July Lectures in Physics


A series of lectures aimed at giving insights into fundamental questions in Physics


Gravitation and Inertia: How are they related? - Sargood, D.G.

Temperature - What is it? - Klein, A.G.

Electromagnetic Waves - Opat, G.I.

Particles and Waves: Can they be reconciled? - Wignall, J.W.G.


Atomic Structure: To what extent can we visualise it? - Sargood, D.G.

Bulk matter and atomic physics: How do they explain each other? - Opat, G.I.

Interference of light: How does it depend on coherence? - Klein, A.G.

Newtonian mechanics and relativity: How are they related? - Caro, D.E.


Light propagation: How is it influenced by matter? - Opat, G.I.

Temperature and thermal motion: Are they synonymous? - Sargood, D.G.

Kepler's Laws: Do astronauts obey them? - Klein, A.G.

They eye: What can it tell us about light? - Budwine, R.E.


Wave phenomena:: What have they in common? - Sargood, D.G.

Quantum effects: When are they important? - Thompson M.N.

Static electricity: How does it behave? - Klein, A.G.

Physical models: Can we trust them? - Amos,K.A.


Geometrical and Wave Optics: How are they unified? - Sargood, D.G.

Properties of matter: What is the inside story? - McKellar, B.H.J.

Electrons in solids: How do they behave? - Klein, A.G.

Iron: Why does it affect magnetic fields? - Opat, G.I.


Nuclear Radiations: How are they detected? - Sargood, D.G.

Transistors: How do they work? - Klein, A.G.

Matter waves: What waves? - Spicer, B.M.

Lasers: How do they work? - Opat, G.I.


The chemical elements: Where did they come from? - Sargood, D.G.

The sound of music: Is it physics? - Thompson,M.N.

Many body problems: What have they in common with elementary electrostatics? - Hines,


Charged particle trajectories: How are they exploited? - Opat, G.I.


Wave-Particle Duality: An impossible concept - Sargood, D.G.

Electronics and classroom demonstration - Klein, A.G.

Gravitation, Black Holes and all that - Opat,G.I.

From Red Shifts to Speed Traps - Uses of Doppler effect - Boydell, S.G.


Astronomy - Sargood, D.G.

Sound - Muirhead, E.G.

Properties of Solids - Opat, G.I.

Optical Instruments - Klein, A.G.


Atomic Nuclei: How do they behave? - Sargood, D.G.

Atoms in Solids: How well can we see them? - Spargo, A.E.C.

Electromagnetic Fields and Circuits: How are they related? - Klein, A.G.

Physical Principles applied to Biological Systems - Mason, G.C.


Fluctuations: The ultimate limits of measurement - Opat, G.I.

Matter and Antimatter - Wignall, J.W.G.

Quarks and Leptons - Tovey, S.N.

Energy Storage - Klein, A.G.


The Universe: Is it really expanding? - Sargood, D.G.

Newton's "laws": Are they really? - Mason, G.C.

The earth's magnetic field: What is its origin? - Wignall, J.W.G.

X-rays and crystals: The story of a happy coincidence - Barnea, Z.


Some paradoxes in elementary electromagnetism - Sargood, D.G.

Scaling Laws: Bigger isn't always better - McKellar, B.H.J.

Electric motors: No new twists- all torque - Klein, A.G.

Heat, entropy, and the energy problem - Opat,G.I.


Models and Analogies - The nitty-gritty of Physics - Sargood, D.G.

Light Propagation - How is it influenced by matter? - Opat, G.I.

Radiation and its interaction with matter - Klein, A.G.

Nuclear Physics and the measurement of time - Bolotin, H.H.


Centrifugal force and all that - Sargood, D.G.

Is the proton really stable? - Tovey, S.N.

From particles to waves - Klein, A.G.

Transducers - from physical effects to electrical measurements - Opat, G.I.


Waves in the environment - Wignall, J.W.G.

Diffraction image formation, and holography - Spargo, A.E.C.

Symmetries in mechanics - Opat, G.I.

Origin of the elements - Sargood, D.G.


The Chinese Typewriter - A successful application of Science to the Chinese puzzle - Barnea, Z.

Geometrical Optics - Why does it work and when does it not work? - Sargood, D.G.

Temperature - What is it? - Klein, A.G.

Sound - Its generation, transmission, and reception: The ear and the voice Opat, G.I.


Nuclear Energy - what are the facts? - Sargood, D.G.

Determination of Newton's Gravitational Constant - the problem of measuring

small forces - Opat, G.I.

Sources of light - their Physics and Technology - Klein, A.G.

Physics alive - A medley of demonstration experiments - Amos, K.A.


