Black Hole, Grade Points & Dark Skies. Vicphys News 1/T2/19

Welcome back to Term 2, this newsletter has some recently released resources.

  • A constructed image of a Black Hole was released during the holidays.  The Perimeter Institute has already produced some curriculum support material.
  • The Grade Points for last year’s Physics exam are now available on VCAA’s website.
  • Dark Sky site with Astronomical Society of Victoria
  • The Girls in Physics Breakfasts are coming up in May.  Bookings close early in Term 2.  The date and speaker for the Clayton Breakfast in August are announced below.

Please note: The Vicphysics Website is temporarily down, but it is expected to be up and running later today, Tuesday, 23rd April
.
The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 9th May at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. Image of Black Hole: Classroom Resources
  2. Grade Distribution for 2018 VCE Physics Exam
  3. Dark Sky Site: Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV)
  4. Events for Students and the General Public

5. Physics News from the Web
a)  Physicists spot the signatures of nuclear fusion in a table top device
b)  Language learning in children is like a phase transition
c) Seeing the unseeable: The impact and legacy of the first black hole images.

1.  Image of Black Hole: Classroom Resources
The Perimeter Institute has produced a new resource explaining the results from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).  It is a nine page document including a lesson plan.

There are also two posters available for download.  The PI website has a comprehensive news story, summary videos, and a panel discussion explaining the results.

PI also has an interactive simulation which challenges students to align the EHT telescopes.

Finally there are two short activities: Seeing Black Holes and Biggest Radio Telescope just got Bigger

2.  Grade Distribution for 2018 VCE Physics Exam
The distribution of grades is now available on the VCAA website.  It gives the raw score cut off for each letter grade (out of 260 because of double marking) as well as the percentage of male and female candidates who received that letter grade.
The Vicphysics website has a spreadsheet of this data for exams going back to 1999.  The file ‘Grade Points’  is in the webpage on ‘Revision and Exam Solutions’ and is at the bottom of the webpage.
Last year’s students did not score as well on the 2018 paper as the 2017 students did on the 2017 paper.

The total number of students was about 7500, which is where it has been for the last few years. The percentage of female students was 22.5%, having been as low as 20% in 2013.  It was about 25% at the turn of the century and as high as 27% in the 1990’s.  The percentage of the age cohort doing Year 12 physics has been just over 11% for the last few years, with just over 17% for boys and just over 5% for girls.

3. Dark Sky Site: Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV)
The ASV has a Dark Sky site about 90 minutes drive from Melbourne at Heathcote. It is available for members at any time.  They are also holding a Dark Sky Night for members on the evening of Saturday, 28th April.  Click here for membership details.

4.    Events for Students and the General Public

a) Girls in Physics Breakfasts

This is our fourth year of running Girls in Physics Breakfasts. The aims of the program are:

  • to encourage girls in Years 10 to 12 to appreciate the diversity of careers that studying physics enables,
  • to appreciate the satisfaction that comes from a challenging career in science, and
  • to be aware of the success that women can achieve in the physical sciences.

There are six remaining Breakfasts to be held in May this year at Geelong, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Wodonga,  central Melbourne and now one at Clayton.

At each breakfast, students share a table with two or three women who are either have a career in physics or engineering, or are at university as undergraduates or postgraduates.  At the table, discussion ensures about what the women do, what they like about it as well as their training, future prospects, etc.  As a student at one of  early breakfasts told her teacher, ‘I was talking to a guest at my table and her career sounded so amazing.  Then I realised that in 8 years that could be me.  I got so excited.

There is also a guest speaker at each breakfast who presents a talk on her area of expertise.  After the talk there are activities on Careers in STEM and Q & A panel with three of the guests.

The dates, venues, speakers, topics and Trybooking links are:

  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you? Closing date: 10:00am Friday, 26th April Trybookings
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space. Closing date: 3:00pm, Weds, 1st May Trybookings
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy. Closing date: 10:00am, Fri, 10th May. Trybookings
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective. Closing date: 10:00am, Thurs, 16th May.  Trybookings
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer. Closing date:10:00am, Tues, 21st May. Trybookings
  • 28th August, Clayton Speaker: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely, ANSTO, Topic: Yet to be finalised.  Bookings are yet to open.

Cost: $15 per student with teachers free, a discounted fee is available to schools with a low ICSEA rank.
See the specific Trybookings link for details.

b) 8th May, Amusement Park Physics Day, 10am – 2pm, Gumbuya World
Ciderhouse is organising a physics day at Gumbuya World at Tynong North in Gippsland.
Cost: Students: $39 includes admission, rides and lunch
Teachers: $12 includes admission, tea and coffee and lunch
There are also professional development sessions on i) electronic data analysis by Doug Bail (90 min) and ii) e-learning by Pearson Publishing.
For more details and to book click here and then click “Gumbuya World bookings’
c) 30th May, First Nations, First Astronomers. 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Swinburne University
Join Gunnai and Yorta Yorta custodian Uncle Wayne Thorpe, Kamilaroi woman and astrophysics student Krystal De Napoli, and cultural astronomer Dr Duane Hamacher for an open panel discussion about the many layers of Indigenous astronomical knowledge and exciting happenings in the world of astronomy and space.
Venue: ATC 101 . See map.
To register, click here.
d) 21st June, Vivid Lives of Stars. 6:30pm, Swinburne University
PhD Student, Poojan Agrawal, will present a talk at AMDC301.  The abstract is not yet available.  Check here for details.

5.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) Physicists spot the signatures of nuclear fusion in a table-top device
Neutrons characteristic of nuclear fusion have been produced sustainably inside a device that is small enough to fit on a tabletop. Yue Zhang at the University of Washington and colleagues observed the neutrons following efforts to stabilize the accelerated plasma contained within a Z-pinch, a device that for decades has been used by astronomers to recreate the hot plasmas typical of a stellar interior. The new work offers a potential route towards compact fusion-energy generators, as an alternative to large-scale, tokamak-based devices.

b) Language learning in children is like a phase transition
New research suggests that the sudden ability of young children to understand and form complex sentences is comparable to a physical phase transition. Using principles from statistical mechanics, Eric DeGiuli at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris has explained the abrupt transition by comparing a child’s learning of language with the freezing of water

c) Seeing the unseeable: the impact and legacy of the first black-hole images
For the last two decades, we’ve been living through a “golden age” in astronomy. We’ve mappedfluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, spotted thousands of extrasolar planets and measured the accelerating expansion of the universe. And then, in 2016, gravitational waves were detected for the first time, opening an entire new window on the cosmos, including the sight of colliding black holes and neutron stars.

But those breakthroughs have been matched – and possibly even eclipsed – by the first-ever image of a black hole, which were released earlier this week.

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Girls in Physics Breakfasts & Competitions for students. VicPhys News 6/T1/19

Vicphysics runs several events for students.

