OCT
06

1298th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Toby Walsh“Privacy and Identity in an
AI world”

Professor Toby Walsh FAA FACM FAAAS

Scientia Professor of AI
School of CSE, UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 6 October 2021, 6.30 pm AEDT 
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video
All are welcome. 

 Summary: Artificial Intelligence is making great advances, many of which challenge our notions of privacy and identity. From face recognition to automated decision making, what are the most pressing problems and how should we navigate this future to ensure a prosperous, just, and sustainable society?

Professor Toby Walsh is a Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor of AI at the University of New South Wales and Data61, and an adjunct professor at QUT. He was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the "rock stars" of Australia's digital revolution. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science and recipient of the NSW Premier's Prize for Excellence in Engineering and ICT. He appears regularly on TV and radio and has authored two books on AI for a general audience, the most recent entitled "2062: The World that AI Made".

SEP
15

Our Energy Future: Part 2 of a two part event from RSNSW

Dr Saul Griffith
Our Energy Future:

The Unrecognised Opportunity in Glasgow — In Two Acts

Part 2: Crushed Rocks

Dr Adi Paterson
Dr Saul Griffith FRSN

including a conversation with

Dr Adi Paterson FRSN

Date: 12.30 pm AEST, Wednesday 15 September 2021 (Part 2)
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube videos for Part 1 and Part 2
Society Members and Fellows, and members of the public are welcome

This year, from 1–12 November 2021, Glasgow, Scotland will host the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Glasgow” is the current shorthand for this meeting — which may etch it into our consciousness for a generation as Rio de Janiero did in 1992 with the Rio 21 Principles.

Saul Griffith presents a future for our energy system and economy in the context of Glasgow. For Australia, understanding what we know (and why) about our energy economy allows us to think deeply about reimagining an energy economy without carbon dioxide and other emissions. The two sessions explore the Australian energy economy: domestic — “Our Castles” and global — “Our Crushed Rocks”. Using a new analysis of our emissions data and a cross-sectoral analysis, he will contextualise our machines (hardware in the economy) and climate targets (1.5 degrees, with and without negative emissions) to show why we now need nearly perfect execution of new solutions.

Part 1: Context and Castles — 25 August 2021

Part 1 was presented on 25 August and in the event that you missed the presentation it is now available on our YouTube channel.  

Part 2: Crushed Rocks — 15 September 2021

The second session will start with responses to questions and comments from the first session, and will allow people who did not see session 1 to get the background that will give context to the second talk.

Questions may be submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. up until the close of business on Thursday, 9 September 2021.

The Talk: Saul Griffith

Given we can win the battle for our Castles in the domestic economy (Part 1), what about the export economy, given the fear of lost rural and regional jobs and export value that has traditionally driven Australian climate politics? This discussion has to deal with our hydrogen demons and global trade and economic security. It needs a very honest look at our primary exports in the context of a carbon-constrained world. Is Australia’s enormous opportunity (still) in metals? If it is, the processes need to be electrified, and we need to produce primary metals and not just ores. There is also an agricultural opportunity.

The Conversation: Saul Griffith and Adi Paterson

Saul and Adi will explore the export economy and the technologies that we don’t yet have, but which are predictably going to exist, to decarbonise the “hard to decarbonise” sectors such as steel, aluminium, cement, agriculture, forestry, paper, and pulp.

The Wrap

Saul Griffith will provide recommendations for what Australia could advance at the COP in Glasgow — if we aspire to be a country that wants to win the carbon Olympics as badly as we wanted to win at the Tokyo Olympics.

About the Speakers

Dr Saul Griffith

Saul Griffith PhD (MIT) ME (Syd) BMetEng (UNSW) is an engineer and energy entrepreneur.  Saul has been a recipient of the Macarthur Fellowship, MIT TR35, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Tallberg Foundation Global Leadership Award, and Lemelson MIT Inventor Award. He has founded multiple technology companies including www.otherlab.com, www.instructables.com (sold to Autodesk), www.makanipower.com (sold to Google), www.sunfolding.com, www.gradientcomfort.com, www.voluteinc.com (sold to Linamar/McLaren), www.roamrobotics.com, and www.canvas.build.  Saul has been principal investigator on government research contracts from NASA, DOE, ARPA-e, DARPA, NSF, NIH, SOCOM, ONR and others and has converted many of the resulting technologies into valuable businesses.  He has studied national and global energy systems in detail, including www.energyliteracy.com, an unprecedented look into the details of energy flows and dependencies.  Saul is the co-founder of RewiringAmerica.org, an advocacy group for rapid electrification of the US economy as a climate solution commensurate with UN 1.5 degree goals. Through Otherlab, Saul works with top tier universities, government research agencies, and Fortune 1000 businesses, but retains his independence as a private R&D enterprise.

