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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1261st OGM and open lecture

“Precision healthcare – the coming revolution in medicine”

Leslie Burnett

  Professor Leslie Burnett
  Chief Medical Officer of Genome One
  Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Wednesday 7 March 2018
Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Medicine has entered a period of major transformation. Advances in DNA sequencing have led to an explosion in data, information and knowledge about how the genes in our genome work. In turn, this is opening new avenues for diagnosis and treatment of both rare and common disorders. Leslie gave a brief refresher overview of genetics and genomics, including the range of genetic tests available culminating in whole genome analysis. This analysis is now available in Australia, and Australia is at the forefront of the world. Examples were given of the application of genomic techniques to “precision medicine”, where a person’s genetic makeup is used to target treatments based on their specific needs. The era of preventative medicine and precision healthcare has arrived, but it will be accompanied with the need to recognise and responsibly address some complex ethical and societal issues.

Professor Leslie Burnett is Chief Medical Officer of Genome.One, in the Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Leslie has pioneered the development of many pathology and genetics initiatives, including being a Medical Director for the accreditation of Australasia’s first Whole Genome Sequencing laboratory and founding Australia’s first Community Genetics program.

He is a clinical pathologist with experience in both the public and private health sectors, and is a recipient of many awards for business and technical excellence, service excellence and community service. He has served as ministerial appointee, chairman, or president of a number of national and international bodies in pathology and genetics.

Professor Burnett is Conjoint Professor at the St Vincent’s Clinical School, UNSW Australia, Honorary Professor in Pathology and Genetic Medicine in the Sydney Medical School, and has been an Honorary Associate of the School of Information Technologies, at the University of Sydney. His current interests are in the areas of genomic pathology, genetic screening, bioinformatic modelling of population genetics and cell biology processes, and quality assurance. He is a passionate teacher and communicator about the genetics and genomics revolution.

Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library

Paul Brunton

  Paul Brunton OAM
  Emeritus Curator 
  State Library of NSW

Thursday 1 March 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

The penal colony of New South Wales was a child of the Enlightenment. It was founded on the belief in personal improvement and progress. It was not a dumping ground for convicts but an experiment in Enlightenment values. Libraries could play a key role in the moral and intellectual improvement of the individual. This talk will discuss the foundations of four libraries: Australian Subscription Library and Reading Room [now the State Library of New South Wales] (1826), Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts Library (1833), Evandale [Tasmania] Subscription Library (1847), and the Melbourne Public Library [now State Library of Victoria] (1854), and the Enlightenment values which guided their founders.

Paul Brunton OAM, FAHA is Emeritus Curator, State Library of New South Wales. He worked with the Mitchell Library’s Australiana collections for 40 years and was Curator of Manuscripts from 1986 to 2001 and Senior Curator from 2002-2012. Paul has published on archives administration and on various aspects of the State Library’s collection. He was President of the Australian Society of Archivists, 1991-1993. He was curator of the exhibition Matthew Flinders: the Ultimate Voyage which opened at the State Library in 2001, and traveled nationally during 2002-2003. His annotated edition of Flinders’ letters, Matthew Flinders: personal letters from an extraordinary life, was published in 2002.

This is the fourth in a series of lectures on the theme “Is the Enlightenment dead?” being co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton FRSN, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 3: "Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum, on 5 February  2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

1260th OGM and open lecture

Royal Society of NSW Scholarship Award Winners for 2018

Grace Causer, Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials, University of Wollongong
Yu-wei Lin, Advanced Drug Delivery Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney
Cara Van Der Wal, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

Wednesday 7 February 2018
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Royal Society of NSW Scholarships
The Royal Society of New South Wales Scholarships recognise outstanding achievements by individuals working towards a research degree in a science-related field within New South Wales or the Australian Capital Territory. Each year three scholarships of $500 plus and a complimentary year of membership of the Society are awarded. The award winners give talks about their research at the first OGM and Public Lecture each year.

 Grace causer 
 “Uncovering hidden nanoscale worlds
    with neutrons”

  Grace Causer
  University of Wollongong and
  Australian Nuclear Science and Technology
  Organisation

For decades, neutrons have been used to probe almost all kinds of matter to unveil hidden characteristics, such as, the dynamics of chemical reactions, the performance of engineering components under strain, and the properties of low-dimensional systems. By reflecting polarised neutrons off layered structures, scientists have been able to gain unique insights into magnetic surfaces and ultra-thin films. Fundamentally, scientific insights gained from neutron scattering have been, and will continue to be, important for the development of future thin-film-based technologies. For example, giant magnetoresistive structures, for which Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics, have revolutionised computer technology. In this talk, In her talk Grace discussed a number of prototype thin-film devices which she has investigated as part of her PhD research. Specifically, the interface physics of an exemplar high-density magnetic recording device formed by ion-beam irradiation, and a magnetic thin-film sensor designed to act as a safety switch in next-generation vehicles powered by hydrogen, will be discussed.

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Wayne Lin small
  “Developing new ways to treat ‘superbugs’
   using old antibiotics: Are we there yet?”

