Powerhouse Museum

Invisible Forces: Changing the World

Talk Adults
Book Now

With applications spanning pharmaceutical development to aeronautical engineering, developments in how we understand and apply physics in technology is making a big impact on the world.

Hear from world leading physicists and scientists working in nanoscience and engineering, space engineering, biomaterials and vacuum science as they share their expertise on how physics has been applied to create new technologies that solve diverse problems. In a conversation led by popular astronomer and science communicator Fred Watson, learn about the invisible forces that underpin our greatest technology.

Professor Christine Charles (Australian National University)

Christine Charles is Professor and Head of the Space Plasma, Power and Propulsion laboratory at the Australian National University (ANU). Born in Brittany (France), she has a French Engineering degree in applied physics, a Masters in Material Science, a Ph D in plasma physics, a French Habilitation thesis in materials science and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz from the ANU. Her research interests include space science and space propulsion. She is the inventor of the Helicon Double Layer Thruster, a new electrode-less magneto-plasma thruster for space use. Subsequent to the development of the WOMBAT XL space simulation chamber at ANU, she has been contributing to an increasing number of nano-satellite projects and space missions. She was recently awarded the 2015 Women in Industry Excellence in Engineering. She has published over 200 articles in various international peer-reviewed journals and her scientific output has been recognised by her Fellowship of the American Physical Society in 2013 and her Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science in 2015. She actively popularises her science on ABC Catalyst, Discovery Channel, radio and public lectures and she was a TEDx Canberra speaker in 2014 (http://youtu.be/n-17xqfF4FU). She plays keyboard jazz with her group, Harmonic Propulsion, that performs around Canberra.

Professor Gordon Wallace (University of Wollongong)

Professor Gordon Wallace is involved in the design and discovery of new materials for use in energy and health. In the health area this involves using new materials to develop biocommunications from the molecular to skeletal domains in order to improve human performance. In the energy area this involves use of new materials to transform and to store energy, including novel wearable and implantable energy systems for use in medical technologies. He is committed to fundamental research and the translation of fundamental discoveries into practical applications. His contributions are greatly recognised and he has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science and Innovation (2016). In 2017, Dr. Wallace was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia and was announced as the NSW Scientist of the Year.

Professor Marcela Bilek (University of Sydney)

Professor Marcela Bilek is Professor of Applied Physics and Surface Engineering at the University of Sydney and leads the Applied Physics and Plasma Research Group (APP). She holds a B.Sc. (Hons I) from the University of Sydney, a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK and an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, USA. Previous appointments include visiting Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA; visiting Professor at the Technische Universitat Hamburg – Harburg, Germany; and Research Fellow, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, UK. She has published over 300 refereed journal articles, 1 book, 5 book chapters and 10 patents. Among her prestigious appointments and prizes are the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year (2002); ARC Federation Fellowship (2003); Australian Academy of Science Pawsey Medal (2004); Australian Innovation Challenge Award (2011); ARC Future Fellowship (2012). She has been elected to the Fellowship of the American Physical Society (APS) and the IEEE in recognition of her work on plasma processes for materials modification and synthesis.

Professor Lars Montelius (International Nanoscience Centre)

Lars Montelius is the Director–General of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory and Professor in Nanotechnology at Lund University, Sweden. He is also the founder of several Swedish companies working with nanotechnology and the President of the IUVSTA: The International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications with more than 150 000 members from 32 countries, member of the EC Executive High Level Group (HLG) at DG NMPB, and board member and Working Group Chair of the two European Technology Platforms NANOFutures: The European initiative for sustainable development by Nanotechnologies and EuMat: The European Technology Platform for Advanced Engineering Materials and Technologies. Between 2003 and 2009, Lars Montelius was Dean of the Physics Department, Science and Engineering Faculties at Lund University and between 2009 and 2011, he was director for Øresund University & Øresund Science Region, a cross-border cooperation between eleven universities and three regional authorities of two countries in the Øresund Region.


Presented in partnership with the Vacuum and Surface Science Conference of Asia and Australia.