Dr Adi Paterson

Dr Adi Paterson has wide-ranging experience in energy policy, systems, technology, and innovation. He has had policy and management experience related to nuclear energy, hydrogen as an energy vector, energy in development settings, and battery innovation and industry potential. His current focus: energy sovereignty, security and low carbon energy options for established economies and the developing world, based on environmental sustainability to 2121. During his tenure as CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Australia joined the Generation-IV International Forum — a treaty-level nuclear organisation developing nuclear reactor designs to be available from 2035. Prior to joining ANSTO he was Chief Operating Officer of the Pebble-Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) Company in South Africa, including responsibility for international outreach (primarily in the USA and Canada).

In the 1990s he led the Materials and Energy Division at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, including the development of high-temperature battery systems and licensing of IP for lithium batteries. He is the Principal and Founder of Siyeva Consulting. He was recognised as Professional Engineer of the Year (Sydney Division) in 2012 and is an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia. He has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wollongong.

SEP
14

Inaugural Meeting to establish the Western NSW Branch of the Society

RSNSW Note Template




Date: Tuesday, 14 September 2021, 2.00 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar.  For assistance in getting started with Zoom, please click here.
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Entry: No charge
All Society members are invited to join this historic occasion. 

The Council has resolved to establish a new branch of the Society in Western NSW covering a wide area including the towns of Wagga Wagga, Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo. The new Branch is being established with the support of Charles Sturt University. In accordance with the Rules the Council is convening a meeting to inaugurate the Branch and establish the first Branch Committee. The President, Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN will give a presentation about the Society in Western New South Wales. The agenda for the meeting is below.

The agenda for the meeting is now available online.

SEP
01

1297th OGM and Open Lecture

Dr Jessica Milner Davis“Taking humour and laughter seriously: Exploring the multi-disciplinary field of humour studies”

Dr Jessica Milner Davis FRSN

Honorary Associate, University of Sydney

Date: Wednesday, 1 September 2021, 6.30 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar.  For assistance in getting started with Zoom, please click here.
Video Presentation: YouTube video 
All are welcome. 

Summary: From the time of Aristotle and Plato, philosophers have speculated about humour and laughter, proposing that ridere est humanum. But we now know that chimpanzees and rats also laugh. Sociologist Norbert Elias believed that laughter evolved as an antidote to aggression; but humour can also be damaging. This lecture explores the question of whether humour unites or divides the human race. Studies in neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, literature, performance, history, sociology, religion, health, and the emotions all now contribute to our understanding of the functions and consequences of humour. We honour its creators and practitioners, but we still can‘t define it.

Jessica Milner Davis PhD FRSN is a research associate at the University of Sydney and at Brunel University London’s Centre for Comedy Studies Research. A life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, she has held fellowships and lectured at the Universities of Cambridge, Bologna, Bristol, and NSW, as well as Stanford, Hofstra, and the Jagellonian University. A past president of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), she founded and continues to co-ordinate the Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN: https://ahsnhumourstudies.org/). In 2018 she received the ISHS Lifetime Achievement Award for her interdisciplinary research and publications on humour, comedy, and laughter.

AUG
25

Our Energy Future: Part 1 of a two-part event from RSNSW

Dr Saul Griffith
Our Energy Future:

The Unrecognised Opportunity in Glasgow — In Two Acts

Part 1: Context and Castles

Part 2: Crushed Rocks

Dr Adi Paterson
Dr Saul Griffith FRSN

including a conversation with

Dr Adi Paterson FRSN

Date: 12.30 pm AEST, Wed. 25 August 2021 
Venue: Zoom webinars
Video presentation: YouTube videos for Part 1 and Part 2
Society Members and Fellows, and members of the public are welcome

This year, from 1–12 November 2021, Glasgow, Scotland will host the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Glasgow” is the current shorthand for this meeting — which may etch it into our consciousness for a generation as Rio de Janiero did in 1992 with the Rio 21 Principles.