The Girls in Physics Breakfasts are an opportunity for students to share a table with two or three women engaged in or preparing for a career in physics or engineering.  They have an extended discussion about what they do, what they like about it and what university is like.  There is a speaker as well as activities on careers in STEM followed by a Q & panel with some of the women present.
The Breakfasts are in May across the state, but bookings close early in Term 2, so check it out now.

The other popular events are:

  • Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigation which has produced some quality entries, and
  • Photo and Video Contests.

The In-Service for Beginning Physics Teachers on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School is very popular.  Bookings close Wednesday, 3rd April.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 9th May at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. Girls in Physics Breakfasts
  2. Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigations
  3. Physics Photo Contest
  4. Physics Video Contest
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a)  Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity passes a supermassive test
b) Harnessing heat from the shallow Earth
c) Evidence for Dark Matter could be trapped in ancient rocks

1. Girls in Physics Breakfasts
This is our fourth year of running Girls in Physics Breakfasts. The aims of the program are:

  • to encourage girls in Years 10 to 12 to appreciate the diversity of careers that studying physics enables,
  • to appreciate the satisfaction that comes from a challenging career in science, and
  • to be aware of the success that women can achieve in the physical sciences.

There are five remaining Breakfasts to be held in May this year at Geelong, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Wodonga and central Melbourne.

At each breakfast, students share a table with two or three women who are either have a career in physics or engineering, or are at university as undergraduates or postgraduates.  At the table, discussion ensures about what the women do, what they like about it as well as their training, future prospects, etc.  As a student at one of  early breakfasts told her teacher, ‘I was talking to a guest at my table and her career sounded so amazing.  Then I realised that in 8 years that could be me.  I got so excited.

There is also a guest speaker at each breakfast who presents a talk on her area of expertise.  After the talk there are activities on Careers in STEM and Q & A panel with three of the guests.

The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

Cost: $15 per student with teachers free, a discounted fee is available to schools with a low ICSEA rank.  See website for details.
For more details including flyers to promote each event to your students and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

2.  Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigation
Unit 2 of the VCE Physics Study Design includes an Area of Study titled ‘Practical Investigation’. Each student “develops a question to investigate, plans a course of action that attempts to answer the question, undertakes an investigation to collect data, organises and interprets the data, and reaches a conclusion in response to the question.” The student can present their findings as a poster.

To encourage students to undertake topics of some depth, to design effective experimental designs and then thoroughly analyse their data, the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network is offering up to 10 prizes for posters that exemplify quality investigations.

Lists of possible topics and templates for the design of the poster are available here.
Prizes: Each prize will be a book voucher for $100. There will be a maximum of 10 prizes.
Criteria: Each prize winner must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • an innovative topic
  • a comprehensive set of variables are identified
  • a detailed procedure
  • precise measurements across wide range of values
  • a thorough data analysis
  • an insight into the physical meaning of the results
  • an effective communication design to the poster

Entries must be submitted as a one page pdf.  They must be sent as an email attachment by the teacher to Vicphysics by the second Friday of Term 4, with the email providing:

  • student’s name
  • title of investigation
  • Teacher’s name
  • Teacher’s email address
  • School name

There is a maximum of two prizes per school.  For more details and examples of previous entries.

3.    Physics Photo Contest
The photos should involve everyday situations that may demonstrate a variety of physics concepts or a set up to show a particular physics concept or related set of concepts.
Prize pool: up to $1000
Entry: The photo must be submitted as an email attachment and accompanied by a statement of 250 words or less describing the physics in the photo and must be written by the entrant.
Entrants may submit more than one photo, however each entrant can receive only one prize.  More details about the Contest Rules and Entry Agreement can be found here.
Closing Date: Photos will be accepted until the first Friday of Term 4.

4.     Physics Video Contest 
The contest is open to students in Victorian schools.  Entrants must submit their video either as an email attachment or on a DVD. Videos must be in MP4 or Quicktime format, or a format suitable for video streaming. The video should relate to some aspect of the VCE Physics Curriculum.   Students could use the videos by Dr Derek Muller, as a guide to how to structure a video. His videos can be found at his website, Veritasium.
Prize pool: up to $1000
Advice and information about the contest rules and entry agreement can be found here .
Entry: The video may not be longer than three minutes in length.  Professional editing is not required.  Please note: Unsafe practices will not be accepted.
Closing Date:  The first Friday of Term 4.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public

a) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

b) 8th May, Amusement Park Physics Day, 10am – 2pm, Gumbuya World
Ciderhouse is organising a physics day at Gumbuya World at Tynong North in Gippsland.
Cost: Students: $39 includes admission, rides and lunch
Teachers: $12 includes admission, tea and coffee and lunch
There are also professional development sessions on i) electronic data analysis by Doug Bail (90 min) and ii) e-learning by Pearson Publishing.
For more details and to book click here and then click “Gumbuya World bookings’

6.     Events for Teachers
a) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School

Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, teaching strategies, assessment techniques, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has information about last year’s program.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a)  Einstein’s general theory of relativity passes a supermassive test
A key aspect of Einstein’s general theory of relativity (GR) has been tested using the strongest gravitational field so far.  The measurement was made by observing changes in optical absorption lines of a star orbiting close to Sagittarius A* – the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

b) Harnessing heat from the shallow Earth
When it comes to developing low-carbon technology solutions, one of the answers lies right beneath our feet. Ground-source heat pumps harness the heat from the shallow Earth – providing a source of renewable energy for heating (and sometimes cooling) buildings.  As with all renewable energy, however, the uptake of these systems is dependent on a range of economic and political factors, which can vary widely between nations.

c) Evidence for dark matter could be trapped in ancient rocks
Ancient rocks hidden deep underground could hold important clues about the nature of dark matter – according to physicists in Sweden and Poland. The idea is that dark-matter collisions should create nanoscale defects in the crystalline structure of rock – and this damage could be measured using modern microscopy techniques. Indeed, the team estimates that hundreds of thousands of defects could be present in just one cubic centimetre of rock.

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Vic students in International Physics Comp’n. Vicphys News 5/T1/19

Three students from John Monash Science School are in the five member Australian team that will be competing at the International Young Physicists’ Tournament in Poland later this year.  Read about how they won their spot.

There are five Girls in Physics Breakfasts across Victoria in May, there is sure to be one near you.