  Yu-wei (Wayne) Lin
  Advanced Drug Delivery Group
  Faculty of Pharmacy 
  University of Sydney

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats to human health globally. Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa is at the top of the 2017 World Health Organisation Priority Pathogen List that requires the utmost need for novel antibiotics. MDR P. aeruginosa often causes life-threatening lung infections particularly in immune-compromised patients such as those with cystic fibrosis. As no novel classes of antibiotics will be available for many years to come, polymyxins, a class of ‘old’ antibiotics, are being increasingly used as a last-line therapy for lung infections caused by MDR P. aeruginosa. Over the last decade, inhalation of polymyxins has become a complementary practice for treating life-threatening lung infections. Notably, currently used inhalational dosage regimens of polymyxins are empirical, and this is likely a cause for the increased polymyxin resistance. Yu-wei described the overarching theme of his PhD research, which is to investigate the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics/toxicodynamics of inhaled polymyxins, to maximise antimicrobial efficacy while minimising toxicity and emergence of resistance.

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Cara Van der Wal small
  “Reconstructing the phylogeny and evolutionary
   history of mantis shrimps using molecular data”

  Cara Van Der Wal
  School of Life and Environmental Sciences
  University of Sydney

Mantis shrimps (Crustacea: Stomatopoda) are ecologically and often economically significant crustaceans, being dominant predators in many coastal ecosystems and serving as an important fisheries resource. They are a highly specialised rather than highly diversified lineage, with highly modified hunting appendages and sophisticated vision. Despite these unique attributes much remains unknown about stomatopod systematics, evolution and phylogeny. To fill this knowledge gap, I used molecular sequence data to estimate the phylogeny and evolutionary timescale of the group. Her research results show that Stomatopoda appeared in the Carboniferous and that the specialised spearing appendage evolved prior to the specialised smashing appendage. Additionally, the results showed that morphological complexity within stomatopod eyes has reduced independently in different lineages, and that this reduction might be linked to the environment. The results have significantly added to the knowledge of stomatopod evolution and diversification, suggesting systematic revisions may be required.

Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum

Kim McKay Enlightenment 3  

  Kim McKay AO
  Director and CEO
  The Australian Museum

Monday 5 February 2018
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney

This was the third in a series of lectures on the theme “Is the Enlightenment dead?” being co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.

Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, talked about the Museum’s 190-year history and its evolution as an expression of the Enlightenment.

The Australian Museum, along with its sister museums in Victoria and South Australia, was a major focus of the intellectual life of colonial Australia and at the forefront of contemporary science and natural history research. Kim also described the Museum’s recent transformation during her tenure as Director and CEO, and the challenges that lie ahead, particularly visitation, digitisation and international collaboration and why Museums will continue to play an important role in shaping society.

Other talks in the series:

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, his library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW, on 1 March 2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

European tour: the history of science

Academy Travel
Padua – Florence – Paris – London

A tour for the Royal Society of NSW in conjunction with the State Library of NSW Foundation

Owing to a cancellation, two places are available.

19 September – 4 October 2019

Overview

Explore the history of science, from Vesalius in Padua to Galileo in Florence and the flourishing of modern science in Paris and London. This 16-day private tour for the Royal Society of NSW in conjunction with The State Library of NSW Foundation includes guided visits to many exceptional museums, rare access to collections, libraries and archival material, and the expert guidance of specialists and curators. It follows the great story of modern science, taking you from Padua to Florence, Paris and London, and includes day trips to Bologna, Siena and Cambridge. A four-night pre-tour extension to Venice is also available.

Discover
• The birth of modern science, from Galileo’s telescopes to Darwin’s theory of evolution
• The history of medicine: Vesalius in Padua, Pasteur in Paris and the medical collections of London
• The transmission of knowledge, from rare books and manuscripts to the modern museum
• The history of the university at Padua, Bologna, Paris and Cambridge
• Interaction between the arts and sciences in moments of great change from the Renaissance to the modern world.

Tour details

Dates: 19 September – 4 October 2019
Price: $9,270 pp. twin share; $2,280 single supplement
For more information and to register your interest, contact Academy Travel on 9235 0023 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Maximum group size: 20

Tour highlights

• Padua: the world’s first anatomy theatre, the oldest botanic garden and Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel
• Special access to library collections in Florence, Paris and London
• Private tour of the Pompidou Centre, Paris’ modern art museum
• Day trips to Siena, Bologna, Cambridge and Greenwich
• Specialist museums dedicated to Pasteur, Curie, Galileo and Darwin
• London science: from the manuscripts of the Wellcome Library to the National Science Museum.

Itinerary

map of Europe Tour 2019Days 1–3: arrive Padua.  Visit the world’s oldest anatomy theatre and oldest botanic garden, and the Scrovegni Chapel, Giotto’s masterpiece. Day trip to Bologna.
Days 4–6: explore Florence, including the Galileo Museum, Uffizi, with special access to rare collections. Day trip to Siena and the wonderful cuisine of Chianti.
Days 7–10: discover a different side of Paris, from special museums dedicated to Pasteur and Curie to a private tour of the Pompidou Centre.
Days 11–15: arrive London. Enjoy visits to Down House (the home of Charles Darwin), the National Observatory and prime meridian at Greenwich, and a range of museums, from the Museum of Natural History to the private collection of the Royal College of Physicians. Day trip to Cambridge.
Day 16: departure.

Tour leader

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN has had a distinguished career in medical research and has published books on the early mapping of Australia. He has led many similar successful expeditions. Expert guides will meet the group in each destination.