Saul Griffith presents a future for our energy system and economy in the context of Glasgow. For Australia, understanding what we know (and why) about our energy economy allows us to think deeply about reimagining an energy economy without carbon dioxide and other emissions. The two sessions explore the Australian energy economy: domestic — “Our Castles” and global — “Our Crushed Rocks”. Using a new analysis of our emissions data and a cross-sectoral analysis, he will contextualise our machines (hardware in the economy) and climate targets (1.5 degrees, with and without negative emissions) to show why we now need nearly perfect execution of new solutions.

Part 1: Context and Castles — 25 August 2021

The Talk: Saul Griffith

Households as a political and economic unit are a natural focal point for climate policy. To win, we must transform household economics by “Electrifying Everything”. This includes near-term cost trends, a new study on Australian household economics, and why our electric vehicle (EV) policies and gas recovery policies are not commensurate with our goals.

The Conversation: Saul Griffith and Adi Paterson

The conversation will explore themes and outcomes from the research and the new opportunities and challenges of “Electrifying Everything”.

Part 2: Crushed Rocks — 15 September 2021

The second session will start with responses to questions and comments from the first session, and will allow people who did not see session 1 to get the background that will give context to the second talk.

Questions may be submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. up until the close of business on Thursday, 9 September 2021.

The Talk: Saul Griffith

Given we can win the battle for our Castles in the domestic economy (Part 1), what about the export economy, given the fear of lost rural and regional jobs and export value that has traditionally driven Australian climate politics? This discussion has to deal with our hydrogen demons and global trade and economic security. It needs a very honest look at our primary exports in the context of a carbon-constrained world. Is Australia’s enormous opportunity (still) in metals? If it is, the processes need to be electrified, and we need to produce primary metals and not just ores. There is also an agricultural opportunity.

The Conversation: Saul Griffith and Adi Paterson

Saul and Adi will explore the export economy and the technologies that we don’t yet have, but which are predictably going to exist, to decarbonise the “hard to decarbonise” sectors such as steel, aluminium, cement, agriculture, forestry, paper, and pulp.

The Wrap

Saul Griffith will provide recommendations for what Australia could advance at the COP in Glasgow — if we aspire to be a country that wants to win the carbon Olympics as badly as we wanted to win at the Tokyo Olympics.

About the Speakers

Dr Saul Griffith

Saul Griffith PhD (MIT) ME (Syd) BMetEng (UNSW) is an engineer and energy entrepreneur.  Saul has been a recipient of the Macarthur Fellowship, MIT TR35, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Tallberg Foundation Global Leadership Award, and Lemelson MIT Inventor Award. He has founded multiple technology companies including www.otherlab.com, www.instructables.com (sold to Autodesk), www.makanipower.com (sold to Google), www.sunfolding.com, www.gradientcomfort.com, www.voluteinc.com (sold to Linamar/McLaren), www.roamrobotics.com, and www.canvas.build.  Saul has been principal investigator on government research contracts from NASA, DOE, ARPA-e, DARPA, NSF, NIH, SOCOM, ONR and others and has converted many of the resulting technologies into valuable businesses.  He has studied national and global energy systems in detail, including www.energyliteracy.com, an unprecedented look into the details of energy flows and dependencies.  Saul is the co-founder of RewiringAmerica.org, an advocacy group for rapid electrification of the US economy as a climate solution commensurate with UN 1.5 degree goals. Through Otherlab, Saul works with top tier universities, government research agencies, and Fortune 1000 businesses, but retains his independence as a private R&D enterprise.

Dr Adi Paterson

Dr Adi Paterson has wide-ranging experience in energy policy, systems, technology, and innovation. He has had policy and management experience related to nuclear energy, hydrogen as an energy vector, energy in development settings, and battery innovation and industry potential. His current focus: energy sovereignty, security and low carbon energy options for established economies and the developing world, based on environmental sustainability to 2121. During his tenure as CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Australia joined the Generation-IV International Forum — a treaty-level nuclear organisation developing nuclear reactor designs to be available from 2035. Prior to joining ANSTO he was Chief Operating Officer of the Pebble-Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) Company in South Africa, including responsibility for international outreach (primarily in the USA and Canada).

