MAR
12

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies 2020

Four Societies logo Challenges for the Future: Energy Storage and Waste Plastic — Two Australian Solutions Going Global’

Professor Thomas Maschmeyer FAA FTSE FMAE FRSN
School of Chemistry, University of Sydney

A joint meeting of the Australian Institute of Energy, the Australian Nuclear Association, the Sydney Division of Engineers Australia, and the Royal Society of NSW.

Date: Thursday, 12 March 2020, 6.00 for 6.30pm
Venue: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney

In any discussion of a sustainable future, two issues loom large. First, how do we store the energy from Australia's abundant renewable resources? Second, how do we deal with the growing mountain of plastic waste?

As it happens, two technological breakthroughs addressing these issues have been developed in Australia by companies co-founded by our speaker, Prof. Thomas Maschmeyer, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sydney:

  •  a zinc-bromide battery, Gelion’s Endure, and
  •  Licella’s Cat-HTR Technology, a chemical recycling process, which turns plastic waste into fuels, waxes, and new plastics that can be recycled again and again.

Prof. Maschmeyer will discuss these within their respective contexts of a changing energy landscape and the circular economy. He will briefly review the status quo in each field and current projections of where the fields as a whole are headed, paying particular attention to the Australian perspective. Within ten years, 8% of the world’s expected battery storage will be located here. With huge resources of energy and space, so close to Asia, Australia has a great opportunity to process plastic wastes, uplift their value and send the intermediate products for further refining into new plastics, chemicals, and fuels offshore.

Thomas Maschmeyer Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is Founding Chairman of Gelion Technologies (2015), co-Founder of Licella Holdings (2007), and inventor of its Cat-HTRTM technology. He is also the Principal Technology Consultant for Cat-HTRTM licensees, Mura Technologies and RenewELP. In 2001, he was one of the founding professors of Avantium, a Dutch High-tech company. Currently, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sydney, he served as Founding Director of the $150million Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology. In 2011 he was elected the youngest Foreign Member of the Academia Europea. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences.

Professor Maschmeyer has authored 325+ publications, cited 10,000+ times, including 26 patents. He serves on the editorial/advisory boards of ten international journals and has received many awards, including the Le Févre Prize of the Australian Academy of Science (2007), the RACI Applied Research Award (2011), the RACI Weickhardt Medal for Economic Contributions (2012), the RACI RK Murphy Medal for Industrial Chemistry (2018), the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science (2018) — Australia’s Principal Science Prize — and, most recently, the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies’ Contribution to Economic Development Award (2019).

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DEC
04

1279th OGM, Jak Kelly Award Lecture and Christmas Party

Gayathri Bharanthan All-integrated mid-infrared laser sources

Gayathri Bharathan — Jak Kelly Award Winner (2019)
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Macquarie University

Date: Wednesday, 4 December 2019, 6.00pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

The infrared (IR) part of the electromagnetic spectrum is sub-divided into the near (0.8 – 2 μm), mid (2 - 15 μm) and far (15 - 1000 μm) infrared region. Amongst those three, the mid-IR is of particular relevance as it corresponds to photon energies that overlap with the strong vibrational molecular resonances of most common constituents of atmospheric gases and with the liquid water. Potential applications include but are not limited to environmental monitoring, trace molecular detection (e.g. for airport security screening) as well as non-invasive breath analysis where the presence of certain molecules in the human breath can be used as an indicator of a specific disease.

Due to their numerous advantages, fibre lasers represent the ideal light sources for most applications and have therefore become the most widespread used type of lasers in the near-IR. In contrast, mid-IR fibre laser technology is still in its infancy, mainly due the nonexistence of fibre coupled optical components required to form an all-fibre cavity, which severely limits their applicability. The possibility to utilize femtosecond lasers to directly inscribe high-quality and robust integrated components such as fibre Bragg gratings as well as in-fibre polarizers opens a new avenue for the development of future mid-IR all-fibre laser systems. The aim of my research work is therefore to investigate the fabrication of integrated components in mid-IR compatible glasses for the development of high beam quality all-fibre mid-IR lasers.