Calendar of Sydney meetings in 2018

Monday 5 February

SMSA/RSNSW Enlightenment series lecture 3

“Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum”

Kim McKay AO, Director of the Australian Museum

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 7 February

1260th OGM and open lecture: 2017 Scholarship presentations

Grace Causer, University of Wollongong & ANSTO

“Novel and artificial nanomaterials”

Yu-wei Lin, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney

“New ways to treat ‘superbugs’ with old antibiotics”

Cara Van Der Wal, University of Sydney & Australian Museum

“Evolutionary history and diversity of mantis shrimps”

Venue: Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Thursday 1 March

SMSA/RSNSW Enlightenment series lecture 4

“Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library”

Paul Brunton OAM FAHA, Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 7 March

1261st OGM and open lecture

“DNA and personalised medicine”

Professor Leslie Burnett FRSN, Garvan Institute

Venue: Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 14 March

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies

“Exciting materials for energy applications in 2050”

Robin Grimes, Professor of Materials Physics, Imperial College London

Venue: UNSW Colombo Theatre

Time: 5:30 for 6pm

Wednesday 4 April

AGM and 1262nd OGM and open lecture

“The decarbonisation of industry”

Paul Fennell, Professor of Clean Energy, Imperial College London

Venue: Union, University & Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Time: 5.45 for 6pm start of AGM. Open lecture and OGM 6.30pm

Thursday 5 April

SMSA/RSNSW Enlightenment series lecture 5

“Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!”

Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FASSA FAA FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 2 May

Pollock memorial lecture

“Engineering for understanding: how building quantum devices unveils the meaning of quantum mechanics”

Professor Andrea Morello FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Club Bar, The Roundhouse, UNSW, Kensington

Time: 5.30 for 6‒7.30pm

Friday 18 May

Annual dinner of the Royal Society of NSW

Guests of honour: The Honourable General David Hurley AC DSC (ret'd.) Governor of NSW and Mrs Hurley

Presentation of awards for 2017

Distinguished Fellow's address: Tom Keneally AO DistFRSN
“Mungo Man imagined: writing the ultimate historical novel”

Venue: Mitchell Galleries, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6.30 for 7pm

Wednesday 6 June

1263rd OGM and open lecture

“No sex please, we're Cape bees”

Ben Oldroyd FRSN, Professor of Behavioural Genetics, University of Sydney

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Friday 22 June

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 1

“A Tasmanian convict who went from an Irish rebel to become Governor”

Thomas Keneally AO DistFRSN

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Tuesday 26 June

AIP / RACI / RSNSW / ANSTO event

“Big science: exploring the future of the world’s most exciting STEM challenges and developments”

Professor Richard Garrett, Manager, Industry and External Engagement, ANSTO

Venue: ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights

Time: 5pm optional tour, 6pm refreshments, 6.30pm presentation

Wednesday 4 July

1264th OGM and open lecture

“Can art really make a difference?”

Joanna Mendelssohn FRSN, Honorary Associate Professor, Art & Design, UNSW

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Monday 23 July

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 2

“A scientist who chaired the group that eliminated a disease from the world”

Peter Baume AC DistFRSN

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 1 August

Poggendorff lecture

“Establishing a sustainable nitrogen diet to agricultural intensive cropping industries”

Brent Kaiser, Professor of Legume Biology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney

Venue: New Law Annex 432, University of Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 8 August

1265th OGM and open lecture

“The final frontier - on the complexity and frailty of human memory”

Associate Professor Muireann Irish FRSN, University of Sydney

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Monday 13 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 1

“Will self-driving cars make us safer?”

Professor Ann Williamson FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 12.30‒1.30pm

Tuesday 14 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 2

“Nanotech: what is so special about small stuff?”

Rosie Hicks, CEO, Australian National Fabrication Facility

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 12.30‒1.30pm

Tuesday 14 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 3

“Ethics, emotions and elegance in artificial intelligence”

Professor Simeon Simoff FRSN, Western Sydney University

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Friday 17 August

Science Week: RSNSW/SMSA science talk 4

“Wine and medicine: an Australian perspective”

Dr Philip Norrie FRSN

Venue: Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 5 September

1266th OGM and open lecture

“Eyewitness evidence”

Professor Richard Kemp, University of NSW

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Thursday 6 September

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 3

“Three for the price of one: a day at the races”

Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert AM FRSN, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 3 October

1267th OGM and open lecture

“3D printing of body parts”

Professor Gordon Wallace AO FRSN, University of Wollongong

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Wednesday 7 November

1268th OGM and open lecture

“Gravitational waves”

Associate Professor Tara Murphy, University of Sydney

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Monday 12 November

SMSA/RSNSW series ‘Great Australians you have never heard of’, lecture 4

“Griffith Taylor: geology and geography from the Terra Nova to Seaforth”

Professor Alison Bashford FRSN FAHA FBA, University of NSW

Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

Tuesday 13 November

AIP Postgraduate Awards Day and Jak Kelly Award judging

Guest speaker: Tibor G. Molnar (Alice and Bob in Wonderland)

Venue: G59/60 Old Main Building, School of Physics, UNSW

Time: student presentations 2‒5pm, guest talk 6.30pm

Thursday 29 November

Royal Society of NSW and Four Learned Academies Forum

“Towards a prosperous yet sustainable Australia — what now for the ‘lucky country’?”

