Australian Institute of Physics

South Australian Branch

Annual Report of the

South Australian Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics

1999 Committee of the South Australian Branch

Dr Derek Leinweber (Chair)

Dr Stephen Russell (Vice-Chair)

Dr David Wiltshire (Treasurer)

Dr Laurence Campbell (Secretary)


Dr Boris Blankleider (Awards)

Dr Michael Ford (Education, Publicity)

Mr David French (Education, Publicity)

Mr John Hisco (Education, Space School)

Dr John Patterson (Meetings)

Mr John Pattison (Publicity)

Mr Mike Roach (Education, Space School)

Dr Olivia Samardzic (Education, Space School)

Mr Stewart Wright (Editorial, Web Page)



The AIP-SA branch has had an active year presenting five Public Lectures, two Member Lectures, a Student Night, a Quiz Night, Dinner with an Astronaut and a launch of new student representation on the AIP-SA committee. The Education subcommittee have run a Space School and three Teacher Training sessions. We have given encouragement to students in physics through awards, travel grants and support for student activities. Our web page has been further improved to provide better access to information on branch activities, jobs and physics in general.


Public Lectures

Perhaps our greatest success in 1999 is increasing attendance at our Public lectures to the order of 300 people. We have achieved this level of attendance through the following main initiatives:











While the move to Union Hall costs the AIP-SA $200 per evening, the professional ambiance of this hall is a significant factor in the increased attendance. The AIP-SA has responded to this opportunity to address a significant-size audience by advertising activities of the AIP which may be of interest to the audience in the welcome portion of the evenings events. Thanks go to our Secretary, Dr Laurence Campbell, for organizing the suppers held after our meetings and public lectures. Thanks also to Stewart Wright for his extensive work on the branch's web page this year, another key source of event advertisement.


Our Meetings coordinator, Dr John Patterson, is largely responsible for creating the following successful lecture series.


In conjunction with the Women in Physics Group and National Science Week, the AIP-SA presented the Claire Corani Memorial Lecture entitled "Cosmic Explosions and the Creation of the Elements - You are Made of Star Stuff!" by Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell of The Open University, UK on the 4th of May. The Claire Corani memorial awards were presented by Jocelyn at this meeting. This lecture was moved to the newly refurbished Union Hall of the University of Adelaide to accommodate attendance at this lecture approaching 400.


Our second public lecture was presented jointly by the ANZ Solar Energy Society (SA branch) on May 25th. The lecture "Recent Advances in Solar Cells in Australia" was presented by the joint winner of the 1999 Australia Prize, Professor Stuart Wenham of the Photovoltaic Special Research Centre, University of New South Wales. The AIP Bronze Bragg Medal, for highest achievement in year-12 Physics in 1998, and certificates of merit for students who obtained the maximum Subject Achievement Score, were presented by Prof. Wenham before the lecture. Thanks to our awards coordinator, Dr Boris Blankleider, for his organisation of the awards.


The public lecture "Wormholes, Warp Drive, and Negative Energy" was presented by Prof. Larry H. Ford of the Department of Physics, Tufts University, USA on July 14th 1999. The large audience was very keen to hear just how close the popular science fiction of today is to the reality of modern physics.


Our annual joint lecture with the Astronomical Society of South Australia was held October 20th. The lecture "Champagne Supernova in the Sky" was presented by the 1999 Young Australian of the Year, Dr Bryan M Gaensler of the Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow Pulsar Group of the Center for Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bryan presented a fantastic lecture that not only featured stunning Hubble images but also concisely explained the physics behind every scene.


Our final public lecture of the year was held on November 9th. The lecture "Black Holes" was presented by Prof. Don Page, CIAR Cosmology and Gravitation Fellow and Professor of Physics at the University of Alberta.


Member Meetings

Our opening seminar was presented March 16th 1999 by A/Prof. Igor Bray on "Two's company, three's a crowd (until recently)!" presenting a provocative talk on resolving the properties of many electron systems.