Radiation: What is it? - How is it made? - What does it do? - Sargood, D.G.

Sixty years of Quantum Mechanics - Opat, G.I.

Phosphorescence, fluorescence, and luminescence - Klein, A.G.

Waves and communication - a demonstration lecture - Amos, K.A.


Evolving Stars and Supernovae - Sargood, D.G.

Superconductivity - Opat, G.I.

Optical Communications - Klein, A.G.

Images without lenses - Nugent, K.A.


Chernobyl: What actually happened? - Sargood, D.G.

The elusive Neutrino - Taylor G.N.

Pythagoras and twentieth century Physics - Opat, G.I.

Optical Fibres for measuring and sensing - Klein, A.G.


The Mysterious Coriolis force - Sargood, D.G.

Ceramics for nuclear waste management - White, T.J.

Rainbows, halos, and glories - Klein, A.G.

Quantum Tunnelling: Doing the impossible - Opat, G.I.


What is so special about the speed of light? - Sargood D.G.

Why do magnetic forces depend on who measures them? - Jamieson D.N.

Image processing: Sharp prints from blurred originals, and other matters - Wood G.J.

The fractal geometry of nature: an illustrated talk - Taucher, T.C., Griffin C.J. and Bardos, D.C.


The Unity of Physics - Experimental demonstrations - Sargood, D.G.

Light in Focus - 600 million years of progress - Jamieson, D.N.

Michael Faraday - 200 years on - Klein, A.G.

Pressure - From Archimedes to Lasers - Opat, G.I.


A Quark of Nature: Elementary Particles and the Universe - Volkas, R.R. and Taylor, G.N.

Electro-optics: From Electronics to Photonics - Roberts, A.

The PC as a Window on the Cosmos - Jamieson,D.N.

Research in the School of Physics: Towards the 21st Century - Klein, A.G.


How does it work? - Physics in everyday technology - Klein, A.G.

Energy for the future - The Physics of substainable sources - Hollenberg, L.C.L.

Microscopy with proton - New ways of seeing - Jamieson, D.N.

Was Einstein right? - A Review of Relativity experiments - Opat, G.I.


What's New in Magnetism - Prof. G.I. Opat

Comet SL9 and Its Impact on Jupiter - Webster, R., Jamieson, D.N. and Klein, A.G.

Neutrinos, Dark Matter and the Ultimate Fate of the Universe - Sevior, M.E.

Superconductors - A New Industrial Revolution? - Jamieson, D.N.

150th Anniversary of the Birth of Boltzmann -Time's Arrow - Frankel, N.E.


Radio Communications: The Centenary of Marconiís Transmission - Opat, G.I.

Light without Heat - Luminescence in Moonlight, Video screen and other stories- Jamieson, D.N.

Just How Much Matter is there in the Universe? - Webster, R.

The Solar Neutrino Problem: Whatís Cooking in the Sun? - Thomson, Mark


Cosmic Rays - A Hazard for Aviation? - Jamieson, D.N.

Neutrinos in the Cosmos - How the smallest of particles can shape our entire Universe - Taylor, G.N.

Lasers: From atoms to the operating theatre - Roberts, A.

How Things Fly: Why Boomerangs Come Back - Opat, G.I.


Einstein and the jumbo jet: The Global Positioning System - Jamieson, D.N.

The Discovery of Planets around other Stars - Webster, R.

The 50th Anniversary of the Invention of the Transistor - McCallum, J.C.

The Electron: The Centenary of its Discovery - Opat, G.I.


Atoms at Very, Very, Low Temperatures Wave Behaviour and Quantum Superstates - Opat, G.I.

The Physics of the Didjeridu - Hollenberg, L.L.

New Eyes on Mars: Physics of the Pathfinder Mission - Jamieson, D.N.

Neutrinos: Cosmic Messagers from the Earth the Sun, the Stars, the Universe - Volkas, R.R.


All Four Engines Out: Volcanic Ash, St Elmo's Fire, Aircraft and Electrostatics - Jamieson, D.N.

Big Numbers in the Universe - Frankel, N.E.

Gravitation: The Great Attraction of Physics - Opat, G.I.

Is the Solar System Doomed to Chaos? - Webster, R.


Civilisation Transformed: The Impact of Quantum Mechanics - Geoff Opat

The year 2000 marks the centennial of the founding of quantum mechanics by Max Planck. The profound change in human thought that followed its introduction transformed the whole of science: physical, chemical, biological, and technological. The Civilisation of the Twenty First Century would be totally unrecognisable without it.