Gayathri Bharathan completed her Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala, India. This was followed by post-graduate studies in VLSI Design from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT Madras). Later, she worked as a lecturer in the Federal Institute of Science and Technology for two years. She then returned to her studies in 2017, relocating to Sydney to pursue a Masters by Research in Photonics at Macquarie University. Her interest in the field of developing lasers for surgical applications led her to continue her studies and she commenced a PhD in March 2018 under the supervision of Dr Alex Fuerbach and Dr Stuart Jackson. At the completion of her PhD, she hopes that she can continue to contribute to the development of new mid-infrared laser sources for practical applications in medicine.

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NOV
06

1278th OGM and Open Lecture

Herbert Huppert
   The Beginning of Weather Forecasting:
   Matthew Maury, Robert FitzRoy FRS, and
   L. F. Richardson FRS
  
   Professor Herbert Huppert FRS FRSN
   University of Cambridge

Joint RSNSW OGM and Open Lecture & Australian Academy of Science’s Selby Public Lecture 2019

Date: Wednesday 6 November 2019, 6pm for 6.30pm
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (enter by Shakespeare Place)

We, with our ancestors, have often lived with unpredicted changes in the weather, even quite dramatic changes. For social and financial reasons it would be extremely beneficial to have accurate weather forecasts — over both land and sea. Quantitative forecasts, not just that it will be relatively hot in summer and cold in winter, were not introduced until the mid 1800’s. How this came about, the individuals whose imagination and hard work made it possible and a short description of the (difficult) physical principles governing the often turbulent motions on many different spatial scales of the atmosphere will be summarized.

Professor Herbert Huppert FRS is Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Geophysics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. His theoretical and laboratory based work has improved our understanding of the behaviour of fluids in and on the Earth’s surface, and his work on convective systems has been crucial for an improved comprehension of our planet’s response to a changing climate. Often in demand as a scientific authority, Herbert served as Chair of a Royal Society working group on bioterrorism, which prepared a report for the British Government, a European Academies working group on Carbon Capture and Storage, which prepared a report for the European Parliament and has acted as an adviser to numerous other government bodies. He has received many awards for his work, including the Bakerian Lectureship of the Royal Society, a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship and The Australian Academy’s Selby Public Lectureship 2019.

 

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OCT
02

1277th OGM and Open Lecture

peter godfrey smith   Bodies and Minds in Animal Evolution

  Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith
  The University of Sydney


Date: Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW (Entrance: Shakespeare Place, Sydney)

Charting the evolution of different kinds of animal bodies helps us understand the evolution of the mind – both the varieties of minds that might exist, and how minds could arise at all through natural processes. Cephalopods, including octopuses, are an especially interesting case in bodily and behavioral evolution. Peter described octopus behaviors at field sites in NSW and how, In other ways, too, Australia has a special place in the deep history of animal life.

Peter Godfrey-Smith grew up in Sydney, and his undergraduate degree is from the University of Sydney. He studied for a PhD in philosophy at UC San Diego, and then taught at Stanford University, the Australian National University, Harvard University, and the CUNY Graduate Center before taking up his present post as Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. He is the author of five books, including Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection (Oxford, 2009), which won the 2010 Lakatos Award, and Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

 

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SEP
04

1276th OGM & open lecture

HP 
  “Physicians as public intellectuals: Indonesian
  physicians in the Dutch East Indies”

  Professor Hans Pols FRSN
  Head, School of History
  and Philosophy of Science
  University of Sydney


Date: Wednesday 4 September 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

Through their studies, their medical practice, and their participation in the Association of Indonesian Physicians, Indonesian physicians in the Dutch East Indies developed and articulated a strong professional identity. The promises of modern medicine were important elements of this professional identity and motivated these physicians to develop critical perspectives on colonial society. They participated in social and cultural movements, and became members of city councils and the colonial parliament, wrote in newspapers frequently, and published magazines. In this paper, he discusses the social and political engagement of several generations of Indonesian physicians. At various times, they criticised traditional culture, advocated public health measures and increases in funding for health, criticised income disparities between Indonesian and European physicians, criticised traditional culture or embraced it as a model for an alternate modernity for Indonesia. During the process of decolonisation, they transformed colonial medicine into a modern approach to maintain health, inspired by examples and connections all over the world.

