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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1259th OGM, Jak Kelly Award 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

Date: Wednesday 6 December 2017, 6:00 for 6:30 pm
Venue: Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street, Sydney
Entry: $10 for Members and Associates, $20 for non-members, which includes a welcome drink.   Dress: business
Christmas Party (including food and drinks): $40 for Members and Associate Members, $50 for non-members.
Reservations: https://nsw-royalsoc.currinda.com/register/event/39
Note: reservations must be made at least 2 days before.
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone 9431 8691
All are welcome

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.

In this lecture Moritz Merklein will present 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 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 engaged in many outreach activities.

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 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

The Royal Society of NSW and 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

Date: Wednesday, 29 November 2017, 9am–5:30pm (8:30am registration)
Venue: Government House, Sydney

Places are limited. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to determine availability.

This year’s Forum will discuss 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 will address 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

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