In the 1990s he led the Materials and Energy Division at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, including the development of high-temperature battery systems and licensing of IP for lithium batteries. He is the Principal and Founder of Siyeva Consulting. He was recognised as Professional Engineer of the Year (Sydney Division) in 2012 and is an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia. He has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wollongong.

AUG
25

Hunter Branch Meeting 2021-3

Professor Kathy Eagar“Did the Aged Care Royal Commission provide a blueprint to fix Australia's aged care system? If not, what else needs to happen?”

Professor Kathy Eagar
Director, Australian Health Services Research Institute
University of Wollongong

Date: Wednesday, 25 August 2021, 6.00 pm AEST 
Venue:  Zoom Webinar
Video Presentation: YouTube video
Society Members, Fellow, and members of the public are welcome

Summary:  As our population shrinks and ages, the provision of a safe effective system of aged care is an immediate priority for both our Government and our society. The need for reform within the sector has clearly been highlighted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic as well as The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's final report. The latter laid out an extensive plan to overhaul Australia's aged care sector outlining 148 recommendations for improvement. The report calls for a new system underpinned by a rights-based Act, a funding model based on need, and much stronger regulation and transparency. The problems facing the aged care sector are only going to increase in intensity in the future. So what needs to be done?

About the speaker: Professor Kathy Eagar is Professor of Health Sciences Research and Director of the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) at the University of Wollongong.  

Our speaker, Professor Eagar will be accompanied by a panel of two: Dr Max Thorpe, a clinician, and Ms Marie Coleman AO, an Australian feminist, social activist, public servant and journalist.  Dr Thorpe understands the inadequacies in the Aged Care System through his involvement in the management of community-based aged care, and both he and Ms Coleman are strong advocates for the better management of aged care.

 

AUG
04

1296th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Alison Bashford“The Intimate History of Evolution: The Huxleys 1825–1975”

A contribution to National Science Week

Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FRHistS FBA
Laureate Professor of History
UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 4 August 2021, 6.30 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar.   
Video presentation: YouTube video 
 

Summary: At Life Magazine’s 1947 photoshoot, Julian Huxley self-consciously arranged himself in front of a portrait of his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley. In the foreground, a well-known mid-twentieth century science writer, zoologist, conservationist—that generation’s David Attenborough. In the background, a mid-nineteenth century natural scientist – Darwin’s most outspoken spokesman.

Huxley Image Between them, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) and Julian Huxley (1887–1975) communicated to the world the great modern story of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Together, they were ‘trustees of evolution’, a phrase that Julian Huxley often used to describe all of humankind, but which I use to describe the Huxleys themselves.

What is yielded by considering these two particular Huxleys together? They were driven by the same momentous questions, but in different eras. What is the nature of time and how old is the Earth itself? What is the connection and distinction between human history and natural history? How are humans animals and how are we not? What is the deep past and the distant future of humankind? Can and should we actively seek to improve future generations? What might the planet look like 10,000 years hence? Through and with these high-powered Huxleys, I can track the problems and wonders of the modern world that they themselves raised, postured, and pondered over lives that spanned 1825-1975.

Alison Bashford is Laureate Professor of History at UNSW, and Director of the Laureate Centre for History & Population, and Honorary Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge. Previously she was Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University. Bashford is best known for her work on the modern history of population and human ecology, in two books, Global Population: History, Geopolitics and Life on Earth (Columbia 2014) and The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus (Princeton, 2016) with Joyce E. Chaplin. She is currently completing An Intimate History of Evolution: From Genesis to Genetics with a Scientific Dynasty, the Huxleys, 1825–1975 (Penguin RandomHouse). Alison Bashford is a fellow of the British Academy and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She was awarded the Royal Society of New South Wales History and Philosophy of Science Medal for 2020 and the Dan David Laureate Prize in 2021.