This presentation is based on Hans Pols book Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Hans Pols FRNS is Professor and Head of School of the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on the history of medicine in the Dutch East Indies.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) talk 

Imagine, there is something wrong with your skin – it has no hairs, no pores, no blood vessels, you cannot even sweat to bring your temperature down. That’s what happened on the scar tissues on burn patients. Burns are global health issues and life changing events. The main goal of my PhD project is to construct artificial skin substitutes to address the issue of skin substitute shortage, as well as exploring how to minimize scar formation, eventually improving the quality of life.

This month's presentation is by Miss Lingzhi Kang, a final year PhD students at the University of Wollongong. She is working on "Biofabricated platforms for wound healing and skin regeneration" supervised by Distinguished Professor Gordon Wallace. Lingzhi is the 2019 People's Choice Winner of Three Minute Thesis at the University of Wollongong. She obtained her master degree at Shandong University doing research on vascular regeneration & tissue engineering and bachelor degree of Biomedical Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China.

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AUG
15

National Science Week 2019: talk 4

Complex Systems - Computer Modelling of Epidemics  “Computer modelling of epidemics”

  Professor Mikhail Prokopenko

Thursday 15 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

Complex systems – including such things as power and data grids, communication and transport systems, social networks, ecosystems and the spread of disease – evolve and ‘self-organise’ over time, resulting in both benefits and challenges.

Influenza pandemics, for example, emerge at unpredictable intervals. Several major infections have occurred during the last 100 years, including the 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish Flu”) that infected an estimated 500 million people — one-third of the world’s population! — and caused an estimated 50 million deaths. An influenza pandemic today, of the magnitude of the 1918 Spanish Flu, would cause 33 million deaths globally within six months.

Professor Prokopenko reveals how the development of very realistic computer models of our world helps us better understand and better deal with complex problems like flu epidemics. Recent research has indicated that the more urbanised society is, the more vulnerable it is to the spread of disease due to increased population in major cities and international air traffic. This, in turn, helps us identify the best ways to intervene and curtail pandemics through the management of our cities.

 Mikhail ProkopenkoProfessor Mikhail Prokopenko has a strong international reputation in complex self-organising systems, with more than 180 publications, patents and edited books. Since 2014, he has been the Director of the Complex Systems Research Group (Faculty of Engineering and IT) at the University of Sydney. He also leads the post-graduate program on Complex Systems, including Master of Complex Systems.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

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AUG
15

National Science Week 2019: talk 3

Art Punters Freak Me Out Josh Harle  “Machine aesthetics of the human
  body”

  Dr Josh Harle

Thursday 15 August 2019, 12.30pm to 1.30
Venue: Mitchell Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney
Cost: free
Click here for more information

It’s natural for us to see through a human lens. When we look out into the world we see it populated by the familiar: animals and devices imbued with human emotion and agency.

With the rapid development and adoption of artificial intelligence and autonomous robotics, their humanoid faces may give us comfort, but beneath the facade they look back with a machine perspective. While we anthropomorphise them, they are ‘mechanomorphising’ us – seeing us as machines.

From surgical robot models, crash test dummies, sex robots, to automated battlefield drones and guns and the ethics algorithms of self-driving cars, machines uniquely perceive us according to their own internal ‘aesthetics’. These functional abstractions are the result of military strategy, politics, and business logic, along with the baked-in, implicit worldview of their creators. Many of these are also deeply and disconcertingly alien to our idea of human.

Art can help critique these models; it’s all about exploring speculative ways of perceiving, understanding, and representing the world.

Researcher and artist Dr Josh Harle explores how artists working at the intersection with technology and science can help us meaningfully engage with complex systems, giving us a more critical perspective on the future of these technologies. Moreover, rather than being relegated to the realm of ‘visual communication’, art can provide a valuable and timely contribution to research.

