[ASC-list] Australian Institute of Physics bulletin

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Wed Jun 3 07:45:20 UTC 2015

Dear ASCers,

We write a bulletin of Australian physics news and events every month on behalf of Warrick Couch, the AIP President.

This month we talked about synchrotron funding (and other research funding), a couple of International Year of Light events at Melbourne's Fed Sq, science talent competitions, and some snippets of physics news from around the country.

There's a taste of this month's bulletin below and you can view the full bulletin online<http://www.aip.org.au/info/?q=article/why-synchrotron-funding-matters-physics-june>.

Kind regards,


>From Warrick Couch, President of the Australian Institute of Physics
The AIP welcomes the Federal Government's provision of funding to the Australian Synchrotron, announced in May's Federal Budget. Within this bulletin we talk about the Synchrotron's pivotal role in Australian research.

It was also good to see additional funding for ANSTO and a bit more funding certainty for national research infrastructure.

But overall there was not much for science in this budget and, as noted by Brian Schmidt, the uncertainty over the future funding of ARC Future Fellows has the potential to do long-term damage to science. Also, block grants for universities, which pay for the indirect costs related to research, were disappointingly cut by $263 million over the next three years.

Synchrotron funding
The Federal Budget in May provided $20.5 million of the $30 million required to fund the Australian Synchrotron's operations in 2016-17. Director of the Australian Synchrotron, Andrew Peele, said the announcement, which comes more than a year ahead of the relevant funding period, provided a clear indication of the Federal Government's ongoing support for the Synchrotron:

"We are delighted with this commitment and, while we continue to work with government toward a permanent funding solution, this announcement offers us the security to move forward with plans for further development."

With capacity for up to 30 beamlines, the Australian Synchrotron currently supports more than 4,000 researcher visits and more than 800 experiments each year on its existing nine lines.

Light Revolution
The International Year of Light is injecting some science into winter solstice celebrations this year with two events in Melbourne's Light in Winter Festival at Federation Square.

Join the Light Revolution<http://light2015.org.au/event/the-light-revolution-public-forum-at-federation-square/> on Sunday 14 June is a public forum about how light is transforming our lives. Speakers will cover the Nobel-winning blue LED; flexible, printed solar panels, social justice outcomes from solar-powered LED light sources, and using visible and X-ray light to decode the human immune system.

Reclaim the Stars<http://light2015.org.au/event/reclaiming-the-stars-fireside-chat/> on Friday 19 June is a cosy fireside chat about astronomical discoveries, the health effects of light pollution and efforts to save the night skies.

Physics at the Shine Dome
Michelle Simmons' work on quantum computing was recognised via the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal awarded at the Shine Dome in Canberra last month. Michelle's acceptance speech and her presentation on atomic-scale engineering is available online<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg2UUdQm26s&list=PL9DfJTxCPaXIJZgp6kBprILssq_AEAnY8&index=7>: what happens when your computing components become as small as a single atom?
Also presenting physics at the Shine Dome that week was AIP group convenor Helen Maynard-Casely, whose presentation on extra-terrestrial X-ray crystallography is also available online<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOR89nfsens>.

100 years of Bragging rights
The Shine Dome event begins the celebration of 100 years since William and Lawrence Bragg were awarded Australia's first Nobel Prize, for their work on X-ray crystallography.

Looking back, this BBC show<http://www.richannel.org/the-nature-of-things--crystals-and-gems> from the early 1960s has Lawrence presenting the nature of crystals, or 'soldiers on parade'.

The glorious sound of leather on...
After a couple of hundred years, the traditional willow cricket bat might be about to change. ANU physicists are finding out precisely what it is about the cellular structure of lightweight English white willow that gives the best sweet spot and shock resistance. Using high-definition CT scanning and analysis by the NCI supercomputer at ANU, the researchers' ultimate aim is to find an alternative, cheaper material to produce a bat of the same quality.
Defence news
DSTO physics was among that presented at the Maritime and Systems Technology Asia conference last month in Yokohama. Australian defence research topics presented at the conference included stealth technology and underwater acoustics.

In July, DSTO and UNSW will co-host a symposium to assess emerging technology for national security, specifically development of fully autonomous systems for use in disaster relief.

Australian speedgun part of global fusion plan
ANU physicists are working on a Doppler speedgun to assist the ITER fusion project in Europe, generally considered the best chance to achieve fusion power by the end of the next decade.

The ANU's School of Physics and Engineering has been contracted to design a system for imaging plasma temperature and flow in the high-temperature plasma at the heart of the fusion reactor.

Seeking fresh physics talent
Are you, or do you know, an early-career physicist with a scientific discovery worthy of media coverage?

Fresh Science is a national competition that selects researchers with research results, an invention, or a discovery, trains them in how to tell their story, and helps them share their findings with the media and the public. Nominations are open now until 25 June<http://freshscience.org.au/>.
School physics comps
Moonbots challenges teams of kids aged 8-17 to design, create and program their own robots. The creative phase of the competition has the kids explaining what stories inspires them about the Moon; phase two has them moving on to building a robot from a kit. Registration by 23 June. Details<http://www.moonbots.org/?utm_source=edu&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=gsf>.

The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge, open to students in years 5-12, runs to 21 August.  Registrations close 19 June and submissions are due 21 August. Details<http://www.stemgames.org.au/>.

Arts meets particle physics
Collision is an arts-meets-science competition encouraging artists, scientists and students from around Australia to create artworks inspired by particle physics.  There are separate school student and open categories. Entries close 23 August. Details<http://collision.org.au/>.

Collision is an outreach project by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP)
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