JUL
22

[email protected]: July 2021

Governor of NSW Crest-Silver and Gold-2020[email protected]

Presented by

Her Excellency the Honourable
Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW

Greta Bradman
“Music as a Superfood: How music can help us live longer, sleep better, calm down, find flow, and feel happier

Greta J. Bradman
Writer, broadcaster, psychologist, and performing artist

Date: Thursday, 22 July 2021, 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Zoom webinar. For assistance in getting started with Zoom, please click this link
Video Presentation: YouTube video
Entry: No charge
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Society Members and Fellows, and members of the public are welcome

About the talk: Greta Bradman will discuss how music can help us live longer, sleep better, calm down, find flow, and feel happier. The talk will include explorations of the evidence base, plus some personal anecdotes.

About the speaker: Greta Bradman consults with public and private organisations across technology and creative industries on culture, works in private practice as a psychologist, presents Weekend Brunch and is the creator of “Music for Wellbeing” offerings on ABC Classic. She hosts concerts and conversations, and provides workshops around wellbeing, human values, and decision-making. She is the founder of pre-launch, values-based tech startup, Eiris Inc. She still sings from time-to-time. 

Formerly an artist for Universal Music (Decca Classics), she had four No.1 solo albums and has featured on others. She has sung with opera companies, symphony orchestras and ensembles around Australia and the Asia Pacific, through Europe, the UK, and US. She has produced her own tours, and has toured alongside colleagues from around the world.

Alongside fundraising strategy and implementation, Greta advises and actively participated in the key development of evidence-based initiatives and programs that have demonstratively supported wellbeing-related outcomes.

Greta is a Trustee of Arts Centre Melbourne and holds advisory board positions with: Arts Wellbeing Collective; Arts Centre Melbourne Foundation; The Alfred Foundation; and, the Australian Mental Health Prize. Greta is a member of the Federal Government’s Creative Industry Taskforce. She is currently completing her Senior Executive MBA at Melbourne Business School.

About [email protected]: In late 2019, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales and Patron of the Royal Society of NSW, invited representatives of the Society to discuss how the Governor might open Government House to a series of public events based on important and/or influential ideas. Her Excellency’s proposal was that the Royal Society of NSW and other organisations might devise a series of lectures, to be held at Government House, and known as [email protected] on topics of our choice for an invited audience of our Members and Fellows, together with others to be invited by Her Excellency. This is the third in the [email protected] series, the first being held in May 2020, and the second in April 2021.

JUL
15

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2021-6

Dr Helen Caynard-Casely Toby Walsh“ANSTO’s WOMBAT Project”

Dr Helen Maynard-Casely
Senior Instrument Scientist
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

Date: Thursday, 15 July 
Venue: Via email circulation

 

Summary

Dr Maynard-Casely was due to present this talk at the Mittagong RSL on 15 July 2021. Unfortunately, because of the updated COVID-19 restrictions associated with the Greater Sydney Lockdown in July 2021, this event has had to be cancelled. The Branch Committee regrets any inconvenience caused.

In the light of the current circumstances, the face-to-face event has been replaced by a YouTube recording titled “Exploring dwarf planets using neutron powder diffraction studies”.

 Dr Helen Maynard-Casely is an instrument scientist for the WOMBAT high-intensity powder diffractometer instrument. She assists and collaborates with visiting scientists, works with the sample environment team in commissioning new equipment for WOMBAT, and is co-responsible for improving and expanding the capabilities of the instrument.

Her own research expertise is in investigating the materials relevant to the surface of the icy moons, such as Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Titan. Her journey to exploring these icy moons began with her degree in Planetary Sciences from University College London and was followed by her PhD in high-pressure physics at the University of Edinburgh. Moving to Australia, first to undertake a post-doctoral position at the Powder-Diffraction beamline at the Australian Synchroton, where she developed her program of research on planetary ices - she then moved to the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering in 2013 to take up her current role.

JUL
07

1295th OGM and Open Lecture

Dr Erik Aslaksen“Society as an information processing system, and the influence of the media”

Dr Erik Aslaksen FRSN

Physicist, Engineer, and Author

Date: Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 6.30 pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video 

Summary: We are concerned about our environment, and rightfully so: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and threats to this environment from global warming, loss of biological diversity, and many other concerns. These are all concerns about our physical environment, much as an ice bear is concerned about the melting of the ice, or as the koala is concerned about the reduction of its habitat due to deforestation. We are also concerned about many aspects of our society, such as overpopulation, economic growth, inequality, poverty, healthcare, and pandemics; again, concerns about physical features.

