Melbourne Observatory erected The Great Melbourne Telescope in 1869. After spending more than 60 years in Canberra and surviving a bushfire, the telescope is back in Melbourne undergoing restoration. Museum Victoria’s Richard Gillespie will delve into the history of the Great Melbourne Telescope and the public understanding of science at the Victorian Branch meeting, which will also include the AGM.

You can also hear about the Universe in lectures from Brian Schmidt and Lawrence Krauss in Queensland and from PhD students at Swinburne University; and about the first woman in radio astronomy, Ruby Payne-Scott, in Melbourne.

Star-Craving Mad – Tales from a Travelling Astronomer is the title of Fred Watson’s new book. Fred is the Astronomer in Charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory at Coonabarabran and he’ll be launching his book in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane over the next six weeks. His book is one of three available for review for Australian Physics.

The AIP’s 50th birthday celebrations begin with the launch of a national experiment on 1 March—we are inviting school children around Australia to ‘weigh the earth’ using Galileo’s pendulum experiment to measure gravity.

This month I have news on a number of opportunities for physicists to be recognised for their work, and to have the chance to get out and talk to people about physics. The AIP is looking for an inspiring woman physicist to be the 2013 Women in Physics lecturer. The successful nominee has an enjoyable task, and a great opportunity—to present talks to school children and the public across Australia over the year.

I encourage you to consider nominating, or encouraging others to nominate, for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, which includes the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physics as well as the overall science prize and prizes for teachers.

And please also encourage our top young physicists whose research has produced exciting results to nominate for Fresh Science, a media training boot camp that will produce the future spokespeople for science.
Details of all these are below.

Also in this bulletin, I update you on some new positions in the AIP for 2013—branch committees and the Editor of Australian Physics. And there are already lots of departmental seminars timetabled over the next couple of months.

Rob Robinson
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president at aip.org.au<mailto:aip_president at aip.org.au>


Niall Byrne
Creative Director, Science in Public

82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood  Vic  3015
(PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015)
03 9398-1416, 03 9078-5398, 0417 131 977

niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au>
Twitter scienceinpublic
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