Venue: NSW Government House, Sydney

Time: 9am‒4pm, followed by a drinks reception

Wednesday 5 December

1269th OGM and open lecture

Royal Society of NSW 2018 Jak Kelly Award and Christmas party

“Hydroxyl as a probe of the molecular interstellar medium”

Jak Kelly Award winner Anita Petzler (Macquarie University)

Venue: State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Time: 6 for 6.30pm

1259th OGM and Christmas party

“How to store light: an optical memory based on sound waves”

Moritz Jak Kelly 2017 revised  
  Moritz Merklein
  Department of Physics
  University of Sydney

  Jak Kelly Award winner for 2017

Wednesday 6 December 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

The Jak Kelly Award was created in honour of Professor Jak Kelly (1928 - 2012), who was Head of Physics at University of NSW from 1985 to 1989, was made an Honorary Professor of University of Sydney in 2004, and was President of the Royal Society of NSW in 2005 and 2006. Its purpose is to encourage excellence in postgraduate research in physics. It is supported by the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Institute of Physics, NSW branch. The winner was selected from a short list of candidates who made presentations at a recent joint meeting at UNSW of the Australian Institute of Physics NSW Branch, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the Royal Society of NSW.

The Jak Kelly Award was presented to Moritz Merklein by John Hardie FRSN, a past president of the Society.

In his lecture Moritz presented a memory for optical data that is based on sound waves and has the potential to revolutionize next-generation computer chips. Today, mediating heat is one of the most significant challenges in computing, particularly in large data centres. Photonic interconnects can solve this challenge, connecting different processing units without generating heat, while offering a broad bandwidth and data throughput. However, the vast speed of light is imposing new challenges on these integrated circuits that harness light as information carriers, requiring an optical memory to slow down information for buffering, synchronization, re-routing and further processing of the data. Controlling the speed of light is challenging, and so far no method has been developed that reaches the required bandwidth, the fractional delay, and is compatible with complex optical data encoding schemes, and least of all can be integrated into a photonic circuit. Transferring the optical data to sound waves can provide a powerful solution to this challenge, enabling to slow down of the flow of information on the chip. It is like storing a flash of lightning inside thunder.

Moritz Merklein received his Physics Diplom from the University of Konstanz, Germany in 2012. His thesis dealt with the fabrication of silicon nitride nanostructures and the characterisation of their mechanical modes using ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy. Moritz joined the stimulated Brillouin scattering group in the Department of Physics at The University of Sydney as a PhD student in 2014. During his PhD, he has made significant contributions to the field of stimulated Brillouin scattering, which describes the interaction between sound and light waves. His research supervisors are Professor Benjamin Eggleton and Dr. Birgit Stiller. During his PhD studies, he served as the president of the University of Sydney optics student chapter and has engaged in many outreach activities.

1258th OGM and open lecture

Pamela Griffith   “Women artists: barriers and frustrations”

   Pamela Griffith

   Artist, designer, master printer and author

Wednesday 1 November 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Pamela Griffith shared some of the joys and challenges she has encountered as a female artist. Her talk was illustrated by images of her work and some works of women artists of the past. 

Females are often the model and rarely the artist, and this has led to some offensive and exploitative works around the female subject matter that have coloured the way people see women in art. It has also affected how women see themselves. Pamela speculated on where historically female artists acquired their training and how they were assisted to have an art career by their families and patrons. She showed how they overcame social difficulties and barriers to making art. She tracks what happened to their art.

The presentation attempted to explain art history’s omission of almost all women from its canon. There is an ongoing resistance of art museums to buying art made by women. Few women have solo shows before they are dead. Most women who go to art schools and make up the majority never have their work displayed in any big museums or bought for major collections. Does this mean that women at art schools are wasting their time?

Pamela Griffith is an an artist, designer, master printer and author. She has had over 100 one-woman exhibitions in over 30 galleries. Her work is included in National, State and Regional Gallery collections across Australia and in major corporate and private collections in Australia, Europe, USA and Asia. Major commissions include Bicentennial and Macquarie toiles; Mary McKillop toile; portraits of distinguished Australians such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Sir William Dean, Cardinal George Pell, Professor Marie Bashir and Elena Kats-Chernin; numerous etching editions for corporations including Qantas, Comalco, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She is also the author of over 80 articles and two books on art.

RSNSW/SMSA Joint Lecture Series: Is the Enlightenment dead? Lecture 2

Robert Clancy  “The freedom to use your own intelligence:
  the Enlightenment and the growth of the
  Australian nation”

  Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
  School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
  University of Newcastle

Monday 6 November 2017
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney

In this second lecture of the Enlightenment series Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy asks us to consider the fact that in little more than a century, a gaol established in Sydney Cove with 1000 souls joined the international stage as an independent Federated nation of in excess of three million – an unprecedented event in the history of man! This presentation explores the theme that the convict settlement was the ‘perfect storm’ to test the idea that the Enlightenment with its roots in late Middle Age Europe, and finding its expression in the Laws of Newton and the logic of Locke, created a confidence and capacity for humanity to achieve a new potential. Professor Clancy will first discuss the influence of the dominant contemporary ideas in science as introduced by James Cook and Joseph Banks and how this plays out in a young Australia in its impact on patterns of scientific development. Second, the self-belief and ‘have a go’ mentality reflected John Locke’s optimistic view of men and women forced to face and control extraordinary challenges not just to survive, but to create a new and independent society, based on science and the goodness of man. The question today is “have we lost that spirit of the Enlightenment to reactive conservatism?”

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy has had a distinguished career as a clinical immunologist. He was awarded an AM for his services to immunology, as well as to cartography through his collection of early maps of Australia. He was Foundation Chair of Pathology at the University of Newcastle and the Director of the Hunter Immunology Unit.