In this talk, Dr Erik Aslaksen will present a complementary view of our society — one peculiar to our species; a view of society as an information-processing system in which the physical aspects of society are both the results and the enablers of our mental processes. The system consists of individuals as processors and of the interactions between them in the form of information exchange, and as the processing capability and capacity of the individuals have not changed significantly over the last 10,000 years or so, the evolution of our society is, in this view, the evolution of this information exchange. This is an evolution characterised by the media involved and of the technology enabling them,  from the earliest cave art to the Internet. Correspondingly, our concerns for society change from the above concerns about physical features to concerns about the information exchange and the associated information technology — in particular, about the ability to use the technology to control the information flow. Two examples of this concern will be discussed; one being the increasing concentration of wealth in the West, and with it the ownership and control of the media by a small group of people; the other arising out of the fact that the world society has arrived at a unique point in its evolution, but with a great reluctance to talk about it.

Erik W. Aslaksen is an engineer and physicist, with over fifty years of industrial experience, gained in the USA, Switzerland, and Australia, and covering fields as diverse as microwave components, power electronics, quantum electronics, and telecommunications, and ranging from basic research to corporate management. He obtained a MSc (EE) from the Swiss Institute of Technology in 1962, and a PhD in theoretical physics from Lehigh University in 1968. Erik was a Director of Ewbank Preece Sinclair Knight from 1988 until 1993, a Principal of Sinclair Knight Merz from 1993 until 2003, and an Adjunct Professor at the UTS until 1995.

In recent years his main interest has been in the area of systems engineering, engineering management, philosophical aspects of engineering, and the interaction between technology and society, as well as the evolution of society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and of the International Council on Systems Engineering, a Charter Member of Omega Alpha, and is the author of eight books (one with W.R. Belcher), four book chapters, and more than eighty papers.

His most recent publications are:

  • The Social Bond: How the interaction between individuals drives the evolution of society, Springer Nature, 2018
  • The Stability of Society, Springer Nature, 2020
  • Measures of Social Evolution, Springer Nature, 2021.
JUN
30

Hunter Branch Meeting 2021-2

Professor Jason Sharples“Extreme bushfires and the
age of violent pyroconvection”

Professor Jason Sharples

School of Science
UNSW (Canberra)

Date: Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 6.00 pm AEST 
Venue:  Zoom Webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

(*) NotePlease note the change to both the time of the event and the venue/format. The current uncertainty regarding COVID-19 has necessitated a change in format from a face-to-face meeting to the Zoom webinar format.  Refund arrangements will be notified to those who have already made payments for the originally planned event (and dinner) at Noah's on the Beach.  

Summary:  Over the last few decades, Australia and other fire prone parts of the world have seen an apparent increase in the occurrence of large destructive bushfires, such as those experienced during the 2019/20 Black Summer. These fires defy suppression, consistently result in the loss of life and property, and further impact the cultural, economic, social and political stability of communities. They also produce significant environmental damage with ongoing implications for the ecology and biodiversity of many species. The types of behaviours exhibited by these fires are often at odds with traditional approaches to understanding bushfire, which have primarily relied on information gathered during smaller experimental fires in particular types of vegetation. In contrast, these fires tend to manifest as violent pyroconvective events, which often share more in common with an atmospheric storm than a surface fire. In this talk I will present an overview of recent insights into the occurrence and behaviour of these extreme bushfires and discuss some of the challenges they pose for bushfire risk management.

Brief biography: Professor Sharples is a mathematical scientist and internationally recognised expert in dynamic bushfire behaviour and extreme bushfire development. He has led several Australian Research Council and Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre projects and is involved in international wildfire research projects. These projects consider various aspects of extreme and dynamic bushfire propagation, the development of large conflagrations and bushfire risk management. His expertise is particularly relevant because of the large gap between the predictions of current mathematical models of fire behaviour and actual fire behaviour.

He is Director of the UNSW Bushfire Research Group, which aims to improve understanding of the fundamental processes that drive extreme bushfire development and their relation to firefighter and community safety.

