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March 17, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Koalas, Quantum Mechanics and My Role as the 2016 Women in Physics Lecturer in Australia [refresh]
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Blogger Catalina Curceanu wrote on Nov. 2, 2016 @ 18:22 GMT
On the Women in Physics Lecture tour
This August, I was honored to make my first visit to Australia as the winner of the 2016 Women in Physics International Award of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP). I gave a series of lectures across Australia, holding about 30 seminars and conferences in a number of universities, research centers, colleges and public sites. The series started in Tasmania and moved to Sydney (where I lectured at the astronomical observatory), the Wollongong Science Centre, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne. A real tour de force which was possible only due to the support from the AIP colleagues who organized the tour in the best way.

While lecturing across Australia I met children as young as six, but I also met with interested audiences of all ages, including some poets that took part in my conferences. I talked about stars, black holes, quantum mechanics and about my research activities at the DAFNE collider in Frascati (LNF-INFN) and at the Gran Sasso underground laboratory, including my FQXi financed project about testing collapse models of quantum theory. (You can read more about what collapse models are and my research in my FQXi Q&A.)

One of the goals of the tour was lecturing about science to girls and encouraging them to pursue a career in science—a goal which was achieved, considering the girls’ overwhelming enthusiasm and participation in the meetings. One of the most successful activities was the Girls in Physics Breakfast, which involved—despite the early start at 7 am—more than 100 girls from 20 different Melbourne colleges. They asked so many questions about my life and about "what it is like to be a scientist."

Maybe the most interesting question during the tour was asked to me by an enthusiast 8 years old boy—he wanted to know "How big is space?"

I met so many girls and boys wishing to study science; looking into their eyes I saw a universe of beautiful possibilities, I saw the future.

I also visited wonderful laboratories in universities and science centres in the towns I visited and discussed with Australian colleagues about physics, research activities and possibilities to collaborate in the near future both on technological developments (detector systems and their possible use in fundamental science and applications) and new experiments at the underground laboratory near Melbourne in construction. Why not to test the collapse models in the Southern Hemisphere as well?

I also understood what makes Australia such a wonderful country: people with different cultural backgrounds, coming from all places in the world, all of them proud to be Australians! I believe that we, the rest of the world, can only learn the lesson Australia teaches us!

I didn’t have the chance to meet many koalas or kangaroos, but I met a lot of enthusiastic people, who love science and consider it a fundamental resource for our society.

Still a connection was established between koalas and…quantum mechanics: in a girls’ college in Melbourne, where I was lecturing about the Schroedinger’s cat paradox and future quantum technologies, I had the surprise to receive from the girls, after my presentation, a very nice little box. Opening it I found a koala toy—the girls told me they wanted to use the koala instead of the cat to express the “measurement problem” which they had studied to prepare for our discussions.

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this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Nov. 2, 2016 @ 18:37 GMT
Congratulations.:) Koalas and Kangaroos d have loved if they were there :)

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Steve Dufourny replied on Nov. 2, 2016 @ 19:47 GMT
I am happy to see this.The sciences community is still a little too much hormonal but that evolves like all fortunately.All kinds of discriminations are not welcome when we understand the universalism.The skills are the most important, the rest is vain after all.Regards

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Graeme Melville replied on Nov. 5, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT
I was one of the committee members of the Australian Institute of Physics that hosted Catalina in Sydney for the 'Women in Physics' event. I would like to say that Catalina was one of the most enthusiastic, excellent communicators and knowledgeable people that has engaged in this event over many years. She was not only a credit to inspiring women to do physics but was a valuable asset in showing the value of science to our everyday lives and why we should pursue what we are good/interested in. Catalina made many friends in Australia and inspired students and the general public equally.

We all wish Catalina well in her 'Neutron Star, research.

Dr Graeme Melville

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Steve Dufourny replied on Nov. 5, 2016 @ 09:07 GMT
Hello from Belgium Dr Melville ,

Nice to know you.Thanks for sharing, it is important to catalyse the interactions between researchers and students.

I am wishing her also all the best in her "neutron star"research.


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Steve Dufourny wrote on Nov. 5, 2016 @ 15:48 GMT
Hello Eckard,

:) sorry Neutron stars is better.I write too quickly without rereead.You have a special humor :) about infinity ,I beleive the same?Th universe like all quantity is finite.The infinity has many interprétations.The infinite entropy for me is above our understanding ,above our physicality.The universe created by this infinite consiousness if I can say.We can only encircle the finite systems and groups indeed.The mass is quantifiable.All physical reality is quantifiable due to these finite series and correlated proportions.

(--)(--)(--)(--) :)

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