This newsletter has an impressive article by Paul Davies exploring the links between Quantum Physics and DNA in ‘What is Life?’  plus an opportunity to preview the new road safety excursion at the Melbourne Museum and another amusement park event is on offer, this time at Gumbuya Park in Gippsland and organised by Ciderhouse.   Also a school is seeking a physics teacher urgently.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 9th May at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. Victorian students to compete at International Physics Event
  2. Outreach Workshops at La Trobe University
  3. Road to Zero: Education Experience,  Museum Victoria, Launch 4:30pm, 26th March
  4. Physics position at Mornington Peninsula School
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) What is Life? Paul Davies in The Monthly
b) Modernising Classical Physics
c) Structural capacitors prepare for takeoff

1. Victorian students to compete at International Physics Event
Three students from John Monash Science School, along with a student from The Hutchins School in Tasmania and another from Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School will be the Australian team to compete in the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT) in Poland in July this year.
The students from JMSS were the winning team in the Australian Young Physicists’ Tournament held in Brisbane last December.
The purpose of IYPT is to develop scientific thinking, research skills, communication skills and teamwork.The teams conduct extended experimental investigations into a selection of common topics and then present their findings to other teams and also challenge the findings of other teams.
A set of 17 topics are released in August. A subset of 7 are selected for the Australian competition from which each team researched 3. In preparation for the international competition, the Australian team will experimentally research the other topics so that they have a total of 14 topics covered.

The IYPT topics make excellent topics for the Unit 2 and Unit 4 practical investigations.
Some topics from the current competition are:

  • Looping Pendulum. Connect two loads, one heavy and one light, with a string over a horizontal rod and lift up the heavy load by pulling down the light one. Release the light load and it will sweep around the rod, keeping the heavy load from falling to the ground. Investigate this phenomenon.
  • Funnel and ball. A light ball (e.g. ping-pong ball) can be picked up with a funnel by blowing air through the funnel. Explain the phenomenon and investigate the relevant parameters
  • Newton’s Cradle. The oscillations of a Newton’s cradle will gradually decay until the spheres come to rest. Investigate how the rate of decay of a Newton’s cradle depends on relevant parameters such as the number, material, and alignment of the spheres.
  • Icy Pole Chain Reaction.  Wooden icy pole sticks can be joined together by slightly bending each of them so that they interlock in a so-called “cobra weave” chain. When such a chain has one of its ends released, the sticks rapidly dislodge, and a wave front travels along the chain. Investigate the phenomenon.
  • Hurricane Balls. Two steel balls that are joined together can be spun at incredibly high frequency by first spinning them by hand and then blowing on them through a tube, e.g. a drinking straw. Explain and investigate this phenomenon.
  • Sci-Fi Sound. Tapping a helical spring can make a sound like a “laser shot” in a science-fiction movie. Investigate and explain this phenomenon.
  • Gyroscopic Teslameter. A spinning gyroscope made from a conducting, but nonferromagnetic material slows down when placed in a magnetic field. Investigate how the deceleration depends on relevant parameters.

For a list of topics from recent Tournaments, check the Unit 2 AoS page or the Unit 4 AoS pageunder Resources.

2. Outreach Workshops at La Trobe University
La Trobe University offers workshops at the Bendigo and Melbourne campuses on:

  • Unit 1: Radioactivity
  • Unit 3: Transmission of Electric Power
  • Unit 4: Photoelectric Effect.

The cost is $15 per student and each session runs for two hours. For more details, check their presentation at the Physics Teachers’ Conference for session C14 or their website.

3. Road to Zero: Education Experience, Melbourne Museum, 4:30pm, 26th March
Melbourne Museum have launched new curriculum-aligned programs for Year 9 and 10 Science and Health, and VCAL
They invite teachers to a preview event on Tuesday, 26th March, 4.30-6:00pm, where you can test this world class educational facility before you bring in your students.
This is a free event but BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL.
More information 
Road to Zero provides an engaging and immersive exploration of the scientific principles of road safety and public health campaign development using the latest technologies. The programs are specifically designed to address the Victorian Science and Health & PE curriculum for Year 9, 10 and VCAL.

The experience allows students to work out for themselves (in a safe environment) why bodies aren’t built to survive the impact of severe crashes and how we can create a safer future.
The preview event will include:

  • A guided tour of the recently opened Road to Zero Experience Space and opportunity to ‘test’ the high-tech activities.
  • See the modern Learning Studios where students can reflect on their learning and apply it to curriculum-linked activities.
  • Learn about pre- and post-visit lesson plans and worksheets that support Road to Zero excursions.
  • Opportunity to network and socialise with peers and learning specialists.

All participants will receive a complimentary IMAX Melbourne voucher to watch a film later in the evening.

4.  Physics position at a Mornington Peninsula School
Mount Eliza Secondary College is seeking a physics teacher for an immediate start.  It can be part time or full time with both a Year 11 and 12 class and some maths and general science.
If you are interested, please contact the Principal, Angela Pollard on 9787 6288.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public

a) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

b) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics. Fully Booked
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

c) 8th May, Amusement Park Physics Day, 10am – 2pm, Gumbuya World
Ciderhouse is organising a physics day at Gumbuya World at Tynong North in Gippsland.
Cost: Students: $39 includes admission, rides and lunch
Teachers: $12 includes admission, tea and coffee and lunch
There are also professional development sessions on i) electronic data analysis by Doug Bail (90 min) and ii) e-learning by Pearson Publishing.
For more details and to book click here and then click “Gumbuya World bookings’

6.     Events for Teachers
a) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School

Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has information about last year’s program.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) What is Life? by Paul Davies in The Monthly.
This is an extended article by physicist, Paul Davies, exploring the links between Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics,  Information theory and DNA. The article is in The Monthly which allows new readers access to one free article a month. The article begins by referring to Erwin Schrodinger’s famous book of the same title.

b) Modernising Classical Physics
Physics education has a high inertia towards change. While high-school students in today’s biology labs are doing genetic engineering and making bacteria glow green, while students in physics labs are still dropping lead weights and finding differences of squares almost the same way as Galileo did back in 1610. Even as undergraduates, physicists end up learning about topics that were last researched seriously about 100 years ago. The time is overdue for the physics curriculum to catch up with the times.

Open any textbook on modern physics and you will see chapters on the usual topics: special relativity, quantum mechanics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, solid-state physics, particle physics and astrophysics. Missing, however, are modern topics in dynamics that most physicists will use in their careers such as nonlinearity, chaos, network theory, econophysics, game theory, neural nets and curved geometry among many others.

c) Structural capacitors prepare for takeoff
Energy-storage devices that perform multiple functions, such as powering a vehicle and letting it withstand mechanical loads, offer several potential benefits, as Natasha Shirshova explains

Consider an electric car. Whether your image is of a Nissan Leaf, a Tesla Model S or a BMW i3, such vehicles essentially consist of two main parts. There is an electrical part (the battery and the motor) and a structural part (the body of the car). The battery’s only job is to store and distribute electrical energy. Its structural function, as far as it has one, depends solely on the properties of its casing and is generally limited to protecting the battery itself. The car body, meanwhile, provides structural integrity but stores no electrical energy. In some circumstances, however, it may be possible (and indeed desirable) to combine these two aspects into a single material – one that can perform both structural and energy-storage functions.

As their name suggests, such multifunctional structural materials simultaneously carry out two or more functions that would normally have to be addressed separately. For example, a structural role might combine with optical, electrical, magnetic or thermal properties. In some cases, entire complex devices can be built either within or from the primary structural material.