Professor Clancy is a expert on medical history, with a particular focus on the history of infectious disease and immunology, including the impact of plague. He led the ASAEurope: the History of Medicine and Pharmacy tour in 2006, 2011, 2013 and 2015 and has developed a ‘History of Medicine’ course through the College of Physicians. Another area of expertise is cartography and he has written two books on the mapping of Australia and Antarctica (The Mapping of Terra Australis and So Came They South).

This series of five talks, co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, brings together the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education, the discussion of ideas, and discovery. The series is expected to initiate a period of interactive events and activities to the mutual benefit of both societies. The lectures will be presented by an outstanding group of experts in the field, with the topics chosen to represent a broad overview of the Enlightenment from its beginnings as the public recognised and discussed the meanings of change from a long period of mythology and dogma, to grasping reality and what that meant to them and their lives, to its impact on our society today.

The Enlightenment was founded on reasoned discourse and scientific enquiry, connecting with the idea of human equality and the rights of the individual. It was a powerful influence through disruptive revolutions in the 18th century on European and American societies. But what influence did it have on our Australian society, and the institutions entrusted to inform the population of new ideas and discovery? On a more concerning note, to what extent is Nobel Lauriet Joseph Stiglitz correct correct in his view that “Global deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”.

These five Lectures will capture the beginnings of the Enlightenment, its immediate impact on colonial Australia, and two portals of the Enlightenment and their adaptation to changes around them over 200 years. The series will conclude with an interactive Sophistry, taking the theme of the series, and discussing this in the context of contemporary Australian life.

Other lectures in the series:
Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, His library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton OAM FRSN, author, lecturer and literary tour leader, 4 September 2017
Lecture 3: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” by Kim Mckay AO, Executive Director and CEO, the Australian Museum, 1 February 2018
Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM FAHA, Emeritus Curator, New South Wales State Library, 1 March 2018
Lecture 5: Sophistry – “Global deflation : The Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, 5 April 2018

2017 Dirac Lecture

“Is it possible to predict the behaviour of closed physical systems? From the solar systems to a quantum computer”

Dirac lecturer 2017
  Professor Boris Altshuler
  Department of Physics
  Columbia University
  New York

Monday 6 November 2017
Ritchie Theatre, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW

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.

The historical background to Professor Altshuler's lecture goes back to the mechanics of Lagrange following Newton with the integrable systems of equations of motion as deterministic mathematics, in contrast to the ergodic systems describing chaotic motion, known from the Brownian motion of particles. (An ergodic system is one where the position of the points in the system averages out over time, so that if the system runs for a very long time its initial state cannot be determined.) This phenomenon was first observed under a microscope by the 19th-century scientist Robert Brown, and was referred to as the thermo-statistical motion of molecules. This research was further developed by von Oswald, Boltzmann, and last but not least in Einstein’s PhD thesis in Zürich 1905, where he demonstrated that he could arrive at Avogadro’s number. The distance between two molecules increases defining the Lyapunov constant.

Professor Altshuler traced the development of Bose-Einstein statistics leading to the Anderson Localization – for which a Nobel Prize was awarded – and entangled quantum states. These are non-ergodic systems and may be important to the development of quantum computing algorithms.

Dirac Lecture 2017

L to R: Prof. Sven Rogge (Head, School of Physics, UNSW), Dr. Herma Buttner (RSNSW Secretary), Prof. Nicholas Fisk (DVC Research, UNSW), A/Prof. Matthew Arnold (Chair, AIP NSW branch), Prof. Boris Altshuler, Prof. Emma Johnston (Dean of Science, UNSW), Dr. Donald Hector (past President of RSNSW)

Is the Enlightenment dead?

RSNSW/SMSA Joint Lecture Series

Diderot's Encyclopedie frontispiece
detail from the frontispiece of Diderot’s Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 1772

Dates: see below

Venue: all sessions will be held at the Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney

Time: 6 pm drinks, for 6.30-7.30 pm

Cost: $15 for SMSA & Royal Society Fellows/Members, $20 for non-members and friends (per lecture) — all are welcome

This series of five talks, co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, brings together the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education, the discussion of ideas, and discovery. The series is expected to initiate a period of interactive events and activities to the mutual benefit of both societies. The lectures will be presented by an outstanding group of experts in the field, with the topics chosen to represent a broad overview of the Enlightenment from its beginnings as the public recognized and discussed the meanings of change from a long period of mythology and dogma, to grasping reality and what that meant to them and their lives, to its impact on our society today.

The Enlightenment was founded on reasoned discourse and scientific enquiry, connecting with the idea of human equality and the rights of the individual. It was a powerful influence through disruptive revolutions in the 18th century on European and American societies. But what influence did it have on our Australian society, and the institutions entrusted to inform the population of new ideas and discovery? On a more concerning note, to what extent is Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz correct in his view that “Global deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”?

These five lectures will capture the beginnings of the Enlightenment, its immediate impact on Colonial Australia, and two portals of the Enlightenment and their adaptation to changes around them over 200 years. The series will conclude with an interactive Sophistry, taking the theme of the series, and discussing this in the context of contemporary Australian life.

Lectures in the series:

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, His Library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 3: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” by Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO Australian Museum, on 5 February 2018

Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW, on 1 March 2018

Lecture 5:  Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, on 5 April 2018

1257th OGM and open lecture

pip pattison small  “The science of social networks”

  Professor Pip Pattison AO FASSA FRSN

  Deputy Vice Chancellor
  University of Sydney

Wednesday 4 October 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

We are social animals and what we think, feel and do is affected by the social networks in which we live work and play. In her talk, Professor Pattison shared with us some of the complexities associated with analysing the structure and dynamics of social networks; including how we can model networks and their consequences.

