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The Royal Society of New South Wales

The Society is the oldest learned society in the Southern Hemisphere, tracing its origin to the Philosophical Society of Australasia, founded in Sydney in 1821.

Our purpose is to advance knowledge through "... the encouragement of studies and investigations in Science Art Literature and Philosophy".

Membership of the Royal Society of New South Wales is open to anyone interested in Science, Art, Literature or Philosophy and their relationships. For more information, go to About us, visit our Membership Page or download our Brochure.


Royal Society of NSW Awards 2014

The Royal Society of New South Wales is accepting nominations for the following awards:

Clarke Medal

Significant contribution in Botany

Edgeworth David Medal

Distinguished contributions by a young scientist under the age of 35 years at 1 January 2014

James Cook Medal

Outstanding contributions to science and human welfare

Warren Prize

Research of national or international significance by engineers and technologists in their professional practice evidenced by a paper in the Journal of the RSNSW.

History and Philosophy of Science Medal

Outstanding achievement in the History and Philosophy of Science

RSNSW Scholarships

Outstanding achievements by early-career individuals working in a science related field who are enrolled for a research degree on 1 July 2014.

Links to the awards pages will lead to full information of criteria for the awards and the nomination process.

The closing date for all awards is 30 September 2014.

Successful nominees will be informed in December 2014, and awards will be bestowed at the Annual Dinner or other functions in 2015.

Forthcoming events

Wednesday 1 October 2014

1226th Ordinary General Meeting

"Australia's most spectacular environmental rehabilitation project: Phillip Island, Pacific Ocean"

Speaker: Dr Peter Coyne

Time: 6:00 pm for 6:30 pm

Venue: Union, Universities and Schools Club
25 Bent Street

Members: $5; non-members: $20. (Dinner after the meeting $75.)

Note dress requirement: Jacket & tie


The full 2014 programme may be found here

Recent events

Wednesday 3 September 2014

1225th Ordinary General Meeting

"The Fourth Dimension and Beyond: the Paradox of Working in Unimaginable Worlds

Scientia Professor Ian Sloan AO FRSN

People are fascinated by the idea of the fourth dimension - the speaker will illustrate by the movie "Cube 2 - Hypercube”, and other examples from popular culture. That movie is about four dimensions, but can any of us imagine a 10-dimensional hypercube? Yet as a research mathematician I develop, and validate, practical computational schemes for problems that live on hypercubes in maybe hundreds of dimensions. (Where do such problems come from? From the finance industry, from environmental problems of groundwater flows, and many other places.) How is it possible to work in such unimaginable worlds? This non-technical lecture will explore the paradox. The answer lies, of course, in the power of mathematics, to boldly go where imagination fails.

Professor Ian Sloan completed physics and mathematics undergraduate degrees at Melbourne University, an MSc in mathematical physics at Adelaide, and a PhD in theoretical atomic physics at the University of London. He was appointed to a Personal Chair in Mathematics the University of New South Wales in 1983, andScientia Professor in 1999. He has held visiting appointments in the USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, but still has UNSW as his academic home.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

1224th Ordinary General Meeting

"Science: essential education and the role of the Australian Academy of Science"

Emeritus Scientia Professor Eugenie Lumbers AM FAA Dist FRSN

Eugenie LumbersAt no time in human history has the demand for a highly educated highly skilled workforce been so necessary. In particular, the workforce of tomorrow needs to be educated in science and mathematics beyond high school level. Yet there has been a continuing decline in science education since the 1990s so that in 2010, only half of our school children were studying science beyond the first four years of secondary education. The Australian Academy of Science is heavily involved in the introduction of innovative science learning programs for all levels of education, from primary to early secondary, and now to upper secondary, and there is a positive attitude in the community towards science. It has to be said that Australia is now at a cross roads in terms of its scientific and technological literacy.

A concerted effort by all educators at all levels, the community and business to promote science education and science as a valuable and satisfying profession is required if Australia is to maintain its current position in the world.

Professor Eugenie Lumbers is an internationally respected authority on foetal and maternal physiology. For many years she has worked in cardiovascular and renal physiology, with particular reference to blood pressure regulation in the renin-angiotensin system. She graduated MB BS in Adelaide in 1965 and received an MD in 1970. She was awarded a DSc at the University of NSW in 1986 where she was given a personal chair in 1988. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

New Fellows cocktail party and 1223rd Ordinary General Meeting :

"What causes Multiple Sclerosis?"

Professor Graeme Stewart AM

Professor Graham Stewart AM, director of clinical immunology at Westmead Hospital has researched the genetic influences on disease, in particular on multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is the commonest chronic neurological disorder of young at all. It usually starts with a relapsing/remitting phase (with symptoms occur and then go into remission at for extended periods), usually with onset at about the age of 30. The disease can be relatively benign with periods of disability, it can present as a relapsing/remitting disease with gradual increase in disability, or in about 10-20% of patients it can present as being "primary progressive”, where disability progressively increases over time.

