July Lectures in Physics

Every Friday in July since 1968 the July Lectures in Physics have been informing and entertaining the public - each year, eminent University of Melbourne and visiting physicists present historical and up-to-the-minute perspectives on a current topic in physics. See upcoming July Lectures here, and view our archives below.


Prof. Nicole Bell: Quantum foundations of the Universe – The creation of matter

Prof. Nicole Bell: Quantum foundations of the Universe – The creation of matter

The evolution of the very early universe is described by quantum mechanics and particle physics. The first moments after the big bang saw the creation of an asymmetry between matter and antimatter, the production of dark matter, and the formation of light elements in ‘primordial nucleosynthesis’. This lecture looks at the way quantum processes created the matter in our universe.

Prof. Lloyd Hollenberg: Quantum computers: approaching fast

Prof. Lloyd Hollenberg: Quantum computers: approaching fast

Quantum computers are beginning to emerge from decades of development in physics research labs around the world – prototypes are here, and you can access them via the cloud. But what are they, and what are they good for? To answer these questions we will take a brief tour through the world of quantum computers – covering their origins, current status and outlook. The talk will be augmented by quantum programming examples, both in a simulation environment and on physical quantum computer systems.

Prof. Katya Pas: Quantum chemistry: quantum effects in our everyday lives

Prof. Katya Pas: Quantum chemistry: quantum effects in our everyday lives

Quantum chemistry had humble beginnings - in 1927 quantum mechanics was applied to chemistry for the first time, to describe the chemical bonds of the hydrogen molecule. Since then, advancements in quantum chemistry has gone hand in hand with advancements in computing. By the 1990s quantum chemistry methods could solve problems from thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical reactions to excited states of biological systems. The arrival of petascale computing has resulted in an explosion of studies to understand the properties of organic,  emiconductor and metallic materials used in our everyday life. We now have quantum chemical software that solves the Schrödinger equation for chemical systems consisting of nearly half a million atoms… a mighty achievement almost unthinkable a few decades ago.

Prof. David Jamieson: Thermonuclear quantum mechanics: the elusive promise of fusion

Prof. David Jamieson, Thermonuclear quantum mechanics: the elusive promise of fusion

It is hard now to imagine that before the 1930s, the source of the Sun’s power was not known for sure. After the reveal of mechanism of thermonuclear fusion, prospects for controlled fusion as a source of power on Earth were proposed, but the main nuclear reaction in the Sun uses the weak nuclear reaction and this is too feeble for an engineered reactor. This lecture looks at the prospects for a breakthrough and the role of quantum mechanics that may provide new insights to address the difficult challenges. Lecture dedicated to the memory of Prof Tony Klein.


Dr Suzie Sheehy: Working across boundaries: Insights from the pioneers of nuclear and quantum physics

Associate Professor Duane Hamacher: Indigenous Astronomy, Science and Truth-Telling

Dr Elizabeth Hinde: The Physical Architecture of Biology

Professor Geoffrey Taylor: How International Collaboration enables Fundamental Physics Breakthrough

Professor David Jamieson: Ahead of their time – Revolutionary discoveries in Physics made too soon


Professor David Jamieson: Physics of life: what do the laws of physics say?

Professor Harry Quiney: Molecule of life: imaging life's machinery

Dr Suzie Sheehy: Ion beams for cancer therapy: new technologies for treating inoperable tumours

Professor James McCaw: Physics of epidemics: helping to keep us safe

Dr Katie Auchettl: The elements of life: from supernovae to planets


Professor Emeritus Anthony Klein: The physics of the Apollo Moon mission in 1969: Do astronauts obey Kepler’s laws?

26 July 2019

Dr Helen Brand: Shining a light on Solar system geology

19 July 2019

Associate Professor Roger Rassool: Oxygen in Physics: From the Moon to the FREO2 project

12 July 2019

Professor David Jamieson: Physics and the Moon - The double planet: the physics of the earth-moon system

5 July 2019


David Simpson: Quantum Mechanics and Biology: What are the Prospects?

Associate Professor Nicole Bell: The Rise of Cosmology and Particle Physics

Dr Matthew Dolan: The Legacy of Stephen Hawking and the Prospects for the Great Reconciliation

13 July 2018

Professor David Jamieson: The Arrow of Time

6 July 2018


Associate Professor Martin SeviorAntimatter in space: the Alpha spectrometer on the international space station and the cosmological implications

28 July 2017

Dr Michele Trenti: The promise of nanosatellites: getting the University of Melbourne’s fast response telescope into space

21 July 2017

Dr Katie Mack: Humans in space: what are the human impacts of space travel and living on other planets?

14 July 2017

Professor David Jamieson: Methods for reaching extremely high speeds: what are the prospects for fast trips to the stars?

7 July 2017


Professor Stuart Wyithe: Einstein’s Gravity - Black Holes, Dark Matter and Gravitational Lensing

29 July 2016

Professor Elisabetta Barberio: Dark Matter and Gravity - Searching for missing mass at Stawell gold mine

22 July 2016

Professor Matthew Bailes: Pulsars - Nature's naturally occurring gravitational laboratories

15 July 2016

Professor Andrew Melatos

8 July 2016

Professor David Jamieson

1 July 2016


Professor Ann Roberts: Light and matter - Bending light waves for new technology

31 July 2015

Professor Stuart Wyithe: Distant light - Reading the signals from the oldest light in the Universe

24 July 2015

Dr Meg Urey: Prospecting with light - The search for supermassive black holes in galaxies

17 July 2015

Professor Ken Crozier: Nanoscale light - The surprising world of optical nanostructures

10 July 2015

Professor David Jamieson: Understanding Light - from the Arab scholars of the 11th C to Maxwell and Einstein

3 July 2015

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