She began with a brief account of the theory of networks and then described ways we can model their behaviour. The approach construes global network structure as the outcome of dynamic, interactive processes occurring within local neighbourhoods of a network. She described a hierarchy of models and how they may be applied to real social networks using data obtained through various types of network sampling schemes. In particular, she addressed the problem of inferring the nature of the overall structure of a network from knowledge about fragments of the network.

Using several illustrative problems, she demonstrated how the models can be used to enrich our understanding of real network structures in a variety of contexts.  This included how they shape the processes taking place within them, such as the transmission of infectious diseases, and how the models can be used to guide strategies for preventing the spread of such diseases.

Professor Philippa (Pip) Pattison is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University in Sydney, responsible for the University’s strategy and vision for teaching and learning and students’ educational experience. A quantitative psychologist by background, Professor Pattison began her academic career at the University of Melbourne, and has previously served as president of Melbourne’s Academic Board and as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

The primary focus of Professor Pattison’s research is the development and application of mathematical and statistical models for social networks and network processes. Recent applications have included the transmission of infectious diseases, the evolution of the biotechnology industry in Australia, and community recovery following the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

Professor Pattison was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 1995. She was named on the Queen’s Birthday 2015 Honours List as an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to higher education, particularly through contributions to the study of social network modelling, analysis and theory, and to university leadership and administration.

1256th OGM and open lecture

Helen Mitchell  "Multisensory music:
  listening by ear and eye?"

   Dr Helen Mitchell
   Sydney Conservatorium of Music
   University of Sydney

Wednesday 6 September 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Listening is regarded as the most fundamental way to engage with music performance but this is challenged by a growing body of research which suggests that sight trumps sound. Music is now widely recognised as a multisensory experience, and the challenge for music education is to absorb and include these recent research findings in the music curriculum. This presentation deciphered the complex perceptual skills required for listening to music performers. It described how new experiential learning strategies in music education can prepare future music professionals as critical thinkers about music performance.

Dr Helen Mitchell has a multidisciplinary background in music, as a singer, music scholar and music performance researcher. Listeners’ perception of sound quality is central to Helen's music performance research. Her current work investigates how listeners recognise and describe individual performers’ sound identities, and how listeners ‘hear’ music performers to see to what extent audiences integrate audio and visual information to identify individual performers. 

Poggendorff Lecture 2017

"Applied remote sensing applications for Australian agricultural and horticultural industries"

Associate Professor Andrew Robson, University of New England

Poggendorff picture

Associate Professor Andrew Robson receiving the Poggendorff Medal from His
Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (ret'd.), Governor of NSW

Tuesday 29 August 2017
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney

 With increasing awareness of global food shortages and a downturn in mining exports, Australian agriculture is currently receiving unprecedented industry support and funding for the development and adoption of new technologies. At the forefront of this renaissance is agricultural remote sensing, predominantly due to the advent of drones or UAVs. Whilst the UAV technologies themselves still require much research and development, they have inadvertently increased focus on satellite-based imaging platforms, a technology that has been evolving since the 1970s. The University of New England (UNE) Agricultural Remote Sensing Team (ARST) stands at the forefront of research within this discipline, having established formal collaborations across multiple agricultural industries, and offering support to many more.

In this lecture, A/Prof Robson presented a brief theory of remote sensing with relevance to agriculture, including an overview of commercial satellites and associated costings. The presentation included a detailed discussion of applications currently being developed by ARST, in response to industry demand, ranging from the prediction of fruit size and yield at the individual tree level, the automated derivation and distribution of yield and nitrogen concentration maps to an entire industry and the generation of tools that support national biosecurity and post disaster monitoring.

Associate Professor Robson founded the ARST, a theme of the UNE Precision Agriculture Research Group (PARG), in 2016 on the back of his long-standing research career in agricultural remote sensing. He has been engaged in agricultural research since 1996, with the last 15 years developing spatial applications (remote sensing / GIS) across a number of cropping and farming systems both nationally and internationally. This research has attracted funding from a wide range of industries including peanut (ACIAR, GRDC, University of Florida), grains (GRDC), cotton (CCCCRC), sugar (SRA/SRDC, WWF/ Coca Cola), rice (RIRDC/ NSWDPI), avocados, mangoes, macadamia, banana (Horticulture Innovation Aust/ Federal DAF), vegetables (Horticulture Innovation Aust), pineapples (QDAF) and pastures (CRC-SI/ MLA). Throughout his career, A/Prof Robson has developed an extensive network of industry, research and commercial collaborators that are regularly engaged for the development and delivery of practical and adoptable outcomes.

The Poggendorff Medal

Walter Poggendorff was a biologist and plant breeder with a particular interest in the breeding of rice.  In 1928, the Yanco Rice Research Station was established by the NSW Department of Agriculture with approximately 670 acres just south of Leeton on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.  A brilliant young biologist, Walter Poggendorff was transferred there as an assistant plant breeder.

Poggendorff’s early accomplishments included recognizing the need to quarantine imported rice and producing strains of rice that were able to offer growers late, mid-season, early and very early short-grain varieties.  He also developed similar long-grain strains but these were not required by the market until much later.  Poggendorff is 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.  Poggendorff’s work was not confined to rice – in the 1930s and 1940s, he worked with peaches, apricots, pears, almonds, grapes and rock melons.  Later, he became Chief of the Division of Plant Industry in the NSW Department of Agriculture.