MS is caused by the body's immune system malfunctioning – macrophages devour the myelin sheath around nerve cells, exposing the nerve axon and thereby disrupting the flow of information along the nerve cell. The body is able to repair the damage by re-myelinating the nerve cells after this initial attack however if the myelin is attacked the second time in the same place, the body is unable to repair the sheath and relapse occurs. Hence the symptoms of the disease progress. (Read more...)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

1222nd Ordinary General Meeting

"What Lessons Have We Learnt from the Global Financial Crisis?"

Professor Robert Marks

In 2008, the world suffered "the equivalent of cardiac Arrest”, according to the Financial Times. It became virtually impossible for any institution to finance itself, (that is, borrow in the markets) longer than overnight. With the collapse of Lehman Bros, interbank credit markets froze and counterparty risk was considered to be too great for prospective lenders to take on the transactions. The London interbank overnight lending rate, typically in the range of 0.2% to 0.8% spiked to over 3%. This situation raises two questions: what caused this global financial crisis (GFC)? and how can we attempt to avoid similar crises in the future? The origins of the crisis go back more than 30 years.

Starting in 1977, there were substantial changes made to US investment legislation. Early in this period, the aim was to make finance more readily available to low-income borrowers, to progressively eliminate using the controls on mortgage rates and to remove discrimination in the US housing market. (Read more...)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Annual General Meeting and 1220th Ordinary General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the Society took place at 6:00 pm, on Thursday, 3 April 2014, followed by the 1220th OGM at 6:30 pm.

"The Jameson Cell"
Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson AO

At the 1220th ordinary general meeting of the Society, Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson described the development of the Jameson cell, one of the most important technological contributions to the Australian economy in the last 50 years.

The Jameson cell is a flotation cell used in minerals processing. First two stages of extracting minerals are the mine itself from which the ore is recovered and the concentrator, where the valuable mineral is extracted from the rest. Typically the valuable components are no more than 2% of ore recovered, so there is a massive challenge in isolating this from the ore for further processing. An important technology developed to achieve this concentration step was the flotation cell, a process first developed early in the 20th century. (Read more...)

Wednesday 5 March 2014

1219th Ordinary General Meeting :

"Big Data Knowledge Discovery: Machine Learning Meets Natural Science"

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS, CEO, National ICT Australia

Hugh Durrant-Whyte is an internationally-recognised expert on the analysis of "big data” – the mass of information that is being generated around current information and communication technologies. Much of this is "metadata” – data that is captured as part of some activity (for example, when a digital photograph is taken also recording camera settings, capture date etc or the data kept by telecommunication companies every time a mobile phone call is made).

2.5×1018 bytes of data are generated every day – there is immense value in mining this data but this requires sophisticated analytical techniques. "Data analytics” is the term coined for technologies to analyse this data in areas as varied as the finance industry, the health industry, planning infrastructure, failure analysis in mechanical and electronic equipment and environmental analysis, to name but a few examples. (Read more...)


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Annual Meeting of the Four Societies: "Questions About Power in NSW"

Professor Mary O'Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer

At the annual Four Societies Lecture, Professor Mary O'Kane considered the major questions that face NSW in the future of energy production and utilisation. Asking the right questions is key – it reduces the time taken to identify the best solutions.

Australia is the ninth largest energy producer in the world and one of only four net energy exporters. We have 38% of the world's uranium, 9% of the world's coal and 2% of the world's gas. In terms of consumption, agriculture takes 3%, mining 13.5%, manufacturing and construction 25%, transportation 38% and residential about 11%. The 2014 Commonwealth Energy White Paper is seeking to address a number of questions regarding Australia's energy future. (Read more...)

Thursday 19 February 2014

Joint meeting of the Society and the Australian Academy of Forensics Sciences

"Searching for clues: Unmasking art fraud and fraudsters"

Associate Professor Robyn Sloggett

At the first joint meeting of the Society and the Australian Academy of Forensics Sciences, Professor Robyn Sloggitt explain the approach taken by forensics scientists in investigating prosecuting cultural heritage offences. The difficulty that faces authorities is determining whether or not cultural records are true and verifiable. Forensic examination used in these situations follows the Locard principle (named after Edmond Locard the pioneering French forensics scientist) that "every contact leaves a trace”.

In order to determine the provenance of works of art, the forensics it seeks to establish how the object was made, what it is made of, when it was made and where it was made. (Read more...)

Seal of the RSNSW


New Fellows elected

The Society presented testamurs to eleven new Fellows at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 2 July 2014. (more...)

Presentation of Fellowships and the 2013 Awards

The Society's Annual Dinner was held at the Union University & Schools Club on Wed 7 May 2014. Eleven fellowships were presented and prizes and medals were formally presented to the 2013 Award winners. (more...)

Walter Burfitt Prize Professor Michelle Simmons, UNSW
James Cook Medal Professor Brien Holden, UNSW
Edgeworth David Medal Associate Professor David Wilson, UNSW
Clarke Medal Professor William Griffin, Macquarie University

Distinguished Fellows Lecture 2014

The Society's Distinguished Fellows lecture was presented by Prof Barry Jones AO Dist FRSN. (more...)

Peter Doherty invested

Prof Peter Doherty AC Dist FRSN was invested by the Governor at Government House on Wed 16 April 2014 (more...)



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