Building the nanoscale world: Quantum mechanics for small structures - Robert Scholten

As our technological world revolves around smaller and smaller devices, applications of the physics of quantum structures becomes ever more intriguing. This lecture will look at lasers, atoms, quantum computing and other nanoscale physics where quantum mechanics is put to work.

Quantum Electrodynamics: The most accurate theory in the world - Chris Chantler

Controversy may surround the different interpretations of quantum mechanics, by there is no dispute about the accuracy of the the theory. Quantum electrodynamics (QED) explains how light interacts with matter. Recent experiments with lasers have shown that predictions of QED are accurate to one part in 10000000000000! This lecture will look at the origins of the theory, the basic ideas behind it, and the challenges we are facing today.

The promise of the Quantum Computer: New beads on the abacus - David Jamieson

Quantum computing promises remarkable advances in computational power for certain problems that are impractical on classical computers. In a computer operating by the strange rules of quantum mechanics, the processor exists in all possible states simultaneously. Construction of a quantum computer presents some formidable challenges but there is no shortage of ideas.

2001 - On the centenary of Enrico Fermi

The World of Nature seen with Neutrons - Geoff Opat

The neutron is not as famous as some sub-atomic particles, but it should be! Fermi recoginsed how beams of neutrons could illuminate the structure of matter and test the foundations of quantum mechanics. Geoff Opat describes these ideas as well as his own landmark experiments with neutrons.

Fermi in your computer - Jeff McCallum

The silicon chip owes its existance to the fundamental theories developed by Fermi. Currents of electrons slosh around inside crystals of silicon and along metal wires following the rules of quantum mechanics at the foundation of the computer and the internet. Jeff McCallum shows how works and looks at what is in store for the future.

Out of Africa: a 2 billion year old nuclear reactor - David Jamieson

Fermi's experimental nuclear reactor, constructed in the 1940's under a sports stadium in Chicago, is widely described as initating the world's first nuclear chain reaction. But the fossil remains of a natural reactor have been discoverd in Africa that operated 2 billion years ago. David Jamieson describes what was found and how it worked.

Fermi and the weakest link link in nature - Ray Volkas

Like a faint shadow of the electromagentic force, the fourth force of nature continues to yield its secrets. This little-known force is responsible for beta decay, the radioactive decay of common elements some of which are found in our bodies. The weak force may also be responsible for the assymetry in the building blocks of DNA and other molecules of life. Ray Volkas introduces Fermi's theory for beta decay and presents the big picture of the weak force.

2002 - Physics in the 21st Century

Friday July 19: Particle Physics in the 21st Century: New forces and new horizons - Associate Professor Ray Volkas

Friday July 26: The Emergence of Life - Professor Robert Hazen Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and Robinson Professor of Earth Science, George Mason University

Friday August 2: Astronomy in the 21st Century: The big questions answered - Associate Professor Rachel Webster

Friday August 9: Nanotechnology: Utopian dream or practical technology? - Associate Professor David Jamieson

2003 - Waves in the 21st Century

Sound Waves: Winds of change in music. by Joe Wolf (UNSW)

Humans use some subtle and remarkable properties of waves to make music. But we are still working to understand some subtle details that are qualitatively known to expert musicians. This talk will look at how mechanical and acoustic systems combine to produce the sounds of the voice and of musical instruments. The speaker has a background in both acoustics and music and promises extensive demonstrations. Among other things, we'll discover some ancient techniques in digital communication and their advantages and disadvantages, and how it's possible to play chords on wind instruments and what gives voices and instruments their characteristic sounds.

Matter Waves: The strange world of the quantum. by David Jamieson

At very small scales our world of solid matter dissolves into shifting patterns of waves, uncertainties and probabilities described by quantum mechanics. A theory of immense precision and versatility, the quantum mechanics of matter waves has provided us with silicon chips, lasers, superconductivity and neutron stars. We look at the strange foundations of the theory and some revolutionary new applications.

Electromagnetic waves: Hot topics in synchrotron science. by Chris Chantler

Here in Victoria will soon be built a vast machine, called a synchrotron, for the production of special types of electromagnetic waves. These waves will be used to probe the structure of matter with great precision and answer fundamental questions in crystal structure and electrodynamics. We look into the new science promised by Victoria's synchrotron.

Gravity waves: Echoes of cosmic cataclysms. by Andew Melatos

Long past and far off cataclysmic cosmic events may create disturbances in the fabric of space and time. Predicted by Einstein, these ripples in spacetime may soon be detected on Earth as gravity waves. We look at how gravity waves may be detected and what sort of information they bring to us about some of the most violent events in the cosmos.


In 1905 Albert Einstein published revolutionary ideas that changed the way we look at the world. The 100th anniversary of this miraculous year has been declared the World Year of Physics. So this year, on the 99th anniversary, we look at the world before Einstein.

