Physics Talented Student Program

For students who want a little more

If you have a high ATAR (or equivalent) then there is a special physics program for you! The School of Physics Talented Student Program (TSP) is part of the Faculty of Science Talented Student Program. The program is offered by invitation of the Dean of Science on the basis of ATAR score for first year students, and examination performance for students in subsequent years (see the Faculty information for details). In special circumstances, Physics may allow a small additional number of high-achieving students to participate in Physics TSP activities.

This program extends the physics course by special seminars and project work, together with a major excursion in the second semester break to locations of interest. The seminar program sometimes has a theme each year. In 2005 we focussed on the International Year of Physics which celebrated the 100th anniversary of Einstein's miracle year and in 2009 we celebrated the International Year of Astronomy. In most years, we introduce you to research highlights in the School of Physics, with presentations by staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students.

The special project work in the July semester introduces students directly to research activities in the School and to other staff members and postdocs. The aim is to broaden your knowledge of physics and give you an insight into how physicists think and how a real research project is tackled. There is also an emphasis on cross disciplinary subjects and the relationship of physics to the community as a whole. Check out below the diverse range of topics covered in the TSP projects in previous years. You can download selected presentations by clicking on the title pages. You can also download selected project reports.

Why do a program that involves extra work? Students in the program are the top students of their year. You will get special tuition and attention. As well, you will enjoy the company of other talented students working on special projects.

The TSP coordinators are Dr Helen Johnston and . Contact them for more information.


2013 TSP Excursion

The TSP excursion in the mid-semester break in 2013 took 32 students on a 3-day tour (1-3 October) to observatories in the west and north of NSW, staying over at motels in Parkes and Narrabri. On the first day we visited the Parkes Observatory and were given a tour of the Dish by staff scientist, John Sarkissian. The following day we drove north to Coonabarabran and were given a tour of the Anglo-Australian Telescope, as well as visiting the UK Schmidt telescope and the ANU's 2.3 m telescope. On the final day we visited the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) at Narrabri and got to climb up to the Cassegrain focus of two of the antennas. Our guides were two ATCA staff, Scott and Christoph, and Computer Systems expert, Robin Wark. After an excellent morning tea put on specially for our visit, we then had a tour of the ATCA
correlator and control rooms before driving around 2km to the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI) where we were given a tour by Joe Callingham.

Some photos from the 2011 TSP tour to Parkes, Siding Spring and Narrabri observatories can be viewed here [pdf].


TSP Research seminars 2014: LT 5, Thursdays 1pm


Research talks for 2014
: Markerless head motion tracking for motion-corrected brain imaging : Brain dynamics: from Sigma to $
DateSpeakers
13 March Registration
20 March Peter Tuthill: Exoplanets: the biggest thing in astronomy is small! Joss Hawthorn: A supermassive black hole on our doorstep
27 March Aroon O'Brien: More is different - complex phenomena in many-body quantum physics Andrew Doherty: Sizing up single electrons: quantum computing in an uncertain world
3 April Julie Cairney (lab tour)
10 April Andre Kyme Peter Robinson
17 April Alberto Peruzzo: Towards practical quantum simulators on integrated photonics technology, and tour of the Quantum Photonics Lab
24 April mid-semester break
1 May Eric Cavalcanti Zdenka Kuncic
8 May Tara Murphy Andrew Doherty
15 May Irina Kabakova Kevin Varvell
22 May Nick Menicucci David Thwaites
29 May General discussion on exam technique: Slade LT8
05 June Second semester projects

TSP special lectures

This is an occasional lecture series offered to second year students and anyone else who is interested.


Physics TSP projects for 2nd semester 2014

Projects for second semester will be available by the end of May. We will have a meeting in Week 13 to discuss how it works.

In the meantime, here is last year's list of projects to whet your appetite.


Some 2010 TSP project reports


When a black hole winks in a galaxy far, far away
(Cleo Loi)

In search of antimatter in the universe (Chris Herron)

Surface waves in degenerate plasma (Dominic Williamson)

Beyond the lens of the looking glass (Matthew New-Tolley)

Experimental verification of the practicality of a photonic crystal lantern (Jiro Funamoto)

Some 2009 TSP project PowerPoint presentations



Falling into a black hole (1.7 MB)
(Alison Hammond/Jason Cheng)

...the universe through polarised sunglasses (600 kB)
(Adam Schaefer)

The mechanism of the alpha rhythm (700 kB)
(Annemari de Silva)

Exploding stars and dwarf galaxies (2.3 MB) (Dominic Williamson)

Methanol masers around young massive stars (1.4 MB) (Ben Pope)

Computational Science Lab Tips



  • The workstations in the lab run Red Hat WS5
  • Your account name will usually be the same as your UniKey account name
    unless you have a physics account.
  • The workstation home accounts are all backed up.
  • You may share data with computers outside the lab provided you have ftp clearance on the remote
    system. You cannot send files to the lab from outside.
  • Printing can be arranged on as as needed basis, it is a good idea to give alot of warning that this will be needed.
  • You will be given a temporary password in the first instance, you should change this
    as soon as you log on the first time.
  • Remember, you are responsible for anything that happens from your account.
    It is in your interests to keep the password private.
  • Software available in the lab

    • Matlab
    • Mathematica
    • IDL
    • Fortran (Gnu Fortran 77)
    • C V4


  • The lab is in room 359 of building A28 if you need card access
  • Card access is only available during working hours.


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