When he died in 1981, he made a bequest to the Royal Society of NSW to fund a lecture.

RSNSW/SMSA Joint Lecture Series: Is the Enlightenment dead?

Susannah Fullerton   Lecture 1:  “Samuel Pepys, His Library
   and the Enlightenment”
 
  Susannah Fullerton
  Author, lecturer and literary tour leader
  susannahfullerton.com.au

Monday 4 September 2017
Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney

This series of five talks, co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, brings together the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education, the discussion of ideas, and discovery. The series is expected to initiate a period of interactive events and activities to the mutual benefit of both societies. The lectures will be presented by an outstanding group of experts in the field, with the topics chosen to represent a broad overview of the Enlightenment from its beginnings as the public recognized and discussed the meanings of change from a long period of mythology and dogma, to grasping reality and what that meant to them and their lives, to its impact on our society today.

The Enlightenment was founded on reasoned discourse and scientific enquiry, connecting with the idea of human equality and the rights of the individual. It was a powerful influence through disruptive revolutions in the 18th century on European and American societies. But what influence did it have on our Australian society, and the institutions entrusted to inform the population of new ideas and discovery? On a more concerning note, to what extent is Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz correct in his view that “Global Deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”?

These five Lectures will capture the beginnings of the Enlightenment, its immediate impact on Colonial Australia, and two portals of the Enlightenment and their adaptation to changes around them over 200 years. The series will conclude with an interactive Sophistry, taking the theme of the series, and discussing this in the context of contemporary Australian life.

Samuel pepysIn this first lecture Susannah Fullerton discussed the life and diaries of Samuel Pepys and what they tell us about The Enlightenment. Susannah Fullerton is Sydney’s best known speaker on famous authors and their 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.

Susannah Fullerton, OAM, FRSN, has been President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia for the past 21 years. She is Sydney’s best known lecturer on famous authors and their works. She is also Patron of the Rudyard Kipling Society of Australia. Susannah leads popular literary tours for Australians Studying Abroad to the UK, France, Italy and the USA. She is the author of several books about Jane Austen and also of Brief Encounters: Literary Travellers in Australia, and has written and recorded two audio CDs.

Other lectures in the series:

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one’s own Intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 3: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” by Kim Mckay AO, Director and CEO Australian Museum, on 1 February 2018

Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW, on 1 March 2018

Lecture 5: Sophistry - “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AM, on 5 April 2018

Science Week RSNSW Lunchtime Science Talks

Science Week Logo

Four RSNSW  Lunchtme Science Talks as part of Science Week

University of Sydney Business School CBD campus, Level 17, Stockland Building, 133 Castlereagh St.

Free admission

Talk 1 “Smoking and lung cancer: How are we doing?”

John Murray  Professor John Murray
  School of Mathematics and Statistics
  University of NSW 

https://sydneyscience.com.au/2017/event/smoking-and-lung-cancer/

Friday 11 August 2017, 12.30 – 1.30pm

What are the rates of smoking and lung cancer these days – are we doing better? Hear Professor John Murray share some of his extensive research in this field and learn what the latest evidence means for our future.

 

Talk 2: “Fred Astaire and the Science of Spontaneity”

Kathleen Riley   Dr Kathleen Riley
  Writer, classical scholar and theatre historian

Monday 14 August 2017, 12.30 – 1.30pm

https://sydneyscience.com.au/2017/event/fred-astaire/

Join Dr Kathleen Riley, as she focuses on the science behind superstar Fred Astaire’s ability to make the technically complex and endlessly rehearsed look simple, spontaneous and effortless. The talk draws in part on her book The Astaires: Fred and Adele.

 

Talk 3: “Personalised medicine – healthcare in the 21st century”

Leslie Burnett  Professor Leslie Burnett
  Chief Medical Officer, Genome.One
  Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Tuesday 15 August 2017, 12.30 – 1.30pm

https://sydneyscience.com.au/2017/event/personalised-medicine-and-you/

The ability to know a patient’s most unique and personal information contained in their DNA is increasingly informing treatments and revolutionising health policy. Explore this revolution and discuss how governments must develop the strategies and vision for a healthcare system that takes advantage of these new opportunities to keep you healthy.

Note: owing to unforeseen circumstances, Associate Professor Kristine Barlow-Stewart is unable to give this talk and Professor Burnett has kindly agreed to replace her.

 

Talk 4: “Scientific and not-so-scientific fraud: crooks, cranks and charlatans”

Brynn Hibbert   Emeritus Professor D Brynn Hibbert
  School of Analytical Chemistry, UNSW
  President RSNSW

Thursday 17 August 2017, 12.30 – 1.30pm

https://sydneyscience.com.au/2017/event/science-fraud/

The use of science to sell strange and fraudulent information is not new. Join Professor Brynn Hibbert, President of The Royal Society of NSW, and learn some of the wackier examples of scientific and not-so-scientific fraud, starting in the Middle Ages in Europe and continuing in Sydney in the 21st century.

Everybody needs science in their lives

National Science week

National Science Week event, jointly sponsored by the Royal Society of NSW and the University of New England

Wednesday 16 August 2017, 2–4pm

UNE Future campus, 211 Church Street, Parramatta

Contact: Charles Greenaway UNE, email: porjectexodusii "at" gmail.com,  phone: 0466 601 647

A short meeting on educational psychology, connectivism and the use of the scientific method in management, followed by a Q&A session.

