1268th OGM and open lecture - Royal Society of NSW News & Events - The Royal Society of NSW

1268th OGM and open lecture

tara murphy compressed
   “Breakthrough! The detection of gravitational
    waves from a neutron star merger”

   Associate Professor Tara Murphy
   School of Physics
   The University of Sydney

There was also a 3-minute thesis talk, “Bio-Nano Robo-Mofos”, by Mr Jonathan Berengut, UNSW 2018 3MT winner.

Wednesday 7 November 2018
Gallery Room, State Library of NSW

On August 17th 2017 the LIGO-Virgo interferometer detected gravitational waves from a neutron star merger in a galaxy 130 million light years away. This was a breakthrough for physics and astronomy. What followed was a frenzy of activity as astronomers around the world worked to detect electromagnetic radiation with conventional telescopes. After this unprecedented effort the event was detected in gamma-rays, x-rays, visible light and radio waves. Professor Murphy described this incredible scientific result and its implications, including predictions made by Einstein, the production of gold and other heavy elements, and our understanding of black hole formation. She also gave a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective of how it happened, and discussed the changes in the way we do science in this era of big astronomy.

Associate Professor Tara Murphy is an astrophysicist working at the University of Sydney and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney and a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh.  Tara leads an international team of researchers trying to detect and study transient and highly variable astrophysical phenomena with the MWA and ASKAP radio telescopes in Western Australia. In 2017 her team detected the first radio emission from a gravitational wave event caused by the merger of two neutron stars. Tara is also passionate about teaching and public outreach. In 2014 she co-founded a start-up company, Grok Learning, to get high school students around the world excited about computational thinking.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition brings together some of the best and brightest PhD students, who have just three minutes to explain what they are doing, how they are doing it, and why it is important. The competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills, and their capacity to communicate complex ideas to a non-specialist audience. Competitors are allowed one PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props.

This month’s presentation was by Mr Jonathan Berengut, winner of the UNSW 2018 3MT competition. In the field of bionanotechnology, complex, precise nanoscale structures are assembled from biological molecules like DNA. It is even possible to build flexible, modular ‘nanobots’ capable of relatively simple tasks like targeted drug delivery and biosensing. To increase the scale and complexity of the tasks that these nanobots can perform, it is necessary to program them to assemble into larger formations. Jonathan’s research centres around the design and synthesis of DNA-nanobots that assemble into specific formations such as rows of fixed length. This research furthers our control of matter at the nanoscale and thus may lead to novel nanomaterials, nanoelectronics and nanomedicines.

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