Professor Sharples has acted an expert witness in several Coronial and Parliamentary Inquiries, most recently at the 2020 Bushfire Royal Commission, and has been a key contributor to the international dialogue around wildfire modelling and risk management. His research has been adopted in national firefighter training materials and into the operational procedures of bushfire management agencies such as the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Professor Sharples graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics/Physics) and Bachelor of Mathematics in 1995 and an Honours degree in Mathematics in 1996, all from the University of Newcastle (UON). He then completed his PhD in pure mathematics and mathematical physics at the University of Canberra. He was UON’s first indigenous student awarded double degrees in Bachelor of Science/ Bachelor of Mathematics and a recipient of the University Medal.

JUN
17

Southern Highlands Branch Meeting 2021-5

Max La Galle “Burnout — the hottest issue”

Max La Galle
introduced by
Dr Ken McCracken

Date: Thursday, 17 June, 6.30 pm AEST
Venue: RSL Mittagong, Nattai/Joadja Rooms
All are welcome 

Summary: Science has progressed beyond our wildest predictions in these 200 years and it is no wonder that young aspiring scientists these days are now walking in the footsteps of the eminent scientists who have done so much to advance science, philosophy, and medicine before them. Our 17 June lecture will demonstrate this very clearly as we listen to a presentation from a gifted young scientist, Max La Galle, who will be introduced to the audience by one of our internationally acclaimed scientists, Dr Ken McCracken. This presentation we have called “Reach for the Skies” – which is exactly what both do on a daily basis in the true tradition of the Royal Society. 

Dr Ken McCracken In introducing Max La Galle, Ken McCracken will reflect on the pervasive role of scientific societies in the development of science in the past, including in his career in space research and in applied science in the CSIRO. Incidentally, Ken has just been awarded the senior medal of the international space research body, COSPAR, there having been only 70 such awards in the 64 years of space research. His award included naming Minor Planet 8258 in his honour as Minor Planet (8258) McCracken. In so many ways, Ken has literally “Reached for the Skies”.

Max la Galle is an outstanding young scientist who has recently been interviewed by Robyn Williams on the ABC Science Show. In this presentation, he will discuss Hydrogen Fusion, a technology that has been in the development for decades. Humanity is finally on the verge of cracking this “Holy Grail” of energy production. Max will talk you through how this technology captured his interest early on his scientific journey, where this interest took him, and why emerging technologies are so important for aspiring STEM students to look towards. He too is clearly “Reaching for the skies”.

JUN
02

1294th OGM and Open Lecture

Professor Richard Kingsford“Murray-Darling Basin turmoil:
past, present, and future”

Professor Richard Kingsford FRSN

Professor of Environmental Science
Director, Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW (Sydney)

Date: Wednesday, 2 June 2021, 6.30pm AEST 
Venue: Zoom webinar
Video presentation: YouTube video

Summary:  The Murray-Darling Basin is Australia's most developed river system, supporting extensive irrigation industries, pastoralists, traditional owner communities, fishers, tourism and ecosystems. More than a century of river development through the building of dams, development of floodplains, and diversion of water has had devastating impacts on ecosystem services and ecosystems. The Millennium Drought was a catalyst for change. The Australian Government took over control of the Basin with the Water Act 2007, implemented by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The Commonwealth Government's external powers, particularly in relation to wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and migratory shorebirds were the primary driver for this, but States still remained in control of their rivers under the Federal Constitution, through their planning. A principal objective was to restore the health of the Murray-Darling Basin River system.

More than $13 billion dollars later, there are many challenges and questions about what has been achieved and at what cost. The number of inquiries continues to rise. The NSW Government is planning to build three large dams and smaller weirs on the rivers. Unfortunately, the ecological state of the Murray-Darling Basin continues to decline, albeit potentially at a slower rate than would have occurred otherwise. In this talk, I will present my research on wetlands and waterbirds within the context of these major changes, past and present, as well as identify some of the major challenges for the future.

Brief biography: Professor Richard Kingsford is a river ecologist and conservation biologist who has worked extensively across the wetlands and rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. He also worked with many different communities and governments across this region. His research has influenced the policy and management of rivers in Australia, including through his involvement on state and federal advisory committees. He also leads a reintroduction or rewilding project, Wild Deserts, in Sturt National Park (NSW). He is the Director for the Centre for Ecosystem Science UNSW, Sydney. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW in 2018.

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