RSNSW & Four Academies Forum 2017

“The future of rationality in a post-truth world”

Government House

Hosted by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (ret’d.), Governor of NSW and Patron of the Royal Society of NSW

Wednesday, 29 November 2017, 9am–4.30pm
Government House, Sydney

This year’s Forum discussed the implications of the rise of a ‘post-truth’ approach to shaping public opinion.  Does it have the potential to undermine the institutions upon which open, democratic societies are built?  Does it advantage the propagandists and those who wish to pursue sinister agendas?  What public responsibilities do the traditional and emerging media have?  What should – or can – those who believe in evidence-based, objectively-determined policy do about it?  Distinguished scholars from Australia, New Zealand, and England addressed the following topics:

• Rationality and post-truth: the threat to democratic society - Dr Donald Hector AM FRSN

• Wind Turbine Syndrome: a communicated disease - Prof Simon Chapman AO FASSA

• The Brexit experience: evidence, expertise and post-truth politics - Prof James Wilsdon

• Role of evidence and expertise in policymaking - Sir Peter Gluckman FRS

• Influences on evidence… putting the cart before the horse - Prof Lisa Bero

• Why are scientists so quiet? … the public voice of the scientist - Prof Emma Johnston FRSN

• Algorithms of hate: how the Internet facilitates racism … - Prof Andrew Jakubowicz

• Mind and language in the post-truth era - Prof Nick Enfield FAHA

• Rapporteur summary - Ross Gittins FASSA FRSN

 

The abstracts of the speakers' talks can be accessed here.

1255th OGM and open lecture

ann williamson   “Self-driving cars: will they help?”

   Professor Ann Williamson

   Director
   Transport and Road Safety Research Centre
   School of Aviation, UNSW Sydney

Wednesday 2 August 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

Autonomous vehicles and driver-assist technologies are seen as the 'next big thing' in transport and road safety. Many authoritative organisations are predicting benefits of up to 95% reductions in road traffic crashes: levels never achieved before. She argued that these forecasts are at best optimistic and at worst misleading, as they are based on the false ideas that driver error is at the heart of almost all road safety problems and that new technology is infallible. Ann's presentation described the main issues associated with different degrees of human- autonomous vehicle interactions using examples from aviation and road transport. She showed how some apparently beneficial technological advances can increase the likelihood of accidents by overwhelming a driver with information and because of the time involved in humans responding to problems arising.  She emphasised the need to act now to refocus the introduction of new technology in vehicles towards making them more usable tools for people if we are to maximize their benefits.

Ann Williamson is Director of the Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research Centre and Professor of Aviation Safety at UNSW Sydney. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW and of the Australian College of Road Safety. She has a PhD in Psychology, was Foundation Director of the NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre and previously Head of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Unit at the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. Ann’s research focusses on human factors and injury in the areas of transportation and workplace safety, in particular on the role of error, especially skill-based error, in safety and the effects of fatigue on performance. She has been an invited technical expert on advisory committees for a wide range of transport and road safety authorities. She has twice been awarded an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (2005-2015) and won the Ron Cumming Memorial medal from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (2013), the Sustained Achievement over a Professional Career Award (2011), and the Meritorious Achievement in Research Award (2004). She has been President of the Australian Injury Prevention Network.

1254th OGM and open lecture

 morello small “Quantum computers: how and why”

  Andrea Morello
  Professor of Quantum Engineering
  UNSW Sydney

Wednesday 5 July 2017
Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney

The talk certainly lived up to its promise of giving an excellent insight into a subject that, for most of the audience, would be far removed from their professional knowledge and experience. Starting out with a simple demonstration of how quantum effects are size dependent, Andrea went on to describe some of the current realisations of quantum devices that can manipulate one bit of information – a qubit – and, in particular, the device pioneered by his group, which uses the coupling between the nuclear and electron spin of a phosphorus atom in silicon. However, a single qubit device is, in principle, functionally no different from a single memory cell in a normal silicon chip. The big difference between current computers and a quantum computer arises through the effect of entanglement, which allows N entangled qubits to be manipulated as a single entity with 2N states (a memory chip with N cells can also store any one of 2N different “words”, but such a word can only be changed bit by bit). The promise of enormously enhanced computing power is currently being pursued in a number of corporations, including Google, IBM, and Lockheed Martin, and here in Australia a consortium of Andrea’s group at UNSW, Telstra, and CBA, with Government support, is being created to stay in the race – the Royal Society of NSW wishes them lots of success. The great interest in Andrea’s presentation was demonstrated by the vigorous Q&A session that followed, which explored some of the challenges

Royal Society events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes a number of events in Sydney throughout the year.  These include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January).  Society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given to the membership.  This is followed by a talk and optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and talk, and to cover refreshments.  The dinner is a separate charge, and must be booked in advance.  All OGMs are open to members of the public.

The first OGM in February has speakers drawn from the Royal Society Scholarship winners, and the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April or May event is our black-tie Annual Dinner and Distinguished Fellow lecture.

Other events are held in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • The Four Societies lecture (with the Australian Institute of Energy, the Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia [Sydney Division] and the Australian Nuclear Association)
  • The Forum (with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia)
  • The Dirac lecture (with UNSW Australia and the Australian Institute of Physics)
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture (with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute)
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