John HarleDr Josh Harle is the director of Tactical Space Lab, and a current Visiting Fellow at UNSW. His doctoral thesis combined study in Computer Science and Cybernetics, Philosophy, and Art to investigate how digital technology is used to makes sense of the world. ‘Human Jerky’, shown at Verge Gallery in 2018 and curated by researcher and artist Dr Josh Harle, illustrated the monstrous, alien, and frankly terrifying visions of the Human that emerging technologies use through the related practices of five artists.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

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AUG
14

Poggendorff Lecture 2019

Robert Parks
  “Cereal killers: how plant diseases affect food
  security”

  Professor Robert Park
  School of Life and Environmental Sciences
  University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 14 August 2019, 5.30 for 6–7 pm
Venue: Level 5 Function Room, Building F23, University of Sydney (new building on left entering from City Road).

Cereal plants are incredibly important – they are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other crop. We’ve been domesticating cereal plants for around 8000 years and our efforts to develop better yielding and disease resistant crops has had the negative effect of guiding the evolution of crop pathogens. We’ve inadvertently made new pathogen strains emerge that have at times caused crop failure and famine.

Find out how problems of inadequate food supply, the world’s increasing population and the emergence of new crop diseases are presenting significant challenges in ensuring adequate supplies of safe and nutritious food for all.

Professor Robert Park will reveal how plant diseases affect our very existence and the work his team does in developing new genetic approaches for sustainable and environmentally friendly crop disease control.

2018 Poggendorff Lecturer – Professor Robert Park

The 2018 Poggendorff Lectureship was awarded to Professor Robert F. Park, from the University of Sydney, by the Royal Society of NSW. A plant pathologist, Professor Park holds the Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences. He is Director of the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, which conducts research on the genetics and pathology of rust diseases of cereals. This program has a huge impact on agricultural production globally; in Australia alone, it conservatively returns some $600 million to the economy each year.

Poggendorff Lectureship

The Poggendorff Lectureship is awarded periodically by the Royal Society of NSW for research in plant biology and more broadly agriculture. Walter Poggendorff was recognised as one of the major figures in establishing the Australian rice industry, developing high-yield crops for Australian conditions and maintaining controls on imports to limit the introduction of serious diseases. When he died in 1981, he made a bequest to the Royal Society of NSW to fund a lecture award series.

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AUG
13

National Science Week 2019: talk 2

Matthew Flinders Terra Australis cropped  “Unexpected results - Australian
  science to 1950”

  Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy
  AM FRSN

Tuesday 13 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

Robert Clancy reveals the fascinating history of scientific research and discovery in Australia before 1950.  Informed and inspired by the spirit of the Enlightenment, it helped shape our nation from colonial times onwards.

Science in Europe was very different to 19th century Australia.  Our less stratified society, consisting of a mixture of convicts and immigrants, was about being prepared to ‘have a go’ in a remote and harsh land.  Ordinary men and women survived and forged ahead by solving problems using scientific methods.

The view that colonial and early 20th century science largely consisted of collecting and dispatching trophies of our unique natural history off to Britain is inaccurate.  Rather, the science of the time was born of pragmatism, and this has laid the foundations for the development of ‘modern science’ in Australia. The question is, what can we learn from these past lessons?

From Cook and Banks, to the Horn Expedition to central Australia in 1894; from Lawrence Hargrave’s flight experiments and John Tebbutt’s detection of new comets; to many other extraordinary yet often unknown people, the Enlightenment provides a mirror against which the development of science in Australia – and the development of our culture – can be understood.

Robert ClancyEmeritus Professor Robert Llewellyn Clancy is a leading Australian clinical immunologist and a pioneer in the field of mucosal immunology, known for his research and development of therapies for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), commonly known as emphysema.  Professor Clancy is Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy.  Alongside his professional medical interests, Professor Clancy has long been involved in historical research, particularly in the areas of medical history and cartographic history.  He has also developed a ‘History of Medicine’ course through the College of Physicians.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

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AUG
12

National Science Week 2019: talk 1

Australian Night Sky - Aboriginal Astronomy “Aboriginal astronomy”

 Dr Ragbir Bhathal FRSN

Monday 12 August 2019, 6pm for 6.30
Venue: Tom Keneally Centre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 for RSNSW Fellows and Members and SMSA members, $20 for others
Booking: here or call 9262 7300

For over 60,000 years the Aboriginal peoples of Australia have both studied the stars and named them, with constellations having different names and stories in different regions.  Last year the International Union (IAU), the peak scientific body for astronomers recognized some of their named stars and included them in the official catalogue of stars.