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Conf Proceedings, Exam Report – Vicphys News 3/T1/19

The 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference was held last Friday. Some of the presenters and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, have already provided their workshop material. Videos of the two addresses are also available.

Andrew mentioned at the conference that his report on the 2018 Physics Exam is now on the VCAA website. See the link and related information below.

If you can spare a few minutes to do an on-line evaluation of the workshops, etc that you attended, it will be really helpful in providing valuable feedback for the presenters.

Also, if you were at the conference and haven’t received this newsletter before, you have just been added to its mailing list.  So you will have missed the two earlier newsletters sent out this term.  They can be accessed here.

Chief Assessor’s Forum: Andrew could only focus on a small batch of exam questions at the conference.  You can hear the full analysis of how students performed on the whole exam paper at the Forum on Tuesday, 12th March, but you need to book.

And check the update on the Physics Days at Luna Park.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 7th March at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. Proceedings of the 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference
  2. On-line Conference Evaluation
  3. Chief Assessor’s Forum: Tuesday, 12th March, University High School and Live streamed
  4. Report on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) The Search for Silicon’s Successor
b) Solar Windows: Seeing through the glass, darkly
c) It’s all smoots and garns: Unusual physical units

1. Proceedings of the 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference
The conference webpage on our website now has files from:

  • the Chief Assessor’s presentation, with
  • An Excel file of the Letter grade cutoffs of all exams up to 2017.  2018 data will be out later this Term.
  • the rolling opening Powerpoint of events for teachers and students

as well as the following workshops:

  • A1 & B1 VCE Physics beyond the current mess, Neil Champion
  • A5 & C5 Shining light on Diffraction, Interference and Image Resolution, Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School
  • A8 Uncertain Uncertainties, Theo Hughes, Monash University
  • B3 & C3 Using Log-books and Rubrics in scaffolding inquiry, Dino Cevolatti & Stuart Bird, Castlemaine Secondary School
  • B7 Designing SACs and assessments that aren’t tests, Jane Coyle, St Columba’s College
  • B11 and C11 Constructing DC Motors from the kit and Ideas on EPI Projects used, Gracie Saxena and Joshua Le, Manor Lakes P12 College
  • C1 Literacy from a physics education perspective, Neil Champion
  • C6 Minkowski Diagrams, Theo Hughes, Monash University

Material from other workshops will be uploaded as they become available.

Videos* of the two addresses are now available:

  • Opening address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of telescopes by Dr Laura Wolz from University of Melbourne.  The first 21 mins is Vicphysics’ rolling powerpoint and introductions.
  • Chief Assessor’s address: Responding to short answer questions by Andrew Hansen, Ringwood Secondary College. The first 12 mins is Vicphysics’ rolling powerpoint and introduction.

* The videos are the slide presentations with accompanying audio.

2. On-Line Conference Evaluation
If you did not get the chance to drop evaluation slips in one of the boxes at the conference on Friday, you can still provide feedback on-line through this surveymonkey link.

Your comments are of value to conference organisers and presenters alike.

3. Tuesday, 12th March: Chief Assessor’s Forum on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam, 5:00pm, University High School
Vicphysics and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, would again like to provide teachers with the opportunity to hear about the full exam with an extended opportunity to ask questions and a chance to speak with Andrew.

The Chief Assessor’s Forum is a question by question coverage of the students’ responses to last year’s Physics exam.  The event will also be streamed live.
The forum will start at 5:00pm, with a meal break at 6:30pm, commencing again at 7:15pm.  Dinner will be provided.
Cost: $60 to attend the event, including the meal. $30 to view online.
Venue: The Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences at University High School in Story St, Parkville.
Booking: You will need to book through Trybooking, check our website for details.

4.  Report of the 2018 VCE Physics Exam
The VCAA website now has the report of last year’s exam.  For the section A multiple choice questions, the report supplies the percentage of students who chose each alternative as well as brief working.  For each of the section B questions, the report gives the percentage of students who were awarded 0 marks, 1 mark, etc. The comment section has brief working and any common errors.  There is no overall summative report.
The Vicphysics website has detailed solutions to assist students when using the paper as revision.  The solutions include a suggested marking scheme as well as additional revision questions that can be asked using the information in the stem of some of the exam questions.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Friday, 22nd February, Things that go bump in the night: fast radio bursts and the search for life beyond Earth, 6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Dr Daniel C Price, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Abstract: Thanks to new, more powerful technology, astronomers can search the skies faster and with more resolution than ever before.  In this public lecture, I will talk about two exciting fields in astronomy: the Search for Extraterrestrial  Intelligence (SETI), and Fast Radio Bursts. The SETI field has been reinvigorated by the 10-year, $100M Breakthrough Listen initiative to search for intelligent life beyond Earth. As a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, I will introduce the program and detail how we are using new technology to run the most comprehensive search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. I will also discuss a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts: incredibly bright but short-lived signals from distant galaxies, which escaped detection until recently. Could these signals be due to intelligent aliens, or is there an astrophysical explanation? I will give an overview of how a telescope upgrade will help us answer this question, and how Swinburne astronomers will play a leading role. Finally, I will discuss what evidence would convince us that there is indeed life beyond Earth, or that the Universe is ours alone to enjoy.
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here. Closes when maximum capacity reached.

b)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 5th March to Friday, 8th March, 2019

This year there will be an extra ride on offer: the Speedy Beetle located behind the Ferris Wheel.  It is a mini roller coaster that moves in a figure 8 with sharp rises and falls and a quick banked turn..
Bookings are now open .  Tuesday and Friday are filling fast, but there is plenty of room on Wednesday and Thursday.
There will be no aerobatic display this year, principally due to Roulette commitments with the Avalon Air Show.
Worksheets are available here.
Schools can also book a Pasco data logger for a half day by accessing the Ciderhouse website here.

Synchrotron Tours: The Australian Synchrotron is offering post excursion tours of the Synchrotron on each of the four days. The capacity of each tour is 25 and the times vary because of bookings earlier in the afternoon.
Tues, 5th March – 4:30pm (Full), Weds, 6th March – 5:30pm, Thurs, 7th March – 5:00pm, Fri, 8th March – 3:15pm.
To book, please email ANSTO.  Note: The Synchrotron is giving preference to regional schools.

c) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics.
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

d) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

6.     Events for Teachers
a) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School

Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has  information about last year’s program.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) The Search for Silicon’s Successor
Jon Major assesses how the materials used to make solar photovoltaic cells have evolved from first-generation silicon up through thin films, perovskites and (maybe) beyond.

b) Solar Windows: Seeing through the glass, darkly
Windows that transform solar energy into electricity without plunging the rooms behind them into semi-darkness might sound too good to be true, but new techniques could yet make solar windows a common element in future urban architecture.
Back in 2010 Oxford PV was a small start-up with a big dream: it wanted to pioneer the market in solar windows. The idea of integrating sources of renewable energy directly into the buildings they power promised to transform the electrical grid – perhaps even realizing the goal of making cities carbon neutral on a relatively short timescale – and the company’s founders seemed well placed to turn it into reality. One of them, physicist Henry Snaith, had developed a dye-sensitized solar photovoltaic (PV) cell in his laboratory at the UK’s University of Oxford that was thin enough to be semi-transparent, while maintaining relatively high efficiencies. Using this material to make electricity-generating windows seemed like a logical next step.

c) It’s all smoots and garns: Unusual physical units
SI units are a scientist’s best friend, but there are also some unusual scales of measurement available: The stories behind some of the world’s more weird and wonderful units

How much beauty does it take to launch a ship? How much does a male physicist’s beard grow in a second? And what is the optimal length of a lecture? These may not seem like typical phenomena you need to measure, but they’ve nonetheless inspired creative souls to forge new units of measurement.