In conjunction with the South Australian Space School, the AIP sponsored a banquet entitled "Dinner with an Astronaut." This event was held on the 12th of July at the Flinders University Staff Club. The dinner, exclusive to AIP members and their guests, featured James F. Reilly, II (Ph.D.), Geophysicist and NASA Astronaut. James made an excellent video presentation providing an inside view into the life of an astronaut. Students of the Space School and members had ample opportunity to meet and talk with James.


The annual AIP-SA Student Night featuring the research of the top physics graduate student from each of the three SA Universities was held August 10th. The Silver Bragg medals for highest achievement in the final undergraduate year were also awarded. The evening was opened by Andrew Meyer who was supported by the AIP-SA in representing Australia at the National Youth Science Week held in South Africa. Representing the University of South Australia, Suparno presented "Electrokinetic Phenomena in a Non-Polar Colloidal System." Nathan Prior represented Flinders University and presented "Experimental Observations of Coulomb Crystals." Stewart Wright of The University of Adelaide closed the evening with a seminar on "Calculating the Mass of the Proton."


On September 7th a seminar entitled "OPTICS: Don't Leave Home Without It!" was presented by Prof. Jesper Munch, Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Adelaide. Jesper presented an exciting talk that even made theorists wonder if they should have gone into experimental optics.


The Annual General Meeting and Dinner was held on November 25th in the Balcony restaurant of the Strathmore Hotel. The after-dinner speaker was Dr Peter Pockley, a renowned Australian journalist. Peter presented a thought provoking talk on "Basic Science is being Sidelined. Why is it so?"


Our final event of 1999 was an Astronomical Viewing Night arranged at the Stockport Observatory on the night of Friday December 10th. This Observatory is owned by the Astronomical Society of South Australia and houses a 0.5 metre Newtonian-Cassegrain reflecting telescope. Stockport Observatory provides a convenient astronomical facility away from the light pollution which surrounds Adelaide. Ideal observing conditions made this a most enjoyable evening.



Teacher Training Sessions

Our Education Subcommittee organized two workshops to assist South Australian Science Teachers adopt the new "applications" based curriculum of the SA Year 12 syllabus. A wrap-up session of the final Year 12 Physics exam and "AIP Cutting Edge Talks" at the National Science teachers conference, CONASTA48 rounds out the year's activities. The teacher training sessions were very well attended with 105 teachers at the first session and 66 at the second. The sessions were run as three-hour workshops. The AIP "applications" section covered applications including LADS, lasers, satellites, radioactivity, rockets and certain aspects of medical physics. The exam wrap-up allowed the Year 12 Physics examiners to answer teacher's questions on allocation of marks as well as providing them with the appropriate solutions. Approximately 80 teachers attended this workshop.


South Australian Space School

As in previous years members of the Education Subcommittee participated in running the SA Space School for Year-10 students. It involves the students in visits to organisations and companies involved in space-related activities, and interactions with an astronaut. The Defence Science and Technology Organisation has been a major sponsor over the last 3 years and has committed itself to sponsoring the school in 2000. In conjunction with the Space School there is also a one-day session run for secondary and primary school teachers on Space Sciences. Some of the SASS activities include tours of the RAAF base, DSTO, Flinders University, a visit to the planetarium and a session on model rocket building. This year the SA branch provided substantial financial support due to the loss of a significant sponsor.


An integral part of the Space School is a talk presented by an astronaut. Previously this was done as a public lecture, but this year we organised a "Dinner with an Astronaut" featuring NASA astronaut Jim Reilly for AIP members and their guests. Thanks to Olivia Samardzic, John Hisco, Mike Roach and Susan Cockshell for organising and running the Space School, and Mike Ford and David French for organizing a Space School session at Flinders University and the "Dinner with an Astronaut."


Quiz Night

Inspired by the success of other branches, the AIP-SA, lead by Stephen Russell, held a Quiz Night this year. High schools in the Adelaide area were invited to enter teams of 3 to 10 students to participate in a Quiz Night held June 4th. AIP-SA committee members presented interesting demonstrations of physics principles on which a question could be based. Members also helped out by acting as judges and markers. Participation was excellent with eight teams of children and approximately 70 people attending the Quiz Night in total. The evening was sponsored by VIPAC Scientists and Engineers, the three SA Universities and the Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter at the University of Adelaide. Prizes were awarded and certificates were presented to the members of the best school team. This year we hope to provide a trophy to enhance the competition and ensure Quiz Night becomes a SA tradition.