Dr Ragbir Bhathal discusses various aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander astronomy how and its cultural uses such as finding food, telling the seasons and knowing when to conduct ceremonies.  Although Aboriginal astronomy has clashed with Australia’s dominant culture, their knowledge of the stars and constellations has been valuable in substantiating and winning land rights.

Ragbir BhathalDr Ragbir Bhathal served as a UNESCO consultant on museums/science centres, was the director of the Singapore Science Centre, one of four science centres of influence in the 20th century, and is a distinguished teaching fellow at the Western Sydney University.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and the Royal Astronomical Society London, and a visiting fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The Australian National University.  Apart from his research in astrophysics, he also carries out research in Aboriginal astronomy and engineering education.  He has written 15 books, including two on Aboriginal astronomy.  He is in great demand for giving public lectures both in Australia and overseas.  His astronomy work on OSETI was featured in the international magazine Forbes, which has a circulation of over 1 million copies worldwide.  Dr Bhathal is a vocal advocate for an Australian museum dedicated to this country’s first peoples, a museum whose sole task is to tell the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and politics.

This is a Sydney Science Festival event, part of National Science Week, co-presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

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AUG
07

1275th OGM and open lecture

Peter Shergold  “Democracy under challenge:
  how can we restore a sense of citizenship?”

  Professor Peter Shergold AC FRSN
  Chancellor, Western Sydney University

Wednesday 7 August 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

As in many liberal democracies, there is an increasing sense of concern in Australia that representative government is starting to erode from within - trust in political institutions is declining (especially amongst the young), consensus is fragmenting, populist responses are on the rise and ‘technocratic’ expertise and professional authority are increasingly decried. The public discourse that helps bind a civil society seems to be becoming ever less civil. Authoritarian leadership is more evident.

This talk discussed how a sense of democratic purpose might be restored though public services engaging their ‘publics’ in decision-making in more substantive ways. Peter is seeking to walk his talk, reflecting on his three decades as a ‘mandarin’ but focussing on his present role as Coordinator General of Refugee Resettlement in NSW.

Peter was an academic historian who became an influential public servant who ended up as a University Chancellor. In the Australian Public Service he headed successively the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Department of Employment and the Department of Education, Science and Training. He was then appointed as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He now serves on boards, writes government reports and - amongst other things - is Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Coordinator General of Refugee Resettlement.

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JUL
23

2019 Dirac Medal and lecture

   Lene Hau
   “Nothing goes faster than light - usually!”

   Professor Lene Vestergaard Hau
   Harvard University

Date and time: Tuesday 23 July 2019, 6–8pm
Venue: Tyree Room, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney
Cost: free
Reservations: here

This year’s lecture will explore how Lene and her team have slowed, stopped and restarted light. The observations represent the ultimate control over the inter-conversion of light and matter, and point to novel paradigms for quantum information processing.

In our laboratory, we have used ultra-cold atom clouds to slow light pulses to the speed of a bicycle, which is 50 million times lower than the light speed in a vacuum.  In the process, a light pulse spatially compresses by the same large factor, from 1 km to only 0.02 mm, and the pulse can then be completely stopped and later restarted.

From here, we have taken matters further: stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space and revived it in a completely different location.  In the process, the light pulse is converted to a perfect matter copy that can be stored – put on the shelf – sculpted, and then turned back to light.  The storage time can be many seconds, and during this time light could – under normal circumstances – travel back and forth to the Moon several times over.”