They are just some of the weird scales that exist in the shadows of the formal SI units and their spin-offs. With the recent redefinition of our beloved kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole, now is the perfect moment to acknowledge those other units that escape the close scrutiny applied to scientific inquiry.

Internet Physics Resources. Vicphys News 2/T1/19

There are a few overseas physics education journals that feature links to websites with useful resources.  This newsletter includes a selection of those found in the last week.

Also coming up next week is the Physics Teachers’ Conference.  The Chief Assessor’s Forum is a month later in early March and the Beginning Teachers’ In-Service is in the school holidays.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 7th February at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. PhyPhox: Smart Phone Experiments
  2. Parallel Pedagogy: Learning the concepts simultaneously – Introductory mechanics
  3. Why a tennis ball goes flying when bounced on a basketball? Editable software of the impact
  4. Equipment Designs for Physics Demonstrations
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Newton: Egomaniac or Troubled genius? A review of ‘Isaac Newton: The Asshole who reinvented the Universe’
b) Fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes
c) The Physics of Knitting

1.  PhyPhox: Smart Phone Experiments
PhyPhox is an app produced by the Aachen University in Germany.  It can be downloaded for free.  The software makes use of the large range of sensors now in smart phones.  You can export your data in most common formats and also control any experiment remotely from a web browser.  There is also a ‘forum’ with numerous contributions.

2. Parallel Pedagogy: Learning the concepts simultaneously – Introductory mechanics
This curriculum resource adopts a teaching approach similar to the way we learn our first language. ‘We just start using it while increasing complexity through iteration. Most every sixth grader can distinguish energy, momentum, force, and motion. Parallel Pedagogy begins there; stresses concepts, problem solving and picture drawing; while adding maths only as it becomes necessary.’
The material is produced by Pete Schwartz, Professor of Physics at California Polytechnic State University.
The website has an introductory video in which Pete Schwartz explains his methodology and the use of the flipped classroom. There is also a link to an article from ‘The Physics Teacher’ about the program.  He also has an extensive list of short instructional videos.

3.  Why a tennis ball goes flying when bounced on a basketball? Software to investigate the impact
An article in Wired by Prof Rhett Allain of Southeastern Louisiana University explains the high rebound of the tennis ball, along with a video, but more usefully he includes the code for a computer simulation of the impact.  You are able to not only run the simulation, but also, adjust the ratio of the masses to investigate the effect.  He also extends the software analysis to a multiball collision (Check out ‘Astroblaster‘ the commercial toy).  There are a set of homework exercises at the end of the article.  Also check out Physics Girl Youtube video

4. Equipment Designs for Physics Demonstrations
This is a set of instructions to build equipment for over 50 physics demonstrations. They were prepared by John Johnston of The Faraday Centre in New Zealand.  The instructions require basic workshop tools.  The demos cover mechanics, waves, light and electromagnetism.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Monday, 11th February, Girls in Science Webinar, 10:20am – 11:30am AEDT
As part of a celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, with others will be hosting an interactive web-streamed panel session aimed at middle and senior school students in science.  The event will be hosted by the Royal Society of Victoria.
The event will feature a keynote address by Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, Co-Founder and CEO of Women in STEMM Australia. The panellists will be taking questions from the online audience.
For more details about the event and the panel members and to also book, click here.  There are still spots available for audience members.  Check the link for details.

b) Monday, 11th February, AIP Public Lecture: The Higgs Boson and the search for physics beyond the standard model, 5:30pm, University of Melbourne.
Speaker: Prof Elisabetta Barberio, University of Melbourne.  Elisabetta won the 2018 AIP Walter Boas Medal for fundamental contributions to the experiments and analysis that led to the discovery and characterisation of the Higgs boson at CERN, and the search for physics beyond the standard model.
Venue: Hercus Theatre. Map

c) Friday, 22nd February, Things that go bump in the night: fast radio bursts and the search for life beyond Earth, 6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Dr Daniel C Price, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Abstract: Thanks to new, more powerful technology, astronomers can search the skies faster and with more resolution than ever before.  In this public lecture, I will talk about two exciting fields in astronomy: the Search for Extraterrestrial  Intelligence (SETI), and Fast Radio Bursts. The SETI field has been reinvigorated by the 10-year, $100M Breakthrough Listen initiative to search for intelligent life beyond Earth. As a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, I will introduce the program and detail how we are using new technology to run the most comprehensive search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. I will also discuss a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts: incredibly bright but short-lived signals from distant galaxies, which escaped detection until recently. Could these signals be due to intelligent aliens, or is there an astrophysical explanation? I will give an overview of how a telescope upgrade will help us answer this question, and how Swinburne astronomers will play a leading role. Finally, I will discuss what evidence would convince us that there is indeed life beyond Earth, or that the Universe is ours alone to enjoy.
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here. Closes when maximum capacity reached.

d)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 5th March to Friday, 8th March, 2019

This year there will be an extra ride on offer: the Speedy Beetle located behind the Ferris Wheel.  It is a mini roller coaster that moves in a figure 8 with sharp rises and falls and a quick banked turn..
Bookings are now open .  Tuesday and Friday are filling fast, but there is plenty of room on Wednesday and Thursday.
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided until mid February.
Worksheets are available here.
Schools can also book a Pasco data logger for a half day by accessing the Ciderhouse website here.

e) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics.
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

f) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

6.     Events for Teachers
a)  2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac. Each session in the Saturday program can be booked independently of the conference booking by emailing Vicphysics indicating which ones you wish to attend.  There is no cost.

The cost: $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b) Tuesday, 12th March: Chief Assessor’s Forum on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam, 5:00pm, University High School
Vicphysics and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, would again like to provide teachers with the opportunity to hear about the full exam with an extended opportunity to ask questions and a chance to speak with Andrew.