The 19th Century world wide web: the electric telegraph, relativity and the eccentric Oliver Heaviside. by David Jamieson

The first electric telegraph connecting the continent of Australia to the rest of the world was made in 1872. To make this work, the problem of efficiently communicating with Morse code signals down long telegraph wires was solved by a legion of physicists. The most eccentric of these was Oliver Heaviside who almost stumbled upon Einstein's Theory of Relativity before Einstein. This lecture will shine some light on the reclusive Heaviside, the electric telegraph and the emergence of Relativity.

The emergence of atoms: Brownian motion and the physics of large systems by Jeffery McCallum

Are atoms real? Before Einstein chemists were largely convinced but physicists thought they might just be a mathematical convenience. With the discovery of Brownian motion and successful theories of heat that used the statistics of large numbers of atoms, the reality of atoms could be shown indirectly. This lecture looks at how the motion of large numbers of atoms can be treated with statistics to get useful results and how today we can look at single atoms with simple microscopes.

Light waves in the luminiferous Aether: real stuff or 19th Century delusion? by Andrew Melatos

At the conclusion of the 19th century, the luminiferous Aether was introduced to explain how light reaches us from the distant stars. Newton would have approved. But something was wrong with the Aether because it continued to elude detection in sensitive experiments. Einstein abolished it in 1905. This lecture looks at the emergence, heyday and extinction of the luminiferous Aether.

The ultra-violet catastrophe: the red hot emergence of quantum mechanics by Ray Volkas

The light emitted from a red hot iron proved to be an intractable problem for 19th Century physics. Conventional theories predicted hot objects show glow brightly in the ultra-violet which doesn't happen. A strange solution to the problem due to Max Planck was to unravel the cosy world of 19th C physics. This looks at the emergence of the quantum from the ultraviolet catastrophe.


World Year of Physics 2005 - A series of lectures aimed at giving an insight into fundamental questions in physics.

2005 Theme: Einstein's Ideas Explained

In 1905 Albert Einstein published revolutionary ideas that changed the way we look at the world. He was 26 years old and working as a clerk in a Swiss patent office. The 100th anniversary of this miraculous year has been declared the World Year of Physics. So this year, we look at Einstein's revolutionary ideas.

8:00 pm Friday July 1 2005, Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre (adjacent to School of Physics)

The light quantum: from the humble photoelectric effect to the strange world of modern physics. by Raymond Volkas

Einstein introduced the idea of a light quantum that travelled through space like a wave, but bounced off matter like a particle. This idea, from a paper published on March 17 of 1905 saw Einstein explain the perplexing interaction of light and matter known as the photoelectric effect. This lecture looks at this foundational idea (worth a Nobel Prize in 1922) and its implications in the history of quantum mechanics.

8:00 pm Friday July 8 2005, Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre (adjacent to School of Physics)

Einstein's theory of Special Relativity: light, time and space. by David Jamieson

8:00 pm Friday July 8 2005, Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre (adjacent to School of Physics)

The strange mutability of light, time and space came out of the June 30 1905 publication of Einstein's titled "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies". Taking ideas from Galileo, the electromagnetism of Maxwell and abolishing Newton's idea of the celestial clockwork, Einstein showed how space and time mix and match depending on your point of view. This lecture looks at the startling consequences of these ideas for the real world.

8:00 pm Friday July 15 2005, Elizabeth Murdoch Theatre (adjacent to School of Physics)

How the mass movement of trillions of atoms changed the world. by Bruce McKellar

Today there is no doubt atoms exist. But one hundred years ago people were not so sure. In a paper of April 30 1905 (based on his doctoral thesis) and a later paper on Brownian motion from December 19 1905 Einstein showed how the collective movements of huge numbers of tiny molecules could add up to significant effects useful today in areas as diverse as the construction industry, the dairy industry and the environment. It is not well known, but here in Australia our own William Sutherland had the same ideas and published them shortly before Einstein. This lecture looks at the movements of trillions of atoms and two scientists on opposite sides of the world.

8:00 pm Friday July 22 2005, Murdoch Theatre (adjacent to School of Physics)

E = mc2: Energy and matter entwined. by Elisabetta Barberio

The most famous formula in physics appeared for the first time in Einstein's paper of September 27 1905. The formula links energy and matter and arises from the fundamental ideas that laws of physics are ultimately egalitarian: the same for everybody. Today high energy physicists routinely convert energy into matter and vice versa as allowed by Einstein's formula. This lecture looks at the origin of the formula and the high frontier of high energy physics in the 21st century.