The Dirac Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics is awarded by UNSW in association with the Australian Institute of Physics NSW branch and The Royal Society of NSW.  The Lecture and the Medal commemorate the visit to UNSW in 1975 of the British Nobel laureate, Professor Paul Dirac.  Professor Dirac gave five lectures which were published as a book Directions of Physics.  He donated the royalties to UNSW for the establishment of the Dirac Lecture and Prize, which consists of a silver medal and honorarium. It was first awarded in 1979.

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JUL
03

1274th OGM and open lecture

Burford
   “Past, present and future of polymers:
    is the plastics age over?”

   Emeritus Professor Robert Burford FRSN
   UNSW

Wednesday 3 July 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

The search for synthetic alternatives (including polymers) to scarce natural materials is not new, and substitution occurred well before today’s plastic bottles and packaging.  A reward of $10,000 for billiard balls, hitherto made from Sri Lankan elephant tusks, ultimately led to thermosets derived from cellulose.  Synthetic nylon stockings replaced unavailable silk (and made Du Pont wealthy) whilst synthetic rubber helped win the war.  The early history of polymer manufacture combines uneducated invention and entrepreneurship with debtor’s courts and skulduggery.  During the 20th century today’s ‘commodity’ polymers emerged, these being based on hydrocarbons including ethylene and propylene.  The public appetite for new synthetics that peaked in the 1950s and 60s (think of the movie The Graduate) has reversed despite polymer production showing unabated growth.  Scarcely a day now passes without reminders of waste, whether it is floating ‘continents’ or containers of Australian plastic being returned from overseas.  The solutions to today’s ‘polymer pollution’ need creative ideas and imaginative solutions but may provide lucrative opportunities.  Several possibilities wiere discussed..

Emeritus Professor Robert Burford has made and broken plastics and rubber for over 40 years, first investigating cracking in nylons before research at the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company.  Since joining UNSW in 1978 he has interacted with the polymer industry at many levels.  He took students to draconian factories to motivate them beyond the factory floor, was a Co-op Program coordinator to attract top students to sometimes enter the same factories, and has been actively engaged in consulting, often examining polymer failures.  He was a lead researcher with the Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers, helping for example to develop a new family of fire performance cables.  He retired as Head of Chemical Engineering at UNSW in 2014 but still consults and volunteers at the Powerhouse Museum in conservation.

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JUN
20

Women and science: lecture 3

Women and science, lecture 3   “Climate change and our
   life support system”

   Professor Lesley Hughes FRSN
   Dept. of Biological Sciences
   Macquarie University

Thursday, 20 June 2019
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

Our climate system is changing rapidly as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. In Australia, we are already experiencing severe drought, increased bushfire and flooding risk, coastal erosion and unprecedented heatwaves. The changing climate is affecting all sectors – our economy, food security, health, and communities. But it is our environmental life support system that is feeling the impacts most significantly, with climate change exacerbating many other factors that lead to species loss and habitat decline.

Lesley HughesDistinguished Professor Lesley Hughes joins us to summarise the latest global and national trends in the climate and identify the most important observed and future impacts, with an emphasis on biodiversity. She will also outline what we need to do to achieve a stable climate by the second half of this century, and how we need to change our approach to conservation.
But it’s not all bad news; we do have many exciting opportunities to ensure a viable future, both for the planet’s species and our children.

Presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, the Women and Science lecture series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

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JUN
05

1273rd OGM and open lecture

Kate Faase

   “This talk may cause side effects: 
     nocebo effects in medicine”

   Dr Kate Faasse
   School of Psychology
   UNSW

Wednesday 5 June 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

Almost everyone has experienced unpleasant side effects from a medical treatment. But what if I were to tell you that most of these side effects aren’t caused by the treatment itself, but by a powerful psychobiological phenomenon called the nocebo effect? The nocebo effect is sometimes seen as the ‘dark side’ of the better-known placebo effect where healing or health improvements are triggered by the treatment context rather than any therapeutic effects of the treatment itself. In contrast, nocebo effects are the unpleasant or adverse outcomes that can be triggered by the treatment context, including information about possible side effects, seeing or reading about someone else experience unpleasant side effects, and generic versus brand name labelling of the medication. This talk used case studies to illustrate the potential impact of nocebo effects in daily life, and discussed recent evidence on the development of nocebo effects, the different treatment context factors that can increase the experience of nocebo effects, the implications of nocebo effects for patients and public health, and evidence on strategies that might help to reduce nocebo effects.