The Chief Assessor’s Forum a question by question coverage of the students’ responses to last year’s Physics exam.  The event will also be streamed live.
The forum will start at 5:00pm, with a meal break at 6:30pm, commencing again at 7:15pm.  Dinner will be provided.
Cost: $60 to attend the event, including the meal. $30 to view online.
Booking: You will need to book through Trybooking, check our website for details.

c) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School
Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has  information about last year’s program.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a)  Newton: Egomaniac or troubled genius? A review of ‘Isaac Newton: The Asshole who reinvented the Universe’ 
Andrew Robinson reviews the book by Florian Freistetter.  Albert Einstein’s final interview, two weeks before his death in 1955, was preoccupied with Isaac Newton, whose physics Einstein revered, next only to that of James Clerk Maxwell. But when the interviewer, an American academic historian of science, touched on Newton’s personality, and particularly Newton’s notorious refusal to publish any acknowledgement of the ideas of Robert Hooke in the preface to hisPrincipia Mathematica (1687), Einstein responded: “That, alas, is vanity. You find it in so many scientists. You know, it has always hurt me to think that Galileo did not acknowledge the work of Kepler.” Later in the interview, Einstein added with a booming laugh that a man might often say that he had no vanity, but this too was a kind of vanity because he took such special pride in the fact. “It is like childishness,” said Einstein. “Many of us are childish; some of us more childish than others. But if a man knows he is childish, then that knowledge can be a mitigating factor.”
b) Fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes
This is a Perimeter Institute (PI) has put together 14 fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes.  At the end of the article, there is a videolink to a 57 min PI lecture on the Secret Life of Snow’
c) The Physics of Knitting 
What do earthquakes, robotics and jumpers have in common? Samuel Poincloux explains why the answer lies with knitting – and how stretching a knitted material is rooted in mechanics

If you’ve ever done a PhD in physics, you’ll know you usually begin by ploughing through lots of background reading, learning how to use your lab’s equipment and maybe even carrying out some provisional experiments. My PhD was a bit different. I started off watching YouTube videos to improve my needlework.

The project I had accepted at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris was about the mechanics of knitted fabrics. The research was to have two sides: a theoretical one to determine what equations described the system; and an experimental one to mechanically test actual knits to guide and verify the theory. The trouble was, I barely knew what a knit was when I accepted the project.

I quickly learnt that there are differences – both structural and mechanical – between a knit (such as a jumper, scarf or hat) and a weave (such as a table cloth, shirt or pair of jeans). In fact, those differences are easy to demonstrate. If you pull on your jeans, you should notice that the weave hardly deforms. Pull on a knitted jumper, in contrast, and it can be effortlessly elongated by up to two times its length. The stretchiness of a knit is also obvious if you wrap it around something: by locally stretching, a knit can fit complex shapes; a woven fabric, however, has to fold to conform to it.

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Events for Teachers and Students – Vicphys News 1/T1/19

Welcome back for 2019.  This first newsletter of the year features several events for teachers and students.
For teachers, there is i) the Physics Teachers Conference, ii) the Chief Assessor’s Forum at Uni HS and iii) the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service as well as online PD.

For students, there is i) the Luna Park Physics Days, ii) Girls in Physics Breakfasts across Victoria as well as talks and a webinar.

Also check out the Youtube video of the combustion-free, propellor-free plane that uses electroaerodynamics.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 7th February at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Tecahers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. Vicphysics Website: New Resources
  2. Online Professional Development
  3. Lagrange’s Halo or How China landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon and receives images of the lunar surface.
  4. Latest Job Ads
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Combustion-free, propeller-free aeroplane takes flight. The ion age of flight
b) Different methods produce different values for the Hubble Constant
c) Climate impacts will seldom strike singly
d) A brief history of timekeeping

1.  Vicphysics Website
Over the holidays, about 50 new weblinks have been added to the resources pages for the various Areas of Study.
Also the webpages for the Units 1 and 3 Areas of Study have been redesigned to have the same format as those for Units 2 and 4 which were revised last year.  The new format makes it easier for you to locate resources for a particular need on an Area of Study.
Now each AoS webpage has a table at the top similar to the one below for Unit 1 Thermal Physics.
  Topic                                           Context     Activities      Assessment      Useful Weblinks
Temperature and Energy               Yes (2,0)    Yes (5,0)          None                None
Heat Transfer                                Yes (2,0)    Yes (4,0)          Yes (1,0)           None
Heat Capacity and Latent Heat     Yes (2,0)    Yes (4,0)          Yes (1,0)           None
EM Radiation                                None          Yes (3,0)          None                None
Greenhouse Effect                         Yes (17,2)  Yes (1,1)        None                Yes (0,5)
‘Yes’ is an active link to resources further down the page. The first number in the brackets is the number of downloadable files, and the second number is the number of weblinks.  ‘None’ means there is no material.  Teachers are invited to submit material for the empty cells here.

2. On Line Professional Development
The National STEM Centre in the UK provides free online courses for teachers. Courses that are about to start include:

  • The Science of Learning – Discover the scientific research about learning and apply it in your classroom to help you teach STEM subjects. Course begins 25th February.  The course runs for 5 weeks and requires 3 hours per week.  You receive access to the course for 7 weeks, including articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes.  For $134 you can also get unlimited access and a certificate on completion.
  • Linking STEM Curriculum Learning to Careers – Discover how to adapt your curriculum to link to careers in science, engineering, computing and mathematics. Course begins 4th March. The course runs for 4 weeks and requires 3 hours per week.  You receive access to the course for 6 weeks, including articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes.  For $99 you can also get unlimited access and a certificate on completion.
  • The Discovery of the Higgs Boson. Course begins 4th February for 7 weeks at 5 hours per week.  Upgrade: $99
  • Teaching Practical Science: Physics. Course begins 22nd April for 3 weeks at 3 hours per week.  Upgrade: $99

3.  Lagrange’s Halo or how China landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon and receives images of the lunar surface. 
The technique to communicate with a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon involves some clever gravitational physics that Year 12 students might be able to follow.

  • Around any two large bodies in orbit, there are points in space where a smaller object can maintain its position relative to the other bodies.  These are called Lagrange points and there are five of them. L2 is the one of interest, it is on the other side of the Moon.
  • At L2, an object will experience the gravitational attraction of the Earth.  If this was the only force on the object the period of its orbit would be longer than that of the Moon (by Kepler’s 3rd Law).
  • But the additional inward gravitational force by the Moon means that the object can move faster than would otherwise be the case.
  • The position of L2 is such that the combined gravitational attractions of the Earth and the Moon give the object a period equal to the Moon’s period, that is, the object will stay in that position, L2, and orbit the Earth always being on the other side of the Moon. If L2 is a distance, r, from the centre of the Moon, an equation for r involving the masses of the Earth and the Moon and the radius of the Moon’s orbit can be obtained, but it ends up being a quintic equation!
  • However L2 would be useless as the location for a communication satellite. In 1968 in a PhD thesis, Robert Farquhar showed that an object can orbit L2, even though this is no mass at L2.  This orbit is called a Halo orbit and it is where the Chinese communication satellite is placed.

4. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, they will be placed here on our website.  The list of government schools seeking physics teachers has also been updated with 2 schools seeking physics teachers.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Monday, 11th February, Girls in Science Webinar, 10:20am – 11:30am AEDT
As part of a celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, with others will be hosting an interactive web-streamed panel session aimed at middle and senior school students in science.  The event will be hosted by the Royal Society of Victoria.
The event will feature a keynote address by Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, Co-Founder and CEO of Women in STEMM Australia. The panellists will be taking questions from the online audience.
For more details about the event and the panel members and to also book, click here.

b) Friday, 22nd February, Things that go bump in the night: fast radio bursts and the search for life beyond Earth, 6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Dr Daniel C Price, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Abstract: Thanks to new, more powerful technology, astronomers can search the skies faster and with more resolution than ever before.  In this public lecture, I will talk about two exciting fields in astronomy: the Search for Extraterrestrial  Intelligence (SETI), and Fast Radio Bursts. The SETI field has been reinvigorated by the 10-year, $100M Breakthrough Listen initiative to search for intelligent life beyond Earth. As a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, I will introduce the program and detail how we are using new technology to run the most comprehensive search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. I will also discuss a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts: incredibly bright but short-lived signals from distant galaxies, which escaped detection until recently. Could these signals be due to intelligent aliens, or is there an astrophysical explanation? I will give an overview of how a telescope upgrade will help us answer this question, and how Swinburne astronomers will play a leading role. Finally, I will discuss what evidence would convince us that there is indeed life beyond Earth, or that the Universe is ours alone to enjoy.
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here. Closes when maximum capacity reached.

c)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 5th March to Friday, 8th March, 2019

This year there will be two extra rides on offer one of which is the Speedy Beetle located behind the Ferris Wheel.  It is a mini roller coaster that moves in a figure 8 with sharp rises and falls and a quick banked turn.  The other is the Road Runner located next to the Spider.  Up to 9 people sit in a car as it twists, turns and sways while moving backwards and forwards through a curved dip. Both rides will be useful for data logging and also simple calculation of g forces from using a stop watch and estimating distances.
Bookings are now open .
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided until mid February.
Worksheets are available here.
Schools can also book a Pasco data logger for a half day by accessing the Ciderhouse website here.

d) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics.
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

e) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

6.     Events for Teachers
a)  2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac. Each session in the Saturday program can be booked independently of the conference booking by emailing Vicphysics indicating which ones you wish to attend.  There is no cost.

The cost: $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b) Tuesday, 12th March: Chief Assessor’s Forum on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam, 5:00pm, University High School
Vicphysics and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, would again like to provide teachers with the opportunity to hear about the full exam with an extended opportunity to ask questions and a chance to speak with Andrew.

The Chief Assessor’s Forum a question by question coverage of the students’ responses to last year’s Physics exam.  The event will also be streamed live.
The forum will start at 5:00pm, with a meal break at 6:30pm, commencing again at 7:15pm.  Dinner will be provided.
Cost: $60 to attend the event, including the meal. $30 to view online.
Booking: You will need to book through Trybooking, check our website for details.

c) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School
Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has  information about last year’s program.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) Combustion-free, propeller-free aeroplane takes flight: The ion age of flight
The ionic wind that powers the plane is generated by electroaerodynamics. An electric field ionizes atoms and molecules in the ambient fluid – such as nitrogen molecules in air – and then accelerates them by Coulomb force. The accelerated ions then couple their momentum with other neutral atoms or molecules they collide with, and this gives rise to the ionic wind.
Check out the Youtube video.
b) Different methods produce different values for the Hubble Constant
A new value for the Hubble constant – the expansion rate of the universe — has been calculated by an international group of astrophysicists. The team used primordial distance scales to study more than 200 supernovae observed by telescopes in Chile and Australia. The new result agrees well with previous values of the constant obtained using a specific model of cosmic expansion, while disagreeing with more direct observations from the nearby universe – so exacerbating a long-running disagreement between cosmologists and astronomers.
c) Climate impacts will seldom strike singly
By 2100, climate impacts will be felt by everyone and most people will experience at least three simultaneous hazards, inexorably made more hazardous by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

And they could be the lucky ones: some people could be menaced by six different kinds of warming-related hazard simultaneously.
d) A brief history of time keeping
From sticks in the ground to caesium atomic clocks, humans have been keeping track of time with increasing accuracy for millennia. Helen Margolis looks at how we reached our current definition of the second, and where clock technology is going next.

 

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Holiday reading, Conf registration, New Resources. Vicphys News 7/T4/18

This final newsletter for the year has some suggestions for holiday reading and some new resources.
Physics Conference registration is now open.  Register early to get your session preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the form.
There is also a talk this Thursday on the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics at Swinburne University and finally VCAA has extended the accreditation period for Units 1 and 2 to the end of 2021.  All four units will now expire at the end of 2021.

The Vicphysics Executive Team wishes you a relaxing Christmas break.

Frances Sidari (Pres), Bronwyn Quint (Vice-Pres), Barbara McKinnon (Sec), Terry Tan (Treas) and Dan O’Keeffe (Coord)

Table of Contents

  1. Holiday Reading
  2. Physics: Interactive Physics Simulations
  3. Latest Job Ads
  4. Events for Students and the General Public
  5. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Try the Physics World Dark Matter Flow Chart:  What kind do you prefer?
b) Beyond the Lithium-Ion Battery
c) A wave of discovery: Gravitational Waves

1.  Holiday Reading
One physics writer that has made a big splash in recent years is Carlo Rovelli.  His first book ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’ was an international best seller and translated into 41 languages.  His latest book ‘Reality is not what it seems – The journey to Quantum Gravity’ . His writing has a persuasive clarity, an engaging read. 

2.  oPhysics: Interactive Physics Simulations
This is a comprehensive set of simulations written by a recently retired US physics teacher, Tom Walsh. The simple and elegant illustrations on various physics principles have been written in GeoGebra.  There are no worksheets nor are there any experimental simulations but the animations require user input.  There is limited text, but they are instructive. The EMI and standing wave model for energy levels are impressive.

Nine topics are covered: Kinematics (vectors, graphs projectile motion, relatve velocity) – 14 animations, Forces (friction,conical pendulum, Kepler’s 2nd law) – 5, Conservation (collisions and springs) – 6, Waves (SHM, superposition, standing waves) – 15, Light (colour, mirrors, lenses, rainbows, the eye, interference) – 20, E & M (Coulomb, fields, DC motor, EMI) – 12, Rotation – 10, Fluids – 2, Modern (energy levels) – 1.
This resource has been suggested by Alan Sutton.