Student Representation on the AIP-SA

The Flinders University Physics Club is a very successful and active society. This year Laura Gilbert, the club's president, approached the AIP-SA inquiring about the possibility of future affiliation. The AIP-SA committee wishes to encourage student activities related to Physics and to this end we created a position in 2000 for a student representative on the state branch committee. The main activities of this representative will be coordination of AIP student events, and promotion of the AIP within student bodies. To celebrate this new representation, an event was held for all SA physics students at Flinders University. Dr Derek B Leinweber of the University of Adelaide was invited to present the inaugural lecture entitled "Visualizations of Quantum Chromodynamics." Tours of Flinders Laboratories and a BBQ rounded out a most enjoyable evening. In response to there being two student representatives nominated for this new position, AIP-SA members voted to have two student representatives on the AIP-SA committee in 2000. We look forward to new events that will assist physics students in SA to interact.


AIP Job Clipping Service On-Line

The South Australian branch of the AIP began electronically posting the AIP Job Clipping Service mailings this year. Our page at features links to scanned images of physics related job advertisements published in Australian newspapers. The images are in gif format at 200 dots per inch (dpi) and at 66 dpi for fast browsing of the titles of the ads.


Science Meets Parliament Day

David Wiltshire represented us as part of an AIP delegation at the "Science Meets Parliament Day" in Canberra, 23-24 November. The event, attended by 170 scientists from around the country and nearly 130 parliamentarians, was organised by FASTS in order to lobby parliamentarians about the problems facing science in Australia. The overall impression is that a number of government members are sympathetic and prepared to listen, but when they came to conceding that science in Australia did face major problems, they always isolated David Kemp as the person who needs convincing. Any presentation taken to parliamentarians has to be focused, with concrete proposals for possible solutions to specific problems. It is important to focus our politicians on all the positive outcomes that would result if basic science is adequately funded in Australian Universities and the content and profile of science teaching in our schools is enhanced. This is a long-term process. If we can keep the momentum up, such efforts may hopefully have the sort of effects that similar lobbying campaigns (e.g. by Canadian physicists) have had in other countries.


Postgraduate Student Travel Scholarships

In response to recommendations from our members, the 1999 committee increased the value of the Postgraduate Student Travel Scholarships from $100 to $250. Six scholarships were awarded this year.


National Congress

The National AIP Congress will be held in Adelaide in the week December 10th-15th next year. We acknowledge the work of Prof. Ian McCarthy who was Chair of the organizing committee but has had to relinquish the position for health reasons. Dr Anthony Williams of the University of Adelaide has taken the role of Chair.


Looking Forward

Several members of the committee are retiring and we thank them for their work. Dr David Wiltshire is relinquishing his position as Treasurer in anticipation of an extended absence overseas next year. John Hisco and Mike Roach are leaving the committee, but will continue their work for the space school and teacher training by continuing to be on the Education subcommittee. Similarly, Dr Stephen Russell will not continue as a member of the committee. However, he will organize the Quiz Night next year on behalf of the AIP. I extend my personal thanks to all members of the 1999 AIP-SA committee and I welcome the following members to an exciting new year.


2000 Committee of the South Australian Branch

Dr Derek Leinweber (Chair)

Dr John Patterson (Vice-Chair)

Mr David French (Treasurer)

Dr Laurence Campbell (Secretary)


Dr Boris Blankleider (Awards)

Ms Susan Cockshell

Mr Shaun Cook

Dr Michael Ford (Education, Publicity)

Ms Melanie Johnston-Hollitt

Mr John Pattison (Publicity)

Dr Olivia Samardzic (Education, Space School)

Mr Craig Tiller

Mr Stewart Wright (Editorial, Web Page)



With Best Wishes,

Dr Derek B Leinweber

Department of Physics and Mathematical Physics

University of Adelaide

Adelaide, SA 5005

Page prepared by:
Derek Leinweber
Stewart V. Wright
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