Kate Faasse is an ARC DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales. Originally from New Zealand, Kate completed her Bachelors, Masters, and PhD training in Psychology at the University of Auckland, specializing in Health Psychology. She moved to Sydney to take up a Lecturer position in the School of Psychology at UNSW in 2016. During this time Kate has produced over 35 publication and has received over $1million in competitive funding from sources such as the ARC (Australia), and the Auckland Medical Research Foundation (New Zealand). Highlighting the importance of her research into the nocebo effect, Kate’s work was also supported by the Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand (PHARMAC), and her research has informed healthcare policy in New Zealand. Kate’s research in Health Psychology focuses on aspects of medication use, including nocebo and placebo effects, treatment adherence, and perceptions of generic medicines. Ultimately, she hopes that her research will contribute to reducing the burden of nocebo-induced medication side effects in Australia through generating greater understanding of factors that influence the formation and maintenance of nocebo effects, and the development of interventions to reduce nocebo effects in clinical practice.

 

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MAY
02

Women and Science: lecture 2

This is the second in a series of lectures about Women and Science presented jointly by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts. The series examines the huge changes we have seen in the roles women have played in science, and the view science has held of women.

Ada Lovelace   “Ada Lovelace, without whom
   we might not have computers”

   Susannah Fullerton OAM FRSN

Thursday 2 May 2019
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney

The only child of the poet Lord Byron and his wife Annabella who adored mathematics, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, worked with Charles Babbage on his ‘analytical engine’. It was Ada who first recognised the future possibilities of the machine, and who made notes which can be considered the first computer programme. Babbage focussed on what his machine could do with numbers, but Ada saw its potential beyond numbers and anticipated the implications of the computer a hundred years before anyone else. Her view was that if you had a machine that manipulated numbers, then the numbers could represent other things — letters, music, symbols — and so could move beyond calculation to computation. Susannah Fullerton presents an illustrated lecture on the short life and far-reaching achievements of this remarkable woman.

Susannah Fullerton is Sydney’s best-known literary lecturer, giving talks on famous authors, their lives and works. She has spoken at literary conferences around the world, and is regularly sought as an entertaining and informative speaker at fund-raising events, conference dinners, schools, libraries, universities, bookshops and clubs. She is a registered speaker for ADFAS (The Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies) and travels Australia giving presentations to the groups. She is interviewed regularly on ABC radio and has often been interviewed for TV. She presents regular series at the Art Gallery of NSW and the State Library of New South Wales.

See the calendar of 2019 events for details of further talks in this series.

 

Image credits: Foreground: detail of a watercolour portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace) possibly by A E Chalon (1780-1860), from the collection of the Science Museum, used under Creative Commons licence. Background: diagram of an algorithm for the Analytical Engine by Ada Lovelace, from ‘Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage’ by Luigi Menabrea with notes by Ada Lovelace, 1842, Wikimedia Commons.

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552 Hits
APR
08

Annual Dinner 2019 and Distinguished Fellow’s Lecture

Guest of Honour:  The Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC
                               Governor of New South Wales

Michelle Simmons  Distinguished Fellow’s Lecture:
  “The new field of atomic electronics”

  Michelle Simmons FRS FAA FTSE DistFRSN
  Australian of the Year 2018
  ARC Laureate Professor 
  Scientia Professor of Physics, UNSW

Award of Distinguished Fellowship:
   Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE CBE FRSN QC

Award of Medals:

James Cook Medal:  
   Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM FRSN, University of Sydney
Edgeworth David Medal: 
   A/Professor Elizabeth J. New FRSN, University of Sydney
Clarke Medal (Zoology):  
   Professor Emma Johnston AO FRSN, UNSW
   