3.  IOP’s ‘Physics Education’ Free downloads of selected articles.
The IOP’s Physics Education journal provides free access to several popular articles that are available until 31st December 2018, after which a new set is released.  Currently the list includes:

  • Let’s have a coffee with the Standard Model of Particle Physics!
  • The warm rich sound of valve guitar amplifiers
  • A simple wind tunnel to analyse Bernoulli’s Principle using a mobile phone
  • How to delude your senses
  • What is an image?
  • A ‘sparkling’ low cost revisitation of the historical Hertz’ experiment
  • Nine optical black box experiments for lower secondary students
  • Learning about students’ understanding of particle physics using concept mapping
  • Finding the average speed of a light emitting toy car with a smart phone light sensor

Also check out the ‘What happens next?’ The Archive which is a collection of short, entertaining, brain-teasing demonstrations using the Predict-Observe-Explain model.

4. Latest Job Ads

As schools lodge information about a vacancy, they will be placed here on our website.  The list of government schools seeking physics teachers has also been updated with 11 schools seeking physics teachers.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a)  3D Astro Tours, School holidays, Swinburne University
Experience the Universe in 3D during the summer 2019 school holidays. The 50-minute session includes a journey starting in the solar system and then on to explore the Universe. AstroTours feature the 3D movies, created by the award-winning Swinburne Astronomy Productions team, and all sessions are presented by the Centre’s astronomers or post graduate researchers.
Dates and Times: Tues, 15th Jan at 10am, Thurs, 17th Jan at 2pm, Fri, 18th Jan at 2pm, Tues, 22nd Jan at 10am, Thurs, 24th Jan at 2pm
Venue: AR104 Hawthorn Campus, Swinburne University
Bookings are essential and can be made via email to ethackray@swin.edu.au
Cost: $10 per person which can be paid at the door by cash or cheque. If you would like to pay by credit card please ask for a form which you can pre-complete and bring with you on the day, with your card. Please aim to arrive at least 10 – 15 minutes before the advertised start time.
Astrotours are suitable for children aged 6 years and above. Unfortunately, they are not able to admit children younger than this, with one exception: 5 year-olds are able to attend if they are accompanying another child aged 6 years or above. Swinburne University apologises for any inconvenience this may cause. For safety reasons, no prams/strollers, etc. are allowed in the theatre.

b)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 6th March to Friday, 9th March, 2019

Next year there will be two extra rides on offer one of which is the Road Runner located next to the Spider.  Up to 9 people sit in a car as it twists, turns and sways while moving backwards and forwards through a curved dip. It will be useful for data logging and also simple calculation of g forces from using a stop watch and estimating distances.  The other ride will be a new ride, which is yet to be announced.

Bookings are now open for next year’s Physics Days at Luna Park.  You can make a booking for a particular day at this year and change your day once your timetable for 2019 is known. But please remember to notify Luna Park on any change of date at least a fortnight before the event.
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided before February next year.

6.     Events for Teachers
a) Thursday, 13th December, 6:30pm, AIP 2018 Nobel Prize Talk, Swinburne University.

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 11.07.14 pm
The many uses of optical forces – Art Ashkin’s legacy presented by Prof Kris Helmerson, Monash University
Abstract: Arthur Ashkin was awarded the 2018 Nobel prize in Physics for his invention of optical tweezers and it’s application to biology. Ashkin’s research on optical tweezers, which evolve from his fundamental studies of optical forces, the force arising from the momentum of light, has had a far greater impact. This lecture will describe the use of optical forces to manipulate and study systems ranging from atoms in Bose-Einstein condensates – the coldest matter in the universe – to cells, viruses and biomolecules.

Speaker: My research interests are in the physics and application of ultracold atomic gases and the application of optical techniques to address problems in biophysics and biotechnology. A common thread in my research is the use of lasers and, in particular, the optical forces that can be generated by light. Current studies with ultracold atomic gases include superfluidity in the presence of disorder and/or reduced dimensionality, quantum turbulence, and the physics of two-dimensional electron gases simulated by atoms in an optical lattice. Current experiments in biophysics include the development of techniques for isolating and studying single biomolecules, the behaviour of biomolecules in confined geometries and directed self-assembly of nanoscale objects from biomembranes.
Venue: Room EN103, Engineering (EN) Building, Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus
To book

b) 2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac.

The cost $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b)  9th – 13th December, AIP Congress: Teaching Nexus – Evolving Physics Education in our Schools, Perth

This year the AIP Congress includes a two day program for teachers on Tuesday and Wednesday.  There are two keynote talks on ‘Science as a Human Endeavour: What does this mean and how can we use it to connect students to the physics’ and ‘How to strengthen physics by making it inclusive’ plus three workshops. The registration fee for the two days is $290. For registration details clickhere. For more details about the program for teachers click here.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) Try the Physics World Dark Matter Flow Chart: What kind do you prefer?
Dark matter is the name given to the mysterious stuff that makes up some 27% of the universe. This flowchart, composed by former Physics World feature editor Louise Mayor, guides you through the many options for what it could be. It’s just for fun, but the flowchart will help guide you through the maze of possible options for this stuff, be it familiar stuff like massive compact halo objects (MaCHOs) or non-baryonic matter like neutrinos, WIMPS, gravitions, sterile neutrinos or maybe even axions or something to do with supersymmetry. Or perhaps you’d just rather modify our theories of gravity instead. (You can Click to enlarge the image or open in a new tab and zoom in for the full detail.)

b) Beyond the Lithium-Ion Battery
The batteries we depend on for our mobile phones and computers are based on a technology that is more than a quarter-century old. Rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries were first introduced in 1991, and their appearance heralded a revolution in consumer electronics. From then on, we could pack enough energy in a small volume to start engineering a whole panoply of portable electronic devices – devices that have given us much more flexibility and comfort in our lives and jobs.

In recent years, Li-ion batteries have also become a staple solution in efforts to solve the interlinked conundrums of climate change and renewable energy. Increasingly, they are being used to power electric vehicles and as the principal components of home-based devices that store energy generated from renewable sources, helping to balance an increasingly diverse and smart electrical grid. The technology has improved too: over the past two and a half decades, battery experts have succeeded in making Li-ion batteries 5–10% more efficient each year, just by further optimizing the existing architecture.

c) A wave of Discovery: Gravtational Waves
James Hough outlines the last 30 years of gravitational-wave astronomy, from building prototype detectors to making a revolutionary discovery.

“Gravitational waves, yet to be convincingly detected, promise to open a new astronomical window.” Those are the words I wrote for Physics World in early 1989. Today, with six detections of gravitational waves confirmed over the past three years, I am delighted to see how many of the predictions I made in that article have come to fruition.

Almost exactly a century after they were predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, the first detection of gravitational waves – produced via the collision and subsequent merger of two black holes – was made by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory(LIGO) detectors in the US, on 14 September 2015. Since then, four more black hole coalescences have been reported. Although the initial observation took all of us completely by surprise, it was a much-awaited discovery. These observations provide the first direct proof that black holes exist; that they can be in binary orbits; and that there is a family of black holes of tens of solar masses, which were not thought to exist.