History & Philosophy of Science Medal: 
   Professor Paul Griffiths FRSN, University of Sydney
  
Poggendorff Lecture: 
   Professor Robert F. Park FRSN, University of Sydney

Friday 10 May 2019
Swissôtel – Ballroom, level 8, 68 Market Street, Sydney
Dress: black tie

At the Swissôtel a large function space allows us to collect before the dinner to catch up with friends and colleagues and to enjoy the music and drinks (starting 6.15 pm) before going in to be seated. Our three-course dinner will be complemented by drinks service continuing until 9.30 pm. Guests who would like to extend the conversation can slide over to the very inviting bar in the adjacent lobby when our dinner finishes at 10 pm.

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740 Hits
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03

152nd AGM, 1272nd OGM and retiring president’s address

Brynn Hibbert

   “Measuring what we can:
   or how to lose weight on May 20th”

   Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert
   School of Analytical Chemistry
   UNSW

Wednesday 3 April 2019
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

Galileo said “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so”, which is a statement of how important measurement is, not just to science, but living as a human.  I have spent much of my career measuring things in chemistry, and have become fascinated by why, what and how we measure.  Whether it was the length of a Pharoh’s forearm in 3000 BCE, or a ten-millionth of half a meridian in 1795, we have attempted to understand our world by first measuring it: its extent (length, area and volume), how much of it there is (mass, amount of substance), and duration (time).  Modern phenomena of electricity, forms of energy, temperature and the brightness of light, have all been wrestled into submission by the metrologists.
I raise this now, because on 20 May 2019, World Metrology Day, we will witness a new turn of the metrological wheel, as the dear old kilogramme in Paris is retired in favour of a quantum mechanical definition in which the numerical value of the Planck constant is fixed.  There will be other changes and in my talk I shall tell you whether we will all weigh any different at 00:01 on 20 May than we did at 23:59 on 19 May.

Brynn Hibbert occupied the Chair of Analytical Chemistry at the University of New South Wales since arriving from England in 1987 until his retirement in 2013.  His research interests are in metrology and statistics in chemistry, ionic liquids and electroanalytical chemistry, but he also does a sideline in expert opinion, scientific fraud and presenting science to the public.  Long a member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, he has helped name elements, revise the SI units and write the terminology of chemistry.  More recently he has become a go-to expert witness in matters of drugs (of abuse, and sports).  He is the immediate past President of the Royal Society of New South Wales, and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2018.

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554 Hits
MAR
21

Women and science: lecture 1

RSNSW and SMSA crests

The Women and Science lecture series is co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts. It examines the huge changes in the roles women play in science, and the view science has of women. Prohibited for much of history from having a serious interest in such a ‘masculine’ domain, women now abound in science, mathematics and engineering. How did that come to be? How did interaction with the visual and literary arts so often assist women in their scientific endeavours? What fascinating discoveries have women made that have changed our world and our understanding of it?

Mary Shelley
   “Mary Shelley, scientist,
    and Frankenstein”

    Suzanne Burdon

Mary Shelley, by Reginald Easton, and a page of the Frankenstein ms. Both from Bodleian Library, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday 21 March 2019
Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

Suzanne Burdon discussed the remarkable achievements of Mary Shelley, who, as a feisty 18-year-old, read every important scientific treatise and created Frankenstein and his monster in a moral tale that still highlights the exact scientific ethical dilemmas we face today (for example, the cloning of real human babies).

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562 Hits
MAR
07

Special Newcastle meeting

Mechanisms by which the Royal Society of NSW can collaborate with the University of Newcastle for the benefit of the Newcastle region

Thursday 7 March 2019
Hunter Medical Research Institute, New Lambton Heights

The purpose of the meeting was to explore possible collaboration between the Royal Society of NSW and the University of Newcastle in establishing a presence for the Society in Newcastle for the benefit of both organisations and for the Newcastle community as a whole.

The meeting was hosted by the University of Newcastle at the Hunter Medical Research Institute, with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and several Pro Vice-Chancellors of the University present. It was followed by a dinner at the Newcastle Club at 40 Newcomen Street.

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492 Hits

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